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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 »

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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 »

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Catholic Charities Employee Assists Clients in Sharing the Journey

by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana Since 2012, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) has provided assistance and guidance to immigrants as they seek to become legal residents or naturalized More »

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St. John Berchmans Catholic School Celebrates Landmark Year

by Lisa Cooper This year marks two special occasions for the St. John Berchmans community as they celebrate the 70th anniversary of the school, as well as the 40th anniversary of their More »

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Bidding Farewell to Father Andre McGrath, OFM

by John Mark Willcox Our faith community lost a dear friend on September 8 as Fr. Andre McGrath, OFM, passed into the Lord’s hands at the friary of St. Mary of the More »

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Diocese Welcomes Fr. Mangum as Administrator

by Jessica Rinaudo On Monday, August 27, following the installation of Bishop Michael Duca as the 6th Bishop of Baton Rouge, the Diocese of Shreveport’s College of Consultors, a group of 11 More »

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Domestic Church: Help Us, Lord! We’re Sinking!

by Katie Sciba My friend texted me, “Pleading for prayers for my husband,” she began, “All these scandals in the Church have shaken him up and he’s got one foot out the More »

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Ruston Catholic Received French Legion of Honor

by John Mark Willcox There is always a first time for everything when you work for the Church and I had a first time experience recently when I conducted my first interview More »

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From Atheism to Seminary: Meet the Diocese’s Newest Seminarian

by Jessica Rinaudo When you think of candidates for the Catholic priesthood, the word “atheist” likely never crosses your mind, but the Diocese of Shreveport’s newest seminarian, Francis Genusa, used that term More »

St. Joseph School Wins First Place at Loyola Academic Rally

Thirteen St. Joseph School students competed against other private schools in the area at the Loyola Academic Rally.  St. Joseph students brought home the 1st place overall trophy.  They also brought home ribbons from each subject area. The Loyola Academic Rally is an area-wide competition between area private schools in the subjects of: Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Mathematics. This is a daylong competition comprised of written and oral tests.

St. John Berchmans Wins First in Science Olympiad

St. John Berchmans School in Shreveport took first place at the Science Olympiad State Competition held last month on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA.  The team of 15 students competed against 14 middle school teams from around the state of Louisiana in a variety of subjects including anatomy, forestry, rocks and minerals, meteorology, experimental design and forensics.  This is the fourth consecutive year that St. John Berchmans School has won first place at the state level.

In addition to taking overall first place in the state competition, St. John Berchmans students also received a total of 12 first place medals, two second place medals, and one third place medal. The SJB Science Olympiad team traveled to Orlando, FL, to compete in the Science Olympiad National Tournament on Saturday, May 19, against 59 teams from around the United States.

Loyola Names Flyer of the Year

Principal Frank Israel and Carter Boyd

Carter Boyd has been selected as the 2012 Flyer of the Year at Loyola College Prep. The Flyer of the Year award is chosen by the faculty and given to the student who best shows the qualities that reflect Loyola’s mission statement of producing a “A Person for Others.” “Aside from the many honors and awards that Carter has won, he is just a good guy,” Loyola Principal Frank Israel said. “Carter is smart, has a model work ethic, a strong mind, athletic ability and a deep faith. I know that God has big plans for him.”

Carter is an Eagle Scout, has served as an altar server and worked as a Catechism teacher. He was a Boys’ State delegate and was chosen as a Young Hero by Louisiana Public Broadcasting. He will enroll at the University of Notre Dame.

Second Collection: Peter’s Pence

 Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General

Bulletin Announcement Dates:  June 16 & 17
Collection Dates:  June 23 & 24

The Peter’s Pence Collection is rooted in an ancient custom of enlisting the aid of the Christian faithful for spiritual needs. In the ninth century King Alfred the Great collected money – a “pence” – from landowners as financial support for the pope. Today, the Peter’s Pence Collection forms the financial foundation of the pope’s philanthropy by giving the Holy Father the appropriate and necessary resources to provide emergency assistance to those in need because of natural disaster, war, oppression and disease.

