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BIshop’s Reflection: Do You Accept?

by Bishop Michael G. Duca On June 10th, as I pulled into my garage after having just ordained Father Duane Trombetta as a priest for the Diocese of Shreveport in a beautiful More »

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A Decade with Bishop Duca

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor, The Catholic Connection In December 2007, newly married and stepping into a budding career as a graphic designer and journalist, I was hired as the editor of The More »

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The Priest and the Bishop

by Father Rothell Price, Moderator of the Curia When I first saw Msgr. Michael Duca, he struck me as an affable fellow. He brought to mind this passage from ‘Twas the Night More »

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Remembering Bishop’s “Study Tour” to India

by Fr. Philip Pazhayakari, CMI, Pastor, Sacred Heart Parish, Rayville & St. Theresa Church, Delhi While planning a visit to India, our bishop clearly mentioned to me that his intention was not More »

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Bishop Michael Duca Announced as Bishop-designate of Baton Rouge

by Bonny Van, The Catholic Commentator The sixth bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge was greeted with applause, smiles and hugs as he approached the podium for his introduction to the More »

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So Many Gifts to Share

by Deacon Mike Whitehead In his letter to parishioners on his new appointment in Baton Rouge, Bishop Duca said, “I am not clear about, ‘why me?’ I have to admit that I More »

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Mary’s House: Helping Mothers, Saving Lives

by L’Anne Sciba, Executive Director and Founder, Mary’s House  “I hope they… [people of the Shreveport Diocese] felt respected, I hope they feel they had a voice when they spoke with me, More »

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Catholic Charities of North Louisiana: A Bishop’s Legacy

by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana  When Bishop Michael G. Duca arrived in 2008 as the second bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport, he was surprised to see that there More »

Following his ordination to the priesthood, Fr. Long blesses Bishop Duca.

Bishop Duca Altered My Priesthood Forever

by Father Matthew Long, Pastor, St. Joseph Parish On April 1, 2008, I arose to news that would alter my priesthood forever. A seminarian at that time, it was John Mark Willcox, More »

Priest Assignments

Roaming Catholic: Mass and Vacation

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by Stephanie Feducia Stanley

I am a roaming Catholic. Most people think of “roaming Catholics” with a smirk, meaning someone who is Catholic and attends Mass regularly, but who does not belong to a parish. I am not one of those.

That being said, I do LOVE to travel. For pilgrimage, or for pleasure, memories made together on the road are dear to my heart. We often go to Orlando, FL and have frequented Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and other adventures that have made their way into the area. We leave on the Friday before our week away and arrive in Kissimmee, FL, on Saturday afternoon. After check in, we leave again. The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe is our destination.

Many people who are traveling do not always attend Mass. Their missed obligation is confessed or shrugged away, “We’re out of town, God doesn’t mind…” Or does He?

On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass; they are also to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body. 1. The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day. (Canon 1247-1248)

Anyone who knows my dad understands that missing Mass on a Sunday is out of the question. It simply isn’t done. He searched for a church in the yellow pages to fulfill our family’s obligation. And what a church we found in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, It is simply breathtaking and its history is amazing, answering the needs of those who flock to Orlando for entertainment and needing their Sunday Obligation met. The place was built with donations from the faithful and is growing to this day. With gorgeous grounds, including a Rosary garden, the place is a destination for Catholics.

Each Mass begins with a greeting and the priest always asks where everyone is from. The Catholic Church is truly universal! We’ve seen worshippers from all walks of life attend Mass at this sacred place. We’ve seen people come in dressed in their Sunday best and some in their theme park attire, complete with fanny packs and Mickey ears. We attend the Saturday Vigil Mass, thanking God for a safe journey and with gratitude for the fun we are about to have.

Speaking of gratitude, there was one family trip that I will never forget. My cousin and I found a European cruise when she was beginning college and planned to save up for four years to go. We were to go to Barcelona, Capri, Naples, Rome, Florence, Monte Carlo, Nice and Avignon. Such a trip was highly anticipated and even though my husband and I had gotten married and had a delightful honeymoon, he happily joined the plans. Our godmother came with us and, as a surprise for my cousin, upgraded their two tickets to first class.

Trouble struck the minute we arrived at the airport. Our arrival in Barcelona was to be a day before the ship set sail from its port, and we felt that this was a clever way for us to try and shake off the jet lag. What we didn’t know was that the plane that was to carry us to Atlanta’s International airport was late. If we were very lucky, we would get to Atlanta JUST in time to run through the airport and reach our flight to Barcelona.

