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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

A Month Long Celebration of the Holy Rosary

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by Katie Sciba

October brings an exciting month-long celebration of the Holy Rosary among the Catholic Church. October 7th is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and I can’t think of a better way to honor her than through sincere recitation of the very prayer she gave the world.

The Blessed Mother gave the Rosary to St. Dominic as a weapon against heretics in the late 1100s and since then has made promises of God’s grace to those who recite it. Indeed, praying the Rosary as a family carries with it a plenary indulgence.

The Rosary is both a Marian and Christo-centric prayer: the Our Father is a prayer from Christ Himself and the Hail Mary reiterates the words the Archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary at the Annunciation as well as St. Elizabeth’s words at the Visitation. On a more basic level, while repeating Hail Marys over 50 times, you’re also reflecting on highlights from the life of Christ within each mystery. It’s through this way that a person is drawn more closely to Christ and His Mother. Additionally, the Rosary is structurally ideal for humans to pray; we are body and soul – physical and spiritual. The two methods of prayer within the Rosary are vocal and mental and they go hand in hand with our nature perfectly. During vocal prayer, the devout meditate on the designated mystery, reflecting on the virtues within each one and on the particular story from the New Testament. That’s where the mental aspect comes in. A friend of mine described the steady rhythm of the Hail Marys as “beautiful background music” to meditation. They help keep a person physically present in prayer.

I’ve known many people, myself included, who set the Rosary aside because it feels too long, but it doesn’t have to. When I’m not faithfully praying the Rosary, my mind drudges and groans about the time it takes to “get through it”; 20-30 minutes of devoted prayer time is a small portion of my day and yet it seems like an eternity when I’m dragging my spiritual feet. There have been periods of my life, however, when I recited the Rosary eagerly and daily; and, because I was practiced, I was more able to focus on the mysteries. The time flew and the sense of burden dissolved. My sister-in-law, Erin, has noted several times that on the days when she prays the Rosary, she feels spirited and ready for whatever comes her way because of the support that Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin offer. This simple witness gives testimony to even the smallest of graces Christ offers through what He calls “My Mother’s Rosary.”

Each day offers several opportunities for prayer – a lunch break, a work out, a baby’s naptime, or after dinner and before the kids’ bedtime. Take the opportunity to pause and pray by yourself or with your family. The Rosary is an awesome prayer, bottomless in meaning. If you have questions about how to pray or meditate on it, ask your priest. Considering the graces, how it draws a person to a more intimate relationship with Christ and His Mother, and its holy origin, the Holy Rosary is the ideal devotion for every Catholic.

Katie Sciba is the author of www.thecatholicwife.net. She lives in Shreveport with her husband, Andrew, and two sons, Liam and Thomas.

Where Mary Said “Yes”

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Photo: Fr. Matthew Long in front of the Basilica  of the Annunciation

by Fr. Matthew Long

I was privileged to lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land this past spring.  As the date of departure approached I was filled with excitement that soon I would be journeying in the land where our Savior carried out His ministry and ultimately redeemed and saved us.  It was a beautiful place but as the days passed I was disappointed because I didn’t feel anything. I saw the sights of Caesarea Philippi. I went to Cana and Tiberius, but not once did I feel that burning within my heart. Then we made the journey to Nazareth. The bus ride from the Mount of Beatitudes to Nazareth was one of great expectation for me.  I recalled the words of Pope Paul VI from his homily at Nazareth that “all of us need to return to Nazareth, to contemplate ever anew the silence and love of the Holy Family.” It was with these words in my mind that I approached the city where our Blessed Lord grew into a man.

When we reached this ancient city we went at once to the Basilica of the Annunciation. There was nothing on its exterior that could prepare me for what I would encounter upon entering this holy place.  From the moment my foot crossed the threshold of this Church I was overwhelmed by the sense of the sacred that permeates her very stones.  I knew at once that it was in this place that one of the most important moments in human history occurred.  I was overcome by emotion and my heart burned within me because of the love that existed there.  As I approached the grotto where our Blessed Mother said “yes” to the request of an Angel my eyes filled with tears.  I had a desire to never leave this place.  I prayed the Hail Mary as I gazed at the little room where the words of this prayer were first spoken.  As I mounted the stairs to ascend to the upper Church the Salve Regina flowed from my lips.

Inside the Basilica of the Annunciation. (CNS photo/Gil Cohen Magen, Reuters)

I was overwhelmed by my senses, both natural and supernatural; because it was here that the first fiat of our salvation and redemption was spoken.  It was here that a young Jewish girl would answer the call of God and in so doing would forever banish the “no” Eve spoke in the Garden.  I could feel it in every fiber of my being that I was standing on Holy Ground. As we prepared to depart I prayed the Angelus and when I genuflected as I prayed “And the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.” I could not keep praying.  Emotion had overwhelmed me and I finally had that moment I sought.  With sadness I departed from this Holy place knowing that I was filled with grace because of the “yes” Mary spoke in this place so many years ago. “O Mary conceived without sin. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

Fr. Matthew Long is the Vocations Director for the Diocese of Shreveport.