“Let us make sure that none of God’s children ever feels alone.”  In September of 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave this exhortation in a homily in which he explained that those who are baptized create one family of believers who are never alone. Blessed John Paul II constantly encouraged, exhorted and consoled us with the biblical exhortation, “Do not be afraid.”  Christ the Lord is with us.  We are present to one another through our union with him. The Holy Spirit makes us one in Christ. The Spirit is the bond of unity/solidarity among all believers. The Peter’s Pence Collection unites us in solidarity to the Holy See and its works of charity to those in need. Your generosity allows the pope to respond to our suffering brothers and sisters with promptness, love and compassion, so God’s people will not feel alone in their time of misfortune.

Our universal pastor, the pope, is asked by so many of God’s children around the world to help them. Leaders of nations turn to the universal pastor to assist them in attending to their citizens in times of national and regional calamity.  Our participation in the Peter’s Pence Collection makes it possible for us to help the Holy Father help others. The Church can always rejoice in its efforts to bring the comfort and presence of Christ to those in need. All that our Holy Father does, he does in the name of each and every member of the Church. It is marvelous and humbling that all the assistance he gives, we are giving because of our participation in the collection.

“The faithful’s offerings to the Holy Father are destined to Church needs, to humanitarian initiatives and social promotion projects, as well as to support of the Holy See.  The pope, being pastor of the whole Church, is attentive to the material needs of poor dioceses, religious institutes and of the faithful in grave difficulties (the poor, children, the elderly, those marginalized and the victims of war or natural disasters; concrete aid to bishops or dioceses in need, Catholic education, assistance to refugees and immigrants, etc.)” – www.vatican.va

The Peter’s Pence Collection has raised nearly $190 million to support our suffering brothers and sisters around the globe.  THANK YOU for standing in solidarity with the Holy See with your generosity.

Church Profile: Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Shreveport

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by Linda Webster, PhD

During the 25th anniversary year of the Diocese of Shreveport we are profiling small churches around the diocese.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus church is a bit tricky to locate.

“We need a bigger sign so that people know we’re here,” insists Joetta Waterman, a long-time parishioner who came to Sacred Heart when St. Teresa closed in 1989. “No one knows we’re back here.”

Sacred Heart is located on Lyba Street, on the north side of I-20 near the airport. There is a sign out on Monkhouse Drive directing worshipers onto Lyba and a second sign where the street twists a bit, but Waterman is right.  You’d never guess that there was a vibrant, engaged and very large Catholic community located right off of the interstate unless you knew to look for the signs.

“I’ve been to numerous churches in South Louisiana, Houston, Fort Worth and Atlanta,” said Mary Chauvin, Director of Religious Education, “and I was bowled over by Sacred Heart when I was looking for a church here in Shreveport.”
She recounts how Sr. Humberta Gallatin, a Sister of Divine Providence and the DRE, snagged her as she came through the door of the church.

“She said, ‘Bet you’re catechist,’ and she was right,” said Chauvin.  “I’ve been teaching here for nineteen years.”
The parish was established in 1966 by Bishop Greco and the first Mass was celebrated at the Holiday Inn West on August 21.  The parish grew from 90 to 127 families between that first Mass and January of 1968, so the congregation moved to the Howard Johnson Motel at I-120.  Meanwhile, construction was under way at the four acre Lyba Street site, allowing the congregation to move into the current structure in July of 1969.

“We are a busy church,” said Waterman who is active with the Catholic Women’s League, the Pastoral Council and the Ladies Guild which she serves as corresponding secretary.  “We have a Healing Mass once a month and a First Friday Holy Hour that is very well-attended.”

Parishioners gather at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church for Mass.

The most visible ministry on the church grounds is the St. Vincent de Paul building which distributes food pantry items and all sorts of household goods and clothing to a large and grateful local clientele.

“The ministry started out as a closet in my office,” said Chauvin. “We started serving so many needs that we got a portable classroom, then we had to get another.  We’re located in a neighborhood where there is such a need for this ministry.”
The St. Vincent de Paul buildings are open on Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Chauvin said that people begin lining up hours before opening, the line sometimes stretching down the driveway to the sidewalk. The ministry is run entirely by volunteers and the outreach is not limited to just the Wednesday food distribution.

“We help those who’ve been burned out of their homes, assist with utilities when needed, and just do whatever we can to help our neighbors.”

