Monthly Archives: January 2019

Moving Forward in Sede Vacante

by Jessica Rinaudo

Bishop Duca’s appointment to Baton Rouge earlier this year made our diocese, Sede Vacante or a “vacant see:” a diocese without a bishop, overseen by a diocesan administrator, who is elected by the College of Consultors. Many people wonder how the diocese is managing without a bishop in place. The answer? Well and busy!

Fr. Peter Mangum, in his capacity as diocesan administrator oversees the day-to-day management of the diocese.

“One of our first discussions after Fr. Peter’s election dealt with responsibilities in regards to the policies, procedures and protocols established over the years by previous bishops through decrees, decisions and documents,” said Chancellor Randy Tiller. “Fr. Peter and I both agreed that a large portion of our new positions was based on our ability to see that things went forward according to the policies in place.”

“Now after only a few short months, the diocese is moving along and the chancery is working side by side with Fr. Peter,” added Tiller.

Part of ensuring diocesan policies are working and moving along as they should is completion of the forms for the Official Catholic Directory (OCD). Through the efforts of all diocesan churches, priests, deacons, schools, hospitals, etc., and managed by the Chancellor’s office, these statistics on each entity are sent in to OCD annually. This is an essential part of maintaining the tax-exempt status of diocesan Catholic organizations with the Internal Revenue Service. Additionally, spiritual reports must be filed with the Vatican each year to keep them abreast of the status of the Diocese of Shreveport. This crucial reporting continues to be completed with the Chancery staff and parishes working together.

November was also an important month for the Diocese of Shreveport, as it hosted the Conference for Chancery and Tribunal Officials (CCTO) for the Provinces of Mobile and New Orleans, which includes the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The Diocese of Shreveport also extended an invitation to the Diocese of Tyler, TX. This conference brought together tribunal officials such as the judicial vicars, canon lawyers, moderators of the tribunals and the chancery officials, including chancellors and chancery staff, in an effort to update everyone on Church issues pertinent to their ministry. This year’s conference was entitled “Legalism, Laxism and Antinomianism in the Church Today.” Most Rev. Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, IL, and Dr. Diane L. Barr, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, were the keynote speakers for the event.

In conjunction with the conference, Bishop Paprocki celebrated Mass in the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans for participants of the event, as well as the people of the Diocese of Shreveport.

Members of the Catholic Center staff contributed their time and energies to ensure the event, hosted in Shreveport once every 11 years, was a success.

“Everything was first class! Father Gomez and I truly enjoyed the presentations and the comraderies,” said Peyton Low, Chancellor, Diocese of Tyler.

The Diocese of Biloxi echoed that sentiment, “Thank you for hosting this year’s Tribunal Conference! It was a wonderful and informative experience. Your extra effort in kindness and hospitality was greatly appreciated.”

Sede Vacante translates to vacant see, but it is so much more than not having a bishop in place. It is a time for prayer and contemplation as we all consider what we each want a new bishop to bring to the table,” said Tiller.

“I often hear Fr. Peter say, ‘I want to be able to hand off a diocese that is positioned to move ahead and one that does not prejudice a new bishop,’” he added.

As of now, the diocese has no news on when a new bishop will be appointed. The chancery staff continues to work with the churches and schools to serve the mission of the Catholic Church as they pray for and await the appointment of a new bishop for the Diocese of Shreveport.

“Prepare him, we humbly pray, to fill our minds and hearts with the truth of the Gospel, the power of the sacraments, and the desire to actively work to build up Your holy Church.”   

An excerpt from a “Prayer for a New Bishop for the Diocese of Shreveport.

Praise Academy: Building Faith, Education and Community in Lakeside

by Jessica Rinaudo

Every city has them – areas rampant with crime, populated by the poor, the hungry, those surviving day to day. Shreveport, Louisiana is no exception. I found myself driving into one such area of town late in September, looking past the crumbling houses and overgrown grass on Yale Street. I had been told to keep my doors locked and come straight to the address I had been provided.

When I finally located the street, I made the turn and my eyes grew in wonder at what I beheld there: a row of structurally sound, neatly landscaped, beautiful homes lining the road. And out in the front of one of the houses was a sign that proudly declared that this was the home of Praise Academy.

But the outside was just the beginning. Inside held a much more beautiful treasure: 25 neighborhood children sat with their teachers learning everything from fine motor skills and their letters, to sentence structure and history lessons. This gift, this beautiful sight, was brought to fruition by the People of Praise, and, as they will tell you, was directed by God.

