1117phil4

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 »

1117whitehead1

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 »

1117deacons

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 »

1117lcp

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 »

1117stfrancis1

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 »

1117rother1

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 »

1017embracegrace1

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 »

1017sylvia1

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 »

Sacred Heart Had Novena to the Holy Spirit

Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Shreveport held their first nine day “Novena to the Holy Spirit”, May 18 through May 26, 2012. Celebrants Fr. Francis Kamau, Fr. Michael Thang’wa, Fr. Thomas John, Fr. Andre McGrath, Msgr. Carson LaCaze and Bishop Michael Duca gave inspirational homilies on the Novena and the Holy Spirit. The novena choir, under the direction of Charles Stewart, was composed of parishioners from St. Jude, St. Mary of the Pines, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and Sacred Heart churches. The singers were uplifting as they sang in praise to the Holy Spirit.  Pictured: “Sacred Heart’s Prayer Wall” set up for prayer requests to the Holy Spirit during the Novena.

Bishop Duca Gave Benediction at LSU Health Graduation

Bishop Michael G. Duca gave the invocation and benediction at LSU Health Shreveport’s commencement exercises May 26 at the Centenary Gold Dome. Pictured with Chris Gorman, Board of Regents member, and William Jenkins, DVM PhD, Interim President of the Louisiana State University System. LSU Health Shreveport awarded degrees to 173 students from the School of Medicine, School of Allied Health Professions and School of Graduate Studies at graduation. (Photo by Randy Inderman/LSU Health Shreveport).

St. Jude Youth Build Home in Arkansas

The Youth of St. Jude Church in Bossier City have been busy building the kingdom, literally!  June 8 -13 ten wonderful young people participated in Habitat for Humanity’s Youth Build in Saline County, Arkansas. What started as a slab of concrete and a pile of boards is now well on its way to becoming a home!

Fr. Philip Pazhayakari Celebrated 50th Jubilee

Fr. Philip Pazhayakari, CMI, pastor of SACRED HEART OF JESUS CHURCH IN RAYVILLE and ST. THERESA CHURCH IN DELHI, celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest on May 16, 2012. Pictured: Father Philip Pazhayakari, CMI, celebrated his 50th jubilee with the parishioners from both Sacred Heart and St. Theresa churches.

Marriage & Family Life Ministry

0612june_cover3

by Kelly Phelan Powell

In decades past, the word “family,” especially within the context of the Church, referred almost exclusively to the traditional nuclear family: mom, dad and a larger-than-average number of children. These days, however, there are many different iterations of “family” in parish life. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has recently launched an initiative in support of traditional Christian marriage, and the Diocese of Shreveport has followed suit with a renewed focus on Marriage and Family Life Ministries. And thankfully, some of these programs address aspects of the family that have been largely overlooked until now.

In a culture in which the significance of marriage is continuously and insidiously eroded, the USCCB holds fast in its insistence that marriage is and has always been “the ‘cradle’ of life and of every vocation.” The bishops go on to say, “We are well aware that the family founded on marriage is the natural environment in which to bear and raise children and thereby guarantee the future of all humanity. However, we also know that marriage is going through a deep crisis and today must face numerous challenges. It is consequently necessary to defend, help, safeguard and value it in its unrepeatable uniqueness. If this commitment is in the first place the duty of spouses, it is also a priority duty of the Church and of every public institution to support the family by means of pastoral and political initiatives that take into account the real needs of married couples, of the elderly and of the new generations.” (Angelus Talk, February 4, 2007)

But while marriage is inarguably the foundation of the family, the reality of life in the 21st Century is that not every family includes a marriage. Dotye Sue Stanford, Director of Family Life Ministries at St. Joseph Church in Shreveport, said this fact is due to our God-given freedom of choice. “God asks very little of us,” she said. “He asks us to love one another and to help each other get to heaven…but because He gave us free will, we have divorce, we have singleness and we have death.” She further emphasized that even in these states, the family still exists, even if that family includes only one person. “You’re still a part of God’s family and the Church’s family,” she said.

Programs throughout the diocese address the specific needs of different kinds of families – single life as a vocation, marriage as a vocation, family life and children, empty nesters, widows and widowers and divorce and annulment. You may be aware of some of these programs in your home parish, but others are less well known. The Marriage and Family Life Ministries page on the diocese’s website has contact information for each of these programs. Go to www.dioshpt.org and click on “Marriage and Family Life” under “Ministries.”

This past spring, the parishes of the diocese sponsored a six-session Divorce Recovery Program at the Catholic Center. Utilizing tools such as group discussion as well as a video series, the course helped people come to terms with their divorces and begin to heal their emotional wounds. The program was successful, so new dates will be announced soon.

Coming up in June is a two-day marriage intensive, with topics including “The Fight-Free Marriage” and “Contraception: What’s the Big Deal?” Presented by Timothy and Kristin Putnam of the Tulsa Diocese, this free event will be held June 10 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. and June 11 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in the St. Michael the Archangel Chapel. For more information, visit www.sjbcathedral.org.