Chauvin has a busy campus to manage. There are two classroom buildings behind the church hall with handicapped ramps and deep porches that accommodate some of the students. Others attend class in the hall.

“We just started PRE for the three and four year olds this year and we’re trying to get the children more involved in volunteer work.  One thing I’ve noticed that changed in the twelve years I’ve been a DRE is that our children are much more willing to tell people that they are Catholic.”

The church property makes use of most of the four acres.  In addition to the St. Vincent de Paul buildings, the large church hall and the classroom buildings, there is a rectory on site and a large off-street parking lot that wraps around the church and extends to the back of the property.  Sacred Heart is a quasi-parish of St. Mary of the Pines, but there are three weekend Masses and daily Masses Tuesday through Friday which is unusual for a “mission” church.

Currently, Fr. Francis Kamau serves as pastor and the resident priest is Fr. Thomas John Vadakemuriyil, CMI.
“This church is so much like a family,” said Chauvin. “Many of us don’t have any other family here in the area and we care about each other.”

Even the community activities have the flavor of a family project.  For example, Sacred Heart parishioners cleaned out a local park to make it more inviting to neighborhood children.  Other ministries include quilt making, a bell choir and a neighborhood carnival, according to the parish website.

“We celebrate birthdays each month, we take food to the sick, we have a Christmas party, and we help with St. Vincent de Paul,” recounted Joetta Waterman of the work done by the Ladies Guild.

Fr. Francis calls forward anyone celebrating a birthday or an anniversary to be blessed by the congregation at the first Sunday Mass of each month, making that celebration a parish-wide event.

“We also raise money to help the Kenyan community where Fr. Francis comes from,” she added.  “And having the seminarians from Notre Dame has been such a blessing.  They come three months at a time and they are so devout.  Many are from India and John Paul Christian calls me ‘grandmother’.”

Waterman is looking forward to his ordination next year with eagerness.

Deacon Clary Nash and Fr. Francis Kamau, FMH, stand with the choir during the opening hymn.

Sacred Heart ministers to a larger community as well by providing a live webcast from the cry room at the back of the church for any event in progress.

“We had relatives ‘attend’ a wedding from Hawaii,” said Deacon Cary Nash.  “They couldn’t get to Shreveport but they saw the wedding on the web.  The same thing with a baptism where family members can’t get here.”

The webcast includes shut-ins more effectively than an audio recording and is broadcast in real time.

“Our motto says it all,” said Waterman.  “We’re the little church with the big heart.”

Fortnight for Freedom and Religious Liberty

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The 14 days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty.  On Sunday July 1, 2012, all the parishes of our diocese will turn their prayers and attention to the freedom to practice our faith in this country and pray that it be protected for generations to come. In doing this we will be a part of the our Church’s national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.

From the USCCB:

In 1634, a mix of Catholic and Protestant settlers arrived in Southern Maryland from England aboard the Ark and the Dove. They had come at the invitation of the Catholic Lord Baltimore, who had been granted the land by the Protestant King Charles I of England. While Catholics and Protestants were killing each other in Europe, Lord Baltimore imagined Maryland as a society where people of different faiths could live together peacefully. This vision was soon codified in Maryland’s 1649 Act Concerning Religion (also called the “Toleration Act”), which was the first law in our nation’s history to protect an individual’s right to freedom of conscience.

Maryland’s early history teaches us that, like any freedom, religious liberty requires constant vigilance and protection, or it will disappear. Maryland’s experiment in religious toleration ended within a few decades. The colony was placed under royal control and the Church of England became the established religion. Discriminatory laws, including the loss of political rights, were enacted against those who refused to conform. Catholic chapels were closed and Catholics were restricted to practicing their faith in their homes. The Catholic community lived under this coercion until the American Revolution.
By the end of the 18th century our nation’s founders embraced freedom of religion as an essential condition of a free and democratic society. So when the Bill of Rights was ratified, religious freedom had the distinction of being the First Amendment. Religious liberty is indeed the first liberty.

This is our American heritage, our most cherished freedom. If we are not free in our conscience and our practice of religion, all other freedoms are fragile. If our obligations and duties to God are impeded, or even worse, contradicted by the government, then we can no longer claim to be a land of the free.

