Monthly Archives: June 2018

Bread or Stones: An Ecumenical Campaign for Children in Louisiana

by Samuel Rottman, Bread or Stones Campaign Coordinator

The faith community has always been an active force in the lives of children in Louisiana. Through our schools, children’s homes, food banks, charities and other social services we have been a moral voice for the life and dignity of all children in our state. Despite these efforts, Louisiana has consistently been ranked as one of the worst states in all measures of child well-being, scoring in the bottom 10% of every index according to the Annie E. Casey Kid’s Count. One such statistic is that 28% of children under the age of 18 live in poverty. The faith community can become a beacon of hope for the state and play a major role in changing this narrative.

Bread or Stones, which gets its name from Matthew 7:9, is an ecumenical initiative of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference that aspires to bring churches of all denominations together to improve outcomes for God’s children. We do this by empowering individual congregations to make practical and achievable steps towards caring for the children in their local area. While one congregation will not be able to solve all of Louisiana’s problems alone, we know that if each church made a difference in their own area our collective impact would be huge. Seventy-two churches from many different denominations and regions of the state have signed on to this mission by becoming Bread or Stones Covenant Congregations. Our goal is for all churches in Louisiana to sign up and through discernment to find ways that the Holy Spirit is guiding them to put children first.

At this point you might be wondering what Bread or Stones Covenant Congregations actually do. We can serve children through our prayer, teaching, feeding, mentoring, adopting, advocating, etc. The sky is the limit, so take time with your congregation to see how God is calling you to serve.

One example can be found in Houma, LA, where a Catholic and an Episcopal church have joined together to adopt a local failing public school of mostly low-income students. This partnership was sparked at a community meeting organized by Bread or Stones in Houma. The two congregations started small by providing some coffee, donuts and a new coffee pot for teacher appreciation week. The relationship between the two churches and the public school has truly blossomed ever since. A year later there is now a tutoring program staffed by retired teachers from the two parishes and many other more involved efforts. This is just one of many initiatives that have reinvigorated all three entities. These are the kinds of results we are beginning to see throughout Louisiana as a result of the Bread or Stones Campaign. With continued blessings from God, it is our hope that the Church can continue to be the voice for change and that together we can make Louisiana a better home for children.

We encourage you and your congregation to join the Bread or Stones Campaign as a Covenant Congregation so that we can be a united voice for children. It’s easy, free of charge, and only commits you to exploring ways that you want to serve. For resources and more information visit •

Sr. Heather Sikes Makes First Profession

a Q&A with Sister Heather

Sister Heather Sikes, OLS made her first profession of vows as a Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows on Saturday, June 9, at the 4:00 p.m. Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Shreveport.

On Saturday, June 9, you took your First Profession of vows to the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. What is the significance of First Profession?

First Profession is a beautiful and significant transition from Novitiate to a time of contemplation in action, which points to our congregational motto: “Ardere et Lucere” meaning “to burn and to light.” It is a time when the sister’s consecration permeates all aspects of her life: apostolic ministry, prayer, study and community life. She lives the fruits of her consecration by seeing all people and circumstances through the eyes and heart of our crucified and risen Lord. In the daily life of a Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows, these spiritual elements are also nurtured and radiated: a love of the Holy Eucharist and a deep, genuine devotion to Our Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross – Our Lady of Sorrows. During the time of First Profession, the sister also prepares herself for her final vows in the future.

After you take your First Profession, what will change?

After First Profession, one is assigned to a community and to an apostolic service. I have been assigned to St. Joseph’s Convent in Alexandria, LA, and I will teach at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic School. My transition from being a novice to a temporary vowed sister entails living out our charism, spirituality and apostolate through my consecration to God.

Can you share your religious vocations story? What made you decide to join the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows?

I was a sophomore in college at the University of Louisiana Lafayette when I encountered the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. Before meeting the sisters, the desire of religious life was kept safely in the back of my mind and heart, and I was not on the path of actively discerning. I was studying pre-pharmacy, and I was preparing myself to move to Monroe for pharmacy school when I met the sisters at Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Church and Student Center on campus. My hidden desire of giving my life to God was brought from the back-burner to the altar, and I sensed God’s invitation once again.