Aside from addressing the needs of the faithful, these programs help bring non-practicing Catholics back to the Church. “People who may have felt shunned or like they didn’t belong since they weren’t married or didn’t have children feel important and included,” Stanford said. “There’s a place for everyone in the Church.” They also make the parish feel more like a home and encourage people to get involved at both a parish and a diocesan level.

As a director of Family Life Ministries, Stanford said this work is, for her, a calling. “I feel like this is what God wants me to do in Family Life, is go out and get these programs started at all the other parishes,” she said. She also pointed out that although their work may not have the “Family Life” title, all those involved with baptism, faith formation, engaged couples, weddings, divorce survival groups and grief processing are all part of family life. “There are so many doing the same thing,” she said. “Cathy Cobb [at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church]…Carol Gates [at the Cathedral]…I want them to see, ‘You’re doing family life, too. This is the divorce part of family life, this is the singles part of family life, these are the elderly, these are the empty-nesters.’”

Stanford urges all those within the diocese who are involved in some way with formation of the family to join the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (www.nacflm.org). It’s a great resource for education, mutual support, networking and advocacy.

In fact, she’s trying to get as many as possible of the 18 couples who are involved in marriage ministry to attend the 2012 international conference of the NACFLM, “Strengthening Marriages and Families in Today’s Culture,” held this year in Dallas July 25 through 28. There are a number of “tracts” available for attendees, depending on the individual needs of their parishes, including a Hispanic/Latino tract and an after-divorce tract. Stanford is seeking sponsors to help offset the cost of the conference; if you know of a business or individual who might like to contribute, please contact her at (318) 865-3581, extension 23, or dstanford@stjosephchurch.net.

The best ways to strengthen the family in all its forms, Stanford feels, are often the simplest. A good example she gave is the “Get Back to the Table” movement, where families make a concerted effort to sit down at the dinner table and eat at least one meal together each day without television, computers, homework or other distractions. Another way is to keep the Sabbath sacred and uphold the Sunday Mass obligation by removing activities that may come before or detract from God and the Church.

The diocese recognizes not only the importance of family, but the many forms that a Catholic Christian family can take. Family in all its configurations is a treasured part of parish life. Every parish has ways to offer ministry, fellowship and resources to help every family grow in faith. To take part in any of these valuable programs or to learn how you can help, visit your parish’s website or www.dioshpt.org.

MEET THE DEPARTMENTS: Worship, Permanent Diaconate and Information Systems

During the 25th anniversary year of the Diocese of Shreveport we are profiling those who work in each department for the diocese. We hope this helps you get to know the people who work for you.

Office of Worship assists in the sacramental and liturgical ministry of the diocese and its parishes, providing liturgical resources and formation to priests, parishes and the faithful to enrich the worship of the Church.

Dianne Rachal:  I have been Director of the Office of Worship for six years. I am also adjunct faculty for Greco Institute and a spiritual director.  I am married to Steve, and we have one son and four daughters. My hobby is going to school, and I just completed a second Master’s degree in Theological Studies from the University of Dallas. Contact me if you have questions about liturgy, sacraments, training of parish liturgical ministers, etc.

Brandy Wood:  I serve as Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Office of Worship and Permanent Diaconate. I am married to Matt and have one daughter and three sons. I have worked for the Diocese of Shreveport since August 2009. If you have any questions or need help concerning the Office of Worship or the Permanent Diaconate please call me.

Permanent Diaconate reaches out to all the people of God through the identification and formation of men for service as permanent deacons. This office also assists and supervises the ordained permanent deacons in their ministry and assignment.

Deacon Clary Nash: I was ordained in June 1986. I currently serve at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church as the Community Coordinator.  I am the Coordinator of the Permanent Diaconate for the diocese, including the formation of future deacons. I retired from General Motors after 34 years with management experience. I received a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University. My wife, Mary, and I have been married 40 + years with two sons and four grandchildren.

Information Systems is responsible for implementation, management and technical support for the diocese’s internet, email, desktops, servers, network and data security systems and serves as technical support to parishes and parish-based organizations.

Patricia Pillors: I am Director of Information Systems. I began work in the diocese in 1985 in the Schools Office and was appointed Director of Information Systems in 2000. As director, I am responsible for the implementation, management and technical support for the diocese’s internet, email, telephone system, desktops, servers, network and data security systems. I also serve as technical support to parishes, diocesan organizations and parish-based organizations throughout the diocese.

10th Anniversary for the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People

by Deacon Michael Straub, Safe Environment Coordinator

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “A promise to protect, a pledge to heal” is the motto of USCCB’s office of Child and Youth Protection. After 10 years, this USCCB office has only increased their efforts to help keep those vulnerable from harm and stay true to this pledge. Our diocese’s history of having a policy for the protection of youth from sex abuse goes back to the late 1980’s, many years before the USCCB formed the charter. Since the inception of the USCCB’s charter in 2002 we have been adhering to its articles and policies.

