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Ministry of Presence: St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Feeds Students at Louisiana Tech

by Jessica Rinaudo The words “Ruston” and “Louisiana Tech” go hand in hand. And with only one Catholic Church in the city, St. Thomas Aquinas parishioners have taken up the task of More »

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Updating St. Joseph Cemetery

by Randy Tiller In 2023 we will be commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Shreveport Yellow Fever epidemic of 1873. This is not only significant for our diocese, but of importance to More »

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April 28th: Divine Mercy Sunday

by Julia Doolin The second Sunday of Easter is the Feast of Divine Mercy. This year, the feast falls on April 28. For the last 15 years, the Cathedral of St. John More »

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Bossier Church Helps Provide Beds to Children

by Mary Ann Van Osdell Don Harper is seeing to it that “no kid sleeps on the floor in our town” and Mary, Queen of Peace Parish is helping him achieve that More »

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Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Good Friday Way of the Cross & Walk for Justice

by Jim Beadles, President, Shreveport Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul For more than 20 years, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has sponsored the Good Friday Way More »

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Vocations View: Reflection – Final Year of Seminary

by Deacon Kevin Mues, Seminarian Time flies when you’re having fun!” This statement seems particularly accurate to me at this moment in my life. As I approach the end of my final More »

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Mike’s Meditations: Put Jesus in Context

by Mike Van Vranken We’ve all done it. You know, take a bit of scripture that we love to remember and use it for our own justification. And, many times, if we More »

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Frontier Mission Beginnings: Fr. Jean Pierre and the Bayou Pierre Community

by Dr. Cheryl White The small community of Carmel, Louisiana is home to a rich cultural inheritance that resonates even today as an important and easily identifiable chapter of our Catholic history. More »

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Escape Routes: A Reflection on the Church Sex Abuse Crisis

by Kim Long Sometimes I run. It’s true. Sometimes I run from God. In 2002 when the Boston clergy scandal erupted I had a vague notion of what was going on. Several More »

Second Collections for April

by Father Rothell Price

THE PONTIFICAL GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION FOR THE HOLY LAND
Announcement Dates: April 7th & 14th
Collection Dates: Good Friday, April 19th

The Pontifical Good Friday Collection supports the people of the Holy Land and the pilgrims who visit there. Your Good Friday gift, honoring the passion and death of our Lord, helps preserve the most significant and holiest places of our faith. In our churches, we walk the tortured path of our crucified Lord in the afternoon service of Good Friday. We shoulder His load in the Stations or Way of the Cross. What a privilege it is for us to walk the way of divine love, mercy and sacrifice with Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Your contribution makes it possible for the Franciscan Friars to care for the dwindling Christian community, the throngs of pilgrims and the holy sites themselves. Through the Pontifical Good Friday Collection, you are instruments of peace in a troubled land. Please give generously to the Pontifical Good Friday Collection. Honor Him by caring for the people and places He made holy by His presence there. Thank you for your sacrificial offering on Good Friday.

 

DIOCESE OF SHREVEPORT CHURCH  VOCATIONS COLLECTION
Announcement Dates: April 7th & 14th
Collection Dates: April 20th & 21st Easter

The Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection is so fitting at Easter. Raising up vocations to the risen and victorious Lord is most fitting. Contributing to the formation of men and women heroically responding to the voice of our Lord is a glad and worthy ALLELUIA in itself.

This year, by the grace of God, Deacon Kevin Mues will become Father Kevin Mues. This is reason enough to give generously to the Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection. Happily give so that Raney Johnson, Nicholas Duncan, Jeb Key, Kelby Tingle and Francis Genusa can continue to discern the Lord’s call. God willing, we may have two to four men entering the seminary in the fall to begin discernment and preparation for their priestly vocation among the people of God. Your gift also makes it possible for young people to discern their vocations at the Mission Possible Retreat and the Beloved Retreat held each summer.

These young men and women are God’s gift to us. Support their valiant response to Christ’s call. Give generously and joyfully to the Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection. Thank you for generously participating.

