Monthly Archives: November 2017

Loyola’s 65th Annual Style Show

by Lisa Cooper

What began in 1952 as a simple luncheon and fundraiser for the school has become the biggest and one of the most exciting productions for Loyola College Prep. This year was no exception as 104 seniors took to the stage to dance and model fashions from several of Shreveport’s local stores and boutiques.

Chairs Amy Sarcar, Lisa Stewart and Jeri Thompson put in countless hours working with volunteers from 25 committees who coordinated everything from set building to feeding a crowd of 1300 for this year’s show, themed “Welcome to the Wild Wild West.”

Sarcar says of the volunteers, “They are really the ones who deserve the credit. Many of them worked six-hour days, five days a week, for 14 weeks preparing the set and table decorations, and that doesn’t include all the hours spent on weekends and at home.”

All of the chairwomen agree that a production of this magnitude is only possible through the efforts of all the volunteers who work tirelessly to bring everything together.

Adding their time spent in rehearsals to the long tally of volunteer hours, the seniors of 2018 were both nervous and excited to take center stage. Each student performed choreographed dancing and modeling as part of a group. Nerves were high during rehearsal as seniors worked to remember dance steps and break in slick shoes. Once the students made their way under the lights though, their nervousness was assuaged and the fun and adrenaline took over.

Alex Warren said of his experience, “I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I thought I would be.” When asked about learning and performing all the choreography, Warren says, “I’m not that coordinated, but it wasn’t that hard to learn the choreography. I had a really good time!”

Senior Alex Smith most enjoyed “being able to perform with [his] friends” and agrees with Warren that once the Senior Walk was done, nervousness was no longer a factor. While the senior boys impressed the crowd by boot-skootin’ in their western wear, the girls dazzled under the choreography of fellow senior Regan Stewart. Stewart, who is auditioning for TCU’s dance program later this year, says of her efforts, “It was so much fun getting to work with everyone. Dancing is what I love to do!”

As the Class of 2018 made their way from the stage after their finale, many were sad to see the Style Show end. With almost a year of preparation behind them, the chairwomen and other volunteers saw their hard work pay off in the two-hour production that seemed to fly by. When the crowd started to clear, the junior class worked to clear tables and clean the floors and set decorations – all covered in more than 400 pounds of glitter. After filling five trucks, a flatbed trailer and a U-Haul, drivers carried the last traces of the Style Show off to storage, and the new committee began work on next year’s production. •

SJS Middle School Visits Cemeteries on All Saints Day

On November 1st, in celebration of All Saints Day, the middle school students of St. Joseph School attended a day-long retreat at two of our local cemeteries.

They first visited St. Joseph Cemetery, where they learned about the history of Holy Trinity Catholic Church and its connection to the yellow fever epidemic of 1873. Students said the Prayer of the Faithful Departed.

The students then traveled to Greenwood Cemetery, where the retreat included a cultural twist. Students have been learning about Dia de Los Muertos in Spanish class with Mrs. Beatriz Sanchez, so a feast of homemade tamales, rice and beans, as well as “Bread of the Dead” and Mexican hot chocolate was provided for them.

When lunch was over, the students again offered the Prayer for the Faithful Departed, then SJS parents Mozel Byrd and Wendy Vance led students and chaperones on a tour of the cemetery and a scavenger hunt based on information gathered about those buried there.  Music teacher, Mrs. Benoit, led the students in song to remind them of the promise of eternal life because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  •

SJB Honor Society Helps Community

On October 26, St. John Berchmans School inducted the first members of the SJB chapter of the National Junior Honor Society. As a chapter, members will lead the school in various service projects. This year the SJB chapter is highlighting a different charity each month in order to expose the students of the school to various ways they can help in the community. The first organization they supported was Hope Connections. SJB families donated soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes and razors to the Hope Connections showers.

Bishop Duca Visits JGS; Tries Archery

Bishop Michael Duca celebrated Mass at Jesus the Good Shepherd School on November 10. Afterwards, he toured the school and classrooms, visiting with teachers and students. He also observed the new archery class, even demonstrating his archery skills for the students!