Looking to the future, what will be some of the apostolates you pursue as a sister of OLS? 

The primary apostolate of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows is education. However, we also minister in the specific areas of social services and catechesis.

Will there be future vows?

After five years of temporary vows and preparation, there will be another public ceremony for a perpetual profession. During this solemn occasion, the sister professes her vows for the rest of her life and receives a golden ring with our Crucified Lord as a visible sign of His commitment, fidelity and love to her. Also, her free fiat in response is a sign of her commitment, fidelity and love to Him.

What advice would you give to a woman who is interested in pursuing religious life?

For any young women who may be interested in pursuing religious life or who may have a desire and not know how to be disposed to it, I would say to pray for the grace to be open to our Lord and ask Him to speak to your heart!

Our foundress, Blessed Elisabetta Renzi, has many beautiful quotes, and one that helped me in my early discernment was: “Pray, and you will know the harbor that Divine Providence has chosen for the little ship of your soul.” I think it’s a very gentle, open approach that can easily dispose oneself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I would also encourage them to have courage and a trustful recollection in their relationship with Jesus. Fr. John Paul Crispin, FMH once said about religious life, “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.” What a beautiful way to open wide the doors to religious life – the doors of one’s heart to God! And God can work through anything and choose anyone. This is the power of His gentle, guiding love.  •

Gabriel’s Closet Prepares Couple for Parenthood

by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

 We’ve all heard the saying, “when you make plans, God laughs.” Sometimes that laughter can turn into one of life’s biggest blessings. Such is the case with new mother Cherrish and the family she is building with Charles. Cherrish and Charles met four years ago when she had moved to Shreveport from Tucson, AZ. They fell in love and began preparing for their life together and planning for the future. Cherrish’s goal was to save up for college and eventually join the military, while Charles dreamed of owning his own landscape company. Everything was going according to plan, but as Cherrish describes it, they “hit a small speed bump” when she found out she was pregnant.

After experiencing all the emotions of impending motherhood (happy, scared, excited and nervous), Cherrish started receiving care through the Nurse-Family Partnership at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. It was through this program that she and Charles were referred to Gabriel’s Closet, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana’s parenting program, and began to get the necessary education and resources to become the best parents possible for their new baby.

Gabriel’s Closet offers weekly classes to expectant parents and parents of children ages newborn to four years. These classes cover a variety of topics including newborn and toddler care, discipline, safety, speech and language development, dental care, communication, potty training and much more. In addition to these classes, parents can earn merits that can be redeemed in Gabriel’s Closet to get essential items such as clothing, diapers, formula, strollers, car seats, pack ‘n play cribs, furniture and much more. Volunteers work with parents to make sure they are receiving all of the support they need to become the best possible parents to their children.

After their initial visit to Gabriel’s Closet in November 2017, Cherrish and Charles embraced the program with enthusiasm, attending parenting classes every week and working with volunteers to take advantage of the information and resources that would prepare them for parenthood.

Cherrish gave birth to their daughter, Eternity, on May 7 of this year. When asked what she likes best about being a parent, she describes the joy of seeing her own expressions on the face of her “little me.” Charles is an adoring father who often wants to hold his sleeping daughter while Cherrish laughingly encourages him to let “sleeping babies lie.” Cherrish credits the classes at Gabriel’s Closet with teaching her how to balance parenting while preparing her to go back to school. The “baby bump” in the road may have deterred their plans, but Charles and Cherrish are back on track to fulfilling their dreams.

“We couldn’t be more grateful to Catholic Charities for teaching us how to take care of our new baby while making sure that she has everything she needs,” said Cherrish. “I always recommend Gabriel’s Closet and Catholic Charities to new parents. They have helped us to work towards providing a successful, stable home for us, our baby girl and our family.”  •

Kids’ Connection: St. Ignatius of Loyola

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on St. Ignatius of Loyola.

