Preparing for June Ordinations: Q&A with the Candidates

KEVIN MUES What are you most looking forward to about being ordained to the Transitional Diaconate? The transitional diaconate is a period of about a year. A man is ordained to the More »


Grant Brings Money School to Rural Community

by Lucy Medvec Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) recently took its financial education class, The Money School, on the road to Ringgold and it was all made possible by a grant More »


St. John Berchmans School Reigns as 10 Time Science Olympiad State Champions!

by Mary Simpson The St. John Berchmans Science Olympiad team won the State Science Olympiad competition held in Hammond, LA in March of this year – in fact, they have won it More »


St. Joseph Seminary Youth Events

by Kelby Tingle, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian Throughout the course of the academic year, there are many exciting events that take place within the seminary community at St. Joseph Seminary College. The More »


Navigating the Faith: Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church New Feast Day

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decree signed by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect, on March 3, 2018, announcing that More »


Domestic Church: Finding the Divine Plan in Grief

by Katie Sciba I lost my dad in the fall of 2013. After dodging more adventurous deaths in his youth, he met his match in cancer. He fought for two-and-a-half years before More »


Faithful Food: Summer Recipes for Life

by Kim Long Birthdays when I was a child were a Real. Big. Deal. What exactly do I mean when I say that? My birthday, which falls in the later part of More »


Catholic Charities: North Louisiana’s Good Samaritan

by Lucy Medvec Who will you help today? In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are called by Jesus to go forth and treat our neighbors with mercy, even those we More »


Bishop’s Reflection: Live in a Way That Embraces Eternal Life

by Bishop Michael G. Duca For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the More »

Grant Brings Money School to Rural Community


by Lucy Medvec

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) recently took its financial education class, The Money School, on the road to Ringgold and it was all made possible by a grant from Jonesboro State Bank. The Pledge 10 Grant Program is Jonesboro State Bank’s pledge to invest 10% of their profits in Jackson Parish and the surrounding areas (Bienville, Winn and southern Lincoln parishes) in order to create a better community.

Through the Pledge 10 Grant, CCNLA employees Joe Bulger and Carl Piehl recently held The Money School for citizens in Ringgold (Bienville Parish) in order to teach them financial literacy and provide assistance with their rent and utility bills. CCNLA was first approached by David Saucier, retired educator and a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Ringgold. After observing a Money School class in Shreveport, Saucier wanted to bring its message to the people of Ringgold because he felt that it could improve their lives. CCNLA worked with Saucier and a dedicated group of volunteers to present two weeks of Money School classes and then meet with clients to assess their financial situations. Volunteers worked alongside CCNLA case managers to interview clients, provide financial coaching and then help determine which clients would receive financial assistance.

Pledge 10 Director Christie Weeks was able to observe one of The Money School sessions in Ringgold and was extremely pleased with the results.

“Bringing The Money School to a rural community like Ringgold is important because many people have limited access to transportation and cannot travel to one of the Catholic Charities offices,” said Weeks. “The clients seemed to really enjoy the class and it was a great atmosphere.” Weeks was also pleased to see local students who were studying for their General Educational Development (GED) sit in on The Money School. “We can all learn something from The Money School and it is never too early to start.”

Volunteers David Feming, Martha Grigg, Steve Young and Alonzo Alford.

Funds from Catholic Charities’ Pledge 10 Grant were used to provide emergency financial assistance towards the clients’ rent and utility bills, with a small percentage used for travel expenses and outreach supplies. With the success of the Ringgold Money School, Catholic Charities will continue to reach out to other rural communities throughout the diocese to bring The Money School to their residents. As long as there are people in need, CCNLA’s Director of Financial Stability, Carl Piehl, is up for the trip.

“There are many people in our area who need help and need someone to listen,” said Piehl. “Through the lessons we provide through The Money School, we can continue to reach those who are willing to change their financial situations and improve their lives.”

To attend a Money School class (as a participant or observer), please visit www.ccnla.org/money-school for days and times. For more information about Jonesboro State Bank’s pledge to the community, visit www.jonesborostatebank.com/pledge10

Summer Camps for Teens

Click to download the flyer!

