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Preparing for June Ordinations: Q&A with the Candidates

KEVIN MUES What are you most looking forward to about being ordained to the Transitional Diaconate? The transitional diaconate is a period of about a year. A man is ordained to the More »

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Grant Brings Money School to Rural Community

by Lucy Medvec Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) recently took its financial education class, The Money School, on the road to Ringgold and it was all made possible by a grant More »

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St. John Berchmans School Reigns as 10 Time Science Olympiad State Champions!

by Mary Simpson The St. John Berchmans Science Olympiad team won the State Science Olympiad competition held in Hammond, LA in March of this year – in fact, they have won it More »

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St. Joseph Seminary Youth Events

by Kelby Tingle, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian Throughout the course of the academic year, there are many exciting events that take place within the seminary community at St. Joseph Seminary College. The More »

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Navigating the Faith: Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church New Feast Day

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decree signed by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect, on March 3, 2018, announcing that More »

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Domestic Church: Finding the Divine Plan in Grief

by Katie Sciba I lost my dad in the fall of 2013. After dodging more adventurous deaths in his youth, he met his match in cancer. He fought for two-and-a-half years before More »

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Faithful Food: Summer Recipes for Life

by Kim Long Birthdays when I was a child were a Real. Big. Deal. What exactly do I mean when I say that? My birthday, which falls in the later part of More »

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Catholic Charities: North Louisiana’s Good Samaritan

by Lucy Medvec Who will you help today? In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are called by Jesus to go forth and treat our neighbors with mercy, even those we More »

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Bishop’s Reflection: Live in a Way That Embraces Eternal Life

by Bishop Michael G. Duca For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the More »

May is Senior Month

by Sister Martinette Rivers

In celebrations people often affirm the joyous outpouring of their spirits. Let our beauty in our elder years show who we really are. Celebration must be written in our hearts every day. Let’s not waste time. Remain happy in all circumstances and celebrate each new moment every day.

Living well is a special art and keeping our minds and hearts open to the change that takes place as we age with gusto and joy is another.

We must keep our brains active like Pope Francis who never seems to stop. He brings an incredible, indomitable, new kind of spirit to the Church and to us.

We have been on an incredible journey and aged as we traveled. Embrace your aging during Senior Month as a new time.

Remain open to the mysterious ways God has worked in our lives. Clear the roadblock and look into the face of aging with eyes of faith and let’s re-adjust ourselves to a universe ruled by God’s wisdom and love. Believe in the legacy you are living.

A nation needs its guides, musicians, cooks, leaders and its old people. Old people have learned well that power in aging means service to others. Healthy, spiritual aging is possible and can be lived with passion as old things pass away and new things burst forth like a seasonal resurrection. We have left marks as we’ve aged on all those around us.

Start now by allowing the Spirit to move us. Trust in the Lord one moment at a time and don’t get tangled up in ‘worry-webs.’ Yield to God’s Spirit within our hearts and feel His gentle touch on our souls.

As we grow older, we express our joyful moments in different ways. Think about the things you enjoy doing and the people you find joy being with. Research called psychoneuro immunology reveals that our virtues and our spiritual development can directly affect our healthy living. As you and I live our elder years with a passion for humanity, like Pope Francis, we can peer into the eyes of one another with love and wonder and the greatest of respect.

We should always be in the pursuit of joy, happiness and pleasure as they have the power to put us in touch with an awesome and amazing God who loves us just as we are. The more deeply we live in the present moment, the clearer our vision of our elder years becomes. That’s more than enough to be enthusiastic about. I wish you all God’s blessings for a marvelous celebration of your elder years during the month of May.  I will celebrate this special month on May 26, by rejoicing in 60 years of sisterhood!

Celebrate! Celebrate! Come celebrate with me.

Sr. Martinette is a Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows & a spiritual gerontologist.

The Most Difficult Step

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Discerning when it’s time to try seminary
by Fr. Matthew Long, Director of Vocations

The most difficult step in discernment to a vocation to the priesthood is the one we take to step away from the world and enter into formation at a seminary. I had been struggling with the call of God since Good Friday of 2001, which was when I first knew that God was calling me.  I began meeting with Fr. Peter Mangum every month beginning in May of that year. I attended perpetual adoration and Mass at St. Joseph every day, and yet something held me back. I was held back by my fear, I was held back by a feeling of unworthiness, I was held back because I did not want to surrender my life to God.

