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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 »

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Catholic Schools Annual Report

Click to download the Catholic Schools 2016-17 Annual Report August, 2017 Dear Friends of Catholic Schools: The information presented in this report indicates that our schools completed another successful year in providing More »

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Bishop’s August Reflection: We are Called to be Missionary Disciples

by Bishop Michael G. Duca During the first few days of July, I attended the Convocation of Catholic Leader in Orlando, FL, where the bishops of the United States, along with lay More »

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Catholic Charities Welcomes Refugee Family

by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana There is nothing quite like the anticipation and excitement of someone arriving at the airport –  the smiles and hugs at the gate, along More »

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Mondragón and Trombetta Ordinations Bring Joy & Hope to Diocese

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor June was an exciting and encouraging month for the Diocese of Shreveport with two ordinations – one to the priesthood and another to the transitional diaconate. On June More »

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Protecting God’s Children Remains Shared Goal

by John Mark Willcox Since the 2002 initiation of our diocesan program designed to create a safe environment for our children and young people, our diocese has exposed thousands of church volunteers More »

Vicar General Fr. Rothell Price and CHRISTUS Senior Vice President, Group Operations Stephen Wright at a press conference announcing donations.

CHRISTUS Donates Properties and Building to Diocese; Hospital & Office Buildings to Margaret Place Properties

by Jessica Rinaudo On July 12, 2017, CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System held a press conference at the former CHRISTUS Schumpert Hospital on Margaret Place in Shreveport to announce two big donations to More »

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Catechetical Fairs: Family, The Missing Piece of Catechesis

by Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis Saturday August 26, 9am-1pm, Catholic Center, Shreveport Sunday August 27, 1:30pm-5:30pm  St. Paschal, West Monroe Register Online at: www.dioshpt.org/ministries/catechesis The 2017 Catechetical Fairs this year will More »

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Domestic Church: Finding Stability in Change

by Katie Sciba I sat across the table from a dear friend. Most of our chats were cheerful and fun, but this one was laden with stress. “We’ve packed up so many More »

St. John Berchmans Students Performed Living Stations

As part of Holy Week, eighth grade students from St. John Berchmans School performed their annual presentation of the Living Stations of the Cross on Holy Thursday in front of the entire student body, family, friends and guests. The eighth grade students wrote the script for the presentation, and re-enacted all 14 stations with music, scriptures and reflections read between each station.

In addition to the Living Stations, St. John Berchmans students of all ages celebrated Easter through various activities including Easter egg hunts in the preschool and kindergarten classes, and an interactive Last Supper lesson and meal for the first grade students.

Our Lady of Fatima Students Perfom Living Stations

Our Lady of Fatima School students in grades 3-6 performed a dramatic depiction of Christ’s journey to Golgotha with the Living Stations of the Cross. The production proved to be a memorable experience for not only the guests in attendance, but also for the children who participated.

St. John Berchmans School Triumphed at Regional Science Olympiad Competition

St. John Berchmans School triumphed at the Regional Science Olympiad Competition in Ruston on March 10, taking first place. The team participated in 23 events and clinched 12 first place medals. The students will compete in the state competition in Hammond, LA on April 28.

St. John’s 7th grader Anastasia Means took first place at the Regional Social Studies Fair on March 8 and will continue to the state contest in Baton Rouge later in April. Our Regional Science Fair winners were Isabella Silvia, 1st Place – Energy & Transportation; Vinny Peavy, 2nd Place – Environmental Management; Adam Cook, 1st Place – Microbiology; and Ben Hyde, 3rd Place – Mathematical Sciences.

Loyola’s Womens Basketball Team Wins State Championship

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by John James Marshall

Amid the celebration that continued in the locker room after the Loyola Flyers had won the Class 3A state championship with a 55-41 win over Albany, it suddenly hit senior guard Kiki Robinson.

“Wait a minute,” she said for all of her teammates to hear, “I’m going to have to take this jersey off for the final time. I don’t ever want to take this jersey off!”

