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 »

La Reflexión del Obispo

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

Padre Raniero Cantalamessa (CNS photo/Gregg McIntosh)

Hace alrededor de un mes participé en un taller sobre el celibato en el sacerdocio patrocinado por la universidad de Notre Dame. Uno de los presentadores fue el Padre Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Cap., que es predicador a la Casa Papal, o sea predicador del Papa. Esta es una posición honorifica que el Padre Cantalamessa ha tenido desde 1980. Si vieron los servicios en Roma de la Semana Santa se dieron cuenta que era el Padre Cantalamessa quien predicó al Papa el Viernes Santo. Esta posición es un real recordatorio de que aun el Papa está en necesidad de dirección  espiritual y apoyo.

Aunque recibí muchas ideas en esta reunión, las palabras del Padre Cantalamessa fueron las que me llegaron más profundamente. Su mensaje fue uno que yo ya conocía, pero su presentación lo hizo poderosamente relevante hacia mí y pienso que a todos nosotros en este mundo actual. El dijo que debemos recordar que “EL REGALO llega primero que LA OBLIGACION.”

Esta frase aparentemente simple nos lleva al corazón de nuestra fe. Antes que podamos de verdad apreciar las exigencias de nuestra fe, tenemos que estar consientes y apreciar el Regalo de nuestra fe.

¿Que quiero decir con “apreciar el Regalo de nuestra fe?” quiero decir que debemos ser agradecidos por los momentos de nuestro viaje espiritual Católico cuando nuestra fe es tan real y tan poderosa como el primer momento que nos enamoramos – ese momento en nuestra relación con Dios que de pronto nos damos cuenta de la misericordia de Dios, la ayuda de Dios y el amor y cariño que Dios nos tiene.

Esta no es solo una idea de la mente sino también, y tal vez mas importante, es una experiencia del corazón. Podemos recibir la gracia en estos momentos de revelación espiritual en cualquier momento. Podemos recibir esta gracia mientras vemos  niños jugando, en momentos de oración o adoración, aun en momentos de crisis o insoportable sufrimiento. Por ejemplo, tal vez decidimos acercarnos al sacramento de la Confesión y, sin planear, sinceramos nuestros corazones de cómo hemos tenido vergüenza de irnos a confesar y entonces, al escuchar las palabras de absolución, nos abrumamos con el inmerecido pero generoso regalo de la misericordia y amor de Dios. En todo caso nuestros corazones se llenan de un profundo sentido de agradecimiento y nos acercamos más profundamente al amor de Dios por cada uno de nosotros. En estos momentos nos damos cuenta del REGALO del amor de Dios en nuestras vidas y cuando lo experimentamos, la OBLIGACION de nuestra fe es sorpresivamente una carga menos. Cuando nos damos cuenta de cuánto debemos estar agradecidos porque nuestra vida es un Regalo, entonces encontramos una nueva capacidad de generosidad que nos libera para ser mejores gozosamente con los más necesitados. Esta es la fuente de una Iglesia llena del espíritu. Cuando entendemos y experimentamos el REGALO de nuestra fe, entonces LA OBIGACION se convierte en un ¡ACTO DE AMOR! La pregunta entonces cambia de una obligación mínima, “¿Que tengo que hacer?” buscando una respuesta, a una pregunta diferente, “¿Qué me está llamando Dios a hacer?” que para ser contestada requiere de una conversación en oración.

El Padre Cantalamessa nos recordó de esta escritura: “el amor consiste en esto, no que nosotros hemos amado a Dios sino que Él nos amó primero.” (1 Juan 4:10) si ha de haber una nueva evangelización, si vamos a respirar una nueva vida en nuestros corazones de fe y  en la vida de la Iglesia, debemos comenzar aquí. Debemos pedir en oración corazones de carne y no corazones de piedra. Debemos orar a Dios para que nos de la gracia de una apreciación renovada del Regalo de nuestra fe. La Nueva Evangelización comienza en nuestros corazones y en nuestras mentes. La Nueva Evangelización comienza con corazones llenos de amor, amor que viene de un entendimiento que el Regalo, el amor de  Dios vino primero, antes del requisito de amor. El maravilloso, liberador e inesperado giro es que cuando apreciamos el REGALO de nuestra fe como Católicos, la obligación del DEBER es remplazada con la invitación al Amor.

Maronite Patriarch: Pope to Visit Lebanon Sept. 14-16

by Catholic News Service

BEIRUT (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI will visit Lebanon Sept. 14-16, Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara Rai announced during Easter Mass at the patriarchal seat in Bkerke, Lebanon. Patriarch Rai said April 8 that the pope will meet with the country’s religious and civil officials, including President Michel Sleiman, a Maronite Catholic. During an open-air Mass in Beirut Sept. 16, the pope will present the apostolic exhortation on the October 2010 special Synod of Bishops, which met under the theme: “Communion and Witness.” In a statement, Sleiman said the pope’s visit would affirm the depth of the “historical relations that tie Lebanon with the (Vatican) and will form an occasion to focus on Lebanon’s position, message and role as a witness of freedom and coexistence.” It marks the pope’s second visit to the Middle East; in May 2009 he visited Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. The announcement comes amid increased concern over the plight of Christians across the Middle East, emigrating in increasing numbers. Of Lebanon’s population of nearly 4 million, approximately 33 percent are Christian, considered a high estimate. Half a century ago, Christians represented about half the population. In Iraq, a Christian exodus since the American-led invasion in 2003 has reduced the Iraqi Christian population by two-thirds. In an interview with Vatican Radio broadcast April 9, Archbisop Paul Sayah, vicar general of the Maronite Patriarchate, said the pope’s visit would “inject a new dynamism,” not only in the Lebanese society and Christians, but in the whole region.