Every month we met and every month I had a new excuse to not take the next step. We continued meeting until the spring of 2004 when Fr. Peter said to me, “We can continue to meet once a month until we are old men and you are pushing me around in a wheelchair, but you will never know for certain whether or not you have a call until you go to seminary.” He then reminded me of the tower at Barksdale and from that tower you can see all over Shreveport and Bossier City, but from where we were on Patton Avenue you could only see the house across the street. He told me that seminary was like that tower and from it you could really and truly see where God is leading you, where He is calling you.

By August of that year I had quit my job, given away most of my possessions, and was traveling to a place I had never been to before, St. Meinrad School of Theology in Southern Indiana.  St. Meinrad turned out to be exactly what Fr. Peter said it would be – a tower where I could see clearly what God intended for my life. Through five years of work, of struggle, of prayer and of joy I found my place in God’s plan for me. Looking back after nearly four years of priesthood, I am thankful that God gave me the courage to take this step.

I know that there are men reading this article who have been struggling with the call of God in their life. They are trying to figure out for themselves whether it is real or not. There is only one place that you can determine that and that is at the tower the Church has given us called a seminary. All that God asks of you is that you take that most difficult step and be willing to surrender nine months of your life to seminary formation. I encourage you to contact me at my office at 318-219-7261, or e-mail me at mlong@dioshpt.org. The summer is about to begin and if you want answers to what God’s plan is in your life, then now is the time to do it so that when August arrives you can be traveling to the tower where God’s plan for your life will be fully revealed.

Veneration of the Cross

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A seminarian’s reflection of Holy Week

by John Parker, Seminarian, St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, LA

Happy Easter! Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! May the joyful shout spring from each and every heart, mouth, stone and tree, from all things created by the Risen One! I hope and pray that the joy of this Easter season rests within each of your hearts for the remainder of this joyous time – remember, it’s still Easter until Pentecost!

And now, in regards to far more somber matters, I feel compelled to give you a taste of my experience this past Holy Week. As a first year seminarian, I had the unique privilege to enter into the solemnity of our Lord’s Passion from the perspective of a Benedictine Abbey. Put simply, it was the most beautiful and moving experience of my life. I sat in my usual pew, three rows from the front – just far back enough to be seen as acceptably pious. My seminarian brothers and I were all in our black suits, the church was standing room only, and it was hot! I was between two of my brother seminarians, packed so tightly together that our elbows were rubbing. My good friend Henry, a jollily rotund Hispanic man, was sitting beside me, further adding to the heat with his excess of warmth and cheer. Needless to say, we were all suffering a bit for the Lord!

At three o’clock, the hour of Mercy, the opening procession began without music. Six altar servers in simple white albs preceded Father Abbot Justin and two of his brother priests up the aisle – the priests wore beautiful blood-red vestments, reminding me of the legacy of martyrs that Jesus’ suffering spurred. They soundlessly processed to the altar and immediately prostrated before the Holy of Holies, noses pressed into the stone floor, arms wrapped around their heads, vestments disheveled and flowing outward like pools of blood. They remained in that position of utter vulnerability and mourning for over a minute as we looked on from our knees.

The liturgy continued in elegant and sorrowful splendor, the Schola serenading Jesus in his beautiful and terrible Passion. Finally, it came time for the Veneration.

The Abbey is most blessed in that it is in possession of a relic of the true Cross, a fragment of the very wood that absorbed the precious blood of our Redeemer on that fateful day. It is encased in glass and forged into the epicenter of a Greek Cross. Fr. Charles and Fr. Jude enthroned the relic upon the altar and invited the faithful to come forward and pay homage to our Lord’s instrument of torture.