St. John Berchmans School Reigns as 10 Time Science Olympiad State Champions!


by Mary Simpson

The St. John Berchmans Science Olympiad team won the State Science Olympiad competition held in Hammond, LA in March of this year – in fact, they have won it 10 times in a row! The team will represent the state of Louisiana when they head to Ft. Collins, CO, to compete in the National Science Olympiad Competition in May.

The National Science Olympiad was started 30 years ago as a grassroots gathering of science teachers. The short version of their mission is “… Improve the quality of K-12 science education, increase interest in science, create a technologically literate workforce and provide recognition for outstanding achievement by both students and teachers.” The achievement of that mission is through the tournaments, incorporating Science Olympiad into classroom curriculum and attending professional development workshops. Over 7,800 teams from across the country compete in invitational, regional, state and national tournaments. Each team consists of 15 members. Teams compete in 23 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) events.

St. John Berchmans School (SJB) began Science Olympiad 12 years ago with Jo Cazes, principal at the time. Along with the late Norma Waters and Amy Knight, they coached and developed student skills to compete in Science Olympiad. This commitment to STEM was pervasive throughout the whole school. SJB not only became a STEM school, but it is now a STREAM school (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math).

When Cazes came to SJB, it was a time of transition. She brought the Science Olympiad program to give the students a “win.” That win began the second year they competed and has not stopped since.

Amy Knight is one of the coaches who started as a parent, and then not only became involved with Science Olympiad, she became the middle school science teacher at SJB. For her, the best thing about Science Olympiad is, “Being able to expose our students, from our small school to a nationally recognized program.” She went on to say, “the material they learn is at the high school level.” Many of the students take the knowledge and skills they learn and receive college scholarships. Knight added, “I am proud of how much effort our students put in to win medals and State Championship titles. They earn that trophy every year. It isn’t just given to us.”

Students have to try out for the Science Olympiad team. They join Science Olympiad for many reasons. Reese Mekelburg, a sixth grader, who is new to Science Olympiad, wanted to join the team as soon as he was old enough. He loves science. He loves to tinker and figure things out. His mother, Rene, loves the experience of the kids creating friendships through the different age groups.

“Seeing the mentors guide and help these kids is a wonderful experience. They give up so much of their time to help these kids. As a parent, this is a great benefit not only educationally, but socially as he learns to work with others.”

SJB reaps the benefits of Science Olympiad through the implementation of STEM curriculum. Students who participate have much to offer in the classroom. Since middle school science is collaborative, other students get to share in the knowledge and skills of the Olympians. While the competition outside of school is done by the middle schoolers, the elementary students participate in a mini Science Olympiad in the spring. Third, fourth and fifth grade students create projects in various STEM areas and compete in an afternoon full of science. Students learn how to collaborate and solve a multitude of scientific challenges.

SJB proudly displays 10 banners as state Science Olympiad state champions in the school’s multi-room. Students who have graduated from SJB have continued studying science in many areas, including graduating college with engineering degrees, attending medical school and conducting research in other scientific fields. Students are prepared academically to work hard and implement the Scientific Method.

The SJB Science Olympiad team will be traveling to the national tournament on May 17, 2018. Please keep this team in your prayers for a safe journey. There is a current fundraising drive as parents pay the cost of travel for their children. If you would like to contribute to this program, please send donations to the school office at St. John Berchmans School, 947 Jordan Street, Shreveport.

Behind the Scenes of the 2018 Pro-Life Reception

by L’Anne Sciba

March 20, the day of the 2018 Pro-Life Reception benefiting Mary’s House, dawned as a perfect first day of Spring! Decorating the Bossier Civic Center was complete, only Vivian and I were still there when Trisha, Mary’s House Clinic Director, called me to say Abby Johnson was in the Emergency Room in Austin, Texas, and might not make it to Shreveport. I thought Trisha was joking. She was not joking.

