Monthly Archives: February 2018

Bishop Duca Reflects on Our Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

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by John Mark Willcox, Director of Stewardship

 Incredibly this May, Bishop Michael G. Duca  will mark his first decade as the second Ordinary of the Diocese of Shreveport. During his 10 years as our spiritual leader, Bishop Duca has also led our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal to great success and stability. Commenting on our Appeal, Bishop Duca reflected, “I know that most of our people experience the Church through involvement at the parish community level, but I have always seen our diocese as one family, spread out over 11,000 square miles within 16 civil parishes, 40 places of worship that are intersected with three great rivers. Ten years ago I did not know what it would be like to be a bishop, but I now know that being sent to the Diocese of Shreveport has been the greatest blessing of my life and the heart of that blessing has been the support of our faithful who are strong in faith, supportive of me and our priests and the generous spirit of giving that continues to provide so much to our faith community.”

Looking at the many programs and ministries provided through Appeal support, Bishop Duca begins with Appeal sponsorship of our seminarians (1). “We have a solid group of six seminarians currently studying for the priesthood and our Appeal continues to help them achieve their goal of ordination. This is expensive work to educate and form men into good priests, but most of us would admit that a good, holy priest, well-formed who will serve our diocese for 20, 30 or even 40 or 50 years is a priceless gift. Appeal dollars prepared Fr. Jerry Daigle for ordination and he now serves as Chaplain at St. Frederick High School in Monroe and is our new Vocations Director.”

Appeal dollars also remain a mainstay of support for our retired and infirm priests (2) who are so deserving of our care. “This is another expensive area of ministry and outreach,” offered Bishop Duca. “I feel confident that our people feel as I do, that this is a necessary responsibility of the Catholics of our region. We will see the need in this area continue to grow. I can tell you as your bishop that our retired priests remain more than thankful for the many years of Appeal support that they have received.”

  

One critical need of any bishop is to have a strong, effective avenue of communication to the Catholics of his diocese. The Catholic Connection (3) fills that role within our combined faith community. Bishop Duca has always taken a prime interest in his monthly diocesan news magazine, “I’m proud of the insightful and timely information that The Catholic Connection provides to our diocese, which has always been fully funded by our Annual Appeal. This allows me the luxury as your bishop, to provide it free of charge to every known Catholic household on a monthly basis.”

Hispanic Catholics remain one of the most vibrant, active and growing communities within our diocese. For more than two decades, our Appeal has helped fund an Office of Hispanic Ministry (4) to serve this unique and special segment or our worship family. Bishop Duca is thrilled that this also resulted in a new member of our Presbyterate. “I am so pleased that our Hispanic Ministry Office, under the direction of Rosalba Quiroz, was able to make contact with a seminarian in Mexico who needed a diocese. She took our Vocations Director to meet him and Appeal dollars finished his formation here in the United States. That priest is Fr. Fidel Mondragón who now serves at St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport and the Latino community of St. Mary of the Pines.”

Appeal dollars support two agencies committed to assist the poor as both the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (5) provide care through home visitation, assistance with the basic necessities of life and even programs designed to improve financial planning. Bishop Duca remains pleased in the growth of both entities, “Catholic Charities is also establishing connections with other agencies serving the needs of the poor to share resources and to build relationships that will serve us well in times of a large disaster. I am also encouraged that the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is sponsoring a continued outreach funded by FEMA to assist victims of the disastrous flooding that plagued Monroe and Shreveport in the past several years. Combined efforts like these allow the Church to have an even greater charitable outreach throughout our diocese.”

Appeal support is provided to Pro-Life Ministries (6) and family life outreach, as we seek to answer the Holy Father’s call to strengthen the Catholic family. This is also accomplished through Appeal support of a Catechesis Office (7) to guide and support Parish School of Religion programs to accomplish what Bishop Duca describes as “instilling the beauty of our Catholic faith with our young people.” This is the same ministry goal for our Catholic Schools (8) as they seek to offer quality formation and education to our young people. Your Appeal provides funding for our Catholic Schools Office and tuition assistance for needy families. Bishop Duca sees a bright future for our four elementary schools and two Catholic high schools in the diocese, “One of my goals as your bishop is to see more of our Catholic families choosing to use our excellent school system, and strong support of our Appeal makes that possible.”

Directly addressing our diocesan family, Bishop Duca offered these thoughts: “The ministries and programs that I ask our people to support represent part of the work of our larger family as a diocese and are important to fulfilling all the responsibilities that are part of the ministry of the Church from Lake Providence in the East, to Monroe in our center to Shreveport and the South all the way to Zwolle and Many. These ministries may not be visible to you, but many of them directly support parish life.”