Is our most cherished freedom truly under threat? Among many current challenges, consider the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. For the first time in our history, the federal government will force religious institutions to facilitate drugs and procedures contrary to our moral teaching, and purport to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit an exemption. This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. It is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. It is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception and sterilization, even when it violates our religious beliefs.

 

 

What Are You Afraid Of?

by Mike Van Vranken

Uncertainty of the future can cause real anxiety.  If we eavesdrop on more than one conversation, there is a strong possibility we will hear someone talking about their fear. Some worry about illnesses or their children. Many worry about the stability of their job.  We’ve all experienced fear from time-to-time, but have you ever been so afraid it paralyzed you from making good decisions? Have you ever allowed anxiety to control your thoughts?  For any of us who have permitted fear to dominate, God has answers for us.

“Do not fear:  I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”  (Isaiah 41:10 NAB)

This verse contains two commands: “do not fear;” “do not be anxious.” It is then followed by five promises: I am with you; I am your God; I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. What a tremendous scripture. God is making a commitment to us that if we do not fear, he will take care of everything.  All we have to do is to believe it in faith and then turn our lives, our thoughts, our concerns over to Him.

Here’s how 1 Peter 5:7 puts it: “Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” Can’t you just picture lifting up all of your cares and worries and throwing them or casting them onto God?  He’ll handle the problems and that action along with our faith will eliminate the fear.  It really does work.

But, we have to work at it. See, the temptation to worry comes from the enemy. He wants us to fear because it is our feeble attempt to take control away from God and into our own hands.  Don’t fall for that nonsense. Allow God to take your fears and strengthen, help and uphold you.  Practice casting those cares on Him. Speak out loud that you’ve placed those cares on God and because He cares for us, He’s with us and He’ll help us.

Now, let’s consider two other related scriptures:  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear . . .”  (1 John 4:18 NAB)

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear but rather of power and love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJ)
Action plan for this month:  Any time you worry that you might lose your job, or that sickness or accident may come upon you or a loved one, or any other anxiety that approaches you, cast that fear on over to God and laugh at the devil. The perfect love that is God will eliminate the fear and protect you all at the same time. You’ve got nothing to lose. Go for it.  What are you afraid of?

New Programs and New Homes in Cedar Grove

New home being built in the Cedar Grove area.

by Theresa Mormino, Catholic Charities

If you were watching KSLA on the morning of May 7, you may have seen Catholic Charities workers Jean Dresley, Executive Director, and Theresa Mormino, Director of Development, interviewed on “Your Hometown Show.” We discussed our work at Catholic Charities and talked about our newest programs, Gabriel’s Closet and The Money School.  Both of these programs are progressing and will be formally announced on our website and Facebook as they near completion and are ready to offer assistance.

The Money School program, a four unit financial education course, will become a required component for those who seek financial aid from Catholic Charities.  Our desire is to help those who come to us break the cycle of generational poverty. We believe the often used quote “knowledge is power” especially applies here. It’s impossible to make changes when you don’t have the tools.

The course work will cover subjects like how to open and maintain a bank account, develop a budget, save money and plan for the future, avoid predatory lending and will also include coaches for those who would like to have long-term help.  These volunteer coaches will work one-on-one with our clients for six months to a year in an effort to help them to apply the knowledge they have gained from The Money School.  This kind of life-changing work impacts the individual, their family and the community. As more people learn to manage their income and begin a better life path, we will see the kind of changes we aim for: more people able to thrive and pass down these skills to their children. We are looking for people with financial experience to volunteer as coaches. Please call us at 318-865-0200 if you would like to make a difference in the life of someone else.

Another exciting event happening in our neighborhood is the building of a new home by The Fuller Center for Housing. On April 30 an 18-wheeler pulled up alongside the St. Catherine campus and began unloading the structural supplies to build the new house in Cedar Grove. The house is one of several the Fuller Center will build in the neighborhood.  The Diocese of Shreveport donated two plots of land for this project and is a major supporter of the center’s work. Families who wish to apply for one of the homes must go through a rigorous application process and evaluation.  They will also be required to complete classes in money management and home maintenance.

La Reflexión del Obispo

por Obispo Micahel G. Duca

(CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Este mes pasado el Presidente Obama se convirtió en el primer Presidente de los Estados Unidos que confirma que está a favor del matrimonio homosexual. Estoy de acuerdo con el Cardinal Dolan de Nueva York que este fue un día triste, pero no sorpresivo dado a las pólizas del Presidente al aspecto. El punto fue revelado más claramente en una entrevista que escuché donde el experto simplemente añadió, “Era lo justo”.

El debate público acerca del matrimonio en nuestro país ha sido exitosamente promovido como un tema de los “derechos” de imparcialidad y de casarse de una persona. Pero de esta manera debería verse superficial e incompleta en la mente y corazón de los Católicos. Siempre buscamos descubrir la verdad de algo y después conformarlo a nuestras vidas en la verdad. Así que la manera de contestar esta pregunta para cada Católico debería ser, “¿Qué es un matrimonio?” la primera y más importante pregunta en esta discusión.

Nosotros por supuesto vemos la naturaleza del hombre y la mujer y las revelaciones de Jesucristo encontradas en las Sagradas Escrituras y la tradición de las enseñanzas de la Iglesia para contestar esta pregunta. Podemos ver las palabras de San Pablo que dice, cuando describe el matrimonio, “Este es un gran misterio, pero hablo en referencia a Cristo y la iglesia.” (Efesios 5:32). El matrimonio, es para nosotros, un Sacramento y en este Sacramento el amor del esposo y la esposa se convierten en una verdadera señal de la presencia de Dios entre nosotros. Así que si el matrimonio es referirse a Cristo y a la Iglesia y ser una señal de la presencia del amor de Dios, entonces el amor del esposo y la esposa deberían reflejar los elementos esenciales del amor de Dios por nosotros.

El matrimonio es ser amor indisoluble, irrompible, porque el amor de Dios por nosotros es dar la vida y Él desinteresadamente comparte Su vida con nosotros. El matrimonio es fiel porque el amor de  Dios es fiel. La naturaleza del matrimonio no es creada por un hombre, sino que saca su definición esencial de Dios que es amor. El matrimonio es una relación que puede ser reflejada completa solamente entre un hombre y una mujer porque juntos solo ellos pueden crear nueva vida y formar un verdadero fundamento para nuestro país y la Iglesia.

Sí, es verdad que algunas parejas casadas no pueden tener hijos y adoptan como lo hace una pareja del mismo sexo, pero la idea general que motiva a la pareja en matrimonio es crear una vida a la luz del entendimiento Sacramental del matrimonio. Cuando las relaciones del mismo sexo son llamadas matrimonio, los aspectos procreados de matrimonio se convierten en opcionales y la mera definición de matrimonio cambia. El matrimonio civil entonces llega a estar desconectado del matrimonio Sacramental y crea su definición por las leyes humanas que reflejan una diferente intensión y fuente de la verdad. Mientras que nuestra discusión pública esté centrada solamente en los derechos imparciales y personales nunca discutiremos que nuevo modelo se genera con estas nuevas leyes. Lo que sí es cierto es que esta nueva creación civil refleja menos el entendimiento del amor revelado en Jesucristo. Desde la perspectiva de la fe, la definición de un matrimonio civil se convertirá mas y mas en solo eso una unión civil porque se separa a sí misma de la definición de matrimonio enraizado en el amor revelado de Dios.

Esta es la fuente de la tristeza de la que habla el Cardinal Dolan, la redefinición propuesta del matrimonio que separará el significado del matrimonio civil de nuestro entendimiento Católico. A pesar de esto, continuamos proclamando la belleza de un matrimonio Sacramental enraizado en la riqueza espiritual de un amor que refleja la fe, irrompible y procreadora de Dios. Profesamos nuestra creencia que el verdadero matrimonio Sacramental es la esperanza de nuestra Iglesia y la fuerza futura de nuestro país.

Yo sé que con frecuencia es difícil. Muchos miembros de nuestra iglesia que son casados experimentan presiones diarias que amenazan la vida del matrimonio, pero es precisamente nuestro entendimiento que el matrimonio está conectado al amor de  Dios lo que le da a cada persona casada un pozo de gracia y esperanza que Dios está con ellos en el vivir de ese sacramento. Debemos apoyar a las parejas en todas las etapas de sus vidas y enseñar a nuestros niños la bondad del matrimonio Sacramental en la Iglesia. Espero pronto tener un taller que los directores y voluntarios de la vida parroquial de la familia continúen desarrollando nuestros programas como una diócesis que apoya la Vida Familiar. Como un recurso ustedes pueden también leer la página de matrimonio de La Conferencia Episcopal de los Obispos de Estados Unidos en: www.foryourmarriage.org

Vamos juntos a proclamar nuestra esperanza y entendimiento de un matrimonio sacramental y trabajar en mantener la integridad en nuestro país.

Bishop’s Reflection (June)

Knights of Columbus stand outside the Capitol in Olympia, WA to protest a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. (CNS photo/Robert Sorbo, Reuters)

by Bishop Michael G. Duca

This past month President Obama became the first President of the United States to confirm he is in favor of gay marriage.  I agree with Cardinal Dolan of New York that this was a sad day, but not surprising given the President’s policies in this regard.  The heart of the matter was more clearly revealed in an interview I heard where the expert simply stated, “It was the fair thing to do.”

The public debate about marriage in our country has been successfully promoted as an issue of a person’s “right” to marry and about fairness.  But this approach should ring shallow and incomplete to the minds and hearts of Catholics.  We always seek to discover the truth of something and then conform our lives to the truth.  So the approach of every Catholic should be to answer the question, “What is marriage?” as the first and most important question of this discussion.

We of course look to the nature of man and woman and the revelations of Jesus Christ found in the scriptures and the tradition of teachings of the Church to answer this question.  We can look to the words of St. Paul who says, in describing marriage, “This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5: 32).  Marriage is, for us, a Sacrament and in this Sacrament the love of husband and wife become a real sign of God’s presence among us. So if marriage is to refer to Christ and the Church and to be a sign of God’s presence, then the love of husband and wife should reflect the essential elements of God’s love for us.

Marriage is to be a love that is indissoluble, unbreakable, because God’s love for us is eternal and does not end.  Marriage is to be a love that is procreative because God’s love is life giving and He selflessly shares His life with us.  Marriage is faithful because God’s love is faithful.  The nature of marriage is not created by man, but draws its essential definition from God who is love.  Marriage is a relationship that can only be fully reflected between a man and a woman because together only they can create new life and form a true foundation for our country and the Church.

Yes, it is true that some married couples are unable to have children and adopt as a same sex couple might, but the overall idea that motivates a couple in marriage is to create a life in light of the full sacramental understanding of marriage.  When same sex relationships are called marriage, then the procreative aspect of marriage becomes optional and the very definition of marriage changes.  Civil marriage then becomes disconnected from sacramental marriage and creates its definition by human laws that reflect a different intent and source of truth. As long as our public discussion is centered only on fairness and personal rights we will never discuss what new model is envisioned by these new laws.  What is certain is that this new civil creation reflects less the understanding of love revealed in Jesus Christ.  From a faith perspective, the definition of civil marriage will become more and more just a civil union as it separates itself from the definition of marriage rooted in the revealed love of God.

This is the source of the sadness that Cardinal Dolan spoke of, the proposed redefinition of marriage that will separate the meaning of civil marriage from our Catholic understanding.  In spite of this, we continue to proclaim the beauty of a sacramental marriage rooted in the spiritual richness of a love that reflects the faithful, unbreakable and procreative love of God. We profess our belief that true sacramental marriage is the hope for our Church and the future strength of our country.

I know marriage is often difficult.  Many married members of our Church experience daily pressures that threaten married life, but it is precisely our understanding that marriage is connected to the love of God that gives every married person a deep well of grace and hope that God is with them in the living of this sacrament. We should support married couples in all stages of their lives and teach our children about the goodness of sacramental marriage in the Church. I hope soon to have a workshop for parish family life directors and volunteers to continue to develop our outreach as a diocese to support family life. As a resource you can also check out the USCCB website on marriage at: foryourmarriage.org.

Let us together proclaim our hopeful and sacramental understanding of marriage and work to maintain its integrity within our country.