CATHOLIC HOME MISSIONS APPEAL
Announcement Dates: April 14th & 21st
Collection Dates: April 27th & 28th

The Catholic Home Missions Appeal collection exists to help mission dioceses, like ours. In what the Bishops of the United States called, “mission territory,” the number of Catholics is small in comparison to the overall population. In those territories, the Diocese of Shreveport, and many others, need outside support to provide pastoral and material care to the Catholic Christian faithful. Your loving gift to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal sustains and increases Catholicism, which is so vital in these areas. The presence of Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church is only possible because of the Catholic witness there. As our former Bishop Michael Duca sometimes reminded us, “In north Louisiana, nobody is Catholic by accident; people here are Catholic by choice.”

Give strongly to the Catholic Home Mission Appeal collection which helps us help ourselves. Give the Sacraments of Jesus Christ to north Louisiana. Give, so that religious education, ministry training, Catholic outreach and witness remain a vital catalyst in our part of our state. Thank you for “Strengthening the Church at Home” by giving generously to the Catholic Home Mission Appeal.

Domestic Church: An Audience of One

by Katie Sciba

I’ve lately been looking back over my time with The Catholic Connection. It’s been just over eight years since my first piece was published, and since then my work has been shaped and honed by both my supportive and incredible editor, as well as the education only experience can offer. Though I’m sure it never showed through my writing, every deadline made me nervous to the point that I wanted to withdraw entirely; think of it like stage fright for a columnist. The very idea that my thoughts were printed for the eyes of more than 11,000 people across the diocese terrified me. What if someone disagreed with me? What if someone thought my writing was elementary or irrelevant? What if I actually had zero talent for writing? As a recovering people pleaser, I’m nauseated at the idea of tension and conflict born of differing perspectives; it yields a special kind of sickening worry.

Though the experience is my own, the inclination to people-please is near universal. Maybe you’re a fellow worrier when it comes to conflict; or maybe a fight stirs within you when you’re not believed or given credit. It’s easy to equate others’ disapproval or opposing perspective with rejection and criticism, then feel unworthy or defeated.

If I’m speaking your language, then this is your official invitation to let it go, because the real audience we should work for is small in number and infinitely more significant than anyone else.
“…just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thes. 2:3-4).

We have an audience of One. We might be tempted to make the masses happy, desperately prove ourselves to those who disbelieve, or teach a lesson to the naysayers, yet the only One we need aim to please is the Lord. Of course, it’s admittedly a bit satisfying when all of the above happens and this is not to say that in pleasing God, we’ll certainly displease others; but if our ultimate purpose is to live and work with integrity, giving our best to imitate Christ in how he pleased the Father, we will gain true peace. Not only does the Lord watch us lovingly every waking (and sleeping) moment, but His thoughts of us are the only ones that have bearing.

It’s a great thought – a really lovely idea; but what’s the practical approach to living this way? One way is praying for guidance in doing God’s will, an act that confesses fear of the Lord, or due reverence to Him (Psalm 147:11). Following with the Lord’s desires is a delight to Him as well, and those desires are perfectly laid out in the 10 Commandments, as well as in Christ’s command to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Hebrews 13:21). We also know that God the Father was proud of Jesus during his time on earth (Matthew 17:5), so a surefire way to be the apple of the Lord’s eye is to “do whatever [Jesus] tells you” and follow his example.

In this life, there will be confrontation, criticism, differing views and disapproval; but on the world’s stage, perform for the One who matters most in order to live in confidence and peace. •

Faithful Food: Lessons from “The King”

by Kim Long

It is said that some things may only be appreciated with age. It is said that with age comes wisdom.

I confess that, unlike my sister, I have never been an Elvis fan. Oh, I tried but I could not appreciate his musical talents, his showmanship, his ability to connect with his audience regardless of age; still nothing, no resonance.

And then it came to pass that I was in Wal-Mart one November and I literally stopped pushing my shopping cart and stood stock still. It was Elvis singing away and his voice which carried into every corner of that building began to seep into my soul. I casually tossed his Christmas CD in with my purchases. Much later I came to appreciate his gospel offerings of “How Great Thou Art” and “Peace in the Valley,” but only recently have I “fallen” for his singing.

