Monthly Archives: November 2018

Administering in a Climate of Transition and Church Crisis

by Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum, Diocesan Administrator

I was standing at the corner of Peacock Lane and Southgates in Leicester, UK, having just visited the recently excavated burial site of King Richard III (found underneath a parking lot) when I learned via email on June 26, 2018, of the news of the impending transfer of Bishop Michael Duca to Baton Rouge. (Receiving significant news has a way of imprinting the time and place on one’s consciousness). I knew the 10 priests of the diocese that form our College of Consultors would need to select a diocesan administrator to run the diocese until the arrival of a new bishop, our third for the Diocese of Shreveport. As a matter of fact, from the time of the retirement of Bishop Friend until the announcement of Bishop Duca, we were without a bishop for 17 months. This inter regnum is a time without any major innovations meant to tie up any loose ends and to prepare the diocese for our next Shepherd. Little did I know that that task would soon fall to me.

On my way home, while in the Atlanta airport, Terminal D Gate 26, I learned of the death of Msgr. Carson LaCaze, a second date and place stamped on my memory. A few days later, I preached the funeral homily for the priest who gave me First Holy Communion, who was my pastor at my first priest assignment at St. Mary the Pines Parish, and for whom I served as pastor the last 12 years of his ministry and life.

Only three weeks later we learned that Archbishop McCarrick, already removed from public ministry for credible allegations of sexual abuse, had resigned from the College of Cardinals – the first time such a thing had happened in the Catholic Church since 1927. That was July 27, and I heard the news as I was sitting at my desk in my Cathedral office. The grand jury report from Pennsylvania investigating sexual abuse of minors by priests was made public shortly thereafter, on August 14.

I vividly recall Bishop Duca sitting in the cathedra, installed as the sixth Bishop of Baton Rouge on August 24 at 2:35pm, a significant date as the College of Consultors of Shreveport needed to meet within eight days of that event to elect a diocesan administrator. That same evening, an 11- page bombshell of a letter from the former apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Viganò, was released, alleging the cover-up of the activities of Archbishop McCarrick and ultimately asking for the resignation of Pope Francis.

The fifth of a series of five homilies based on John, chapter 6, on the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and explaining parts of the Mass, was quickly shelved for a future date. I urgently needed my parishioners to hear, not from the media, but from me, their pastor, of my disgust related to this horrifying sex abuse crisis the Church was facing, yet again, and on the cover ups by many bishops.

The transfer of our bishop, the loss of my associate and friend, the grand jury report, the news surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, the explosive letter of the former nuncio, and my urgent homily: this was the context in which I was chosen to administer our diocese. It was as if the water had reached boiling point and I was thrown in.

Within the week of my acceptance of this position, the USCCB informed me of two November meetings I needed to calendar: the USCCB General Assembly in Baltimore of this year, and the November ad limina meetings in Rome of 2019, in case no new bishop had been appointed by that time. I also learned that as a diocesan administrator, I would have the same vote as any bishop present. I was given a password to access the BishopsOnly website, and that’s when hundreds of emails and letters flooded my inbox and mailbox, mostly to prepare me for the historical, monumental vote to take place at the November gathering of this country’s bishops (and those equivalent to them in law, like diocesan administrators).

As I prepared for the meeting, security concerns began to mount. Three times the number of media outlets were credentialed to cover this momentous meeting; the world would be watching this historical event.

The conversation during my first evening of the meeting centered on one thing only – the vote of the century: on “Standards of Episcopal Conduct” and the proposal to set up a “Special Commission for Review of Complaints Against Bishops.” I participated in a two-and-a-half hour long dinner presentation and discussion for new bishops specifically on the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults, given by the professionals of the USCCB and the National Review Board. Others bishops were in their respective committee meetings, many having begun two days earlier, participating in plenty of behind the scenes meetings and activities.

The first day of the General Assembly was set: we would take care of some formalities then enter the Day of Prayer, hearing what would be very moving presentations by two victims of sexual abuse by priests, as well as talks related to the call to bishops to shepherd after the Heart of the Good Shepherd. Everything would culminate with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, with the most providential, unbelievably apropos of readings to be proclaimed worldwide: Titus’ exhortation on a bishop “as God’s steward… blameless, not arrogant, … temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled… [called] to exhort with sound doctrine…”  And Jesus telling His disciples:  “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the one through whom they occur…  If your brother sins, rebuke him… And the Apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.’” Archbishop Hebda was sure to give a great homily.

