Exploring the History of St. Matthew Church

By John Mark Willcox Exiting I-20 in downtown Monroe on Jackson Street you are met with a beautiful sight….the majestic spire of St. Matthew Church which has stood in downtown Monroe for More »

Discerning a Vocation in Elementary and Middle School

by Seminarian Raney Johnson It might seem too early to begin discerning a vocation in elementary and middle school. Yet, whenever I give a talk about vocations to young Catholics, I remind More »

Rite of Candidacy

A Q&A About the Rite of Candidacy with Seminarian Jeb Key Q: What is the Rite of Candidacy?  Candidacy is a rite in the Church that all people aspiring to receive the More »

Fr. Peter B. Mangum Addresses Thoughts on June USCCB Meeting and the Future of the Diocese

By: Fr. Peter B. Mangum   Dear People of Shreveport, I begin this article on Pentecost Sunday, preparing for the gathering of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore. More »

El padre Peter informa sobre la reunión del USCCB en junio y el futuro de la Diócesis

Querida Gente de la Diócesis de Shreveport Comienzo este artículo en Domingo de Pentecostés mientras me preparo para la reunión de la Conferencia Episcopal de los Obispos Católicos de Los Estados Unidos, More »

The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

by Kim Long On the 15th day of August, we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Body and Soul into heaven. The feast, which has a long More »

Holistic Catholic Education

By: Mike Van Vranken Almost forty years ago, I heard someone respond to the question “what do Catholics believe” with the confident answer: “We believe it all!”  Over the years, and often More »

The Life of Sister Maria Smith, D.C.

by Patti Underwood On Holy Thursday, we in the Diocese of Shreveport and beyond lost a rare treasure, Sister Maria Smith, D.C.  Sister Maria was Mother Superior of the Daughters of the More »

Faithful Step Up in Wake of Tornado Devastation

by Walter Johnson On April 25, the city of Ruston found itself reeling from an EF3 tornado that blew into the area in the early hours of Thursday morning. The vicious storm More »

Discerning a Vocation in Elementary and Middle School

by Seminarian Raney Johnson

It might seem too early to begin discerning a vocation in elementary and middle school. Yet, whenever I give a talk about vocations to young Catholics, I remind them that it is never too early to start thinking about a vocation. St. Therese of Lisieux first desired to become a Carmelite nun around the age of 9, and St. Don Bosco was a little boy whenever he first told his mama that he wanted to be a priest. I started discerning my own vocation to the priesthood when I was in elementary school, and I discerned my vocation with greater intensity while I was in the 7th grade. Discerning a vocation in elementary and middle school can be difficult because it seems so far in the future. However, we can imagine ourselves as doctors, lawyers, basketball players and so many other occupations in the future while in elementary and middle school, why not imagine being a priest or a religious.

I hope to offer some advice to young Catholics in elementary and middle school who are thinking about a vocation to the priesthood, and I hope my advice will also help their parents. My first word of advice is mainly for young Catholics who have already received First Communion. The best way to start discerning a vocation to the priesthood at a young age is to frequent the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Most young Catholics attend Mass every Sunday with their families, and those who go to Catholic School get the opportunity to go to Mass twice a week, on Sunday and once during the week. Jesus speaks to us through the Mass, and it is through the Mass that we grow closer to Jesus when we receive his Body and Blood during Communion. It is often at Mass while watching the priest that many boys feel drawn to the priesthood. My second word of advice is to develop a prayer life. It is always best to start off simple. At first it can be as simple as praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be every morning and every night. Developing the practice of a morning offering by thanking God for a new day and asking for God’s protection is another way to develop a spiritual life at a young age. Once it becomes routine to talk to God through prayer, then it might help to ask God about a vocation to the priesthood by praying, “God, are you calling me to be a priest, if so, please guide me” or “God, I want to be a priest, please help me to discern.” Even more beneficial is praying together with family members. This could be done by using any type of prayer, especially the rosary. My third word of advice is to become an altar server. Helping to serve at the altar during the Mass is a great way to explore a desire for the priesthood. Some parishes allow for young Catholics to become altar servers right after First Communion, but the age requirement to be an altar server might be around fourth or fifth grade at other parishes. I definitely encourage speaking with the parish priest and asking him about becoming an altar server.

My final word of advice is for the parents of young Catholics discerning the priesthood in elementary and middle school. Please share this article with your son if he is discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and encourage him to pray and listen to God’s will. To any young Catholics discerning a vocation to the priesthood, I encourage you with the words that St. John Paul II often quoted from Scripture, “Be not afraid.” God will guide you throughout your discernment.

Rite of Candidacy

A Q&A About the Rite of Candidacy with Seminarian Jeb Key

Q: What is the Rite of Candidacy? 

Candidacy is a rite in the Church that all people aspiring to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders receive before they become a cleric. If you are a cleric, that means you are either a deacon or a priest, that means you can wear clerics which is the collar and the black that all priests wear. The Rite of Candidacy is given to men who are preparing to give themselves to Holy Orders and it is the Church accepting a person to continue on to receive Holy Orders. It’s the church saying “this person has the qualities we are looking for to become a priest” and it means they have confidence in us. The confidence they have in us is affirming and  instills the motivation to continue.

 

Q: How did you feel when you received notification that you are about to become a Candidate? 

It’s something I’ve been very excited about, you’re getting closer to the end and that end goal is priesthood. In the same respect it means wow, this is getting close and it’s very real, it’s one of the first real steps towards priesthood and it’s not to be taken lightly.

 

Q: As you walked through the doors, what was going through your head?

It’s always awesome to go to diocesan events in the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans because this is the place I will be ordained a priest. That is what went through my mind as I walked through the doors, three more years and this is where I hope to be, laying down on the marble.