St. Fred’s Students Serve Officers

by Olga Trejo

On October 4, St. Joseph Parish in Bastrop held its 14th Annual Blue Mass.

The Blue Mass dates back to 1934 and is traditionally celebrated on or near the Feast of the Guardian Angels, or the Feast of St. Michael, the patron saint of police officers. The Blue Mass was instituted to honor those men and women who protect the lives of others.

“The Mass is an opportunity for the community to show gratitude to first responders and their families,” said Retired Police Chief Downey Black.

These men and women are likened to our guardian angels because they watch out for others and, like St. Michael, they are there to defend all against evil.

“These men and women risk their lives for our safety and this is our way of giving back and inviting the community to come show support in praying for them through the Mass that is offered,” said Deacon Marc Vereen.

The Mass honors those employed in the public safety field and members of all forms of law enforcement, including members of the police, sheriff’s department, state troopers, fire and emergency medical personnel.

Through the Blue Mass, first responders ritually receive gratitude, support, honor, recognition, prayers and blessings from the Catholic community of the church. Their many sacrifices in service to the community are also remembered.

“The Mass not only provides these men and women a special blessing, but also demonstrates the support that we as a church community have for these professionals who place their lives in jeopardy for others,” said Elaine Johnston, spouse of a fallen officer.

A luncheon is held after the Mass for fellowship. To show their support, the Junior Class from St. Fredrick High School attended the Mass and took on the responsibility of serving all those in attendance.

“The students went above and beyond, they served these men and women with respect and honor,” said Olga Trejo, teacher at St. Frederick High School.

Teacher Bridgette Tannehill echoed her sentiments, “This was an amazing opportunity that the students were given to be the hands and feet of Christ: humbling themselves and serving others. We are grateful for the invitation to do God’s work.” •

ACTS-ME: Catholic Students at Louisiana Tech Minister to the Eldery

by Jessica Rinaudo

When leaving for college, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of independent living, classes and new friends, but often students find the distance from their families lonely and sometimes difficult to bear.

Cassie Rebeor, a student at Louisiana Tech was having a particularly difficult time with homesickness. That combined with the stress of college had her contemplating dropping out. But Cassie made a connection with a few elderly parishioners at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Ruston, and that began to change everything.

“By making this connection with this elderly parishioner and noticing how much of a need there was and how important having that connection was to both her and myself – it helped me stay in college and I picked up a minor in gerontology and it really redirected my life,” said Cassie.

This call to minister to the elderly quickly spilled over into the Association of Catholic Tech Students. The organization has an active and vibrant student-led leadership team. Together they decided to expand their work with new ideas, committees and ministries.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do because I didn’t want to take anything else on, but I did want to start visiting more of our elderly parishioners,” said Cassie. “So I talked with Brother Michael Ward, our campus minister, and I told him this is what I wanted to do. He said, ‘Cassie, why don’t we start a ministry to the elderly?’”

And so, ACTS-ME (Association of Catholic Tech Students – Ministry to the Elderly) was born with the help of around 12 other students. Like Cassie, other students soon found joy in visiting the elderly.

“It was the summer of my freshmen year, and I was bored and lonely,” said Tristan Kramer, a fellow Louisiana Tech student. “Cassie, one of the few students who stayed for the summer, invited me to visit Ms. Anne with her. I was hesitant at first, but it was a great experience. I had missed my grandmother who lived seven hours away. By visiting Ms. Anne, the hole in my heart got a little smaller. It made my day to see her smile.”

To launch the ministry, Cassie got in touch with Eucharistic Ministers at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish who knew of homebound and nursing home bound seniors who would like visitors. From those names, ACTS-ME created a binder with information on each participant, including their story and interests.

“For example if there was an individual who loved football, loved talking sports, like hardcore, then we would talk as a group and have a student who understood football and also liked football assigned to that individual,” said Cassie. “So we try to match interests so that way it’s easier to connect and make a really good friendship.”

Once participants and students are paired up, students go in pairs to visit once a week or once every other week. Together the students and elderly person play cards, watch the news or football and share stories.