Chimes rang to get us all to our seats for the prompt beginning of the General Assembly. First, we prayed, commemorating the feast of a bishop martyred for his tirelessly laboring for the unity of the Church, St. Josaphat. Then came the special announcement from the Holy See, delivered by the clearly rattled president of the USCCB: “At the insistence of the Holy See” the American bishops would have to delay the vote on the proposed action items on the agenda for some time, until after the February 2019 Vatican summit of all the presidents of bishops conferences worldwide. This watershed moment in the life of the Church was now delayed, for the apparent fear that this one bishops’ conferences taking such bold and needed steps could affect the whole Church.

I wanted to slam my fist down on the table! Time and place indelibly stamped on my consciousness, yet again. What was up? Does Rome not recognize the urgency of the moment with our people crying out for action? One bishop near me said it felt “like a punch in the gut.” Even the cardinal leading us said he was deeply disappointed by the news he had received the day before.  Another said: “If Francis wanted to unite us, he just found the way to do it” – through common anger and disappointment.

Catholics are angry and losing patience. I know my parishioners are.  In the midst of the meeting, several texted their frustration: “The Holy Father’s record on this was weak in Chile, and then in Honduras, and now in the United States. This is a bit like telling the paramedics to stand aside until a real doctor can arrive at the scene.”

Another simply wrote: “Unforced error” later writing, “The crisis will decimate the Church in the United States for generations to come if the episcopacy does not immediately take decisive action. Even the most faithful Catholics will not support an institution that accommodates and protects sexual predators. I will not.”

A third texted: “The bishops don’t realize how impatient and disgusted guys like me are. It’s a fine line before we are lost.” There was the clear sense from parishioners that nothing meaningful will come from Baltimore or Rome in February. All the bishops were very aware that the world outside was livid!

Over the next two days, bishop after bishop expressed grave concern, on the assembly floor and in interviews outside, desiring to get a strong message to the Vatican of the urgency of reform and needed action regarding Archbishop McCarrick. Everyone knows that the stakes for the February meeting have been raised and must result in universal, global action.

In his closing statement, Cardinal DiNardo said: “Brothers, I opened the meeting expressing some disappointment. I end it with hope… that the Church be purified and that our efforts bear fruit… We leave this place committed to taking the strongest possible actions at the earliest possible moment. We will do so in communion with the Universal Church. Moving forward in concert with the Church around the world will make the Church in the United States stronger, and will make the global Church stronger.  But our hope for true and deep reform ultimately lies in more than excellent systems, as essential as these are. It requires holiness: the deeply held conviction of the truths of the Gospel, and the eager readiness to be transformed by those truths in all aspects of life.

Even in this disappointment and pain, the Church is the only one founded by Jesus Christ, reflecting for us all the glory of Creation, yet all the corruption of the Fall. The light of truth always shines, and no darkness can overcome it. With the long view afforded by history, the Church has deeply experienced that Jesus never claimed the gates of hell would not encroach on the Church; only that they would never prevail against it. I will never – in any way – minimize the present pain and crisis, but this is not new as we know who prowls about this world. Yet in every age, God raises up reformers to challenge evil, and this time we inhabit is no different.

Being in the thick of things these past months has already affected the way I pray. I am grateful for the support I have received from the priests of our diocese as well as many lay people. As one wrote from Monroe, during the final day of the General Assembly: “You did not choose the Church abuse scandal. But you were chosen to face it.” I face it for and with all in our diocese. I minister, not in a Church I would prefer, but in the Church as I find it. I have not lost the sense of outrage at the abuse crisis and cover-ups, nor do I wish that for anyone. We must be about real reform in the Church as we find her in our individual parishes. We must take seriously Christ’s call to holiness, starting with our bishops and priests and indeed everyone! Jesus Christ truly is the Word made flesh, the splendor of the Father, the One sent to save us and give us Himself in the Eucharist and His transforming, purifying grace in and through the Church as He founded.