The flight from Shreveport to Atlanta was excruciating. We eagerly awaited our arrival with cold sweat on our palms. Upon our arrival, we had to run to the OPPOSITE end of the airport. In the confusion two of our party were separated and went to the wrong terminal. Our frantic calls to their cell phones went unanswered. We actually boarded the plane without them.

Saying as many Hail Marys under our breath as one can in the allowed time, we were relieved to see their faces. It seemed that the plane couldn’t leave because there was some first class luggage that was to be loaded onto the plane. My aunt’s and cousin’s luggage as it turns out, and because they were first class, our luggage was loaded as well. Whew!

When we toured Barcelona the next morning, we visited the Cathedral. It was amazing, and there was a Vigil Mass that afternoon. Because the Church is truly universal, we could follow the order of the Mass. It was amazing to hear it in another language, and it was in Catalonian, not Spanish. We could still worship as we knew all the times to respond. We were eternally grateful for arriving safely and praised God for His help on our journey. •

World Youth Day and Mission Trip

by Jamie Jett 

I would like to invite you to join a once in a lifetime mission trip sponsored by St. Jude Parish. The mission team will be going to Boquete, Panama to do mission work and Panama City to attend World Youth Day. The team will travel by air to Costa Rica, then by private bus to Boquete, Panama. This is where the team will stay for four days to do mission work. Two days will be spent at a rural orphanage with children ages infant to 18-years-old, painting, playing with the children, cooking and praying. After that, the team will spend two days on the Comarca, where the indigenous Ngobe Indians live and are the poorest people in Panama. The Comarca is two hours away from Boquete, on a beautiful mountain that in contrast has thatched houses. Here the team will paint two small cinderblock buildings, hang shower curtains and provide linens for sleeping areas. These small buildings house 32 to 40 children for the week because they have to walk four hours one way to school, many months in very heavy rain.

During time in Boquete, the team will stay in comfortable accommodations and meals will be provided. Boquete is a beautiful, quaint, small town where many Americans retire. It is a wonderful place to stay while doing mission work. It is quite a contrast to where the team will work. After the mission work is done in Boquete, the team will travel to Panama City for World Youth Day and stay in a hotel close to World Youth Day activities. During these three days, the team will go to the Youth Day Festival, Stations of the Cross, Walking Pilgrimage and Mass with the pope. On return to Costa Rica, the team will attend Mass at a historical Catholic Cathedral and visit the central market.

This mission trip is for high school students age 15 and older and adults. Team size is limited to 16, please make your $500 non-refundable deposit as soon as possible to reserve your spot. Cost for the trip is $2500. If you would like a flyer, please e-mail Brenda Lites at blites@suddenlinkmail.com, or Jamie Jett at jamiejett@pickitforward.com. •

Christian Service: Feeding the Hungry

by Jane Snyder

You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. This is how prayer works.” – Pope Francis, 4-18.

Nine months ago, September 27, 2017, was an exciting day in the lives of Shreveport and Christian Service. On that day, the community gathered to cut the ribbon and open the doors to the new facility of one of the oldest and most faith-filled non-profits in the Shreveport-Bossier area.

The excitement was palpable as Christian Service became the food and clothing piece of the collaboration of non-profits on Levy Street at Hope Connections.

Since then, over 200 hungry men, women and children have come there each day to eat hot meals in an atmosphere of “Dignity, Love and Hope.”

Christian Service serves a hot breakfast from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and a hot lunch from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., 364 days a year. They also serve over 500 clients a month in their free clothing facility.

Fr. Murray Clayton brought Sr. Margaret McCaffrey to Shreveport in 1970. She began serving hungry children breakfast and that was the beginning of the Christian Service ministry. Since then they have served over three million meals and have welcomed those who are struggling in our community.

There are many opportunities to share your “time, talent and treasure” at Christian Service. Volunteers are needed every day to help prepare and serve the meals. There are also opportunities on Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to help organize the clothing facility. Donations of food, clothing, and, of course money, are always needed.

If you are interested in helping, please go to the Christian Service website at www.christianservicela.org, or contact Al Moore, the executive director at al@christianservice.org.

And remember Matthew 25, where Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me.” •

Semmes Memorial Burse

by John Mark Willcox

Peggy and Bob Semmes established a seminarian burse in their will to support the ministry of priests.

