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Fidel Mondragon’s Ordination

by Jessica Rinaudo Before Fidel Mondragon landed in the Diocese of Shreveport, he spent many years in various seminaries, countries and a religious order, discerning the vocation God had planned for his More »

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Pope Francis Celebrated Mass and Canonization at Fatima Shrine

At 10:00 a.m. on May 13, the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fátima, on the plaza of the Shrine, the Holy Father Francis celebrated Holy Mass on the occasion of More »

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Join Us for Summer Catholic Camps for Teens!

Dear Parents, As parents of teenagers, you want the very best for your children. As faithful Catholics, you want them to grow closer to the Church in their teen years, not drift More »

Left to right: Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, Superintendent; Fr. Joe Martina, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish; Dr. Carynn Wiggins, Principal; Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis; Jamie Humphrey, Religion Teacher

Relgious Education Gets Boost at Our Lady of Fatima

by Bonny Van During the school year, Wednesday morning Mass for students at Our Lady of Fatima School in Monroe is much more than just a time to celebrate the Eucharist.  It’s More »

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Vocations View: The Identity and Role of a Deacon

by Duane Trombetta, Seminarian By the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a man is appointed to nourish the people of the Church with God’s Word and grace in the name of Christ.  He More »

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Faithful Food: Vulnerability and Risk

by Kim Long Words and their meanings have become causalities in our current world. It seems we can be overly casual with their meanings, “loving” everything from soda to chocolate and “knowing” More »

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Mike’s Meditations: Embracing All Prayer Types

by Mike Van Vranken I recently overheard two people discussing (maybe arguing) about whose form of prayer was best. One thought Sunday Mass was the best form of prayer because they could More »

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Bishop’s Reflection: Don’t Be Afraid to Be “Religious”

by Bishop Michael G. Duca I think it is fair to say that in today’s secular culture there is a bias against religion. Maybe the bias against it has always been there, More »

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Our Lady of Fatima Plenary Indulgence

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship On Saturday, May 13, the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis declared canonized saints, Jacinta and Francesco Marto, two of More »

First Communion at St. Lawrence

St. Lawrence Parish in Swartz, held First Communion on Sunday, April 30. Fr. Job Scaria is pictured with the first communicants.

Confirmation at St. Joseph, Bastrop

St. Joseph Parish in Bastrop held its Confirmation on Sunday, May 7. Confirmands are pictured with Bishop Duca, Deacon Marc Vereen and Fr. Lijo Thomas.

St. Joseph, Shreveport First Communion

First Communion was held at St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport on May 6 and 7. Communicants are pictured with Deacon Bruce Pistorius, Deacon Bill Roche and Fr. Mark Franklin.

Retirement Celebration for Principal Jo Cazes at St. John Berchmans School

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans parish and school celebrated Jo Cazes with a retirement party in her honor. Jo will be retiring as principal at the close of this school year after 12 years of service at St. John Berchmans and 44 combined years in education. The retirement Mass was said in conjunction with the First Holy Communion Mass. Afterwards, all attended a catered lunch and reception and presentation of parting gifts. A plaque was presented to Jo, dedicating the school library in her name.

Loyola Staff Attended NCEA

by Lisa Cooper, Loyola College Prep

Assistant Principal Stephanie Johnson at the National Catholic Education Assocation Conference

Loyola faculty members returned with great ideas and inspiration after attending the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) Conference and Expo in April. The NCEA convention is the largest private education association gathering in the nation and is held in fellowship with the Archdiocese of St. Louis. At the conference, Counselor Susan Hymel, Assistant Principal of Instruction Stephanie Johnson, Advancement Director Melanie Johnson and Theology teachers Marcos Villalba and T.C. Veit joined educators from across the United States and Canada to exchange ideas about cutting-edge research and technologies related to education.

Stephanie Johnson said, “My own personal take away was that I enjoyed hearing from leaders in schools just like Loyola about differentiated instruction, technology implementation and faith formation in Catholic schools.”

Veit echoes the other members in saying the experience at the conference was wonderful. Of particular interest to Veit were the sessions on Theology of the Body and Service Involving the Family.

Veit explained that a growing number of Catholic schools across the U.S. are teaching Theology of the Body as a class starting in elementary school right through high school.

The session on Service involving the Family helped Catholic schools learn more about shifting the focus of service to one which involves the entire family and not the students alone. Veit explained, “They are focusing on the corporal works of mercy, sending students with their families out into the community for various events as well as having them do things at home like creating homeless bags that will then later be distributed.”  Utilizing this shift in focus from sending money through students to inviting families to participate actively in serving the communities, these schools have found a way to meet each of the seven corporal works of mercy for their K-12 students.

Those participating in the conference represent all aspects of Catholic and faith-based education from preschool, elementary, secondary, adult education, colleges and universities to local parish pastors, priests, parish volunteers and more.  Attendees had available to them more than 200 professional development sessions, beautiful liturgies, and special events.