Second Collections: World Mission Sunday

by Fr. Rothell Price

Collection Dates: Oct. 20 & 21
Announcement Dates: Oct. 7 & 8

The door to the “Year of Faith” is ready to swing open, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Vatican II Council. This World Mission Sunday collection is a fitting start to this “Year of Faith.” In the final paragraph of Matthew’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus commissions and spiritually equips the disciples to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News. This World Mission Sunday collection is one of the ways we ordinary Catholics fulfill this Gospel mandate. Each and every one of us is a missionary by our baptism into Christ and reinforced in the sacrament of Confirmation by the grace-filled words and holy anointing, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus was baptized and immediately driven by the Spirit into action, so are we who are baptized into Christ.

We may not personally go out on mission, yet our contribution to this special collection makes it possible for men and women to take the Good News of life in Jesus Christ, in our name and on our behalf, to those who have never heard it and to those whose faith needs to be reignited.

World Mission Sunday, organized by the Propagation of the Faith, is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice. Every year the needs of the Missions grow. Do remember our diocese is a “mission” diocese. We receive a large grant from this collection. That is why the involvement and commitment of Catholics locally and nationally is so urgently needed. Please give generously in the spirit of this Year of Faith for the good of our mission diocese and for all the mission fields of the world.

Allow me to offer a preview about the special collection for November. “If you want to feed a person for a day, then give her or him a fish.  If you want to feed that person for life, then teach her or him to fish.”  The mission, nature and purpose of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is to develop the human person so that he or she can provide their own material necessities for life.

Fr. Rothell Price is the Vicar General for the Diocese of Shreveport.

It’s a Great Day When…

by Mike Van Vranken

I crawled into the donor chair to give yet another pint of blood.  In deep concentration as she prepared my arm, the nurse attempted to engage in small talk, asking:  “how are you?”  I smiled and answered:  “It’s just a great day!”  She immediately stopped what she was doing, looked into my eyes, and with a grin much wider than the sky itself, responded:  “Every day is a great day when you know the Lord!”  I gave her a big “Amen” and settled in for the next 15 minutes or so meditating on her declaration of faith.

If her statement is true, and I believe it is, do I live every day with the total awareness that each and every day is a great day?  If not, what am I missing?  Could it be I don’t really know the Lord as much as I could or even should?

Has anyone ever asked if you know a particular person and you respond with something like:  “Oh I’ve met her, but I really don’t know her.”?  Could that describe our relationship with Jesus?  St. Jerome said:  “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  I like to say:  “To know scripture is to know Jesus.”  If we really want to know the Lord it will take more effort than the 15 or 20 minutes we spend in the Word each week on Sunday.  And, because He is the infinite God, our ability to know him is infinite as well.  In other words, every effort to know Him better will produce a closer relationship with Him.

Action Plan:
• Commit to at least 15 minutes per day of devoted scripture study
•  Commit to more intimate conversations with Jesus on a very frequent basis
•  Make the effort to see Jesus in every one you see each day.

Do you want to eliminate bad days?  Do you want to make every day filled with joy and abundance?  Remember the profound words of my friend at the blood bank:  “Every day is a great day when you know the Lord!”

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.

Un Compromiso más Profundo con Cristo

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

(CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Ya para el mes de octubre estamos bien adentrados en la rutina del otoño. La escuela ya está en camino y el recomienzo de organizaciones y responsabilidades está ya en nuestro pasado además de que el verano es ya un recuerdo distante. Cuando yo era el rector del seminario anticipaba la rutina del año escolar. La rutina nos da una estructura para ordenar una vida ocupada, asegura que nuestras responsabilidades vocacionales básicas son cumplidas y que nuestros valores de fe formen nuestra vida de cierta forma con cada tarea diaria. Aun nuestra vida de oración en la Iglesia esta ordenada con el tiempo Litúrgico y nuestra misa dominical reconfirma nuestra conexión con el Cuerpo de Cristo y nos da testimonio a la centralidad de nuestra fe en la vida diaria.

Pero nuestra rutina diaria, y especialmente nuestra rutina espiritual, se puede hacer anquilosada o pesada por su dificultad o por nuestros deseos egoístas. De vez en cuando los santos nos recuerdan de romper la rutina, por medio de un retiro por ejemplo, para examinar la rutina y las opciones en nuestras vidas y para que podamos limpiar lo que es pecaminoso y comprometernos de nuevo a cumplir el mensaje del Evangelio de Jesus y las enseñanzas de Su Iglesia.