The late Bob and Peggy Semmes were a faithful Catholic couple who spent their worship lives both at St. Joseph Parish in Monroe and St. Paschal Parish in West Monroe. They were most generous to include plans in their will to establish a special burse to support vocations and seminarians. Their son, Our Lady of Fatima parishioner, John G. Semmes, read to me directly from their legal will stating that these funds would be used “to help any young men who are seeking the priesthood, but might not have the funds to do so.”

Now, as part of the Diocesan Seminarian Burse program we have added another burse to this overall effort, as the newly created Bob and Peggy Semmes Memorial Burse stands ready to complete the final wishes of this giving Catholic couple.

Supporting the ministry of providing for our future priests remains vitally important to Catholics across our diocese. How can you help? Thanks to the generous people of our diocese, there are now a group of burses created to assist in this critical ministry. Contact the Diocesan Office of Church Vocations to learn more about our various burses and choose the ones you would like to contribute to. No gift is too small and every donation is tax deductible.

Help grow the dreams of people like Bob and Peggy Semmes, an active Catholic couple dedicated to serving the Church, both during and after their time here on earth. May our Lord bless them and all of our burse donors. •

 

Diocese of Shreveport Welcomes New Chancellor

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Randy Tiller was appointed the Director of Mission Effectiveness for the Diocese in Shreveport in 2006. Effective April 1, 2018, Tiller was appointed Chancellor of the Diocese of Shreveport, by Bishop Michael G. Duca.

Chancellor duties as liaison for Prison Ministry and Family Life Ministry are now under the direction of Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship. John Mark Willcox, Director of Development, has taken over the work associated with national grants.

Duties and responsibilities Tiller will take on as Chancellor include serving as an Ecclesiastical Notary for official documents and reports that are submitted to the Vatican each year. Tiller will also on the Diocesan Corporate Board and the Diocesan Finance Council. He is a member of the Editorial Board for The Catholic Connection. He will also fulfill numerous other tasks, duties and responsibilities involving diocesan archives, the Slattery Library and working with other directors and departments at the Catholic Center.

Tiller continues in his capacity as Director of Mission Effectiveness including the property management aspects of that position, working with the priests and parishes directly and in conjunction with the various Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils. He will continue to be involved with special events at the Catholic Center and will continue to supervise the following departments: Facilities, the Office of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries and the Office of Hispanic Ministry, as well as oversight of the Slattery Library and responsibility for St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.  •

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul

by Jim Beadles, President, Shreveport Diocesan Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul

I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets.” – Pope Francis

Meeting our neighbors in need, on the streets and where they live, is not only the goal of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, but it is also what Jesus commands us to do.

This Commandment speaks directly to the heart of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Our efforts are directed to bringing both the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy to the streets in our own local communities.

Founded in 1833 by Blessed Frederic Ozanam, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has grown to be an international Catholic lay-organization dedicated to not only serving the poor in our local communities, but also providing many other acts of kindness. In fact, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul motto is “no work of charity is foreign to the Society.”

But let’s back up a minute and understand how the Society came into being. Historically, it was the time of the post French Revolution, of Victor Hugo and the setting for Les Miserables. While attending law school at the Sorbonne, the University of Paris, Frederic joined a student group that would meet to discuss religion and social issues of the day.

During one of these meetings, a friend named Jean Broet, confronted Frederic with a challenge. In a heated argument, he told Frederic that the Church was once a great Church, but asked, “What is your Church doing now? What is it doing for the poor?”

Frederic accepted the challenge. And with that, the Society was born. He reached out to others for guidance, and he adopted St. Vincent de Paul, known as the Father of the Poor, as its patron.

Frederic once said, “We are not blessed with two separate lives – one for seeking the truth, and the other for putting it into practice.”

Internationally, there are 700,000 Vincentians in 150 countries. Catholic Digest listed it at number 1 of the Top Five Charities You Should Know About.

In the Diocese of Shreveport, there are 23 conferences and 300 Vincentians. Last year, we served over 21,000 neighbors in need, and made 3,100 home visits. Without exception, every Vincentian will tell you that the blessings and growth we receive in our own spirituality from the people we serve is much greater than anything we can hope to do for them. •

Next Month: Blessed Frederic Ozanam

Ignatian Spirituality and Spiritual Direction

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by Sister Martinette Rivers, OLS, Spiritual Director

As Spiritual Directors in the Diocese of Shreveport, how do we reveal the “Jesuit DNA” to our directees? Would St. Ignatius approve of the way we approach the Spiritual Exercises? Like him we promote self-awareness, a joyful sense of freedom and a willingness to take risks. The chief guide and mover of souls is the Holy Spirit and our directees are led by Him. Are we attentive to the way He is moving their souls? You bet we are!

