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Administering in a Climate of Transition and Church Crisis

by Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum, Diocesan Administrator I was standing at the corner of Peacock Lane and Southgates in Leicester, UK, having just visited the recently excavated burial site of King More »

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O Antiphons

by Kim Long After 18 years of working for the Church, I have deemed Advent the season of quiet desperation. Our Church tells us to be reflective and prepare, while secular society More »

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Find Harmony This Holiday Season

by Kelly Phelan Powell Since I was a young girl, I’ve dreamt of the perfect family Christmas morning. My handsome husband and I would spring, totally refreshed, from bed when our beautiful More »

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Fitzgerald Named Outstanding Philanthropist

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana On November 7, 2018, the Association of Fundraising Professionals North Louisiana Chapter hosted their 27th Annual National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon at the Hilton More »

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Father Lombard Celebrates 65 Years of Priestly Ministry

by John Mark Willcox There are few Catholics who live in Shreveport or Bossier City that have not had their lives affected in a positive way by Fr. Richard Lombard, who celebrates More »

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The Immaculate Conception

by Fr. Matthew Long There are countless images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. No Catholic Church, hospital, school or home is complete without at least one. Her role in our redemption and More »

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Keep Christ at the Center of Your Celebrations

by Katie Sciba I sauntered through the Christmas section of a department store last year, beaming because my heart equates decorations and ornaments with bliss and glee. Ribbons, tiny pine trees and More »

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Shreveport Martyrs and the 1873 Yellow Fever Epidemic

by Fr. Peter Mangum, Ryan Smith and Dr. Cheryl White In the late summer of 1873, Shreveport was besieged by the third worst epidemic of Yellow Fever that is recorded in United More »

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St. Joseph Cemetery: Remembering & Revitalizing

by Kate Rhea In November of 1882, less than a decade after arriving in Shreveport, Fr. Joseph Gentille, the second pastor of Holy Trinity Church was contemplating a major decision. North Louisiana’s More »

2012 Annual Report

Click to download and view diocesan financials and Auditor Reports.

 

2013 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

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It seems that God sometimes provides the most surprising results to our efforts amid a time of challenge and need.  Such is the case with our 2012 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal Campaign which finished with a record amount pledged ($1,322,220) and a record 98% collected on that pledge total ($1,295,665). “The generosity of the people of our diocese is simply amazing,” comments Bishop Michael G. Duca. “For them to respond to our Appeal in such a positive way is truly life-giving for the work of Christ in our area.  I can’t begin to promote this year’s Appeal effort without first thanking our giving donors who made our 2012 Appeal so successful.”

As we continue our stewardship journey in this historic Year of Faith, Appeal donors are encouraged to embrace this New Year with a re-commitment to the various Appeal programs and ministries that define who we are as Catholic Christians.  Despite the success of our most recent Appeal campaign, the jaw-dropping numbers listed above represent gifts from only 28 percent of the known Catholic families within our diocese.  Help your diocese improve our level of donor participation by encouraging others in your circle of influence to join you as a financial supporter of our Annual Appeal. “Making a gift is the key,” reminds Bishop Duca. “If we can get more of the faithful involved in becoming Appeal givers, then I know the Lord will grace us with an even greater capacity to provide for others.”

Appeal Sunday will take place across the diocese on February 10th and efforts are under way to offer every Catholic family in the diocese the opportunity to give to this year’s Appeal campaign.  Many familiar Appeal causes such as subsidies for our Retired and Infirm Priests, Charitable Outreach to the needy among us through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Charities, Appeal underwriting of the Catholic Connection and tuition assistance for Catholic Schools will remain in place, but some programs, such as our Seminarian Education/Vocations and Hispanic Ministry will require additional Appeal support due to dramatic increases relative to growth.

