0917dig6

Historic Dig: Artifacts of St. John’s Church & College Unearthed in Shreveport

by Jessica Rinaudo The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans has garnered much attention in recent months for the archeological dig they are conducting on Texas Avenue in Shreveport. There the dig team More »

0917bishop

Bishop’s September Reflection: The Resurrection of the Body

by Bishop Michael Duca I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen. Most More »

0917podcast

Classes and Podcast on Catholic Retrospective on the Anniversary of Protestant Reformation

by Dr. Cheryl White As the world prepares to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation on October 31, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans is using this More »

0917christianservice1

New Christian Service Facility to Have September Grand Opening

by Jane Snyder The new Christian Service facility on Levy Street will have its grand opening on Wednesday, September 27, at 1:00 p.m. Please join Bishop Michael Duca and Mayor Ollie Tyler More »

0917samekind1

Catholic Charities Presents: Same Kind of Different as Me

by Lucy Medvec Catholic Charities of North Louisiana will be hosting private showings of the movie Same Kind of Different as Me in Shreveport and Monroe during the weekend of October 20-22.  More »

0917sjbschoolupdate

St. John Berchmans Catholic School Welcomes Changes!

by Kelly Phelan Powell With the advent of a new school year, St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport is undergoing some exciting changes. Former principal Jo Cazes retired this year after More »

0917deaconhomer

Vocations View: God is Persistent: Being Accepted to the Permanent Diaconate Program

by Mike Van Vranken I had just turned 28 years old and was standing in the vestibule of St. Michael Church in West Memphis, Arkansas with my pastor.  Thumbing through a pamphlet More »

0917spiritualdirectors

Navigating the Faith: Spiritual Direction

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship While our diocese does not have an abundance of lay spiritual directors, the number more than doubled in August as four more people completed two years More »

0817cpaawards

Catholic Connection Wins Awards!

The Catholic Press Awards were held in Quebec on Friday, June 23, 2017, with Catholic publications from across North America competing in hundreds of categories. The Diocese of Shreveport’s Catholic Connection took More »

Defining Your Life in 2013

This is the Year of Faith and can be for us a year of love for Christ and others. Think about life’s defining moments and how they brought great meaning into our lives. Now, where are we today? What is the special and new defining moment for us? Our happiness is found in the ordinary moments of our lives.

Of course nothing will ever be the same again, and it’s not meant to be. Why do we tend to fear change so much? We must choose to make those changes as we age because no one can do it for us.

I found a lovely definition of change. “Change is something better that lies ahead and one can feel it awakening inside of you. You know you can’t go backward and you can’t stand still in this moment. You know peace will only come when you open your wings and fly on life’s changing winds.” Unknown Author

Become like the bee, eat nectar and make honey. We can only make our honey after taking everything in from our experiences: the experience of new teeth, a blood transfusion, heart surgery, knee replacement and learning how to cope with each; the positive moments after a family member visits you, brings you flowers, a new red hat, takes you out to dinner.

One of the statements at the World Synod of Bishops after Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed 2013 the Year of Faith was: “We are called to stir the embers of faith and bring new enthusiasm, new zeal and new energy to living our lives of faith as disciples of Jesus Christ.” It’s one of my favorite statements and my resolution is to try to live in this way. In 2013 I shall celebrate my 60th anniversary of religious life. Perhaps you too are celebrating something important in your life. God’s grace has been with each of us.

If old age has invaded your life, refuse to let it touch your spirit. Let us reflect with St. Ephrem who compared an aging person’s life to the fingers of our hands: both to emphasize that its length is no more than a span and to indicate that each phase of life, like the different fingers, has its particular character and represents the different seasons we live through. As we passed through the seasons of life, God gifted us according to our abilities and with the necessary skills to cope. God not only loved us, but placed His hand upon each of us.

I wish you all that is beautiful and great for 2013. Let our goal for the new year, the Year of Faith, be to grow closer to God, to be filled with new energy and zeal. Keep well, wise, happy and whole. Share your truth, beauty and goodness with everyone.

Sr. Martinette Rivers is a Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows and a spiritual gerontologist. She currently resides in Rimini, Italy.

Download Yourself and Christ’s Spirit Into the World

0113bishop

by Bishop Michael Duca

Today I received a personal “tweet” from the Holy Father, Benedict XVI.  Well, maybe personal is not exactly accurate; it was a personal message to over 1 million followers throughout the world in 10 languages. In just a few minutes our Holy Father made contact with over 1 million listeners with a message of hope and a proclamation that Jesus is “the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful.” Benedict XVI tweet #1 12/12/12

Reading the Pope’s tweet made me aware of all the good we can accomplish today with technological advances.  But I also considered how much has changed in my life technologically in just a relatively few years. I first connected to the Internet in 1995, and in just 16 years, I find myself caressing my cell phone at times like Gollum caressed his “Precious” in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. This change has not only happened fast, but it has happened without any real consideration of how these changes have affected my spiritual life.