Nuestro Santo Padre, el Papa Benedicto XVI ha proclamado el Año de la Fe comenzando el 11 de octubre del 2012 para marcar el 50 Aniversario del Concilio Vaticano II y el 20 Aniversario de la publicación del Nuevo Catecismo. Voy a abrir el Año de la Fe para la Diócesis con una Misa el 11 de octubre del 2012 en la Catedral de San Juan Berchmans a las 6:00 p.m. Este es un año de retiro para la Iglesia. Durante este Año de Fe todos deberíamos considerar alguna acción u opción que rompa nuestra rutina diaria de una manera que nos rete a un compromiso más profundo con Cristo y a reflexionar nuestra fe como católicos en las opciones y acciones de nuestra vida diaria.

Mi compromiso este año será visitar cada parroquia en la diócesis y tener una tarde de oración con cada comunidad eclesial. Nos reuniremos para la Liturgia de la Palabra. Será un tiempo de oración y reflexión sobre nuestra fe en Jesucristo y Su Iglesia. Los animo a invitar a sus amigos no-católicos a unirse con nosotros. Esta también será una oportunidad para que yo considere, en mi quinto año como su Obispo, como ser un mejor servidor y cómo podemos crecer juntos en la fe y la respuesta de fe, la Caridad.

En esta carta Porta Fidei, traducida “puerta de fe,” (Hechos 14:27) el Santo Padre nos da una reflexión maravillosa, un tipo de letanía, de como la fe que tanto estimamos ha formado y continua formando la Iglesia y asegura la proclamación del Evangelio.

“Por la fe María aceptó la palabra del Ángel y creyó el mensaje que iba a ser la madre de Dios por la obediencia y su devoción (cf. Lucas1:38).”
Por la fe, los apóstoles dejaron todo para seguir a su Maestro (cf. Marcos 10:28).

Por la fe, los discípulos formaron la primera comunidad, reunidos con las enseñanzas de los apóstoles, en oración, en celebración de la Eucaristía, unían sus bienes en común y los repartían según las necesidades de cada uno. (cf. Hechos 2:42-47).

Por la fe, los mártires dieron sus vidas, siendo testigos de la verdad del Evangelio que los había transformado e hizo capaces de obtener el regalo más grande de amor: el perdón de sus perseguidores.

Por la fe, hombres y mujeres han consagrado sus vidas a Cristo, dejando todo atrás para vivir en obediencia, pobreza y castidad con la simplicidad del Evangelio, señales concretas de la esperanza que el Señor viene sin tardanza.

Por la fe, innumerables Cristianos han promovido la acción por la justicia para poner en práctica la palabra del Señor, que vino a proclamar libertad a los oprimidos y un año favorable para todos (cf. Lucas 4:18-19).

Por la fe, a través de los siglos, hombres y mujeres de todas las edades, y cuyos nombres están escritos en el Libro de la Vida (cf. Ap. 7:9, 13:8), han confesado las maravillas de seguir al Señor Jesus por doquier y fueron llamados a ser testigos del hecho de ser Cristianos: en la familia, en el lugar de trabajo, en vida pública, en el ejercicio de los carismas y ministerios a los que han sido llamados.” Porta Fidei #13 Benedicto XVI.

Durante este Año de Fe pido a Dios que nuestros corazones se llenen de fuego y creamos más profundamente y gustosamente “confesemos la maravilla de seguir al Señor Jesus.” Rezo para que seamos testigos de esta fe en la familia, en el lugar de trabajo, en la vida pública y en la práctica de nuestros carismas y ministerios a los que hemos sido llamados.

Hay un artículo en la página 12 de esta revista Catholic Connection por Dianne Rachal con más información sobre el Año de la Fe y algunas celebraciones en nuestra diócesis durante este Año.

A Deeper Commitment to Christ

During the Year of Faith, Bishop Michael Duca will visit each of the diocesan churches to share the Liturgy of the Word and an evening of prayer.

Pictured: During the Year of Faith, Bishop Michael Duca will visit each of the diocesan churches to share the Liturgy of the Word and an evening of prayer.

by Bishop Michael G. Duca

By the month of October we are deep into the routine of fall. School is well underway and the restarting of organizations and responsibilities is now in our past and the summer is a distant memory. When I was the rector of a seminary I actually looked forward to the routine of the school year. Routine gives us a structure to order a busy life, ensures our basic vocational responsibilities are fulfilled and our values of faith shape our lives in a real way with every daily task.  Even our prayer life in the Church is ordered with the Liturgical seasons and our weekly Sunday Mass reconfirms our connection with the Body of Christ and gives witness to the centrality of our faith in our daily lives.