With five current seminarians in formation at two different institutions, the diocese is finally approaching another priestly ordination in May of 2014. “Things are progressing nicely thanks to God,” comments Director of Vocations Rev. Matthew Long.  “We hope to add to these numbers in the coming year and it gives me real comfort to know that our Appeal will be there for these men as it was for me during my time in seminary training.  Appeal generosity truly does make a big difference when it comes to recruiting and educating the future priests of our diocese.”  Ordination to the priesthood won’t be the only highlight of 2014, as 16 men in our current diaconate program will also seek ordination, in part because of Appeal support for our ongoing diaconate training program.

Hispanic Ministry within our diocese celebrated 25 years of active service to our region in 2012, and a new emphasis on Hispanic Youth has become a special concentration in this “Year of Faith,” as a full-time Hispanic Youth Coordinator has been added with help of Catholic Extension Society.  Director of Catholic Hispanic Ministry Rosalba Quiroz remains grateful for Appeal support.  “Appeal donations help us answer the growing needs of our Hispanic community and we are excited about our efforts to reach out to all ages among our Spanish speaking Catholics in North Louisiana. I am also pleased to see more members of our Hispanic Community becoming donors to our Annual Appeal.”

Because of your Appeal donation, Catholic college students in six universities throughout our diocese will benefit from campus ministry and outreach during a critical point in their maturation as adults.  Those who serve as youth leaders are provided Appeal supported training and education through our Youth Office which also offers opportunities for our Young Catholic Adults to gather for beneficial fellowship through programs such as “Theology on Tap.”

The newly formed Office of Catechesis will draw on Appeal funding in the coming year as our diocese seeks to provide faith formation to children, families, parents and adults. Beginning a fourth decade of existence, Greco Institute, now under the Office of Catechesis, will use Appeal funding to continue providing quality adult formation throughout the diocese. This spring, Appeal funding will allow Greco Institute courses to be taught free of charge in Bossier City, Monroe, West Monroe, Homer and Shreveport.

In this Year of Faith, our Appeal-subsidized Office of Worship is providing the leadership necessary for the people of our diocese to join Catholics around the globe in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. This includes 2013’s Annual Liturgical Conference on March 16, 2013, which will focus on the progression of the liturgy in the wake of Vatican II.

Bishop Duca’s bi-annual Pro-Life Banquet was successfully celebrated on January 31st, due in part to Appeal support of Pro-Life Ministries dedicated to serving the least among us.  Add ongoing Appeal supported Continuing Clergy Education and a highly successful Safe Environment Program that has depended on Appeal funding since 2002, and you have another year of combined diocesan-wide dependence on the generosity of our area Catholics.

Becoming an Appeal donor is easy.  Simply use the 2013 Appeal pledge card found on page 22 of this issue, or take advantage the opportunity to make your Appeal pledge at your place of worship. The 10-month pledge plan makes supporting your Appeal simple and information provided on your 2013 Appeal pledge card will ensure your monthly pledge statements will arrive to your preferred address.  You can also give online by clicking here.

Eucharist: The Real Presence

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by Rev. Matthew T. Long

Following the resurrection of the Lord, Christ appeared to and taught the apostles numerous times over a 40-day period. When it was time for him to return to the right hand of the Father, he commissioned the apostles to go out into the world and teach all he had taught them and he ended his teachings with these words “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).  This promise made by Christ was a promise not only to those gathered around him, but to all the faithful who would heed his teachings. As a result of this promise most people are aware of the many ways the Lord is present to us. We recognize his presence in the alien, the marginalized and the forgotten. We recognize his presence where two or more are gathered in his name. We recognize his presence in creation. We recognize his presence in the priest, in the Word proclaimed and in the assembly gathered at Mass. He is present to us in the love of a husband and wife, a parent and child and within the Christian Community. Christ is present to us in many other ways as well. The most important way he is present to us, however, is in the Eucharistic species, the bread and wine transformed into something extraordinary by the Word spoken and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Christ’s presence under this mode is unique. It is unique because, “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” St. Thomas Aquinas, STH III, 73, 3c. 