I asked Vivian to sit down with me and we prayed remembering that this was an opportunity to trust God.
In the end, Abby was determined to make it to our reception. She was released from the ER and she and her traveling companion, rented a car, drove five-and-a-half hours, making it to the event only 10 minutes late for her presentation.

When I compare what I would have done, it looks like this: Worn out from the stress of passing out in the airport, being transported by ambulance to the ER, going through three hours of medical tests and waiting at the hospital. I would have gone home and said I’m sorry this happened, I can not make it to the event.
Abby did not do that. That action alone, made me think about how I handle difficulty.

What happened in Shreveport was this:
The Reception team made alternative plans in case Abby didn’t make it in time, keeping trust in God, His peace and patience in the forefront of their minds. That evening, some things did not go according to our plans, we made changes as it seemed best.

Abby Johnson showed up. She gave an amazing, inspiring presentation that each one of us can “do something” to end abortion in Shreveport.

What I learned AGAIN was never give up or give in. Always try to do God’s will and trust in Him.
Mary’s House continues to spread that confidence to every young woman who comes to us. Volunteers, donors, the prayer team, churches, doctors and hospital staff who work with us all have the goal of helping young women in unplanned pregnancies.

The 2018 Pro-Life Reception was another way God showed me that He is God and His grace is always with us.

I love this quote from Pierre de Caussade: “Sanctity (holiness) is fulfilling faithfully and accepting lovingly whatever this paternal providence ordains we should do or suffer.”

What an adventure!

St. Joseph Seminary Youth Events


by Kelby Tingle, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian

Throughout the course of the academic year, there are many exciting events that take place within the seminary community at St. Joseph Seminary College. The spring semester, in particular, is extremely busy with many events that we joyfully look forward to. In March, the seminary hosted Abbey Youth Festival and the Come & See Retreat which has become very special to me throughout my time in formation.

Abbey Youth Festival is planned and organized by the seminarians. The festival is blessed to welcome approximately 3,000 youth and young adults to the seminary campus. During the festival, there are many well-known speakers who tell their personal stories as well as offer ways for those in attendance to deepen their faith. Throughout the festival, there are also bands and musicians who play. The climax of the event is the beautiful Vigil Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. A candle-lit adoration and benediction, which many participants often refer to as the most powerful spiritual moment of the day, is the conclusion of the event. Ultimately, this festival is a special day in which we all gather in Christian stewardship to express our love and longing to live lives dedicated to our Savior.

One week later, the seminary hosted the Come & See Retreat which is a discernment retreat. Over 150 young men from various dioceses of the south, including 13 men from our diocese, came to the seminary in order to see the life of the seminarians. This weekend offers the opportunity for young men to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, attend Mass, interact with the seminarians and priests, listen to mock philosophy lectures, and bond with other men who are also striving to listen to God’s voice in their lives. It is awe inspiring to see the bright future and dedication that these young men have for the Church.

Attendees at the annual Come & See discernment retreat at St. Joseph Seminary College.

One of the best parts of these events was having the opportunity to see many youth groups and parishioners from my home, the Diocese of Shreveport. I always enjoy the opportunity to welcome those from my home diocese to my place of formation. I was thankful to be able to talk with and get to know all of them during these events.

The Abbey Youth Festival and the Come & See events are important to the seminary community as they assist in forming us pastorally. These events generate a great amount of excitement at the seminary as we anticipate them. They revitalize and inspire the community in the months that follow. At the same time, it is our belief that these events assist the youth and young adults of the Church in deepening their authentic relationship with Christ. I thank all of those from the Diocese of Shreveport who supported the seminary by attending the Abbey Youth Festival and Come & See Retreat. In addition, I invite all of the youth from our diocese to consider coming to these events in the coming years. Please continue to pray for all of those discerning God’s call in their lives, especially the seminarians of our diocese and the seminarians at St. Joseph Seminary!

