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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 »

Gabriel’s Closet Prepares Couple for Parenthood

by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

 We’ve all heard the saying, “when you make plans, God laughs.” Sometimes that laughter can turn into one of life’s biggest blessings. Such is the case with new mother Cherrish and the family she is building with Charles. Cherrish and Charles met four years ago when she had moved to Shreveport from Tucson, AZ. They fell in love and began preparing for their life together and planning for the future. Cherrish’s goal was to save up for college and eventually join the military, while Charles dreamed of owning his own landscape company. Everything was going according to plan, but as Cherrish describes it, they “hit a small speed bump” when she found out she was pregnant.

After experiencing all the emotions of impending motherhood (happy, scared, excited and nervous), Cherrish started receiving care through the Nurse-Family Partnership at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. It was through this program that she and Charles were referred to Gabriel’s Closet, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana’s parenting program, and began to get the necessary education and resources to become the best parents possible for their new baby.

Gabriel’s Closet offers weekly classes to expectant parents and parents of children ages newborn to four years. These classes cover a variety of topics including newborn and toddler care, discipline, safety, speech and language development, dental care, communication, potty training and much more. In addition to these classes, parents can earn merits that can be redeemed in Gabriel’s Closet to get essential items such as clothing, diapers, formula, strollers, car seats, pack ‘n play cribs, furniture and much more. Volunteers work with parents to make sure they are receiving all of the support they need to become the best possible parents to their children.

After their initial visit to Gabriel’s Closet in November 2017, Cherrish and Charles embraced the program with enthusiasm, attending parenting classes every week and working with volunteers to take advantage of the information and resources that would prepare them for parenthood.

Cherrish gave birth to their daughter, Eternity, on May 7 of this year. When asked what she likes best about being a parent, she describes the joy of seeing her own expressions on the face of her “little me.” Charles is an adoring father who often wants to hold his sleeping daughter while Cherrish laughingly encourages him to let “sleeping babies lie.” Cherrish credits the classes at Gabriel’s Closet with teaching her how to balance parenting while preparing her to go back to school. The “baby bump” in the road may have deterred their plans, but Charles and Cherrish are back on track to fulfilling their dreams.

“We couldn’t be more grateful to Catholic Charities for teaching us how to take care of our new baby while making sure that she has everything she needs,” said Cherrish. “I always recommend Gabriel’s Closet and Catholic Charities to new parents. They have helped us to work towards providing a successful, stable home for us, our baby girl and our family.”  •

Kids’ Connection: St. Ignatius of Loyola

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on St. Ignatius of Loyola.

St. Frederick High School El Día de los Niños

by Emily Brodtman

On April 29, the St. Frederick High School Spanish Club and National Honor Society joined St. Paschal’s Youth Group, SPY, to celebrate “El Día de los Niños” at St. Paschal’s Parish. El Día de los Niños is a day dedicated to children in Mexico and many Latin American countries. In preparation, the St. Frederick students baked sweets for a cake walk, bought candy, filled a piñata and brought games. Club members attended Spanish Mass and then helped set up and work the games. Once the games were set up we split into pairs to take the children to all the activities.

While working we were also learning about the Spanish culture. Our Vice President, Gabby Trejo, said, “It came as a surprise to see the look of confusion on some of the kids’ faces when we would speak to them in English, quickly realizing we needed to repeat ourselves in Spanish.”

This experience was great because we were able to immerse ourselves into the Spanish-speaking community and use our education to communicate with the children. Our Spanish Club enjoyed the opportunity to work with the SPY group. They had amazing decorations and many games which made the event possible. We are very grateful to be included with them to celebrate El Día de los Niños, and we hope to work with them again in the future.

St. Joseph Catholic School Students Enjoy Year of Religious Retreats

As part of an effort to continually strengthen the school’s Catholic identity, St. Joseph School’s Religion Department held age-appropriate retreats throughout the 2017-18 school year. Retreats ranged in length from 30 minutes to five hours, and each focused on a particular aspect of the faith.

First graders focused on the Holy Trinity, creating a clover representing the Trinity and learning a Blessed Trinity song. Second graders made unleavened bread during their retreat to represent the hosts used at Holy Communion, and created a Last Supper project. Students in third grade created a poster representing one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, giving each fruit a name and good qualities for a religious life. Fourth graders performed a skit that represented the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Middle School students enjoyed an off-campus retreat, held on All Saints Day 2017, that began with the school’s All Saints Mass, then continued to St. Joseph Cemetery, where they learned about Catholic cemeteries and some of the stories of those who are buried there. They sang hymns and prayed the Prayer for the Faithful Departed before continuing on to Greenwood Cemetery.

