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 »

Second Collections for June & July

by Father Rothell Price

Announcement Dates:  June 16th & 23rd
Collection Dates:  June 29th & 30th

Be a Witness of Charity.” This is the clear call and witness of our annual Peter’s Pence Collection. The Feast of the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, celebrates these two pillars on which the Holy Spirit built up the early Church. Both apostles were guided by the Spirit to focus their zeal on the Jews and Gentiles. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, founded on the proclamation of these two and the other Apostles, takes up the Peter’s Pence Collection on their joint feast day.

As our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is the head of the Universal Church and successor to St. Peter, he is called upon by suffering individuals, families, communities and nations to help them in a time of crisis and suffering. The Peter’s Pence Collection makes it possible for him to respond to this cry on behalf of Jesus Christ and His Holy People, the Church. Pope Francis has been inspirational in the humble yet dramatic way he makes the human and material resources of the Holy See readily available to those in need.

Join our Holy Father Pope Francis in representing Jesus Christ to our brothers and sisters in need. “Be a Witness of Charity.” Participate generously in the Peter’s Pence Collection. •

Announcement Dates: July 7th & 14th
Collection Dates: July 20th & 21st

The Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa collection helps our brothers and sisters in Christ on the huge African continent grow in the Catholic faith. Your participation in the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa accomplishes the great spiritual and material good of building up the faith, transforming lives and contributing to the improvement of standards of living among people hungering and thirsting for God and the basic necessities of life.

Through the marvel of television and social media, we are blessed to see with our own eyes the good news that the Church in Africa is growing. Pope Francis and his predecessors, Benedict XVI, Saint Pope John Paul II, and Saint Pope Paul VI held the people of Africa close to their hearts. They admirably did their part in nurturing the growing and vibrant faith of the peoples of Africa. Join Pope Francis and the bishops of our country in strengthening the faith of the people of Africa. Your contribution to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa makes it possible for our bishops to provide grants to finance religious education, Catholic schools, clergy and religious education, youth ministry, communications, evangelization, leadership formation, justice and peace, construction and outreach programs.

Please be generous in your support of the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. This fund provides access to the Sacraments of the Church for a spiritually enthusiastic and hungry people. Help them overcome their spiritual and material challenges due to poverty, food shortages, disease and migration. Stand with the people of Africa. Give generously to the Solidarity Fund.

Faithful Food: Breath of Fresh Air

by Kim Long

The sacrament of Confirmation was celebrated recently in our parish. This class has been, well, different. We had some who had been with us “since the beginning” and some who were new students. Throughout the course of this year I came to know them better as I spent time with them on several occasions in a teaching and advisory capacity. On the morning of Confirmation though I was filled with anticipation. I was unprepared for my emotional reaction when the choir intoned the Veni Sancti Spiritus. I wondered how many really wanted the Holy Spirit to come and then suddenly I did, more than anything.
As the students brought the gifts during the Offertory I turned, craning my neck, in order to see each one, a smile breaking across my face. There, I thought, is one of the gifts a DRE receives: completion.

The verse from 2 Timothy came to mind: “I have finished the race, I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith.” I felt that verse applied to both the students and myself.

The day before I talked with them about the pros and cons of their Parish School of Religion journey ending. We talked about “growing up our faith” as we age. Sitting in the pew on Sunday a million thoughts raced through my head about all the changes that seem to be happening at an unbelievable pace, barely leaving me time to catch my breath. Losing an editor was not the least of these.

Meeting Jessica Rinaudo for the first time my one overarching thought was of her youth, which was immediately followed by wondering how this “work relationship” would pan out. Like Katie, my fellow columnist of many years, I too have learned so much from Jess. It has been an utter delight, a blessing, and an exercise in all things associated with the art of the well-turned phrase.

With each passing month, I sat at my computer, churning out what I hoped God wanted me to say and then feeling completely vulnerable when I hit send afterward thinking, “the wheels are in motion, there is no turning back.” This was more true than I could know.

With Jessica’s carefully crafted comments, she guided me forward each month and we have come so far that I barely remember the first piece of writing I proffered for consideration. Over the years I have told her countless times that she makes me look better than designer clothes.

