Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, was the leader for the Bishops' Retreat in January. (photo: Catholic News Agency)

Prayer Before Action A Reflection on the Bishops’ Retreat

by Father Peter Mangum, Diocesan Administrator We just celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and have brought the Season of Christmas to a conclusion. May the graces of that More »

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Continuing the Mission: 2019 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

by John Mark Willcox One might ask these days, “Since our diocese is without a bishop, will we be conducting the Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal?” The answer to that question is a More »

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Catholics and Methodists: Working Together to Bring Christ’s Message of Love to the Poor and Vulnerable

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA)has been working together with area Methodist churches to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ’s message of love to More »

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Knights Raise Funds to Purchase Ultrasound Machine

story and photos by Kelly Phelan Powell One of the most encouraging signposts in the recent years of the pro-life movement is the enthusiastic involvement of men. So often shouted down and More »

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Saying Goodbye to Father Richard Lombard

by Lucy Medvec Fr. Lombard is why my family is at St. Joseph. When he baptized our son in 1995, and one year later welcomed me into the Catholic Church, our family More »

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Moving Forward in Sede Vacante

by Jessica Rinaudo Bishop Duca’s appointment to Baton Rouge earlier this year made our diocese, Sede Vacante or a “vacant see:” a diocese without a bishop, overseen by a diocesan administrator, who More »

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Praise Academy: Building Faith, Education and Community in Lakeside

by Jessica Rinaudo Every city has them – areas rampant with crime, populated by the poor, the hungry, those surviving day to day. Shreveport, Louisiana is no exception. I found myself driving More »

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U.S. Bishops Approved “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism”

from the USCCB BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved during its November General Assembly, the formal statement, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter More »

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LaCaze Lagniappe Gala: Celebrating the Life of Monsignor J. Carson LaCaze

by Randy Tiller Msgr. Carson LaCaze was a force of nature in the Diocese of Shreveport, but in sharp contrast to that dynamic personality, he was also well known to collect various More »

Knights Raise Funds to Purchase Ultrasound Machine

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story and photos by Kelly Phelan Powell

One of the most encouraging signposts in the recent years of the pro-life movement is the enthusiastic involvement of men. So often shouted down and scolded that abortion is a matter of women’s (and only women’s) “reproductive freedom,” many men, Catholic men in particular, are finally finding their places and voices within this life-or-death issue. The Knights of Columbus (KoC) Ultrasound Initiative is one of the most crucial ways local men are aiding the movement.

Four local councils of the Knights of Columbus raised several thousand dollars through activities such as the baby bottle campaign, in which empty baby bottles are distributed to individuals and families who fill them with money, then return them, and the Knights use the money to support local culture-of-life programs. A church and KoC council in Baton Rouge that closed contributed about $10,000. Together with matching funds from the Supreme (national) Council, all these donations enabled the staff at Mary’s House Pregnancy Care Center to purchase a new abdominal ultrasound machine.

At the official presentation of the new machine at Mary’s House on January 4, ultrasound technician Julie Draper told the assembled knights, “This technology literally saves lives.”
Marian Council Grand Knight John Walker agreed. “It brings an awareness to the woman of the condition of herself and the baby. She can see for herself that it’s not just tissue – it’s a living organism. By seven weeks [gestation], you can see the baby’s heartbeat.”

The fight for life is an important issue to every knight. Rooted in the four principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism, the Knights of Columbus endeavor to “build a culture of life and a civilization of love” through programs like the March for Life and the Special Olympics, in addition to the Ultrasound Initiative and countless prayers, rosaries and fundraising activities.

Sonographer Julie Draper, Clinic Director, Trisha Johnson, and Mary's House founder L'Anne Sciba.

Walker, a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1986, said a local KoC council is a great place for any man interested in furthering the cause of life. “Every life is precious, no matter the age,” he said. The Supreme Council publicly set a goal in 2017 to save 1 million unborn lives with the help of technology that helps mothers choose life over abortion. Knights of Columbus CEO, Carl Anderson, said they will accomplish this by placing 1,000 ultrasound machines in pregnancy care centers by the time the Ultrasound Initiative reaches its 10th anniversary this year. Machines donated by the Knights are already in use in all 50 states.