I remember when answering machines first came out that I did not get one right away. This worked okay for a while until my parishioners became angry at me.  It turns out they had developed an expectation that they should be able to “get my machine” when they called, so I, in turn, could call them and leave a message on their machine.  In the end I got a machine and have been hooked to it ever since in all its developmental stages: from machines, to email, to texting to, well, whatever comes next.  I have been pulled onto this fast moving train and I am not sure where it is taking my soul or, even worse, where it has already taken my soul.

Why is this important? It is noted in some studies that those who use technology regularly average 70 minutes a day on the web and/or 127 minutes on mobile apps and/or 168 minutes on TV.  That could add up to almost two to six hours of our day.  One study says a person with a smart phone looks at their cell phone 150 times a day. Or, even more sobering, it is estimated that 40 million adults regularly visit Internet pornography websites, and 47% of Christians polled in a study said Internet pornography was a problem in their household.

Spiritually these statistics show our technology can have a deep effect on our family and on our spiritual lives. To me the most unnoticed effect is how the technology begins to direct and shape our lives slowly so that the center of our motivation is more in the texts we receive, the emails that demand response and the constant need to stay immediately connected.

This year take stock of how connected you are. Try this as a spiritual exercise: for one day (or more if you are willing) only use your phone for making phone calls and staying in contact with family and friends.  If you can ignore your email for a day or two, do so.  If you cannot then do not look at your email until after 11:00 a.m., or not until you have planned your day or accomplished some task of your choosing.  Do not surf the web or use any other app for the day.

I once read in a spiritual book that we need to be aware of whether we live by reacting or responding. To react is to act based on the problem outside, the need or expectation of another.  To live reactionary is to always find our motivation for our choices outside of ourselves. To respond, on the other hand, is to author our lives from within based on our values and faith.

If you step away from your technology for a day and find yourself lost and confused then it is possible you are letting your technology lead you.  You are reacting to all the INPUT into your life rather than recreating the world around you with the spirit of Christ from within. We should be downloading ourselves and Christ’s spirit into the world and not be allowing the world and its values to be downloaded into our souls.

In today’s time we are being challenged in every way as Catholics, as disciples of Jesus Christ. We must prepare ourselves by developing a deep inner strength and direction in our lives. Technology will help us but it will always betray us unless we are sure of where our true strength is. We need to have a clear understanding that, as the Holy Father tweeted, Jesus is “the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful.” Benedict XVI tweet #1 12/12/12

Descarga ti mismo y el espíritu de Cristo en el mundo

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

Hoy recibí un mensaje personal de “tweed” del Santo padre, Benedicto XVI. Bueno, no exactamente personal; fue un mensaje personal a más de un millón de seguidores en 10 idiomas a todo el mundo. En solo pocos minutos nuestro Santo padre hizo contacto con más de un millón de seguidores con un mensaje de esperanza y una proclamación que Jesús es “la roca sólida en la que podemos construir nuestras vidas y su amor es siempre fiel.” Benedicto XVI tweed #1 12/12/12

Leer el mensaje del Papa me hizo darme cuenta de todo lo bueno que podemos hacer hoy con los avances de la tecnología. Pero también me puso a pensar de cuanto ha cambiado mi vida la tecnología en solo unos cuantos años. Me conecté por primera vez a la internet en 1995 y en solo 16 años y a veces estoy acariciando mi celular como Gollum acarició su “precioso” en Tolkien en la película de Lord of the Rings. Este cambio no ha sucedido solamente rápido, sino que ha pasado sin una verdadera consideración de cuantos cambios han afectado mi vida espiritual.

Recuerdo cuando salieron las primeras contestadoras de teléfono y yo no compré una rápido. Así estuve por un tiempito hasta que mis feligreses se enojaron conmigo. Sucede que ellos ya se habían formado una expectativa que “podían encontrarme con la contestadora” cuando me llamaran, así mismo, yo podía llamarles y dejar mensaje en su máquina. A fin de cuentas compré una contestadora y desde entonces estoy conectado en todos los cambios que ha tenido: primero  máquina contestadora, luego el email, ahora el texto y bueno en lo que salga después. Ya me he metido en este tren rápido y no estoy seguro a donde lleva mi alma o, aun peor, a donde ha llevado ya mi alma.