So, as this class was confirmed, I thought of gifts and the concept of receiving and realized God is always offering me treasure in one form or another if I have eyes to see and ears to hear. I thought of all the moments Jessica and I have shared, some funny, some heart wrenching, always a blessing. In my mind we have helped one another “keep the faith” through laughter, prayer, lunch and attempted rehabilitation for my careless abuse of the semicolon and the dash. Time passes, we move forward, we move on, we pack, we keep, we discard, we embrace, we grow our faith up as we grow up. As we both draw to the close of this chapter in our relationship, I look forward to hearing of her adventures and sharing my own as we both journey onward. In the “spirit” of the season I offer the following sidebar…

The Care and Feeding of a Columnist

Wisdom… an editor knows when to push you to the edge and when to pull you back.

Understanding… an editor knows when to extend a deadline and when to leave a text message asking if everything is ok as, “I haven’t heard from you.”

Counsel… an editor knows how to hold the shaky hand of a columnist and say, “Yes, you can.”

Piety… (also known as reverence, coming to God with humility). An editor respects that a columnist is opening up completely and guides them to a place where their work is respected and shines. An editor is prayerful and prays with and for their columnists.

Fortitude… an editor knows when to send a piece back, knowing it can be made better. What seems a momentary rejection becomes a teachable moment.

Knowledge… an editor knows the audience and the writers and that both answer to a higher power. An editor knows that flowery phrases often obscure the message and isn’t afraid to prune.

Fear of the Lord… an editor knows that God is God, and columnists are not. An editor guides their columnists to a place in their craft where higher truths will shine.

Mike’s Meditations: What Are Your God-Given Gifts?

by Mike Van Vranken

As a child in school, I memorized the “gifts of the Holy Spirit:” wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord,” all from the prophet Isaiah. Then, we committed to memory the “fruit of the Spirit:” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). I later learned enough Scripture to know that everything belongs to God. Consequently, all good gifts must come from God. And in addition, there are many Scriptures attesting that we have each received gifts from our good and gracious God.

So, how do we know what our gifts are? And equally important, how do we know when, where and how to use them? Do you have trouble, at this moment in your life, knowing your gifts and how God wants you to use them? Well, relax! You are not alone. I have learned that knowing our gifts takes effort. Doing something with our gifts, takes love.

In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola gives us a starting point. He suggests we ask God for interior knowledge of all the great good we have received from Him. By “interior knowledge,” he is challenging us to do more than just memorize a list of gifts as we did as children. He wants us to open ourselves so God can place in our minds and hearts all the good things He has given us. He wants us to not only know of these gifts intellectually, but to feel them, to allow their very essence to penetrate who we are. Can we consume these gifts in our hearts to such a point that we can taste them, hear them, touch them, smell them and even see them? Can we, with God’s grace, experience these gifts, which are now part of who we have become?

Ignatius continues by asking us to consider how all these good gifts descend from above. He suggests that we, in silence, picture with our imagination how goodness, piety, mercy, justice, etc. all come down upon us like rays from the sun. See, feel, smell, taste and even hear those rays of sun, filled with God and His gifts, penetrating your entire body, soul and spirit. Experience each gift closely. Give each gift a name, and continually thank God for that particular gift. This is how we prayerfully obtain the interior knowledge he is talking about.

However, this interior knowledge is not enough. Ignatius now asks us to pray for God’s powerful grace to help us be so stirred with gratitude, that we may be able to love and serve Him in all things, all creatures, and all people. And, in all of this, he reminds us that God is assisting us, working with us, even laboring with us to love Him so much that we desire to serve Him by using these gifts to intimately and passionately love all of His creation; including each other.

I respectfully suggest that you take some time with God this month and pray for the grace to interiorly know and be aware of all of the gifts He has given you. Then, if you have the courage, pray for the further grace to be so moved with gratitude and thanksgiving, that you offer to serve Him in all things, in all creatures, and in all people. This is a transformation that allows us to work with God to change the world.