 

Q: What is something a reader should know Candidacy?

In many places, receiving Candidacy means you can wear clerics. It’s almost like an engagement in a relationship, it is both parties, the Church and the Seminarian promising that they will see this through to the end. Both parties have gotten to know each other and agree to be with each other for the rest of our days.

 

Q: Fun fact about being a Seminarian going through Candidacy?

One of the things seminarians are reminded is that you have no status. Candidacy is the Church saying we still have no status, but we’re getting closer to actually having status in the Church so Candidacy is all about looking forward to the day when we finally become a priest and that is strengthened through the graces received at Candidacy and is meant to motivate us more.

 

Q: Any fun stories to share regarding Candidacy?

I’ve been asked if people have to call me Father now. The answer is no. I’m still Jeb, no one has to call me Father or seminarian, but I am a candidate for Holy Orders.

New norms for the whole Church against those who abuse or cover up

From the Vatican Press Office

Vos estis lux mundi. “You are the light of the world… Our Lord Jesus Christ calls every believer to be a shining example of virtue, integrity and holiness.” The Gospel of Matthew provides the title and first words of Pope Francis’ new Motu proprio dedicated to the fight against sexual abuse committed by clerics and religious, as well as the actions or omissions of Bishops and Religious Superiors who in any way interfere with, or fail, to investigate abuse. The Pope recalls that “the crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful.” The document represents another result of the Meeting on the Protection of Minors held in February 2019. It establishes new procedural rules to combat sexual abuse and to ensure that Bishops and Religious Superiors are held accountable.

 

An “office” for reporting in every diocese

Among the new indications given is the obligation for every Diocese in the world to set up, by June 2020, “one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports” concerning sexual abuse committed by clerics and religious, the use of child pornography and cover-ups of the same abuse. The legislation does not specify what these “systems” consist of, because it leaves operational choices to the Diocese. The idea is, anyone who has suffered abuse can have recourse to the local Church, while being assured they will be well received, protected from retaliation and their reports will be treated with the utmost seriousness.

 

The obligation to report

Another new indication concerns the obligation for all clerics, and all men and women religious, to “report promptly” all accusations of abuse of which they become aware, as well as any omissions and cover-ups of cases of abuse to ecclesiastical authorities. Though this obligation was formerly left up to individual consciences, it now becomes a universally established legal precept. The obligation as such is sanctioned for clerics and religious, but any layperson can use the system to report violence and abuse.

 

Not only child abuse

The document covers not only violence and abuse against children and vulnerable adults, but also sexual abuse and violence resulting from an abuse of authority. This includes cases of violence against religious by clerics, as well as abuse committed against adult seminarians or novices.

 

Dealing with cover-ups

One of the most important elements is the identification of so-called cover-ups, defined as “actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil investigations or canonical investigations, whether administrative or penal, against a cleric or a religious regarding the delicts” of sexual abuse. This section refers to those who hold positions of particular responsibility in the Church, and who, instead of pursuing abuses, have hidden them, and have protected alleged offenders.

 

The protection of vulnerable people

“Vos estis lux mundi” stresses the importance of protecting minors (anyone under 18) and vulnerable people. The definition of a “vulnerable person” is broadened to include “any person in a state of infirmity, physical or mental deficiency, or deprivation of personal liberty which, in fact, even occasionally, limits their ability to understand or to want to otherwise resist the offense.”

 

Respecting the laws of states

The obligation to report to the local Ordinary or Religious Superior does not interfere with, or change, any other reporting obligation that may exist in respective countries’ legislation. In fact, the norms “apply without prejudice to the rights and obligations established in each place by state laws, particularly those concerning any reporting obligations to the competent civil authorities.”

 

The protection of victims and those reporting abuse

The sections dedicated to protecting those who come forward to report abuse are significant. According to the Motu proprio, someone reporting abuse cannot be subjected to “prejudice, retaliation or discrimination.” The problem of victims who in the past have been told to keep silent is also addressed: these universal norms provide that “an obligation to keep silent may not be imposed on any person with regard to the contents of his or her report.” Obviously, the seal of confession remains absolute and inviolable and is in no way affected by this legislation. Vos estis lux mundi also states that victims and their families must be treated with dignity and respect and must receive appropriate spiritual, medical and psychological assistance.

 

The investigation of bishops

Motu proprio regulates the investigation of Bishops, Cardinals, Religious Superiors, all those who lead a Diocese, or a particular Church, in various capacities. The rules apply not only in the case of these persons being investigated for having committed sexual abuse themselves, but also if they are accused of having “covered up,” or of failing to pursue abuses of which they were aware, and which it was their duty to address.

 

The role of the Metropolitan

There are new indications regarding the role of the Metropolitan Archbishop in preliminary investigations: if the accused individual is a Bishop, the Metropolitan receives a mandate from the Holy See to investigate. This strengthens his traditional role in the Church and indicates a desire to make the most of local resources with regard to investigations into Bishops. Every thirty days, the person in charge of the investigation sends the Holy See “a status report on the state of the investigation,” which “is to be completed within the term of ninety days.” This establishes specific timeframes and requires the Vatican Dicasteries to act promptly.

 

Involvement of the laity

The Motu proprio provides that the Metropolitan, in conducting the investigations, can avail himself of the help of “qualified persons,” according to “the needs of the individual case and, in particular, taking into account the cooperation that can be offered by the lay faithful.” The Pope has repeatedly stated that the specializations and professional skills of the laity represent an important resource for the Church. The norms now provide that Episcopal Conferences and Dioceses may prepare lists of qualified persons willing to collaborate, but the ultimate responsibility for investigations remains with the Metropolitan.