¿Por qué es esto importante? Se han hecho estudios de gente que usa la tecnología regularmente unos 70 minutos al día en internet y/o 127 minutos en las aplicaciones del celular y/o 168 minutos viendo la televisión que puede ser un total de 2-6 horas de cada día. Un estudio dice que una persona con un teléfono inteligente voltea a ver su teléfono 150 veces al día. O, aun nos da más que pensar, que 40 millones de adultos visitan los sitios pornográficos de Internet, y 47% en un estudio de una votación de Cristianos dijeron que tenían pornografía de internet en su hogar.

Espiritualmente estas estadísticas nos muestran que la tecnología puede tener un efecto profundo en nuestra familia y en nuestra vida espiritual. Para mí el efecto que menos tomamos en cuenta es como la tecnología comienza  a dirigir y dar forma a nuestras vidas lentamente, que el centro de nuestra motivación es más que los textos que recibimos, los emails que exigen una respuesta y la necesidad constante de permanecer completamente conectados.

Este año haz un recuento de cuánto estas conectado. Haz esto como un ejercicio espiritual: por un día (si estás dispuesto) solo usa tu teléfono para hacer llamadas y mantenerte en contacto con tu familia y amigos. Si puedes ignorar tu email por un día o dos, hazlo. Si no puedes entonces ve tu email hasta después de las 11:00 a.m. o hasta que hayas planeado tu día o hecho otras cosas que escojas hacer. No busques en el internet o uses ninguna otra aplicación por el resto el día.

Una vez leí en un libro espiritual que necesitamos darnos cuenta si vivimos para reaccionar o para responder. Reaccionar es actuar basados en el problema de afuera, la necesidad o expectativa de los demás. Vivir reaccionando es encontrar siempre nuestra motivación en las opciones de fuera de nosotros. Responder, al contrario, es ser el autor de nuestras vidas desde dentro basados en nuestros valores y Fe.

Si te alejas de la tecnología por un día y te sientes perdido y confundido entonces es posible que estas dejando que la tecnología te dirija. Estas reaccionando a todo el APORTE en tu vida en vez de crear un mundo a tu alrededor con el espíritu de Cristo desde dentro. Deberíamos descargarnos en el espíritu de Cristo en el mundo y no permitir que el mundo y sus valores se descarguen en nuestras almas.

En los tiempos de hoy tenemos desafíos en todos los aspectos como católicos, como discípulos de Jesucristo. Debemos prepararnos para desarrollar una fuerza interna y dirección en nuestras vidas. La tecnología nos ayudará pero siempre nos va a traicionar a menos que estemos seguros de donde esta nuestra verdadera fuerza. Necesitamos tener un claro entendimiento que, como el Santo Padre nos dijo en su mensaje de tweed, Jesús es “la roca sólida en la cual construimos nuestras vidas y su amor es siempre fiel.” Benedicto XVI tweed #1 12/12/12

Bishops OK First New Preaching Document in 30 years

by Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops approved their first new document in 30 years on preaching Nov. 13, the second day of their annual fall general assembly in Baltimore. The document, “Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily,” encourages preachers to connect the Sunday homily with people’s daily lives. The vote was 227-11, with four abstentions. Approval required two-thirds of the membership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, or 182 votes. The document was prepared by the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. During discussion on the document Nov. 13, the bishops accepted a plea from Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., to include his amendment urging Catholics to make an extra effort to listen to the homilies of foreign-born priests for whom English or Spanish is not their first language. Those priests’ speech “may have a heavy accent that the congregation cannot understand,” Bishop Ramirez said. “We have many foreign priests coming to work in our dioceses,” he added. “Even though it takes an extra effort to understand what they are saying, they have wisdom. They are inspired by the Holy Spirit. … The people have to make an extra effort to understand their wisdom.”

Cardinal Sees Solidarity, Compassion in Sandy Recovery

by Catholic News Service

Outreach Center set up in Staten Island. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