My relationship with the Easter season is not dissimilar. Oh, I tried but in my childhood experience, Easter paled beside the mystery of Christmas, with its story of love born in obscurity, mysterious gifts and givers, and meals to rival Martha or Nigella. For much of my adult life, I shied away from the true message of Easter: that I would eventually die, leave this world and be happy with God in the next world. You see I really liked this world in all its grit and glory, my children were younger and I could not fathom missing a single milestone. Heaven seemed great, a paradise, just not one I wanted yet. As I have aged, my children have reached adulthood, and my body reminds me I have not always treated it with care, I am beginning to appreciate heaven on its own merits and not just something that is better than hell.

Fr. Andrew Greeley first introduced me to seeing God in unexpected places in his book God in Popular Culture where he referenced cultural icons of the time and how whether intentional or not, God was present. Enter Elvis and his cover of the Everly Brothers “Let It Be Me.” As I replayed the song I began to really hear the words and it made me think that if the Song of Solomon were to have a musical theme, this song could fill the bill.

“Each time we meet, love I find complete love, without your sweet love, what would life be? Now and forever, let it be me.”

That’s when I “got it,” Easter takes the Christmas promise and brings it to maturity. Something to consider in these coming 50 days; and since it is a divine promise rather than the human variety with which I am more familiar, it took me a while to see it. So when I cook lunch for my family on the second, third, or fifth Sundays of Easter, I will take Elvis and his music into the kitchen and dance around the stove for joy – joy in this moment, in this life and the next. Fr.Greeley was spot on: God speaks to us in many ways, even through the voice of a boy from Tupelo.My Easter prayer is that I continue to see and hear God when and where He is found.

This Elvis “The King” Cake is a good recipe for any time. Enjoy a slice with coffee and a little Elvis music.

Elvis “The King” Cake

Cake

 Ingredients:
• 1 box hot roll mix (or feel free to use your favorite yeast dough)
• ½ cup of sugar
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
1) Mix according to package directions, adding sugar and cinnamon to the dough.

Filling

 Ingredients:
• 2 ripe bananas, mashed
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon Karo  syrup

Directions:
1) Mix bananas with brown sugar and syrup.

2) Roll dough into a rectangle.

3) Spread a thin layer of filling mixture onto dough. Leave about an inch of space all the way around.

4) Roll up and join ends together, pinching closed. Bake as package directs.

5) When cool, frost with barely sweetened whipped cream and drizzle rest of filling over frosted cake. Top with sprinkles (gold or silver fit for a king).

Mike’s Meditations: Put Jesus in Context

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by Mike Van Vranken

We’ve all done it. You know, take a bit of scripture that we love to remember and use it for our own justification. And, many times, if we had used the entire scripture rather than our out-of-context phrase, the message might convict rather than absolve us. Additionally, it is so much easier to spot this type of misinterpretation when others do it rather than when we choose to do so ourselves.

Recently I read an article and made the mistake of reading the online comments. Over and over I heard their voices shouting: “Jesus said to ‘go and sin no more!’” Of course, it is an impossible command to keep. Have any of us been able to “go and sin no more?” I certainly haven’t. Jesus did say some form of, “go and do not sin any more” in the gospel – twice. On one occasion it was to a man who couldn’t walk and Jesus cured, the other was to a woman caught in adultery. Both are found in John’s gospel where Jesus mentions sin about 16 times. Interestingly, in Matthew’s gospel he only mentions sin four times, once in Mark and not at all in Luke.

Let’s put the “sin no more” comment from Jesus back in the context of John’s gospel and see how it might look a little different. I’ll use John 8:1-11. Jesus is in the Temple area and the Scribes and Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery. They reminded Jesus of the law where Moses had commanded to stone such a woman. He responded with his famous words: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Of course, Jesus is not only speaking to this woman’s accusers, he is speaking to you and me as well. In this passage, he is not allowing anyone to punish another person. In fact, I cannot remember any passage where Jesus calls on us to punish others. The story continues with the Scribes and the Pharisees walking away and leaving the woman alone with Jesus.

Stop now, take a deep breath and imagine you are in this scene watching and listening to our Savior and this adulterous woman. She is standing by herself with the Son of God. She is looking in his eyes, perhaps suspiciously wondering why he took up for her and what he plans to do next. She may be worried about his intentions. Yet, he tenderly turns to her and says: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, maybe with a scared and shaky voice: “No one, sir.” And then, in the sweetest, most compassionate words that can only come from an all-loving creator, with deep love in his eyes and gushing from his heart, Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more” (John 8:10-11). Watch the tears begin to flow from her eyes. See and experience Jesus’ gracious and generous smile as she slowly backs away from Him and humbly walks off. Can you feel the freedom she is experiencing? Dare to ponder the joy and love that must now be running throughout her entire being. Can you witness the dramatic change that is overcoming her?