On Another Note:
When I began submitting these articles to The Catholic Connection about a decade ago, our editor, Jessica Rinaudo, graciously welcomed me as a contributing writer. With gentleness, compassion and a deep love for the people of God, she gifted her expertise and taught me how to share with the Church through my writing. Her many literary talents and gifts, as well as her countless spiritual gifts, always freely given with love, have been more of a blessing to me than I could have ever dreamed or imagined. By sharing her gifts with our entire diocese, we all will reap many harvests for decades to come. As she and her family follow God’s call to sow even greater seeds in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, I ask you to join me in prayer for Jessica and her family – that God will grant them the grace to joyfully and lovingly share their many gifts there, and that He will bless them with His love and His grace in this next leg of their journey, manifested in ways that are more than they could ever think or imagine.

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 and what Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) does. To some, it may be confusing that SVdP and CCNLA are two, completely separate unaffiliated organizations within the same Diocese of Shreveport. However, largely because of the efforts of Bonnie Martinez in Shreveport and Jo Ann Crone in Monroe, these two Catholic social service organizations have formed a partnership in which both organizations join forces in their efforts to serve the poor and vulnerable.

According to the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Vincentians witness God’s love by embracing all works of charity and justice. The Society collaborates with other people of good will in relieving need and addressing its causes, making no distinction in those served. It is evident then, that the mission and vision of SVdP aligns with CCNLA’s own mission to bring Christ’s message of love to the poor and vulnerable by providing quality social services to families and individuals without discrimination.

As President of the Western District Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which includes Shreveport, Bossier and surrounding areas, Martinez saw the opportunity for the two organizations to work together to mutually benefit and support each other’s programs. She proved to be the resource that bridged the gap of missing contact information for each organization. Through her leadership, conference members have gained an appreciation for the cooperative partnership with CCNLA and understand that the collective efforts of both groups better serve those in the community.

As the relationship has evolved over the years, when SVdP conference members are working with a family that they feel could benefit from the services of CCNLA could help supplement, they will refer the family to CCNLA. Likewise, CCNLA will refer clients to SVdP when we are unable to help with specific needs or when the client may benefit from supplemental aid that SVdP can provide. In this way, both organizations are able to reach more people and affect those lives for the better, doing more in collaboration than what could be accomplished individually.

“When we pool together our resources and efforts, we both get to serve the same individual,” said Martinez. “It’s a win-win situation. St. Vincent de Paul initiates an interpersonal connection through our home visits and with the educational component that Catholic Charities provides, we move closer to that which will result in long-term change for the individual.”

In the same way, Crone, Board President and a founding member of the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy in Monroe, has been pivotal in establishing a collaborative association with the CCNLA Monroe office as well. The CCNLA Monroe office works closely with the SVdP chapters of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Our Lady of Fatima Parish and St. Lawrence Church.

The special partnership that CCNLA and SVdP have created both in the Shreveport/Bossier and Monroe areas continues to grow stronger and proudly represents the Diocese of Shreveport hand in hand. The number of clients and families that CCNLA and SVdP have worked collectively to assist has been numerous. The relationship that SVdP and CCNLA have established embodies CCNLA’s vision that together SVdP and CCNLA invest in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice. •

Pro-Life Oratory Contest Winners Announced


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 his insightful presentation. He cited the “Unborn Victim of Violence” act, which charges a murderer of a pregnant woman with two counts of murder, one for her and one for her unborn child. Her baby is considered alive and a victim, at whatever stage of its development. Kaiden pointed out the irony that this recognition is unfortunately not provided to babies who are victims of abortion and infanticide, even though the babies are identical in their development. Kaiden was awarded $500 for his speech.

Second place honors were captured by Celeste Lirette, a senior at Loyola College Prep. Her stirring presentation relayed the fact that one in four babies are aborted. That child who never had a chance at life could have been your best friend. Celeste stated that young people need to be bold in proclaiming the truth about the evils of abortion, because “in the end, that aborted baby could have been me or it could have been you.” Celeste was awarded $250 for her presentation.

Zaige Wills, a senior at Byrd High School, won third place by pointing out that everyone deserves the right to life. He challenged the audience to action, saying “We must be the voice for the defenseless babies who are being deprived of this right.” He was awarded $100 for his inspiring speech.