Here the students also enjoyed a cultural celebration they learned about in Spanish class: La Dia de los Muertos. Students and chaperones enjoyed homemade Mexican hot chocolate, rice, beans and tamales, then offered the Prayer for the Faithful Departed and went on a scavenger hunt to learn about the many historical figures of the City of Shreveport who have gone before us.

SJS is already planning retreats for next year, to help the students grow in their knowledge and love of the Catholic faith, and to teach them how to withdraw from their busy schedules occasionally, to take time to be with Jesus in prayer.  •

JGS Partners with Cyber Innovation Center

Jesus the Good Shepherd School has partnered with the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City, using a curriculum from the NICERC (National Integrated Cyber Research Center), which is a creation of the Cyber Innovation Center. It is an application-based curriculum that allows the teacher to embed the curriculum across multiple disciplines. Students used a seven-step Engineering Design Process to create rollercoasters using nothing more than card stock, tape and glue.

OLF Teachers Testify Before Louisiana State Senate

Two teachers from Our Lady of Fatima School, Tacorey Johnson and Stephanie Haney, testified before the Louisiana State Senate Finance Committee. They were there to speak about the state scholarship program, required services and the child nutrition salary supplement.

Vocations View: Spanish Immersion

Seminarian Raney Johnson (second from right) stands with other seminarians before Mass in Mexico as part of his Spanish Immersion program.

by Raney Johnson, Seminarian

Since the beginning of June, I have had the great opportunity to spend this summer studying Spanish in Mexico through the International Institute for Culture. I have already experienced and learned so much in my short time here. At the beginning of the summer, I wondered what God might have planned for my vocation when I arrived in Mexico, and I must admit that I felt nervous before I left for the trip. I did not know much about the program that I was attending, and initially, I thought that I did not know anyone attending the program with me. However, as soon as I arrived, all of my nerves went away.

I met five amazing seminarians from around the country on the first day, and to my surprise, I already knew one of the seminarians from my previous summer assignment at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, NE. There are also four priests learning Spanish with us who have been spiritual fathers to the seminarians throughout the program.

In my first week of the program, I reflected on why I thought we all came to take part in this Spanish Immersion program. My reflection on why eventually led me to consider the people who were our motivation for learning Spanish. Yes, it was our bishops and vocation directors who asked us to attend this program, but the true motivators for why we came to Mexico were the people of God. We came to Mexico so that we could minister to our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters in our dioceses, both native to the U.S. and from the many countries that speak the language.

Across the United States, the need for priests to learn Spanish continues to grow. In our own diocese, I know that the Hispanic community has grown over the past few years. From the time I first attended the Spanish Mass at St. Mary of the Pines Parish in Shreveport, I have had the privilege of watching the Hispanic community grow there. Likewise, from my time in college to the present, I have seen the Hispanic community in Ruston at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish grow.

Watching these two communities grow continues to increase my desire to learn Spanish and hopefully minister to my Spanish speaking brothers and sisters. However, my time in Mexico has taught me that learning about a particular culture goes hand in hand with learning the language. This is the reason this program has both a Spanish class and a class about the history and culture of Mexico. Learning about the culture of Mexico has made me appreciate the Spanish language even more. As I continue to try and grow in my ability to speak and understand Spanish, I look ahead to the future, hoping that one day I will be able to not only celebrate the Mass in Spanish but also the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick.

My time in Mexico has helped me understand the cultural background of Catholics in the Diocese of Shreveport who either come from Mexico or have ancestors who came from this country. By the time this article is printed, I will only have a few weeks left in Mexico. I am thankful for all the time I have had in such a deeply Catholic country. I hope to return to the U.S. with a better grasp of the Spanish language and an eager desire to serve the Hispanic community.  •

Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa

by Father Rothell Price

Bulletin Dates: July 8th & 15th
Collection Dates: July 21st & 22nd

This month our diocesan family takes up the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa collection. “The Church in Africa is growing rapidly, but often there are not enough local resources to provide pastoral care for all the communities. By supporting this collection, you will help others to grow in their faith across the African continent.” This encouraging appeal of Cardinal Joseph Tobin to pastors and parish administrators makes each one of us realize the great spiritual good accomplished by each person’s participation in this, and all second collections.

