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 »


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 »


Q&A with Illustrator Deacon Andrew Thomas

Beginning with the cover of this issue of The Catholic Connection, we will start printing one to two pages of a graphic novel on the five priests who gave their lives in More »


Join Us for iGiveCatholic on Giving Tuesday

by John Mark Willcox shreveport.igivecatholic.org We are excited to announce that the Diocese of Shreveport will be participating in #iGiveCatholic, the first-ever online giving day created to celebrate our unique Catholic heritage! More »


Martyrs and Saints: A History of Witness & Holiness in the Church

by Cheryl H. White, Ph.D. The earliest centuries of Christianity are punctuated by periods of severe persecution of the faithful in the Roman Empire, beginning in earnest under the reign of Emperor More »


Domestic Church: Taking Little Ones to Mass

by Katie Sciba I have a confession to make: I haven’t always liked going to Mass. There have been some lengthy periods when the idea of going to Sunday Mass with my More »


Protecting Our Children in the Diocese of Shreveport

by Deacon Michael Straub, Safe Environment Coordinator It is hard to miss all the news in the last couple of months on sex abuse by those placed in a position of trust More »


Shroud of Turin: Shroud Experts & Original STURP Team Members Gather at Shreveport’s Cathedral of St. John Berchmans for Special Panel

by Jessica Rinaudo On the second weekend in October, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will host an event that’s drawing international attention. Two members of the original 1978 Shroud of Turin More »


Bishop Duca Installed in Baton Rouge Shreveport Bids Him Farewell

by Jessica Rinaudo photos by Marie Constantin & Bonny Van August 24 was a bittersweet day for the people of the Diocese of Shreveport, especially members of the clergy, diocesan staff and More »

Sacred Heart Church Hosted Annual Fun Day

Sacred Heart of Jesus church in Shreveport hosted their annual Westwood Community Fun Day alongside Councilman Sam Jenkins and Interfaith. This free event took place in the parking lot at Sacred Heart Church and members of the surrounding area enjoyed food, drink and games while meeting their local councilman, registering to vote, learning about property standards and interacting with area police and firemen. This year’s event was another huge success for Sacred Heart Church and their neighbors! Pictured: Sacred Heart’s neighbors register to vote and talk with Shreveport Parks and Recreation.

St. Jude Church Took Regional Pilgrimage

Facilitated by Fr. Pike Thomas, pilgrims from ST. JUDE CHURCH recently visited shrines around New Orleans. Pictured: Pilgrims gathered with Fr. Pike at the Blessed Francis Seelos Shrine.

Marriage and Family Life Conference

Dotye Sue Stanford and Carol Gates, diocesan coordinators for family life ministry, went to the Marriage and Family Life Conference in Dallas in July, where they learned about building strong marriages, living virtue-filled lives, promoting vocations, how to be strong Catholics in the public square and more. They want to share this information with other parish staff and ministry leaders. Those interested can contact St. Joseph Church (318-865-3581) or the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans (318-221-5296).

33 Days to Morning Glory

A gathering of 11 people from four parishes completed a six week retreat, “33 DAYS TO MORNING GLORY” by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. They celebrated their Marian Consecration on June 27 at St. Michael’s Chapel with Mass, prayers and blessing from Fr. Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Pictured (back row:) James Barnard, Carlos Colon, Ellen Kinsey, Fr Peter Mangum; (middle row:) Andie Bailey, Sandra Smith; (front row:) Marilyn Pettiette, Suzanne Beadles, Patsi Busi, Donna Barnard).

Medical Students Have Hands Anointed

THE CATHOLIC MEDICAL STUDENTS ASSOCIATION AT LSU HEALTH had their first meeting of the year on Monday, July 30. Msgr. Earl V. Provenza and Seminarian Duane Trombetta anointed the student doctors’ hands as they prepare for their life’s work. The Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila reminded participants that ‘Christ has no hand, no feet on earth but yours.’

Pope to Visit Lebanon in September


Pope Benedict XVI (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI will present a papal document addressing the church’s concerns in the Middle East, meet with representatives of local Christian and Muslim communities, and address political and cultural leaders on a three-day visit to Lebanon Sept. 14-16. Pope Benedict’s primary task on the trip will be to present a document, called an apostolic exhortation, based on the deliberations of a special synod of bishops held at the Vatican in 2009. That two-week meeting, which was attended by 185 bishops, focused on the precarious circumstances of 5.7 million Catholics in 16 Middle Eastern countries. A document released by participants at the end of the synod called for “religious freedom and freedom of conscience” in Muslim lands, a theme Pope Benedict is likely to address on his visit.