 

Presumption of innocence

The principle of presumption of innocence is reaffirmed. The accused will be informed of the investigation when requested to do so by the competent Dicastery. The accusation must be notified only if formal proceedings are opened. If deemed appropriate, this notification may be omitted during the preliminary stage.

 

Conclusion of the investigation

The Motu proprio does not modify the penalties for crimes committed, but it does establish procedures for reporting and carrying out the preliminary investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Metropolitan forwards the results to the competent Vatican Dicastery. The competent Dicastery then proceeds “in accordance with the law provided for the specific case,” acting on the basis of already existing canonical norms. Based on the results of the preliminary investigation, the Holy See can immediately impose preventive and restrictive measures on the person under investigation.

 

Concrete commitment

With this new juridical instrument, the Catholic Church takes a further and incisive step in the prevention and fight against abuse. As the Pope writes: “In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church.”

Fr. Peter B. Mangum Addresses Thoughts on June USCCB Meeting and the Future of the Diocese

By: Fr. Peter B. Mangum

 

Dear People of Shreveport,

I begin this article on Pentecost Sunday, preparing for the gathering of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore. A year ago this past June, His Holiness Pope Francis announced the transfer of Bishop Michael Duca to the Diocese of Baton Rouge and two months later, I was elected to serve as Diocesan Administrator. I have had the opportunity to participate in a variety of gatherings of bishops, including meetings with the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, accessing issues affecting Catholics and institutions in our state, as well as with the Catholic Extension Society and the bishops of mission dioceses who face similar struggles.

In April, I participated in the ceremony of installation of Bishop David Talley, the former Bishop of Alexandria, as the new Bishop of Memphis. One of the archbishops told me then, face to face and in all seriousness, that, given all the other more important and pressing matters the Apostolic Nuncio is dealing with, I needed “to hunker down” as Diocesan Administrator as he did not foresee us getting a new bishop any time soon. In fact, dioceses that have been without a bishop less time than ours have already received new bishops.  I cannot wait to approach the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, tomorrow!

I have participated in USCCB meetings before. The first of these meetings was in November 2018, slated to have the vote of the century related to the Sexual Abuse of Minors or Adults by Clergy and “Standards of Episcopal Conduct” and to set up a “Special Commission for Review of Complaints Against Bishops.” We can all recall what happened next, the Holy See insisted that the American bishops delay the vote until after the February 2019 Vatican summit of all the presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide to discuss the abuse crisis. Our common anger and disappointment was indelibly stamped on my consciousness and the experience is still fresh. That watershed moment in the life of the Church would wait until after all the bishops of the country met in January of 2019 in a weeklong retreat with the Pope’s retreat master and until after the Vatican Summit in February and Pope Francis’ subsequent document, issued in May, to govern the world-wide handling of all cases. The meeting is about to begin.

In the coming days, we will discuss and vote on a document related to the ministry of Permanent Deacons, a document on the Ordination of a Bishop, of Priests, and of Deacons, the Church’s engagement with the growing population of the religiously unaffiliated (the so-called “nones,”) among other items. But the world will focus on the centerpiece of the agenda: four action items dealing with the investigation of abuse claims against the bishops, accusations they have been negligent in handling or covering up cases of credibly accused priests and other church workers.  (Remember:  a Diocesan Administrator is equivalent in law to a bishop so I have the same vote as any active bishop present.)

As we anticipate this gathering of bishops, Pope Francis wrote his Apostolic Letter “Vos Estis Lux Mundi,” a new universal law to safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable, a law which took force June 1st. It governs complaints against Church leaders worldwide regarding the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons. We will debate and then vote on directives for implementing this Church law. As Pope Francis wrote:  “The crimes of sexual abuse offends our Lord, causing physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful.” This upcoming business meeting is to approve several proposals to hold the bishops accountable. The Holy Father, in his letter, calls for a “public, stable and easily accessible” reporting system for allegations, clear standards for the pastoral support of victims and their families, timeliness and thoroughness of investigations, protection for “whistleblowers” making allegations and the use of “proven experts from among the laity.” This document strengthens the protections already in place and expands the definition of vulnerable adults to include seminarians and any person made to engage in sexual acts due to a power differential/abuse of power and establishes a process for investigating various forms of misconduct by bishops.

The metropolitan archbishop in each province will have the oversight for investigations – the Archbishop of New Orleans has oversight of our state. I am particularly glad to read of the importance of lay experts being used, so bishops are not policing themselves and the need for accountability and transparency is met.In November, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, expressed “hope… that the Church be purified and that our efforts bear fruit… moving forward in concert with the Church around the world will make the Church in the United States stronger, and will make the global Church stronger.” I am optimistic that the delay from November until now will prove beneficial and that we will have a most fruitful meeting.

 

*      *      *

 

The June 2019 USCCB meeting has begun with Morning Prayer this Tuesday after Pentecost. Cardinal DiNardo offers the opening remarks, “We begin the sacred work, this week, of purging the evil of sexual abuse from our Church….Veni Sancte Spiritus.  (Come Holy Spirit.)” I see this as harkening back to Pope Francis’ letter to the assembled bishops on retreat this past January in Chicago when the Pope made it clear that the need to be prompted and filled with the Holy Spirit was essential before moving forward in the way God wants us to…the importance of prayer before action, and the huge decisions the bishops face could not be made by a group who were divided; we could not come up with a plan of action and just pray it worked.

As we had done in our diocese at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans with our Prayer Vigil for Reparation and Petition, so the bishops did in a beautiful Penitential Service led by one of the cardinals, themed “The Church on Her Knees,” highlighting the need to seek forgiveness personally and as a group. Every bishop of this country was so aware of the pain of everyone who has been let down by the Church. This has been a year of great suffering and pain for the Church in the United States and we all acknowledge this to be a critical moment in our history.

