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Bishop Duca Reflects on Our Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Stewardship  Incredibly this May, Bishop Michael G. Duca  will mark his first decade as the second Ordinary of the Diocese of Shreveport. During his 10 years More »

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Bishop’s Reflection: Letting Go of “Mine” for the Glory of God’s Work

by Bishop Michael G. Duca Maybe the first surprise to new parents is that children are born wild – not tame. I don’t mean this in a bad sense, but our first More »

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Faith Partners for Progress: Catholics Charities of North Louisiana and Society of St. Vincent de Paul

by Bonnie Martinez  The Western District Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been awarded a $5,000 systemic change grant by the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent More »

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Pro-Life Events Evolving in 2018: An Interview with Bishop Michael G. Duca

by Jessica Rinaudo As the Diocese of Shreveport continues to support and champion pro-life efforts in 2018, Bishop Duca is planning to keep awareness of the issue at the forefront but now More »

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Discerning a Vocation in College

by Raney Johnson, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian Some young men discover their calling to the priesthood in high school and decide to enter the seminary right after graduating from high school. However, More »

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Mike’s Meditations: Courageously Ask for God’s Opinion

by Mike Van Vranken Someone recently asked me what he could do differently for Lent. I suggested he think of a moral issue about which he’s always had a definite opinion, and More »

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Bishop’s January Reflection: Make Small Commitments for Big Changes

by Bishop Michael G. Duca As you receive this Catholic Connection, I suppose we are all well into our New Year’s resolutions. Changes are tricky things because we often have a strong More »

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Discerning a Vocation in High School

by Raney Johnson, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian High school can be a fun but stressful time. Life can easily become consumed with classes, extracurricular activities, jobs and finding moments to spend time More »

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50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

by John Parker On July 25th 1968, Pope Paul VI issued a brief but controversial document that shook the secular and ecclesial world. The document was Humanae Vitae, Of Human Life, and More »

Following God’s Will When He calls

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by Bishop Michael Duca

This past April I celebrated my 35th year of ordination to the priesthood, and on May 19 I marked five years as Bishop of Shreveport.  Where did the time go? These important milestones caused me to take time to consider all that the Lord has done in my life as a priest.

I remember beginning my priestly life rather naïve, thinking I knew the general outline of the life before me. I would be an assistant pastor for a few years, then I would pastor a number of parishes in the Diocese of Dallas and then I would retire in a parish and die. As simple and uneventful this outline of a life sounds, I was happy with this plan and lived my first seven years of priesthood as expected as an associate pastor in three different parishes. Then my life took off in a different direction. Instead of being named the pastor of a parish, my next assignment was Vocations Director and Campus Minister at Southern Methodist University (SMU). At the end of this nine-year assignment I expected to be named a pastor, but instead I was sent to Rome to study Canon Law and then returned to Dallas as Rector of Holy Trinity Seminary. After serving 12 years as rector, well you know the rest, I was surprisingly named second Bishop of Shreveport.

My call to the priesthood came as a small voice within me one day in church when I thought, as I watched the priest at Mass, that “I might want to do that… to be a priest.” My parents encouraged me to explore the priesthood as a future vocation. This support was important because it allowed me to imagine myself as a priest and to become comfortable with the idea of being a priest. After high school I entered Holy Trinity Seminary and was ordained to the order of the priesthood in 1978.

When I was ordained and made the commitment to the vocation of priesthood, even though I knew I was answering God’s call, I thought I was also still in control. Yes, I was doing God’s will, but I thought I saw clearly what God’s will was for my life.  How naïve.  What God sees in us is so much better and greater than we can imagine. As I lived my life as a priest, I kept trying to understand its twists and turns within my limited understanding that I would be a parish priest, but my life kept going in other directions.  It was as though no matter what I tried to do God was leading me in another direction that I could not clearly see. When I was finally able to see that God may have a different direction and a deeper understanding of my life, I stopped fighting and second guessing God’s will for my life. Instead I embraced His will and with that surrender came a new freedom and a kind of wisdom that allows me to accept this wonderful call to be your bishop, even though I often feel unworthy. I trust God does know what He is doing.