The role of the human director is very important, but is only instrumental. Our role as directors is to work along with the Holy Spirit. This frees the Divine Director to do the rest. Everyone, including us, needs a faithful other who can serve both as a prod and a source of light.

Those interested in spiritual direction should not be afraid to approach any of us. We are here to help you grow closer to God. In preparing ourselves to help you, we have studied Ignatian Spirituality intensely with the Jesuits in Grand Coteau, New Orleans and other universities. We grew in the process in sanctity, holiness and experience as we learned.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of The Society of Jesus. He was one of 13 children born into a noble family in Spain. He loved the “good life,” his knighthood and life as a soldier, until he was gravely wounded in a battle with the French. His heart was set on fire as he spent his recuperation period reading about the lives of Jesus and the saints, writing in a small notebook his thoughts, exercises and prayers which he found helpful as his injured leg healed. He experienced a real conversion during those months he suffered with his wounded leg and reflected upon his life. As time went on and the years passed, Ignatius became an expert in the art of Spiritual Direction. These notes make up the heart of what we now call “The Spiritual Exercises.”

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius became one of the most influential books on spiritual life ever written. Thousands of people have been touched in some way by The Spiritual Exercises, and many more will come to see their value as time goes on. The most appealing thing about Ignatius to me is his insight that you could find God in all things. Also to do everything for the greater honor and glory of God, “Ad majorem Dei Gloriam.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “Love consists in sharing what one has and what one is with those one loves. Love ought to show itself in deeds more than words.”

Moderation in all things was his sacred tool. The life of St. Ignatius is a fascinating one and gives me hope because he assures us that God can make anything out of anyone. May you be blessed as you walk the Ignation Way with us! God’s divine plan is a story, a love story, our story. May St. Ignatius ignite a new fire in our hearts! •

SPIRITUAL DIRECTORS

Spiritual Direction is help given to one person by a trained director to assist that person in becoming aware of God’s presence in their life, and then guiding that person in growing a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. It is not counseling, teaching or companionship. Instead, the person, with the aid of the director, discerns the presence and movement of God in their life and then learns to engage in prayerful conversations with God about those movements.

For more information, please contact one of these trained spiritual directors in our area:

 

Joe & Katherine Bernal

Monroe & West Monroe Area

jkmca2000@aol.com

 

Brenda Lites 

Shreveport & Bossier City Area

badlites@gmail.com

 

Fr. Jim Moran, CO

Mansfield Area

jimmo24@gmail.com

 

Dianne Rachal

Shreveport & Bossier City Area

drachal@dioshpt.org

 

Marie Rinaudo

Shreveport & Bossier City Area

prinrin@comcast.net

 

Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

Shreveport & Bossier City Area

queenfarfalla@gmail.com

 

Susan Rothwell

Shreveport & Bossier City Area

susan_rt@hotmail.com

 

Mike Van Vranken

Shreveport & Bossier City Area

mikevanvranken@comcast.net

Bread or Stones: An Ecumenical Campaign for Children in Louisiana

by Samuel Rottman, Bread or Stones Campaign Coordinator

The faith community has always been an active force in the lives of children in Louisiana. Through our schools, children’s homes, food banks, charities and other social services we have been a moral voice for the life and dignity of all children in our state. Despite these efforts, Louisiana has consistently been ranked as one of the worst states in all measures of child well-being, scoring in the bottom 10% of every index according to the Annie E. Casey Kid’s Count. One such statistic is that 28% of children under the age of 18 live in poverty. The faith community can become a beacon of hope for the state and play a major role in changing this narrative.

Bread or Stones, which gets its name from Matthew 7:9, is an ecumenical initiative of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference that aspires to bring churches of all denominations together to improve outcomes for God’s children. We do this by empowering individual congregations to make practical and achievable steps towards caring for the children in their local area. While one congregation will not be able to solve all of Louisiana’s problems alone, we know that if each church made a difference in their own area our collective impact would be huge. Seventy-two churches from many different denominations and regions of the state have signed on to this mission by becoming Bread or Stones Covenant Congregations. Our goal is for all churches in Louisiana to sign up and through discernment to find ways that the Holy Spirit is guiding them to put children first.