But our daily routine, and especially our spiritual routine, can become stale or burdened by its difficulty or our own self-centered wants. From time to time the saints remind us to break our routine, through a retreat for example, in order to examine the routine and choices of our lives so we can clear out what is sinful and recommit ourselves to the Gospel message of Jesus and the teachings of His Church.

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has proclaimed that the Year of Faith begin on October 11, 2012 to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Vatican II Council and the 20th Anniversary of the publication of the New Catechism. I will open the Year of Faith for the Diocese of Shreveport with a Mass on October 11, 2012, at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans at 6:00 p.m. This is to be a year of retreat for the Church. During this Year of Faith we should all consider some action or choice that breaks our daily routine in a way that challenges us to a deeper commitment to Christ and to reflect our faith as Catholics in the choices and actions of our daily lives.

My commitment this year will be to visit every parish in the diocese and have an evening of prayer with each Church community. We will gather for the Liturgy of the Word. It will be a time of prayer and reflection on our faith in Jesus Christ and His Church. I encourage you to invite your non-Catholic friends to join us. This will also be an opportunity for me to consider, in my fifth year as your Bishop, how I might be a better servant and consider how we might grow together in faith and faith’s response, charity.

In his letter Porta Fidei, translated “door of faith,” (Acts 14:27) the Holy Father gives a wonderful reflection, a kind of litany,  on how the faith we treasure has shaped and continues to shape the Church and ensure the proclamation of the Gospel.

“By faith, Mary accepted the Angel’s word and believed the message that she was to become the Mother of God in the obedience of her devotion (cf. Lk 1:38).”

By faith, the Apostles left everything to follow their Master (cf. Mk 10:28).

By faith, the disciples formed the first community, gathered around the teaching of the Apostles, in prayer, in celebration of the Eucharist, holding their possessions in common so as to meet the needs of the brethren (cf. Acts 2:42-47).

By faith, the martyrs gave their lives, bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel that had transformed them and made them capable of attaining to the greatest gift of love: the forgiveness of their persecutors.

By faith, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ, leaving all things behind so as to live obedience, poverty and chastity with Gospel simplicity, concrete signs of waiting for the Lord who comes without delay.

By faith, countless Christians have promoted action for justice so as to put into practice the word of the Lord, who came to proclaim deliverance from oppression and a year of favor for all (cf. Lk 4:18-19).

By faith, across the centuries, men and women of all ages, whose names are written in the Book of Life (cf. Rev 7:9, 13:8), have confessed the beauty of following the Lord Jesus wherever they were called to bear witness to the fact that they were Christian: in the family, in the workplace, in public life, in the exercise of the charisms and ministries to which they were called.”  Porta Fidei #13, Benedict XVI

During this Year of Faith I pray our hearts will be set on fire and we will more deeply believe and willingly “confess the beauty of following the Lord Jesus.”  I pray we will bear witness to this faith in the family, in the workplace, in public life and in the exercise of the charisms and ministries to which we have been called.

There is an article on by Dianne Rachal with more information about this Year of Faith and some of the ongoing celebrations in our diocese during this year.

JGS Students Kick Off First Religion Class

Jesus the Good Shepherd School Pre-K4 students in Miss Christine Stokes and Mrs. Breanne Ingram’s class are really enjoying their first Religion unit. They started off the unit by making a class prayer cloth. The students painted their hand prints all over the cloth. The cloth helps remind them that even though everyone is different, everyone can still be friends. During prayer time, the students hold on to the prayer cloth and thank Jesus for all their blessings.

Bishop Duca Helped Kick Off New Year at St. Fred’s

St. Frederick High School is off to a great start with a record number of enrolled students, some new faculty members and a dynamic new principal, Guy Farber, taking the reins!  To help kick off the school year, Bishop Duca celebrated Mass with the students, faculty, staff and families of St. Fred’s. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed having Bishop Duca visit SFHS!

SJB Names Students of the Year

St. John Berchmans School has chosen two outstanding students as the 2012-13 Cardinal Students of the Year. Fifth grader Peter Vanchiere and eighth grader Marie Marcalus were selected based on their years of academic excellence, leadership, extracurricular involvement and community service. Marie and Peter will compete later this year against other area students for regional and state Student of the Year.

Classrooms Blessed for Opening of Year

St. Joseph School At the beginning of each new school year, Fr. Karl visits classrooms to offer a blessing to the children, teachers and classroom as well as spend some time visiting with the students. He visited and blessed every classroom on the St. Joseph Campus. Pictured: Fr. Karl visits the Amy Kubat and Jenny McGuirk’s class, the K3B Wise Owls.