Ninety minutes earlier, assistant coach Rob Horneman was giving his final defensive instructions to the team before the starting lineups were announced. It was the usual “you’ve got her and you’ve got her” discussion. Then Horneman punctuated his final words by looking each of the five starters in the eye with these words: “Heart of a champion.”

And with those words, Evandrielle Matthews, Cinderella Linnear, Jasmin Anderson, Alexis Martin and Morgan Rogers took the floor at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston.

Awaiting them were the Albany Hornets, the No. 2 seed. In addition to beating the Hornets, the Loyola girls were also trying to overcome a four-year quest to get the top; time spent as freshmen watching the games before becoming eligible because of residency requirements; losing in the quarterfinals two years ago to the eventual state champion; being devastated by injuries last year but still making it to the state semifinals, only to lose to another eventual state champion and having a target on their backs almost the entire season as win after win piled up.

Finally it was here. When Rogers stepped in to the center circle for the opening jump ball, it was time to play 32 more minutes and finish the job that had started so long ago.

***

Very early, it didn’t look so good. The last two things a coach wants is to get behind by so much at the start that they can’t climb out of the hole and foul trouble.

Though Albany scored the first two baskets of the game, the Flyers quickly established themselves in the middle of the first quarter and took the lead.

As he sat on the bench in the first quarter, head coach Kyle Tanner had to be happy that his team didn’t fall victim to some early jitters and had already taken a lead. What he didn’t like was that the leading scorer was sitting beside him.

Rogers, a 6-foot-3 center, picked up two fouls in the first three minutes. Typically, that would mean Rogers would sit out the rest of the first half and not risk picking up a third foul. It’s not the first time that has happened to Rogers, but with the stakes so high, it wasn’t exactly in Tanner’s game plan.

But Tanner also knew he had a secret weapon – the five girls who were on the court.

Instead of an inside-oriented game, the Lady Flyers simply switched to a more up-tempo game and continued to keep the lead. Meanwhile, the intense defensive pressure by the Flyers was beginning to get to the Hornets. As long as that was happening, Tanner could afford to keep Rogers on the bench.

After holding Albany to only four points in the second quarter, Loyola had a 24-17 halftime lead. Neither team could get much offense going in the third quarter and the Flyers led 30-24 as they entered the final period, eight minutes to a state championship.

Early in the fourth quarter, things were getting uncomfortable for the Flyers as their six-point lead evaporated in five seconds as Albany made a three-point basket, stole the inbounds pass and made a layup. Just like that it was a one-point game.

But the Flyers didn’t have time to get nervous about it as Martin immediately broke free for a basket and was fouled. When she made the free throw the lead was back to four. Martin then made a rebound basket on the next possession and the lead was back to six with five minutes to play.

Albany never got any closer. Martin was named the game’s Outstanding Player, scoring 13 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. Anderson would have been a worthy recipient as well. She kept things calm as Albany continually applied full-court pressure. She had a game-high of 18 points and made four free clutch free throws down the stretch.

The Flyers, who have never been confused with a great free throw shooting team this season, made nine free throws in the fourth quarter under some intense pressure.

* * *

Yes, Kiki Robinson did finally take the jersey off for the last time. But it was looooong after the game was over. When she did, the lasting memories of that night and that season were about to begin.

* * *

Following the team’s big win, Loyola College Prep hosted a special lunch for the girls in the school’s brand new cafeteria, which will open to all students after Spring Break. The girls cut the ribbon to open the new cafeteria and were joined by school principal Frank Israel, Superintendent Sr. Carol Shively and Bishop Michael G. Duca, all of whom offered their congratulations.

Second Collections for April

Seminarians Keith Garvin and John Bosco are supported through the Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection.

by Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General

Good Friday Holy Land Collection
(Announcement: March 25 & April 1. Collection: April 6)
Each year Catholics are invited to support Christians in the Holy Land by participating in the pontifical Good Friday Collection. This collection offers us a direct opportunity to connect with and support Christians in the Holy Land, be witnesses of peace and to help preserve the Holy Places.