Does this surprise you to read this so familiar story this way? Would we expect anything else from Jesus? This is the man who commands His followers, several times in the gospel stories, to forgive over and over again. If He asks this from us, how much more will we experience it from Him? You may have even noticed that Jesus actually did not forgive this woman. Why? Because He never passed judgment on her to begin with. He never condemned her, so there was nothing to forgive. Rather than condemn and judge her, rather than preach to her, instead of reminding her of her sin, He confronted her with his love. He overshadowed her with his deep and abiding love. And, as St. Paul promised us: “love never fails” (1 Cor 13:8).

The entire Bible is the passionate and intimate love story of God and His people. In the four gospels, Jesus, who is God in the flesh, shows us how to live this love as human beings. Yes, He surely called us to follow Him and all that He taught us. He even summed it up for us in these words: “Love one another. As I have loved you so you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
Let’s all pray for the grace to keep God’s story of relationship with his people, especially the gospels, in their proper context. It is the context of God’s unconditional love for us, which is shown over and over again in his mercy, compassion and forgiveness, and not in forms of punishment. Our role is to share this mercy, compassion and forgiveness with each other just as He has shared it with us.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

The USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is now reaching its 17th birthday. It has been amended over time with references to include the protection of vulnerable adults, and the issue of child pornography, but there are more changes to come. The USCCB is currently addressing opportunities to include issues of transparency with diocesan records, the handling of sex abuse in relation to bishops and other issues the charter needs to address. Even with all the sexual abuse reports in the media that have been transpiring over the last 12 months, there still shows a decreasing trend of abuse within the Church today. The Diocese of Shreveport and all dioceses throughout the country continue to be diligent with their safe environment programs which include training and background checks. The power of this program lies in the hands of the faithful. This educational program provides the faithful with the information they need to recognize and act if there is an issue of abuse. More than 8,000 adults have been trained in the Diocese of Shreveport, and we continue to train more adults throughout the year. Please continue to pray for the Church in these difficult times and also pray in thanksgiving for the strides made in keeping children and youth safe.

Frontier Mission Beginnings: Fr. Jean Pierre and the Bayou Pierre Community

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by Dr. Cheryl White

The small community of Carmel, Louisiana is home to a rich cultural inheritance that resonates even today as an important and easily identifiable chapter of our Catholic history. Many will recognize its name as the home of a true historical jewel of the Diocese of Shreveport, the Rock Chapel, which is all that remains of a late nineteenth century Carmelite monastic community. Yet, the significance of Carmel pre-dates even that impressive marker of the past, and reaches back to the earliest days of the newly created Diocese of Natchitoches in 1853. In its beginnings are found the story of a remarkable priest, destined to become the first pastor of Holy Trinity in Shreveport, and destined to become one of the five “martyrs of their charity,” who gave their lives in the Shreveport Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1873.

Natchitoches, as the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase (established 1713) and its surrounding region, grew so much in population that Pope Pius IX created the Diocese of Natchitoches in 1853. The first bishop of the new frontier diocese was Auguste Marie Martin from the seaside village of St. Malo in the Brittany region of France, who was tasked with finding priests to serve in a remote area that still had many characteristics of the western American frontier. From a recruiting trip through the villages and seminaries of his native Brittany in 1854, Bishop Martin returned to the Diocese of Natchitoches with Fr. Louis Gergaud, already ordained in the Diocese of Nantes, and two young seminarians from

St. Brieuc, Francois Le Vezouet and Jean Pierre. Bishop Martin sent Fr. Gergaud to Monroe, where he became the pastor of St. Matthew’s. Following their ordinations in Natchitoches,

Fr. Le Vezouet and Fr. Pierre also received their first assignments:  Fr. Le Vezouet to the settlement of Many, Louisiana, and Fr. Pierre to the tiny community of Bayou Pierre (today known as Carmel).