JGS Participate in Beautiful Lengths

To us, it’s hair. To women battling cancer, it’s hope. Jesus the Good Shepherd School students, Paula Pham, 6th; Morgan Tonore, 3rd; Adeline Bruscato, 2nd; and Millie Clay, 1st donated their 8-inch ponytails to Pantene Beautiful Lengths on Wednesday, May 3, in the school gymnasium in front of the entire school assembly. Pantene Beautiful Lengths has partnered with the American Cancer Society to make and distribute real-hair wigs to women in need. More than 800,000 ponytails have been donated to date! Thank you Kelly Southern, owner of Southern Salon, for donating her time and talent to such a worthy cause!

SJS Inducts Students in Honors Society

On Wednesday, May 10, St. Joseph Catholic School welcomed 23 inductees into the St. Joseph Catholic School Chapter of National Junior Honor Society. Students are nominated for induction based on the five pillars of membership: scholarship, service, leadership, citizenship and character.

Congratulations to all students for being selected to join the National Junior Honor Society!

OLF 5th Graders Hard at Work

Who needs pencil and paper when you have desks and markers? Students are working hard in Mr. Johnson’s 5th grade class.

Reflection on the Four Marks of the Church

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by Kim Long

The Nicene Creed was written centuries ago to help Christians remember the important beliefs of the faith. In the Nicene Creed we identify the four marks of the Church. These marks are not characteristics that the Church creates, develops or learns, but are qualities that Jesus Christ shares with his Church through the Holy Spirit. The four marks of the Church are that it is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

Events in our daily lives offer us the opportunity to connect with God in many ways, from visiting the sick, making a meal for a friend, offering a prayer and recognizing a deeper meaning to almost anything we do. Events in our daily lives can be viewed through many lenses or perspectives.

ONENESS

Several years ago my number came up – it was my turn to teach our eleventh grade Confirmation class. I liked all the students, but I feared I would not be able to connect with them. In the end, it was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had. I spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection about how to lead this group, which was full of 13 very different personalities.

On day one the Holy Spirit set the tone for the coming year. Looking at the students, again who were so different from one another in background, personality and where they were in their relationships with God, I wondered how to break the ice. I posed the question, “How do people know you are part of your family?” Each stated their family surname but I gently pressed them to think  more about it. Then statements began to roll off their tongues: “We’re Hispanic,” “We’re Creole,” “My family are welders,” “All the men in my family served in the military,”  “My family are farmers,” “My uncle is a priest,” “We pray the rosary with my grandmother.”

I asked, “How do people know we are Catholic?” Those answers came a bit quicker: the cross of ashes, Communion, giving up something for Lent, pro-life, Advent. Then we began to talk about the marks of the Church, which they told me they did not know. I reminded them we pray them every Sunday in the Creed: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. They knew them, they were even “marked” by them, but they did not realize it.

In the visibility of the Church, oneness is easy to recognize through the liturgy. Whether we are in Shreveport, Ireland, Jordan, or anyplace on the planet, our Mass is the same, our readings are the same. This is a wonderful comfort in a world that seems to be ever-changing.  In the visibility of the oneness of the Church, diversity also exists just as it did in that Confirmation class.

Ephesians 4:4,5 “There is one body, one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one faith, one hope, one baptism, one God and Father of us all.”

HOLY

I received a telephone call from my oldest son a few days ago. One of his employees and his wife were in town with their four-year-old son. They were at a local hospital due to their son’s condition. At four years old his body’s white blood cells needed to “wake up.” I offered to go by and check on them, but my son said, “No, I don’t think they will be there very long.” I offered a prayer for the family and went about my business and my busy-ness as Holy Week fast approached.

Late one night my text alert buzzed: “Mom, can you go by and visit them? I think they need a friendly face.”

The next afternoon I parked and went in search of this young family. I found them, introductions were made and the usual questions gently asked, “Can I do anything? Do you need anything? Is there a pastor I can contact for you? Would you like to pray?”

I gave them my number and wondered if I would hear from them. We had not met before that day. I texted daily to check on them and then they asked if I would be willing to stay with their son while they got something to eat.

In the entry to his hospital room were strict instructions to wash, put on gloves, mask and gown. I wondered if I would frighten this child whom I had not seen before. He thought I looked funny and we laughed about it. During that short 90 minutes, he laughed, we played cards, looked at every picture on my cell phone and then he said, “Do you want to see my back?” Not sure I did, I said ok.

He lifted his pajama top and there were two bandages and a clear plastic shield. He seemed to catch my inability to respond to this and assured me, “It doesn’t hurt. The doctor said it will come off by itself.”

As I left the hospital I prayed hard for that family and I thanked God for showing me His grace and His holiness in that small, brave four-year-old child. Abraham Joshua Heschel’s quote, “Just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy” never rang louder in my ears as it did that moment.