Franciscans and others in the Holy Land are housing and feeding the poor, providing information and education, maintaining shrines and parishes and conducting pastoral ministry, just as Jesus did. Support Christianity in the Holy Land. Please give generously to the pontifical Good Friday, Holy Land Collection as urged by the Holy Father.

Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection
(Announcement: March 25 & April 1. Collection: April 7 & 8)
God the Father started with two; now there are billions of human beings created in His image and likeness. Jesus chose 12; now there are millions of followers of Christ. The twelve laid hands on some; now there are tens of thousands of bishops, priests and deacons. The successors of the twelve accepted the vows of some; and now there are some tens of thousands of consecrated sisters, brothers, deacons and priests. The Lord has a proven track record of doing a lot with so little.

This is our collection. This is our moment to shine and support vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life for the Diocese of Shreveport. With your gift, we educate and spiritually form men for priestly and diaconal ministry in the Church and women and men for consecrated life.

Please join your sacrificial generosity to the dedicated and persistent efforts of Fr. David Richter, Director of Church Vocations for our diocese. Your financial support is a significant part of his nurturing vocations that are watered, fertilized and brought to harvest. Please view the vocations poster in your parish and see the faces of our men in formation to become priests of God. Know there are many faces not on the poster who are being courted and cultivated for ordained ministry and consecrated life.

Home Mission Appeal
(Announcement: April 15 & 22 Collection: April 28 & 29)
The Catholic Home Missions Appeal strengthens the Catholic Church in the U.S. and its territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific where resources are thin and priests are few. This collection reaches out to those Catholics and un-churched souls in impoverished zones of our nation, especially rural locations. Your generous sacrifice makes it possible to bring the light of Christ, the Catholic faith, to those who do not have easy access to it. Through this collection, you and I are Christ who went to all the neighboring towns and villages to announce the Good News.

The further away from town one gets, the fewer the resources and limited availability of priests. Through your participation in this collection, assistance is given to 87 dioceses. The Home Mission Appeal funds a wide range of pastoral services, including evangelization, religious education, mission parishes, training of seminarians and lay ministers, and ministry with ethnic groups.
Our mission diocese is one of the recipients of a large grant from the Home Mission Appeal. Please give generously and know that your generosity will be returned to us in a very tangible and sizeable manner so that we can continue to do the work of Christ and build the city of God.

Small Church Profile: St. Ann Church, Ebarb

Two girls ring the bell to start Mass at St. Ann’s.

by Linda Webster, PhD

St. Ann Church in Ebarb, Louisiana.

During the 25th anniversary year of the Diocese of Shreveport we are profiling small churches around the diocese.

St. Ann houses a robust place of worship in Ebarb, a small area of homes at the western edge of Sabine parish.

“We’re a real Catholic community,” said Maudie Woodruff who grew up in the area. “I like to think of our church as ‘old time religion’ practiced the way our parents and grandparents [did when they] came to this church.”

Dedicated in 1935 by Bishop Desmond, the church looks much the same today as it has for the last 75 years. According to Ione Durr, a granddaughter of Homer Ezernack who was one of the four carpenters, a mule-drawn wagon load of materials arrived each week on Monday from Zwolle with the head carpenter who boarded with the Albert Ebarb family.  Friday, he would drive the mules back to Zwolle.  The church looks very much the same today with the exception of a stunning altar piece brought to Ebarb from Iowa by Fr. Tim Hurd.  A front porch has been added, a wing for housing a resident priest was completed in the early 1950s and the St. Ann cemetery was created just down the road on the way to Zwolle.

“I started singing in the choir when I was in fifth grade,” said Woodruff.  “The church would be packed with large families and lots of children.  But when Toledo Bend came in, so many people had to move and now there is just the one road into the community from Zwolle.”
Recognized by the State of Louisiana in 1978 as a Choctaw-Apache Tribal Area, many of the residents are descendants of Apache slaves, Choctaw families on the Sabine River or natives of the Spanish mission of Los Adaes.

“We older ones refer to the pews on the right side as the women’s side and the pews on the left as the men’s side,” noted Durr.  “This is a common practice in Native American cultures and about 99% of our members are of the local tribe.”