It is a Benedictine practice to venerate the Cross barefoot, so we were encouraged to partake in this ritual. Many took their shoes off and shuffled forward in their socks, looking just a tiny bit ridiculous. I, being an all or nothing type of man, wanted to look completely ridiculous, so I decided to go barefoot—much to the chagrin of all, no doubt! I shuffled forward like the rest of them, feeling like a cross between St. Francis of Assisi and Mr. CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, looking utterly ridiculous in my suit without shoes. I reached the Cross, practically trembling in anticipation, and delicately – awkwardly – planted a kiss at the edge of the glass. I quickly shuffled away to my seat, having touched that sacred relic. I knelt and watched the beautiful diversity of our Church process forward and venerate that which binds us all together. The young and younger, the beautiful and more beautiful, the tall and taller; everyone paid his or her respects to the saving Cross.

Once all who could walk had completed the veneration, Fr. Charles and Fr. Jude picked up the sizable relic and carried it to the front pew just a half a dozen feet from me; they simply would not allow a single soul to go without venerating the Wood. A blind man rose to his feet and groped for the relic. He kissed it. The pair of priests moved along the pew. An old woman, stooped with age, sat upon the pew, patiently awaiting her chance. They lowered the Cross to her, but she wouldn’t have it; she would not allow the Saving Instrument to approach her seated. With all the strength that remained in her old bones, she slowly rose. All I could see of her was her stooped back, the lacy-white veil upon her head, and her hands wrinkled by an excess of life lived. She was Mother Teresa reincarnated, a gentle babushka, an abuela, a grandmother. Her shaking, wrinkled, arthritic hands wrapped around the cross’s neck and she pulled it to her lips and kissed it. As a mother kisses her child, as a grandmother kisses her grandchild, so she kissed that relic.

I wept.

I live an easy and blessed life, like many of us. Jesus calls us to renounce some of that easiness for His sake, for the sake of suffering people around the world. He asks us to love Him, to thirst for Him as He thirsts for us, as He cried out for thirst of us even from the horror of His Cross. This love is hard for me to accept on most days, because this love demands EVERYTHING from me, but I believe all joy in this life rests in accepting Jesus’ love that pours out from the Cross, in accepting our own small crosses and carrying them with joy. Perhaps we might one day possess the humility of the frail and the blind who so clearly realize this love, and love their Lord despite all their suffering. Oh, to have that kind of faith!

(CNS photo/Michael McArdle, Northwest Indiana Catholic)

Lifelong Catechesis: Faith formation and Opportunities for All Ages

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by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

During the Year of Faith, the Holy See has urged us to grow and help others grow in faith. One of the best ways to do that is through catechesis. While the term “catechesis” may seem a bit daunting, what it really means is passing on the teachings of Christ and our Catholic faith.

“Catechesis also involves the lifelong effort of forming people into witnesses to Christ and opening their hearts to the spiritual transformation given by the Holy Spirit.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most people experience catechesis in their lives without knowing it. Parish School of Religion, the Rosary, regular attendance of Mass and reading the Bible are all different ways the faith is passed on to us.

Catechesis usually begins with our families when we are children and continues to nurture our faith throughout our school years, adulthood and into our senior years. Our needs for faith formation change as we age, and there are plenty of opportunities out there to meet those needs.

There is a common conception that Catholic education begins with first Communion, but in many ways it begins well before that.

“Sometimes our relationships with others and Jesus is a little like follow the leader,” said Shelly Bole, diocesan Director of Catechesis.  “Young children mimic their parents: the parent makes the Sign of the Cross and the child copies it. When parents regularly participate in Mass, express sorrow through the Sacrament of Confession, exercise or laugh often, they show by example that these things are of value.”

Leading by example is one of the primary ways we teach our children the faith. For a more hands on approach, our Domestic Church columnist writer Katie Sciba suggests giving children their own rosary to touch, feel and ask questions about. If your child asks a question you can’t answer, do the research and you can both catechize yourselves in the process!

Parish School of Religion (PSR) or Growing in Faith Together (GIFT) classes at church are often the first formal Catholic education children experience. Megan Funk, who is the Religious Education Assistant at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans and in charge of their PSR program, says their classes start with Pre-K4 and go all the way up through eighth grade. Megan encourages parents to start their children in the classes as soon as possible.

“I would put your children in right away,” said Megan. “This is your faith and while teaching your child starts at home, it is important to build on what you need to know, what your child needs to know. They need to be in a classroom that has the materials to help them learn, which will in turn help you learn. Putting them off is just hindering them from learning their Catholic faith and becoming a stronger Catholic. And we have fun!”

