Exploring the History of St. Matthew Church

By John Mark Willcox Exiting I-20 in downtown Monroe on Jackson Street you are met with a beautiful sight….the majestic spire of St. Matthew Church which has stood in downtown Monroe for More »

Discerning a Vocation in Elementary and Middle School

by Seminarian Raney Johnson It might seem too early to begin discerning a vocation in elementary and middle school. Yet, whenever I give a talk about vocations to young Catholics, I remind More »

Rite of Candidacy

A Q&A About the Rite of Candidacy with Seminarian Jeb Key Q: What is the Rite of Candidacy?  Candidacy is a rite in the Church that all people aspiring to receive the More »

Fr. Peter B. Mangum Addresses Thoughts on June USCCB Meeting and the Future of the Diocese

By: Fr. Peter B. Mangum   Dear People of Shreveport, I begin this article on Pentecost Sunday, preparing for the gathering of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore. More »

El padre Peter informa sobre la reunión del USCCB en junio y el futuro de la Diócesis

Querida Gente de la Diócesis de Shreveport Comienzo este artículo en Domingo de Pentecostés mientras me preparo para la reunión de la Conferencia Episcopal de los Obispos Católicos de Los Estados Unidos, More »

The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

by Kim Long On the 15th day of August, we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Body and Soul into heaven. The feast, which has a long More »

Holistic Catholic Education

By: Mike Van Vranken Almost forty years ago, I heard someone respond to the question “what do Catholics believe” with the confident answer: “We believe it all!”  Over the years, and often More »

The Life of Sister Maria Smith, D.C.

by Patti Underwood On Holy Thursday, we in the Diocese of Shreveport and beyond lost a rare treasure, Sister Maria Smith, D.C.  Sister Maria was Mother Superior of the Daughters of the More »

Faithful Step Up in Wake of Tornado Devastation

by Walter Johnson On April 25, the city of Ruston found itself reeling from an EF3 tornado that blew into the area in the early hours of Thursday morning. The vicious storm More »

Diaconate Formation Completes Second Year

Written by Mike Whitehead
Photos by Mike Whitehead & Jessica Rinaudo

Chris Domingue places his pen on the table so he can hold the notes on his white, lined pad in both hands. As the recorder for his breakout group, it’s Domingue’s responsibility to demonstrate how ministerial ethics is intrinsically linked to the Cardinal virtues.

Heady stuff, for sure, but it’s just another teachable moment for the 16 candidates in the Diocese of Shreveport’s Diaconate formation. The group just completed its first two years of a four-year formation. At the end of the formation, the men will be eligible for ordination in the spring of 2014.

“Each class I complete, each paper I write is an answer to God’s call,” said Domingue, who is one of the candidates in the formation and a member of the Church of Jesus the Good Shepherd in Monroe. “I didn’t realize how hungry I am to learn more about my faith, and I definitely look forward to growing in knowledge. All of this is part of the journey where God is leading me and I am embracing everything with open arms.”

For all 16 men in formation it has been quite a journey.

The candidates meet for class at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church student center in Ruston from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., three weekend days each month, from September through April. The classes, whose topics range from scripture, spirituality and theology, to ministry, philosophy and church history, are all taught through the University of Dallas.
When you poll each person attending classes, you discover one common thread –– the University of Dallas professors are first-rate. Even though they travel a long distance to teach, they enjoy being with the students because everyone in the room is eager to learn more about their faith, their Church and their ministry.
“I [knew] that the participants would be committed, prayerful and engaged,” said Peter Jones, who has taught multiple classes and is one of many favorite professors. “And these qualities make for great students.”

Deacon candidates Charles Thomas, David Nagem and Steve Lehr compare notes during their weekend deacon formation classes at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston, LA.

Father Pat Madden, another respected professor who also has taught multiple classes, said he hopes the students take away the love of learning. “In the classes, I hope to provide them with the tools that will enable them to continue their studies of scripture, theology and pastoral practice that will enable them to be life-long learners. I hope they will take away a ‘hunger for more.’”