We usually refer to this presence as “Real.” This is not to in any way diminish the other ways Christ is made present to us. What this signifies is that under the Eucharistic species Christ is present in the fullest sense as both, God and man, he makes himself wholly and entirely present.  CCC 1374.

St. John Chrysostom gives an excellent explanation of how bread and wine are converted into the Body and Blood of the Lord.
“It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God’s. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the thing offered.”

As is evident it is through the Word that ordinary bread and wine become something extraordinary. This same Word spoke the universe into being from nothing.  This same Word calmed the storm. This same Word redeemed and saved us by his saving work on Calvary. It is through the Word that Christ becomes really present to us under the Eucharistic species.
The Church has used the word ‘transubstantiation’ to define this changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lord. The Council of Trent summarized it best when it stated, “that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood.”  CCC 1736.

This means that although every one of our senses tells us it is bread and wine, it is truly the Body and Blood of the Lord. St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us it “cannot be apprehended by the senses but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.”   This divine authority comes from Christ’s own words spoken at the Last Supper and preserved by the Sacred Tradition in Sacred Scripture, “This is my body.” St. Cyril admonishes us, “Do not doubt whether it is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is truth, he cannot lie.”

Christ becomes present in the Eucharist at the moment of the consecration when the priest speaks the words that Christ spoke 2,000 years ago. This presence continues and is whole and entire under both species and in each part, in such a way that by breaking the bread or pouring the wine cannot divide Christ. CCC 1377.

We acknowledge the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist every time we enter a Church where the Eucharistic species is reserved in the tabernacle. We do this by genuflecting before we enter our pew or each time we pass before the tabernacle.  We also do it when we approach the altar of God to receive communion by making a simple bow.  We do this as well when we kneel during the consecration, after the Agnes Dei, and after receiving communion.  These are acts we often do not think about, but by doing them we acknowledge the real presence of God.

We are blessed in an amazing way as Catholics that the Lord we follow and serve makes himself truly and really present to us as we make this pilgrim journey upon earth. All of us can acknowledge our belief in the real presence and increase our faith in it by simply giving our time to the Lord. He is reserved in every one of our Churches signaled by the vigil lights burning throughout our diocese. The God of all creation is waiting patiently for us to come and spend a few moments with him. I urge all of you to make your way to church and spend a few minutes or hours praying before the tabernacle, acknowledging Christ’s real presence and at the same time bolstering your own faith as you draw ever nearer to the one who saves.

Documents of Vatican II: Christus Dominus

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Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church

by Dianne Rachal

“Bishops, in the exercise of their teaching office, are to proclaim to humanity the gospel of Christ. This is one of their principal duties.”  CD 12

The preparatory commission on bishops prepared a draft entitled “Bishops and the Government of Dioceses” that was presented to the bishops of Vatican II for debate in November 1963. The bishops expressed their strong support for the principle of collegiality (the idea that the pope shares authority with his brother bishops). The draft document was completely rewritten with the new text adopting the principle of collegiality as its guiding theme. Christus Dominus was approved October 28, 1965, at the Council’s fourth session.

This is the outline for Christus Dominus:
Introduction
Chapter One: The Bishops in Relation to the Universal Church
Chapter Two:  Bishops in Relation to Their Own Churches or Dioceses
Chapter Three:  Concerning the Cooperation of Bishops for the Common Good of a Number of Churches
Christus Dominus closely follows Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church, concerning the traditional theology of the episcopate and apostolic succession: the pope and the other bishops take the place of the apostles, who were sent out by Christ the Lord.  Christus Dominus also notes the two “new” teachings of Lumen Gentium: the collegiality of bishops and the sacramentality of episcopal consecration.

Chapter One treats the universal and missionary responsibilities of the bishop.  A synod of bishops, selected from around the world, is one concrete way in which bishops can act together in caring for the universal Church. A reorganization of the Roman Curia was called for, with representation of the worldwide Church and consultation with lay people.