The new technology available to pregnant women at Mary’s House will no doubt make it clear to hundreds of mothers just how precious the tiniest lives are. The new ultrasound machine replaces an old machine from the ‘90s – obviously, not the clearest picture or sound available today.

As if to underscore just how vital these machines can be to the cause of life, the very first mother who had a scan by the new machine discovered she was expecting twins. Though there are few studies regarding the effect of ultrasound viewing on women’s abortion decisions, Draper told the Knights of Columbus assembled on January 4 that, in her time at Mary’s House, only one woman has ever made the decision to have an abortion after seeing her child in the womb via ultrasound. That’s a powerful testimony to the impact of this equipment, to say nothing of the women who work at Mary’s House.

Another way to support Mary’s House and the cause of life is by attending the Annual Pro-Life Banquet, the Fête For Life – A Mary’s House Pregnancy Care Center Fundraiser at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 19, at the Bossier City Civic Center. For tickets and more information, please visit https://maryshouseoflafoundation.org or call 318- 220-8009.

Saying Goodbye to Father Richard Lombard

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by Lucy Medvec

Fr. Lombard is why my family is at St. Joseph. When he baptized our son in 1995, and one year later welcomed me into the Catholic Church, our family knew that we had found a home. He made St. Joseph Church a special place for all of us because he loved this parish so much; and as Fr. Long said at Mass, because he loved every one of us so much. We were his family. Fr. Lombard had that special gift of making everyone feel special – we all believed that we were his favorite.  He was wise, quiet and kind, sometimes stubborn and gruff, but he was always faithful and had a heart of gold. I only knew him for the past 25 years, but I would have loved to have seen him as a priest in his younger days.

For the past few weeks, I have been thinking of my favorite memories and stories of Fr. Lombard – you know we all have at least one. Like the time a baby yelled “YAY” at the end of the Alleluia and he got so tickled, he could barely read the Gospel. We all laughed along with him, which made him laugh even more. Or the time that Mark, my husband, was in the ER for a minor heart issue, yet he panicked and believed that the end was near because Fr. Lombard immediately came to see him.

He was a humble servant who lived a simple life filled with love for God and for all of us. He encouraged so many of us to do more for St. Joseph than just attend weekly Mass. He believed that each of us had a special gift – our time, talent, and treasure – that would enrich our lives and those of our fellow parishioners. Years ago someone told me their nickname for him – The Great Lombardo. This name eventually morphed in our household into The Great One. That was what we called him within our family, but it was with sincerity and love. So as we celebrate his life, let us always remember the man who gave us a home at St. Joseph Parish that is filled with love. I am thankful to have known Fr. Richard Lombard and am blessed to have had him in our family’s life.

I think all of you will agree with me when I say that God truly blessed us when he sent us The Great One. •

Navigating the Faith: Liturgy

by Dianne Rachal

The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the fount from which all her power flows.” Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 10
December 4, 2018 marked the 55th anniversary of the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. This was the first of the 16 documents to be ratified by the bishops of the Second Vatican Council, illustrating the importance of liturgy to the Council and to the Church. The Church experiences and shows forth its true identity in the liturgy, strengthening the faithful to go forth and carry out the mission and message of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit into the world.

When we attend Mass each Sunday, do we just go through the motions and mindlessly say the words—getting our Sunday obligation out of the way so we can get back to the really important busy-ness of our lives?

Or:
• Do we enter the mystery of Divine Encounter and relationship with the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

• Do we join the daily struggles and joys of our lives to the Paschal Mystery: the dying and rising of our Lord, Jesus Christ?

• Do we understand that liturgy is communal, and that the very meaning of liturgy, leitourgia, is “the work of the people”?

• In the liturgy do we comprehend that we are the Church, that we comprise the Body of Christ?

• Do we experience, encounter Jesus Christ in His Word, in the priest, in the assembly, and especially in the Real Presence of the Eucharistic elements of his Body and Blood?

• Do we fully appreciate the great gift it is to be nourished by Christ’s Body and Blood?

• Do we join our voices with our brothers and sisters, with the Communion of saints, and with the angels to offer praise and thanksgiving to God the Father?

• Do we know that past, present, and future all coalesce in the liturgy—the “already” and the “not yet”: salvation history, God acting now in our lives, and anticipation of the heavenly kingdom?

