Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Shroud of Turin: Cathedral to Host Nationally Known Shroud Speaker, Replica Display & Shroud of Turin Podcast Series


by Jessica Rinaudo

The Shroud of Turin has long been a source of fascination. The burial shroud of a man who many believe was Jesus Christ has both inspired the faithful around the globe and drawn its fair share of skeptics.

The Shroud remains a historical anomaly, a revered relic of the Christian faith, and two scholars on the subject reside in Shreveport. Fr. Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport, and Dr. Cheryl White, history professor at LSU-Shreveport, are both members of the American Confraternity of the Holy Shroud. Their interest and knowledge on the subject has inspired them to host a unique program at the Cathedral.

Fr. Mangum and Dr. White have launched a podcast on the topic. Entitled “Who is the Man in the Shroud?” Available for download or streaming through, or in the Apple podcast store. Every Friday a new episode is posted with Fr. Mangum and Dr. White discussing Shroud related topics such as, “Bloodstains: What Do They Say About the Man of the Shroud?” and “Miraculous Fires: The Shroud Survives 1532 and 1997.” With this podcast, the two plan to share their knowledge and prepare both parishioners of the Cathedral and members of the community for a very special event.

On Saturday, March 17, Barrie Schwortz, the Official Documenting Photographer for the Shroud of Turin Research Project and now Shroud expert, will be at the Cathedral to give a presentation on his story and experience with the Shroud of Turin.

In 1978, a team of American scientists was granted five days with the Shroud of Turin to photograph it, analyze it and make an attempt to prove or disprove its authenticity. Their work and findings captured the attention of the world. One of the members of that team was Barrie Schwortz, a Jewish photographer from California. Schwortz, though very skeptical and hesitant to be part of the project, did eventually sign on as its documenting photographer.

Don Devan, who had previously worked with Schwortz on another project, was his link in to the Shroud of Turin project. During one of their phone conversations, Devan offered some advice to the skeptical Schwortz.

Schwortz relayed, “I told him, I’m a Jewish guy. Don said to me, ‘Well apparently you’ve forgotten that the man in question was a Jew.’ I said, ‘I don’t know a lot about Jesus, but I certainly knew he was a Jew. He said to me, ‘So you don’t think God would want one of His chosen people on our team?’”

“He then gave me some advice which, now I understand, was probably the best advice I’ve ever been given,” said Schwortz. “He said, ‘Stop complaining. Go to Turin. Do the very best work you can do. God doesn’t tell us in advance what the plan is, but one day you‘ll know.’ And on those words I stayed on the team and – that was 42 years ago. In retrospect looking back at that, I now know that was God speaking to me through his voice, Don’s voice, because I was destined to be on that team.”

But in 1978, Schwortz remained a skeptic. After 17 months of preparations, the team had five days to collect as much information on the Shroud of Turin as they could. When Schwortz at last stood before the Shroud, with nothing between him and the cloth, he pulled out his photographer’s 10x loop and immediately began to examine it.

“I started looking for paint pigment binders, any indication of any artwork,” said Schwortz. “Now I’m not an authority on that subject, but I have good eyes and I had total access to the Shroud, no glass or anything in between. My nose was an inch from that cloth and I was looking at it and looking down in between the fibers because paint pigment binders are going to be visible. They’re not going to disappear and just leave an image.”

He continued, “And so I knew probably within 10 or 15 minutes of the Shroud being unveiled that whatever it was, wasn’t a painting.”

Schwortz photographed the Shroud of Turin over those five days, and his now famous photographs have been published in national publications across the globe.

But even that experience didn’t convince Schwortz of the Shroud’s authenticity. Indeed it was wasn’t until he had a phone conversation with Alan Adler 17 years later, that Schwortz was finally, unflinchingly convinced. Adler was the world-renowned blood chemist on the team in 1978, and like Schwortz, he is also Jewish.

“Al said he had pretty much come to believe this had to be the real thing,” said Schwortz. “And remember, he’s like me. He had no horse in the race, no emotional attachment to it. And I said, ‘Well, I’m still not convinced. He asked what was keeping me from being convinced and it happened to be right up his alley. The blood is still red on the cloth… I know that old blood turns black or brown sometimes in less than an hour. He got made at me and said, ‘Didn’t you read my paper 17 years ago?”

Schwortz continued, “Al said when he did the chemical analysis on the blood samples from the Shroud, he consistently found a very high content of bilirubin…. It’s a compound made in the liver and when somebody is beaten, scourged, tortured and not given any water, they go into hypovolemic shock, the liver starts pumping extra bilirubin into the bloodstream… and he said it turns out that bilirubin is a hemolytic agent and breaks down the red blood cells’ cell walls, releasing hemoglobin that will remain red forever.

“Well when he told me that, coming from a man, who like me had no reason to do anything but be honest, that pretty much gave me the final piece of the puzzle,” said Schwortz.