Chapter Two defines the diocese, or “particular church,” as the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church where Christ is truly present and active.” This model of church as the diocese led by the bishop is drawn from early Christianity. The bishop, following the model of Christ as prophet, priest and king, proclaims the Word, sanctifies the people and shepherds his flock.

Chapter Three considers an intermediate level between the local diocese and the universal Church. After briefly mentioning regional synods and councils, episcopal conferences are proposed as a way for bishops of a nation or region to collaborate.  Episcopal conferences are affirmed and general guidelines for their establishment are offered.

Since Vatican II, national conferences of bishops have become an important way for bishops to exercise their teaching ministry. The USCCB has issued successful documents on peace and on the economy.  Since 1998 episcopal conferences can issue doctrinal statements only if a document is 1) approved unanimously by the bishops of the conference or 2) approved by a two-thirds majority and subsequently approved by Rome.

“Bishops, sharing in the solicitude for all the churches, exercise this episcopal office of theirs, which they have received through episcopal consecration, in communion with and under the authority of the supreme pontiff.”  CD 3

Photo: U.S. bishops as they gather for their annual fall meeting in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Year of Faith Saint: St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was a passionate young woman with a heart for missionary work. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d’en Haut, then, drawn to the contemplative life, she became a novice there when she was 18 years old. She joined the Visitation nuns at the age of 19, but a few years later, convents were shut down during the French Revolution and Rose was forced to return to life as a lay woman for many years. Ten years later she was finally able to rejoin a convent, this time as a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart.

In 1818, she was sent to the Louisiana Territory as a missionary, facing illness, hardship and hunger to bring Catholicism to the Native Americans. She opened the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi River, as well as the first Catholic school for Native Americans. She was known among the Pottowami Indians as the “Woman Who Prays Always.”

from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops & vatican.va

Inviting God into Your Relationship

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How would you describe the romance in your life? Exciting? New? How about holy? When it comes to relationships, keeping the faith isn’t often connected with lighting the spark, but I submit that the two go hand-in-hand. Since love is in the air this month of St. Valentine’s Day, there’s no better way to keep the fire burning than inviting God into your romance.

Holy romance involves pursuing and accepting the grace of God in your relationship and maintaining respect of the mutual dignity found in yourself and your beloved. But how do you do it? In a culture that focuses on the idea of just two people in a relationship, it’s hardly mainstream to acknowledge that God is the essential third party. Maintaining a relationship is fun and exciting, but there are challenges, short-comings, and the occasional frustration to make you recognize your imperfections; relying on God’s grace to keep things going is much better than taking it all on yourselves. After all, “a three-ply cord is not easily broken,” (Eccl. 4:12) and a love that carries the presence of God within it, working to do what God desires, will stand against time and tempest.

Consider increasing how frequently you pray together – say a Chaplet of Divine Mercy or Rosary on a walk after dinner, meet for adoration before a date, go to confession and Mass together. Prayer allows you to experience the love of God and in doing so, you’ll better enable yourself to love others. It’s also crucial to talk about your relationship every now and then to make sure you’re on the same page, encourage the things you love, and change the things you don’t. Above all, try to imitate God in how you love each other and a perfect way to do that is to follow 1 Corinthians 13, St. Paul’s renowned writing of love as being patient, kind and beyond. Like anything new, inviting God into your relationship if you haven’t before may feel unnatural or forced; but with determination and patience, you’ll see a new radiance in your connection with your sweetheart.

In my own experience, the quality of my relationship within my marriage tends to mirror the quality of my relationship with God. For example, if I’m not praying regularly as an individual, I find that I feel distant from my husband and I don’t communicate as well. I’m more self-centered instead of self-giving. If I’m attentive to God’s presence, on the other hand, and joyfully accepting of His will, I’m much more open, loving and cheerful in our married vocation. I’m more willing to give of myself and maintain a spirit of generosity in the things I do for my husband. We’re closer and better friends when we’re prayerful together and individually.