One of the sexual abuse victims who earlier addressed the conference, summed up her experience saying: “A surprising aspect for me when speaking at the Conference was how utterly pained the bishops are about Church-wide suffering over abuse.”  There is no doubting that.

O Antiphons

by Kim Long

After 18 years of working for the Church, I have deemed Advent the season of quiet desperation. Our Church tells us to be reflective and prepare, while secular society is already booming about Christmas, the season following Advent.

The O Antiphons are not really well known among many of my Catholic friends and co-workers until I reference the easily recognized Advent hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” With genuine relief they say “Oh right, yes I know that song.” But those prayers hold so much more for us.

It is at this moment in our “brand new year,” that the “O’s” offer us a bridge from the last few days of Advent into the Christmas season – a bridge from the wreath with four candles, all in different heights due to the celebratory “burn” of the previous weeks observance, to the stable. They bring us from promise to fulfillment, leaving behind the frenzied rush, offering instead the opportunity to stay connected to the anticipation of Christ’s birth. And if we “bridge the gap,” we can live out those last few days of Advent with some semblance of peace rather than greeting Christmas Eve and midnight Mass with sheer exhaustion, or even worse, with the silent battle cry, that “it will be over soon and life can get back to normal.”

History: The “Great O’s,” as they are called, have been around since roughly the sixth century. Prayed in the octave of Advent from December 17 though 23, they precede the recitation of the Magnificat during Vespers. By the eighth century they were regularly used in Rome. Although they have been used more in monastic settings, the laity has full access to these prayers, both in private devotion (there is an O Antiphon chaplet) and publicly during Vespers.

Meaning: An antiphon is a verse or psalm to be sung responsively. They have a dual meaning. First that each of these antiphons is a title of the Messiah, and secondly they point us toward Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. They also form a Latin acrostic, “Ero Cras” meaning “tomorrow I will come.” Acrostics are formed by using the first letters in a sequence of phrases.

Practice: What would our Christmas wish list look like if we, as adults, really gave some thought to what we are asking of God? After all, don’t we want what we ask for? Don’t we ask for what we want? In these prayers we are asking for, waiting for, hoping for the Messiah to come. What would that look like? How would He arrive? Would we recognize Him?

O Sapienta, O Wisdom

“Come with outstretched arms and redeem us.”

In the year 2000, I was working in my first church parish. The pastor ordered an exquisite statue of Mary and the child Jesus. The beauty of it overtook me; it was beyond any I had seen in a religious article. I asked him what “version” of Mary this was, and he told me “Seat of Wisdom,” Sedes Sapentiae in Latin.

She lived on my work desk for a time, and when I gazed upon her serene face I would be calmed almost at once. This came in particularly handy when our office handled calls for Christmas baskets. Each time I began to feel frustrated, there she was, seeming to tell me my heart should not be troubled. And miraculously, it wasn’t. According to Webster’s, wisdom is defined as the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships. Each day I am presented with situations, and approached by people who need answers. Be it my own family or my church family, I am so aware that my wisdom isn’t sufficient but God’s is.

O Adonai, O Lord 

“Come with an outstretched arm to redeem us.”

One of the definitions of redeem is “to free from what distresses or harms us.”  In an adult education class given years ago by the Greco Institute, our instructor told us “God is God and I am not and I am glad.” On the surface this sounds like a pithy, almost silly remark, but it is something I have considered since I first heard it. I have a friend who suffers from different levels of anxiety about nearly everything. When she asked me why I thought this was, my answer was rooted in this remark. She was not opposed to belief in God and religious practice, she was simply “unchurched.” I told her that if I had to believe everything, every decision, action, outcome depended only on me and not on God, I would probably be just as anxious as she is. She looked at me quite intently over her coffee cup and said, “You may be right, but how do I begin?” I shared the teacher’s statement with her and that sparked a genuine conversation, a true seeking of information, not just a platitude filled coffee klatch.

O Radix, O Root of Jesse

“Come and save us, and do not delay.”