Blessed Pope Paul VI, soon to be St. Paul VI in October of this year, was instrumental in turning the eyes of the Church to the people and continent of Africa. St. Pope John Paul II, vibrantly championed the awareness of our need for solidarity with the Church in Africa. This need for solidarity with Africa continues in the visits of Pope Francis. 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. The people of Africa are joyous and faith-filled, but they face challenges due to poverty, food shortages, disease and migration. The Solidarity Fund is an opportunity for us to stand with the people of Africa.

Please strengthen the faith of the people of Africa as they face these challenges. The Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa is a ministry of the bishops of our country. Your contribution to this collection makes it possible for our bishops to provide grants to finance pastoral projects that support the maintenance and growth of the Church in Africa. Funded projects include religious education, Catholic schools, clergy and religious education, youth ministry, communications, evangelization, leadership formation, justice and peace, construction and outreach programs.

Any amount you give strengthens the presence and witness of the Catholic Church on the huge African continent. The size of the gift is of little importance. The love that inspires the giving of any amount is of utmost significance. The Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. Your donation will ensure pastoral care to individuals, families, communities and nations. Your sacrifice will open access to the Sacraments of the Church for a spiritually enthusiastic and hungry people. Your gift will make it possible for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and other liturgical worship to be offered and received. Please be generous in your support of the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. Solidarity is not a hand-out, but rather a Gospel demand to stand with another out of love for God. I thank you in advance for whatever you are able to give to the Church of Jesus Christ for the care of His brothers and sisters on the amazing continent of Africa. •

Navigating the Faith: Humanae Vitae’s Unheeded Warning

by Father Matthew Long

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae, on the regulation of human birth by Blessed Paul VI, we understand now, more than ever, the timeliness and timelessness of his teaching, and the truth and wisdom behind the essential propositions of the Church reaffirmed by his writing.

Far from just “prohibiting artificial contraception,” Paul VI foresaw the consequences that marriages and society would suffer if the use of contraception became widespread. As Karen Mahoney recently summarized in The Catholic Herald, the tribulations that would arise if Church teaching on the regulation of births were disregarded are first, “conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality,” second, the loss of respect for women by men to the point that men would consider women “as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion,” third, governments would use contraception as “a dangerous weapon,” and, finally, that contraception would mislead human beings into thinking they had unlimited dominion over their own bodies, relentlessly turning the human person into the object of his or her own intrusive power.

At the time, opposing voices promised artificial contraception would bring positive advancements for both marriages and society. Sadly, it is clear for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear that the past 50 years has proven the dire predictions of Paul VI to be more than accurate.

In 2018, we must recommit ourselves to understanding and living what Pope Paul VI wrote in the opening line of Humanae Vitae :

“The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.”

In short, the Holy Father reiterated that spouses, with the help of God’s grace, can realistically acquire the self-discipline necessary to practice the methods of family planning that require periodic abstinence. He wrote:

“….the discipline which is proper to the purity of married couples, far from harming conjugal love, rather confers on it a higher human value. It demands continual effort yet, thanks to its beneficent influence, husband and wife fully develop their personalities, being enriched with spiritual values. Such discipline bestows upon family life fruits of serenity and peace; and facilitates the solution of other problems; it favors attention for one’s partner, helps both parties to drive out selfishness, the enemy of true love, and deepens their sense of responsibility.”

Bishop Strickland, Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, has placed a renewed focus on teaching our Catholic faith, which includes special attention being given to the idea of Natural Family Planning contained in Humanae Vitae. In his pastoral letter to the people of East Texas on teaching, published in May 2017, he wrote the following:

“It is providential that in 2018 the Church will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. At its promulgation, much of the world rejected, and continues to reject, the unchanging truths contained in this teaching of Blessed Pope Paul VI. Fifty-years on, seeing the unrelenting attack on the moral teaching of the sanctity of human life, we understand that the teachings of Humanae Vitae are “crucial for humanity’s future,” and it is imperative that we embrace these truths of married love, responsible parenthood and human sexuality.”

This is what is required of all of us: the effort of conversion of ourselves. Chastity “tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech” (CCC 2338). We must commit ourselves to overcoming any duplicity, which we have come to rely on concerning this challenging teaching of the Church. If we are to help married couples to live according to God’s law, then we have to submit ourselves to that same law and lead the way.

This conversion begins by gently and patiently teaching and re-teaching the faithful the truth and beauty of what the Church has always taught and what Paul VI so prophetically re-proposed a half-century ago.  •

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland will speak at St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport on July 25. He was consecrated the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Tyler in November of 2012. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Dallas in 1985 and joined the newly-created Diocese of Tyler in 1987. Before being selected as bishop by Pope Benedict XVI, he served as pastor of several parishes, rector of the Cathedral, judicial vicar and vicar general.