Originally, a small chapel built in 1920 with $165 of Catholic Extension Society funding served the community.  Mass was said by Fr. Bokhoven when he could get to Ebarb from St. Joseph much like Fr. Tim Hurd serves the parish today.  Beginning as a mission of St. Joseph Church in Zwolle, seven miles away, St. Ann was returned to mission status in 2005 after 50 years as an independent parish.

Early parishioners await Mass inside St. Ann Church.

“Growing up, we had religious education here at St. Ann although I think Confirmation may have been at St. Joseph,” added Woodruff.
A delightful photograph gracing the front cover of the Images of America publication titled Around Ebarb and the Toledo Bend by Mary Lucille Rivers and Travis Ebarb, Jr. confirms Woodruff’s memory.  Fr. William Pierce, the resident pastor at St. Ann from 1953-1968, is shown motoring up a waterway in a small boat filled with eight school-aged children as he ferries them to the parish for religion classes.  A couple of the smaller boys are holding onto the gunnels fiercely but most are smiling.  The children in the photograph have last names that are still very common in the community: Procell and Manshack. A more contemporary photograph on page 14 of that same publication shows a group of 11 youngsters, all decked out in canvas-covered life jackets, waiting by an all-terrain vehicle.  The caption reads: “Waiting on Fr. Pierce and getting ready to ‘cross the creek’ to go back home after catechism …”

According to Monica Ebarb, some parishioners would walk miles to attend Sunday Mass.

“I remember one lady who drove her truck to church always carrying about 8-10 people in the front and back of her truck.  Any time Mass was being held, she was there with her passengers no matter the weather.”

Monica also remembers the men sitting on the left and all of the women and children sitting to the right, many praying the rosary silently during Mass.  She also remembers when air conditioning and a P.A. system were installed.

“Before that, the priest just spoke loudly!”

St. Ann Cemetery is on the left as one drives into the center of the community.

“We used to have a men’s club called the ‘King’s Kitchen’ while Fr. Williams was here,” remembered Woodruff.  “They’d have a little bar-b-que maybe once a year, and take care of the cemetery and the church.”

Fr. Luis Antlitz is buried in the cemetery under the main cross.  He served as pastor from 1968 through 1976, then retired. He lived with two local families until his death – Raymond and Joan Ebarb and Chester and Oma Procell.

Today, the community gathers at St. Ann Church for Mass on Saturday evenings at 6:30 p.m. Anita Manshack unlocks the main door around 6:00 p.m. and prepares to lead the rosary for the large turn-out of two dozen parishioners. Among the early arrivals is Nicolette Ebarb and her cousin, Crista Chance, who go out onto the front porch to begin greeting parishioners.

“We volunteered to be greeters,” said Ebarb. “We like being out here and saying ‘Hello’ to everyone. And then we ring the bell. There are big crowds here at Christmas and Easter plus there are newcomers, the visitors who are fishing or camping on the lake.”

Woodruff’s own great-granddaughter was present in the church when Bishop Duca visited as part of his initial tour of all parishes in the diocese.

“We had her in the choir area at the front of the church and she started fussing,” she chuckled.  “My granddaughter got up to take the child out of church but Bishop Duca told her to stay – that a fussing baby was the sound of new life in the church!”

Woodruff lives just a quarter mile away from St. Ann on the one road that leads in to and out of town. She and her family provide the music for liturgies, practicing at the church for special events like Christmas and Easter, but most of the time singing the hymns they’ve sung together for years.  Mia Curtis plays the keyboard and other choir members include Monica Ebarb and her daughter, Amber Cartinez, plus other members of the extended family.

“We love our little church,” Woodruff said.

United for Religious Freedom

A Statement of the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, gathered for its March 2012 meeting, is strongly unified and intensely focused in its opposition to the various threats to religious freedom in our day. In our role as Bishops, we approach this question prayerfully and as pastors—concerned not only with the protection of the Church’s own institutions, but with the care of the souls of the individual faithful, and with the common good.