Providing these quality professors comes at a cost. The Diocese of Shreveport has made a huge commitment to the formation in dollars –– it costs $50,000 per year to fund the program. To show his commitment to his vocational call, each candidate pays $400 per semester for tuition. They also are responsible for buying their books and other materials for class. A portion of the 2012 Diocesan Service Appeal will also help defray costs for the formation.

“The current formation is many times better than the first program (mine, from 1981-1986) and several times better than the last formation (2000-2005),” said Deacon Clary Nash, Director of the Permanent Diaconate and the Permanent Deacon Formation Program for the diocese. “The difference is academic standards of The University of Dallas and the caliber of instructors with diaconate training experience.”
Deacon Oscar Hannibal, who is Deacon Nash’s partner in leading the formation program and the Ruston liaison, likes to state it in pastoral terms: “Every one of these men is precious to me.”

By looking through the lens of 20/20 hindsight, each formation should be better than the last. The decision to have the University of Dallas as the centerpiece of the program led to another important outcome –– a higher standard has been set for being ordained a permanent deacon.

“A new bar has been raised, and the men in formation have willingly accepted that challenge,” said Deacon Nash.

To hold that high standard, candidates are busy when they aren’t in class. They spend their time praying the Liturgy of the Hours twice daily, devouring textbooks and writing papers. By the end of the formation, each candidate will have spent close to 1,500 hours in preparation for his ordination.

Candidates aren’t alone in their journey of faith. Their wives also play a pivotal role in the formation. To be accepted into the formation, each man must have the support of his wife. Then, each year, the candidate’s spouse must renew that commitment. For all practical purposes, entering the diaconate is a partnership between husband and wife. One Sunday a month, the wives join their husbands for the day. Half the day is spent in studying spirituality and half the day is spent in pastoral training.

“During the application process, Deacon Clary told Natalie [my wife] and me how the diaconate was going to change our lives,” said Candidate Charles Thomas, a member of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Shreveport. “After two years, we have seen our spiritual life, ministry in the church and our marriage brought to another level.”

Even though the diaconate has been an integral part of the Church since the Second Vatican Council, the definition of a deacon can sometimes still be quite elusive. What is a deacon? What does a deacon do?
A deacon is an ordained minister of the church. It is a life of service to God’s people. In fact, if you had to define a deacon in one word, it would be “service.” There also is a significant social justice component to the ministry. Since deacons were first instituted in the beginning of Christianity, serving the poor is rooted in the diaconate tradition.

Diaconate Candidates pose together in the St. Thomas Aquinas classroom. Back Row (L to R): Chris Domingue, Robert Ransom, Marc Vereen, Danny LeMoine, David Nagem, Ricardo Rivera, Charles Thomas, Scott Brandle, Orlando Batongbakal, Bill Kleinpeter, Mike Whitehead. Front Row (L to R): Steve Lehr, Mike Wise, Bill Goss, Jack Lynch and Tom Deal.

“The purpose of a deacon is to serve, especially the weakest, the least known and the least appreciated people,” said Candidate Bill Kleinpeter, a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mansfield.

Candidate Ricardo Rivera sees his calling in Spanish ministry, helping at Christ the King Catholic Church. “It always comes down to where you are needed.”

As ministers of the word, deacons proclaim the gospel, preach and teach in the name of the Church. As ministers of sacrament, deacons can baptize, witness marriages and conduct funeral services. Deacon Nash often says a deacon spends about 15 percent of his time on the altar and 85 percent of his time working in the community. A deacon is not a “mini-priest” or a “super altar server.” It’s a distinct ministry in our Church, alongside bishops, priests and the laity.

Deacon Nash is already looking forward to the next two years,  “It should be even more fruitful.”
Mike Whitehead is a freelance writer from Shreveport, a Candidate in the current diaconate formation and a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church.


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.

Top left to right: Randy Tiller, Director of Mission Effectiveness; Bishop Michael G. Duca; Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia. Bottom left to right: Elaine Gallion, Secretary to the Bishop; Christine Rivers, Chancellor; Linda Easter, Administrative Assistant to the Chancery Office.

