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Administering in a Climate of Transition and Church Crisis

by Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum, Diocesan Administrator I was standing at the corner of Peacock Lane and Southgates in Leicester, UK, having just visited the recently excavated burial site of King More »

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O Antiphons

by Kim Long After 18 years of working for the Church, I have deemed Advent the season of quiet desperation. Our Church tells us to be reflective and prepare, while secular society More »

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Find Harmony This Holiday Season

by Kelly Phelan Powell Since I was a young girl, I’ve dreamt of the perfect family Christmas morning. My handsome husband and I would spring, totally refreshed, from bed when our beautiful More »

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Fitzgerald Named Outstanding Philanthropist

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana On November 7, 2018, the Association of Fundraising Professionals North Louisiana Chapter hosted their 27th Annual National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon at the Hilton More »

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Father Lombard Celebrates 65 Years of Priestly Ministry

by John Mark Willcox There are few Catholics who live in Shreveport or Bossier City that have not had their lives affected in a positive way by Fr. Richard Lombard, who celebrates More »

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The Immaculate Conception

by Fr. Matthew Long There are countless images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. No Catholic Church, hospital, school or home is complete without at least one. Her role in our redemption and More »

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Keep Christ at the Center of Your Celebrations

by Katie Sciba I sauntered through the Christmas section of a department store last year, beaming because my heart equates decorations and ornaments with bliss and glee. Ribbons, tiny pine trees and More »

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Shreveport Martyrs and the 1873 Yellow Fever Epidemic

by Fr. Peter Mangum, Ryan Smith and Dr. Cheryl White In the late summer of 1873, Shreveport was besieged by the third worst epidemic of Yellow Fever that is recorded in United More »

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St. Joseph Cemetery: Remembering & Revitalizing

by Kate Rhea In November of 1882, less than a decade after arriving in Shreveport, Fr. Joseph Gentille, the second pastor of Holy Trinity Church was contemplating a major decision. North Louisiana’s More »

Martyrs and Saints: A History of Witness & Holiness in the Church

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by Cheryl H. White, Ph.D.

The earliest centuries of Christianity are punctuated by periods of severe persecution of the faithful in the Roman Empire, beginning in earnest under the reign of Emperor Nero, when the Church was just decades old. The very first persecution was of Jesus Christ, followed of course by the Apostles. The word “martyr” in Greek was applied to describe the Apostles, both who they were, and what they had done, for the word literally translates as “witness.” By their deaths, they provided the ultimate witness to the Truth they had seen and known in the person of Jesus Christ.

In the pagan culture of the Roman Empire, there was a civic expectation that people would recognize the gods worshipped by others, and the refusal of this in Christianity naturally made its followers suspicious to Roman authorities. Through the first three centuries of the Church, generalized edicts condemning Christianity were common, and resulted in many Christians going to what was often a sentence of horrific torture and death. This did not deter or discourage the faithful. In fact, martyrdom became the model and ideal for the Christian, as it has been likened to “the narrow gate” by some scholars. Tertullian of Carthage, a prominent theologian of the second century, expressed this concept well when he wrote, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” The persecuted Church only grew in numbers.
Martyrdom became such an identifiable aspect of the faith that when active persecutions ended during the reign of Constantine the Great in the fourth century, Christianity sought new ways to find the highest possible calling in other expressions, such as asceticism and monasticism. Still, to die a martyr’s death remained an ideal for centuries to come, as Christians continued to identify with the sacrifice of the persecuted faithful of the earliest era. Those early martyrs quickly became recognized as the first saints of the Church, and the willingness to lay down one’s life for Christ became a clear path to holiness.

In the first centuries of the Church, there was no formal process of canonization as there is today, with elevation to sainthood usually occurring at the level of the local bishop. By the sixth century, the names of the most well-known of these were being commemorated in the liturgy, evidenced by the Roman Canon. Martyrdom, while the first ideal of the Church, eventually gave way to the recognition of other models of exceptional holiness, heroic virtue, and rigor of life, as equal potential for sainthood. By the tenth century, it became standard that all such canonizations took place at the level of the papacy, and the formal process known today has existed since the sixteenth century creation of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The stages of the canonization process are defined as: Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed, and Saint. To be recognized as a Servant of God states that the Church has begun the process of official investigation into the life of a potential saint; to be declared Venerable is to have been associated with heroic deeds; to be Blessed (beatified) is to have one miracle confirmed through the intercession of the person in question; and finally, to be a Saint (the final step) requires the confirmation of a second miracle.