It was also in 1995 that Schwortz realized the true purpose of his involvement with photographing the Shroud of Turin.

“It began to come clear to me that of all the men on that team, I was the only one with the skill set that could build a website and collect this information without putting any personal spin on it.”

And today remains a go to point for enthusiasts and the curious alike, boasting more than a million visitors a year.

Schwortz relays all of this and much more during his presentations, including the science behind why he believes the Shroud of Turin is authentic.

In addition to Schwortz’s presentation, the Cathedral will have on display a series of of items associated with the crucifixion of Jesus.

“There are a number of replicas of what would have been used on Jesus, like the flagrum, the whip that would have had those little steel balls on the end. One that I find really interesting is a model of Jesus as he would be laying there, and an actual piece of cloth, so right there you can see how the Shroud would have laid upon him,” said Fr. Mangum.

Additionally the Cathedral has a life-sized replica of the Shroud of Turin, printed on cloth and hanging on the wall of the parish hall.  “It’s a duplicate of the image taken by the photographer who will be here in March.”

Fr. Mangum says that there are a few churches who have an exhibit on the Shroud. “They really want to do their best to use the Shroud as an evangelization tool,” said Fr. Mangum. “So we’re not just teaching people about the Shroud – we’re going to have all these different items present. I want to teach people ahead of time about it so that when people arrive they’re not being reminded of what the Shroud is.”

Fr. Mangum continued, “We’re foreseeing that the Shroud replica is going to stay up there after Barrie’s visit.” This will allow people to visit the Cathedral, view the replica and learn more about it. To schedule a visit, call the church office at 318-221-5296.

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans invites the community to join them on March 17, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. to hear Barrie Schwortz’s story – one that took him on a road from disinterest, to disbelief and finally to being well convinced that the Shroud of Turin is indeed the burial shroud of Jesus Christ.  

Bishop Conference President Reaction to Shooting at Florida High School

WASHINGTON—Following the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for prayer and healing.

The full statement is as follows:

“We are deeply saddened by the shootings in Broward County, Florida, and by the needless and tragic loss of life. May the mercy of God comfort the grieving families and sustain the wounded in their healing. Catholics and many other Christians have begun the journey of Lent today. I encourage us to unite our prayers and sacrifices for the healing and consolation of all those who have been affected by violence in these last weeks and for a conversion of heart, that our communities and nation will be marked by peace. I pray also for unity in seeking to build toward a society with fewer tragedies caused by senseless gun violence. Our hope is in the Lord, as he promised after his resurrection, ‘behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age’ (Mt. 28:20).”

Federal Budget Should Build Toward Common Good, Say U.S. Bishops

WASHINGTON— After the Trump Administration released its federal budget proposal, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and the Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed deep concerns about many of the priorities outlined in the blueprint, and called on Congress to “ensure a budget for our country that honors our obligations to build toward the common good.”

The full statement follows:

“The federal budget is a moral document, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has consistently urged our national leaders to consider important principles when deciding how to steward the finite resources entrusted to it by the American people. Budget decisions ought to be guided by moral criteria that safeguard human life and dignity, give central importance to ‘the least of these,’ and promote the well-being of workers and families who struggle to live in dignity. Our nation must never seek to balance the budget on the backs of the poor at home and abroad.

February 13, President Trump unveiled a budget plan, ‘Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget,’ that again calls for deep cuts to vital parts of government, including underfunding programs that serve the poor, diplomacy and environmental stewardship. At the same time, the plan calls for increases in immigration enforcement spending and further increases in military spending, including on nuclear weapons. Prohibiting certain abortion providers from receiving federal funds and providing increased resources to combat opioid addiction is commendable. However, we urge Congress—and every American—to evaluate the Administration’s budget blueprint in light of its impacts on those most in need, and work to ensure a budget for our country that honors our obligations to build toward the common good.” •

Kids’ Connection: Saint Patrick

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection about St. Patrick!

St. Vincent Alumni Tag Day Legacy Continues with St. Patrick’s Day Event

St. Vincent Academy Alumni gather at the Catholic Center for the annual Tag Day scholarship fundraiser.

by Bernadette Cordaro Boyd, (SVA 1977)

If you have lived in Shreveport since the 1930s, you probably remember on or around St. Patrick’s Day seeing high school students dressed in blue uniforms offering shamrocks for a donation. For most St. Vincent’s graduates, this is a special time to reflect on this unique tradition that was such an instrumental part of our SVA life. The St. Vincent’s Tag Day Tradition was sponsored by the Mother’s Club in the mid 1930s, and records report that the first chair was the late Mrs. Kate Wolcott. Over the years, the funds collected have been used for child welfare work, school activities and educational programs. Back in the day, the shamrocks were pinned on, and later were offered as stickers. At Tag Day’s peak, over 25,000 shamrocks were distributed in the Shreveport Bossier area in just one day. The prime spots were usually downtown and were picked first by the seniors. I remember enthusiastically picking our coveted spots we wanted each year and looking forward to Tag Day. It was nice to have a day off of studies to share some Irish spirit with the community.