The Bishop is the chief pastor and leader of the diocese.  He is the teacher of faith, priest of sacred worship and minister of governance for the people of this particular church, the Diocese of Shreveport.

Bishop Michael G. Duca is a native of Dallas, TX. He was ordained a priest on April 29, 1978 for the Diocese of Dallas. He was called to the order of bishop on April 1, 2008, by Pope Benedict XVI, and ordained and installed as the second Bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport on May 19, 2008.

Elaine Gallion: I serve as secretary to Bishop Michael Duca. I have three children: Kristi, Michael and Rachel.  I am a parishioner of St. Mary of the Pines Church.  My service in the diocese began almost 23 years ago, first in Greco Institute and the Office of Bishop in 1993.  I enjoy working with Bishop Duca and being of assistance to our priests and all parishioners of the diocese.

Fr. Rothell Price:  I have been an ordained priest for 22 years. I wear two hats in our diocesan office. As Vicar General, I assist the bishop in his governance of the diocese. I attend to the various administrative, pastoral, and procedural tasks the bishop entrusts to my care.  As Moderator of the Curia, I am responsible for overseeing and guiding the day to day work and collaboration of the various departments and personnel who constitute our Catholic Center family. My favorite part of my responsibility is giving assistance to the bishop and showing appreciation to the Catholic Center staff for their talented gifts and supportive ministries to our priests and religious men and women, parish leadership teams and the faithful people of our diocese.

Linda Easter:  I am the Administrative Assistant to the Chancery Office, the location for the offices of the Bishop, the Vicar General, the Chancellor and the Director of Mission Effectiveness.  I assist the Vicar General, Chancellor and the Director of Mission Effectiveness in their day to day tasks. Resolving questions and providing answers to parishioners throughout the diocese is the most rewarding part of my work.

Christine Rivers: I am the Chancellor.  I began work in the Shreveport office of the Diocese of Alexandria-Shreveport in 1982 and was included as a staff member of the Shreveport Diocese at our establishment in 1986.  In 2003 I was privileged to be appointed as Chancellor.  When an individual or parish calls the Chancellor’s Office with a question, we try to make sure that the correct information is given or a resource provided to answer their request. Helping an elderly person locate a sacramental record of baptism to establish date of birth so that retirement or medical benefits can be received is a very gratifying part of the work of the Chancellor.

Randy Tiller: I am the Director of Mission Effectiveness. I travel throughout the diocese working with the various parish councils,  the pastors and lay leaders to develop the mission, goals and objectives that correlate to the mission of the diocese and the universal church. My son is a senior at Louisiana Tech in Mechanical Engineering. I am a lifelong resident of Shreveport and parishioner of St. Joseph Church in Shreveport. I enjoy exploring the concerns and issues of our parishes and rejoice in opportunities and solutions each parish discerns for their particular needs.

Catholics Urged to Resist Unjust Laws, Join in ‘Fortnight for Freedom’

by Nancy Frazier O’Brien, Catholic News Service

Fireworks light up the sky around the U.S. Capitol and Washington Monument on Independence Day last year. In a new statement released April 12, an ad hoc committee of the U.S. bishops’ outlined examples of threats to religious liberty and urged Catholics to resist unjust laws. It called for “a fortnight for freedom” from June 21 to July 4 for prayer, study and public action emphasizing the Christian and American heritage of liberty. (CNS photo/Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — American Catholics must resist unjust laws “as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith,” a committee of the U.S. bishops said in a new statement on religious liberty.
Titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” the 12-page statement by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty also calls for “a fortnight for freedom” from June 21, the vigil of the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, to July 4, U.S. Independence Day.

“This special period of prayer, study, catechesis and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty,” the committee said. “Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.”

The ad hoc committee opened its statement with several “concrete examples” of recent threats to religious liberty, saying that “this is not a theological or legal dispute without real-world consequences.”

Cited first was the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate that most health plans must include contraception, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs free of charge, even if the employer is morally opposed to such services.