One of the special ministries ACTS-ME students participate in is bringing Christmas joy into the homes and rooms of the homebound.  Sometimes it comes in the form of decorating that person’s home for Christmas.

“Decorating Ms. Anne’s house for Christmas was a standout moment,” said Tristan. “There were over 15 young college students singing Christmas carols, baking cookies, decorating a tree, and watching a game all in Ms. Anne’s little house. It was awesome. The pure joy on her face was beautiful, and I have no doubt she enjoyed every second of it just as much as we did.”

But not all living spaces lend themselves to big Christmas trees, so ACTS-ME has come up with some other ways to share Christmas cheer.

“We’re thinking about putting wreaths on doors,” said Cassie. “We also have a group from St. Thomas that goes and sings. Our choir will go and carol. So we’re going to partner up with them to bring some Christmas joy. … Christmas is when people really miss being home. And for someone who’s in a facility, or someone who’s homebound and their family can’t get to see them, having people come and sing with them and give them some cookies can really bring in the Christmas spirit.”

But not every visit is easy or joyful. Tristan recounts a visit that was particularly difficult.

“Cassie and I went to go pay a special visit to one parishioner. She was going through a tough mental battle because of her transition into the assisted living facility. … That hard visit touched me. It made me realize on a deeper level the hardships each elderly person goes through. In our society, it is easy to ignore the elderly, to forget that they go through struggles, pains and joys just like anyone else. They may not be as active or quick as they once were, but that does not change their value and worth. That visit made me realize the loneliness, fear, hopelessness, anxiety and despair that the elderly are at risk for. Our ministry is to reach out and love the elderly in anyway we can through service and friendship.”

There are some participants who get overjoyed when their student visitors come.  “They say, ‘Oh it’s the St. Thomas girls! Oh it’s the ACTS girls!’ They’re so excited. And they love talking to them. They love telling them their life story and hearing our life stories,” said Cassie.

“ My favorite part of the ministry is building relationships with the parishioners, especially my parishioner I am assigned to. I like to sit down and hear about her life, family and interests,” said Tristan. “I love hearing about her family members the most.… When she talks about family, she seems to glow with pride. It is very sweet. I like to hear her love stories too – of how she met her late husband  or how she lost her only son. When describing sad events, my heart breaks for her, but many times she talks about it so naturally with peace and wisdom. It’s a true joy and privilege to meet her and other parishioners, and be a part of their lives. It is humbling.”

“I see this ministry as an extension of my Catholic faith, because God calls us to perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy,” Tristan added. “I think that by visiting these beautiful people that I am doing those works He’s called us to do. In the most simple, basic terms, God calls each one of us to love unconditionally. I think this ministry reinforces that, because we’re just college students who want to love the elderly and let them know that they are not forgotten, they are loved, and they are valuable. God created them; they are valuable even if their minds or bodies aren’t in the best shape.”

Cassie and Tristan both encourage anyone who might be interested in participating in this ministry to join them on a visit. The time commitment is small and flexible and the benefit to both students and participants can’t be overstated.

“I think the big thing with anything when you’re working with any person – elderly or young, is just to step out of your comfort zone and open up. And that’s what ACTS-ME is really good about. We saw there was a need with our elderly parishioners and we took it,” Cassie said. “It’s all about you just showing them that they’re loved and St. Thomas still thinks about them and cares about them a lot.”

To go on a visit or become involved with ACTS-ME, contact Cassie Rebeor at  •

USCCB Urges Congress to Provide Funding For Climate Change

from the USCCB

WASHINGTON— In a letter to members of Congress, Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Bishop Oscar Cantú urge the United States to support international climate assistance during the year-end appropriations process. The bishops request that Congress dedicate $10 million to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international body that guides climate policy.

The letter appeals to the responsibility to care for the common good and affirms that the “blessings of God’s creation and the duty to care for the common good overflow beyond our borders, especially when it comes to the air and climate shared with all peoples and creatures living on the planet.”

The UNFCCC facilitates international cooperation on climate change through initiatives such as the annual U.N. Climate Change Conference, which is currently taking place in Bonn, Germany. Two years ago, this conference resulted in the Paris Climate Agreement, from which the United States intends to withdraw. The U.S. bishops have expressed disappointment about the decision to not uphold this agreement that is based on unified global action against climate change.