• Do we genuinely profess our faith in the Creed, letting the words of the liturgy be the words of our belief?

• Do we allow God’s grace to permeate and strengthen us to become ambassadors and evangelists to others?

• Do we acknowledge that our participation in the liturgy sanctifies not only us, but all creation as well?

A covenant people called by God, and gathered together in faith, we offer to God an act of thanksgiving for the great things he has done. We are a pilgrim people on a journey, showing our solidarity with one another in grace, in our need for forgiveness, in our belief. In the richness of our diversity we try to be united ‘with one heart, and with one soul.’
According to Pope Francis, “The Mass is the very ‘heart’ of the Church and the source of her life… At every celebration of Mass, our lives, offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, become, in him, an offering of praise and thanksgiving pleasing to the Father, for the salvation of the world.” (—Pope Francis, Libreria Editrice Vaticana) •

Lenten Devotion & 2nd Collections for March

by Fr. Rothell Price

COLLECTION FOR AID TO THE CHURCH IN CENTRAL and EASTERN EUROPE
Announcement Dates: February 24th & March 3rd  
Collection Dates: Ash Wednesday, March 6th

The need for participating in the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe may seem far removed from our day-to-day Catholic life. It is not! Our Catholic brothers and sisters in Central and Eastern Europe greatly need our help. The religious liberty and vitality we are working to hold on to in the U.S. is being lost in Central Europe and slowly recovering in Eastern Europe. Our financial ability to support the Gospel and pastoral mission of our parish churches is far ahead of what is possible elsewhere. I encourage you to willingly participate in the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe for their good and our own.
This collection supports the Church in 25 countries that are still struggling to recover from the aftermath of communist rule. Your support restores the Church and rebuilds the future in this region. Funds from this collection support pastoral care, catechesis, building renovations and seminary formation. Please be generous in your sacrificial gift to the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

OPERATION RICE BOWL
Announcement Dates: February 24th & March 3rd  
Participation Dates: March 6th – April 21st

Operation Rice Bowl is a Lenten devotion of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) that runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. This annual Lenten devotion intentionally unites us with the Lord Jesus and the least of his brothers and sisters. The Rice Bowl devotion offers each of us the opportunity to practice the spiritual pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Through Operation Rice Bowl we advance in the way of Christian love as we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and care for the imprisoned (Matthew 25).

Each year the CRS Rice Bowl appears on our parish information tables and classrooms, beckoning us to do something for Jesus Christ and the least of His people. Each year I take mine home, read each side of the bowl as I put it together, and begin to place my daily offering in it. Every now and then I miss a day or two, but I am motivated to make up for those missed days before the next week begins.

I thank you for participating in the 2019 Operation Rice Bowl. I hope it is as special to you as it is to me to present your CRS Rice Bowl in church on Easter Sunday. Check out the downloadable CRS Rice Bowl apps on the bottom of the Rice Bowl at crsricebowl.org. Thank you for your Lenten devotion.

COLLECTION FOR THE BLACK & INDIAN MISSIONS
Announcement Dates: February 24th & March 3rd  
Collection Dates: March 9th & 10th  

The Black and Indian Missions Collection embodies the Church’s concern for evangelizing the Black and Indian people of the United States. The Catholic Church still has a great desire to reach the African American, Native American and Alaska Native communities. Your donation is used to support and strengthen evangelization efforts across our nation to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ as faithfully proclaimed by the Catholic Church. Your gracious participation in the Black and Indian Missions Collection allows our U.S. bishops to provide grants to dioceses across the country to operate schools, parishes and other missionary services that build the Body of Christ in Native American, Alaska Native and Black Catholic communities.

The Black and Indian Missions Collection secures good teachers, forms lay ministers and catechists, and encourages young African Americans and Native Americans to give their lives to the Lord as priests, brothers or sisters. In Alaska and the Arctic regions, your donation makes it possible for priests, deacons and catechists to reach remote communities that are cut off from the world. Please, make it possible for the Light of Jesus Christ to shine in Alaska, the Arctic and among African Americans in rural and urban North America. Give generously to this work of the Church. Thank you for participating in the Black and Indian Missions Collection.