Root has several definitions, but here is one worth considering: the unseen part which anchors and supports. My rootedness is something I need to reconnect with regularly. A few years ago I just “didn’t feel Catholic,” or in my estimation, not “Catholic enough.” These moments happen to us all. I longed for the feeling I had as a new Catholic where every piece of the Church’s vast history seemed like a newly discovered gemstone that I alone had mined. Every new piece of doctrine seemed like the missing piece, and now I was more complete, whole. None of those feelings were resonating with me. It seemed I had lost touch (temporarily) with my origin. I grudgingly returned to practices I didn’t “feel” like doing, ones I hadn’t thought of in years, in an attempt to reconnect. Slowly I made my way to a new feeling of connection; a path paved with things I knew to be true regardless of the “feeling” involved. In this moment I realized that my faith is not predicated on feelings alone, rather it is rooted in truth and love.

O Clavis of David, O Key of David

“Come and deliver the one from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

A metal instrument by which a bolt is turned is the common definition of the word key. This holds special resonance when I am in a new place, one that I do not really want to be in. There is a situation that I know God has given me, a lesson I now see is intended to unlock a part of me I had no wish to see, much less examine. It is here in the waning darkness that I ask the Messiah, the anointed one, Christ, to thaw my frozen heart, to turn the bolt, for deliverance.

O Oriens, O Rising Dawn

“Come enlighten those who sit in darkness.”

Dawn has a lesser known definition: to begin to appear or develop and to begin to be perceived or understood. The saying “things will seem clearer in the morning,” appears to be rooted here. At the end of a horrible day my one enduring thought surfaces, “I never have to live through this day again.” When I think of my ability to understand our faith and God’s love, I often feel as though I am peeling away the unending layers of an onion. The adage of not being able to stand in the same river twice applies here. We are always changing, growing, even if we go two steps forward and one step back. As a result, we are always peeling away the layers to get to, as Matthew Kelly speaks of, the best version of ourselves. We seek the light.

O Rex Gentium, O King of the Nations

“Come and save poor man, whom you fashion out of clay.”

When my sons were young we lived on a farm whose soil I called “hateful.” There was so much clay in the soil that when wet, it seemed to be slimy, and when dry, it cracked open so much that there were places I could set my entire foot inside. It seemed, like humanity, to have a mind of its own. The boys would often come home so covered in this slime that I would make them strip down to their underwear and wash off with a hose before coming in the house to bathe – otherwise the bathtub would not drain. This picture of childhood serves as a great illustration of my own willfulness. While a water hose no longer suffices, this prayer does.

O Emmanuel

“Come and save us, O Lord our God.”

I cannot remember when I first heard the somber refrain of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” I do remember where; in the living room of a small house on Ash Street, the street where I grew up. My mother played stacks and stacks of Christmas recordings on her “hi-fi.” They were wonderful, scratchy teachers. “O Come O Come Emmanuel” was one such lesson brought to us by volume two of Firestone Presents, a series of Christmas recordings. The tone of the music, its minor key sound covering me like a blanket, was something my soul seemed to need, to recognize, and it was here that they were imprinted in me. It was here that my gratitude for salvation was born. It is these prayers that help that gratitude grow.

May your Advent and these antiphons lead you into the light of the star, the warmth of the stable, and the miracle of love.

Find Harmony This Holiday Season

by Kelly Phelan Powell

Since I was a young girl, I’ve dreamt of the perfect family Christmas morning. My handsome husband and I would spring, totally refreshed, from bed when our beautiful children awoke us with shouts of delight at their surprises from Santa Claus. We would sit, all of us together in our matching Land’s End pajamas, and sip cocoa in front of a roaring fire. The children would fully comprehend (because Fantasy Husband and I are model Catholic parents, you see) that Christmas Day is not just about Santa Claus, toys and turkey but instead celebrates the birth of our Savior. Spending the day with our entire combined families, all of whom adore each other and get along perfectly at all times, would give us even more reason to praise God on this beautiful Christmas morning that would never, ever be 78 degrees with 90 percent humidity.

Except for the handsome husband and beautiful children, not one of our eight Christmas mornings together have even remotely resembled my quixotic Dream Christmas. (And I have loved each and every one of them more than I ever thought possible.)

Unrealistic expectations are just one source of stress at the holidays. Emotions run high, and even the smallest slights can become A Very Big Deal Indeed. Old family grudges, politics, religion and even child rearing are landmine conversation topics at big family gatherings. And then, of course, there are far more serious matters between family members that could include physical, psychological or sexual abuse, domestic violence, racism and bigotry. Combined, these factors make holidays into anxiety-ridden nightmares for many people.

“Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive,” says St. Paul in Colossians 3:13, but that can seem impossible when you can’t even have a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner together.

As Catholic Christians, we’re called to build strong families, and there are some things you can do, at the holidays or any time, to help smooth family interactions so that peace and love have a chance to take root and grow. Dr. Brandi Patton, an adult psychiatrist in the public sector/government in Birmingham, AL, shared some advice for less stressful family gatherings.

1. Limit alcohol. 

We may joke about needing a stiff drink when times get tough (or Uncle Lester starts pontificating about politics), but alcohol can make things significantly worse. “Too much alcohol can lead to disinhibition and send conversations in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Patton.

2. Manage expectations and acknowledge anxiety.

“Practice self-care,” said Dr. Patton. “Know your limits – don’t invite 100 people if you only have space for 20 or a budget for 10. Communicate your needs; don’t expect others to read your mind or know [what you need] instinctively. Lower your expectations. Allow yourself to accept the holiday gathering or event as it actually is, not as you want it to be or thought it would or could be. Spend time alone before or after if that’s something you know you need. Try not to over-schedule yourself, and allow for a different definition of success.” In other words, focus on “We ate dinner together and everyone was satisfied,” rather than “We didn’t have a five-star, four-course meal served on China with silver.”

3. Use humor. 

Dr. Patton suggested a joke followed by a quick subject change to something you know the other person likes or is interested in: “I’ve started my New Year’s resolutions early – and one of them is giving up talking about politics! Have you been taking your boat out a lot?”

4. Take a break. 

“Take a bathroom or other break,” said Dr. Patton. “Or say you need to check the turkey. Seriously! This can be really helpful to rearrange the conversational groups and change the mood.”

5. Have a code word. 

“Agree with your significant other or another close family member or friend ahead of time that you will ‘rescue’ each other if you anticipate a particularly problematic issue with a certain relative,” said Dr. Patton. “You serve as each other’s ‘wingman’ who can request assistance in the kitchen or whatever makes sense for the two of you.”

6. Save complex topics for another time.

If a family member brings up a sensitive subject on which you know (or strongly suspect) you fundamentally disagree, Dr. Patton suggested, say something like “I’d really like to talk about that later when we have more time and privacy,” and then move on to another topic. If they press the issue, politely point out that you have feelings as strong as theirs, but out of respect for the holiday (and the host), you’d rather discuss such a serious topic another day.

7. Know your limits.

Nearly everyone knows that family member or friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who spouts off offensively about whatever topic is at hand. Dr. Patton suggested a firm but civil response like, “I don’t insult members of other races/cultures/religions/etc., and I expect the same of others while they’re in my home.” As a last resort, “if the person will not drop the subject or suggests violence, you may need to kindly but firmly ask them to leave,” she said. “Always consider safety first and contact authorities for assistance if a dangerous situation seems to be developing.”

May we all experience peace and joy this holiday season. But if you can’t find peace, at least try to find humor. We may never have the ridiculously perfect holidays of our dreams, but thanks to Jesus, joy is always within reach.

St. John Berchmans School’s Principal Deason Earns Doctorate

Jennifer Deason, principal of St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport, graduated on November 17 with her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Louisiana Tech University.

Deason has always believed her faith is the reason she is where she is. She said, “My Catholic faith has always been an integral part of my life. We prayed nightly family rosaries and we went to first Friday Masses at 6:30 in the morning. I feel my parents instilled in me such a deep love and respect for my faith.“

She attended Louisiana Tech University, and eventually Louisiana State University (LSU), where she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She began teaching in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System upon her graduation. She then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Education in School Counseling from LSU.

After relocating to Sulphur, Deason completed additional graduate coursework at McNeese State University in Lake Charles. In 2008, she began working as a middle school counselor in the Calcasieu Parish School System, and in 2010 was named Calcasieu Parish Middle School Counselor of the Year. She then went on to be awarded Louisiana Middle School Counselor of the Year.

Shortly after receiving this award, Jennifer and her family relocated to Benton, moving away from her parents, siblings and the close knit Catholic community she had always known. Longing to find a sense of Catholic community in their new location, Jennifer and her husband, Chris, enrolled their boys in Catholic school and she began working in the Diocese of Shreveport school system.

Initially, she completed a long-term substitute teaching position for the 2010-2011 school year as a 5th grade teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School. The following school year, Jennifer accepted a counseling position at St. John Berchmans Catholic School. After Jennifer obtained the Educational Leadership I certification, she became Assistant Principal. She also obtained her dual certification as a National Certified Counselor and a National Certified School Counselor.

In 2014, Deason began the Educational Leadership doctoral program with Louisiana Tech University, and in 2017, she was promoted to principal of St. John Berchmans School.

Deason emphasized, “When it came time to choose my dissertation, I wanted my topic to be something that would help me as a Catholic school leader.” Her research focused on factors influencing parental school choice in North Louisiana.

On October 4, she successfully defended her dissertation before her doctoral committee and officially completed her doctorate. On November 17, she walked across the stage at Louisiana Tech for the “doctoral hooding” ceremony and received her diploma in Ed.D in Educational Leadership.

Deason said, “I feel God has led me to where I am supposed to be, doing His work in our Catholic school, where I am able to integrate my faith, family and profession all into one.”

Loyola Student Organization Hosts Meal Drive

Loyola College Prep student organization Flyers Aiding the Hungry (F.Ai.T.H) holds an annual event serving the Shreveport and Bossier City communities just in time for the holidays.

On December 3, F.Ai.T.H. will serve over 900 baskets from the Loyola gymnasium. Meals come in baskets filled with canned goods, bread and ham – all supported by fundraising, donations and sponsorships.

The community is invited to sponsor a basket for $30 which helps to cover the cost for its contents. Supporters are also encouraged to donate goods and children’s toys for various ages. Over its near three decades of operation, approximately 87,000 people have been fed on F.Ai.T.H. Day.

In addition to its chairmen and officers, over 55 percent of the student body helps distribute the baskets. Santa Claus even makes an appearance to hand out toys to children in attendance.

SJS Students Attend Annual Vocations Luncheon

As part of National Vocations Awareness Week, St. Joseph Catholic School has annually held a vocations luncheon that allows middle school students to visit with men and women of the diocese who have answered God’s call to priesthood, the diaconate or religious life. The event is held at the St. Joseph Church Family Life Center, includes lunch and provides a casual atmosphere for conversation about vocations. The students who attend have voluntarily expressed an interest in speaking with the priests, deacons, seminarians and sisters, and they dine in separate rooms to allow for more intimate conversations about each type of vocation. Fr. Matthew Long, pastor of St. Joseph Church, was in attendance, as well as seminarian Jeb Key, Deacon Bill Roche, Sr. Anna Maria Iannetti, OLS, and two novices. Fr. Long makes regular visits to religion classrooms throughout the year, as well. During National Vocations Awareness Week the students enjoyed visits from Fr. Matthew Long, Fr. Fidel MondragÓn, Fr. Biju Kuriakose and Deacon Bill Roche.

Kids’ Connection: O Antiphons

Click here to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection!

Year-End Giving

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Stewardship

In these times of rapid change, the end of the year can be an excellent time to review your important financial matters, especially those dealing with your desire to make any charitable gift to the Church before December 31, 2018. With changes to federal tax laws constantly being proposed, giving to the Church this year may save you more.

One of the last tax savings opportunities completely within your personal control are your monetary gifts provided for supporting the ministry of the Church. Naturally, the higher your tax bracket, the more your charitable Church gifts will save you. The amount you save depends on tax rates and the portion of your gifts you are allowed to deduct. Facilitating your financial incentives to give to the Church before year’s end can significantly reduce the amount of taxes you will owe next April.

Gifts of Cash

Most of the Church’s faithful give in this way in the form of cash, donating online, electronic transfers or personal checks. When you itemize your tax deductions, up to one half of your Adjusted Gross Income or AGI can be positively affected by gifts of this nature.

Gifts of Appreciated Property

Mutual funds, bonds, securities or individual stocks that have risen in value can result in tax savings. If you have owned these items for more than one year, they can be deducted from your income tax at full value. This also gives you the added advantage of avoiding capital gains tax due on a sale instead of a gift.