First place winner Kaiden Odell advanced to the State Finals in Baton Rouge on Saturday, May 4 at the Louisiana Knights of Columbus Convention in Baton Rouge. Kaiden won the state competition and will represent Louisiana at the National Pro-Life Oratory contest, which will be held at the National Right to Life Convention in Charleston, SC on July 6.

The local competition was held April 25, at the Catholic Center in Shreveport. Now in its 31st year, the contest challenges students to consider the bioethical issues of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and fetal stem cell research from a pro-life perspective.

The contest is non-denominational and is sponsored locally by the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport. State and National sponsors are the Louisiana Right to Life Federation, the Louisiana Knights of Columbus and the National Right to Life.

For more information, contact Anthony Fabio at awfabio2@hotmail.com. Visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SBProLifeOratoryCommittee/ •

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 day which is also commonly referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. Inspired by the Lord’s instruction in the Gospels of Matthew 9:38 and Luke 10:2, in which Jesus exhorts the people to “ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest,” World Day of Prayer for Vocations unites the faithful together in praying for the fostering of all vocations, particularly those of ordained ministry and consecrated life.

In his Message for the 2019 World Day of Vocations, Pope Francis reflected on the reality that all men are made “bearers of a promise” and are asked to have the “courage to take a risk” with Jesus and for Jesus. The Holy Father emphasized that just as the Lord beckoned Simon and Andrew to leave their nets and follow him, he also asks the same of us. He encounters each of us personally and uniquely, and it is in the midst of this encounter with Christ that Pope Francis says we are granted “the promise of a joy capable of bringing fulfillment to our lives.” The Holy Father also urged those discerning to remember that “the Lord’s call is not an intrusion of God in our freedom; it is not a “cage” or a burden to be borne. On the contrary, it is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be part of a great undertaking.”

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, stated that it is precisely because of this encounter with Christ that we are given the courage to leave the security of our daily routines and decisively embark on the path the Lord has for us. “To have courage does not mean that we suddenly have no fear or uncertainty,” Cardinal Tobin said. To be courageous means to know with confidence that Jesus is walking with us and in challenging us to take a risk, intends only our greatest joy.”

Closing his Message for the 2019 World Day of Vocations, Pope Francis beseeched young people to realize that following Jesus is always worth the risk. “Do not be deaf to the Lord’s call,” he urged. “If he calls you to follow this path, do not pull your oars into the boat, but trust him. Do not yield to fear, which paralyzes us before the great heights to which the Lord points us. Always remember that to those who leave their nets and boats behind, and follow him, the Lord promises the joy of a new life that can fill our hearts and enliven our journey. •

Your Appeal Helps Provide Priests for Our Future

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Development

Our current seminarians who are actively discerning their vocation can continue to count on your Appeal donation to provide the required tuition, room and board to assist them with their education at both the college and theologate level of seminary training. Our Appeal has a long tradition of caring for the needs of our seminarians. It also supports our diocesan Office of Church Vocations which continually seeks to identify and enlist men and women for a lifetime of religious service to the Church. This year, the largest percentage of our Appeal allocation of funds will be for the support of our seminarians.

This past month we had the opportunity to witness the ordination of Father Kevin Mues. Thanks to your generosity, our Diocesan Stewardship Appeal was able to support Father Kevin by providing the education he needed during his discernment and formation, nurturing his vocation to the priesthood into fruition. In June we will again have the opportunity to witness your Appeal dollars supporting our future priests as four of our seminarians participate in the Rite of Candidacy Mass on June 2 at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans at 11:00 a.m. At that Mass, four young men, Nicholas Duncan, Raney Johnson, Jeb Key and Kelby Tingle, will officially become candidates for the priesthood for the Diocese of Shreveport.

It is important to note that this area of ministry is the real future of the Church in our region, as our diocese will be challenged to supply priests to all 38 of our parishes, missions and chapels. Providing new priests for our diocese is a crucial task for our combined faith community and your donation to this worthy cause helps our Appeal lead the way! •

Kids’ Connection: Sacred Heart of Jesus

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

As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

 from the Vatican Press Office

Today we complete the catechesis on the fifth question of the Lord’s Prayer, focusing on the expression “as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Mt 6: 12). We have seen that it is indeed man who is indebted before God: from Him we have received everything, in terms of nature and of grace. Our life was not only wanted, but was beloved by God. Truly there is no space for presumption when we bring our hands together in prayer. There exists no “self-made man” in the Church. We are all indebted to God and towards many people who have given us favorable conditions of life. Our identity is built on the basis of the good we have received. The first is life.

