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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 »

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Fr. Kevin Mues Ordination to the Priesthood

A Q& A with the Diocese of Shreveport’s Newest Ordained Priest During your time in seminary, what are some of the moments that have encouraged your vocation? The things that have been More »

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Reflection on Minor Seminary

by Seminarian Kelby Tingle Four years ago I graduated from Loyola College Prep in Shreveport and, feeling a call to discern a vocation to the priesthood, I made the prayerful decision to More »

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CCNLA and SVdP: Side by Side and Hand in Hand

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana At first glance, it may appear that there is a duplication of services in what the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) does More »

Pro-Life Oratory Contest Winners Announced

T he Shreveport-Bossier Pro-Life Oratory Committee has announced the local winners of its high school oratory contest. Kaiden Odell, a senior at Word of God Academy in Shreveport, won first place with More »

Vatican Media/CNA

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

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

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

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

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The Beauty of Parish Life

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

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

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

St. Joseph Kindergartners Join In Stations of the Cross

St. Joseph School kindergarteners now attend the Stations of the Cross. Last year, Fr. Long decided to offer Stations to three groups of students, rather than have the whole school attended at once, providing each group with a more intimate, age-appropriate set of reflections and meditations. The kindergartners attend with first and second graders and listened to shorter, simpler meditations at each Station. In Religion class, they learned about the Stations, as well as the response, “…because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”  •

JGS Students Embrace Lent

Jesus the Good Shepherd School participated in the Stations of the Cross at JGS Parish with Deacon Tom Deal officiating the event. Students in grades 1st through 6th were present. It was a wonderful addition to the school’s Lenten activities, which also included a service project arranged by the JGS Student Council to help stock the shelves of Catholic Charities of Monroe with goods and supplies needed by those in our local area. Additionally, JGS 5th and 6th grade students held their annual “Living Stations of the Cross” on April 17 and 18. JGS School is grateful to be able to help students live out their Lenten responsibilities of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  •

SJB Wins Multiple Science Olympiad Awards at State

Congratulations St. John Berchmans Middle School Science Olympiad Team for winning 2nd place in the state tournament in Hammond, LA on April 13. Every team member placed in an event!

Loyola’s Dean Selected for Spain Academic Program

Iron June of this year, Junior Chloe Dean will experience classroom instruction with cultural activities and excursions throughout Spain.The National Spanish Examinations Junior Study Abroad Scholarship requires applicants to:

•  have received medal placement by scoring above the 75th percentile on the 2018 National Spanish Examination in Level II or above

•  be registered to take the 2019 National Spanish Examination in Level III or above

• agree to continue studying Spanish during senior year

Dean met the criteria with flying colors, and the award will not only include education and experience in Spain, but will include tuition for classes, lodging and meals.

Christus Vivit, Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment

from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

 Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R, of Newark, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, have issued the following joint statement on the release of Christus Vivit.  Full statement follows:

“The Church of the United States welcomes this teaching from Pope Francis as the fruit of the synodal journey in which we walked with and listened to young people. This exhortation is a wonderful summons to the whole Church to more vigorously invest in youth and young adults, especially those on the peripheries and those who are disconnected from the Church.

We encourage all Catholic leaders to read and study this exhortation and the pertinent documents of the Synod. They provide for us a framework from which we can build upon in our dioceses, parishes, and communities.

Now more than ever, we must turn our attention to our young people and engage them as ‘protagonists’ of the Church’s mission. Their insights can help us grow as a Church and guide us as we all learn to become better missionary disciples in an intercultural and intergenerational context. We look forward to what comes next, in collaboration with Catholic ministry leaders already working alongside young people. We look forward to the journey ahead, and pray with St. John Paul II, a patron of young people whose passing we remember today, for the Church’s ongoing mission to all generations.

The post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Christus Vivit, is a significant milestone of the synodal process begun by Pope Francis in 2016. After two years of consultation by episcopal conferences, movements, and Catholic organizations, along with a worldwide online survey and a Pre-Synod Meeting with young adults in March 2018, the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops met in October 2018 on the theme ‘Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.’ Bishops, clergy, religious and lay people, including a number of young people, together with Pope Francis, addressed the challenges facing younger generations today and ways in which the Church can best respond. Now the work of the Holy Spirit, manifest in the sessions of the Synod, will bear fruit in the dioceses of the United States.”  •

Your Appeal Helps Care for God’s People Subsidies for Retried and Infirm Priests

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Development

This past year our diocese has witnessed the passing of two of our most beloved retired priests with the death of Msgr. Carson LaCaze and Fr. Richard Lombard. Both of these men continued to serve the Church well past their official retirement and their impact on our faith community will be long-lasting. Even though our diocese continues to lose retired priests to advanced age and death, the number of our retired diocesan priests still stands at nine men.