 

*      *      *

 

I have come to learn that our Apostolic Nuncio is in ROME with Pope Francis and over a hundred other ambassadors to other countries. There goes my chance to ask him about where we are in the process of getting a new bishop.

 

*      *      *

 

Today is the Feast of St Barnabas. This first day, which included discussion and debate amongst the successors of the apostles, concluded with Mass and hearing from the Acts of the Apostles. Cardinal DiNardo said that the bishops’ credibility is to be like St. Barnabas, desiring “to do God’s will and to do it carefully and with discretion but also with what the Holy Father calls boldness — apostolic boldness…ours is hard work to do this week.”

 

*      *      *

 

We are all aware that it has now been one year since the exposure of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick as a predator and the beginning of a crisis of confidence in the ability of Church leadership to handle sexual abuse cases. Last November’s attempt at more stringent accountability norms, postponed by the Vatican, has been refined and augmented and is now ready for the final debate and vote. We have dealt with all these matters via constant communication with the main USCCB Office, such that there is not anticipation of much more debate or discussion, though three and a half hours are set aside for such this morning.

We only needed 70 minutes. The Bishops voted on several proposals to hold bishops accountable for instances of sexual abuse of children or vulnerable persons, sexual misconduct, or the intentional mishandling of such cases. We specifically committed to involving and utilizing lay professional experts. We also established a new, independent mechanism for the reporting of such cases, ensuring complaints are evaluated thoroughly, and that justice is achieved for victims and survivors.  (cf:  USCCB Q & A)

These voted-on-proposals are now all based on and consistent with new universal law for the reporting and handling of complaints against bishops, new procedural norms, applicable around the world. This is all the latest in a series of steps the Church has taken to respond to the sin and crime of sexual abuse. The Church first implemented a strict zero-tolerance policy in the United States in 2002. (Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, commonly referred to as the Dallas Charter, along with the Essential Norms.)

In the resolution, “Affirming our Episcopal Commitments,” the bishops clearly state that we are “committed, when we receive or when we are authorized to investigate such cases to include the counsel of lay men and women whose professional backgrounds are indispensable.”  Indeed the new USCCB documents uplift the gifts and expertise of the laity.

The new law covers sexual harassment of adults if such harassment involved any sexual acts.  Other forms of sexual harassment are covered by codes of conduct that already exist in dioceses and eparchies. “Vos Estis” does not interfere with these local codes of conduct.

Remember, any complaint against a bishop can be made immediately to local law enforcement, the chancery, the Apostolic Nuncio, or to the Holy See directly. Those avenues of reporting will continue to be available. The third-party system will simply provide another means of reporting that will make the process simpler in the future. This all brings unprecedented accountability of all bishops throughout the country.

With the voting completed, I wanted to slam my fist down on the table for joy! Though part of me knows that, amongst many people there is a ‘crisis fatigue,’ now the cry for action is heard.

 

*      *      *

 

As I noted in November, being in the thick of things as Diocesan Administrator, the past ten months has affected the way I pray. I am grateful for the great support I have received from the priests of our diocese as well as many lay people. Since then we have also seen the publication of the list of names of priests who were convicted of or very credibly accused of sexual abuse from the territory now defined as the Diocese of Shreveport, all before 1986 and our creation as a diocese. I continue to face this crisis and the need for healing for and with everyone in our diocese. I minister, not in a Church I would prefer, but in the Church as I find it. Yet even in our broken human condition, we get glimpses of the Church perfected and made whole in Christ, just as He promised…he will never abandon His Church! Lest anyone think to the contrary, I have not lost the sense of outrage at the abuse crisis and cover-ups. We must take seriously Christ’s call to holiness, starting with our bishops, priests and indeed everyone! Jesus Christ truly is the Word made flesh, the splendor of the Father, the One sent to save us and give us Himself in the Eucharist, and His transforming, purifying grace in and through the Church as He founded.

St. Joseph Cemetery Updates

By Kate Rhea

Catholic cemeteries reflect an affirmation of many beliefs held sacred by the Catholic  faithful. Among those beliefs are the sanctity of all human life, respect for the bodies of the deceased, and dignity of the faithful departed interred within the sacred ground of a Catholic cemetery.

For all of their functionality and importance, cemeteries tend to be forgotten about over the generations for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, within that trend of neglect, there are always those who wish to keep older, historically important cemeteries alive and thriving.

In the early years of the 20th century, just a short time after St. Joseph Cemetery was established, cemeteries were shifting from being purposefully constructed away from cities and out of the everyday life of citizens, to being mindfully curated spaces where people could congregate to pay their respects in many different ways. Cemetery picnics were popular in the early 20th century, allowing for fellowship for families with deceased loved ones. Catholic cemeteries in particular began to be established with the intent of providing ministry of consolation to mourners, rather than simply a place to bury the dead.

With the rise of genealogy as a hobby over the last decade, hearts and minds are beginning to return to discovering the past. Family members hoping to delve into their personal lineage, historians studying pioneers of the past, and hobbyists interested in the social and cultural chronicles of their city all find themselves looking to cemeteries for answers.

Looking to the future of St. Joseph Cemetery, teeming with the remnants of rich personal histories of local families, many of which serve as a testament to the growth of our city, it is easy to understand how preservation and documentation are paramount to understanding not only the past, but the future as well.

Thanks to the generosity of faithful Catholics in our diocese, renovations to the martyred yellow fever priests’ memorial are going well. The steps are completed, the crypts are being restructured, and we will be ordering the granite replacement tops soon. For more information on how you can donate to this project and future projects, please contact the Catholic Center.