I believe many of us have had this experience of fighting God’s will in our lives, and if we are wise we eventually let go and accept the challenges of the life that are ours. These challenges are the result of a life that was created both by our choices and those parts we did not choose, but were given to us. When we live our lives with trust and hope in God’s call, we are living a vocation, we are answering the call of God in our lives to holiness and to live as his disciples.
Encourage your children when they inquire about a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, and when your son tells you he thinks he might want to be a priest or your daughter is considering a religious life, support them and encourage their imagination so that if God is calling them they will be able to hear the call. Teach them to live their lives in relation to God’s call to holiness and discipleship.

That quiet voice I heard as a child has led me on a journey of faith that I could not have imagined, and I thank God. The life I imagined for myself was small and unimaginative and God’s plan, well, let’s just say God has a wonderful imagination and I am only beginning to see what He has in store for me.

Siguiendo la Voluntad de Dios cuando Él nos Llama

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

El Obispo Michael Duca, el segundo de la izquierda, con un grupo que fueron rectores del Seminario de la Santísima Trinidad en Dallas, TX.

El pasado abril celebré mis 35 años de Ordenación sacerdotal y el 19 de mayo los 5 años de obispo de Shreveport. ¿A dónde se fue el tiempo? Estos sucesos importantes me han hecho reflexionar sobre todo lo que Dios ha hecho en mi vida como sacerdote.

Recuerdo que en el comienzo de mi vida como sacerdote era un poco ingenuo, pensaba que tenía una idea general de mi vida. Pensaba que sería un ayudante de párroco por algunos años, después sería párroco de parroquias en la diócesis de Dallas y me iba a retirar en una parroquia y morir. Aunque nos parezca simple este esquema de vida yo era feliz con este plan y viví mis primeros siete años de sacerdocio como lo esperaba como sacerdote asociado en tres diferentes parroquias. Después mi vida tomó una dirección diferente. En lugar de ser nombrado párroco, mi siguiente nombramiento, fue ser Director de Vocaciones y Ministro en la Universidad Metodista del Sur (SMU). Al final de este nombramiento de nueve años esperaba ser nombrado párroco, pero en lugar de eso fui enviado a Roma a estudiar la Ley Canoníca y regresé a Dallas como rector del Seminario de la Santísima Trinidad. Después de servir doce años como rector, pues ustedes ya conocen el resto, fui sorprendentemente nombrado el segundo obispo de Shreveport.
Mi llamado al sacerdocio llegó como una pequeña voz dentro de mí un día en la iglesia cuando pensaba, mientras veía al sacerdote en la Misa: “Yo tal vez querría hacer eso…. ser un sacerdote.”  Mis padres me animaron a explorar mi futura vocación al sacerdocio. Este apoyo fue muy importante porque me permitió imaginarme a mí mismo como sacerdote y sentirme cómodo con la idea de ser sacerdote. Después de la preparatoria entré al Seminario de la Santísima Trinidad y fui ordenado sacerdote en 1978.

Cuando fui ordenado e hice el compromiso de la vocación al Sacerdocio, aunque yo sabía que estaba respondiendo al llamado de Dios, pensé que yo estaba todavía en control. Sí, estaba haciendo la voluntad de Dios pero pensaba que veía claramente cual era esa voluntad de Dios en mi vida. ¡Que ingenuo! Lo que Dios ve en nosotros es mucho mejor y más grande de lo que nos podemos imaginar. Viviendo mi vida de sacerdote, continúe tratando de entender las vueltas y detalles de mi vida pero desde mi entendimiento limitado pensaba que sería párroco, pero mi vida siguió otras direcciones. Era como si no importara que hacía yo Dios estaba llevándome en otra dirección que yo no podía ver claramente. Cuando por fin pude ver que Dios podía tener una diferente dirección a lo que yo esperaba y un entendimiento más profundo de mi vida, dejé de luchar y de preguntarme cual era la voluntad de Dios en mi vida. Más bien abracé Su voluntad y me deje llevar hacia una nueva libertad y como de sabiduría que me permite aceptar este maravilloso llamado a ser su Obispo aun cuñado con frecuencia me siento que no lo merezco. Confío que Dios sabe lo que está haciendo.