Those who pray learn to say “thank you”. And many times we forget to say “thank you,” we are selfish. Those who pray learn to say “thank you,” and ask God to be benevolent with him and with her. As much as we may strive, there always remains an uncancellable debt to God, that we can never pay back: He loves us infinitely more than we love Him. And then, as much as we may strive to live according to Christian teachings, in our life there will always be something for which we must ask for forgiveness: let us think of the days spent idly, the moments in which rancor has occupied our hearts and so on. These are the experiences, unfortunately not rare, that make us implore: “Lord, Father, forgive us our trespasses.” Let us ask for God’s forgiveness in this way.

Come to think of it, the invocation could also be limited to this first part: it would be good. Instead Jesus reinforces it with a second expression that combines with the first. The vertical relationship of benevolence on the part of God is refracted and required to be translated into a new relationship that we experience with our brothers: a horizontal relationship. The good God invites us all to be good. The two parts of the invocation are tied together with a merciless conjunction: we ask the Lord to forgive our debts, our sins, “as” we forgive our friends, the people who live with us, our neighbors, the people who have not been good to us.

Every Christian knows that there exists for him the forgiveness of sins, this we all know: God forgives everything, and always forgives. When Jesus describes the fact of God to his disciples, he outlines it with expressions of tender mercy. He says that there is more joy in heaven for a sinner who repents, rather than for a crowd of righteous people who are not in need of conversion (see Lk 15: 7-10). Nothing in the Gospels suggests that God does not forgive the sins of those who are well disposed and who ask to be re-embraced.

But God’s grace, so abundant, is always demanding. Those who have received so much must learn to give so much too, and not to hold back only for themselves what they have received. Those who have received so much must learn to give so much.

It is no coincidence that the Gospel of Matthew, immediately after giving the text of the Lord’s Prayer, among the seven expressions used, emphasizes precisely that of fraternal forgiveness: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt 6: 14-15). This is important! I think: sometimes I have heard people say: “I will never forgive that person! I will never forgive what they did to me!” But if you do not forgive, God will not forgive you. You close the door. Let us think, ourselves, whether we are capable of forgiving, or if we do not forgive. A priest, when I was in the other diocese, told me in anguish that he had gone to give the last sacraments to an old woman who was on the point of death. The poor lady could not speak. And the priest said to her: “Madam, do you repent of your sins?” The lady said yes; she could not confess them but she said yes. It was enough. And then again: “Do you forgive others?” And the lady, on her deathbed said: “No.” The priest was distressed. If you do not forgive, God will not forgive you. Let us think, we who are here, whether we forgive or are able to forgive. “Father, I can’t do it, because those people did so many things to me.” But if you cannot do it, ask the Lord to give you the strength to do it: Lord, help me to forgive. Here we find the bond between love for God and love of neighbor. Love calls for love, forgiveness calls for forgiveness. Again in Matthew we find a very intense parable dedicated to fraternal forgiveness (see 18: 21-35). Let us listen to it. …

Jesus inserts the power of forgiveness into human relationships. In life, not everything is resolved with justice. No. Especially where we must put a barrier to evil, someone must love beyond what is necessary, to start again a story of grace. Evil knows its revenge, and if it is not interrupted it risks spreading and suffocating the whole world.

Jesus replaces the law of retaliation – what you did to me, I will do in turn to you – with the law of love: what God has done to me, I will give back to you! Let us think today… if we are able to forgive. And if we do not feel capable, we must ask the Lord to give us the grace to forgive, because knowing how to forgive is a grace.

God gives every Christian the grace to write a story of good in the lives of his brothers, especially those who have done something unpleasant and wrong. With a word, a hug, a smile, we can convey to others the most precious thing we have received. What is the precious thing we have received? Forgiveness, which we must be able to give to others. •

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 11+ years. This, it turns out, is my 129th issue.