“In an unprecedented way, the federal government will both force religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching and purport to define which religious institutions are ‘religious enough’ to merit protection of their religious liberty,” the statement said. “These features of the ‘preventive services’ mandate amount to an unjust law.”

Among other examples of “religious liberty under attack” the bishops named:

– Immigration laws in Alabama and other states that “forbid what the government deems ‘harboring’ of undocumented immigrants — and what the church deems Christian charity and pastoral care to those immigrants.”

– An attempt by the Connecticut Legislature in 2009 to restructure Catholic parishes.

– Discrimination against Christian students on college campuses.

– A New York City rule that bars small church congregations from renting public schools on weekends for worship services, while allowing such rentals by nonreligious groups.

– Changes in federal contracts for human trafficking grants that require Catholic agencies “to refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching.”

The statement quotes the Founding Fathers and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to bolster its arguments.
Rev. King, writing from jail in Birmingham, AL, in 1963, described an unjust law as one “that is out of harmony with the moral law,” and said he agreed with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

“An unjust law cannot be obeyed,” the bishops’ statement said. “In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices.”
“If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them,” it added. “No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.”

The bishops also distinguished between conscientious objection and an unjust law.

“Conscientious objection permits some relief to those who object to a just law for reasons of conscience — conscription being the most well-known example,” the committee said. “An unjust law is ‘no law at all.’ It cannot be obeyed, and therefore one does not seek relief from it, but rather its repeal.”

The statement also raised the issue of religious freedom abroad and said “the age of martyrdom has not passed.”

“Assassinations, bombings of churches, torching of orphanages — these are only the most violent attacks Christians have suffered because of their faith in Jesus Christ,” the bishops said. “It is our task to strengthen religious liberty at home, … so that we might defend it more vigorously abroad.”

The statement called on “American foreign policy, as well as the vast international network of Catholic agencies” to make “the promotion of religious liberty an ongoing and urgent priority.”

The bishops assigned special responsibility for advancing religious freedom to several groups:
– Those who hold public office must “protect and defend those fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights,” regardless of their political party.

– Leaders of Catholic hospitals, universities and social service agencies “who may be forced to choose between the good works we do by faith, and fidelity to that faith itself” were encouraged to “hold firm, to stand fast and to insist upon what belongs to you by right as Catholics and Americans.”

– Priests must offer “a catechesis on religious liberty suited to the souls in your care,” a responsibility that is shared with “writers, producers, artists, publishers, filmmakers and bloggers employing all the means of communications.”

Three Brothers of the Lyke Community to Profess Vows

by Fr. Francis Kamau, FMH

On Friday, June 1, Brothers Paul Mutisya, Moses Mabele and Geoffrey Muga will have their Solemn Profession of Vows as Franciscan Missionaries of Hope at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Shreveport at 5:00 p.m. The following day, Saturday, June 2, Brother Geoffrey Muga will be ordained a transitional deacon by Bishop Michael G. Duca at St. Mary of the Pines Church in Shreveport at 10:00 a.m.
The Lyke Community is a Catholic congregation of priests and brothers inspired by the Holy Spirit to live together and observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ following the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi in witnessing to the life of poverty, chastity and obedience while committing to the mission and ministry of hope to God’s people.

The Lyke Community began in Nairobi, Kenya in September 1993 by young men who had undergone their initial formation in the Order of Friars Minor: Fr. Francis Kamau (who currently serves as pastor of St. Mary of the Pines Church in Shreveport), Fr. John Basiimwa, Fr. Nicholas Onyach and Fr. Jogues Abenawe. Fr. Andre McGrath, OFM,  at that time the Rector of Tangaza College in Nairobi, played a major role in the community’s foundation and  is considered a co-founder and sponsor of the congregation. Fr. Andre now serves as pastor of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Shreveport.

Since their foundation, the religious brothers have called themselves “The Lyke Community” in honor of the the late Archbishop James Patterson Lyke, the Archbishop of Atlanta, because he had visited the brothers and encouraged them before their foundation.

Brother Moses Mabele is a native of Kenya and currently finishing his theological studies at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.

