1117phil4

Walking with Philippians: Reflecting on Paul’s Words in Our Daily Lives

by Kim Long Okay, I admit it, I was never really a big fan of the “apostle Paul.” Chalk it up to that often quoted verse reminding wives to obey their husbands More »

1117whitehead1

Evangelists Remind Us of Our Precious Gift of Faith

by Deacon Mike Whitehead Bunny Austin, Gerald Govin, Bobbie Harlan, John Munger, Terry Byrnes, Josephine Pupillo, Norma Lenard, Joycelyn Majeste, James Tuma, Sam DeFatta, Cambize Schardar, Maria Steele, Judy Landry, Maudie Baranowski, More »

1117deacons

A Call to Diaconate Service

by Deacon Mike Whitehead It’s not too late to respond to a continuing call of service in the Diocese of Shreveport, but the clock is ticking. Bishop Michael Duca is looking for More »

1117lcp

Flyers Make Hurricane Relief a Personal Mission

by Lisa Cooper Loyola Flyers strive each year to fulfill the charge to be men and women for others.  One of the most significant efforts toward this end is the hurricane relief More »

CCNLA Employee Carl Piehl volunteers in Houston.

Catholic Charities Employees Share Stories of Assisting in Houston

by Lucy Medvec One month after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, over 500 employees and volunteers attended the Catholic Charities USA Annual Gathering in Houston. Even though the area was still More »

1117stfrancis1

St. Francis Medical Center Hosts Memorial Service for Infants Born Before 20 Weeks

by Bonny Van Emotions were high at a special memorial service for infants born before 20 weeks. Parents and family members gathered at St. Matthew Parish Cemetery in downtown Monroe on Saturday, More »

1117rother1

Bishop’s November Reflection: “The Shepherd Cannot Run”

by Bishop Michael G. Duca On September 23, I attended the Beatification of Father Stanley Rother. I was deeply moved by Fr. Rother and how this Oklahoma farm boy became the first More »

1017embracegrace1

Embrace Grace: A Pro-LOVE Movement for Single and Pregnant Women

by Kelly Phelan Powell Amy Ford grew up in a happy, loving, church-going, Christian home. She knew abortion was wrong; she had even prayed with other believers outside abortion clinics. But when More »

1017sylvia1

Embrace Grace & Mary’s House: Sylvia’s Story

by L’Anne Sciba hen I first met Sylvia* she came to Mary’s House for a free pregnancy test. She’d already been to the abortion clinic and received the abortion pill. Now two More »

How Often Do I Encourage?

Recently, a friend of mine was working through a very painful experience. In the midst of his tribulation, one of his colleagues suggested that the outcome of this trial would be very negative. And, while the colleague meant well in preparing for a possible worst-case scenario, it resulted in confusion, alarm, dismay and a pierced heart. Do you ever find yourself on the receiving end of a discouraging word?  And sometimes, that disheartening message comes from someone who loves us dearly. Or worse, are we ever the bearer of negative thoughts?

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul said:  “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up …” Paul understood how the enemy loves to choke off our hope and circumvent our faith with messages that obstruct our relationship with God. The author of Hebrews wrote: “Encourage yourselves daily while it is still today…” (Hebrews 3:13 NAB) One definition of the word encouragement is “to stimulate spiritually.”  In other words, when we encourage each other, we inspire each other. We bring comfort, we bring cheer, we bring consolation. We spiritually stimulate a fellow believer when we offer words of encouragement, which result in a restoration and strengthening of their hope and their faith. Our offerings of spiritual stimulation bring joy to the recipient – which reminds us that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When we offer words or advice or thoughts that discourage others, we instill fear that hinders and retards the very faith and joy that another person may need at that very fragile moment.

The New Testament is a message of good news. It is a message that offers the fruit of walking in the Spirit, such as love, peace, patience, kindness and more. The presence of Jesus is reassuring, energizing and spirit lifting. The next time someone speaks forth a disheartening word, forgive him or her and replace that word with encouragement. You just may be the force that enables someone to remain in complete faith in Jesus.