Looking at the past success of our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal, our bishop sees even more room for improvement. “I ask our readers to share the wonderful benefits of our Appeal with others within your own worship community,” noted Bishop Duca. “I do this because only about 28 percent of our known Catholic families contribute to this worthy cause. As we work in union with one another in stewardship, I am praying to see our number of Appeal donors increase so that we as Church, can increase what we are able to do for others. I am asking that everyone give something to our Appeal this year. We almost reach our goal of 1.5 million dollars every year with donations from only about 3,000 of our faithful Catholics. If everyone would offer support to our Church family, we would easily make and even surpass our overall pledge goal.”

Spatial considerations don’t allow for Bishop Duca to cover every Appeal program and ministry, but he concluded by adding, “I can assure you as your bishop that our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Campaign is the lifeblood of what we as Church are able to offer to our faithful and the community at large. These ministries and programs are available through no other source, so I thank you for your financial support of our Appeal.”

Bishop’s Reflection: Letting Go of “Mine” for the Glory of God’s Work

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by Bishop Michael G. Duca

Maybe the first surprise to new parents is that children are born wild – not tame. I don’t mean this in a bad sense, but our first instincts as a child are for survival. We must be taught and formed to enter into civilized society. There are three attitudes that come from our wild side, from within us, that must be shaped and formed by parents. These attitudes are expressed by three common phrases: “Mine!” “Not fair,” and “My turn.” Each of these attitudes in their wild state are self-centered, seeing the world only from the child’s point of view even though they express some truth about life. Each of these could be a column in themselves, but today I want to concentrate on the blatantly self-centered one: “MINE!” (it seems to need the exclamation point).

The exclamation “MINE!” is of course an expression of ownership. We learned this very early in life when we received a gift or a new toy and understand that it is given to me, it is MINE! Ownership is not a bad thing, in fact in the encyclical Rerum Novarum on social justice, the Church teaches that ownership of land is a fundamental right for every person because it helps to ensure a person’s freedom and brings stability to the family. Ownership also brings order to our society. But if what is ours – our time, talent and treasure – is only understood from the childish expression, “MINE!,” then we become selfish, self-serving  and can be tempted to use our wealth, time and talent to influence and manipulate others for our purposes. We can become trapped in vanity and greed. We can surround ourselves with so much that we stop hearing the cry of the poor and become isolated from those who need our help. We live in the illusion of self-sufficiency and superficial pursuits.

The great balancer of “MINE!” when we are growing up is the exhortation of our parents to SHARE. This is not easily understood by a child who is just learning what MINE! means, but it is the lesson we need to learn. The deeper and more spiritually mature equivalent of SHARE for us as disciples of Jesus is the spirituality of stewardship. A spirituality of stewardship is founded on the understanding that a steward is not the owner, but the caretaker of something.  A good steward cares for, protects, invests, improves and respects all that is placed under his care. As men and women of faith in Christ, this means that we should develop a deep spirituality of stewardship that is rooted in the core belief that everything we own and are is a GIFT.  We are not meant to be owners of things, rather to see ourselves as stewards of what is placed under our care.

There is a big difference between saying, “This is MINE!, I earned this and I will use it as I want,” and saying, “I have earned this, worked hard for it and I thank God for all that makes this possible and I will try to be a good steward of the blessings I have received.”  Once we see our lives more as a gift, then gratitude becomes a part of our daily attitude and the idea of stewardship is a regular part of our daily decisions about time, talent and treasure.  Our decisions on how to use our gifts begin to include the awareness of the needs of others and we become more generous and hospitable. We also become more willing to contribute, even sacrificially, from the God-given gifts of our time, treasure and talents to help build up the kingdom of God and give witness to God from whom all good things come.

Hopefully we have matured beyond the self-centered attitude of MINE! to the generosity of SHARE, and finally to the spiritual truth that we are only stewards of the gifts of our lives.

In the next few weeks you will be reminded that this is the time of year for our Diocesan Stewardship Appeal. I know there may be a lot of practical reasons that brings a person to give or not, but I hope that the decision is being made as a spiritual decision and not just a monetary one.  I hope you approach our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal from a spirituality of stewardship and understand that giving to the Appeal is not like paying bills or dues, but rather our SHARE in the support of the mission of the Church. I hope you will see that you are a part of our Diocesan Family and will support the programs that serve the diocese in all the churches in our 16 civil parish region.

Please, prayerfully consider a gift to the Appeal this year out of a desire to be a good steward.  Be assured that I receive them as a blessed gift and I will handle them as a good steward of your generosity for the glory of God.