Brother Paul Mutisya is a native of Kenya and in his second year of theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.

Brother Geoffrey Muga is a native of Kenya and currently finishing his Masters of Divinity at Washington Theological Union in Washington D.C.

Please join these men on June 1 and 2 as they continue down the paths of their religious vocations.

Trust and Listen

by Kim Long, DRE, St. Mary of the Pines Church

I can not deny that the last two Lents have been difficult for a variety of reasons. I am buoyed today and I didn’t expect that this feeling of renewal would rest in me again.

The past two years I have been like a chicken—hunting and pecking at the liturgical year searching for clues, reminders, reassurances that Julian of Norwich’s statement that  “all will be well” will hold true for me also.

Two weeks ago, right before Holy Week, I had emergency surgery, not life threatening, but serious enough to be sent from my doctor’s office straight to the hospital. No time to pack a bag, change my schedule, no time for much of anything except prayer, phone calls and some text messages.

But now Easter has arrived and we have gathered with various groups to celebrate that love is stronger than death. Here is the scene:

The sun is shining on my paper, the green leaves of spring providing just enough shade and comfort. I am not in my Easter dress, but rather cut off shorts and a t-shirt. My adult children and assorted family members have scared up an impromptu lacrosse game. Our menu today was no Martha Stewart inspired creation held tightly in the fist of my cooking repertoire. Instead my kids took over, planned a cookout, shopped for the groceries and cooked most of the food.

I am sitting on the deck outside feeling, among other things, the humility surgery or illness brings when we are reminded that we are not physically invincible. I am also feeling joy, contentment and a little nostalgia. I wondered, before becoming ill two weeks ago, what I learned this year during Lent? It felt like I had skipped school. Today I understand the lesson: trust and letting go. It began with the food planning and the realization that this Easter was going to be spent at home recovering instead of in a lily-filled church. I had to let go of the need to be in control of the “picture perfect outcome” of Easters past; where it will end remains to be seen.

The communion of saints played into the lesson also. My parents, who have been dead for several years, were there on the deck through the mediums of genetics and music. The boys made a big effort to bring music to our cookout, and not just any music, but the music I grew up with, the music of my parents, Motown – a strange manifestation of the fact that life goes on and on.

Music is special to me. I remember my parents slow dancing with one another in the living room after they thought we were asleep. Keeping watch from our post next to the refrigerator, my siblings and I thought at that moment they looked magical, holy, complete and peaceful.

Motown is playing now and I hear the lyric, “it’s in his kiss, that’s how you know.” And I think of Judas and Jesus and all that passed between two friends in that moment of knowledge, betrayal and forgiveness. Now the Isley Brothers are belting it out, singing about “this old heart of mine” and I see the sacred heart of Jesus and am once again reassured that there is room in his heart for all.

Easter as a liturgical season lasts for 50 days, but I don’t often think of each Sunday as a little Easter in those terms. I get a little bogged down in the counting of time. This year I pray that as our cantor reminds us that we are in a certain season, I will recall this warm day full of the promise that letting go and letting God brought me and that I will carry that promise forward each day.

Julian of Norwich was spot on, all things ARE well even if they were not particularly conventional this year.
Here endeth the lesson. Bless us O Lord and these your gifts which we are learning to accept.

Senior Month: The L’s and W’s of Life

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

What makes an ‘old’ person unique?

Calling someone ‘old’, I believe, packs many different levels of meaning. You hear the phrases: crabby old person, happy old person, mean old person, kind old person and wise old person. But as the person who has lived the “L’s of Life,” live, listen, learn, love and laugh, or the “W’s of Life”, well, wise and whole, you don’t have to worry about some of the nastier adjectives applying to you.

In your mental album, you can trace the progress you have made as you became older and wiser. Have you learned to engage your body, mind and spirit in every aspect of your aging? This would have involved the three W’s.

For me, old age is the most creative, fruitful and fulfilling period of my life. It’s my special time to ponder and wonder in awe at the ‘blueprint’ God gave me at birth. These are moments to be treasured as I celebrate the month of May, which is dedicated to us agers around the world. Let’s rejuvenate our spirits, enjoy the moment and savor the best part.