Second Collections for August

by Father Rothell Price

The Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry Collection helps the priests and laity of our diocese strengthen the faith of our vibrant Spanish-speaking Catholics and keep them in the fold of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. This year, I am writing this article on the 4th of July, our nation’s Independence Day. I shared in my homily at Mass this morning how our vintage patriotic songs acknowledge God as the author and architect of our unique experience of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Just as our European immigrant fore bearers sacrificed home and kin for various reasons, so too, in our own time, our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters are sacrificing home and kin for the same or similar reasons. Our patriotic hymns acknowledge God’s almighty and protecting hand. Your participation in the Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry Collection helps Hispanic Catholics, who have already sacrificed so much, to not have to sacrifice their Catholic faith as well.

Your heartfelt participation in the Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry Collection makes it possible for our Spanish-speaking Catholics to remain in the Catholic Church and continue growing in their faith. Their dynamic devotion to Jesus and His Saints, especially to the Holy Mother of God under her appearance and title, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is truly inspiring. Driving around our Diocese, you will notice a great number of non-Catholic churches reaching out to our Spanish-speaking Catholics, offering them worship and material services in their native language. This outreach reminds me that we must be at the front of that line walking with those who are our own.  For as the old saying goes, “Charity begins at home.”

Please give generously to our Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry Collection. Lend your encouragement to the pastoral ministry of Fathers Rigo Betancurt, Fidel Mondragon, Al Luis Jost, Mark Watson, Francis Kamau, John Paul Crispin, Joseph Kallookalam, Pat Madden, James Moran, Michael Thang’wa, John Bosco Uwamungu and I.  Help Rosalba Quiroz, Melina Sanchez and the bi-lingual lay leaders in our parishes and missions with Hispanic communities. Your participation in the Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry Collection helps us attend to them with a shepherd’s care in Jesus’ name and yours.

Our Office of Hispanic Ministry’s leadership training, youth and young adult, married couples, whole family retreats, days of reflection, and liturgical ministry training for our devout Hispanic Catholics are the tangible fruits of your participation in this Second Collection. Your loving sacrifice equips individuals, families, and communities to give themselves ever more joyfully in service to the Lord Jesus and His people through the services our Office of Hispanic Ministry provides. The most beautiful expression of your donation is the devout and vibrant Mass participation of our Spanish-speaking

Catholics and the Catholic communities to which they belong to. The Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry Collection is our concrete way of helping our English and Spanish speaking Catholics alike, it also ensures the familial and ecclesiastical bonds of our Spanish-speaking Catholics. Give generously to the Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry Collection. Help us serve our Hispanic brothers and sisters in the name of Christ, His Church, and you. Please participate as generously as you are able.

 

I am yours in Christ,

Very Rev. Rothell Price – Diocesan Director of Second Collections

The Catholic Connection Welcomes New Editor

Photo by: Rachel Cochran

By: John Mark Willcox

The Diocese of Shreveport is pleased to welcome Samantha Maiette as the seventh editor of your Catholic Connection. Like so many people from this region, Samantha comes from a military background. As the daughter of Air Force parents she has traveled the world. However, for the past decade, she has resided in Bossier City with a four-year stint in Natchitoches as a student at Northwestern State University. While at Northwestern, Samantha began her writing career as a reporter, and later managing editor, for The Current Sauce, before transitioning into writing and publishing for local news outlets, such as the Natchitoches Parish Journal and the Red River Parish Journal.

In her free time, Samantha enjoys cooking, reading, traveling with her fiancé, interacting with her cat and researching new topics. Samantha brings a lot of skill and clarity to our publication and we certainly welcome her at the helm of our award-winning monthly news magazine for the diocese. Any material you would like considered for an upcoming issue of The Catholic Connection can be forwarded to Samantha at smaiette@dioshpt.org.

El padre Peter informa sobre la reunión del USCCB en junio y el futuro de la Diócesis

Querida Gente de la Diócesis de Shreveport


Comienzo este artículo en Domingo de Pentecostés mientras me preparo para la reunión de la Conferencia Episcopal de los Obispos Católicos de Los Estados Unidos, (USCCB) en Baltimore. Ya es un año que en junio Su Santidad el Papa Francisco anunció el cambio del Obispo Michael Duca a la Diócesis de Baton Rouge y dos meses después, fui elegido Administrador Diocesano. He tenido la oportunidad de participar en varias reuniones de obispos, incluyendo reuniones en Luisiana donde se han tratado problemas que afectan a las instituciones católicas en nuestro estado, así como con la organización Catholic Extension Society y con obispos de las diócesis misión que enfrentan luchas similares a las nuestras.

En abril, participé en la ceremonia de instalación del Obispo David Talley, quien era Obispo de Alexandria y ahora es el nuevo Obispo de Memphis. Ese día uno de los arzobispos me dijo de frente y con toda seriedad que, conociendo todos los asuntos graves que el Nuncio Apostólico necesita tratar que “yo necesito sentarme en la posición de administrador diocesano” por más tiempo ya que no parece que nos enviarán un obispo pronto. De hecho, algunas diócesis que han estado sin obispo menos tiempo que la nuestra han recibido ya nuevos obispos. Me gustaría poder hablar directamente con el Nuncio Apostólico Christopher Pierre, ¡mañana de ser posible!

He participado en reuniones de USCCB. La primera fue en Noviembre del 2018, cuando se propuso tener el voto del siglo sobre los escándalos de Abuso Sexual por parte del clero hacia menores y adultos y sobre “Medidas de Conducta del Episcopado” y establecer una “Comisión Especial para la Revisión de los Reclamos contra los Obispos.” Recordamos lo que sucedió después de esto, la Santa Sede insistió que los obispos de América deberían retrasar el voto hasta después de la Cumbre del Vaticano en febrero del 2019 donde los obispos presidentes de conferencias mundiales dialogarían sobre este tema. Nuestra rabia y decepción se estampó en mi conciencia y siento esa experiencia aun fresca en mi mente. Ese punto de partida en la vida de la Iglesia tendría que esperar hasta después que los obispos de este país se reunieran en enero del 2019 en una semana de retiro con el encargado de retiros del Papa; también hasta después de la Cumbre Vaticana en febrero y después que el Papa francisco sacara su documento que salió en mayo sobre cómo manejar estos casos en todo el mundo. La reunión está por comenzar.