Mike started a teaching ministry after graduating from the University of Dallas’ School of Ministry in 2006 (www.mikevanvrankenministries.org). He also serves as an adjunct professor for the Diocese of Shreveport’s Greco Institute.

Olvida la Especulación; Busca la Verdad Espiritual

por Obispo Michael Duca

Pope Benedict with the Bishops of Louisiana

El 11 de febrero me desperté escuchando el inesperado anuncio de que Nuestro Santo Padre, Benedicto XVI renunciaba como Papa a partir del 28 de Febrero, del 2013 a las 8:00 p.m. Pienso que cuando reciban la Connection de este mes ya cerca del primero de Marzo, varias cosas habrán pasado o estarán por pasar. Ya que no hay necesidad de esperar los días que se requieren de duelo cuando muere un Papa, el Conclave será llamado rápido en las primeras semanas de Marzo y puede que ya lo hayan hecho, o muy pronto lo hagan. Ciertamente ustedes están atareados con una carga de predicciones, opiniones y puntos de vista de la prensa seglar y los medios de comunicación, en relación no solo sobre quien será el próximo Papa, sino también que cambiará el siguiente Santo Papa en la Iglesia.

Es mi esperanza que ustedes no hayan sido envueltos en este drama sino que vean que hay un lado profundamente espiritual en este momento de la historia. Desafortunadamente los medios seglares parecen ver a la Iglesia más que nada como una corporación u organización donde las decisiones del dogma son hechas por el Papa reaccionando al sentimiento y opinión. Claro que sabemos que la primera misión del Santo Padre es recibir la fe que viene de los apóstoles a esta generación y mantener la verdad para que se pueda pasar así a la siguiente generación de creyentes. De hecho, la misión del Santo Padre es preservar la fe, no cambiarla. Es verdad que le pertenece al Santo Padre proclamar la Buena Nueva en maneras que se puedan entender en estos tiempos, aplicar el Evangelio a nuevos desafíos, buscar justicia para todos en las circunstancias únicas de la vida en países de todo el mundo. Así que mientras que el Papa tiene muchas oportunidades de hacer un impacto original en la Iglesia, no lo hace cambiando las partes permanentes de las enseñanzas católicas. Además de todas las especulaciones, porque son solo eso, especulaciones. Nuestra esperanza en estos tiempos de cambio se encuentra en la verdad espiritual de nuestra fe. Creemos que el Espíritu Santo está trabajando en este proceso y la iglesia es aun mas grande que el Papa.

Esto se puede ver un poco más claro cuando consideramos que la mayoría de los Papas mueren durante su Papado y no renuncian al él, porque esto nos recuerda que el Papa es el padre espiritual más que un gerente de una gran corporación. (un presidente o gerente es elegido o contratado y puede salir de la oficina o lo pueden correr. Un padre, por otra parte, es un padre por toda la vida.)
Continuar en su oficina es también una manera de mostrar absoluta entrega a la voluntad de Dios, que a través del Espíritu Santo, escogió al Santo Padre para este ministerio. Nos recuerda que la máxima autoridad y seguridad de la sobrevivencia de Iglesia no está en el Papa, sino en Jesucristo, que estableció la iglesia en la Roca de Pedro y continúa guiando su crecimiento y estabilidad a través del Espíritu Santo guiando al vicario de Cristo en la tierra.

Mi mamá me explicó esto cuando yo era pequeño y no quería ir a la Misa porque pensaba que el sermón estaba aburrido. Ella me dijo: “tu no vas a la Misa por el sermón (o la música o por cómo te hace sentir), tu vas a recibir la Eucaristía y a escuchar el Evangelio. Así, que ¡métete al carro!” En su clara sabiduría me enseñó que no pasamos por la Iglesia para llegar a Dios, encontramos a Cristo en la Iglesia, en los sacramentos y en el Cuerpo de Cristo. Es verdad que la Misa es mejor cuando la música es bonita y el sermón nos inspira y el Papa es más efectivo de cierta manera cuando está lleno de energía. Pero cuando éstos faltan, la Iglesia es aun así la Iglesia y Cristo esta aun así con nosotros.