“I will prove myself worthy of old age and leave to the young a noble example of how to die.” 2 Maccabees.
Our aging cannot be repeated, so express it with a quiet spirit and a lasting charm. To travel across the abyss between life and death, we need to be the best agers we can now because our journeys will eventually end and we will be homeward bound to heaven.

Aging is our necessary process in order to pass on to a better world; it is not a plague. Our death is merely a brief passage, a tunnel. Dare to live until the very last. Give something of yourself to others even when it seems there is nothing more to give. Be at peace and join me in the quest for a body worthy of resurrection when God will gently set our feet on heavenly soil.

Can we truthfully say we are the aging women and men God meant us to be? Some one wrote a letter to God and asked Him, “Why do people have to grow old?” God replied, “I find your question and thinking rather puzzling, but for me, the most beautiful moment on earth is seeing old people. They are my human sunsets.” Wow! Sunsets are probably the most awesome artwork God could possibly do with nature.

Lord, God, I am one of those called by you into old age, a call not given to all, not given to Jesus, and to many of my friends gone before me. Embrace me Lord, in every aspect of my aging eyesight, hearing, weakening legs and as my walking becomes more difficult. Be with me when my mind becomes less alert and my memory fades away. May my love for you continue when my heart slows after the work of all these years and may it rest securely in your loving heart until I am lost in you. Amen.

Catholic Charities Grows with Support of Diocesan Catholics

by Theresa Mormino

Many have asked for an update on progress for Gabriel’s Closet, Catholic Charities of Shreveport’s newest program. This Closet, which will provide essentials like baby furniture, gear, clothing and bottles for low-income new moms and their small children, is fully staffed by volunteers. We are especially blessed to have volunteer nurses who will conduct parenting classes. Most recently, we’ve added a maternity clothing section that we hope will bring these new mothers to us sooner, giving us a better opportunity to assist, educate and guide those young women in need. We’ll announce the opening of Gabriel’s Closet soon! Please visit our Facebook page for updates.

Since Catholic Charities of Shreveport opened its doors in July 2010, we have seen enormous growth in requests for emergency financial assistance for rent, utilities and other pressing and often critical needs by those who come to us for assistance. Unmet need is a difficult and troubling part of Catholic Charities across our nation and within our own diocese as well. We’ve served over 2,000 individuals since opening and have added an Immigration Center to raise awareness in our community about the difficulties faced by local immigrant families and to help them improve their living conditions and promote the welfare of their children.We are also planning Financial Education classes that will become a requirement for those who have received financial assistance. It is our desire to help the poor and vulnerable toward a more self-sufficient life.

Thankfully, the Diocesan Stewardship Appeal’s support of Catholic Charities of Shreveport is enabling us to go forward with these programs. We fill a gap that many other agencies are not presently offering, especially because our programs are preventative.

Because Catholic Charities of Shreveport is still so new to this diocese, many are unaware of the enormous scope of Catholic Charities in the U.S. In fact, it is the second largest human service organization in the country!  CCUSA member agencies provide help and create hope for more than 10 million people each year. Catholic Charities of Shreveport is proud to be a member of the Catholic Charities U.S.A. network.

The average poverty rate for our diocese is above the national average and the child poverty rate for children under age 5 is staggering, at 22.98% and 36.39% respectively.  As you consider this sobering information, please remember to pray for the victims of hunger, fear, injustice and oppression and for the success of Catholic Charities of Shreveport, that we might be blessed with more funding for emergency assistance. Let us all pray for an end to higher poverty levels. That, after all, is the dream – to live to see an end to poverty.  Some say that’s an impossibility, but we know that all things are possible through the grace of God!