St. Frederick High School El Día de los Niños

by Emily Brodtman

On April 29, the St. Frederick High School Spanish Club and National Honor Society joined St. Paschal’s Youth Group, SPY, to celebrate “El Día de los Niños” at St. Paschal’s Parish. El Día de los Niños is a day dedicated to children in Mexico and many Latin American countries. In preparation, the St. Frederick students baked sweets for a cake walk, bought candy, filled a piñata and brought games. Club members attended Spanish Mass and then helped set up and work the games. Once the games were set up we split into pairs to take the children to all the activities.

While working we were also learning about the Spanish culture. Our Vice President, Gabby Trejo, said, “It came as a surprise to see the look of confusion on some of the kids’ faces when we would speak to them in English, quickly realizing we needed to repeat ourselves in Spanish.”

This experience was great because we were able to immerse ourselves into the Spanish-speaking community and use our education to communicate with the children. Our Spanish Club enjoyed the opportunity to work with the SPY group. They had amazing decorations and many games which made the event possible. We are very grateful to be included with them to celebrate El Día de los Niños, and we hope to work with them again in the future.

St. Joseph Catholic School Students Enjoy Year of Religious Retreats

As part of an effort to continually strengthen the school’s Catholic identity, St. Joseph School’s Religion Department held age-appropriate retreats throughout the 2017-18 school year. Retreats ranged in length from 30 minutes to five hours, and each focused on a particular aspect of the faith.

First graders focused on the Holy Trinity, creating a clover representing the Trinity and learning a Blessed Trinity song. Second graders made unleavened bread during their retreat to represent the hosts used at Holy Communion, and created a Last Supper project. Students in third grade created a poster representing one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, giving each fruit a name and good qualities for a religious life. Fourth graders performed a skit that represented the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Middle School students enjoyed an off-campus retreat, held on All Saints Day 2017, that began with the school’s All Saints Mass, then continued to St. Joseph Cemetery, where they learned about Catholic cemeteries and some of the stories of those who are buried there. They sang hymns and prayed the Prayer for the Faithful Departed before continuing on to Greenwood Cemetery.

Here the students also enjoyed a cultural celebration they learned about in Spanish class: La Dia de los Muertos. Students and chaperones enjoyed homemade Mexican hot chocolate, rice, beans and tamales, then offered the Prayer for the Faithful Departed and went on a scavenger hunt to learn about the many historical figures of the City of Shreveport who have gone before us.

SJS is already planning retreats for next year, to help the students grow in their knowledge and love of the Catholic faith, and to teach them how to withdraw from their busy schedules occasionally, to take time to be with Jesus in prayer.  •

JGS Partners with Cyber Innovation Center

Jesus the Good Shepherd School has partnered with the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City, using a curriculum from the NICERC (National Integrated Cyber Research Center), which is a creation of the Cyber Innovation Center. It is an application-based curriculum that allows the teacher to embed the curriculum across multiple disciplines. Students used a seven-step Engineering Design Process to create rollercoasters using nothing more than card stock, tape and glue.

OLF Teachers Testify Before Louisiana State Senate

Two teachers from Our Lady of Fatima School, Tacorey Johnson and Stephanie Haney, testified before the Louisiana State Senate Finance Committee. They were there to speak about the state scholarship program, required services and the child nutrition salary supplement.

Vocations View: Spanish Immersion

Seminarian Raney Johnson (second from right) stands with other seminarians before Mass in Mexico as part of his Spanish Immersion program.

by Raney Johnson, Seminarian

Since the beginning of June, I have had the great opportunity to spend this summer studying Spanish in Mexico through the International Institute for Culture. I have already experienced and learned so much in my short time here. At the beginning of the summer, I wondered what God might have planned for my vocation when I arrived in Mexico, and I must admit that I felt nervous before I left for the trip. I did not know much about the program that I was attending, and initially, I thought that I did not know anyone attending the program with me. However, as soon as I arrived, all of my nerves went away.