To address the broader range of religious liberty issues, we look forward to the upcoming publication of “A Statement on Religious Liberty,” a document of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. This document reflects on the history of religious liberty in our great Nation; surveys the current range of threats to this foundational principle; and states clearly the resolve of the Bishops to act strongly, in concert with our fellow citizens, in its defense.

One particular religious freedom issue demands our immediate attention: the now- finalized rule of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that would force virtually all private health plans nationwide to provide coverage of sterilization and contraception—including abortifacient drugs—subject to an exemption for “religious employers” that is arbitrarily narrow, and to an unspecified and dubious future “accommodation” for other religious organizations that are denied the exemption.

We begin, first, with thanks to all who have stood firmly with us in our vigorous opposition to this unjust and illegal mandate: to our brother bishops; to our clergy and religious; to our Catholic faithful; to the wonderful array of Catholic groups and institutions that enliven our civil society; to our ecumenical and interfaith allies; to women and men of all religions (or none at all); to legal scholars; and to civic leaders. It is your enthusiastic unity in defense of religious freedom that has made such a dramatic and positive impact in this historic public debate. With your continued help, we will not be divided, and we will continue forward as one.

Second, we wish to clarify what this debate is—and is not—about. This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds. This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the Bishops’ somehow “banning contraception,” when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings. This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding. This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing. Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.

So what is it about?

An unwarranted government definition of religion. The mandate includes an extremely narrow definition of what HHS deems a “religious employer” deserving exemption—employers who, among other things, must hire and serve primarily those of

their own faith. We are deeply concerned about this new definition of who we are as people of faith and what constitutes our ministry. The introduction of this unprecedented defining of faith communities and their ministries has precipitated this struggle for religious freedom. Government has no place defining religion and religious ministry. HHS thus creates and enforces a new distinction—alien both to our Catholic tradition and to federal law—between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors, namely, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the students in our schools and universities, and others in need, of any faith community or none. Cf. Deus Caritas Est, Nos. 20-33. We are commanded both to love and to serve the Lord; laws that protect our freedom to comply with one of these commands but not the other are nothing to celebrate. Indeed, they must be rejected, for they create a “second class” of citizenship within our religious community. And if this definition is allowed to stand, it will spread throughout federal law, weakening its healthy tradition of generous respect for religious freedom and diversity. All—not just some—of our religious institutions share equally in the very same God-given, legally-recognized right not “to be forced to act in a manner contrary to [their] own beliefs.” Dignitatis Humanae, No. 2.

A mandate to act against our teachings. The exemption is not merely a government foray into internal Church governance, where government has no legal competence or authority—disturbing though that may be. This error in theory has grave consequences in principle and practice. Those deemed by HHS not to be “religious employers” will be forced by government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions. This is not only an injustice in itself, but it also undermines the effective proclamation of those teachings to the faithful and to the world. For decades, the Bishops have led the fight against such government incursions on conscience, particularly in the area of health care. Far from making us waver in this longstanding commitment, the unprecedented magnitude of this latest threat has only strengthened our resolve to maintain that consistent view.

A violation of personal civil rights. The HHS mandate creates still a third class, those with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values. They, too, face a government mandate to aid in providing “services” contrary to those values—whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees; or as insurers themselves—without even the semblance of an exemption. This, too, is unprecedented in federal law, which has long been generous in protecting the rights of individuals not to act against their religious beliefs or moral convictions. We have consistently supported these rights, particularly in the area of protecting the dignity of all human life, and we continue to do so.

Third, we want to indicate our next steps. We will continue our vigorous efforts at education and public advocacy on the principles of religious liberty and their application in this case (and others). We will continue to accept any invitation to dialogue with the Executive Branch to protect the religious freedom that is rightly ours. We will continue to pursue legislation to restore the same level of religious freedom we have enjoyed until just recently. And we will continue to explore our options for relief from the courts, under the U.S. Constitution and other federal laws that protect religious freedom. All of these efforts will proceed concurrently, and in a manner that is mutually reinforcing.