Pienso en este momento de la historia, en que el Papa Benedicto hizo un acto desinteresado en hacerse a un lado por el bien de la Iglesia. Ahora estamos viendo la manera maravillosa de este misterio del trabajo del Espíritu Santo en nuestra Iglesia. Nuestra respuesta a este misterio que enfrentamos no debe ser especulación o de posición, sino más bien nuestra respuesta debe ser de oración. Oremos esta oración, en este Año de la Fe por el Papa que será escogido.

Oración por la Iglesia En espera de la Vacante de la Sede de San Pedro
Oh Señor Jesucristo, Supremo Pastor de Tu Iglesia, te damos gracias por el ministerio del Papa Benedicto XVI y el cuidado desinteresado con el que nos ha dirigido como sucesor de Pedro, y Tu Vicario en la tierra.
Buen Pastor, que fundaste Tu Iglesia en la roca de la fe de Pedro y que nunca has dejado a Tu rebaño desatendido, míranos con amor ahora, y sostén Tu iglesia en la fe, esperanza y caridad.
Danos, Señor Jesus, en Tu abundante amor por nosotros, un nuevo Papa para Tu iglesia que Te complazca con su santidad y nos dirija fielmente hacia Tí, que eres el mismo ayer, hoy y por siempre. Amén.

Forget Speculation; Search for Spiritual Truth

0313bishop

by Bishop Michael Duca

On February 11, I awoke to the unexpected announcement that Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, was resigning as pope effective February 28, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.  I anticipate that when you receive this month’s Catholic Connection, near the first of March, several things have or will soon have begun. Since there is no need to wait the required days for mourning the death of the previous pope, the Conclave will be called quickly in the first weeks of March and may already be underway, or soon will be. Certainly you are overwhelmed with an overload of predictions, opinions and viewpoints from the secular press and media, concerning not only who the next pope will be, but also what the next Holy Father will change in the Church.

It is my hope that you have not been caught up in this endless stream of drama, but see that there is a deeply spiritual side to this moment in history. Unfortunately the secular media mostly seem to understand the Church as a kind of corporation or organization where decisions about dogma are made by the pope reacting to public sentiment or opinion. Of course we know the Holy Father’s primary mission is to receive the faith handed down from the apostles to this generation, and to keep that truth the same so it can be handed on to the next generation of believers. In fact, the Holy Father’s mission is to preserve the faith, not change it.  It is true that it falls to the Holy Father to proclaim the Good News in ways that are understood to the present age, to apply the Gospel to new challenges, to seek justice for all in the unique circumstances of life in countries throughout the world.  So while the pope has many opportunities to make an original impact on the Church, he does not do it by changing the unchanging parts of Catholic teaching.  Forget about all the speculation because it is just that, speculation. Our hope in this time of change, will be found in the spiritual truth of our faith. We believe the Holy Spirit is at work in this process and the Church is always bigger than even the pope.

This can be seen a little clearer through the consideration that most popes die in office, rather than resign, because it reminds us that the pope is a spiritual father more than a CEO of a big corporation.  (A president or CEO is elected or hired and will go out of office, or can be fired.  A father, on the other hand, is a father for life).

Remaining in office is also a way to show absolute surrender to the will of God who, through the Holy Spirit, chose the Holy Father for this ministry.  It reminds us that the ultimate authority and assurance of the Church’s survival is not in the pope but in Jesus Christ, who established the Church on the Rock of  Peter and continues to guide its growth and stability through the Holy Spirit guiding the Vicar of Christ on earth.