Domestic Church: Invite the Lord into Our Dreams and Hopes

by Katie Sciba

My dear readers, I have to share with you news and plans I am just over the moon about. After spending way too long believing it could never happen, I am going to Iceland. It’s happening; granted, I won’t be there until a year or so from now, but my future excursion is so real that it might as well be next week. I’ve been saving every month, selling stuff on eBay and I have going with me a dear friend who’s an experienced world traveler. Our proverbial sails are set and soon I’ll live what, until recently, was just a sweet, unreachable fantasy.

I fell for Iceland watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It feels a little superficial that this Bucket List item came from a little-known movie, but inspiration can strike from any direction, right? The film features stunning shots of long, winding roads, waterfalls and seascapes along the Icelandic coast; this coupled with the thrill of adventure and the unknown drew me in and held on tight. I’ve always been drawn to travel and all things nautical, but either life or, quite honestly, a lack of planning prevented me from taking steps to make it happen. Plus I had Iceland totally written off as impossible because I have a family – a young one at that – and I assumed my husband wouldn’t like the idea of handling the kids solo while I skip across fields half a world away.

So my dream stayed just that – a dream; but I grew up learning that desires in our hearts, the deeply set ones that nearly cause pain because we want them so much, are planted by the Lord; after all who else can make the impossible possible? At the very least, Jesus Himself cares about the hopes that we have and the things that we’re drawn to experience. He’s not a distant Savior passively granting and refusing wishes; He’s here and ready to be involved in every detail of life. What does Jesus have to do with my plans to go to Iceland? Everything. In fact, I should have realized He was part of the whole scheme from the beginning.

He soon showed me that He alone could and would turn Iceland from a wouldn’t-it-be-nice idea to a concrete plan. In a moment of grace, I voiced my long shot wishes to my husband who responded not with the hesitation I anticipated, but with encouragement. Giddy with excitement, I shared my plans with my traveler-friend who volunteered to go with me. God also threw in plenty of time before my trip happens so I can adequately save.

And so, though I was eager to share news of my trip with you, the bigger news is this: Jesus cares. What is it that seems like just a nice idea to you, a far-fetched wish? What’s your Iceland – a thing that seems out of reach because it’s not practical or priority? Give it to Jesus. Let Him in on it. Even a simple, “Jesus I really wish I could…” or a “I want this, God.” Once we invite the Lord into our dreams and hopes, we’ll be able to see more clearly how He’ll make them happen, or if they’re not part of His plan. Confident in Jesus, the King of Impossible, we can move forward with faith and trust.

Faithful Food: A Love Note from the Almighty

by Kim Long

February guides us into the season of Ordinary Time. We find ourselves counting, marking time, and more or less going from one week to another, one lesson to the next, a time when Christ, the Lamb of God, walks among us and transforms our lives. Each calendar month and liturgical season has its challenges and opportunities. February is no exception.

In my elementary school days, February’s standard practice involved decorating a shoebox with hearts and cupids. Our mothers’ ironclad instructions that every classmate receive a card were obeyed, and the next day during the school party we reveled in the fact that we had mail… and lots of it! Amid pink iced cupcakes and candy hearts, we enjoyed the love of friends, the innocence of childhood, and the caring touch of parents providing treats. With petty playground disputes momentarily cast aside, we were transformed.

One way my family showed their love for us was through food and its glorious presentation. When they quietly created an involved dish and brought it forth to the table, they were showering us with love. My mother’s homemade beef stroganoff was a nice companion to my grandmother’s flaming desserts, but it was my Aunt Carolyn who took this to a different level. She had the patience to take things at a slower pace, and through the years brought to our table a series of real show-stoppers.

One of these show-stopping desserts was a plate of simple cream puffs piled high with drama and spun sugar, which tasted heavenly. Later I learned its formal name, Croquembouche.
As Valentine’s Day falls in the season of Ordinary Time and I reflected on the element of transformation, I was led to the scriptures, and surprisingly it was not the Song of Songs with its unapologetic and exuberant celebration of love I turned to, rather a passage from the Revelation of St. John: “For I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away.” (Revelation 21:1). A bit later the writer assures us “that God is making all things new.” This passage seemed a natural sequel to the madness of a January filled with its resolutions. Transformation is defined as a thorough or a dramatic change in form or experience. I crave that with a hunger that no candy, flowers or cards can satisfy. And in this passage, which is usually read at funerals, I find a love note from the Almighty. If we are open, they are abundant, they are everywhere; in a smile, a beautiful sunset, the food we serve, and even at a long-ago classroom party. I pray to be open in February and beyond.

