Vatican Media/CNA

Pope Exhorts Young People to Be Courageous; Encounter Christ on the 56th Annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations

from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops The 56th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations was celebrated by the Catholic Church on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 12, a More »

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One Last Time: Rinaudo Bids Farewell After More Than a Decade as Connection Editor

by Jessica Rinaudo As I began to work on this, my final issue of The Catholic Connection, I looked back and counted the number of issues I’ve put together over the past More »

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The Beauty of Parish Life

by Kim Long Recently I began to reflect on what God used to get my attention over 30 years ago when “becoming Catholic” began to go from a wild exotic notion to More »

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On the Trail of History: France and the Priest-Martyrs of 1873

by Fr. Peter B. Mangum As many are aware, I have been working on a project over the last two years to explore and raise awareness of the lives of five remarkable More »

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Ordination to the Priesthood

With Praise and Thanksgiving to Almighty God, the Diocese of Shreveport Announces with Great Joy the Ordination of Deacon Kevin Joseph Mues to the Sacred Order of Presbyter Through the Imposition of More »

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A “Slime” Sensation at St. Frederick High School

by Melissa Shepard St. Frederick High School Junior, Giselle Fakhre, has become a social media sensation. The 16-year-old entrepreneur and member of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish in Monroe, spends her time More »

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Humanitarian Award Presented to Sister Martinette

by Mary Ann Van Osdell Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS, 82, has dedicated her life to serving others around the world. On March 26, she received the first Humanitarian Award from the Sabine More »

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The Catholic Cemetery Tradition & Revitalizing St. Joseph Cemetery

from The Catholic Parish Cemetery & Randy Tiller Catholic cemeteries trace their roots back to the Jewish practice of providing separate burial grounds for community members. The early Christians continued this practice, More »

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Domestic Church: The Take-Aways

by Katie Sciba How do you begin a conclusion? When I started writing for The Catholic Connection over eight years ago, I had a two-year-old marriage and a one-year old son. My More »

Little Flower Church Honors Volunteer

Adrian Fischer, OFM, pastor of LITTLE FLOWER OF JESUS CHURCH IN MONROE presented a plaque of appreciation to Mr. Floyd Green for his beautification of the community around the church.

Cathedral School Performed “Mary” Play

ST. JOHN BERCHMANS Catholic school and parents were treated to a special play for the month of May given by our First Grade students!  It was the children’s idea to have the play, so Mrs. Claudia Park, first grade teacher, and Mrs. Tookie Barr, music teacher, set to work writing it and planning it.  The children told the story of the Annunciation, birth of Jesus, preaching of Jesus about angels and how Mary was finally taken to heaven as our Queen of the Angels. They also told about of the role of angels in Mary’s life and in our lives today as our helpers and guides. The children sang favorite songs of Mary and the angels with the grand finale – “Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above!”  We know Mary must have been smiling on our first graders!

Cathedral Participated in “One Million Rosaries”

The CATHEDRAL OF ST. JOHN BERCHMANS joined Fr. Shenan Boquet, President of Human Life International, and thousands of Catholics around the nation to pray the rosary and Litany for Liberty during his campaign, “One Million Rosaries,” for 14 days to ensure conscience rights and religious freedom for our country. Pictured: Fr. Peter Mangum and Maria Berg prayed during the Fortnight for Freedom at St. Michael the Archangel Chapel.

St. Joseph School Students Received Blessing

Fr. Thomas Elavunkal blessed the students at ST. JOSEPH SCHOOL in each grade level for their academic and spiritual achievements. He, alongside Seminarian Jerry Daigle, commissioned the students forward to a fun-filled summer and for a safe return in August.

Sacred Heart Had Novena to the Holy Spirit

Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Shreveport held their first nine day “Novena to the Holy Spirit”, May 18 through May 26, 2012. Celebrants Fr. Francis Kamau, Fr. Michael Thang’wa, Fr. Thomas John, Fr. Andre McGrath, Msgr. Carson LaCaze and Bishop Michael Duca gave inspirational homilies on the Novena and the Holy Spirit. The novena choir, under the direction of Charles Stewart, was composed of parishioners from St. Jude, St. Mary of the Pines, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and Sacred Heart churches. The singers were uplifting as they sang in praise to the Holy Spirit.  Pictured: “Sacred Heart’s Prayer Wall” set up for prayer requests to the Holy Spirit during the Novena.