Second Collection: Diocese of Shreveport Retired Priests Fund

by Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General

Bulletin Announcement Dates:  May 6th & 13th
Collection Dates: May 19th & 20th

Perhaps you are familiar with the picture of the old man giving thanks over his meal. There is a similar picture of an old woman doing the same.  Sometimes those two images are brought together in one frame. Several things capture us in that painting: the hands and devotion of that woman and man certainly speak to our hearts. In their hands that have aged with time and duties, we see grace and a mysterious strength.  In their bowed heads and serene faces, we behold devotion, thankfulness, wisdom and trust.  Such are the hands and faces of the retired priests of our diocese. Whenever we are around them we are drawn to them and their aged hands and kindly faces. The grace and strength of many years of priestly ministry are manifested in their inspiring hands and their faces speak to our hearts.  Whether it’s at a special occasion Mass, a small intimate supper, or some other gathering, we are mesmerized by old, grace-filled hands and mysteriously calm faces. They have served the Lord and us well, and they continue to do so with the strength that only a long union with God can provide when the body is tired, the mind is not quite so focused, and limitation hampers their every intention.  Please give generously to the Diocese of Shreveport Retired Priests Fund.

Let’s lovingly recall those old hands and faces, shall we?  Bishop William Friend, Msgr. Murray Clayton, Msgr. Franz Graef, Fr. Walter Ebarb, Fr. John Kennedy, Fr. Roger McMullen, Msgr. Edmund Moore, Fr. Joseph Puthuppally, Fr. Patrick Scully and Fr. Kenneth Williams. These are the lives, hands and faces behind your generosity to this collection. These men are the human incarnations in our midst of the gratitude you show to God through your heartfelt giving. And let’s not forget those other old grace-filled hands of priests who are past retirement age but who continue to spend themselves for the Lord and his people: Msgr. Carson LaCaze, Fr. Richard Lombard, Fr. Larry Niehoff and Msgr. Earl Provenza.  For their strength, comfort and tranquility in their old age, please give generously to the Diocese of Shreveport Retired Priests Collection.  Your kindness will brighten their days and carry them the whole year through.

I hope you have turned in your Operation Rice Bowls which further the work of Catholic Relief Services, and I thank you for participating in that great Lenten devotion. Thank you also for your participation in the Pontifical Good Friday Holy Land Collection, the Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection and the Home Mission Appeal Collection.  May the peace of the Risen Christ make you glad, alleluia!

St. Terence Church, Many

by Linda Webster, PhD

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

St. Terence is one of the newer parishes in the Diocese of Shreveport, established in 1996 to serve the Catholics in the Toledo Bend area. Originally, St. Terence was located in Pleasant Hill until lack of attendance forced the church to close in 1992.

The church building was an old army barracks purchased from Camp Claiborne by Bishop Greco in 1948. Moved to Toledo Bend in 1994, the building was renovated but age and termite damage limited what the congregation could do.

“When the mission was relocated, there was a lot of hope and vision but no money,” wrote Buddy Polson, the parish historian. “It was a proud little church but its size soon became its biggest problem.”

About 20 people showed up for the first Mass, and then attendance skyrocketed, outstripping the capacity of the church with many faithful standing in the doorway as well as outside for Sunday Mass.  Since the building could not be enlarged due to the structural damage, parishioners began campaigning with Msgr. Buvens in 1995 for a new church. Although Bishop William Friend approved plans for a 3,000 square foot building, funding was still a large problem.

Fr. Joe Martina & Deacon Mike Sullivan distribute the Eucharist during Mass at St. Terence Church.

“We looked around the congregation and realized that most of us were retired engineers, carpenters and others who had the skills to do the actual construction,” said Polson.  “In fact, about 90% of our congregation is retired. What we needed was the money to buy supplies. We could build it ourselves.”

With a grant from the Catholic Extension Society, ground was broken for the new church exactly one year after the old barracks opened its doors. That structure still stands, serving as the parish hall.

“It was amazing,” he chuckled.  “We’d work from about 7:00 a.m. through noon, then everyone else would go home to take naps while I took the list of supplies that we needed for the next day, loaded up my truck with building materials, and came back so that we could start early the next morning.”

The church is located right on Hwy 191, which is very convenient for weekend vacationers at Toledo Bend.  It’s also a very visible location for passers-by.