David Zimmel, a missionary for the People of Praise who moved to Shreveport from Oregon, walked out of one of the homes – his home it turned out – and greeted me with a smile. Together with People of Praise member, Julie Bruber, they offered to give me a walking tour while they told me about what they have accomplished, against all odds, in the heart of a depressed community in Shreveport since 2005.

“We heard the Lord calling us to go somewhere and do something, that’s about as specific as it was,” said David of his beginning days as a missionary. “So three of us went out and looked all across the country, specifically the South… And we got lost when we toured Shreveport. We got lost in this neighborhood and just fell in love with it… We felt the Lord was saying ‘This is it.’ Within a month we bought a piece of land. We built one house, and then we started a summer camp. And every year the houses and the summer camp have grown,” said David.

Today their summer camp is a four to six week long program for nearly 150 neighborhood children.

David also gave me a walking tour of the neighborhood. He showed me where the teachers live, because their mission is not just to come, teach and leave, but to truly be a part of the community.

He walked us past the homes of residents, telling me their names and life stories, pointing out projects they had worked together on.

“How did you do it?” I asked. “How did you get to know everyone?”

David laughed, “Going door to door.”

“We wanted to do fix it projects, so we went to every house and said, ‘We will fix your house for free. If you can pay for the materials, we will provide the labor and expertise. And, in fact, if you need help with the materials, we’ll help with the materials, too.’ And nobody called us back,” said David. “And then one lady, Miss Octavia, called us and said, ‘Hey, are you serious about fixing this stuff?’”

She asked if they would come fix her bathroom vanity. The missionaries went in and repaired it for her. David laughed and said, “And the next day we had 35 phone calls. The neighbors were just waiting to see if we were actually going to do it.”

As we continued our walk, we stopped by an unassuming home on a hill. David told me they had purchased the home from a man eager to be rid of it. With home ownership being a near impossibility for most in the area, David intends to make it a rental space for families with children at the school. But, when he walked through the space, he said he would not feel comfortable living there, so he undertook the home improvement project.

When he swung open the front door of this house for me, there stood Paul, bent over a line of fresh cabinet doors, sanding their surfaces, preparing to stain and hang them. Paul stood up, lifted his protective eyewear, and greeted me with a warm smile. It turns out he was a recently graduated engineering major from Notre Dame, and spends much of his time traveling to work on home projects for the People of Praise.

After we left the house, we continued walking back. I listened to more stories of neighbors, including one of a man who they met when the missionaries first moved to Shreveport.

“One of our earliest conversations, we talked to this older man who was 84,” said David. “ We asked him, ‘So what do you think God wants us to do in this neighborhood?’ And he looked at us and said, ‘Well are you serious? … We need a whole new city, new roads, new schools, new everything.’ And that for me was God speaking. You don’t just help and leave.”

When we returned back to the school, the students were lining up for recess. Together they walked with their teachers, singing songs of glory and praise to God, loud and proud.

On the playground, I settled in next to Joan Pingel, the school’s principal and a parishioner at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. She told me about her faith journey from being raised by parents in the People of Praise, to rebelling against her Catholic faith in her teens, until she eventually “returned home” again when she was in her early 20’s. She reconnected with the People of Praise and felt called to leave Indiana in 2003 and teach in Shreveport, despite not knowing anything about the area.

She was part of the early conversations with neighbors in the area. A recurring topic for people of the community was the need for a neighborhood school. After four years of prayer, research and discussion, they brought the idea of a school to their missionary team. Through prayer and consultation, they agreed to move forward with Praise Academy.

“The first year, maybe a couple of days before school, we had one student who applied. By the end of the first day we had five, and by the end of the second day we had eight… Every year we have grown a little bit bigger,” said Joan.

As she spoke about the school and the students there, sharing their stories, tears formed in her eyes.

“Our first year, one of our students had a temper… I went to talk to the mom to figure out what’s going on. She said, ‘I don’t know how to be a parent. Can you help me?’ She had her when she was 15. So, we’re trying,” said Joan.

During the course of our conversation, I witnessed how the teachers manage conflict and discipline. They work to teach the children to self evaluate without raising their voices. “We give them parameters, but also teach them how to think through how they want to make choices in their life and get their needs met without yelling and violence,” said Joan.