Bishop Duca Gave Benediction at LSU Health Graduation

Bishop Michael G. Duca gave the invocation and benediction at LSU Health Shreveport’s commencement exercises May 26 at the Centenary Gold Dome. Pictured with Chris Gorman, Board of Regents member, and William Jenkins, DVM PhD, Interim President of the Louisiana State University System. LSU Health Shreveport awarded degrees to 173 students from the School of Medicine, School of Allied Health Professions and School of Graduate Studies at graduation. (Photo by Randy Inderman/LSU Health Shreveport).

St. Jude Youth Build Home in Arkansas

The Youth of St. Jude Church in Bossier City have been busy building the kingdom, literally!  June 8 -13 ten wonderful young people participated in Habitat for Humanity’s Youth Build in Saline County, Arkansas. What started as a slab of concrete and a pile of boards is now well on its way to becoming a home!

Fr. Philip Pazhayakari Celebrated 50th Jubilee

Fr. Philip Pazhayakari, CMI, pastor of SACRED HEART OF JESUS CHURCH IN RAYVILLE and ST. THERESA CHURCH IN DELHI, celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest on May 16, 2012. Pictured: Father Philip Pazhayakari, CMI, celebrated his 50th jubilee with the parishioners from both Sacred Heart and St. Theresa churches.

Marriage & Family Life Ministry

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by Kelly Phelan Powell

In decades past, the word “family,” especially within the context of the Church, referred almost exclusively to the traditional nuclear family: mom, dad and a larger-than-average number of children. These days, however, there are many different iterations of “family” in parish life. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has recently launched an initiative in support of traditional Christian marriage, and the Diocese of Shreveport has followed suit with a renewed focus on Marriage and Family Life Ministries. And thankfully, some of these programs address aspects of the family that have been largely overlooked until now.

In a culture in which the significance of marriage is continuously and insidiously eroded, the USCCB holds fast in its insistence that marriage is and has always been “the ‘cradle’ of life and of every vocation.” The bishops go on to say, “We are well aware that the family founded on marriage is the natural environment in which to bear and raise children and thereby guarantee the future of all humanity. However, we also know that marriage is going through a deep crisis and today must face numerous challenges. It is consequently necessary to defend, help, safeguard and value it in its unrepeatable uniqueness. If this commitment is in the first place the duty of spouses, it is also a priority duty of the Church and of every public institution to support the family by means of pastoral and political initiatives that take into account the real needs of married couples, of the elderly and of the new generations.” (Angelus Talk, February 4, 2007)

But while marriage is inarguably the foundation of the family, the reality of life in the 21st Century is that not every family includes a marriage. Dotye Sue Stanford, Director of Family Life Ministries at St. Joseph Church in Shreveport, said this fact is due to our God-given freedom of choice. “God asks very little of us,” she said. “He asks us to love one another and to help each other get to heaven…but because He gave us free will, we have divorce, we have singleness and we have death.” She further emphasized that even in these states, the family still exists, even if that family includes only one person. “You’re still a part of God’s family and the Church’s family,” she said.

Programs throughout the diocese address the specific needs of different kinds of families – single life as a vocation, marriage as a vocation, family life and children, empty nesters, widows and widowers and divorce and annulment. You may be aware of some of these programs in your home parish, but others are less well known. The Marriage and Family Life Ministries page on the diocese’s website has contact information for each of these programs. Go to www.dioshpt.org and click on “Marriage and Family Life” under “Ministries.”

This past spring, the parishes of the diocese sponsored a six-session Divorce Recovery Program at the Catholic Center. Utilizing tools such as group discussion as well as a video series, the course helped people come to terms with their divorces and begin to heal their emotional wounds. The program was successful, so new dates will be announced soon.

Coming up in June is a two-day marriage intensive, with topics including “The Fight-Free Marriage” and “Contraception: What’s the Big Deal?” Presented by Timothy and Kristin Putnam of the Tulsa Diocese, this free event will be held June 10 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. and June 11 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in the St. Michael the Archangel Chapel. For more information, visit www.sjbcathedral.org.