Some of your investments may have decreased in value as 2018 comes to a close. Consider selling them and making a charitable gift of the cash you receive for them. This creates a loss you may be able to deduct from other income subject to taxation, along with the amount of the cash donation. Remember that any tax deductions you choose not to use this year, may be carried forward for up to five future tax years.

Life Insurance Gifts

You may own an insurance policy that has accumulated cash value, but is no longer needed for its original purpose. You have the option of gifting the value of that policy to the Church and benefitting from welcome income tax savings.

Estate Plans

December is also an excellent month to review your immediate and long-range estate and financial plans. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies and wills are just some of the tools of estate planning that can leave a lasting legacy to the Church. These meaningful future gifts can also generate income while providing immediate tax savings. After your loved ones have been provided for, consider leaving a specific amount or a percentage, or the residue of your estate to the Church.

Action Equals Benefits

If you want to take advantage of the strategies listed above, the month of December is the time to act. See your advisors and accountant to provide you with your specific needs and spend time right now to decide on how best to make your year-end gifts work best for you and the Church you love. For more information on how your year-end or planned gift can help both you and the Church, contact the Diocesan Office of Stewardship at 800-256-1542.


Appeal Sunday Slated for February 17, 2019

The Masses of February 16-17, 2019 have been selected to launch our 2019 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal Campaign. Please mark your calendars and begin to plan now on how you can gift your time, talent and treasure to the good of our combined ministry to the people of this region.

Appeal highlights for the coming year will be featured in the February issue of your Catholic Connection and don’t forget, additional Appeal donations received at the Catholic Center on or before December 31 can be attributed to your charitable contributions on your Federal Income tax form for 2018.  •

Save the Date: Gala to Honor Msgr. Carson LaCaze

by Randy Tiller

As many of you may know, Msgr. J. Carson LaCaze had an extensive collection of rabbits – yes, rabbits – and although they are not live rabbits, they still seemed to multiply over the years, as rabbits tend to do.

Msgr. LaCaze’s family has donated the collection and several other choice items to the Diocese of Shreveport. The Cathedral of
St. John Berchmans and Catholic Center have joined together and formed committees to plan a “Monsignor LaCaze Memorial Gala.” Who better to kick off the Mardi Gras season than that quintessential Mardi Gras Monsignor?

His love of people, infectious smile, great stories and an all-round friend to all (if he liked you, he kidded you!) makes him the perfect “poster boy” to make this gala both a memorable event, as well as a great source of funding for the Diocesan Priest’s Retirement Fund. As discussed with Msgr. LaCaze’s family, all the proceeds from this event will go to this fund in his honor.

The items have been inventoried and catalogued by the committee. A few of the more special items will be held for a live auction, while the other items will be set up for a silent auction. This will all take place in the Multi-Room at St. John Berchmans Catholic School.

Saturday, February 16, 2019, has been reserved for the event. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Sponsorship tables are encouraged. Individual tickets will be sold in advance at $50 per person. This will include several drink tickets and a very lavish buffet with many of Msgr. LaCaze’s favorite food and spirits.

As we move closer to the date, more information will be posted on websites, bulletins, and The Catholic Connection magazine.

Please mark your calendars and join us in celebrating the life of Msgr. J. Carson LaCaze.

Tickets will be available at the Catholic Center and the Cathedral Office.

Committee Chairs:
Carol Gates and Randy Tiller

Catholic Charities Announces New Development Director

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) recently announced that Tiffany Olah has joined the organization as the new Director of Development and Communications.

As Director of Development and Communications, Olah will not only be responsible for maintaining donor relations, coordinating with community outreach programs and creating public awareness, but will also be responsible for annual social events that support Catholic Charities, such as Bingo on the Bayou and Lights of Broadway.

Originally from Florida, Olah resides in Shreveport with her husband and daughter while her son is a student at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. She is excited to bring her communications and public relations knowledge to Catholic Charities and eager to work with those at Catholic Charities.

“I am honored to be part of such a diverse staff that genuinely cares about what they do and who they do it for,” Olah said.

For more information about CCNLA, visit or email questions to  You may also call 318-865-0200 or visit CCNLA on Facebook or Instagram.

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana was established in 2010 through the efforts of the Diocese of Shreveport. It continues to uphold its vision of investing in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice.  •