Any romantic relationship requires work and commitment and while your connection may be spot on, there are usually occasions of feeling “off” with your beloved. Inviting God into your romance breaks down any barriers, allowing you to be open and honest with yourselves. You’re more free to feel at ease and comfortable both with each other and with God and free to see each other in a holy, truly romantic light.

Katie Sciba is the author of thecatholicwife.net. She lives in Shreveport with her husband, Andrew, and two sons, Liam and Thomas.

Photo:  (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Second Collections: Operation Rice Bowl & CRS

Photo by Kim Pozniak/CRS

Announcement Dates February 3rd & 10th
Beginning and Ending Dates: Ash Wednesday, February 13th – Easter Sunday, March 31st
Collection Date: Easter Sunday

The theme of this year’s Rice Bowl campaign is, “FOR LENT, FOR LIFE: What you give up for Lent changes lives.”  Christmas has quietly drawn to a close and our transition into these short four-and-a-half weeks of Ordinary Time are coming to a swift conclusion. The solemn, reflective and disciplined Season of Lent is close at hand. It somehow seems right, at least spiritually, that we celebrate Valentine’s Day the day after Ash Wednesday this year. After all, we are celebrating the sacrificial and life-giving love of Jesus Christ, our one true, eternal love in the season of conversion, preparation and renewal.

In this context the Catholic Relief Services’ Operation Rice Bowl begins. This spiritual endeavor of putting in a special container the spiritual fruit of our discipline, sacrifice and contemplation is a great participation in the self denial, saving sacrifice and contemplative trust of the Lord Jesus. Now, in noble simplicity, we adorn our living room coffee table, dining table, nightstand, desk or prayer table with a special container to hold a gift for him to be bestowed on the least of his brothers and sisters.

Whether your Operation Rice Bowl is an individual, family or class effort, you are gathering up and laying aside through the prayer, fasting and almsgiving of Lent, a treasure of Resurrection light, joy and hope for the most powerless and vulnerable of his brothers and sisters. Make a good start on Ash Wednesday, build on that good beginning each day of Lent and finish gloriously on Easter.  It is a joy to receive those taped, string-tied, glued, ribbon-wrapped, stapled, zip-locked, twist-tied, and otherwise-held-together containers at Easter for the glory of the Lord.

On February 24 we will anounce the second collection for March in support of Catholic Relief Services. The Catholic Relief Services Collection theme is “Jesus in Disguise: How will you Help?” The Catholic Relief Services Collection supports families in distress, whether across the street or half way around the globe. This collection helps families, values their fundamental role in society, and strives to protect them. We will have more information about this second collection in our next issue.

Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General, is the Director of Special Collections.

Mike’s Meditations: Provisions for Success

CNS Photo illustration / Nancy Wiechec

What will cause your successes in 2013?  What will you study, think about and spend your time doing this year that will help you thrive in all areas of your life?  Look at what God told Joshua to do:  “Do not let this book of the law depart from your lips. Recite it by day and by night, that you may carefully observe all that is written in it; then you will attain your goal; then you will succeed.” (Joshua 1:8 NAB)  Other meanings of the Hebrew word “law” are instruction, direction or teaching. God was telling Joshua to never let the book of instruction (or teaching) depart from his mouth. He told him to recite it both day and night and to carefully, or by keeping watch, do whatever the book tells him to do. The result God promises Joshua (and us) is the attainment of his goals or successes!

The ability to thrive comes from a way of life that is established in God’s Word. If we study, think about and spend our time in Bible study and meditation, it will become part of our natural daily lives. It will guide our thoughts. It will inspire our actions.  It will dominate our very beings. Then God’s promise of success and prudent wisdom will be ours.

If you’ve ever owned a smartphone, using it for the first time was probably foreign to you. You needed help from an owner’s manual, a friend or you spent a lot of time digging deep and learning how to use it. After a while, using it became second nature. You trained yourself by studying and practicing – mastering your knowledge of that phone.

That’s exactly what will happen if the Bible is constantly on your lips – if you recite it both day and night and carefully observe what it says. It will eventually become such a consistent part of your life that victories over problems, anxiety and fear will be commonplace.