The Catholic Connection has been so much more than just a job to me. As I scanned through the contents of all those back issues, I saw a timeline of my own faith journey and the friendships I’ve formed with all those who have worked diligently with me throughout these many years to produce an ever-evolving Catholic news and evangelization publication for the Diocese of Shreveport.

When I first took over the magazine at the end of 2007, relatively new to the publishing world, I had big ideas. We evolved the magazine to include more feature-based content with established columnists and full color! The page count climbed: first from 16 to 24 pages, and then from 24 pages to 32. With the page increases, we had more opportunities to include Catholic voices from all ages and backgrounds. My editorial board was flush with ideas, and our freshly minted new bishop, Most Reverend Michael Duca – bless him – always trusted me to do what I thought was best for the magazine.

Rinaudo speaks about The Catholic Connection magazine at St. John Berchmans School's Career Day.

The collaboration I’ve had with writers over the years has been invaluable. Each month has been an adventure as I worked closely with Kim and Katie to develop their content, and gleaned so much from Mike’s perspective on Scripture and Church teaching. Working with Bishop Duca was an opportunity to not only get to know and love the “man at the top,” but to hone my own editing skills and confidence.

All of these collaborative efforts began to draw national attention at the Catholic Press Awards each year. We went from a publication that never won an award to winning, at first, one, and then multiple awards each year.

“Why are you leaving?” and “Where are you going?,” you might wonder.

I’m happy to say, despite the sadness that comes from leaving this publication, I am overjoyed to be moving to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to take the helm of their publication, The Catholic Telegraph. The staff of their Archdiocese has opened their arms to me and have granted me the wonderful opportunity to work on a publication that reaches more than 100,000 Catholics. I am so grateful that God put me on this path and continues to show me that this is what He wants for my family and me (despite my own anxieties along the way).

Even with this excitement and joy in front of me, oh how I will miss the wonderful Catholic community in the Diocese of Shreveport! When I told the staff at the Catholic Center about my move, I was met with a mixture of reactions on every end of the spectrum. While Father Price shouted for joy, hugged me and told me how happy he was for me and my family, Father Long repeatedly told me “no,” and then reluctantly said that when I came back, there would always be a place for me.

There are more than 40 people who have some hand, small or large, in bringing The Catholic Connection to fruition each month. And while I can’t list them all here, I want to name a few who are very dear to me.

Rinaudo and Sciba

To my editorial board: thank you for your support and inspiring words throughout the years. Your care and love for the magazine has always encouraged me to push harder and grow more.

To my copyeditors: thank you for dropping everything at deadline time to carefully read through each and every line of text to ensure we are as accurate as we possibly can be before going to press.

To my Spanish translators, Rosalba and Melina: thank you for your patience with last minute articles and fast turn around times on translations.

To Msgr. Earl Provenza: thank you for hiring me and giving a fledgling designer and journalist the chance to do something great.

To Bishop Michael Duca: thank you for giving me the freedom, resources and confidence to grow The Catholic Connection into what it is today. Your mentorship and care for my family and me mean more to me than you will ever know.

To Father Peter Mangum: thank you for seeing something in me and pushing me to grow both at the diocese and at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Your vision, kindness, trust and leadership have helped shape my work and inspired me to always aim higher.

To my writers and dear friends, Kim Long, Katie Sciba, Lucy Medvec and Kelly Powell, who I worked with closely every month and who were on the front lines to cheer me into my new job position, I could not have done any of this without you. You are brilliant and inspire me in my faith every single day.

And finally, thank you to every reader who has ever taken the time to contact me through the years – whether upset or thrilled, frustrated or overjoyed, or to share a story idea – it means so much to me that you care about this magazine enough to reach out and to read it every single month.

I ask for your prayers as I move into my new position in Cincinnati, and for your prayers over the new editor and future bishop during this time of transition.

God bless you,
Jessica Rinaudo

Note: By the time this prints, I will no longer be working for the Diocese of Shreveport. Please forward all inquiries related to The Catholic Connection to Blanca Vice, bvice@dioshpt.org. Any personal correspondence can be sent to jessica.booth@gmail.com.