Aside from addressing the needs of the faithful, these programs help bring non-practicing Catholics back to the Church. “People who may have felt shunned or like they didn’t belong since they weren’t married or didn’t have children feel important and included,” Stanford said. “There’s a place for everyone in the Church.” They also make the parish feel more like a home and encourage people to get involved at both a parish and a diocesan level.

As a director of Family Life Ministries, Stanford said this work is, for her, a calling. “I feel like this is what God wants me to do in Family Life, is go out and get these programs started at all the other parishes,” she said. She also pointed out that although their work may not have the “Family Life” title, all those involved with baptism, faith formation, engaged couples, weddings, divorce survival groups and grief processing are all part of family life. “There are so many doing the same thing,” she said. “Cathy Cobb [at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church]…Carol Gates [at the Cathedral]…I want them to see, ‘You’re doing family life, too. This is the divorce part of family life, this is the singles part of family life, these are the elderly, these are the empty-nesters.’”

Stanford urges all those within the diocese who are involved in some way with formation of the family to join the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (www.nacflm.org). It’s a great resource for education, mutual support, networking and advocacy.

In fact, she’s trying to get as many as possible of the 18 couples who are involved in marriage ministry to attend the 2012 international conference of the NACFLM, “Strengthening Marriages and Families in Today’s Culture,” held this year in Dallas July 25 through 28. There are a number of “tracts” available for attendees, depending on the individual needs of their parishes, including a Hispanic/Latino tract and an after-divorce tract. Stanford is seeking sponsors to help offset the cost of the conference; if you know of a business or individual who might like to contribute, please contact her at (318) 865-3581, extension 23, or dstanford@stjosephchurch.net.

The best ways to strengthen the family in all its forms, Stanford feels, are often the simplest. A good example she gave is the “Get Back to the Table” movement, where families make a concerted effort to sit down at the dinner table and eat at least one meal together each day without television, computers, homework or other distractions. Another way is to keep the Sabbath sacred and uphold the Sunday Mass obligation by removing activities that may come before or detract from God and the Church.

The diocese recognizes not only the importance of family, but the many forms that a Catholic Christian family can take. Family in all its configurations is a treasured part of parish life. Every parish has ways to offer ministry, fellowship and resources to help every family grow in faith. To take part in any of these valuable programs or to learn how you can help, visit your parish’s website or www.dioshpt.org.

MEET THE DEPARTMENTS: Worship, Permanent Diaconate and Information Systems

During the 25th anniversary year of the Diocese of Shreveport we are profiling those who work in each department for the diocese. We hope this helps you get to know the people who work for you.

Office of Worship assists in the sacramental and liturgical ministry of the diocese and its parishes, providing liturgical resources and formation to priests, parishes and the faithful to enrich the worship of the Church.

Dianne Rachal:  I have been Director of the Office of Worship for six years. I am also adjunct faculty for Greco Institute and a spiritual director.  I am married to Steve, and we have one son and four daughters. My hobby is going to school, and I just completed a second Master’s degree in Theological Studies from the University of Dallas. Contact me if you have questions about liturgy, sacraments, training of parish liturgical ministers, etc.

Brandy Wood:  I serve as Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Office of Worship and Permanent Diaconate. I am married to Matt and have one daughter and three sons. I have worked for the Diocese of Shreveport since August 2009. If you have any questions or need help concerning the Office of Worship or the Permanent Diaconate please call me.

Permanent Diaconate reaches out to all the people of God through the identification and formation of men for service as permanent deacons. This office also assists and supervises the ordained permanent deacons in their ministry and assignment.

Deacon Clary Nash: I was ordained in June 1986. I currently serve at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church as the Community Coordinator.  I am the Coordinator of the Permanent Diaconate for the diocese, including the formation of future deacons. I retired from General Motors after 34 years with management experience. I received a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University. My wife, Mary, and I have been married 40 + years with two sons and four grandchildren.

Information Systems is responsible for implementation, management and technical support for the diocese’s internet, email, desktops, servers, network and data security systems and serves as technical support to parishes and parish-based organizations.

Patricia Pillors: I am Director of Information Systems. I began work in the diocese in 1985 in the Schools Office and was appointed Director of Information Systems in 2000. As director, I am responsible for the implementation, management and technical support for the diocese’s internet, email, telephone system, desktops, servers, network and data security systems. I also serve as technical support to parishes, diocesan organizations and parish-based organizations throughout the diocese.