There is no promise that 2013 won’t come with it’s own problems and troubles. But, God’s pledge is victory and success in spite of those obstacles, as long as we literally live in His Word. Hard to do? Maybe, but the process is heavenly and the outcome is divine!

Mike started a teaching ministry after graduating from the University of Dallas’ School of Ministry in 2006 (www.mikevanvrankenministries.org). He also serves as an adjunct professor for the Diocese of Shreveport’s Greco Institute.

Filling Life with Year of Faith Parish Visits

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This time of the year, from February until June, is usually my busiest time of the year as a Bishop. In this month of February we will enter the season of Lent, an important time of renewal in the life of the Church and in our personal lives. I will begin the celebration of Confirmations in the parishes, which will continue into June. This month I will also travel to St. George Church in Coushatta for the first of my Year of Faith Parish Visits, which will eventually bring me to every parish and church in the diocese.

If you add in all my ongoing work of administration (budgets and assignment of priests, for example) this winter and spring will mean a busy schedule, but I am excited to have the opportunity to visit each of our churches and pray with you in the Year of Faith.

I am often asked how I can keep such a busy schedule, but I could probably ask many of you the same question. How do you juggle work, children, family, volunteer responsibilities for the parish, the needy and community organizations? I think many of us can say we have very busy lives.

My answer is that my life is not busy – it is full.  Busy can imply an undirected life of unimportant tasks. Quite the contrary, in my life and, I suspect, in yours as well, most of our responsibilities are there because of our commitments to love, our vocation or the generous desire to serve others that flows from our faith and desire to share the love of God with others.  When we remind ourselves of this we see that our lives are not busy, but FULL of all kinds of blessings flowing from intentional choices and commitments we have made. Yes, these blessings often require our love even to the point of sacrifice, but the best of life is found in these demands of love. This is what Jesus tells us by His very life. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” MT. 10:39  “No greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jn. 15:13

If you look carefully, the parts of life that are the real problem are the ones that tempt us away from the demands of love and promise a more self-centered reward. This is often where we are tempted to sin. In these moments of temptation we usually seek or fantasize about some unhealthy relief from our lives that promises a life of more personal freedom. But the life down this path is usually going to be a less meaningful, self-serving life that is busy with so many unimportant things. Our protection from going down this boring path is the gift of Faith that brings an eternal meaning to our full lives, gives us the resolve and counsel to avoid temptation and teaches us that the demands of love that make us feel like we are dying are actually the beginning of a resurrection in our lives where we will become freer to love as Jesus loved us first.

This Faith in Christ that has and is being handed down from the Apostles to us is what we will give thanks for in our Year of Faith Evening of Prayers when I visit your church. We will gather around the Word of God and I will speak of this gift in our lives, the challenges of being faithful today and the freedom from sin and death that it brings to our lives. I chose to have these gatherings of prayer to be a Liturgy of the Word, rather than a Mass, so you might invite your non-Catholic friends and neighbors to a service at your church and they can fully take part in the service.

I look forward to seeing you when I visit your church. We will publish the dates of my visits in the Catholic Connection, so if you miss one you might attend at another church if you wish.  I pray this Year of Faith will be a time of blessing in our lives where we freely and lovingly embrace all the goodness of our FULL lives. I pray God will keep us faithful to the demands of love that offer us the way to create a heart free to love and embrace the Hope of Jesus in our lives.

Llenando la Vida con Visitas a las Parroquias por el Año de la Fe

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

Esta temporada del año, desde febrero hasta junio, es mi temporada más ocupada del año como Obispo. En este mes de febrero entraremos a la temporada de Cuaresma, un tiempo importante de renovación en la vida de la Iglesia y en nuestras vidas personales. Comenzaré celebrando las Confirmaciones en las parroquias las cuales continúan hasta junio. Este mes también viajaré a la parroquia de San Jorge en Coushatta como mi primera visita parroquial por el Año de la Fe, que finalmente me llevará a cada parroquia de la diócesis.