Creo que muchos de nosotros hemos tenido esta experiencia de luchar con la voluntad de Dios en nuestras vidas pero si somos sabios tarde o temprano nos rendiremos y aceptaremos los desafíos de nuestra vida. Estos desafíos son el resultado de una vida que fue creada en parte por nuestras opciones y también por aquellas que nosotros no escogimos sino que nos fueron dadas. Cuando vivimos nuestras vidas con confianza y esperanza en el llamado de Dios, estamos viviendo una vocación, estamos respondiendo al llamado de Dios en nuestra vida a la santidad y a vivir como sus discípulos.

Animen a sus hijos cuando ellos pregunten acerca de una vocación al sacerdocio o a la vida religiosa, y cuando su hijo les diga que el piensa que podría querer ser sacerdote, o su hija está considerando una vida religiosa, apóyenlos y animen su imaginación para que si Dios los está llamando puedan escuchar el llamado. Enséñenles a vivir sus vidas en relación al llamado de Dios a la santidad y al discipulado.

Esa pequeña voz que escuché cuando era niño me ha llevado a un camino de fe que no hubiera podido imaginar, y le doy gracias a Dios. La vida que imaginé para mí era más pequeña y sin imaginación y el plan de Dios, solo les puedo decir, Dios tiene una imaginación maravillosa y yo solo comienzo a ver lo que Él tiene reservado para mí.

New Diocesan Website on the Horizon

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

Every year the Catholic Connection takes a break in July to catch up on projects, like the diocesan directory, or begin new ones. I’m excited to announce that this year the Communications Department at the diocese has begun re-designing a new website for the Diocese of Shreveport.

This project has been more than a year in planning and construction and is well on its way to becoming a great resource for our churches, the Catholic faithful and those wishing to learn more about the Catholic faith. We’ve asked for suggestions from website users, and I’ve worked one on one with each of our departments to make sure their information gets to you in an easy to access, up-to-date way.

Look for videos explaining and showcasing our ministries, a quick resource for church locations and Mass times and a central point of download for our church parishes for all the forms they need. We’re especially excited about our blooming priestly and religious vocations section of the website, which aims to answer some of those questions also addressed in this issue of the magazine. We will also have an up-to-date event calendar where you can quickly see what is going on in the Diocese of Shreveport!

Most importantly, there is a plan in place to keep all sections of our website current and full of good information, so you can stay informed and join in working more closely with the local Church.

Expect this exciting new web launch this fall!

We hope you have a wonderful summer.

Handing on the Faith Begins at Home

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by Bishop Michael G. Duca

“For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures…” 1Cor. 15: 3-4

We see in 1 Corinthians that St. Paul was handing on the faith in Jesus that was handed on to him to the new believers in Corinth. This work of handing on the faith has always been at the heart of the Church’s mission. In fact, we are Catholics today and believe in Jesus and His Church because the faith has been handed on to us.

I have been thinking about how the faith was handed on to me. It began before I could speak when I was brought to the waters of Baptism by my parents and I received sanctifying grace that bound me eternally to the love of God and His redeeming grace. I was taught my prayers from an early age, I learned the answers to hundreds of questions from the Baltimore Catechism, attended daily Mass at Catholic grade school and was formed as a Catholic in all these opportunities, as well as in so many other influences from the nuns, priests and others in the parish.  Yet, even though I value all these influences, I know my most important and lasting influence was my parents’ example and the way they wove our Catholic faith into our home and our daily lives. They were the ones who handed on the faith to me. Every other opportunity was helpful and formative, but only because they were able to build on the foundation of faith that was handed on to me by my parents.

Recently I have been considering the best way for us to hand on the faith to our children. I have some insights shaping my thinking and I want to share them with you.