NEW YORK (CNS) — Everywhere Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said he has gone to visit people and communities in the hurricane-ravaged areas, he has heard stories “not just of the pain and destruction caused by Sandy, but the overwhelming goodness of people in helping those in need.” He made the comments in a statement to announce the success of a special collection to respond to individuals, parishes, Catholic institutions, charities and community organizations harmed by Sandy. Cardinal Dolan asked that all of the archdiocese’s nearly 375 parishes hold a special collection the weekends of Nov. 3-4 and Nov. 10-11. Pastors were already “reporting a generous response from the people to this special appeal for help,” the cardinal’s announcement said. The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation and the Cardinal’s Annual Appeal will each contribute an additional $500,000 to the relief fund. Cardinal Dolan praised the response of individuals and agencies alike to the devastation and hardship caused by the super storm. “Catholic Charities and our parishes are doing a magnificent job in reaching out and providing help to people… as are so many other agencies and individuals,” he said. “This new fund will augment those efforts already under way in providing direct aid where it is needed most.” A board of pastors from those areas of the archdiocese most affected by the hurricane will oversee distribution of the funds to ensure they go to the people and institutions most in need of help with their recovery efforts. “We have an obligation — a sacred duty — to help those who are hurting,” Cardinal Dolan said. “The efforts of the Catholic Church, along with so many other organizations and individuals, are helping us to fulfill this responsibility to care for our brothers and sisters in need.”

Synod Members Propose Ways to Promote Evangelization

by Catholic News Service

(CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Synod of Bishops recommended the Vatican establish a commission to monitor religious freedom, develop guidelines for training evangelizers and ensure there is a church in every diocese where confession is always available. At the end of the three-week world Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, members of the gathering approved 58 propositions to give to the pope. The propositions were designed as recommendations for the pope to use in a post-synodal apostolic exhortation. Many of the propositions described current challenges the church faces in sharing the Gospel, strengthening the faith and reaching out to lapsed Catholics. Other propositions asked Pope Benedict or bishops to consider undertaking projects, including: establishing a Vatican commission to monitor religious freedom, denounce attacks on religious freedom and promote a broader understanding of its importance as a basic human right; developing a “pastoral plan of initial proclamation” that would outline steps to help ensure that once people hear the Gospel, they are led to conversion and faith and are educated in church teaching. It also should describe the “qualities and guidelines for the formation of Catholic evangelizers today”; and asking every diocese to establish a parish or shrine dedicated “in a permanent way” to the sacrament of penance, ensuring “priests are always present, allowing God’s mercy to be experienced by all the faithful.”

Gentlemen’s Closet

St. Catherine Community helps men in need dress for success

The “Gentlemen’s Closet” was featured on three local television stations; KSLA TV 12, KTAL NBC 6, and KMSS FOX 33.  From this television coverage we have received donated suits from Minden, Mansfield, Bossier City, Haughton and Shreveport.

The “Gentlemen’s Closet” has fitted men with suits for job fairs, interviews, church functions, court and funerals.

We have assisted individuals referred to us from various local agencies, including Volunteers of America, Goodwill Industries Job Training, the Veterans Administration, Louisiana Association for the Blind, Veterans Hospital, The Kennedy Center and local neighborhood churches.
One interesting fact of note is that many donations come from area widows who have found solace in the fact that their deceased loved ones’ suits are helping those without in positive pursuits and church participation.

The Gentlemen’s Closet wishes to thank all who have donated the many fine suits. You are helping men to look good and feel good for interviews and other positive pursuits.

The “Gentlemen’s Closet” is open to assist on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m at the St. Catherine Community Center. For more information, call 318-865-9817.

by William Livigne, Coordinator, St. Catherine Community Center

Catholic Charities Update

Since Catholic Charities of Shreveport opened two years ago, we have seen a tremendous need present in our diocese. As the economy struggles, the effects reach further throughout our society. Many working families managing tight budgets have had their work hours cut or have lost their jobs altogether. With little or no savings, they are at risk for having their utilities disconnected and being evicted within a matter of weeks. Many have never asked for assistance before. They often do not begin looking for help until they are desperate and have no other option. Every day we get calls from people who have had one or more of their basic utilities discontinued or who have received notice for eviction.

Making the situation even more difficult is that funding is being cut or eliminated at other agencies, and many people who used to be donors are no longer able to give. Every day we get calls from people who have been referred to us by agencies, organizations and churches that no longer have funding to help. Each month the number of requests has grown so that we have received more than 300 calls for assistance in each of the past six months.

Fortunately, Catholic Charities of Shreveport is becoming known as a beacon of hope during this difficult time and we are able to help many people in need. Unfortunately, however, we cannot help nearly as many as we would like. We help as we are able, using Emergency Assistance funds to help with rent or utilities, and then with targeted referrals for others.