The preamble of the charter states: “Since 2002, the Church in the United States has experienced a crisis without precedent in our times. The sexual abuse of children and young people by some deacons, priests and bishops, and the ways in which these crimes and sins were addressed, have caused enormous pain, anger and confusion. As bishops, we have acknowledged our mistakes and our roles in that suffering, and we apologize and take responsibility again for too often failing victims and the Catholic people in the past. From the depths of our hearts, we bishops express great sorrow and profound regret for what the Catholic people have endured.”

These are the first words of the charter. It is the remembrance of where we were and where we do not wish to return. The ills of child abuse in our society may not ever change or disappear but what we do to counteract it makes all the difference. The charter has undergone two revisions, one in 2005 and another in 2011. It might experience many more revisions over the next 100 years, but it will remain in place and continue to play an essential role in Catholic dioceses across the country of keeping those who are vulnerable safe from harm.

USCCB Joins in Petition Asking US to Change Nuclear Policy

Laborers work on the assembly of the reactor at Atucha II nuclear power plant in Zarate, Argentina, in early August. As nations are called to create a world free of atomic weapons, the international community must promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy, especially for development and cancer treatment in developing countries, a top Vatican official said. (CNS photo/Marcos Brindicci, Reuters)

by Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops joined about four dozen other national organizations in amassing more than 50,000 signatures on a petition asking for a change in the United States’ “outdated” nuclear arms policy. “You must act now to reduce the nuclear danger and the role of nuclear weapons,” said the petition, addressed to President Barack Obama. The petition urges Obama to “end outdated U.S. nuclear war-fighting strategy, dramatically reduce the number of U.S. nuclear weapons and the number of submarines, missiles and bombers that carry those weapons, and take U.S. nuclear weapons off high alert. Maintaining large numbers of nuclear forces on alert increases the risk of accident or miscalculation.” A May 15 announcement from the groups involved said the petition was delivered to the White House May 7. Stephen Colecchi, director of the bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace, represented the USCCB. “This is just one of the many expressions of support for overdue changes in the United States’ nuclear weapons strategy which is still burdened by Cold War thinking,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, which spearheaded the petition drive and assembled the coalition of organizations that signaled their support. The United States, Kimball told Catholic News Service in a May 15 telephone interview, possesses about 1,700 strategically positioned nuclear warheads. Russia has about 1,500. Each has more strategically deployed warheads than the rest of the “nuclear club” — China, France, Great Britain, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — has warheads of all kinds combined. “Just one U.S. nuclear-armed submarine can destroy several cities,” Kimball said. “We today possess 12 submarines with nuclear weapons.”

Faith in the Footlights: Religion Gets a Curtain Call on Broadway

by Catholic News Service

Kecia Lewis-Evans stars in a scene from the Broadway production of "Leap of Faith" at St. James Theatre in New York. Faith-themed shows such as this have transformed Broadway into a "highway to heaven, " says one theater observer. "Leap of Faith" recently closed on Broadway but producers are considering a national tour of the show. (CNS photo/Joan Marcus)

NEW YORK (CNS) — Can it be? Has Broadway found religion? According to one recent article, a bumper crop of faith-themed shows, like “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Godspell,” “Book of Mormon” and “Sister Act,” has transformed Broadway into a “highway to heaven.” So why the great awakening on the Great White Way? “I think there is a “God moment” breaking out in the entertainment culture that’s partly driven by a quest for profits in difficult economic times, but also by people’s never-ending quest for transcendent meaning,” said Tom Allen of Allied Faith and Family, a marketing agency that is trying to promote shows like “Sister Act” to Christians. The Tony-nominated musical is emblematic of this religious revival: flashy and brash, yet earnestly spiritual. The same can be said for the recently closed “Leap of Faith,” which is contemplating a possible national tour. Both musicals were adapted from 1992 movies and feature music by Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken. Both also deal with themes of redemption and salvation. “I think people are tired of hearing about selfish people feeling sorry for themselves,” said Fred Applegate, who plays a pastor in “Sister Act” and who believes the uptick in religious productions underscores a need “for hope.”

At Audience, Pope Says Work Should Help, Not Hinder, Family Life

by Catholic News Service

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) –  Work obligations should not harm a person’s family relationships but should provide support, giving couples the resources to have and raise children and spend time together, Pope Benedict XVI said. At the end of his weekly general audience May 16, Pope Benedict noted how the United Nations chose “family and work” as the focus of the 2012 International Day of Families, which was celebrated May 15. Work should not be an obstacle to the family, he said, “but rather should support and unite it, help it to open itself to life” and interact with society and the Church. Pope Benedict also expressed his hope that Sundays would be respected by employers as “a day of rest and an occasion to reinforce family ties.” In his main audience talk, the pope looked at prayer in the biblical letters of St. Paul. The New Testament letters, he said, include prayers of thanksgiving, praise, petition and intercession, demonstrating how prayer is appropriate for every occasion in life. “Prayer should not be seen simply as a good work we do for God — something we do — but as a gift, the fruit of the living spirit of the Father and of Jesus Christ within us,” the pope said. Pope Benedict said often “we do not know how to pray in the right way,” but simply opening oneself up and setting aside a bit of time for God, the Holy Spirit will take over. “The absence of words, but the desire to enter into dialogue with God, is a prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but carries to and interprets for God.”