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 »

Our Lady of Fatima Youth Attend Abbey Youth Fest

The youth group from Our Lady of Fatima Church in Monroe recently attended Abbey Youth Fest in Covington, LA. They joined a crowd of over 5,000 Catholics at St. Benedict Abbey to hear Mark Hart, the “Bible Geek,” give the keynote address. The one-day outdoor event concluded with Mass and Adoration under the stars.

Ruston CYO Wins Soccer Tournament

The Catholic Youth Organization from St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston participated in the first ever Ruston Church Soccer League. The St. Thomas team won the championship, beating Trinity United Methodist Church for the title (photo by Doug Gagnon).

Schools Raise Money for Family with Rosary Recording

On Friday, April 13, Christy Gallegos, a mother of five children who attend local Catholic schools, lost her battle with cancer. One week later, students from Loyola College Prep and St. John Berchmans SchooL gathered in St. Michael’s Chapel to participate in a unique project dedicated to Christy’s memory. The students, with the assistance of Bishop Michael Duca, taped a professional recording of children praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. The CD contains brief meditational readings as well as music provided by the Loyola College Prep Choral Ensemble accompanied by guest violinist, Zack Grant. Students from Loyola, St. John Berchmans and St. Joseph Catholic School all played a part in the final product. All proceeds will go the Christy Gallegos Memorial Fund. CDs can be purchased at Jacob’s Well Catholic book store in Shreveport.

Archdiocese of Washington Posts Video Explaining Diocesan Lawsuits

Chancellor Jane Belford of the Archdiocese of Washington explains the significance of the lawsuit filed to protect freedom to practice religion. Chancellor Belford details why the suit is necessary in light of the attempt of the government to redefine what is a religious institution. She explains that under the new definition that the work of Mother Teresa no longer would qualify as the work of a religious institution.

To learn more, please visit:

Visit the Archdiocese of Washington at:

St. Frederick High School’s FBLA Qualify for National Competition

by Dr. Laurie Babin

Pictured: The top 10 finishers front row:  James Babin, Kaleb Williamson, Jonara Mercado, Elaine Simon, Julie Farrar, Mattie Kincannon Back row: Dr. Laurie Babin, Alec Shell, Jon Kelley, Brandon Breard, Jefferson Manning, Ashton Fench, Drew Johnson.

St. Frederick Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) members competed in the 2012 Louisiana FBLA State Leadership Conference held at the Lafayette Cajondome and Convention Center, March 25-27, 2012.  Our chapter project, “The Catholic Connection 2012 Blue Pages” directory of businesses owned by our school and parishioner families and other supporters of Catholic institutions, won first place in the Partnership with Business Project. The chapter qualified for national competition in seven events. The FBLA National Leadership Conference is June 27-July 3 in San Antonio, TX.

Dr. Laurie Babin, Professor of Marketing at the University of Louisiana Monroe, started and has been the adviser for the St. Frederick FBLA chapter for the past five years.  This is the second year the chapter will be competing at nationals.

2012 Louisiana FBLA State Leadership Conference Results:

Events Qualifying for National Competition:
• Partnership with Business Project – Brandon Breard, Julie Farrar and Jon Kelley (1st place)
• Business Communication – Randi Domingue (1st place)
• Public Speaking I – Jeff Manning (2nd place)
• Marketing (team event) – James Babin, Brandon Breard, and Julie Farrar (3rd place)
• Economics – Randi Domingue (4th place)
• Banking and Financial Systems (team event) – Elaine Simon, Jon Kelley and Jonara Mercado (4th place)
• Entrepreneurship (team event) – Drew Johnson, Jeff Manning, and Kaleb Williamson (4th place)

Events Finishing in the Top Ten:
• Mr. Future Business Leader – Brandon Breard (6th place)
• Ms. Future Business Leader – Julie Farrar (7th place)
• Emerging Business Issues (team event) – Alec Shell, Ashton Fench and Mattie Kincannon (8th place)
• Business Calculations – Jon Kelley (9th place)

Even though the St. Frederick FBLA team qualified for the national competition in seven events, they will only compete in four of them, including: Partnership with Business Project, Marketing, Business Communication and Public Speaking.

Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Monroe Hires New Principal

Rev. Sebastian Kallarackal, CMI, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church, and Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Shreveport, are pleased to announce the appointment of Michelle Palowsky as the new principal for Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Monroe.  Palowsky has been an educator for 22 years, serving most recently as a kindergarten teacher at Swartz Lower Elementary in Ouachita Parish.

Palowsky is a life-long resident of Monroe and earned her Bachelor’s degree of Education from the University of Monroe (then, Northeast Louisiana University) as well as a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and a second Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision along with her Plus 30 from ULM.

She will bring a wealth of knowledge in the area of early childhood and elementary educational practices.
“As a child of an educator, I can remember “teaching” my stuffed animals just like my dad taught his students.  I have always been a teacher and I love teaching.  I am most excited about bringing some new programs and innovations to O.L.F.  I have received some of the best experience and professional development through my employment with Ouachita Parish and want my love for education to be contagious within the O.L.F. faculty.”

Palowsky is known for her exceptional leadership qualities and always being grounded in her efforts to improve the school experience for her students.  Lisa Patrick, principal of Jesus the Good Shepherd School, stated, “I am very excited to have her join our Catholic School family. It is my belief that Mrs. Palowsky will be an exceptional leader and a wonderful principal. She is highly effective, is kind to everyone she comes across and has all of the characteristics of a great leader.”

Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, stated, “It is my belief that Mrs. Palowsky will be an exceptional educational leader in our Catholic schools.  I wholeheartedly welcome her to our community.”

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.