We often are able to help with in-kind donations given by individuals and groups. Last Christmas, we were blessed with many needed items from the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans with their Advent Giving Tree, and a large number of canned goods collected by students at St. Joseph School. More recently, St. Pius X Church collected baby items during their 40 Day Baby Shower in conjunction with 40 Days for Life. Gifts such as these enable us to help our client families in many other ways, such as providing food for a hungry family as well as personal care items; blankets, socks, gloves and hats for those who have none; and diapers, formula, strollers and cribs so new parents can adequately care for their infants. Everyone who comes to us is given the opportunity to not only take our financial education classes, but also to receive individualized mentoring from a financial coach for a year as they progress towards financial stability and independence.
As with most Catholic Charities throughout the U.S., we depend on donations and volunteers to provide these services. Your gifts make a real difference in the lives of our clients.

by Anita Crafts,Catholic Charities of Shreveport

Seminarista Para Visitar Nicaragua

En la fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe me iré de misión a visitar algunas de las personas más pobres de Nicaragua. Todo el año he estado esperando la oportunidad de regresar y de nuevo entrar a sus vidas difíciles y compartirles la Buena Nueva de Jesus. No salgo hasta el 12 de diciembre, pero en muchas maneras este viaje empezó hace varios meses atrás en la ciudad de México.

Durante una de mis varias peregrinaciones a la Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, me arrodillé debajo de la tilma de San Juan Diego, y vi la bellísima cara de nuestra Santísima Madre. Estaba decepcionado por mi progreso lento y difícil en aprender el español y entender la cultura Mexicana, y con fervor oré por su intercesión. ¿Cómo podía ser un misionero exitoso si no podía hablar el idioma, ni entender las vidas y necesidades de la gente? Me sorprendí cuando mi oración fue respondida de una manera simple y poderosa.

Viendo a su imagen milagrosa, me acordé que María vino a este Nuevo Mundo con el Hijo de Dios en su vientre. Dentro de ella, el Sagrado Corazón de Jesus latía junto con el de ella. Ambos corazones ardían con el mismo amor apasionado por Dios y por todos Sus hijos. Cuando el sacerdote en el altar levantó la hostia consagrada, vi la imagen de la Madre de Dios, parada sobre la luna, eclipsando el sol, vestida en las estrellas del cielo, inclinada con humildad y oración, viendo a Jesus en la Eucaristía con mucho amor.

Fui a México a aprender como cambiar vidas.  Ese momento cambio la mía. Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe me mostró como Jesus quiere que todos nosotros lo llevemos a Él a las vidas de los que más lo necesitan, quienes sean, a pesar de nuestras inseguridades y pocas habilidades. Nuestro amor por Cristo es suficiente. Su fuerza es suficiente para nosotros. Estoy seguro que mi vida cambiará de nuevo en Nicaragua cuando, con amor ardiente en mi corazón, lleve a Cristo en la Eucaristía a algunos de Sus hijos más necesitados. En su manera, me traerán a Jesus a mí también. Celebraré el cumpleaños de mis cuarenta y cuatro años en sus casas este año, ¡y no podría pedir un regalo mejor!

por Jerry Daigle, Jr., Seminarian

Seminarian to Visit Nicaragua

1212olg

On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I will go on a mission to some of the poorest people in Nicaragua. All year I have been longing for the chance to return to them, and, once again, enter their challenging lives to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. I will not leave until December 12, but, in many ways, this journey began several months ago in Mexico City.

During one of my many pilgrimages to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I knelt beneath St. Juan Diego’s centuries-old tilma, and stared into the beautiful face of our Blessed Mother. I was disappointed by my slow and difficult progress in learning Spanish and in understanding the Mexican culture, and I fervently prayed for her intercession. How could I be a successful missionary if I could not speak the language, and did not understand the lives and needs of the people? I was surprised when my prayer was answered in a simple and powerful way.

Looking at her miraculous image, I remembered that Mary had come to this New World carrying the Son of God in her womb. Within her, the Sacred Heart of Jesus beat in unison with her own heart.  Both hearts burned with the same flames of passionate love for God and for all of His children. When the priest at the altar raised the consecrated host, I saw the image of the great Mother of God, standing on the moon, eclipsing the sun, clothed in the very stars of heaven, bowed with humility and prayer, lovingly looking at Jesus in the Eucharist.

I went to Mexico to learn how to change lives. That moment changed mine. Our Lady of Guadalupe showed me how Jesus wants us, all of us, to bring Him into the lives of those who need Him most, whoever they may be, regardless of our own insecurities and poor abilities. Our love for Christ is enough. His strength is enough for us.  I am certain that my life will change again in Nicaragua when, with burning love in my heart, I will bring Christ in the Eucharist to some of His neediest children.  In their own way, they will bring Christ to me too. I will celebrate my 44th birthday in their homes this year, and I could not ask for a greater gift!

by Jerry Daigle, Jr., Seminarian

Photo: (CNS photo/Paul Haring)