Editors Note: Read more about the ministries the Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal supports on page 14 of this issue. A pledge card is available for your use on page 30.  •

2018 Lenten Reconciliation Services

St. John Berchmans School Wednesday, February 28 8:15 a.m.

Loyola College Prep Wednesday, February 28 9:30 a.m.

Mary, Queen of Peace Parish Wednesday, February 28 6:00 p.m.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish Thursday, March 1 6:30 p.m.

Christ the King Parish Saturday, March 3 10:00 a.m.

Holy Trinity Parish Monday, March 5 5:00 p.m.

Cathedral of St. John Berchmans Monday, March 12 6:00 p.m.

St. Jude Parish Tuesday, March 13 6:30 p.m.

St. Joseph Parish Monday, March 14 6:00 p.m.

Our Lady of the Blessed Thursday, March 15 6:00 p.m.

Sacrament Parish

St. Joseph School Friday, March 16 9:15 a.m.

St. Mary of the Pines Parish Tuesday, March 20 6:30 p.m.

St. Pius X Parish Wednesday, March 21 6:30 p.m.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Church Thursday, March 22 6:30 p.m.

New Shroud of Turin Podcast Series

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans is launching a new podcast series to coincide with the beginning of Lent. The series will focus on the Shroud of Turin, a fascinating and compelling relic in the possession of the Church, which bears the image of a crucified man. The podcasts will feature Fr. Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral, and Dr. Cheryl White, an associate professor of history at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Both Fr. Mangum and Dr. White are members of the American Confraternity of the Holy Shroud, the only affiliate group authorized by the official custodians of the Shroud, the Archconfraternity of Turin, established in 1592. The educational podcasts will be available weekly beginning Friday, February 16, and may be accessed through iTunes and other outlets, including the Cathedral webpage (www.sjbcathedral.org).

Kids’ Connection: St. Valentine

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on Saint Valentine.

Faith Partners for Progress: Catholics Charities of North Louisiana and Society of St. Vincent de Paul

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by Bonnie Martinez

 The Western District Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been awarded a $5,000 systemic change grant by the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Inc. The grant entitled Faith Partners for Progress, is a collaborative venture with Catholic Charities of North Louisiana.St. Vincent de Paul has been referring individuals to Catholic Charities of North Louisiana’s (CCNLA) Financial Education Program, Money School, for many years because of the numerous benefits afforded to those in financial crisis. The Money School offers low-income individuals an opportunity to learn how to better manage their income. The three-hour class teaches participants how to create an individual budget, open and maintain a bank account, begin a savings account, decrease unnecessary spending and how to avoid predatory lenders.

Participants are then scheduled to attend a one-on-one session with one of the Money School case managers to receive individualized coaching based on the financial documentation provided by the individual requesting financial assistance. The individual is guided to self-determination of their financial status and is then assisted in preparing a personalized Goal Document that identifies the necessary action for the individual to improve their financial status and quality of life. However, the missing component has been follow-up and mentoring for the individual having completed this process.

Catholic Charities recognizes that the Society of St. Vincent de Paul conducts personal home visits with those they serve. So, the leadership of both local organizations, including guidance provided by St. Vincent de Paul’s National Director of Poverty Programs, began the discussion and planning for this joint venture.

A pilot program began in late 2016 that included one Western District St. Vincent de Paul Conference – Mary, Queen of Peace – and Catholic Charities’ Money School. The pilot program’s main objective was to define a long-term strategy that includes an 18-month follow-up mentoring by Vincentians for identified friends in need. Two paths of collaboration between St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Charities were identified and approved for serving friends/families in need: (1) First-time friend/family in need requesting financial assistance in excess of the amount either non-profit can spend on one person/family and (2) Repeat financial assistance requests from a friend/family in need.

CCNLA and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul jointly participated in mentor training in November 2017. The steps of the collaborative venture were outlined and the process for sharing documentation between the two organizations was defined. Vincentians conducting home visits will identify individuals as candidates for the Faith Partners for Progress process and refer them to Catholic Charities’ Money School. Upon successful completion of the Money School process, Vincentians will follow-up with the friend/family in need in a mentoring role to provide on-going support and guidance.

The grant proceeds of $5,000 will be used to affect the lives of approximately 25 people. Faith Partners for Progress is a project designed to “move people permanently out of poverty by empowering them to make life changes and improve their lives.”