Fr. Jean Pierre

Fr. Pierre went immediately to work to construct the community’s first Catholic church, dedicated to the Holy Apostles of St. Peter and St. Paul, as well as an adjoining rectory. In his letters and memoirs, Bishop Martin provided an appreciative account of the success of Fr. Pierre’s labor in the Bayou Pierre community, noting the growing Catholic population there, as well as Fr. Pierre’s regular visits northward to Shreveport. In the following year of 1856, Fr. Pierre was assigned exclusively with the task of a new church in Shreveport, a project which culminated in the construction of the first Holy Trinity Church. From 1856 until his death in 1873 from Yellow Fever, Fr. Pierre worked tirelessly and selflessly as Holy Trinity’s first pastor, a period that is also well-documented in the available historical record.

Visiting Carmel today, one can see the vestiges of that community’s Catholic past – Immaculate Conception Church, its adjacent cemetery, and of course, the Rock Chapel. What is not evident to the visitor is the location of Fr. Pierre’s first church – Holy Apostles, which is long gone. However, its location can be approximated based on important known historical indicators. First, the location of the cemetery, with graves that pre-date the current church structure, provides an important clue as to the location of the original church. Also, a Confederate defense map from 1862 clearly shows the location of a church on the Smithport Road (as it was known even in 1862), and this structure so noted by the Confederate surveyors must have been Holy Apostles. The land transaction between the Laffitte family and Fr. Jean Pierre, acting on behalf of Bishop Martin, is also historically documented. Finally, of course, there is always the rich and enduring oral tradition of any given community, which although not considered history in its strictest interpretation, is yet another important component of piecing together the location of a structure no longer in existence.

Because of the historical significance of Fr. Jean Pierre and the other four priests of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1873, there is a plan to place a Louisiana state historical marker at the site of Holy Apostles Church. This will honor both the first mission of this martyr-priest as well as the importance of the Bayou Pierre Community (Carmel) in the overall history of the region. The cultural and historical contributions of this community go far beyond its interesting outgrowth from the Natchitoches settlement, and touch upon the single most transformative event in Shreveport history. It was the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1873 that determined the fate of a fledgling river-port, and yet the city survived, stronger than ever. The epidemic and its legacy will forever bear the memory of those who sacrificed all. Among them is Fr. Jean Pierre, and it is therefore more than fitting to permanently mark his first church for future generations of visitors and pilgrims.

A Confederate defense map from 1862 (LSU-S Archives).

A Message from Our Diocesan Administrator

by Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum

Appeal Sunday occurred last month on February 17, and thanks to the generous support of our faithful, we are off to a good start on this year’s campaign. If you have already provided your pledge to this year’s Appeal, you have my sincere appreciation. Thank you and God bless you for your support.

Please know that we still have a long way to go before we reach our pledge goal of $1,500,000. The month of March is a critical time each year for our Appeal, as follow-up efforts are taking place in each worship location to secure additional pledges to this combined effort to serve the needs of the people of our diocese.

Please take some time now to consider your 10-month pledge to support our array of Appeal ministries. A pledge card can be found below. You may use this to facilitate your annual gift to our Appeal. You can also visit our website at www.dioshpt.org, and click on the “Donate Now” button on our home page. Those making pledges this month will receive their first Appeal statement in the month of April.

Escape Routes: A Reflection on the Church Sex Abuse Crisis

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by Kim Long

Sometimes I run. It’s true. Sometimes I run from God.

In 2002 when the Boston clergy scandal erupted I had a vague notion of what was going on. Several priests, whom I knew personally, were uncertain of going out in public in their collars, fearful of being grouped with the abusers. It was during this time period that I found myself waiting with an altar server after a holy day Mass. Everyone had gone and we waited together until his brother picked him up. A simple thing.

The next day my pastor and I spoke about the boy waiting alone . He told me he was afraid to offer the boy a ride home with the sexual abuse crisis going on in the Church. I offered prayers for the victims of what seemed a faraway crisis.

When the Pennsylvania abuse scandal broke several months ago, I paid close attention. My previous ignorance seemed to ignite a hunger in me to know the truth, even if it turned out to be painful – and it did.
A coworker, knowing my love of movies, recommended a film called Spotlight. When she told me it was about the 2002 clergy abuse crisis, I knew I had to see it. One of my sons walked in about the time the movie began. Afterward, as the credits rolled, I asked him if this movie shook his faith in the Church. He said, “Mom I grew up knowing about this and nothing can take away the Eucharist, especially the way you explain it.”