Materials vary from class to class, but Megan says Pre-K4 students do crafts and learn about what God made, while second graders prepare for first communion and reconciliation and the older fifth to sixth graders learn about biblical and Church history. “By the time you get to eighth grade you’ve learned the history of the Church, the prayers of the Church, the whole gamit of what the Church and the Bible are and represent,” said Megan.

In many ways it is easy to discontinue faith formation after PSR stops in eighth grade. It becomes more difficult when you have to actively seek out ways to build your faith and education. Many churches have youth groups where high schoolers can share in fellowship, go on mission trips and foster faith in one another.

Theology on Tap events are Catholic educational opportunities for young adults.

The Diocese of Shreveport also offers catechetical opportunities for youth and young adults. On March 2, the annual Encounter Youth rally was held for all middle and high school youth from across the diocese.

“We try to cover a broad spectrum of Catholic teaching at every rally, such as giving to those in need, evangelization through speakers and education through breakout sessions,” said John Vining, diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. “Even with food we try to get the Knights of Columbus involved because it gives them exposure and the youth may want to join the Knights when they get older.”

Additionally, every other year, young area Catholics come together and travel to the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) where they join together with over 23,000 other young Catholics. It’s a unique opportunity, especially in our area with a small Catholic population, for kids to get around those like them.

John really urges all middle and high school aged people to become involved with the youth groups in their home churches. That is the easiest and most frequent way for them to encounter and increase their faith.

Likewise, young adults are encouraged to seek out groups in their home churches. If your church doesn’t have a young adult group, consider starting one. Deacon Michael Straub and his wife host an Adults with Young Children Group for the members of Mary, Queen of Peace Church in Bossier City.

The group rose from a need at the Church.  A couple of people approached Mike’s wife Pam and said there was nothing available at the church for them. Pam, in return, turned to him. Together they started inviting couples and their children to their home once a month.

“Their children are still too young for PSR programs and they couldn’t afford babysitters so we allow them to bring their children with them to our get togethers,” said Mike. “We meet for two hours. The first hour we eat and share fellowship and the second hour we discuss issues of faith.” Some of the topics they’ve discussed are lectio divina, scripture, raising faithful children and strong marriages.

As a supplement to parish groups like these, the diocese offers Theology on Tap events for young adults scattered throughout the year. “These events are meant for people to come in and have a safe place to talk about things Catholic. It’s a way to reinforce faith throughout their lives,” said John. During these meetings, guest speakers come in and give talks on Catholic topics. In the past subjects have covered the New Roman Missal, apologetics, works of mercy and pro-life ministries.

There are also many ways for adults of all ages to continue forming their faith.

Kim Long, the Director of Religious Education (DRE) at St. Mary of the Pines Church in Shreveport, started on her path to Catholicism as an adult. After encountering RCIA, she started attending Greco Institute courses that are offered for free by the Diocese of Shreveport. “It’s given me access to the kind of caliber of information you would normally only see in a graduate program. And we’re so fortunate to have it at our disposal,” said Kim.
In her role as DRE, Kim encounters people of all ages who are unsure about growing in their faith.

“Learning as an adult is very different than learning as a child,” said Kim. “First I ask people, ‘When’s the last time you were in a religious education class?’ Almost, without fail, the answer would be, ‘When I was confirmed in sixth, seventh or eighth grade.’”

Kim encourages adults to try a number of options depending on their time and interests. She recommends Greco courses, attending missions at the parish, parish retreats, or even subscribing to a Catholic magazine. There are all different kinds of opportunities for different interests. For many people, it’s difficult to find the time to sit in a class. Magazines offer education at your own pace.

Likewise, Dianne Rachal, diocesan Director of Worship, said the diocese often brings in national, well-known speakers for all Catholics to see and learn from. Dianne also encourages people to check out the Slattery Library at the Catholic Center. There is a wealth of literature, movies and audio resources for anyone who wants to borrow them.