En los días siguientes, dialogaremos y votaremos sobre un documento relacionado con el ministerio de los Diáconos Permanentes, un documento sobre la Ordenación de un Obispo, de Sacerdotes y de Diáconos, sobre el involucramiento de la iglesia y con la creciente población de personas que no tienen filiación religiosa (los llamados nada- o sea que no tienen religión,”) entre otras cosas. Pero el mundo se enfocará en el punto principal de la agenda: cuatro puntos de acción sobre el manejo de la investigación de reclamos de abuso contra los obispos, acusaciones que no se han manejado o casos que se han encubierto sobre sacerdotes acusados y otros trabajadores eclesiales. (Recuerden: un Administrador Diocesano es equivalente en la ley canónica a un obispo, así que tengo el mismo voto que cualquier obispo activo ahí presente.)

Mientras esperamos esta reunión de obispos, el Papa Francisco escribió su Carta Apostólica “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” una nueva ley universal para cuidar a sus miembros del abuso y acusar a los líderes responsables, y una ley que fue implementada el 1º de junio. Esta ley gobierna las quejas contra los líderes de la iglesia en todo el mundo en relación al abuso sexual de menores y de personas vulnerables. Debatiremos y después votaremos para implementar esta ley Eclesial. Como el Papa Francisco lo escribe; “crímenes de abuso sexual ofenden a nuestro Señor y causan daño físico, psicológico, y espiritual a las víctimas, y lastiman a toda la comunidad de fieles.” Esta reunión de negocios va a aprobar varias propuestas para que también los obispos tomen responsabilidad. El Santo Padre, en su carta, llama a que “el público, este firme y accesible” a implementar sistemas para reportar los reclamos, abrir estándares para dar apoyo pastoral a las víctimas y a sus familias, de manera eficiente y completa durante las investigaciones, para la protección de los “denunciantes” y que se pueda hacer uso de los “laicos expertos.” Este documento da más fuerza a la protección ya implementada y expande la definición de adultos vulnerables que incluya a los seminaristas y a cualquier otra persona que se involucre en actos sexuales usando el poder y además establece un proceso de investigación de varias formas a la falta de conducta por parte de los obispos.

Los arzobispos en cada provincia metropolitana tendrán la posibilidad de supervisar estas investigaciones – el Arzobispo de Nueva Orleans tendrá supervisión sobre nuestro estado. Estoy contento especialmente por la importancia que se dará al uso de laicos expertos para que los obispos no sean los mismos que vigilen y más bien se cumpla con la investigación responsable y con transparencia. El Cardenal Daniel DiNardo, Arzobispo de Galveston-Houston y Presidente de USCCB, expresó lo siguiente en noviembre: “espero… que la Iglesia sea purificada y que nuestros esfuerzos den fruto… caminando en sintonía con la Iglesia de todo el mundo haremos que la Iglesia en los Estados Unidos y la Iglesia global sea más fuerte.” Tengo optimismo de que esperar de noviembre hasta ahora será benéfico y la reunión será muy fructífera.

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La reunión de USCCB de junio ha comenzado con Oración de la Mañana este Martes des pues de Pentecostés, con los comentarios del Cardenal DiNardo, “ comenzamos este trabajo sagrado, esta semana, purgando la maldad del abuso sexual de la Iglesia… Veni Cancte Spiritus. (Ven Santo Espiritu.)” veo esto como una exclamacion de la carta del Papa Francisco para la asamblea de obispos en el retrio del pasado Enero en Chicago cuando el papa aclaro que la necesidad de invocar y llenarnos del Espiritu Santo era esencial antes de caminar en la camino que Dios quiere que vayamos… la importancia de hacer oración antes la acción, y las grandes decisiones que los obispos enfrentan no pueden tomarse por un grupo que esta dividido; no podemos primero trazar un plan de acción y solo hacer oración para que funcione.

Como habíamos hecho en nuestra diócesis en a Catedral de San Jon Berchmans con nuestra Oración de Vigilia por la Reparación y Petición, así los obispos hicieron un Servicio Penitencia hermoso dirigido por uno de los cardenales, con el tema “La Iglesia esta de Rodillas,” enfatizando la necesidad de buscar el perdón personalmente y como grupo. Cada obispo de este país estaba totalmente enterado del dolor de todos los que han sido abandonados por la Iglesia. Este ha sido un año de gran sufrimiento y dolor para la iglesia de los Estados Unidos y todos reconocemos que este es un momento crítico en nuestra historia.

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Me he enterado que nuestro Nuncio Apostólico está en ROMA con el Papa Francisco y mas de cien embajadores de otros países. Así que se ha ido mi oportunidad de preguntarle sobre el proceso de recibir a un nuevo obispo en nuestra diócesis.

Hoy en la Fiesta de San Barnabás, nuestro primer día hubo dialogo y debate entre los sucesores de los apóstoles, y concluyó con la Misa y lectura de los Hechos de los Apóstoles. El Cardenal DiNardo les dijo a los obispos’ hay que ser como San Barnabás, que deseaba solo “hacer la voluntad de Dios y hacerla cuidadosamente y con discreción pero también lo que el Santo Padre llama audacia – audacia apostólica… nuestro trabajo esta semana es arduo y difícil.”