Pope Approves Archbishop Sheen’s Heroic Virtues

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has approved the heroic virtues of U.S. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the Vatican announced June 28, clearing the way for the advancement of his sainthood cause. Among the others honored in decrees announced the same day were first prelate of Opus Dei, the Canadian and Irish-American founders of two orders of religious women, a priest murdered by the Sicilian Mafia, and 154 martyrs killed during the Spanish Civil War. Archbishop Sheen heroically lived Christian virtues and should be considered “venerable,” said a decree issued by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes and signed by Pope Benedict. Before the archbishop can be beatified, the Vatican must recognize that a miracle has occurred through his intercession. The decree came just more than 13 months after Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Ill., presented Pope Benedict with two thick volumes about the life of Archbishop Sheen, whose home diocese was Peoria. Archbishop Sheen, who was born in Illinois in 1895 and died in New York in 1979, was an Emmy-winning televangelist. His program, “Life is Worth Living,” aired in the United States from 1951 to 1957. Last September, a tribunal of inquiry was sworn in to investigate the allegedly miraculous healing of a newborn whose parents had prayed to the archbishop’s intercession.

Masses, Devotions, Rallies Mark U.S. Church’s ‘Fortnight for Freedom’

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann (CNS photo/Lori Wood Habiger, The Leaven)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops asked Catholics to dedicate 14 days to the preservation of religious freedom through prayer, education and public action, they listened. Catholics in dioceses across the United States participated in Masses, devotions, holy hours, educational presentations and rallies during the June 21 to July 4 campaign to support the nation’s “first and most cherished freedom” and draw attention to actions Catholic and other religious leaders say are weakening religious liberty, including the federal contraceptive mandate. The U.S. bishops’ campaign began on the vigil of the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More with Mass June 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Freedom. He held up the two martyrs as a source of inspiration for American Catholics. The fortnight closed on Independence Day with Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. and the tolling of bells at churches across the country at noon Eastern time. Fortnight events in dioceses around the country included an Independence Celebration Walk & Picnic in Des Moines, IA; a motorcycle “Rosary Ride for Religious Freedom” in Colorado Springs, CO; nonpartisan voter registration drives after Masses in Atlanta parishes; a religious liberty conference in Covington, KY; an outdoor Faith and Freedom Mass in a park band shell in Savannah, CA; and a prayer service with special petitions for the fortnight in the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, OH.

Annulment Workshops

Classes to explain Church annulment processes

Three parishes will be host centers for annual Annulment Workshops throughout the Diocese of Shreveport.  Sister Marilyn R. Vassallo, C.S.J., J.C.L., the Director of the Tribunal, will provide a 90 minute presentation explaining the annulment process of the Catholic Church. The purpose of these workshops is to educate the faithful about the Church’s official position on marriage and the annulment process.

Individuals in need of annulments, persons seeking entrance into the Catholic Church and all interested Catholics are encouraged to attend these sessions.

by Sr. Marilyn Vassallo, CSJ, Director of Canonical Services

New Leader for Hispanic Youth


Marcos Villalba embraces role as the new diocesan Coordinator of Hispanic Youth and Young Adults

The number of Hispanic Catholics is growing nationwide, especially in the Diocese of Shreveport. The Catholic Extension Society has recognized this trend and something else: the needs of Hispanic people often go unmet by the Catholic Church. In an effort to empower Hispanic Ministries, Catholic Extension has created the Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative and offers grants to mission dioceses to help them hire personnel to reach out to Hispanic people.

The Diocese of Shreveport is one of the grant recipients. After conducting a local survey, it became evident that there was a large population of underserved Hispanic youth and young adults in the diocese. With this grant from Catholic Extension, the Diocese of Shreveport has been able to hire Marcos Villalba as the Coordinator for Hispanic Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

Marcos, who is himself Hispanic, is looking forward to serving the needs of Hispanic Youth. “Since I’m bilingual I know I have all the talents and gifts God has bestowed on me and I want to make sure I use all of them to glorify His name and bring glory to His kingdom,” said Marcos.

Prior to coming to work for the diocese, Marcos received his Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Design from Louisiana Tech in 2006 and worked for the Monroe News Star newspaper in their graphics and advertising departments.
From there, he felt called to serve the youth at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston.

“I always loved working with the church, being around my faith and learning more, and sharing my faith,” said Marcos. “I came back to my faith through youth ministry and deepened my relationship with Christ. So I want to give back to the Church and help others to also grow in their faith and bring them closer to Christ, who is the Truth, the Way and the Life.”

In just under two years, Marcos helped the small St. Thomas youth group blossom into a very active youth organization with over 50 members. When asked how he accomplished this so rapidly, Marcos beams. He explains how they implemented Life Teen ministry and set up a core team at the church to help with weekly “life nights” where the teens felt comfortable talking with each other about their lives and futures. Marcos got both junior and senior high youth involved in parish events, diocesan events and even national events like summer camps and the National Catholic Youth Conference.
Marcos continued his education through the Dallas School of Ministry and is currently completing his certification in youth ministry through the diocesan sponsored CMD program.

Though Marcos is sad to leave the youth group at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston, he looks forward to helping all Hispanic youth in the diocese bridge the gap with their own parishes and help them overcome language barriers that might keep them away from diocesan wide youth events.

“I want to let them know that I’m here to help them to grow in their faith, invite them and help them. The church has all kinds of generous ventures towards coming to Christ. I want to let them know that they’re called to greatness as Pope Benedict XVI said.”

Marcos has moved back to Shreveport with his wife Stephanie and his son Eduardo. They are expecting another baby in August.

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor