Frontier Mission Beginnings: Fr. Jean Pierre and the Bayou Pierre Community

by Dr. Cheryl White The small community of Carmel, Louisiana is home to a rich cultural inheritance that resonates even today as an important and easily identifiable chapter of our Catholic history. More »


Escape Routes: A Reflection on the Church Sex Abuse Crisis

by Kim Long Sometimes I run. It’s true. Sometimes I run from God. In 2002 when the Boston clergy scandal erupted I had a vague notion of what was going on. Several More »


USCCB Pro-Life Chairman Calls All Catholics to Fight with Renewed Vigor for the Unborn

from the USCCB WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, KS and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has issued the following statement in response to several states moving More »


Be More: Northwest Louisiana Catholic Schools Unite

by Jessica Rinaudo The three Catholic schools in the Shreveport-Bossier area, Loyola College Prep, St. John Berchmans Catholic School and St. Joseph Catholic School, are joining forces. Together school principals, school council More »


Vocations View: World Youth Day

by Raney Johnson, Seminarian I had the opportunity to attend my second World Youth Day (WYD) this past January in Panama. During this trip, I was able to encounter fellow young Catholics More »


Navigating the Faith: Ash Wednesday Quick Guide

Ash Wednesday officially kicks off the Lenten season in the Church, a season dedicated to prayer, fasting and penance. It takes place 46 days before Easter. This year, that day is Wednesday, More »


Domestic Church: How to Have a “Successful” Lent

by Katie Sciba The beginning of Lent feels like the New Year – it’s a clean slate paired with a handful of resolutions and a heart full of hope that this is More »


Stewardship: A Reflection

by Mike Van Vranken After living 93 years as a faithful Catholic, Ashley passed from this life to her heavenly reward. She was immediately whisked away to the throne of Jesus where More »

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

Prayer Before Action A Reflection on the Bishops’ Retreat

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

Catholic Charties Updates


Pictured: Theresa Mormino and Jean Dresley cut the ribbon to open Gabriel’s Closet for new moms and children.

Gabriel’s Closet Opens; New Immigration Specialist & Financial Education Coordinator

It has been a busy summer for Catholic Charities! Our continued growth is allowing us to expand both our range of services and the number of people we are able to help.

In June we had a perfect day for the ribbon cutting for Gabriel’s Closet. Bishop Duca blessed this new program just before Jean Dresley and Theresa Mormino cut the ribbon and officially opened the shop for low-income new moms and their small children. The large crowd enthusiastically entered the beautifully appointed and well-stocked room. The many volunteers, donors and friends of Gabriel’s Closet made this all possible after weeks of hard work and preparation. Two of our earliest and strongest supporters were Dee Allen and her mother, Ann Calhoun. Their gifts enabled us to begin transforming the former chapel with paint, new flooring and store fixtures. One of our most faithful volunteers, Cedric Pickney, along with Michelle Valentine and others, painted, sorted, stocked and got the room looking like a fine infant shop. If you would like to work in the shop, donate items, teach classes, or perhaps even mentor a new mom, please let us know.

Our Immigration Integration Center is also growing and we welcome Briana Bianca as our newest immigration specialist and case manager. She will be working with Guiel Hausen to provide services to even more of our immigration clients. Briana received her law degree from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at LSU, and she also has done post-graduate studies in social work. Her skills, education, and compassion for our clients provide the perfect combination needed for this very special work. We are seeking volunteers who want to work as case managers for our immigration clients, helping them one-on-one.

We also welcome Carl Piehl as our financial education coordinator. Financial education is a key component of our Family Strengthening Program. Carl will be coordinating a series of four classes that cover budgeting, the wise use of credit and beginning asset-building. This is the type of information that many of our clients need in order to have more stability in their home life and more hope for their future and for their children. Carl will also be recruiting and working with volunteers who want to coach/mentor our clients.

We hope to expand these programs throughout the Diocese of Shreveport, so if you are interested in volunteering or supporting these programs, please contact Catholic Charities at 318-865-0200.

by Anita Crafts

Get Certified!

Take part in the Youth Ministry Certification

Since September of 2011, youth leaders and workers have had the opportunity to participate in a certificate of youth studies from the Center for Ministry Development (CMD). The certification is designed to equip parishioners with the skills and confidence they need in ministering to their respective flocks and beyond. CMD has been providing training, resources and parish consultation for pastoral and catechetical ministry since 1978.  CMD is firmly rooted in Church documents.

Due to being underwritten by a Catholic Extension Grant, the Diocese of Shreveport is able to offer this certification at the low cost of $100 per weekend. Eight courses are needed to complete the certification and we are hoping to extend the program after its conclusion in the spring of 2013.

If you would like to participate for continuing education requirements, or you are seeking to complete the certification, please contact the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry to register at 318-868-4441.

Our next class is September 22-23, 2012 and will be taught at the Catholic Center in Shreveport. This class will focus on “Fostering Faith: Growth of Youth through Prayer and Worship.” We would love to have you!
For additional information please go to www.cmdnet.org.

by John Vining, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries

The Courtship of Two Doctors


Fitzgerald’s book highlights letters between her parents and benefits Diocese of Shreveport’s Marriage Ministry Programs

In 1937, two medical students began a two-year correspondence across 1,100 miles, and their fancy turned to deep respect and abiding love. Alice Baker of New Orleans and Joe Holoubek of Omaha became Dr. Alice and Dr. Joe, a professional couple known for their unbreakable bond. The Courtship of Two Doctors: a 1930s Love Story of Letters, Hope & Healing chronicles their early history, providing an inspiring look at the birth of a marriage and a lifetime of service.

Alice and Joe met during a summer fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and dreamed of returning there for postgraduate training. It was the waning days of the Depression, and war was beginning to rumble overseas. Grave illness and career setbacks shook their confidence, but the two decided to face their uncertain future together, trusting in each other and the relationship they built letter by letter.

Compiled from a private collection of nearly 800 letters by daughter Martha Fitzgerald, The Courtship of Two Doctors recreates the medical era before antibiotics, when health workers were at risk of serious infection, and vividly illustrates the 1930s social barriers challenging two-career marriages. It relates the real-life romance that inspired Dr. Joe’s 2004 novel Letters to Luke, winner of the Writer’s Digest Award for inspirational literature and the Independent Publisher Award for religious fiction.

“I hope to inspire new generations of servant healers, encourage young couples to cherish one another, and generate new interest in personal family history,” said author and editor Fitzgerald.

In blog posts leading up to the release of her book, Fitzgerald said, “With Courtship, I hope to provide a new role model for young people who may be discouraged by high divorce rates and the freewheeling sexuality celebrated by popular culture. Romance is all the sweeter when it represents fidelity and draws on deep wells of faith.

“In June 1939, shortly before their wedding, my mother was taking instructions in Catholicism from a chaplain at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. A quote from one of her letters expresses the deeply held values she and my father shared: ‘I shall be so proud for you to meet Father Miget.Then he will understand why I agree so perfectly with the perception that marriage is one and indissoluble—and means infinite trust and confidence. Oh, dearest, my faith in you is truly infinite.’”
Fitzgerald has pledged proceeds from sales to causes she shares with her late parents, Drs. Alice and Joe Holoubek: the LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport and the marriage ministry program of the Diocese of Shreveport.

Books will be for sale at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com and Alice and Caroline’s Catholic Book Store beginning August 15, as well as at the upcoming St. Joseph’s Soiree.

Fitzgerald, an award-winning journalist of 27 years, served as a columnist and associate editorial page editor for the Shreveport Times. She is now an independent editor, writer and publisher. She and her husband, both Louisiana natives, enjoy living on a quiet country road in a bend of the Red River.

Fr. Long Appointed Vocations Director


Fr. Matthew Long prepares to foster vocations in the parish and the home

Greetings brothers and sisters in the Lord,

As most of you are aware, I was appointed Director of Church Vocations for the Diocese of Shreveport effective July 9, 2012.  This is a great challenge but one I am sure that with the help and support of you, the Catholic Faithful, will be a great blessing to me. I know the good work Fr. David Richter has done in the Office of Vocations over the last four years is something I hope to build upon. As I have reflected upon this work I have undertaken, I quickly realized the work of encouraging and fostering vocations does not occur in the Vocations Office.

This important work of encouraging men and women to hear and answer God’s call is primarily carried out in the parish and in the domestic church, the home. The Call of God is recognized by most because of the good work they witness by their parish priest and the religious sisters they come into contact with on a daily basis. The most important place that the Call of God is fostered and encouraged is in the home.  Seeing the devotion and commitment and most importantly the generosity their parents and grandparents have towards Christ and His Church will do more to increase vocations in our diocese than anything else.

Therefore, it is with faith in God’s grace, the good work of our priests, the dedication of our religious sisters and, most importantly, the devotion of the faithful people of God that the harvest will be great for our diocese. I thank you in advance for your support and help in fostering a culture of vocations in the Diocese of Shreveport.

In Christ through Mary Immaculate,
Fr. Matthew Long

Field Advocates


Pictured: Sr. Marilyn training Field Advocates.

Lay leaders assist the tribunal, priests, deacons

The theological advances of Vatican II confirm the laity are not limited to the temporal sphere of life, but can assist in the mission of the Church traditionally found in the lives of the clergy and religious.

One of the ways laity have taken an active role in the mission of the Church in recent years is to provide assistance to tribunals as lay or field advocates. Their primary purpose is to assist individuals in the initial preparation and completion of case paperwork. These advocates are different from the degreed canonists assigned to Chanceries or Marriage Tribunals.

The Diocese of Shreveport has been developing a Field Advocate Program since 2001. Individuals throughout the diocese have participated in training sessions concerning the marriage laws of the Church, as well as the pastoral application of them in understanding the process of annulments in the Catholic Church.

This year, Bishop Duca has appointed 41 to serve as Field Advocates for the diocesan Marriage Tribunal. These appointments are for a year and renewed at the recommendation of  Fr. Peter Mangum, Judicial Vicar, and Sr. Marilyn Vassallo, Director of Canonical Services. While we gladly welcome the assistance of these Field Advocates, the bishop stresses this program serves to complement the priests and deacons already providing pastoral ministry for those individuals in need of annulments.

This past spring, the advocates were instructed on the five types of processes in nullity procedures in the Catholic Church.
We hope to assist priests and their parishioners throughout the diocese. Since this process differs from the traditional priest and parishioner, it will take time for all to get use to the role of the Field Advocate. The following is a short summary of the procedure that will be followed by those parishes utilizing Field Advocates.

After the initial meeting with a priest or deacon, the person in need of an annulment is to contact the Marriage Tribunal. The Moderator of the Tribunal, Ricole Williams, will assign a Field Advocate. The Field Advocate and person in need of an annulment will set up meeting times in which they will complete the paperwork associated with their specific type of annulment.

It is our hope Field Advocates will enable clergy to focus on the individual’s pastoral counseling while the Field Advocate acts as a bridge between clergy, tribunal and client. In communicating concerns, needs, financial responsibilities, etc., the Field Advocate can help the individual see this process as a means of reconciliation and hope, rather than just a legal requirement of Church law.

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

How Catholic Are Our Schools?


The Diocese of Shreveport Catholic School students excel academically under the guidance of focused and educated teachers and staff.

It would be very easy to read off the numbers of Catholic and non-Catholic students enrolled in our schools.   However, I don’t think these numbers truly demonstrate the deep Catholic practices and traditions in our Catholic Schools.
First of all, parents come to our schools because they are looking to become a member of the Catholic school team, a member of the Catholic school community. Each of the principals meets with every new family to share their desire to serve you, the parents, in providing your children with appropriate, challenging and exciting educational programs wrapped in a faith formation that is second to none.

Our teachers celebrate the fact that each student is created uniquely and thus requires individual attention. While each student is accepted as an individual and treated with special attention, that same student is taught to be a part of the total community through various groups, not only to belong to a group, but to become a contributing member of the group. Therefore, the formation of community is an important part of our Catholic school education.

As a part of this report,  you will find our Terra Nova scores. Please take time to study the scores and note that our students continue to place well above the national average norms. This may be contributed to the fact that there is a common sense of purpose provided by our Catholic schools. That is, students are in school to learn and the school provides the framework in which they need to operate.

Each of our Catholic schools calls the entire school to celebrate liturgy together once a week. Our students are very much a part of this special time and join with all to express their common faith. Those who are not Catholic also join in celebrating because they too help form this community and participate in the religious aspects of it as they are able.

More than any other program of education sponsored by the Church, the Catholic school has the opportunity and obligation to be unique, contemporary and oriented to Christian service; unique because it is distinguished by its commitment to the three fold purpose of Christian education and by its total design and operation which foster the integration of religion with the rest of learning and living; contemporary because it enables students to address with Christian insight multiple problems which face individuals and society today; oriented to Christian service because it helps students to acquire skills, virtues and habits of the heart and mind required for effective service to others.

– Sister Carol Shively, OSU
Superintendent of Catholic Schools

Click on the image to download the full report.

The Privilege of Being a Primary Educator

Children first encounter faith and morality in the home

(Sxc.hu/ Simona Balint)

My toddler is at the height of imitation in his little life right now. Whatever we say, he says. Whatever we do, he does. Our gestures, our inflection, our every move are all under the vigilant speculation of two absorbing, bright blue eyes. Andrew and I have a blast teaching him funny things to say and do and it’s hilarious seeing ourselves in his childlike interpretations.

It’s also pretty alarming.

For several years now, I’ve been familiar with the phrase “parents as primary educators,” but more so now that I have children. The idea seems simple enough: the role of educator is inherent to parenthood; and not just any educator, but the first. Simple, but not easy.

From the initial moments of life until death, children are forever assuming the attitudes and approaches to life of their parents. I read and have witnessed that even from within the womb, a child learns his mother’s vocal inflection and will mimic it back to her in his newborn cries. Further in life, kids tend to take on their parents’ passions and pursuits, and assuredly their personality traits. It’s not difficult for me to examine my own personality and trace my qualities and values back to one or both of my parents. I have my New Yorker mother’s sense of fun spontaneity and my Air Force father’s sense of practicality. While I certainly learned life lessons more formally seated at the kitchen table with them in conversation, processing one event or another, most of the principles I learned from them were in our day-to-day exchanges. There was no planning involved – just action and audience. They had my full attention whether they knew it or not.

The bottom line is that as a parent, you’re the first place your children will look for how to approach work and play, and, most importantly, faith. Though you may supplement your child’s catechetical instruction with PSR or a formal, Catholic education, what must necessarily foster the seeds planted in those environments is the foundation at home. The Catechism states, “Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God” (CCC, 2226). This is not only a responsibility, but a privilege and quite an exclusive one. It is our task to educate our children, and it is by no means a burden.

In these days, parents should be racing fast against a secularist culture to win as the first source of information from faith to sexuality; and the way to do that is by cultivating a connection of love and comfortability with your child who will undoubtedly have questions as they grow up. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be totally self-sufficient in this; when faced with a charge so daunting, I hesitate thinking that I have to do it all on my own; but God’s grace is enough and with the support of my husband, much prayer, and educating myself, I can achieve all things He asks of me, including the blessing of educating my children.

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

Lifelong Desire to Learn


Pictured: Fr. Rothell Price leads a discussion with his brother priests during the Good Leaders, Good Shepherds program.

Supporting continuing education for clergy

Many of us may believe that when a man is ordained to the diaconate or priesthood that his days of the formal learning process are over. Thankfully, nothing could be further from the truth. Because of your Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal, our priests and deacons have access to a variety of programs and retreats that help them continue their education and see to their healthy appetite for spiritual renewal.

Over the past quarter of a century, Appeal donations have helped sponsor speakers, presentations, retreats and most recently, the “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds” program specifically designed to help our clergy meet the challenges of the diminishing number of priests and the complex circumstances of pastoral ministry in today’s world.

“The Good Leaders, Good Shepherds program not only provided us with helpful education and insight,” commented Rev. Pike Thomas, Chair of the Continuing Education for Clergy Program maintained by the diocese, “but it also gave us valuable friendship opportunities as priests and deacons working together for the diocese and it enabled us to spend meaningful time with Bishop Duca who was newly arrived as our second bishop.”

Look for this important allocation of Appeal funding to continue as the need for deacons and pastors to stay abreast of today’s issues and tomorrow’s challenges remains. “A priest cannot be at his best as a pastoral minister unless he stays abreast of many things,” reminds Fr. Pike, “including the most current ways of expressing our theology, methods of catechesis, organization of parishes, and most of all, the elements of a healthy spirituality for both himself and those he serves.”

In honor of the exceptional stewardship shown by the people of our diocese, look for a monthly Appeal Ministry highlight in each issue of the Catholic Connection during this wonderful “Year of Faith.” May God bless our faithful donors who each year provide so much generosity which benefits so many throughout our diocese.

John Mark Willcox is the diocesan Director of Stewardship and Development. To give to the annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal that supports ministries like these, visit www.dioshpt.org/stewardship/stewardship.html.

All Things Transform

Trust God and embrace life’s disappointments

A mosaic depicts the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary. (CNS photo/Greg Tarczynski)

Sometimes our walk with God is so easy. Giving him worship and praise, praying unceasingly and bringing joy to the world flows from our every move. Still, there are times when life comes at us pretty hard and we have to make a choice.  Do we lean on our own understanding or do we continue to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus?

Our reactions to life’s disappointments are crucial to our ability to bring Jesus to the world. But, sometimes those disappointments are cruel, humiliating and even devastating.  The overwhelming evil of the spirit of disappointment can lead us to take matters into our own hands, or just give up.  The next time you find yourself in that situation, consider what Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, did in his time of embarrassing disappointment.

Matthew’s gospel tells us when Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child.  It may be hard for us to understand the painful reality that this story articulates.  An unfaithful fiancee’ or wife was to be publicly disgraced. The story tells us that Joseph, taking matters into his own hands, intended to divorce her quietly.  Instead, he listened to an angel in a dream and trusted God’s word and went on to live the life God had planned for him. The Lord turned Joseph’s mourning into joy. Oh yes, they endured public scrutiny but Joseph stopped thinking about what others would say and turned his thoughts to God’s word and plan.  Along with Mary, whom the Bible calls “blessed among women,” Joseph nurtured and raised the son of the living God, the savior of the world.  Luke 1:42

The next time life hits you with one of those cruel and humiliating disappointments, do what Joseph did. First, remember God has a definite and distinct plan for your life.  Second, lean only on the understanding that Jesus lives within you and allow his Holy Spirit to guide you.  Finally, remember “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28.

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.

Pro-Life Messengers

Sidewalk Counselor and Crossroads walkers visited Northwest Louisiana

Crossroads walkers visit local pro-life groups

July was an active month for the pro-life groups in Shreveport and Bossier City. On the weekend of July 6 the Cathedral’s One Life, St. Joseph’s VITA, and St. Jude’s Pro-Life Group sponsored a training program by Joanne Underwood, Director of Convert-to-Life/Sidewalk Counseling Ministry Catholic Pro-Life Committee from Dallas, TX. Joanne gave a very informative discussion of pro-life counseling techniques used in Dallas during a St. Jude’s dinner meeting.

The young adult Crossroads Walkers were also at the meeting. They stopped in Shreveport, which is about halfway on their long walk from California to Washington D.C., which ends on August 11. Each summer for the last 17 years (since 1995) groups of young college age adults participate in this pro-life awareness journey.

There are four United States walks this year beginning in Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles and all ending in Washington D.C.  There is also a Canadian walk from Vancouver to Ottawa and walks in Ireland and Spain. The southern group who visited the dinner/program was accompanied by Fr. Dan Pettee, T.O.R., of Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Roxie Tabor is the diocesan coordinator for pro-life activities and VITA Pro-Life ministries.