My mother summed this up for me when I was young and did not want to go to Mass because I thought the sermon was boring. She said, “You do not go to Mass because of the sermon (or the music or for how it makes you feel) you go to receive the Eucharist and to hear the Gospel. Now get in the car!”  In her clear wisdom she taught me that we do not go through the Church to get to God, we encounter Christ in the Church, in the sacraments and in the Body of Christ. It is true that the Mass is better when the music is good and the sermon inspiring and the pope is more effective in some ways when he is filled with energy.  But when these are lacking, the Church is still the Church and Christ is still with us.

I think in this moment of history, Pope Benedict made a selfless act in stepping aside for the good of the Church.  We now are watching the wonderful unfolding of this mystery of the working of the Holy Spirit in our Church. Our response to this mystery unfolding before us should not be speculation or posturing of position, but rather our response should be prayer. Let us pray this prayer, in this Year of Faith, for the pope who is to be chosen.

Prayer for the Church
In anticipation of the Vacancy of the See of St. Peter, O Lord Jesus Christ, Supreme Pastor of Your Church, we thank you for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI and the selfless care with which he has led us as Successor of Peter, and Your Vicar on earth.
Good Shepherd, who founded Your Church on the rock of Peter’s faith and have never left Your flock untended, look with love upon us now, and sustain Your Church in faith, hope, and charity.
Grant, Lord Jesus, in Your boundless love for us, a new pope for Your Church who will please You by his holiness and lead us faithfully to You, who are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.

Krewe of Aesclepius Celebrated with St. Mary of the Pines

The Krewe of Aesclepius came bearing gifts to the PSR Mardi Gras party at St. Mary of the Pines Church. They met the royalty from each class and led them in the traditional Second Line to the tune of accordion music and many cheers.

Fr. Thomas John Celebrates 20 Years

Sacred Heart of Jesus Church members, co-workers and friends came together to celebrate Fr. Thomas John Vadakemuriyil’s 20th anniversary of his ordination as a priest on December 29. The celebration began with 4:30 Mass with a packed church. Everyone thanked him for all he does at Sacred Heart. After Mass we gathered in Gabriel Hall for a covered dish dinner. Pictured: Indiana LaCour and Fr. Thomas John.

50 Years of Knights of St. Peter Claver

On January 6, Joseph Robert Balthazar received his 50 year pin and certificate from the Knights of St. Peter Claver at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church. Pictured from left to right: Bro. Paul Mutisya, Fr. Andre McGrath, Joseph Robert Balthazar and Grand Knight Tim Ford.

Run with the Nuns Raised Money for Gingerbread House

All funds raised by Run with the Nuns support children’s health programs in our community. A donation to Gingerbread House for neglected and abused children was made possible by Run with the Nuns VI, a motorcycle rally that occurred in October 2012. These funds will be used to purchase a new recording/video system for the center which is used in child abuse and neglect cases. For more information on Gingerbread House, visit www.gingerbreadhousecac.org.

Hispanic Youth Traveled to NOLA

On January 12, Hispanic Youth from the Diocese of Shreveport traveled together to New Orleans for a formation workshop by SEPI.  SEPI is the Southeast Pastoral Institute, an educational service organization that assists the Catholic bishops of nine southeastern states in the training and development of Hispanic leadership to help integrate the community into the life of the Church and society.

Teaching Mass at St. Jude Church

On January 30, St. Jude Church celebrated a Children’s Teaching Mass as part of GIFT (Growing in Faith Together). Fr. Pike Thomas and Deacon Larry Mills broke down the Mass for children in the Religious Education program on Wednesday evening. Tailored for 3rd through 7th grade, the Mass was celebrated with the Children’s Music Ministry, youth lectors, altar servers and ushers.

Loyal Students Earn Awards at LASC Convention

Thirteen of Loyola College Prep’s SGA members traveled to Sulphur High School in January to attend the Louisiana Association of Student Councils (LASC) convention. Loyola earned the recognition of Gold Honor Council and the Mega Bucks Club for raising more than $500 for Ronald McDonald House. Loyola was also elected as vice president of District IX and will be represented in the position by Emily Roemer.