Catholic Residents are New Face of Natural Family Planning

by Catholic News Service

ST. LOUIS (CNS) — It was a month before she had to decide her specialty in medical school, and Brooke Jemelka found herself at a crossroads. She had been concentrating on pediatrics during her studies at Texas A&M University, but by the end of her third year, she was starting to question what she wanted to do with her life. Then she delivered her first baby, “and my whole life changed,” said Jemelka, a native of Yoakum, TX. As a Catholic, she was involved in pro-life activities, including sidewalk counseling, pro-life rallies and more. It was later that she realized that was preparing the way for a future in obstetrics and gynecology. “I felt like there was no way I could not be doing God’s work,” she said in an interview with the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Today, Jemelka is one of six — yes, six — resident physicians in the OB/GYN Residency Program at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis who plan to specialize in natural family planning, or NFP, in their future practices. As part of their training, the residents currently are caring for uninsured and underinsured women who come to Mercy’s JFK Clinic. Each of them has a different story of how they became involved in medicine, but all of them agree that God put them in the place where they’re at now for a reason. While doctors in St. Louis and around the nation who specialize in natural methods of fertility care are still considered the minority, all of these residents have encountered many women who want to know the truth about their fertility through the use of NFP.

Red Mass to Celebrate 20th Anniversary

by John Mark Willcox

For a twentieth year, Red Mass in the Western Deanery will be celebrated at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in downtown Shreveport on Friday, May 4, at 9:00 a.m. This is a votive Mass offered to invoke the Holy Spirit as the source of wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude. Red Mass is sponsored annually by the Red Mass Society and Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

The Red Mass is offered throughout the world with the primary purpose of evoking God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice. Since the thirteenth century, scarlet vestments have been worn by the celebrants of this Mass which symbolize tongues of fire representing the Holy Spirit.  In ancient times the robes of the attending judges were also bright red, thus providing an additional reason for the name of this event.

Bishop Michael G. Duca will be the principal celebrant and homilist for this year’s Red Mass. He will assist the members of the bar in honoring Samaritan International for their medical ministry and ongoing efforts to promote social justice throughout the world.  Dr. William Norwood will represent Samaritan International for the award having served within the organization for many years.  Dr. Norwood helped to pioneer laparoscopic surgery centers in the former Soviet Union which have greatly reduced mortality rates for surgery in the region. He has also worked with several of our diocesan priests, assisting with some 40 orphanages located in the Ukraine.

The Annual Red Mass is a public, ecumenical worship service and people of all faiths are invited to participate in this special blessing for judges, lawyers, law enforcement officers and public officials.

St. Joseph Student Named State Student of the Year

Just an ordinary guy doing extraordinary things. This is Harris LeBlanc, St. Joseph School 8th Grader and St. Joseph Church parishioner. Harris was named the 8th Grade Student of the Year for all private schools in the state of Louisiana. This honor was achieved not only by his exceptional academic performance, but also by his involvement in his church and community. Congratulations to Harris, his parents Cliff and Colleen LeBlanc. He has represented St. Joseph School and the Diocese of Shreveport very well.

Loyola Opens New Cafeteria

For months, Loyola’s students have watched as the newest addition to the Loyola campus – the cafeteria/community center – was being built. On April 3 the Flyers found out that it was worth the wait as the lunch was served in the building for the first time. Students and faculty alike were all thrilled with the new building, which is located behind the gym.

The new cafeteria features 5,000 square feet of dining space and well as a completely modern kitchen and cooking facilities.
Loyola has not had a new dining facility for its students since the present building was constructed in 1938.

The new cafeteria/community center is part of Phase I of the Loyola Forever Capital Campaign. The school gym was renovated during 2011.

St. Fred’s Quiz Bowl Team Won Regional Ranking

The St. Frederick High School Quiz Bowl team competed in Natchitoches on March 31 in the State Quiz Bowl Championship Tournament. Anthony Trombatore, SFHS Quiz Bowl Sponsor and science teacher, led the Warriors to a second place Division IV win. St. Frederick students not only garnered the 2nd place State Ranking, they also earned a 3rd place Invitational Ranking and a 1st place Regional Ranking. The team had a fun year and performed well.  Geaux Warriors!

Jesus the Good Shepherd Students Met Easter Bunny

Jesus the Good Shepherd School’s PreK-4 students enjoyed a visit from the Easter Bunny before they had their annual classroom Easter Egg hunt. The students had a great time taking pictures with the Easter Bunny and hunting for candy-filled eggs. Prior to the Easter Egg Hunt, the students discussed the true meaning of Easter and what that meant to each of them.

St. John Berchmans Students Performed Living Stations

As part of Holy Week, eighth grade students from St. John Berchmans School performed their annual presentation of the Living Stations of the Cross on Holy Thursday in front of the entire student body, family, friends and guests. The eighth grade students wrote the script for the presentation, and re-enacted all 14 stations with music, scriptures and reflections read between each station.

In addition to the Living Stations, St. John Berchmans students of all ages celebrated Easter through various activities including Easter egg hunts in the preschool and kindergarten classes, and an interactive Last Supper lesson and meal for the first grade students.

Our Lady of Fatima Students Perfom Living Stations

Our Lady of Fatima School students in grades 3-6 performed a dramatic depiction of Christ’s journey to Golgotha with the Living Stations of the Cross. The production proved to be a memorable experience for not only the guests in attendance, but also for the children who participated.