Mrs. Redditt’s Cream Puff Recipe

Ingredients:
•  ¼ cup of butter (unsalted)
•  ½ cup boiling water
•  ½ cup flour (plain)
•  2 eggs, unbeaten

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) In pan over medium heat, add butter to water and heat until butter melts.

3) Add flour all at once and stir vigorously until ball forms in the center of the pan.

4) Remove from fire and let cool slightly.

5) Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition.

6) Drop by spoonfuls on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. When cool, fill with pudding or cream.

Pudding
I used Godiva instant pudding mix, dark chocolate and white chocolate in two batches. The box called for two cups of milk, but I used one cup of milk and one cup of heavy whipping cream. Chill until ready to fill puffs. When ready, spoon pudding into a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip.

Syrup
Ingredients:
•  2 cups sugar
•  ⅔ cup water
•  2 tablespoons corn syrup

Directions:
1) Add all ingredients to a heavy pot. Bring to a boil and do not stir.

2) Cover pan with lid for 2-3 minutes, the steam will dissolve any sugar crystals.

3) Uncover and boil for about five minutes, or until syrup turns amber.
Remove from heat.

Croquembouche
Directions:
1) You will need to work quickly. Dip the bottom of each puff into the syrup and place on a cake stand. You are making a tower of puffs so I used a smaller diameter plate so my puffs would stack taller. Continue dipping and stacking until all puffs are used.

2) Take a fork or a metal whisk with the end snipped off and the whisk opened up to resemble a cage. Dip fork or whisk into syrup and twirl it over the tower of puffs to form a sugar web around it. This has to be done quickly, as the syrup cools it hardens.

Mike’s Meditations: Are You Being Held Captive?

by Mike Van Vranken

Last month, we considered how Jesus explained the purpose of his ministry in Luke’s gospel. He said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

We pondered his first reason for being anointed – that he came to bring glad tidings to the poor. Consequently, we contemplated how we might be poor in our desires to help the needy, forgive those who have hurt us, poor in our compassion to help the elderly, and how Jesus liberates us from all of this poverty with God’s loving grace. Hopefully, your daily prayers with this scripture helped transform your beginnings of 2019. This month, let’s consider the next reason for his ministry.

Proclaim Liberty to the Captives. Who are the captives here Jesus is talking about? Is he talking about you? As always, these are not questions to only casually consider. These are words of Jesus we want to take to God, and ask Him for His perspective about them. Sit quietly in total knowledge that God is with you. Slowly read again the passage quoted above: Luke 4:18-19. Now, say out loud: “Jesus came ‘to proclaim liberty to the captives.’” Say it again. Pay attention to your feelings inside you as you say it. Does it make you curious, anxious, joyful or sad? Whatever your feelings, take them to God and ask for His perspective on them and if they are coming from Him. And if so, ask Him to explain them. Listen quietly for His response, whether it comes as a thought, or an image or a memory of something. And remember, His response may be more quietness.

As you dialogue with God, ask Him to reveal to you where you are being held captive. And, be open to hear His response, even if it shocks you. Sometimes, we can be held captive to our long-time prejudiced thoughts about other people. Am I captive to a thought that people on government assistance are lazy or freeloaders? Am I captive to an idea that people with same sex attractions are all sinners? Am I confined to a prejudice against Muslims or Jews? Am I held back because of fear that someone in need might be faking it or taking advantage of others? Am I trapped in a cage believing that anyone in the other political party is always wrong and sometimes evil? Am I locked up in some form of dualistic thinking that causes me to feel superior or elite because of my beliefs? Am I confined to the thought that it is wonderful for Christians to travel to Central America on a missionary trip to bless those poor souls living there in crime-ridden fear and poverty, and at the same time, am I firmly convinced we should build a wall to make sure those same poor, scared people cannot come into my country? Is my thinking so restricted that I believe the sins of others are much more serious than the sins I commit? Do I think my own way of praying is better than the way others pray? Am I somehow held captive to all of these narrow and inhibiting ways of seeing the world and those around me?