At this point you might be wondering what Bread or Stones Covenant Congregations actually do. We can serve children through our prayer, teaching, feeding, mentoring, adopting, advocating, etc. The sky is the limit, so take time with your congregation to see how God is calling you to serve.

One example can be found in Houma, LA, where a Catholic and an Episcopal church have joined together to adopt a local failing public school of mostly low-income students. This partnership was sparked at a community meeting organized by Bread or Stones in Houma. The two congregations started small by providing some coffee, donuts and a new coffee pot for teacher appreciation week. The relationship between the two churches and the public school has truly blossomed ever since. A year later there is now a tutoring program staffed by retired teachers from the two parishes and many other more involved efforts. This is just one of many initiatives that have reinvigorated all three entities. These are the kinds of results we are beginning to see throughout Louisiana as a result of the Bread or Stones Campaign. With continued blessings from God, it is our hope that the Church can continue to be the voice for change and that together we can make Louisiana a better home for children.

We encourage you and your congregation to join the Bread or Stones Campaign as a Covenant Congregation so that we can be a united voice for children. It’s easy, free of charge, and only commits you to exploring ways that you want to serve. For resources and more information visit www.breadorstones.com. •

Sr. Heather Sikes Makes First Profession

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a Q&A with Sister Heather

Sister Heather Sikes, OLS made her first profession of vows as a Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows on Saturday, June 9, at the 4:00 p.m. Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Shreveport.

On Saturday, June 9, you took your First Profession of vows to the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. What is the significance of First Profession?

First Profession is a beautiful and significant transition from Novitiate to a time of contemplation in action, which points to our congregational motto: “Ardere et Lucere” meaning “to burn and to light.” It is a time when the sister’s consecration permeates all aspects of her life: apostolic ministry, prayer, study and community life. She lives the fruits of her consecration by seeing all people and circumstances through the eyes and heart of our crucified and risen Lord. In the daily life of a Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows, these spiritual elements are also nurtured and radiated: a love of the Holy Eucharist and a deep, genuine devotion to Our Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross – Our Lady of Sorrows. During the time of First Profession, the sister also prepares herself for her final vows in the future.

After you take your First Profession, what will change?

After First Profession, one is assigned to a community and to an apostolic service. I have been assigned to St. Joseph’s Convent in Alexandria, LA, and I will teach at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic School. My transition from being a novice to a temporary vowed sister entails living out our charism, spirituality and apostolate through my consecration to God.

Can you share your religious vocations story? What made you decide to join the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows?

I was a sophomore in college at the University of Louisiana Lafayette when I encountered the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. Before meeting the sisters, the desire of religious life was kept safely in the back of my mind and heart, and I was not on the path of actively discerning. I was studying pre-pharmacy, and I was preparing myself to move to Monroe for pharmacy school when I met the sisters at Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Church and Student Center on campus. My hidden desire of giving my life to God was brought from the back-burner to the altar, and I sensed God’s invitation once again.

Looking to the future, what will be some of the apostolates you pursue as a sister of OLS? 

The primary apostolate of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows is education. However, we also minister in the specific areas of social services and catechesis.

Will there be future vows?

After five years of temporary vows and preparation, there will be another public ceremony for a perpetual profession. During this solemn occasion, the sister professes her vows for the rest of her life and receives a golden ring with our Crucified Lord as a visible sign of His commitment, fidelity and love to her. Also, her free fiat in response is a sign of her commitment, fidelity and love to Him.

What advice would you give to a woman who is interested in pursuing religious life?

For any young women who may be interested in pursuing religious life or who may have a desire and not know how to be disposed to it, I would say to pray for the grace to be open to our Lord and ask Him to speak to your heart!

Our foundress, Blessed Elisabetta Renzi, has many beautiful quotes, and one that helped me in my early discernment was: “Pray, and you will know the harbor that Divine Providence has chosen for the little ship of your soul.” I think it’s a very gentle, open approach that can easily dispose oneself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I would also encourage them to have courage and a trustful recollection in their relationship with Jesus. Fr. John Paul Crispin, FMH once said about religious life, “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.” What a beautiful way to open wide the doors to religious life – the doors of one’s heart to God! And God can work through anything and choose anyone. This is the power of His gentle, guiding love.  •