And remember, any time you are preparing to receive a sacrament is a great time to re-invest in your faith and educate yourself. Both marriage preparation and baptismal formation are times to ask questions of your pastor, deacon or DRE and learn the importance of these sacraments as you, your fiancé, your family and your children move forward in faith together.

Navigating the Faith: Sacrament of Marriage

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by Cathy Cobb, DRE, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church

Twenty-six years ago, my husband Alan and I celebrated the Sacrament of Matrimony with Msgr. Murray Clayton, declaring our consent before God and God’s Church, surrounded by our families and friends. We promised to be true “in good times and in bad.” In a culture of throwaway words and planned obsolescence, we took a great leap of faith in reciting those vows. On that joyful day, we were focused on the celebration of the wedding; in the intervening years we have learned much about the making of a marriage.

The Church recognizes the depth of faith involved in Christian marriage by raising it to the dignity of a Sacrament. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Sacrament of Matrimony, much like Holy Orders, is directed toward the salvation of others; it contributes to our personal salvation precisely through our service to others (1584). “Faith,” says the Second Vatican Council, “is that by which a person freely and totally commits him/herself to God.” In the same way, married Christians make a free and total commitment to God and to one another.

This total commitment leads married couples to an intimate familiarity with the Paschal Mystery – over and over again, we are invited to die to ourselves and are raised to new life. This universal Christian theme of dying and rising comes to life in very particular ways for married couples. When we were first married, my husband and I had to die to a carefree self-centeredness but we discovered a whole new life as a couple. After we were blessed with children, we again had to stop planning our lives around our own wants and needs as the wants and needs of our children rose to the forefront. These transitions were not always simple, and rarely easy. This sort of dying is a painful process, and this sort of rising is always surprising and delightful. Sharing life with another person means truly exploring the furthest reaches of human existence. Faith in Christ smoothes out the journey and offers a shared vision for navigating those moments – good and bad.

Sadly, not all couples are able to sustain a marriage. In my ministry as a lay advocate for the Diocese of Shreveport, I have seen first-hand the heartbreak and anguish that results when engaged couples fail to prayerfully consider what marriage entails, or when married couples lose hope that things will get better. Christian couples are in need of support all along the way. Solid marriage preparation – through pre-Cana, mentoring couples, and caring pastors – helps build communication skills between couples and invites them to prayerfully consider their level of commitment to God and one another. The parish community along with family and friends must offer support and encouragement to couples, which may be difficult to find elsewhere in today’s society. I vividly remember seeing our assembled friends and family rise and turn smiling towards us as my dad and I processed up the aisle on my wedding day. There have been so many days when the memory of that “cloud of witnesses” has sustained me – moments when I knew that these beloved folks remained in solidarity with my husband and me in moments of joy or sorrow. Their love and support always brought hope when I felt my own spirit failing.

Our children are the greatest blessing of our shared life. Raising children has also challenged us, though, not only to become more articulate in our faith, but also to live it out every single day under their constant (and sometimes withering!) scrutiny. Sharing our lives with them has taught us so many lessons in God’s generosity, unconditional love, and boundless mercy. Their love has taught us how to love them back, lavishly and non-possessively. The Catechism states that “the family home is rightly called ‘the domestic church’, a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity” (1653). Now that our kids are grown and have moved away, we are challenged not to cling too tightly and to ensure that our marriage continues to “radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality and of sacrifice (1654).”

Christ himself provides the grace needed to sustain marriage and family life for those who turn to him. “Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to ‘be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,’ and to love one another with supernatural, tender and fruitful love (1642).” Regular participation in Mass and reception of Eucharist nourishes and rekindles that gift of grace.

It is overwhelming to look back over the last 26 years and realize the many ways that this grace has inspired us to persevere through the peaks and valleys of life. What a generous and transformative gift! I can barely recognize the old self that I was on my wedding day, and I am grateful that my husband has weathered these transitions with gentleness and a healthy dose of humor.

My parents, who have been married for over 55 years, demonstrate the mellowness of heart and joy that can lie ahead for my husband and me as the years unfold. My brother, who is a Roman Catholic priest, reminds me that all of us – single or married, with or without children – are called to achieve our fullest dignity by serving one another. My children, who are still discerning how God is calling them to spend their lives, remind me of God’s imagination and creativity in blessing all of His children, each of whom He has created and found to be “very good.”