Second Collections for May

by Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General

Collection Dates: May 5th & 6th

Thank you for your thoughtful and generous support of our Diocesan Retired Priests’ Fund. I am grateful to have this opportunity to express gratitude for your past and on-going support of our retired diocesan priests. With the passing of Fr. Walter Ebarb last All Saints Day, and the retiring of Frs. James McLelland, Phil Michiels and Pike Thomas last year, we now have eight faithful servants of God in their jubilee years. Frs. John Kennedy, Richard Lombard, Joseph Puthuppally, Patrick Scully and Kenneth Williams are lovingly housed and cared for because of your tender kindness. These men of God and sons of the Church have labored long and fruitfully for the Lord Jesus and his people. Fr. Patrick Madden plans to join that esteemed company of men this summer.

Our Diocesan Retired Priests’ Fund is supported solely by you, the faithful of our diocese. Your gift funds our retirement plan for the exclusive pension benefit of the priests of our diocese. Thank you for helping us take care of our own. Thank you for assuring their peace of mind, joy of heart and transition to a new phase of Christian witness. You are supporting them when they need it the most. Please be generous in giving to our Diocesan Retired Priests’ Fund. (from April 2017 Catholic Connection)

Thank for your contribution to last year’s Trinity Dome – National Shrine Collection. In May of 2017, the Bishops of the United States approved a special one-time second collection to take place in the parishes across the nation to support the mosaic ornamentation of the Trinity Dome, the crowning jewel of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Thank you for your donation which has brought that project to a joyful conclusion.

Collection Dates: May 12th & 13th

Our second collection for the Catholic Communication Campaign falls on Mother’s Day weekend this year. I find this so appropriate because our mothers were our first and enduring communicators. Our mothers communicated love, encouragement, challenge, correction, sympathy, support, faith and inspiration to us throughout our lives. Through the Catholic Communication Campaign collection, our Holy Mother – the Roman Catholic Church, communicates with her children at home and worldwide. Our Holy Bible, says, “But how can they call on him who they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!” Romans 10: 14 – 15. This campaign connects people with Jesus Christ and his Holy Catholic Church.

The Catholic Communication Campaign gives you and your parish family the opportunity to spread the Gospel message. Half the funds collected in this collection remain here in the Diocese of Shreveport so that we can reach souls through the internet and print media. Our Catholic Connection is a prime example of the fruit of this collection. Your support helps spread the gospel message. “Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17.

Be a part of this campaign to spread the gospel message. Please generously support the Catholic Communication Campaign.

Navigating the Faith: Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church New Feast Day


by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decree signed by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect, on March 3, 2018, announcing that Pope Francis has added the Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, to the universal calendar of the Church. The memorial will be celebrated on the Monday following Pentecost Sunday, which is May 21 this year.

The decree begins:

“The joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church, in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on his nature, cannot ignore the figure of a woman (cf. Gal 4:4), the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.”

The decree goes on to reference St. Augustine and St. Leo the Great who taught that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church. Mary stood at the foot of her Son’s cross as he founded the Church and entrusted its members to her tender care.

The Magisterium of Popes Benedict XIV and Leo XIII honor Mary with the title “Mother of the Church. At the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed Pope Paul VI declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church” on November 21, 1964. A votive Mass in honor of Beata Maria Ecclesiae Matre was added to the Roman Missal in 1975, the Holy Year of Reconciliation. Some countries, dioceses and religious orders already had a memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church on their particular calendars.

In adding this memorial to the Roman calendar, Pope Francis hopes this celebration will promote a growth of genuine Marian piety:

“This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed, the Virgin who makes her offering to God.

From the Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments:
“Decree on the Celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mother of the Church in the General Roman Calendar”

Pope Francis’ Easter Message

from Vatican Information Services

Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter!
Jesus is risen from the dead!

This message resounds in the Church the world over, along with the singing of the Alleluia: Jesus is Lord; the Father has raised him and he lives forever in our midst.

Jesus had foretold his death and resurrection using the image of the grain of wheat. He said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). And this is precisely what happened: Jesus, the grain of wheat sowed by God in the furrows of the earth, died, killed by the sin of the world. He remained two days in the tomb; but his death contained God’s love in all its power, released and made manifest on the third day, the day we celebrate today: the Easter of Christ the Lord.