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and CCNLA continually strive to be good stewards of your generous donations and sincerely appreciate your support of our ministries to serve the poor, both financially and resourcefully.  •

Pro-Life Events Evolving in 2018: An Interview with Bishop Michael G. Duca

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by Jessica Rinaudo

As the Diocese of Shreveport continues to support and champion pro-life efforts in 2018, Bishop Duca is planning to keep awareness of the issue at the forefront but now plans to host two events: one in support of our local pro-life ministry and one to witness to the broader issues that challenge the dignity of the human person in the world today. Our first event this spring will be a reception in support of Mary’s House – the Diocese of Shreveport’s pregnancy center, which will be held on March 20th at the Bossier Civic Center.  Another parish-centered pro-life event will be held in October to highlight all the life ministries in the diocese.

I sat down with Bishop Duca to talk about the changes in pro-life events.

Q: The Annual Bishop’s Pro-Life Banquet has been a huge success in the community. Why are things changing this year?

At last year’s Pro-Life Banquet, I mentioned that I would likely begin to change the focus of our yearly gathering event in order to not only witness to our efforts to protect human life, our stance against abortion and our desire to make it illegal, but also I wanted to affirm the many other life ministries in the diocese that support the dignity of the human person. To accomplish this I decided we needed two events: the first will be the Mary’s House reception this March.

Q: What will this spring reception that will support Mary’s House be like?

It’s going to be held at the Bossier Civic Center. It will be a reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres – a ticketed event. We have a powerhouse speaker, Abby Johnson, who is the former clinic director of Planned Parenthood and who now famously speaks out against abortion. She will be there to inspire and update us on the issues surrounding life – particularly issues of the status of abortion and the status of the Church’s ministry to the unborn.

Q: What would you say to others who attended the pro-life banquet in the past but are unsure about this new Reception?

I support this event and I will be present because our spring pro-life dinner has always been a source of support for our pro-life ministries, and in particular, for the past few years, for Mary’s House. This event is something that I support and I hope you will too. Mary’s House is presently our premier ministry to the unborn and to pregnant mothers considering abortion in the diocese. Mary’s House has always been a beneficiary of our banquet, but now we’re going to highlight the importance of their ministry in a more focused way. Mary’s House needs our support for their ongoing ministry to pregnant women and the unborn. They are expanding their ministries as well. In addition to their work with counseling pregnant women and encouraging them to have their babies, they now have a program called Embrace Grace which provides pregnant mothers with community support from our churches, with baby showers and ongoing support after the baby is born. And as they expand, of course, they need more support to keep that ministry going.

Q: So if there is a reception with food in the spring, what can we expect in the fall?

We’ll have another event that will be a celebration of the dignity of human person. It will likely be held in a parish setting with prayer, a speaker and possibly include a youth component, as well. This event in the fall will allow us to explore and witness all our diocesan ministries that work to protect the dignity of the human person from the womb to death. This will be a free event. We will highlight our family life ministries as well. These two events are still components of the original, but they are being separated so that we can focus on two aspects of the need in our diocese for pro-life ministry and assist in realizing our desire to be a witness to all aspects of the pro-life ministry of the Church.

Diocese of Shreveport 2017 Annual Financial Report

Click to download and view the Diocese of Shreveport 2017 Annual Financial Report.

Discerning a Vocation in College

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by Raney Johnson, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian

Some young men discover their calling to the priesthood in high school and decide to enter the seminary right after graduating from high school. However, others choose to spend a few years in college first, or finish all four years of college before entering the seminary. Along with those who wait to enter the seminary after going to college, some young men learn about their calling to the priesthood while in college.

In my own discernment of the priesthood, I found myself deciding to go to college first instead of joining the seminary right out of high school. I want to offer tips for those discerning a vocation to the priesthood while attending college from my own experience.

The first tip is to stay faithful to attending Mass on Sundays. In the busy schedule of college life, Mass can easily fall by the wayside. There is always the temptation to put the social or academic life of college before the spiritual life, however, the spiritual life, especially the Mass, should always be the bedrock of a young Catholic’s college experience. With mom and dad no longer watching all the time, attending Mass during college becomes an intentional decision. It might help to find a friend or a group of friends to attend Mass with each week. Going to Mass every Sunday is central to the discernment of any vocation, especially the priesthood.

My second tip is to get involved with the different ministries of the Mass. Seminarians have to both lector during the Mass and serve at the altar at some point in their seminary formation. A great way to prepare and become comfortable with this part of seminary formation is to become a lector and/or an altar server during college. I did both during my time at Louisiana Tech, and my love of reading God’s word and serving at the altar helped me to discern that God was calling me to the priesthood. Some other ways to become involved are:  becoming a choir member, usher or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. These ministries will help a young man discerning the priesthood become comfortable with serving at the Mass.