One of the prayers of the faithful from the Rite of Marriage asks that the couple “may have divine assistance at every moment, the constant support of friends, the rich blessing of children, a warm love reaching out to others and good health until a ripe old age.” Let us all continue to pray that our God will always bless Christian couples who embark on this sacred journey of faith, hope and love.

Year of Faith Saint: St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, SS.CC.

St. Damien of Molokai was born in Belgium in 1840 to a poor farmer and his wife. At the age of 13 he quit school to help his parents on the farm; when he was 19, he entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.  Damien’s older brother, Pamphile, was also a priest in this congregation and had offered his service to the care of the lepers on the Island of Molokai. When he fell ill and couldn’t go to the mission, Damien volunteered to take his place. The saint offered to stay in the leper colony permanently – he built schools, churches, hospitals and coffins. He was later joined in his work by the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, led by St. Marianne Cope. St. Damien contracted the disease himself, but continued to serve the mission until his death in 1889. He was buried in the local cemetery under the same Pandanus tree where he had first slept upon his arrival in Molokai. His remains were exhumed in 1936 at the request of the Belgian Government and translated to a crypt of the Church of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts at Louvain.

from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops & vatican.va

Documents of Vatican II: Apostolicam Actuositatem

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Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People

by Dianne Rachal, Director of the Office of Worship

In its desire to intensify the apostolic activity of the People of God the Council now earnestly turns its thoughts to the Christian laity.”  AA 1

The Second Vatican Council approved a decree on the laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem, on November 18, 1965. The document speaks of the “apostolate” of the laity; eventually this term was replaced with “ministry.” The laity have a “special and indispensible role in the mission of the Church,” and their ministry is integral to their vocation as Christians. Current realities call for even greater lay participation in ministry: increased population, advances in science and technology, globalization and the scarcity of priests.

The mission of the Church is to spread the kingdom of Christ to the entire world, thus bringing salvation to all people. To be a Christian is to participate in this mission.  Initiated into the Mystical Body of Christ at Baptism and strengthened by the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, the laity witness to Christ the world over.  Apostolicam Actuositatem addresses the spirituality of lay people, which is essentially union with Christ.  This union is maintained primarily through active participation in the liturgy, meditation on scripture, living the Beatitudes, developing their charisms and following the example of Mary.

The specific objectives of lay ministry are: 1) evangelization and sanctification, 2) renewal of the temporal order, and 3) charitable works and social aid.  Laity evangelize by the witness of their Christian life and their good works. The laity renew the temporal order by bringing the world into harmony with the principles and values of Christian life.

When lay people follow the great commandment to love God and one’s neighbor, and to do unto the least, they express solidarity with all humanity. Charity, mercy, justice and social assistance on a local and global scale should not only alleviate suffering, but also eliminate the unjust systems at the root of human suffering.

Lay people exercise their ministry in the Church and in the world: Church communities, the family, the young, the social environment, national and international spheres. Nourished by the liturgy, the laity engage in the ministry of spreading the Word of God, catechetical instruction and administration of Church goods. Lay people infuse Christian spirit into their communities: social environments, work places, schools, clubs and leisure activities.  “There the witness of their life is completed by the witness of their word.”  AA 13

Adequate training of lay people is indispensable if ministry is to attain full efficacy.  AA 28

Apostolicam Actuositatem ends with an exhortation to the laity to respond to the call of Christ to carry the Church’s apostolate into the world:  “He (the Lord) sends them on the Church’s apostolate, … doing their full share continually in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord their labor cannot be lost.” AA 33

Pentecost Picnic

by Kim Long, DRE, St. Mary of the Pines

This Pentecost cake was made with love by Kim and decorated by her godchildren.