Of course we hope to hand on the faith through our Catholic Schools and in our Parish Schools of Religion. But when I consider how to make our programs of religious education more effective in handing on the faith, I realize we must begin with the parents. Anything else we do as a diocese or church parish will only be successful or helpful if children are living the faith and learning about the faith in their homes. Just sending a child to a Catholic School or to Parish School of Religion is not enough. I believe a more active involvement of parents is needed. This may seem overwhelming to parents who think they are not qualified to teach. But this is not hard because it is not about teaching theology, but more about the way we live our Catholic faith. We hand on the faith in the family, for example, by our yearly traditions of faith (advent wreath, manger scene), by praying together as a family, by making Sunday Mass a priority and by making visible decisions in the family based on our Catholic faith. The faith is handed on first by the example and teaching of the parents and then reinforced by parish programs for all members of the family. We do not just learn about the faith to become smarter Catholics, we study to come to know Jesus and to try to become a more faithful disciple and a better Catholic every day.

If it is clear our parents and family are the first ones to hand on the faith to us, it is also clear to me that while it is important to hand on the content of the faith (prayers, teachings and sacramental practices), this will be empty knowledge unless our children develop a prayerful and lively faith that helps them come to know and truly encounter Jesus Christ in: prayer, the Sacraments, the Scriptures and as members of the Body of Christ, the Church. We need to pass on a living faith that can only be handed on if we truly believe in Christ and in His Church. This means the work of handing on the faith is also a matter of personal conversion and witnessing of Christ in our own daily lives. If, as adults, our Catholic faith is not important and central to our lives, if we create our own version of what it means to be Catholic, then why should we expect our Catholic faith in Jesus Christ to be important to our children?

These insights provide a pathway for changes to our religious education programs and the ways we hand on our faith to our children. They reveal that it will not be enough just for the diocese to create a new program or the parish to make superficial changes. No, the real answer is more personal because to effectively hand on the faith, we must understand that each of us is responsible for teaching the faith to our children and our success will, in great part, be rooted in the example of our lived faith and the way it is woven into our families’ daily lives.

(CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Entregar la Fe Comienza en Casa

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

(CNS photo/Henrietta Gomes)

Esto les entrego como lo más importante que yo también he recibido: En Primer lugar les he dado a conocer la enseñanza que yo recibí. Les he enseñado que Cristo murió por nuestros pecados, como dicen las Escrituras…. 1ª Cor. 15: 3-4

Vemos en la primera carta a los corintios que San Pablo les está entregando a los nuevos creyentes en Corinto la fe en Jesus, que a su vez le fue entregada a él. Este trabajo de entregar la fe ha estado siempre en el corazón de la misión de la Iglesia. De hecho somos Católicos hoy, creemos en Jesús y en Su Iglesia porque se nos ha sido entregada la fe.

Me he puesto a pensar sobre la fe que me fue entregada a mí personalmente. Comenzó antes que pudiera hablar cuando me llevaron mis papás a Bautizar y recibí la gracia santificante que me envolvió eternamente con el amor de Dios en Su gracia salvífica. Me enseñaron mis oraciones a temprana edad, aprendí las respuestas a cientos de preguntas del Catecismo Baltimore, fui a Misa diaria en la Primaria Católica y me fui formado como Católico en todas estas oportunidades, así como con otras muchas influencias de las religiosas, los sacerdotes y otros programas de mi parroquia. Aun así, y aunque son muy valiosas todas estas influencias, se que la influencia más importante y duradera fue el ejemplo de mis padres y la manera en que ellos entreveraron nuestra fe Católica en el hogar y en mi vida diaria. Ellos fueron los que me entregaron la fe. Todas las demás oportunidades fueron de ayuda y de formación pero solamente porque fueron adiciones que se construyeron sobre la base de la fe que me fue entregada por mis padres.

Últimamente he estado considerando la mejor manera de que podamos entregar/pasar la fe a nuestros hijos. He pensado en dos ideas y las quiero compartirlas con ustedes.