“We want them to know Jesus,” she added. “That’s a big part of what parents said they wanted other than a safe environment and a neighborhood school their kids could walk to… And so we talk to them about Jesus. We have a Bible class. Jacquie Vaughan, who used to work at St. Joseph Catholic School and has retired, she is coming in once a week and working with our kids. We do morning prayer, we teach reconciliation and forgiveness… so that it’s not holding grudges and retaliating, which is in the culture these days,” said Joan.

Joan’s experience with the school has been life changing, both for her and her students.

“Our first year we had a student who was seven-years-old and did not know the alphabet, had never heard the song. He didn’t know what to do with letters, but his goal was that he wanted to write his name, oh he wanted to write his name. I didn’t know what to do with him because I had never started with someone that old before who didn’t know letters or sounds,” said Joan.

“I called people I knew who had worked with kids his age and we figured out a new way to do it. I had a volunteer who worked just with him. Now, this is his fourth year here, he can write his name… and he is reading! We had to figure out what his strengths were and work with what we have. … And I know that this is what the Lord is calling us to do – to hang in there and be with the ones who are usually pushed aside because they can’t keep up. … The Lord keeps giving us words of, ‘I was rejected, too. I was yelled at, but love them anyway because I’m there with you,’” she said.

As we walked into the school and through the classrooms, I was greeted by children’s hugs, smiles and “What’s your name? Is that your camera?” It is clear these children know love and kindness and share both openly with all in those school walls.

“This isn’t just school and that’s the end of our lives,” said Joan. “This is a community we’re building.”

The Praise Academy continues to grow each year. It’s funded through donations and volunteers. When I asked Julie what the school needed most to ensure a bright future, she instantly and emphatically replied, “Volunteers!”

For a full list of ways to help or be involved with the school, visit https://www.praiselakeside.org/ways-to-help/. •

Who are the People of Praise?

“A majority of People of Praise members are Catholic, and yet the People of Praise is not a Catholic group. We aim to be a witness to the unity Jesus desires for all his followers. Our membership includes not only Catholics but Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals and nondenominational Christians. What we share is a common baptism, a commitment to love one another and our teachings, which we hold in common.”

From their website, www.peopleofpraise.org

SJS Dedicates Memorial to Msgr. Clayton

As pastor of St. Joseph Parish and School from 1969-93, Msgr. Murray Clayton was many things to many people: shepherd, storyteller, father, musician, counselor, activist and friend. Three years after his passing, he has been honored for his role as a dear friend to the Hispanic community both here and in Mexico, and as a shepherd of this parish.

In the 1970’s, Msgr. Clayton instituted a “Gourmet Club,” which is still going strong today. Recently, when the St. Joseph Supper Club (formerly the Gourmet Club) sought to honor his memory, they chose to purchase a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. On December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Joseph Parish and School gathered to dedicate the statue, beginning with a Mass in Spanish, concelebrated by Fr. Matthew Long and Parochial Vicar, Fr. Fidel MondragÓn. The SJS fourth grade Spanish class sang, “La Guadalupana” after Communion. After Mass, those gathered moved outside to the door of the Adoration Chapel, where the statue now stands.

The plaque on the statue reminds viewers of Our Lady’s patronage, as well as the years of service offered by a beloved pastor. It reads, “Our Lady of Guadalupe Patroness of the Americas I am your merciful Mother in memory of Rev. Msgr. C. Murray Clayton Pastor 1969 – 1993.

OLF Students Win Patriotic Contest

Our Lady of Fatima School’s Kindergarten through 4th grade students participated in a contest on patriotism hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Kindergarten students had to color the American flag; 1st – 2nd graders had to draw the American Flag; and 3rd – 4th graders had to draw a historic event. Three students placed.

SJB Students Win Big at Science Olympiad Invitational

St. John Berchmans School’s (SJB) Science Olympiad Team competed at the Harmony Invitational in Fort Worth, TX, at the Harmony School of Innovation on Saturday, December 8. They competed against 14 highly competitive Texas schools and received medals in six events.

Coach Amy Knight remarked, “Participating in Invitationals gives our team members an extra opportunity to compete at a high level of competition. We gain experience and learn something new with every competition.”