God is full of surprises. I sat down to write one thing and it seems that God wanted something else entirely. Pentecost Sunday (this year May 19) is celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday and is the end of the Easter season. It celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. You can read this amazing account in the second chapter of the book of Acts. The prayer with which we are all familiar begins, “come Holy Spirit and kindle the hearts of your faithful and stir up in them your love.” It almost sounds like instructions from a recipe – stir up in them your love. Pentecost is a wonderful “end cap” to the season of joy and feasting (both physical, as well as spiritual); a day when red is the preferred color of vestments, liturgical linens and lay people’s clothes. We encourage everyone to wear red and what we end up with are shades that range from light pink to orange to bright red. The tonal quality of it reminds us of our humanity – each of us different, yet blended together, representing our willingness to be open to the Spirit and BY the Spirit.

I came across my dog-eared copy of To Dance with God by Gertrude Mueller Nelson. Noted inside the front cover is the date, May 1989. I purchased it soon after coming into full communion. Thumbing through there is a turned down page in lieu of a proper bookmark. The section on Pentecost is inspiring and holds up after all this time. Here is a quote, “Life in the Spirit is different. The Spirit wells up from the center of our very being. It founds us and breathes into our actions, the enthusiasm of love and genuine creativity. We cannot see the Spirit, but we can see and feel its effects.” Life in the spirit is different! If we open to the spirit of God, the will of God, the love of God, in other words, if we embrace the message of Easter, then we cannot help but reach Pentecost changed!

For Pentecost take a walk out doors and watch the wind blow through the trees, revel in the beauty of creation and your place in it. Find a quiet spot and spend some time with God in prayer. Pack a lunch, gather your dear ones and head out for a picnic. Don’t be in a hurry, be still and know that He is God.

In addition to the recipes below, try making a Pentecost Cake! The idea here is to decorate a cake with a symbol of the great feast of Pentecost. Begin with a sheet cake and ice in white. Decorate with red flames (they hovered over the apostles), outline a dove in red and have gold rays around it to suggest divinity, seven of some small shape (flames, doves) to represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit ( wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord), or 12 strawberries or other fruit to suggest the fruits of the Holy Spirit (charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, constancy and chastity).

Twelve-Fruit Salad

Ingredients:
• 12 kinds of fresh fruit (Some possibilities are strawberries, blackberries, bananas, melon, kiwi, blueberries, apples, oranges, mangos)
• Sugar
• Lemon juice

Directions:
Wash, hull, peel, slice fruit as necessary. Cut into bite sized pieces. You can either mix all the fruit together in a large bowl or place them on a bed of greens. Sprinkle with a little sugar and lemon juice if desired.

Curry Mayonnaise

Ingredients:
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/2  teaspoon curry powder
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 2 tablespoons lime juice

Directions:
Combine ingredients and serve over fruit salad.

Recipes from A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz

Appeal Ministries: Slattery Library

Since 1989, the Slattery Library has provided our diocese with the only Catholic research library located within this entire region of our nation.  Named for Msgr. Edmund Slattery, then president of Catholic Church Extension Society, our Library was a generous gift by Catholic Extension to Bishop Friend to assist with the burgeoning interest in adult education in our diocese. Since that time, Msgr. Edmund Slattery became the Bishop of Tulsa and the library which carries his name has bolstered the mission of Greco Institute and provided the faithful of our diocese with the very best in research material, periodic book reviews and an excellent Catholic periodical collection.

Each year, your Appeal donations help to subsidize the cost of Slattery Library and provide a part-time Librarian to help run this wonderful gift.  Slattery Library is a great location for small group meetings of those interested in literary pursuits and reading clubs. There is also an extensive library of movies and audiobooks or digital video or audio disks, all made possible by your support of our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal.

John Mark Willcox is the Director of Stewardship & Development. To give to the annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal that supports ministries like these, visit www.dioshpt.org/stewardship/stewardship.html.

Loyola Students Exceled at Literary Rally

On March 23, 60 Loyola College Prep students traveled to Northwestern State University in Natchitoches to compete in the Northwest Louisiana Literary Rally.  Here, students take tests in various subject areas to earn points, medals and the chance to compete in the state competition. Loyola students performed outstandingly!  We sent students to test in 27 subject areas, and we earned state competition spots in 24 events. In 19 events we had the student who earned the 1st place score, higher than any other private or public school in Caddo Parish! Loyola also placed 1st in the Sweepstakes category, meaning we scored higher overall than any other school in our district. State Rally participants traveled to Baton Rouge on April 20 to compete in the next level.