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Todos sabemos que ya hace un año que el Cardinal Theodore McCarrick fue expuesto como predador y esto abrió el comienzo de una crisis de confianza en la habilidad del liderazgo de la Iglesia para manejar los casos de abuso sexual. El esfuerzo del pasado noviembre para vigorizar las normas de responsabilidad, postergado por le vaticano, ha sido refinado y aumentado y está ahora listo para el debate y voto final. Hemos trabajado con todos estos asuntos comunicándonos constantemente con la oficina principal de USCCB, para que no anticipar mucho mas debate o discusión y se han reservado tres horas y media para dialogar sobre esto esta mañana.

 

Se necesitaron son 70 minutos. Los Obispos votaron en varias propuestas para asegurar el compromiso de los obispos en situaciones de abuso sexual a niños y personas vulnerables, la mala conducta sexual, o el mal manejo intencional de estos casos. Nos comprometimos específicamente a involucrar y utilizar a laicos expertos profesionales. También establecimos un mecanismo independiente y nuevo para reportar estos casos, asegurándonos que todos son evaluados cuidadosamente, y que se haga justicia a las víctimas y para los sobrevivientes.    (cf: USCCB Q & A – sesión de preguntas de la reunión episcopal del 12 de junio)

Estas propuestas por las que se votaron son ahora la base de, y consistentes con la nueva ley universal de cómo reportar y cómo manejar las quejas contra los obispos, las nuevas normas de procedimiento y son aplicables a todo el mundo. Esto es lo último en una serie de pasos que la Iglesia ha tomado para responder al pecado y crimen de abuso sexual.  La Iglesia primero implementó una póliza de cero tolerancia en Estados Unidos en el 2002. Estatutos para la Protección a Niños y Gente Joven, comúnmente referido como los Estatutos de Dallas, junto con las Normas Esenciales.

En la resolución, “Afirmando nuestros Compromisos Episcopales,” los obispos claramente dicen que estamos “comprometidos, a investigar los casos que se presenten usando al consejo de hombres y mujeres laicos con experiencia profesional indispensable.”  En efecto los nuevos documentos de USCCB elevan los dones y destrezas de los laicos.La nueva ley cubre el acoso sexual de adultos, si este acoso involucra cualquier acto sexual. Otras formas de acoso sexual están cubiertas por códigos de conducta ya existentes en las diócesis y provincias eclesiales. “Vox Estis” no interfiere con estos códigos de conducta locales.

Recuerden que cualquier queja contra un obispo se puede hacer inmediatamente a la policía local, a la cancillería, al Nucnio Apostólico, o a la Santa Sede directamente. Todas estas maneras de reportar continuarán disponibles. Terceras personas que necesiten reportar – sistema de terceros, va a proveer otras maneras de reportar que harán que el proceso sea mas simple en el futuro. Esto impone una responsabilidad sin precedencia hacia todos los obispos de todo el país.

Al concluir la votación, quería ¡golpear la mesa con mi puño! Aunque parte de mí sabe que entre toda esta gente hay una ‘crisis exhaustiva,’ pero ahora escuchamos el llamado a la acción.

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Como ya dije en noviembre, estando en medio de las cosas como Administrador Diocesano, los últimos diez meses han afectado mi manera de orar. Estoy agradecido por el gran apoyo que he recibido por parte de los sacerdotes de nuestra diócesis, así como también de mucha gente laica. Desde entonces también hemos tenido la publicación de la lista de sacerdotes convictos o de los acusados creíblemente de abuso sexual en el territorio que comprende la Diócesis de Shreveport, todos esos casos sucedieron antes de 1986 y que nuestra diócesis fuera creada. Todavía enfrento esta crisis y la necesidad de sanación para y con todos los afectados en nuestra diócesis. Soy ministro, no de una Iglesia como a mí me gustaría, sino en la Iglesia así como se encuentra. Aun así con nuestras condiciones humanas rotas, damos pequeñas miradas a la Iglesia preferida y que se ha completado en Cristo, así como Él nos lo prometió… ¡él nunca abandonará su Iglesia! Aunque alguien piense lo contrario, no he perdido la ira por la crisis de los abusos y los encubrimientos. Debemos de tomar el llamado de Cristo a la santidad seriamente, empezando con nuestros obispos, sacerdotes y de verdad entre todos! Jesucristo es verdaderamente la Palabra hecha hombre, el esplendor del Padre, el que fue enviado a salvarnos y entregarse Él mismo en la Eucaristía con su gracia transformadora y purificante en y a través de la Iglesia como Él la fundó.

Three Words to Balance our “Common Home”

From the Vatican Press Office

I address a cordial greeting to the organizers and participants in the second Forum of the Laudato si’ Communities, which is being held in a territory devastated by the earthquake that struck Italy in August 2016, and which more than any other area has paid a very high price in terms of the number of victims.

It is a sign of hope, the fact that you are indeed in Amatrice, the memory of which is always present in my heart, to focus on the imbalances that devastate our “common home”. Not only is it a sign of closeness to the many brothers and sisters who still live between the memory of a terrible tragedy and the reconstruction that is slow to get started, but it also expresses the desire to make resonate, loud and clear, that it is the poor who pay the highest price of environmental devastation. The wounds inflicted on the environment are inexorably wounds inflicted on humanity at its most defenseless. I wrote in the Encyclical Laudato si’: “There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology” (118).

After facing, last year, the theme of the plastic that is suffocating our planet, today you reflect on the grave and no longer sustainable situation of Amazonia and the peoples who live there. You are thus inspired by the theme of the Synod of Bishops which will be held this coming October for the Pan-Amazon region, and whose Instrumentum laboris was recently presented.