Some of our priests claim retirement but remain an active part of our Church family. You may see Fr. Phil Michiels, Msgr. Earl V. Provenza or Fr. James McLelland celebrating a Mass at your parish while your pastor is on leave. Fr. Patrick Madden was famous for counting down the days to his official retirement, yet he still enthralls his faithful students each Thursday at the Catholic Center as scripture and Church teachings are examined in his class. These men are just some of the retired priests who remain committed to the people of our diocese and count on our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal to provide them with financial support in their later years.

Your Appeal generosity also helps to provide high-quality medical care for our aging retirees, while trying to anticipate the annual rise in health care costs every year. In some instances, retired priests require hospitalization, after care and rehab, which can be very costly.  In 2019, a significant portion of Appeal funding is dedicated to offering our retired priests a well-deserved quality of life in their later years as they continue to depend on the Church they served so well.

If you have yet to make your gift to our 2019 Appeal campaign, please use the pledge card found below. If you have already supported our 2019 Appeal effort, may God bless you for helping provide for the needs of our retired priests.  •

Kids’ Connection: Celebrating Mary in May

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on Mary.

Purposeful Work with Meaningful People

The Catholic Charities of North Louisiana staff with Olah (front, third from left).

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Working at Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) means being part of a greater life experience. It is the opportunity to love others for who they are and not where they come from, understanding different cultural perspectives of those who have walked down different paths, and recognizing that no act of service is too small or meaningless.

The poor, the uneducated, the foreigner, the one whose native language is not the same as yours – all of these I have encountered while working at CCNLA. They are the clients, the fellow staff members and volunteers. I am surrounded by diversity ethnically, educationally and spiritually. Yet each and every person has a story to tell that is both fascinating and inspiring. At Catholic Charities, we not only lend a helping hand, but we make a difference every day to people from all walks of life. The impact of reaching out to others in service and in love can never be underestimated.

Imagine a man coming to CCNLA on an ordinary Tuesday morning. He is there to attend The Money School, a requirement for emergency rent or utility assistance. Imagine that same man, in hopelessness and despair, mentioning to the front desk receptionist that he probably would not be coming back. Ever. Now imagine that same receptionist is intuitive enough to be greatly concerned for this man’s emotional stability. She mentions to one of the case workers that the man needs some extra attention and care. Now, this case worker loves his job, understands his clients well and enjoys spending time with people and getting to know them. So then, imagine that the case worker establishes a rapport with the man, commits to checking in with him on a regular basis, visits him on the weekends at his home and even offers him contract work that gives the man purpose. Realize now that after spending time talking with the CCNLA case worker, the man admits that he tried to take his own life the very night before coming into Catholic Charities.

This man is just one of those whose life was changed by their encounter with Catholic Charities. Often CCNLA staff will encounter the tears of the mother of five who is so behind in bills she has lost all hope. We see the gratitude of elderly clients who need help applying for food stamps online because they don’t know how to use a computer. We even get the chance to celebrate with the man or woman who has been granted legal status and can finally see a path towards becoming a U.S. citizen. These are the reasons why working at Catholic Charities of North Louisiana is both gratifying and good for the soul.

It is also why leaving CCNLA in May will be so bittersweet. On one hand, my family and I have decided that after nine years in Shreveport, it is time for us to move back home to Florida and be closer to all of our family. On the other hand, I feel that I am leaving my CCNLA family too soon, leaving an organization that makes such a positive impact in people’s lives. I hope whoever joins Catholic Charities in my place will feel the same joy and satisfaction of being part of such a wonderful organization   •

Humanitarian Award Presented to Sister Martinette

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by Mary Ann Van Osdell

Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS, 82, has dedicated her life to serving others around the world. On March 26, she received the first Humanitarian Award from the Sabine Hall of Fame at its 22nd annual banquet in Many.

Seventy years ago she left Zwolle to follow her dream of religious life. She has been a Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows for 66 years.

“I have done many things, but I suppose the highlights of my life’s work would be working in Bangladesh from 1988 to 2002 with Muslims, Hindus and Christians,” she said.

From the seminary, to the poorest villages, Sr. Martinette has lived her life helping the last, the least, the lost and the lowest of all peoples. Rather than see their children die of starvation, Sr. Martinette saw the people of Bangladesh give them up. This meant she brought six of those babies to the United States to be adopted by her friends. Those children have become well educated, adult citizens.

Sr. Martinette also opened a clinic and a school for the poor and begged for money to build them homes after the 1998 flood in Bangladesh. More than 200 homes were built for Muslims, Hindus and Christians from her efforts. In her honor, community members built a school, college and hospital, all which bear her name.

“Poor people don’t care where one studied or what degrees you have, but only how much you love them,” Sr. Martinette said. He motto is living the Gospel message of love and service, spreading His loving concern for others, and loving as Jesus did.

Sr. Martinette met Mother Teresa many times, as well as several popes. Slowing down is not in the picture for her as she continues to remain active in body and spirit. She has lived the seasons of her life very well. In her acceptance speech she said that she hopes to dazzle everyone she meets.