Most importantly of all, we call upon the Catholic faithful, and all people of faith, throughout our country to join us in prayer and penance for our leaders and for the complete protection of our First Freedom—religious liberty—which is not only protected in the laws and customs of our great nation, but rooted in the teachings of our great Tradition. Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength—for without God, we can do nothing; but with God, all things are possible.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Chooses CHRISTUS Sutton Children’s Medial Center

Dr. William Lunn, Administrator of CHRISTUS Sutton Children’s Medical Center, introduces Sr. Rose Marie McDermott during the Children’s Miracle Announcement.

by Kristen Gary

The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has chosen CHRISTUS Sutton Children’s Medical Center as a member of their network of 170 children’s hospitals in the U.S. CHRISTUS Sutton Children’s joins a prestigious list of member hospitals including Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Texas Children’s in Houston and Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.

John Lauck, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals President and CEO, said “Sutton Children’s was chosen as a member hospital due to the excellent quality of care they provide for regional kids. The hospital now has access to a North American network of 170 elite health institutions and fundraising resources to further advance their operations. We look forward to Sutton Children’s continuing improvement as a member hospital.”

Stephen F. Wright, CEO of CHRISTUS Health Louisiana, said “This designation is considered a recognition of excellence among children’s hospitals. This partnership assures our community that the services being delivered to children in Northern Louisiana and Texas by CHRISTUS Sutton Children’s Medical Center are of the highest quality available nationwide.”

While Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is a national partnership, 100 percent of donations stays in the local community to be used to pay for the cost of caring for pediatric health needs, to purchase equipment and to fund research and training.

William Lunn, MD, COO of CHRISTUS Health Shreveport–Bossier, discussed how people could help support the children’s hospital. “As you stop by one of the participating Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals corporate partners like Walmart, Sam’s Club, Kroger, Rite Aid and many others, please consider purchasing a Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals ‘Miracle Balloon’. These funds will be used by the hospital where the money is needed most, including new equipment, child life services, uncompensated care and research.” Sutton Children’s joins other CHRISTUS hospitals, including CHRISTUS Cabrini Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Alexandria, CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital in Lake Charles and CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital in San Antonio as Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Sutton Children’s Medical Center is recognized as a preeminent community-based private children’s hospital that includes an inpatient unit, a PICU and a Level III NICU. Child Life specialists are available to help children cope with treatment. The Pediatric Emergency Department provides specialized emergency care just for kids.

Diocesan Wide Youth Rally Coming to Ruston in April

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by John Vining, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry

The Diocese of Shreveport is gearing up for its annual Youth Rally. This year the rally is headed back east and will take place at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. This year’s event is chocked full of great speakers, breakout sessions and music. Here are the basics:

Who is coming?  Steve Angrisano!
Our diocese is extremely privileged to have a talent sof Steve’s caliber to minister to us this April. Passionate about youth, passionate about the message of Christ, passionate about ministry, Steve will bring inspiring messages to North Louisiana.

What will we learn and discuss?
Priests, religious men and women and the lay faithful will present topics on beliefs and practices, the faith community, scripture, pro-life and emotions from a Catholic perspective.

Where is this taking place? Louisiana Tech University
The Student center offers a large meeting space. Registrations take place at Tolliver Hall across from it, but I encourage you to pre-register with the diocese and purchase your t-shirt today! The cost is only $10 a person.

When? Saturday April 14 from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Breakfast will be provided during registration from 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Java City will be open if students and adults would like to purchase coffee.

What is the food like? Excellent!
During lunch the student center will open up Burger Studio, Montague’s Deli, and even Chick Fil-A. Prices are very reasonable.

Why go?
Your diocese has a passion for every person in North Louisiana and beyond. We earnestly endeavor to share the love of Christ with everyone we meet because we know Christ changes people! He heals, he provides, he nurtures people’s lives. Not only do we have a spectacular group of breakout session leaders, we also have a group of adults expressing their love for you as they devote their time. You will be encouraged, uplifted, prayed for and have your Catholic faith strengthened.