The situation of Amazonia is a sad paradigm of what is happening in various parts of the planet: a blind and destructive mentality that favors profit over justice; it makes evident the predatory attitude with which man relates to nature. Please, do not forget that social justice and ecology are profoundly interconnected! What is happening in Amazonia will have repercussions at a global level, but it has already prostrated thousands of men and women, robbing them of their territory, making them strangers in their own land, impoverishing them of their own culture and their own traditions, and breaking the millennia-long equilibrium that united those people with their land. Man cannot remain an indifferent spectator in the face of this destruction; nor can the Church remain silent: the cry of the poor must resonate in her mouth too, as already highlighted by Saint Paul VI in his Encyclical Populorum progressio.

Promoted by the Church of Rieti and the Slow Food movement, the Laudato si’ Communities are engaged not only in disseminating the teaching proposed in the Encyclical of the same name, but in favoring new styles of life. From this pragmatic perspective, I wish to offer you three words.

The first word is doxology

Faced with the good of creation and, above all, the good of man who is the peak of creation, but also its custodian, it is necessary to assume the attitude of praise. Faced with such beauty, with renewed wonder, with the eyes of a child, we must be able to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us and of which man too is also formed. Praise is the fruit of contemplation, contemplation and praise lead to respect, and respect becomes almost veneration before the goods of creation and its Creator.

 

The second word is Eucharist

The Eucharistic attitude faced with the world and its inhabitants knows how to grasp the status of gift that every living being carries within itself. Everything is consigned to us freely, not to be plundered and swallowed up, but to become in turn a gift to share, a gift to give so that joy may be for all and that it may therefore be greater.

 

The third word is asceticism

Every form of respect arises from an ascetic attitude, that is, from the capacity to know how to renounce something for a greater good, for the good of others. Asceticism helps us to convert the predatory attitude, which is always lurking, to take the form of sharing, and of an ecological, respectful and polite relationship.

 

I hope that the Laudato si’ Communities may be the germ of a renewed way of living in the world, to give it a future, to preserve its beauty and integrity for the good of every living being, ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

 

I thank you and I bless you from my heart. Pray for me.

 

The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

by Kim Long

On the 15th day of August, we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Body and Soul into heaven. The feast, which has a long and storied history in the Church, is one of Mary’s oldest. Let’s take a look…

 

History

The late Fr. Andrew Greeley stated  that the Celtic people celebrated a harvest festival in mid-August and in Christian times this became the festival of Mary in harvest time because Mary reflected the life-giving, life-nurturing love of God. From the days of the early church, this feast day was part of the fabric of believers. We glean this from the writings of some early Church fathers. On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII, issued Munificentissimus Deus, which officially defined the Dogma of the Assumption, meaning that the Church officially recognizes this belief as essential and vital to the life of Catholics. I read the document in preparation for this article. At 12 pages it was not a difficult read and is available online. According to many sources about this feast, it illustrates to us the way Jesus felt about his mother as well as the promise of eternal life. Pope Pius XII also wrote a beautiful prayer in honor of Mary and this feast.

 

Ways to celebrate

I read an article long ago that posed the idea of making a shift in our thinking from holy days of “obligation” to holy days celebration. I have always been of the mind that it is a “both/and” rather than an “either/or”.  One of the definitions of obliging is to bind. I like the idea of being bound to God in many ways; after all, we are not bound to those whom we love by only one way so why not expand our way of viewing these holy days of obligation. When we celebrate this feast we are also celebrating God’s love for us, Jesus’ promise that we will not die but have eternal life with Him. Who doesn’t love it when a mother is treated well, in this case, a literal queen as the responsorial psalm for this liturgy reminds us- “the queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.” Personally, I like a little imagery that takes me out of an ordinary day and reminds me of God’s immensity.  This day accomplishes that very well. We are bound, obliged to attend Mass and celebrate with our community but there are additional (both/and) ways we can revel in God’s glorious love.

 

Food

In one of my favorite and well worn books “A Continual Feast” by Evelyn Birge Vitz in which she guides us through the liturgical year with food and family, she recommends a fresh fruit salad but only AFTER we fast from fruit from August 1st, breaking it finally after Mass on the 15th gives us an idea of waiting for first fruits of the season.

 

Processions

This is a great Catholic tradition. In our parish we are blessed to have a priest who embraces this part of our tradition and we are seen several times a year processing around the church property. I am unsure of what passers-by think but we know we are walking with a purpose! At home, if you have a statue or even a picture of Mary take it out, dust it off and gather your family and go for a walk with the Blessed Mother. Begin with a prayer, reverently walk with the image or statue and return, placing it in a place of honor.

 

Mary Garden

In preparing for this article I found that Bishop Juvenal of Jerusalem (now St. Juvenal) told the Council of Chaldea that St. Thomas found lilies and roses in Our Lady’s tomb. That is inspiration enough for many to plant at least one flower in honor of our Blessed Mother. There is an Assumption Lily, part of the day lily family dedicated to this event Other plants include: violets, roses, Lady slippers, bleeding hearts, snowdrops and lily of the valley. There are also several herb plants dedicated to Mary especially rosemary, however, any sweet smelling and fragrant herb can represent her joys and any bitter herb her sorrows. St. Fiacre’ is said to have maintained a garden in honor of Mary all his adult life. Even if it is too late this year, looking forward to spring these selections could give your garden a “lift.” In addition to the idea of special plants in Mary’s honor, there is also the tradition of blessing of the gardens, orchards, and produce on this day; a way to honor first fruits. The Roman Ritual from 1964 has a beautiful prayer and blessing for this.

Ask your priest for more information, or sprinkle some holy water on your garden, thanking God for his bounty. These are a few ways to add an element of celebration to one of the most special days of our liturgical year! Happy Holy Day of Celebration!