Por supuesto que espero entregar la fe a través de nuestras Escuelas Católicas y en nuestras Escuelas de Religión Parroquiales. Pero cuando considero como hacer nuestros programas de educación religiosa más efectivos para pasar la fe, me doy cuenta que debemos comenzar por padres de familia. Todo lo demás que hagamos como diócesis o parroquia solo será exitoso o de ayuda si los niños están viviendo la fe y aprendiendo sobre la fe en sus hogares. El solo mandar a un niño a la Escuela Católica o la Escuela de Religión Parroquial no es suficiente.  Creo que es muy necesario tener una participación activa por parte de los padres. Esto puede parecer mucho para los papás que piensan que no califican para enseñar. Pero en realidad no es difícil porque no se trata de enseñarles teología, sino de mostrarles la manera en que vivimos nuestra fe Católica. Entregamos la fe en la familia, por ejemplo, en nuestras tradiciones anuales de fe (la corona de adviento, el nacimiento), orando juntos como familia, haciendo la Misa Dominical una prioridad y haciendo visibles las decisiones en la familia basadas en nuestra fe Católica. La fe es entonces entregada primero por medio del ejemplo y la enseñanza de los papás y después fortalecida por los programas parroquiales para todos los miembros de la familia. No aprendemos solamente de la fe convirtiéndonos en Católicos más inteligentes, estudiamos para llegar a conocer a JesÚs y tratar de ser más fieles discípulos y mejores Católicos cada día.

Está claro que nuestros padres y la familia son los primeros que nos entregan la fe, también está claro que mientras que es importante entregar el contenido de la fe (oraciones, enseñanzas y prácticas sacramentales), será un conocimiento vacío a menos que nuestros hijos desarrollen una fe viva y de oración que los ayude a conocer y a tener un verdadero encuentro con Jesucristo por medio de: la oración, los Sacramentos, las Escrituras y como miembros del Cuerpo de Cristo, la Iglesia. Necesitamos entregar una fe viva que solo podrá ser entregada si verdaderamente creemos en Cristo y en Su Iglesia. Lo que significa que el trabajo de entregar la fe es también una cuestión de conversión personal y de ser testigos de Cristo en nuestras vidas diarias. Si como adultos, nuestra fe Católica no es importante y no es el centro de nuestras vidas, si creamos nuestra propia versión de lo que significa ser Católico, entonces ¿Cómo esperar que nuestra fe Católica en Jesucristo sea importante paara nuestros hijos?

Estos dos pensamientos nos dan un camino para hacer cambios en nuestros programas de educación religiosa y en la manera que entregamos/pasamos la fe a nuestros niños. No será suficiente solo que la diócesis establezca un programa nuevo o que la parroquia haga cambios. No, la verdadera respuesta es más personal porque para que entreguemos la fe con más eficacia, debemos entender que cada uno de nosotros es responsable de enseñar la fe a nuestros niños y el éxito será, en gran parte, cuando demostremos por medio del ejemplo en  la manera que vivimos nuestra fe y en como esta entreverada en la vida diaria también de nuestras familias.

St. Benedict Celebrated Year of Faith with Bishop

Bishop Duca celebrated his Year of Faith Visit with St. Benedict Church in Grambling on March 20. After the service there was a reception with a southern gumbo prepared by David Ponton.

Fatima Youth Attended Abbey Youth Fest

Our Lady of Fatima’s youth group recently attended Abbey Youth Fest at St. Joseph Seminary in Covington. They enjoyed hearing talks from Mary Bielski on the Eucharist and husband and wife chastity speakers, Jason and Crystalina Evert. Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans presided over the Mass. The highlight of the day was the candlelight Adoration with the nearly 4,000 youth in attendance.

Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament Church Performed Passion Play

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church celebrated Good Friday with a passion play written by Fr. Andre McGrath. The dramatic reading was developed from John’s gospel.  Every year the youth group portrays each character in this dramatic celebration. Shown from left to right on the front row: Adrian Green, Robert Esters, Wisdom Watts, Edward Lee, Tia Lowe and Marie Tucker.  Row two: Sean Woodfork, Taylor Hamilton, Fr. Andre McGrath and Jon Levy.

Zwolle PSR Students Prepare for First Communion

PSR children at St. Joseph Church in Zwolle are anxiously waiting to receive their upcoming sacrament, First Holy Communion, during the month of May. The children are practicing the song “Immaculate Mary” to perform at their First Communion Masses.

Administration Joins Students for Egg Hunt

Sister Carol Shively, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and Sister Ann Middlebrooks joined a bunch of St. John Berchmans School and St. Joseph School students for a big Easter Egg Hunt.