On August 29, 1936, Joan Martinette Rivers was born in Shreveport to Thomas Rivers, descendant of Richard Rivers, and Elizabeth Ebarb. She remembers growing up in Zwolle, riding a wagon to church and pretending to be a religious sister by wearing a towel on her head. She knew at an early age that she wanted to become a sister and go out to help the poor and disadvantaged.

In 1947, her teacher, Mr. Mulkey, told his class to think about how they could make a dent in society. After class, she hurried up to speak to the Sisters at St. Joseph School for information. She was known as a rascal, but they encouraged her to pursue her dream. Her dad left to study at Mississippi College and the family followed, but Sr. Martinette went to San Antonio, TX, to go to high school and later to pursue a vocation to become a Missionary Sister.

After finishing Little Flower High School in 1952, Sr. Martinette entered the convent and continued her education at Incarnate Word University and St. Mary’s University before traveling to Mexico City as an exchange student to study art and architecture. As a young sister, she learned eight languages and ended up at the university in Monterrey, Mexico, studying advanced Spanish and prose and poetry. She later studied at the Gregorian University in Rome, returning to the U.S. to teach for eight years before heading back to Rome to study Bangla and missionary spirituality to prepare for going to Asia. Before she departed, she was garlanded by Saint Pope John Paul II.

In Asia she taught theology at the National Major Seminary in Bangladesh, where she remained for many years. There she helped young women discern their call to sisterhood.

In 2002, Sr. Martinette returned to America from Asia and decided to go back to school at the age of 66, studying gerontology in St. Louis, MO. She finished her studies in 2005 and began working as a gerontologist and geriatric counselor at Azalea Estates Assisted Living, teaching their seniors how to age gracefully with happy hearts.

She is part of a facility where she is loved and respected. She sings, plays the piano, loves to dance, teaches, tells jokes, paints, cooks, does music and grief therapy, or whatever the needs there are at the moment, keeping the residents on their toes and happy. She is teaching one older man to speak Italian and  has arranged violin lessons for another resident.

Sr. Martinette is very involved with the interfaith groups in Shreveport-Bossier. The world religion group is her favorite. She writes for The Catholic Connection, is a religious adviser for Catholic women, a diocesan spiritual director, retreat director, and hopes to finish her own book on “The Delights of Aging” one day. She is a speaker on aging spirituality. “No matter how old one becomes, one can still learn,” she says.  •

Living Out the Love to Which Jesus Calls Us

by Mary Ellen Foley

How do you define love? No dictionary can capture the essence of love. The same is true of our understanding of words like justice, solidarity and compassion. Before I experienced JustFaith, my understanding of justice and my definition of solidarity were dictionary definitions. So inadequate! Such understandings must be formed in relationships. For me, solidarity and justice came to life through our small group sharing and the relationships we formed during the JustFaith program.

In this program, we reflected on the lives of those who hunger for justice, compassion and understanding. We struggled with our preconceived notions; we challenged conventional wisdom. We visited with people in need, “the least of these.” We began to view their situation through their eyes. Through these experiences we began to develop the compassion that Jesus wants us to have for the poor. And we learned how justice and charity, the two aspects of love in action, go hand in hand.

The JustFaith program explores the long-standing social doctrine of the Catholic Church. From the early church fathers right up until our present time, the church has expressed concern for the poor and the laws and social conditions that lead to poverty. Pope Leo XIII responded to the working conditions of the Industrial Revolution with his famous 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum. Since that time the popes of the 20th and 21st centuries have responded to the conditions of their times with major messages concerning social justice. It is now up to us, the people of God, to read, experience and reflect on the principles of justice proclaimed by the Church for the last 130 years.

St. Joseph Parish, Shreveport, will offer the JustFaith experience this coming fall and spring, on Thursday evenings, beginning September 19, and ending in April. This experience uses the adult learning model to help us fully understand the principles of justice that the Church holds dear. We dialogue as a faith-sharing community to deepen our faith and our solidarity with our neighbors. We will explore today’s issues and engage in dialogue around those issues in the light of Catholic social teaching. The program is open to anyone who would like to participate.

“Thirteen years ago I participated in the JustFaith program. The program was a great learning experience in Catholic Social Teaching. The program challenged me to become more active in my faith. It allowed me to form deeper friendships with the other participants. Since that experience we have all been involved in more actively living out the love to which Jesus calls us.”  – Fr. Mark Watson.

“In 2007, St. Joseph Church offered the JustFaith program to people in our community who were interested in learning more about social justice in a small community setting. When I joined, I had no idea how powerful this experience would be for me. I learned to view the world with new eyes, seeing it from the heart of those who were less fortunate than me, and responding in a new compassionate way to those who are different from me. The JustFaith experience was truly life changing.” – Jane Snyder

For more information, contact Mary Ellen Foley at me.foley@comcast.net, or 318-869-1120.  •