CATHOLIC

This was a moment I dreaded. The phone call, the preparation, the loss. I did not want this funeral to happen because I did not want this friend, inspiration, disciple and brother in Christ to die, yet I knew he was tired and as it states in Timothy, he had finished the race.

In all the time I have been at my parish, I have seldom seen the church as full as it was that day; every pew was occupied. As I looked around at the sea of faces there were Creoles, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Anglos. There were young and old and we all knew and loved the same person.

As I sat there, I thought about how many lives he had touched, how loved he was, and how each one of us had known a different side of wonderful spirit. As the priest (one of five or six) rose to give the homily, he began to say everything that I was thinking.

Later I told that priest, whom I have known for many years, to “get out of my head.” But the truth is he wasn’t in my head, our brother in Christ, was in all of our heads.
As I walked away, the meaning of the word “catholic” was being widened past my pew, my grief, my parish; I was beginning to realize the fullness, beyond time and space that our faith offers daily. God had taught me through Pete’s life and now was teaching me through his death.

“The word of truth is growing…and bearing fruit in the whole world.” (Colossians 1: 5-6).

APOSTOLIC

The old television show Mission Impossible always began the same way. The main character would find a small tape recorder with a cryptic and dangerous mission and then the zinger at the end was always the same: “This is your mission should you choose to accept it.” So it is with the gospel.

Unlike the cast of Mission Impossible we have (in most cases) more than 47 minutes to fulfill our mission. What is our mission? To live out the gospel teachings of Jesus – simple, but not easy. If we take a look at the apostles, they went from being disciples (students) to apostles (teachers). And truth be told they came into this role gradually. Peter went from denying Jesus to being the rock upon which the Church was built. Thomas, in his doubting moment, gives me courage to know that when I doubt I don’t have to stay in that moment of flux. Apostolic can also be tied to learning. I ask myself, “Am I willing to let go of what I think I know and be open to the teachings of the Church? Am I willing to examine them and make adjustments in my life? Am I willing to accept my mission to do my part in echoing Jesus’s prayer ‘on earth as it is in heaven?’”

I am growing in my appreciation of the marks and what they have to teach me. Did it happen all at once? No. But I am willing to learn, contemplate, pray over, accept what they have to teach me about being a better person, to lead me in a way that allows me to live my baptismal promises more deeply. This Eastertide I hope you will consider these teachings and all they offer us. May we walk in the light, may we rest in the shadow and may we continue the journey to deepening our faith. May we become “marked and dangerous,” fearless in our love of God and all that He has for each of us. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)  •

May is Older Americans’ Month!

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

There is a smile on Gods face and music in His voice as He looks upon all the agers in America who are aging out loud.

President John F. Kennedy began this celebration of older people in 1963 and encouraged us to celebrate the month of May in a very special way. Aging needs not only our loving, personal attention, but listening from the heart to what older adults have to say to everyone.

We are put on earth for a purpose. Cant you see the hand of God in your life?  We’ve got a secure future in Gods hands. The patron saint of joy is St. Philip Neri and, like him, we all have to walk across every bridge we meet. Have we crossed the bridge yet? What are you doing on the other side as you age?  Let his joy be your gift this month as you smile and help someone.

Henri Nouwen said, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Our joy must be shared with others.

Don’t allow your wrinkles or graying hair to slow down your gait or rob you of life’s aging joys this month, as we celebrate who we have become. You can still “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15).

Our journey of aging is not finished until we finish serving others. Who knows where we are going and exactly what will happen as we age out loud by not allowing stress, loneliness and depression take hold of our lives?

In this life only three things should be uppermost in our minds: faith, hope and love – not age. This month, create a sense of unity among others by inspiring them. Look for others who are showing us what getting older looks like today and listen to the issues they are concerned about. Speak out about important aging issues. We shouldn’t keep silent or disconnect ourselves from others as we age, lest we breed all sorts of maladies of the body, mind and spirit.

For me, aging is a lifetime of fruitfulness, love, graying hair, wrinkles and the joy that is our birthright from God because we belong to Him. He is a God of unlimited abundance and has more than enough for us. Blessed are we who have made good use of our years!

Blessed are the aging hearts who wait patiently for their lives to be increased, theirs is the Kingdom of God.

Time is not our enemy, but our friend. Let us not delay any longer, but age out loud, filling our lives with laughter, friends, family, doing what we want to do, allowing the Spirit to move your heart to do new things.

May your aging out loud be iced with the beauty of your mind, spirit, connectedness, and decorated with happiness, lots of joy, respect, friends, love and laughter.  At the end of the month, may you be filled with new attitudes about what it means to be yourself and to age out loud.  Thank God for all the tomorrows and live into the future closer to Him.

“We will be remembered forever by the tracks we leave,” is an old Native American saying. Happy Older Americans Month!