My third tip is to become actively involved with the Catholic student organization on campus. Most universities have a Catholic student organization and also a campus minister. Any young man discerning a vocation during college should become familiar with both the Catholic student organization and the campus minister. The student organization will provide a great community of fellow Catholic students and offer a great environment to cultivate a vocation to the priesthood during college. Similarly, the campus minister, who might be a priest, a religious or a lay person, can be an excellent help in the discernment of the priesthood. At Louisiana Tech, the student organization is the Association of Catholic Tech Students (ACTS) and the campus minister is Brother Mike Ward. Both helped me in my discernment process in different ways.

This leads me to my fourth tip, find a spiritual director. This could be the priest who serves the university, another priest in the diocese, or another qualified individual. Brother Mike Ward was my spiritual director when I attended Louisiana Tech, and his guidance allowed me to see clearly that God was calling me to go to seminary after college.

As a side note, even if the priest assigned to the university is not the campus minister or the chosen spiritual director, it is still beneficial to develop a relationship with this priest. The priest at Louisiana Tech, Fr. Frank Folino, offered me a great role model of the priestly life and helped me in my discernment to the priesthood as well.

My fifth tip is to grow in the spiritual life during college. For example, it might help to pray the rosary more than once a week, attend at least one daily Mass every week, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently, and visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament during adoration.

My final tip is to find a vocation director to talk to. He will be able to help determine your next step. That next step might be transfering from college to seminary, or it might be finishing college and then joining seminary. Whatever the choice, always let God be at the center of your discernment process and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

If you would like more information about the priesthood, contact Fr. Jerry Daigle, jdaigle@dioshpt.org, or call 318.868.4441

Second Collections for February

by Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General 

COLLECTION FOR AID TO THE CHURCH IN CENTRAL and EASTERN EUROPE
Collection Date: Ash Wednesday, February 14th

The Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe supports the Church in 25 countries that are still struggling to recover from the aftermath of communist rule. Funds from this collection support pastoral care, catechesis, building renovations and seminary formation. Your support restores the Church and rebuilds the future in this region. Restore the Church, Build the Future. Please be generous in your sacrificial gift to the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

OPERATION RICE BOWL Program
Participation Dates: February 14th (Ash Wednesday) to April 1st (Easter Sunday)

Operation Rice Bowl is a project of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). This is not the CRS Collection which will be taken up on the 4th Sunday of Lent. This is a Lenten devotion of intentionally pausing each day to unite with the Lord Jesus and the least of His brothers and sisters. Catholic Relief Services is our uniquely Catholic disaster relief agency responding to local, national and international calamities. The Rice Bowl Program (not collection) extends from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. It offers opportunities for your family to engage daily in the spiritual pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Last spring, 2017, the Parish School of Religion students at St. Joseph Parish, Shreveport, donated $775.11 for the CRS RICE BOWL. I was very proud to welcome to the Catholic Center Cynthia Pettiette, Director of Religious Education, Bonnie Vanni and Suji Sujith, PSR teachers there, and most wondrously, Joshua and Theresa Sujith who presented the sacrificial donation of their St. Joseph peers as a gift to the Lord and His Church. I hope to receive donations and visits from more schools and PSR students this year!

This year’s Rice Bowl Program is titled, “Encounter Lent.” Joyfully present your CRS Rice Bowl to your parish priest at the offertory on Easter Sunday. Check out the downloadable CRS Rice Bowl Apps on the bottom of the Rice Bowl, or at crsricebowl.org.

 

COLLECTION FOR THE BLACK & INDIAN MISSIONS
Collection Dates: February 17th & 18th  

The Black and Indian Missions Collection embodies the Church’s concern for evangelizing the black and Indian people of the United States. The funds are distributed as grants to dioceses throughout the United States, supporting and strengthening evangelization programs which otherwise would cease. Your heartfelt participation in the Black and Indian Missions Collection allows the Commission to give helpful grants to dioceses across the country to operate schools, parishes and other missionary services that build the Body of Christ in Native American, Alaska Native and Black Catholic communities.

The Black and Indian Missions Collection assists in acquiring good teachers in schools that would otherwise struggle to stay open, assists dioceses in forming lay ministers and catechists who spread the Gospel in their own communities, and who encourage young African Americans and Native Americans to give their lives to the Lord as priests, brothers or sisters. In Alaska and the arctic regions, your donation assists priests, deacons and catechists who must fly and/or dogsled into remote communities that are otherwise cut off from the world. Give generously and make it possible for the light of Jesus Christ to shine in Alaska, the arctic and across the plains and cities of North America.  •