Please join our speakers, priests and a host of faith-filled youth coming together in Christ’s name the Saturday after Easter in Ruston. We have something wonderful to share: the Love of Christ!

Bishop’s Reflection (April 2012)

Three women bring ointment to Christ’s tomb and discover it open in this artwork attributed to illuminator Cristoforo de Predis. (CNS photo/courtesy of Alinari, Art Resource)

by Bishop Michael Duca

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

I have always been at a loss for how to greet people at Easter. I suppose the default common greeting is “Happy Easter” but that has always seemed too small for so wondrous a Solemnity of our Faith. It is also a little secular, mundane like “Have a nice day.”  The greeting I believe is big enough is the one above that comes out of the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditions. This greeting is not a simple desire that the other will have a good time but rather a PROCLAMATION that flows out of and draws us into the center of the mystery of our faith in Christ Risen from the dead for our salvation.  In my greeting/proclamation, “CHRIST IS RISEN!” and then the response of the other, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!” we are, in that moment of encounter, together the Church alive, proclaiming and giving witness to our common faith in the Risen Lord.

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

This past Lent was a hard Lent for me, not in my personal acts of penance or commitments of charity, but in having to face the realities that MAY come our way if the new HHS mandates do not restore our freedom to exclude birth control and other morally objectionable abortafacients and procedures for sterilization from the health insurance we offers our employees.  I have had some ask, “Why are the bishops being so difficult? It is not that big of a deal.” But IT IS A BIG ISSUE. I ask that you take the time to carefully read the statement of the American bishops on the next page that gives a succinct explanation of the issue at hand.  Facing this as a bishop is challenging, but it has been difficult also on a personal level. I have always, from my first moments of awareness, always believed that being a good Catholic and being a good citizen were not only compatible but also mutually beneficial.  I have always been proud of the history of our dioceses and religious communities who brought medical care and hospitals to remote areas in a time when we were still a developing nation. I am proud of how we cared for immigrants and created an education system of Catholic schools and colleges that still excel academically. I have cherished and thankfully prayed for the freedom we enjoy as Catholics to worship God without interference and to administer our Catholic institutions in light of that same faith.  It is personally difficult to consider the possibility of having to decide between being a good citizen and being a good Catholic. This is the possible BIG DEAL that we are confronting as a Church.

CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!

Of course all these challenges to the Church bring to us an opportunity to consider the priority of our Catholic faith in our lives. This challenge to the freedom of religion, as big as it is, is nowhere near as big as the hope we proclaim in Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, who was raised from the dead to save us from the darkness of sin and to take away the sting of death. In Jesus we have the true hope that gives our lives an eternal meaning, a hope that not even death can destroy. This same Lord comes to us in the celebration of the Mass as Eucharistic food, His true body and blood to strengthen us to become more like Christ each day.  This is the heart of the Church, it is our proclamation, our hope and our witness in the way we live our lives.  This is a freedom no one can take away.  So as difficult as my Lent has been I am not in any way without hope.  If it comes to a choice, I choose Christ.

CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!

Maybe the difference in the Easter greetings gives us some insight. Happy Easter is a good greeting but a somewhat generic one that can come off the tongue almost without thinking, and is certainly not expecting a substantial response.  Whereas the greeting “CHRIST IS RISEN!   HE IS RISEN INDEED!” can not easily be said without us being pulled into the mystery of our faith, without giving a public witness of our faith, without considering what I truly believe and how it is reflected in my life.  The greeting expects a response that ties us together in that faith, that unites us in the Church.

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

The challenges before the Church today are calling us to consider whether our Catholic faith is just a generic title that has little influence in our lives or whether our Catholic faith is something that we embrace with a love that influences our whole lives and that we give witness to in the way we live.  Speak out against this coercive mandate.  Do not be pulled into the media downplay of the issue but continue to speak out against it.  Give witness to your faith in your life.  Do not just hope for a Happy Easter, but rather pray for a faith in Jesus Risen from the dead and in His Church that moves us to proclaim:

“CHRIST IS RISEN!” And to that I gladly respond, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”