From the Pope: General Audience: Live with Strength of Life

from Vatican Information Services

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!June 13 is the feast of Saint Anthony of Padua. Who among you is called Anthony? An applause to all the “Anthonies.” Today we will begin a new itinerary of catechesis. It will be on the theme of the Commandments. The Commandments of the law of God. To introduce it, let us take as a starting point the passage we have just heard: the encounter between Jesus and a man, he is a young man, who, on his knees, asks Him how he can inherit eternal life (cf. Mk 10: 17-21). And in that question there is the challenge of every existence: ours too: the desire for a full, infinite life. But how can we arrive at this? What path should we take? To live truly, to live a noble existence. How many young people seek to “live” and then destroy themselves in the pursuit of ephemeral things.

Some think that it is better to extinguish this impulse, the impulse to live, because it is dangerous. I would like to say, especially to the young: our worst enemy is not concrete problems, however serious and dramatic they may be: the greatest danger in life is a poor spirit of adaptation that is not meekness or humility, but rather mediocrity, pusillanimity.

Is a mediocre young person a young person with a future, or not? No! He stays there, he doesn’t grow, he will not be successful. Mediocrity or timidity. Those young people are afraid of everything: “No, I am this way…” These young people will not go ahead. Meekness, strength and no timidity, no mediocrity. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati – who was a young man – used to say that it is necessary to live, not to get by. The mediocre get by. Live with the strength of life. We must ask the heavenly Father, for the young people of today, the gift of a healthy restlessness. But at home, in your houses, in every family, when you see a young person who stays seated all day, at times the mother and father think, “But he is ill, he has something,” and they take him to the doctor. The life of the young person is about going ahead, being restless, healthy restlessness, the capacity not to settle for a life without beauty, without color. If young people are not hungry for authentic life, I wonder, where will humanity end up? Where will humanity end up with quiet young people who are not restless?

The question of that man in the Gospel passage we have heard is within each one of us: how do we find life, life in abundance, happiness? Jesus answers: “You know the Commandments,” and cites a part of the Decalogue. It is a pedagogical process, by which Jesus wishes to lead to a precise place: indeed it is already clear from his question that the man does not have a full life, he seeks more and he is restless. What must he therefore understand? He says: “Teacher, all these I have kept since I was a boy” (v. 20).

How do we pass from youth to maturity? When we begin to accept our own limits. One becomes an adult when one becomes relative and aware of what is missing (cf. v. 21). This man is compelled to acknowledge that everything he can “do” does not go beyond a roof, it does not go beyond a margin.

How good it is to be men and women! How precious our existence is! And yet there is a truth in the history of recent centuries that man has often refused, with tragic consequences: the truth of his limits.

Jesus, in the Gospel, says something that can help us: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Mt. 5: 17). The Lord Jesus gives fulfilment, He came for this. That man had to arrive at the threshold of taking a leap, where there opens up the possibility of stopping living for oneself, one’s own works, one’s own goods and, precisely because full life is lacking, leave all to follow the Lord.

Seemingly in Jesus’ final invitation – immense, wonderful – there is not the offer of poverty, but of wealth, of the true kind: “One thing you lack… Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (v. 21).

Who, given the choice between the original and a copy, would choose the copy? Here is the challenge: to find the original of life, not the copy. Jesus does not offer surrogates, but true life, true love, true wealth! How can the young follow us in faith if they do not see us choose the original, if they see us addicted to half measures? It is bad to find Christians of half measures, if I may permit myself the word, “dwarf” Christians; they grow up to a certain point and no further; Christians with a shrunken, closed heart. It is bad to find this. There needs to be the example of someone who invites me “beyond” to “more,” to grow a little. Saint Ignatius called it the “magis,” “the fire, the fervor of action that rouses the dormant.”

The road of what is missing passes for what there is. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfil. We have to start from reality to make the jump to “what is missing.” We must scrutinize the ordinary to open ourselves to the extraordinary.

In these catecheses we will take the two tablets of Moses as Christians, hand in hand with Jesus, to pass from the illusions of youth to the treasure that is in heaven, walking behind Him. We will discover, in each of those laws, ancient and wise, the door opened by the Father Who is in heaven because the Lord Jesus, who has passed through it, leads us into real life. His life. The life of the children of God.  •