We Christians believe and know that Christ’s resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not disappoint. It is the power of the grain of wheat, the power of that love which humbles itself and gives itself to the very end, and thus truly renews the world. This power continues to bear fruit today in the furrows of our history, marked by so many acts of injustice and violence. It bears fruits of hope and dignity where there are deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment, where there are migrants and refugees (so often rejected by today’s culture of waste), and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery.

Today we implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war. This Easter, may the light of the risen Christ illumine the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course, that humanitarian law may be respected and that provisions be made to facilitate access to the aid so urgently needed by our brothers and sisters, while also ensuring fitting conditions for the return of the displaced.

We beseech fruits of reconciliation for the Holy Land, also experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless, for Yemen and for the entire Middle East, so that dialogue and mutual respect may prevail over division and violence. May our brothers and sisters in Christ, who not infrequently put up with injustices and persecution, be radiant witnesses of the risen Lord and of the victory of good over evil.

We invoke on this day fruits of hope for those who yearn for a more dignified life, above all in those areas of the African continent deeply affected by hunger, endemic conflicts and terrorism. May the peace of the risen Lord heal wounds in South Sudan and open hearts to dialogue and mutual understanding. Let us not forget the victims of that conflict, especially the children! May there be no lack of solidarity with all those forced to abandon their native lands and lacking the bare essentials for living.

We implore fruits of dialogue for the Korean peninsula, that the discussions underway may advance harmony and peace within the region. May those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment to promote the good of the Korean people and to build relationships of trust within the international community.

We also beseech fruits of peace for Ukraine, that the steps taken to favor harmony may be consolidated, and facilitated by the humanitarian initiatives needed by its people.

We also invoke fruits of consolation for the Venezuelan people, who, as their bishops have written, are living in a kind of “foreign land” within their own country. May that nation, by the power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, find a just, peaceful and humane way to surmount quickly the political and humanitarian crises that grip it. May welcome and assistance not be wanting to its sons and daughters forced to abandon their homeland.

May the risen Christ bring fruits of new life to those children, who as a result of wars and hunger, grow up without hope, lacking education and health care; and to those elderly persons who are cast off by a selfish culture that ostracizes those who are not “productive”.

We also implore fruits of wisdom for those who have political responsibilities in our world, that they may always respect human dignity, devote themselves actively to the pursuit of the common good, and ensure the development and security of their own citizens.

Dear brothers and sisters,
The words heard by the women at the tomb are also addressed to us: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6). Death, solitude and fear are not the last word. There is a word that transcends them, a word that only God can speak: it is the word of the resurrection (cf. John Paul II, Conclusion of the Way of the Cross, 18 April 2003). By the power of God’s love, it “dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord and brings down the mighty” (Easter Proclamation).

Happy Easter to all!

Domestic Church: Finding the Divine Plan in Grief


by Katie Sciba

I lost my dad in the fall of 2013. After dodging more adventurous deaths in his youth, he met his match in cancer. He fought for two-and-a-half years before passing away the day our oldest started preschool. He was 60, much too young to die.

My dad’s illness, decline and passing of course took a toll on my mom. She wore herself to the bone wearing hats of caregiver, wife and mom to three adult children, not to mention her career in parish ministry. In the time after losing her husband, her voice seemed lifeless and her heart was heavy. My mom, who was typically quick-witted and up for anything, was bereaved and weary.

My world and faith came crashing down. I was furious with God for allowing my personal Superman to be defeated and for my mom to be left alone. I was 27 when my dad died, and I felt too young to lose a parent. I wanted him to be around to know my kids personally and be part of my adult life. I still ached for his approval and pride.

This wasn’t supposed to happen, according to me at least, and there was no sense to it that I could perceive. I couldn’t imagine how so much pain could be part of the divine plan, much less divine mercy.