Well, rejoice! Jesus came to proclaim liberty to us captives. And yes, we are all held captive to these kinds of beliefs at one time or another. But, God became human in Jesus of Nazareth and because of this incarnation, he showed us how to live in His created world. He demonstrated to us how “to love one another as” he has loved us (John 13:34, John 15:12). We cannot do it on our own. But, with his love and grace, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Graciously allow God to show you all the ways you are held captive, and then faithfully ask Him for the grace to give you liberty from your captivities. Then, sit back and receive all of His gifts and graces. Be patient as they continue to unfold long after your prayer time is over. His graces will never run out; they are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). And one by one, you will be freed from all of your captive thoughts, words and actions. And, as we are transformed into this new liberty of freedom, we are now able to pray for and be incarnation to and for all the others who are held captive as well.

Moving Forward in Sede Vacante

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by Jessica Rinaudo

Bishop Duca’s appointment to Baton Rouge earlier this year made our diocese, Sede Vacante or a “vacant see:” a diocese without a bishop, overseen by a diocesan administrator, who is elected by the College of Consultors. Many people wonder how the diocese is managing without a bishop in place. The answer? Well and busy!

Fr. Peter Mangum, in his capacity as diocesan administrator oversees the day-to-day management of the diocese.

“One of our first discussions after Fr. Peter’s election dealt with responsibilities in regards to the policies, procedures and protocols established over the years by previous bishops through decrees, decisions and documents,” said Chancellor Randy Tiller. “Fr. Peter and I both agreed that a large portion of our new positions was based on our ability to see that things went forward according to the policies in place.”

“Now after only a few short months, the diocese is moving along and the chancery is working side by side with Fr. Peter,” added Tiller.

Part of ensuring diocesan policies are working and moving along as they should is completion of the forms for the Official Catholic Directory (OCD). Through the efforts of all diocesan churches, priests, deacons, schools, hospitals, etc., and managed by the Chancellor’s office, these statistics on each entity are sent in to OCD annually. This is an essential part of maintaining the tax-exempt status of diocesan Catholic organizations with the Internal Revenue Service. Additionally, spiritual reports must be filed with the Vatican each year to keep them abreast of the status of the Diocese of Shreveport. This crucial reporting continues to be completed with the Chancery staff and parishes working together.

November was also an important month for the Diocese of Shreveport, as it hosted the Conference for Chancery and Tribunal Officials (CCTO) for the Provinces of Mobile and New Orleans, which includes the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The Diocese of Shreveport also extended an invitation to the Diocese of Tyler, TX. This conference brought together tribunal officials such as the judicial vicars, canon lawyers, moderators of the tribunals and the chancery officials, including chancellors and chancery staff, in an effort to update everyone on Church issues pertinent to their ministry. This year’s conference was entitled “Legalism, Laxism and Antinomianism in the Church Today.” Most Rev. Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, IL, and Dr. Diane L. Barr, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, were the keynote speakers for the event.

In conjunction with the conference, Bishop Paprocki celebrated Mass in the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans for participants of the event, as well as the people of the Diocese of Shreveport.

Members of the Catholic Center staff contributed their time and energies to ensure the event, hosted in Shreveport once every 11 years, was a success.

“Everything was first class! Father Gomez and I truly enjoyed the presentations and the comraderies,” said Peyton Low, Chancellor, Diocese of Tyler.

The Diocese of Biloxi echoed that sentiment, “Thank you for hosting this year’s Tribunal Conference! It was a wonderful and informative experience. Your extra effort in kindness and hospitality was greatly appreciated.”

Sede Vacante translates to vacant see, but it is so much more than not having a bishop in place. It is a time for prayer and contemplation as we all consider what we each want a new bishop to bring to the table,” said Tiller.

“I often hear Fr. Peter say, ‘I want to be able to hand off a diocese that is positioned to move ahead and one that does not prejudice a new bishop,’” he added.

As of now, the diocese has no news on when a new bishop will be appointed. The chancery staff continues to work with the churches and schools to serve the mission of the Catholic Church as they pray for and await the appointment of a new bishop for the Diocese of Shreveport.

“Prepare him, we humbly pray, to fill our minds and hearts with the truth of the Gospel, the power of the sacraments, and the desire to actively work to build up Your holy Church.”   

An excerpt from a “Prayer for a New Bishop for the Diocese of Shreveport.