The team will compete in Houston, TX, for the Anthony Invitational this month and then the regional competition will follow in March. In April, SJB Science Olympiad Team will defend their 10 time title in the State Tournament in Hammond, LA.   •

Grant Gives Garden to St. Frederick High

Dan Lindow was a Mini-Grant Recipient from the Junior League of Monroe. With the funds made available through the grant, Dan was able to purchase a greenhouse for St. Frederick’s Science/Botany/Garden club! The Parents Association donated seeds and supplies to help him see this project through. With the help of Tierny Gammage, Anna Grace Gill and Olivia Letlow, they were able to grow a variety of vegetables the last couple of months! Once the vegetables are ready to harvest, they will be donated to Grace Place Ministries, a local soup kitchen in the Monroe area. A big congratulations to Dan and his students for their selfless project to give back to the community!  •

87 Year Old Loyola Grandmother Loses Home in Devastating Fire

In times of celebration and in times of sorrow, the Loyola family can always count on a rallied community to provide love and support. Word traveled that Marilyn Pettiette, grandmother of 15, including seven Loyola alumni, lost her home and all possessions in a devastating fire in November.

Born in a small town in Minnesota during the Great Depression, this sweet 87-year-old participated in the Rosary Group for 10 years while her grandchildren attended Loyola. Marilyn faithfully prayed for the students and community of Loyola and continues to do so as prayer requests are made known to her. When the Flyers received word of the fire, immediate brainstorming efforts went into place to provide assistance in some way.

Over the past year, the Pettiette family has created a YouTube channel entitled “Three Generations Singing.” The channel features songs which showcase the musical talents of Marilyn, a former music educator with Caddo Parish, and an accomplished pianist and vocalist. Currently, the family has released over 30 videos that feature three generations of musical talent.

Loyola took note of this 87-year-old grandmother’s special presence on YouTube and decided to host a 24-hour video marathon devoted to building views on the family’s channel. Students, faculty, parents and alumni committed to watching several of the videos on December 12. If views should reach a necessary quantity, the channel can be monetized for revenue in an effort to provide assistance for Marilyn.

Please join the Loyola family in building views for “Three Generations Singing.” Simply search for “ThreeGenerationsSinging” with no spaces on YouTube, and watch the delightful musical presentations. •

Kids’ Connection: Epiphany

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

Priestly Vocations Bloom from Louisiana Tech University

by Brother Mike Ward, OFM

On Saturday, November 10, Fr. Luke LaFleur presided at the wedding of Abbey Simoneaux and Jack LaFreniere. This was Fr. Luke’s first wedding as a priest, as he was just ordained this past May at the Cathedral in Alexandria. Both Abbey and Fr. Luke were students at Louisiana Tech and very active members of the Association of Catholic Tech Students (ACTS) at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and Student Center in Ruston.

Bro. Michael Ward, OFM, the Campus Minister at St. Thomas, served as deacon. This was the first time that Bro. Michael and Fr. Luke celebrated a Mass together. Bro. Mike was Fr. Luke’s spiritual director at Louisiana Tech as Luke discerned his vocation to the priesthood while studying electrical engineering.

The stoles they both wore were handmade by Suzi Broussard of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. They were gifts to Fr. Luke from his fellow classmates who were members of ACTS and attended Tech. Suzi was able to stitch each of their signatures on the inside of the priest’s stole to commemorate
Fr. Luke’s ordination.

Over 50 ACTS alumni attended the wedding at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Destrehan, LA. At the moment three students from ACTS and Louisiana Tech are studying for the priesthood in Louisiana! •

Ouachita Parish to Host Bingo on the Delta 2019

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA)announces their 2nd Annual Bingo on the Delta fundraising event will be held at the West Monroe Convention Center on Saturday, February 2, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. All proceeds will benefit CCNLA programs in Northeast Louisiana and the Eastern Deanery service areas.

As before, clergy from churches in North Louisiana will serve as bingo callers. Tickets will include dinner and two bingo cards. There will be raffle prizes and a cash bar. Dress is casual for the adults-only event and wearing your team colors is encouraged. Table sponsorships are available and begin at $750. If registered by January 11, sponsors will be recognized in all media and materials.

This year’s football theme will prepare fans for Super Bowl Sunday the night after our event, as we plan to spend an evening in food, fun and fellowship. Join us as we celebrate what Catholic Charities is doing to help the poor and vulnerable of Northeast Louisiana!

Please contact Tiffany Olah at 318-865-0200, ext. 109, or at development@ccnla.org for a sponsorship form or for more information.