“Restricting funding to the UNFCCC will only weaken the ability of the United States to dialogue in the international arena using a common language based on the best science available,” said Bishops Dewane and Cantú.

“By supporting the UNFCCC, the United States can direct attention and resources towards adaptation measures that help all people, especially the poor, adapt to the effects of climate change globally,” continued the bishops. “By doing so, our nation can better pursue the national interest, support credible climate research and promote the common good within and beyond our borders.”

Bishop Dewane of Venice, FL, is chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Bishop Cantú of Las Cruces is chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the USCCB.

The full text of the letter can be found here: •

President of USCCB Responds to Mass Shooting In Texas

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement in response to the mass shooting during a church service in Sutherland Springs, TX.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“Earlier today, we heard of the mass shooting at the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. With Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, I extend my prayers and the prayers of my brother bishops for the victims, the families, the first responders, our Baptist brothers and sisters, indeed the whole community of Sutherland Springs. We stand in unity with you in this time of terrible tragedy—as you stand on holy ground, ground marred today by horrific violence.

We ask the Lord for healing of those injured, His loving care of those who have died and the consolation of their families.

This incomprehensibly tragic event joins an ever-growing list of mass shootings, some of which were also at churches while people were worshipping and at prayer. We must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society. A Culture of Life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms. May the Lord, who Himself is Peace, send us His Spirit of charity and nonviolence to nurture His peace among us all.”

Kids’ Connection: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Mackey Celebrates 20 Years; Bolsters Third Graders at St. John’s

by Kelly Phelan Powell

In her 20 years as a teacher at St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport, Catherine Mackey has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of students. Though she was new to Catholic education when she began at SJB, the transition was a natural one for her – in her previous position at CHRISTUS Schumpert’s Child Development Center, she had worked with children for 18 years. When Schumpert merged with Highland Child Development Center, Marie Rinaudo approached her with an offer to begin the K-3 program at SJB.

“The major thing, in my opinion, that sets Catholic schools apart is the opportunity to build a closer relationship with God and attend weekly church services. SJB stands worlds apart because we are a safe haven that fosters the belief of a total commitment to developing a well-rounded individual,” she said.

Third grade is an exciting year for students at SJB. Mackey said third graders are able to participate in many different extracurricular activities like soccer, basketball, football, cheerleading, music and drama. They also participate in ArtBreak, the largest student arts festival in the South. SJB practices STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics) daily, and as part of that curriculum, third grade students have the opportunity to participate in an Elementary Science Olympiad competition.

“We have also partnered with fourth and fifth graders in a coding class, and we work with BoBots,” she said. This experience prepares and primes them for becoming members of the SJB Robotics Team.

“Through our Science class we are afforded the opportunity to do many STEM projects,” she said. “We are currently working on making ‘balloon cars’. Our third graders also work on PRODIGY, which is a program to enhance and better their math skills.”

Though she started at SJB working with three-year-olds, Mackey says third grade holds a special place in her heart. “I enjoy being with third graders because you can see and experience a part of their educational growth that will carry them to the stars and beyond,” she said. “They are willing and ready to learn in an environment that affords them a safe learning space. Students grow from learning the basic foundation of elements needed to become discoverers. Third grade is a year for taking a firm hold and becoming more accountable for their own education. I become a ‘mom teacher’ who helps them venture out to do their own thing, but is always available when needed.”

Mackey pointed out that the administration, faculty and staff are what make SJB a great place to be an educator. “The most satisfying thing about working at SJB aside from the children is the staff and faculty who work here. We are a close family of educators who aid and rely on each other. I am blessed to work with these individuals on a daily basis. I am honored,” she said.

Mackey attended Southern University in Shreveport and graduated from Southern University in Baton Rouge with a B.S. degree in Secondary Education with a major in Social Studies and a minor in English. She attended LSUS to complete Alternate Certification in Elementary Education. She and Michael Mackey, Sr. have been married for 34 years and have one son, Michael Mackey, Jr. “God is good,” she said.