In 2017, Pope Francis articulated another way to beatification in an apostolic letter, Majorem Hac Dilectionem, or “greater love than this,” drawn directly from the Gospel of John. The pope stated that besides martyrdom and heroic deeds, the offering of one’s own life out of charity is yet another pathway to the Church’s recognition, with the same requirement of at least one miracle for beatification. “They are worthy of special consideration and honor, those Christians who, following in the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, have voluntarily and freely offered their lives for others and have persevered until death in this regard.”

Pope Francis went on to say in the apostolic letter, “It is certain that the heroic offering of life, suggested and supported by charity, expresses a true, full and exemplary imitation of Christ, and therefore deserves the admiration that the community of the faithful usually reserves to those who have voluntarily accepted the martyrdom of blood or have exercised in a heroic degree the Christian virtues.”

From the persecutions and martyrdoms of the earliest Christians, to the countless heroic and selfless acts on the part of many other saints throughout history, the Church has always formally recognized holiness. By the new guidelines offered by Pope Francis, the Shreveport “martyrs to their charity” of 1873 seem particularly worthy of this consideration, as they all knowingly offered the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives in the service of others.

Picture: St. Stephen is considered the first Christian martyr. The objects around his head and body are the rocks, which were used to kill him.

Catholic Campaign for Human Development

by Fr. Rothell Price

Collection Dates: November 17 & 18
Announcement Dates: November 4 & 11

he Catholic Campaign for Human Development Collection occurs annually in the month of November as our country prepares for our nationwide day of thanksgiving. We intentionally pause to give thanks to our loving and gracious God for the many blessings we have received from Divine Providence in the course of the year. We express our gratitude over a bountiful meal prepared in the unique tradition of our individual and national families. We place God’s bounty to us on our home table in a visual display, which becomes a feast for our body and soul. Our five senses delight in this thanksgiving as the bounty before us becomes a magnificent feast for our eyes, ears, nose, fingers and taste buds.

“Working on the Margins” is a fitting theme for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development Collection.” The European colonists, who were the fore fathers and mothers of this fledgling nation, were themselves working on the margins of the New World. There were numerous obstacles for them to meet and successfully manage for their spiritual and physical survival. Their success was due in significant part to the Native American peoples who helped the colonists overcome some of those obstacles. The first Thanksgiving was the colonists’ act of gratitude to both God and the Native Americans who helped them survive and flourish. “Working on the margins,” is precisely the work of the U.S. Bishops in the Catholic Campaign for Human Development Collection.

Through the work of this campaign, the bishops of the United States work to permanently change the lives of impoverished people for the better. Our bishops’ long-term goal is to eradicate poverty and its root causes here at home, in our own country. This work is accomplished through grants that allow work to be done locally to bring about lasting and systemic change where it counts the most. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is our unified effort to end poverty right here at home. Just as our faithful God and the indigenous peoples of the New World helped our fore fathers and mothers, so we, in our turn, can help our struggling brothers and sisters identify, meet, and overcome obstacles to being self-sustaining and contributing members of society.

“Working on the Margins” is where Jesus, our Savior worked. We, his modern-day disciples, also work in and on those margins. The mission of the Church and the aim of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is to bring people into the kingdom and society. Through this collection, you are giving those on the margins a hand up, not a hand out. What relief and hope our fore fathers and mothers must have felt as they saw and feasted on God’s bounty through the help of those who reached out to help them! We provide that same uplifting vision of God’s loving concern when we contribute to this campaign to develop human persons into fully capable and functioning members of the Kingdom and our great society.

Thank you for your generous participation in the second collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Domestic Church: Taking Little Ones to Mass

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by Katie Sciba

I have a confession to make: I haven’t always liked going to Mass. There have been some lengthy periods when the idea of going to Sunday Mass with my family made me want to head for the hills. Our kids were challenging and obnoxious in Mass, so much so that I was resolved that Andrew and I would attend Mass separately each Sunday just so we could avoid hauling our traveling circus into parish-view. We’ve received fantastic advice and insight from veteran parents that made going to Mass as a whole family not just possible, but enjoyable. It’s taken tears, fits and persistence to get us where we are, but we’re grateful for the wisdom passed to us.