Some years Tag Day “Queens” were named and those were usually elected from the previous year’s top class donations. With the closing of St. Vincent’s Academy in 1988, Tag Day seemed to become a distant memory for many of us. My classmates just celebrated our 40th Reunion and many of us reminisced about our Tag Day memories… who we tagged with, where we ate lunch, our selected spots, holding our decorated shamrock cans, and, of course, having a day off from school. Many of us from SVA want to not only keep these memories alive, but also make a positive impact in our community, and in particular support Catholic education in our diocese.

A SVA Scholarship program started in 1995 when Loyola had the idea to create a scholarship fund and approached some of the St. Vincent’s alumnae to spearhead the project.  Loyola assisted in soliciting donations and invested them in the
St. Vincent’s Scholarship Fund, with the purpose to fund tuition expenses at Loyola for a child of a St. Vincent graduates, in order to perpetuate the memory of St. Vincent’s and to help keep Catholic education alive in Shreveport. A major fundraising effort was needed, so my sister, Rosie Cordaro Woodley (SVA 1979), had a great idea to start the popular “Tag Day” event to raise money for scholarships. The first Tag Day Scholarship Fundraiser was held on March 17, 2009, and 10 years later the history of Tag Day still lives on. Many SVA Alumnae have tirelessly worked over the years in making the the Tag Day event successful, and the great support from Bishop Duca and the Catholic Center has given us the right “home” for our alumnae, family and friends to come together. With the efforts of many, this event has provided funds to award hundreds of students assistance with their tuition needs at Loyola.

Camille Meehan (SVA 1967) and a faculty member at Loyola, has been the catalyst in making sure the funds are allocated as set forth by the scholarship guidelines. Along with wanting to increase the amount of money available for scholarships, a goal of the Tag Day event was to “help even more students” and to strive to “keep the spirit of our school alive in this new generation.” Scholarships are awarded to students who exhibit all-round good character in scholarship, citizenship and involvement with their church. Each recipient is recognized at the honors assembly at the end of the school year and is given a certificate. The top tier St. Vincent’s Scholars also have their names engraved on a plaque that hangs in the main office at Loyola.  By publicly recognizing these students, we are fulfilling the stated purpose of the scholarship program to perpetuate the memory of St. Vincent’s and to help keep Catholic education alive in Shreveport.

This year’s Silent Auction and Tag Day Celebration will be held on Thursday, March 15, at the Catholic Center at 3500 Fairfield Avenue, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Come renew old friendships, make new ones, and go home with a great auction item! Anyone 21 years and older is welcome to attend. Tickets are $25 per person and include great food, door prizes and lots of Irish fun. The Craig/Powers Duo will also provide wonderful music. Some auction items include LSU tickets, Strand tickets, your favorite restaurants, golf outings, beautiful painted furniture, unique paintings, jewelry and the popular “Make Italian Sausage with Bishop Duca!” Help support SVA make a difference in our diocese. Hope to see you there!  •

Catholic Charities “Bingo” Heads to Eastern Deanery

by Lucy Medvec

Get ready to yell “BINGO” for Catholic Charities!  Catholic Charities of North Louisiana’s popular Bingo fundraiser is heading to Northeast Louisiana. Bingo on the Delta will be held on Saturday, April 7th, at 6:00 p.m. at the West Monroe Convention Center.

After having two straight years of sold-out Bingo events in Shreveport, CCNLA’s Executive Director Meg Goorley felt it was time to bring bingo to the Monroe/West Monroe area. “Bingo on the Bayou has been an extremely popular fundraiser for Catholic Charities,” said Goorley. “Our guests always have fun at this event and they especially love seeing their priests in a more casual setting. The Monroe office is serving more and more people every month, so this event will raise much-needed funds for our programs and clients.”

Bishop Michael Duca and priests from parishes in the Eastern Deanery will serve as bingo callers, with John Mark Willcox, Development Director for the Diocese of Shreveport, serving as Master of Ceremonies.

Tickets to Bingo on the Delta are $50 each (includes dinner and two bingo cards) and can be purchased online at or by calling 318-865-0200. Table sponsorships are also available for $750, $1,000 and $1,500. Bingo on the Delta will feature dinner and prize raffle, and is for guests 21 years and older. There will also be a raffle drawing that evening for a framed George Rodrigue “Blue Dog” print. Raffle tickets are $10 each and the winner need not be present to win.

All event proceeds will benefit Catholic Charities’ programs and clients served by the Monroe office. For more information, to purchase tickets or become a table sponsor, contact Lucy Medvec at 318-865-0200 ext. 101 or  •