Then my mom met someone – a good, true, holy man who in time vowed to love, honor and cherish her unto death. The spark returned to my mom’s voice; and, in the light of their new life together, any confusion that surrounded my dad’s death was lifted. I realized that just as it was the Lord’s will for my parents to marry, it was also His will for my step-dad’s life that he would marry my mom. It’s my step-dad who will be present in my adult life and who will be grandfather to my kids. The life my family gained through the addition of my dear stepfather brought meaning to the sorrow we experienced before; and not just that, but it opened my eyes to a much bigger picture.

In the middle of suffering any kind of loss, there’s little that makes sense. Grief brings on anger, confusion and sorrow strong enough to blind us to hope. It’s in new life, in change and in seeing a bigger plan, that our joy is made new.

Here we are, the beginning of May, and it is still the Easter season. Jesus’ intense suffering and crucifixion at the time seemed only unfair in the eyes of his followers, and rightly so. How could death be part of the divine plan? But it was from his death that Jesus rose, achieving a more glorious life for not only himself, but also making that same glory available to every soul.

Faithful Food: Summer Recipes for Life


by Kim Long

Birthdays when I was a child were a Real. Big. Deal.

What exactly do I mean when I say that? My birthday, which falls in the later part of June is hot – no way around that meteorologic certainty. Sweat, mosquitoes, school break, and my birthday all shared a particular season.

On most all other days, life was pretty ordinary, but on our birthdays all bets were off.

Our backyard was green, cool and lush. The thick carpet of St. Augustine grass cushioned our bare feet. In the evening it became our outdoor living room as my birthday celebration drew nigh. The picnic table, longish with a “redwood” stain, was covered with a paper tablecloth which caught wind better than any ready sail, and a huge cake – truly a baker’s creation topped always with a ballerina, though dance lessons had long since ceased. All my closest school mates gathered with me as candles and barbecue pit were simultaneously ignited. Everyone was on their best behavior and it showed. I went to bed thinking how wonderful the day had been, reveling in my gifts and the joy this day always delivered. I was home. I was safe. I belonged. I felt cherished. These are things, in my opinion, we should all be able to feel at least once a year.

Pentecost approaches and we prepare for this celebration of God’s outpouring by wearing red, eating special foods and giving serious consideration to a different kind of birthday gift: those gifts of the Spirit, freely given with the desire that we make use of them as often as we are able. And while we may or may not eat cake to commemorate this day, which has become known as the birthday of the Church, we certainly acknowledge that we still long for a place to fit, a place to belong. In short, this birthday, like all those which have gone before it, can be seen as a type of homecoming, a return to what holds us together as a family, a community of faith and a time to celebrate and revel in the uniqueness within each of us.

However just as when I was a child and the birthday revelry came to a close, so it is with our celebratory “season” of Easter and it’s grand finale, Pentecost.

As we drift back into Ordinary Time and tasks, how do we maintain some of that joy when ordinary things bombard us? How do we recall and remember the love of God we saw so clearly in the empty tomb on any given Thursday when there just isn’t enough of anything to go around? Well, I have been giving that some thought and here is what I came up with – not a recipe exactly, but some food for thought.

If you want to feel you belong in a family, do family things! Go visit your relatives rather than just send an odd text. Be interested, genuinely interested, in what is happening with your own relatives: praying for them, communicating with them, being there for them. Bake a batch of cookies for a relative who isn’t expecting it; make a calendar with birthdays; keep stamps on hand and send a card. No matter how tech savvy we are, most people love mail in their box.

If you want to feel Catholic, do Catholic things! Many of my teacher friends look forward to attending daily Mass during the summer break. Follow their lead! Pray a rosary as you walk in the good weather summer brings. Help an elderly neighbor by purchasing a fan; better still do it quietly and offer prayers for them. Consider helping in an outreach group in your parish. Pray a novena. Start a study group to learn more about the faith.

And above all, know that there will be challenges and ask God to help you meet them with grace and peace.
There will be loss – know that up front. Know that in the ensuing sorrow there will be, as the Psalmist says, “Joy in the morning.” Laugh, pray, love and forgive one another in imitation of God’s example! It is in these moments that we feel that wonderful sense of belonging, purpose and oneness.