1. Up your pre-game.

We’ve learned there’s no such thing as getting ready for Mass “real quick” for our family. It has to start 1 ₂ to 3 hours ahead of departure time, and it takes a divide-and-conquer approach from Andrew and me. Teamwork from us parents is a must if we want to arrive on time and stave off mutual resentment. The kids’ Mass attire is presentable, but it has to be comfortable, too. Uncomfortable shoes, pants and shirts make it hard for the kids to deliver good behavior. To avoid further disruption and tears during Mass, every child takes two trips to the bathroom an hour before and immediately prior to our departure. Though things can be pretty chaotic at our house, we try to keep Mass prep slow to avoid the stress of rushing.

2. Check and voice expectations.

Regardless of how terribly or well our preparations go, the ride to church is a behavioral pep talk. We’ve been going over the same rules every Sunday for years, and now every little Sciba can recite them. They know there won’t be any trips to the bathroom, they have to be prayerful with their bodies – folded hands and upright posture – and they have to pray along, saying the responses. Three simple rules. When our kids slip in any area, we give them a nudge and then model what we want them to remember.

3. Sit up close and talk.

This one is counter-intuitive. It’s tempting to sit toward the back in case we have to make a quick exit with a fit-thrower or potty-goer; but it turns out that kids with comfy clothes and empty bladders are more likely to behave, and with the added bonus of being able to see, the whole family has a shot at making it through Mass, sanity intact. There in the front pews the kids experience every part of the liturgy in plain sight. For our younger ones, we hold them and whisper what’s happening on the altar, “See how Fr. Dan kisses the Gospel after he reads it?” “Watch the servers when they ring the bells. They do it because Jesus is here.” We talk almost the whole Mass to our little ones learning so we can help keep them focused.
4. Respond to behavior.

For the children with angelic manners during Mass, there are stickers or check marks on a chart at home; high fives for the older ones. Whatever we use to reward, the kids get psyched for it. For the kids whose behavior needs tweaking (or revolutionizing), there is a conversation about what they need to work on with follow-through the next Sunday. Really bad behavior gets bigger discipline.

Above all, the biggest, most important tip I’ve received was to KEEP GOING. Practically speaking, parents and kids need consistent practice for behavior and experiences to improve; but even setting this aside, there is nothing more powerful than bringing our families before God. Wild kids will at least be in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, as well as their tried and tired parents. The Lord sees our persistence, our struggles and victories with our families, and loves us in both.

KOC Support Education

The Knights of Columbus presented Fr. Peter Mangum, Diocesan Administrator, with a check in support of adult education. Pictured left to right are Knights (back) Kenny Birch, Tommy Canizaro, Glenn Scioneaux, Jack Gustafson (front) Steve Cude and Fr. Peter Mangum

SPY Youth Serve Homeless

Several of the St. Paschal Jr. High youth group spent their Columbus Day holiday serving lunch to the homeless at Grace Place Ministry in Monroe. They also sorted and folded donated clothes in the clothes pantry to make it easier for guests to find what they need.

Blue Mass in Bastrop

St. Joseph Parish in Bastrop welcomed the community and surrounding areas to the 15th Annual Blue Mass, which honors police officers, sheriffs, firefighters, first responders, emergency medical technicians, state troopers and support personnel. Fr. Richard Norsworthy, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Zwolle, served as principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass.

Companions on the Journey at LA Tech

To help the newest bulldogs settle into college life with the least amount of stress possible, the Association of Catholic Tech Students (ACTS) sponsors a peer ministry program called “Freshmen Crossing.” With ACTS vision of “Being Catholic at Tech,” an integral part of Freshmen Crossing is that returning members are paired up with freshmen as “companions.” This companionship finds its roots in early Christianity as Jesus tells his disciples to companion each other on the journey. Companionship gives a sense of equality and cooperation as opposed to a “Big Brother or Sister.” The bond formed between the two is mutually social and spiritual, rather than one being superior to the other. This year, 15 companion groups were formed helping our freshmen “cross over” into their new lives of “Being Catholic at Tech.”

Family Rosary at St. Jude Parish

St. Jude held a GIFT Family Rosary in October. The Pre-K through Kindergarten students had a cupcake rosary, and the 1st through 5th grade students prayed the rosary outside, using balloons attached to our living rosary.

Rodeo Roundup for Jesus in Minden

“Rodeo Roundup for Jesus” was a rip-roaring good time at St. Paul Parish in Minden. The focus was on our “Cowboy Commandments” during the Barnyard Bible Study. The kids are now better prepared to “pan for souls.”

Blessing of the Pets in Many

Parishioners of St. John the Baptist Parish gathered for the annual Blessing of the Pets on October 3 in Many.