Praise Academy: Building Faith, Education and Community in Lakeside

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by Jessica Rinaudo

Every city has them – areas rampant with crime, populated by the poor, the hungry, those surviving day to day. Shreveport, Louisiana is no exception. I found myself driving into one such area of town late in September, looking past the crumbling houses and overgrown grass on Yale Street. I had been told to keep my doors locked and come straight to the address I had been provided.

When I finally located the street, I made the turn and my eyes grew in wonder at what I beheld there: a row of structurally sound, neatly landscaped, beautiful homes lining the road. And out in the front of one of the houses was a sign that proudly declared that this was the home of Praise Academy.

But the outside was just the beginning. Inside held a much more beautiful treasure: 25 neighborhood children sat with their teachers learning everything from fine motor skills and their letters, to sentence structure and history lessons. This gift, this beautiful sight, was brought to fruition by the People of Praise, and, as they will tell you, was directed by God.

David Zimmel, a missionary for the People of Praise who moved to Shreveport from Oregon, walked out of one of the homes – his home it turned out – and greeted me with a smile. Together with People of Praise member, Julie Bruber, they offered to give me a walking tour while they told me about what they have accomplished, against all odds, in the heart of a depressed community in Shreveport since 2005.

“We heard the Lord calling us to go somewhere and do something, that’s about as specific as it was,” said David of his beginning days as a missionary. “So three of us went out and looked all across the country, specifically the South… And we got lost when we toured Shreveport. We got lost in this neighborhood and just fell in love with it… We felt the Lord was saying ‘This is it.’ Within a month we bought a piece of land. We built one house, and then we started a summer camp. And every year the houses and the summer camp have grown,” said David.

Today their summer camp is a four to six week long program for nearly 150 neighborhood children.

David also gave me a walking tour of the neighborhood. He showed me where the teachers live, because their mission is not just to come, teach and leave, but to truly be a part of the community.

He walked us past the homes of residents, telling me their names and life stories, pointing out projects they had worked together on.

“How did you do it?” I asked. “How did you get to know everyone?”

David laughed, “Going door to door.”

“We wanted to do fix it projects, so we went to every house and said, ‘We will fix your house for free. If you can pay for the materials, we will provide the labor and expertise. And, in fact, if you need help with the materials, we’ll help with the materials, too.’ And nobody called us back,” said David. “And then one lady, Miss Octavia, called us and said, ‘Hey, are you serious about fixing this stuff?’”

She asked if they would come fix her bathroom vanity. The missionaries went in and repaired it for her. David laughed and said, “And the next day we had 35 phone calls. The neighbors were just waiting to see if we were actually going to do it.”

As we continued our walk, we stopped by an unassuming home on a hill. David told me they had purchased the home from a man eager to be rid of it. With home ownership being a near impossibility for most in the area, David intends to make it a rental space for families with children at the school. But, when he walked through the space, he said he would not feel comfortable living there, so he undertook the home improvement project.

When he swung open the front door of this house for me, there stood Paul, bent over a line of fresh cabinet doors, sanding their surfaces, preparing to stain and hang them. Paul stood up, lifted his protective eyewear, and greeted me with a warm smile. It turns out he was a recently graduated engineering major from Notre Dame, and spends much of his time traveling to work on home projects for the People of Praise.

After we left the house, we continued walking back. I listened to more stories of neighbors, including one of a man who they met when the missionaries first moved to Shreveport.

“One of our earliest conversations, we talked to this older man who was 84,” said David. “ We asked him, ‘So what do you think God wants us to do in this neighborhood?’ And he looked at us and said, ‘Well are you serious? … We need a whole new city, new roads, new schools, new everything.’ And that for me was God speaking. You don’t just help and leave.”

When we returned back to the school, the students were lining up for recess. Together they walked with their teachers, singing songs of glory and praise to God, loud and proud.

On the playground, I settled in next to Joan Pingel, the school’s principal and a parishioner at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. She told me about her faith journey from being raised by parents in the People of Praise, to rebelling against her Catholic faith in her teens, until she eventually “returned home” again when she was in her early 20’s. She reconnected with the People of Praise and felt called to leave Indiana in 2003 and teach in Shreveport, despite not knowing anything about the area.