I met five amazing seminarians from around the country on the first day, and to my surprise, I already knew one of the seminarians from my previous summer assignment at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, NE. There are also four priests learning Spanish with us who have been spiritual fathers to the seminarians throughout the program.

In my first week of the program, I reflected on why I thought we all came to take part in this Spanish Immersion program. My reflection on why eventually led me to consider the people who were our motivation for learning Spanish. Yes, it was our bishops and vocation directors who asked us to attend this program, but the true motivators for why we came to Mexico were the people of God. We came to Mexico so that we could minister to our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters in our dioceses, both native to the U.S. and from the many countries that speak the language.

Across the United States, the need for priests to learn Spanish continues to grow. In our own diocese, I know that the Hispanic community has grown over the past few years. From the time I first attended the Spanish Mass at St. Mary of the Pines Parish in Shreveport, I have had the privilege of watching the Hispanic community grow there. Likewise, from my time in college to the present, I have seen the Hispanic community in Ruston at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish grow.

Watching these two communities grow continues to increase my desire to learn Spanish and hopefully minister to my Spanish speaking brothers and sisters. However, my time in Mexico has taught me that learning about a particular culture goes hand in hand with learning the language. This is the reason this program has both a Spanish class and a class about the history and culture of Mexico. Learning about the culture of Mexico has made me appreciate the Spanish language even more. As I continue to try and grow in my ability to speak and understand Spanish, I look ahead to the future, hoping that one day I will be able to not only celebrate the Mass in Spanish but also the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick.

My time in Mexico has helped me understand the cultural background of Catholics in the Diocese of Shreveport who either come from Mexico or have ancestors who came from this country. By the time this article is printed, I will only have a few weeks left in Mexico. I am thankful for all the time I have had in such a deeply Catholic country. I hope to return to the U.S. with a better grasp of the Spanish language and an eager desire to serve the Hispanic community.  •

Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa

by Father Rothell Price

Bulletin Dates: July 8th & 15th
Collection Dates: July 21st & 22nd

This month our diocesan family takes up the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa collection. “The Church in Africa is growing rapidly, but often there are not enough local resources to provide pastoral care for all the communities. By supporting this collection, you will help others to grow in their faith across the African continent.” This encouraging appeal of Cardinal Joseph Tobin to pastors and parish administrators makes each one of us realize the great spiritual good accomplished by each person’s participation in this, and all second collections.

Blessed Pope Paul VI, soon to be St. Paul VI in October of this year, was instrumental in turning the eyes of the Church to the people and continent of Africa. St. Pope John Paul II, vibrantly championed the awareness of our need for solidarity with the Church in Africa. This need for solidarity with Africa continues in the visits of Pope Francis. Through the marvel of television and social media, we are blessed to see with our own eyes the good news that the Church in Africa is growing. The people of Africa are joyous and faith-filled, but they face challenges due to poverty, food shortages, disease and migration. The Solidarity Fund is an opportunity for us to stand with the people of Africa.

Please strengthen the faith of the people of Africa as they face these challenges. The Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa is a ministry of the bishops of our country. Your contribution to this collection makes it possible for our bishops to provide grants to finance pastoral projects that support the maintenance and growth of the Church in Africa. Funded projects include religious education, Catholic schools, clergy and religious education, youth ministry, communications, evangelization, leadership formation, justice and peace, construction and outreach programs.

Any amount you give strengthens the presence and witness of the Catholic Church on the huge African continent. The size of the gift is of little importance. The love that inspires the giving of any amount is of utmost significance. The Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. Your donation will ensure pastoral care to individuals, families, communities and nations. Your sacrifice will open access to the Sacraments of the Church for a spiritually enthusiastic and hungry people. Your gift will make it possible for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and other liturgical worship to be offered and received. Please be generous in your support of the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. Solidarity is not a hand-out, but rather a Gospel demand to stand with another out of love for God. I thank you in advance for whatever you are able to give to the Church of Jesus Christ for the care of His brothers and sisters on the amazing continent of Africa. •