Si le agregan a todo mi trabajo de administración (presupuestos, asignaciones de los sacerdotes, por ejemplo), este invierno y primavera tendré un itinerario muy ocupado, pero estoy emocionado de tener la oportunidad de visitar cada una de nuestras parroquias y orar con ustedes en el Año de la Fe.

Con frecuencia me preguntan cómo puedo mantener este itinerario tan ocupado, pero tal vez podría preguntarles a ustedes lo mismo. ¿Cómo pueden manejar el trabajo, niños, familia, voluntariado en sus parroquias, los necesitados y organizaciones comunitarias? Pienso que muchos de nosotros podemos decir que tenemos vidas muy ocupadas. Mi respuesta es que mi vida no está muy ocupada – está completa. Ocupada puede insinuar una vida sin dirección con cosas sin importancia. Si no que al contrario, en mi vida, y me imagino, que en la de ustedes así es, la mayoría de nuestras responsabilidades están ahí por nuestros compromisos de amor, nuestra vocación o el deseo generoso de servir a otros que fluye de nuestra fe y deseo de compartir el amor de Dios con los demás. Cuando nos recordamos a nosotros mismos de esto vemos que nuestras vidas no están ocupadas, sino COMPLETAS de todas las bondades y bendiciones que fluyen de opciones intencionales y compromisos que hemos hecho. Sí, yo se que estas bendiciones con frecuencia requieren nuestro amor aun al punto del sacrificio, pero lo mejor de la vida se encuentra en estas exigencias de amor. Esto es lo que Jesús nos dice con Su misma vida. “porque el que quiera salvar su vida la perderá, pero quien pierda su vida por mi causa la encontrará.” Mt. 10:39 “No hay amor más grande que esto, dar su vida por sus amigos.” Jn. 15:13

Si observan cuidadosamente, las partes de la vida que son el problema verdadero son las que atentan con alejarnos de las exigencias de amor y prometen una recompensa más centrada en sí mismas. Aquí es donde con frecuencia somos tentados al pecado. En estos momentos de tentación, por lo general buscamos o fantaseamos sobre alguna salida dañina a nuestras vidas aunque nos promete una vida de más libertad personal. Pero la vida por este camino por lo regular tiene menos significado, es una vida más egoísta que está ocupada con cosas sin importancia. Nuestra protección para no tomar este camino es el regalo de la Fe que nos lleva a un significado eterno de nuestras vidas completas, nos da la resolución y el consejo de alejarnos de la tentación y nos enseña que las exigencias del amor que nos hacen sentir que estamos muriendo son más bien el comienzo de una resurrección en nuestras vidas donde seremos más libres para amar como Jesús nos amó primero.

Esta Fe en Cristo que viene y se nos ha heredado desde los Apóstoles es algo por lo que daremos gracias en las tardes de oración por el Año de la Fe cuando visite su parroquia. Nos reuniremos alrededor de la Palabra de Dios y voy a hablar de este regalo en nuestras vidas, de los desafíos de ser fiel hoy y de la libertad del pecado y muerte que nos trae a nuestras vidas. Opto por tener estas reuniones de oración que serán la Liturgia de la Palabra, en vez de Misa, para que puedan invitar a sus amigos no-Católicos y a sus vecinos al servicio en su Iglesia y ellos puedan también tomar parte en el servicio.

Estoy ansioso de verlos cuando visite su parroquia. Vamos a publicar las fechas de mis visitas en la Catholic Connection, para que si se pierden una pueda asistir a otra parroquia si así lo desean. Oro para que este Año de la Fe sea un tiempo de bendiciones en nuestras vidas donde libremente y con amor abarquemos toda la bondad de nuestras vidas COMPLETAS. Oro también a Dios para que nos mantenga fieles a las exigencias del amor que nos ofrezca el camino para crear un corazón libre y amar y abrazar la Esperanza de Jesús en nuestras vidas.