She was part of the early conversations with neighbors in the area. A recurring topic for people of the community was the need for a neighborhood school. After four years of prayer, research and discussion, they brought the idea of a school to their missionary team. Through prayer and consultation, they agreed to move forward with Praise Academy.

“The first year, maybe a couple of days before school, we had one student who applied. By the end of the first day we had five, and by the end of the second day we had eight… Every year we have grown a little bit bigger,” said Joan.

As she spoke about the school and the students there, sharing their stories, tears formed in her eyes.

“Our first year, one of our students had a temper… I went to talk to the mom to figure out what’s going on. She said, ‘I don’t know how to be a parent. Can you help me?’ She had her when she was 15. So, we’re trying,” said Joan.

During the course of our conversation, I witnessed how the teachers manage conflict and discipline. They work to teach the children to self evaluate without raising their voices. “We give them parameters, but also teach them how to think through how they want to make choices in their life and get their needs met without yelling and violence,” said Joan.

“We want them to know Jesus,” she added. “That’s a big part of what parents said they wanted other than a safe environment and a neighborhood school their kids could walk to… And so we talk to them about Jesus. We have a Bible class. Jacquie Vaughan, who used to work at St. Joseph Catholic School and has retired, she is coming in once a week and working with our kids. We do morning prayer, we teach reconciliation and forgiveness… so that it’s not holding grudges and retaliating, which is in the culture these days,” said Joan.

Joan’s experience with the school has been life changing, both for her and her students.

“Our first year we had a student who was seven-years-old and did not know the alphabet, had never heard the song. He didn’t know what to do with letters, but his goal was that he wanted to write his name, oh he wanted to write his name. I didn’t know what to do with him because I had never started with someone that old before who didn’t know letters or sounds,” said Joan.

“I called people I knew who had worked with kids his age and we figured out a new way to do it. I had a volunteer who worked just with him. Now, this is his fourth year here, he can write his name… and he is reading! We had to figure out what his strengths were and work with what we have. … And I know that this is what the Lord is calling us to do – to hang in there and be with the ones who are usually pushed aside because they can’t keep up. … The Lord keeps giving us words of, ‘I was rejected, too. I was yelled at, but love them anyway because I’m there with you,’” she said.

As we walked into the school and through the classrooms, I was greeted by children’s hugs, smiles and “What’s your name? Is that your camera?” It is clear these children know love and kindness and share both openly with all in those school walls.

“This isn’t just school and that’s the end of our lives,” said Joan. “This is a community we’re building.”

The Praise Academy continues to grow each year. It’s funded through donations and volunteers. When I asked Julie what the school needed most to ensure a bright future, she instantly and emphatically replied, “Volunteers!”

For a full list of ways to help or be involved with the school, visit https://www.praiselakeside.org/ways-to-help/. •

Who are the People of Praise?

“A majority of People of Praise members are Catholic, and yet the People of Praise is not a Catholic group. We aim to be a witness to the unity Jesus desires for all his followers. Our membership includes not only Catholics but Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals and nondenominational Christians. What we share is a common baptism, a commitment to love one another and our teachings, which we hold in common.”

From their website, www.peopleofpraise.org

SJS Dedicates Memorial to Msgr. Clayton

As pastor of St. Joseph Parish and School from 1969-93, Msgr. Murray Clayton was many things to many people: shepherd, storyteller, father, musician, counselor, activist and friend. Three years after his passing, he has been honored for his role as a dear friend to the Hispanic community both here and in Mexico, and as a shepherd of this parish.

In the 1970’s, Msgr. Clayton instituted a “Gourmet Club,” which is still going strong today. Recently, when the St. Joseph Supper Club (formerly the Gourmet Club) sought to honor his memory, they chose to purchase a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. On December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Joseph Parish and School gathered to dedicate the statue, beginning with a Mass in Spanish, concelebrated by Fr. Matthew Long and Parochial Vicar, Fr. Fidel MondragÓn. The SJS fourth grade Spanish class sang, “La Guadalupana” after Communion. After Mass, those gathered moved outside to the door of the Adoration Chapel, where the statue now stands.

The plaque on the statue reminds viewers of Our Lady’s patronage, as well as the years of service offered by a beloved pastor. It reads, “Our Lady of Guadalupe Patroness of the Americas I am your merciful Mother in memory of Rev. Msgr. C. Murray Clayton Pastor 1969 – 1993.