“People stopped all the time while we were building.  Some wanted to make a contribution toward the construction, others offered to volunteer their time. One church group from another denomination asked if they could hire us to build their church when we finished.”

His eyes twinkled as he recounted their reply: “Sorry, but we’re all REALLY retired when this one is done!”
Creating the interior took everyone’s help.  The pews were purchased from St. Rita in Alexandria which had burned in 1994.  They needed to be cleaned and sanded and refinished as a result of the fire damage.

“We stored them in a chicken coop where the ladies of the church worked through the summer getting them ready.  It was hot – and it was smelly.  But they got the pews in great shape.”

Other items were salvaged from the original St. Terence church including the altar and the statues.  The altar of repose is crafted from an extra pew, and the stands for the statues plus the holy water fonts were made by parishioners.  The baptismal font was donated by another parishioner and the Stations of the Cross were refurbished donations, as well.

“The backbone of the church is our Women’s Club,” said Polson.  “We call them the ‘Angels of St. Terence’.”
From the beginning a group of women organized as volunteers to clean the church and to purchase supplies for Mass. They extracted dues from their members at $12 per year, solicited donations, and have organized fundraisers.  All this without regular meetings.

“They have raised thousands of dollars over the years and they reach out to help anyone in need.”

Fundraising has ranged from garage sales and raffles to saving grocery receipts and operating a religious supply store. The store is no longer operating but anyone needing a rosary or a statue or other devotional item just needs to ask – it will be ordered for them.

“They have helped many families by purchasing food, clothing and medical supplies. They’ve paid utility bills for those in need and they adopt families at Christmas with food and gifts.”

The Breakfast buffet, provided by St. Terence “Angels” is next door to the church.

Polson pointed out that those they help are seldom Catholic.  “Their unwritten creed would be to help ALL of God’s people.”

On any given Sunday, there will be visitors from all over the region who are vacationing at Toledo Bend.  Everyone is invited to the breakfast buffet next door in the “old” church where coffee, pastries, and fellowship are provided by those same “Angels.”

The St. Terence parishioners have a close relationship with St. John the Baptist in Many, served by Rev. Joseph A Martina, Jr. and Deacon Mike Sullivan, since they are a quasi-parish.  The Knights of Columbus held a very successful fundraiser at St. Terence in August even though the Knights are based at St. John the Baptist.

One area of cooperation is the music ministry. Dan and Brenda Devaney come to the 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Terence each week but both are music ministers at St. John the Baptist. Dan cantors and conducts while Brenda provides the keyboard accompaniment. After the 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Terence, they have a 15 mile drive back to St. John the Baptist to prepare for the 10:00 am Mass.

Even though Polson claims to be retired from the church construction business, he said that there are many Sundays when every pew is filled and the church is brimming with worshipers.

“Today, we had a light crowd,” he said of the August 14 gathering where approximately 50 people were in place prior to the beginning of Mass. “This is nothing.  There is standing room only at Christmas and Easter.  Fourth of July is packed as are Memorial Day and Labor Day because of the lake. But we welcome them all!”

From the Bishop’s Desk

by Bishop Michael G. Duca

Dear Friends in Christ:

I am both pleased and grateful to report that our 2012 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal has been blessed by a strong start, and over 1.1 million dollars has already been pledged by the Catholic faithful of our diocese.  Congratulations are also in order for the eight parishes and chapels that have achieved their 2012 Appeal pledge goal!

I am encouraged that more than 83% of our Appeal pledge goal has been met in this early success by our Annual Appeal and I want to encourage every reader of our Catholic Connection to participate with a pledge or one-time gift to this important effort.

Amazingly, only around 2,800 donors or just 24% of our known Catholic families within our diocese have provided our Appeal with this success since February. Please consider adding your name to that list with a show of Appeal support and help us reach our overall diocesan pledge goal of 1.35 million dollars. Simply use the 2012 Appeal pledge card located on page 22 of this May edition of your Catholic Connection.
Know that you remain in my daily prayers and may God bless you for your support of our Appeal.