Sworn testimony, a condemning document from a nuncio, two heartfelt and very different homilies from two different priests, and one newscaster after another, brought this topic home in a way no movie, even an award winning movie, ever could. The sadness, the brokenness was part of me now.

Following the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, I was in a diocesan meeting where the subject was discussed at great length. One of the results of that meeting was the decision to hold a prayer vigil for reparation and healing. I knew I needed to go to the service, but there was a deep resistance within me – a bit of a hard wiring issue really – that when I have no choice, I tend to resist. Knowing I should go lessened my desire to attend. This character flaw and I are well acquainted.

The prayer vigil fell on a Friday night, the same night as a local festival. My big plan was to pray, drive to the festival, have a meat pie and hear a favorite band from my high school days sing their one great hit, and then I would drive home and hit the hay.

Sometimes I run. It’s true. Sometimes I run from God.

Entering the church I made my way into a back pew, chosen for its closeness to the exit. Kneeling, the pressure of my weight on the padded kneeler reminding me of the pain we were all facing, I prayed hard and felt an internal shift. A feeling of belonging seemed to surge within me.

Through scripture, song, litanies and moments of private prayer, I began to connect. All week I had felt at loose ends, not quite grounded in my faith, feeling the winds of change swirl and tug angrily at me. In previous weeks I assured so many people that all was not lost, and that night I was there with other members of the faithful, feeling our way in the dark.

It occurred to me that I found myself knee deep in covenant: an agreement I had made with God at my emergence from the waters of baptism. For even at the tender age of seven years, I knew I would never be alone again. Yet that feeling, one I had banked on all my life, was so far away from me, more intangible than I ever dreamed possible. Covenant had worked for me as I trusted in God’s presence, seeing it everywhere: in nature, people, the Cathedral building itself, the faces of my children. And at that moment it was revealed differently, not just serving to shore me up, but to also encourage my fidelity which had begun to look for an escape route weeks ago. I was filled with hope, faith and yes, love.

Just this past February, anonymity was stripped away as the names of the guilty were revealed. I was in shock as a former pastor from “back home” was listed among the names. I thought I would feel angry, disgusted, but instead I am just very very sad: sad for the victims, for the perpetrators, for God and for the Church.

In John Shea’s piece, “A Down and Out Disciple Meets His Match,” Jesus shows up just as a man is thinking of “divorcing him quietly.” Jesus reminds him, as Shea’s story has reminded me over the past 31 years, that “there will be no walking out of the covenant.”

The disciple in Shea’s story remained, and like that disciple I am going nowhere. At the end of the day, covenant is my foundation.

Sometimes I run. It’s true. Sometimes I run toward God.

Shreveport-Bossier Pro-Life Oratory Contest

The National Right to Life is sponsoring its annual Pro-Life Oratory Contest. The competition is open to all high school juniors and seniors, who will address the issues of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research in five to seven minute oral presentations.

The Shreveport-Bossier contest, now in its 31st year, is sponsored locally by the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport and will be held on Thursday, April 25, at 6:00 p.m. at the Catholic Center, 3500 Fairfield Ave., Shreveport. The contest is open to the public at no charge. The local first place prize is $500. The winner will represent Shreveport at the state contest.

The state contest will be held in Baton Rouge this year, on May 4 at the Louisiana Knights of Columbus Convention. The state winner will receive $500 cash, plus expenses paid (up to $1,000) to go to Nationals.
All high school juniors and seniors are eligible, there may be more than one student entered from each school.

For additional information and entry blanks, please contact Anthony Fabio, 1908 Carol Street, Bossier City, LA 71112, awfabio2@hotmail.com, or 318-402-6663.
Or visit:  www.facebook.com/SBProLifeOratoryCommittee/

CCNLA Celebrates Staff Diversity

CCNLA staff: Carl Piehl, Suhad Salamah and Allison Kulbeth.

 

by Meg Goorley, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) embraces the word “Catholic,” meaning universal, in every sense of the word by employing people of all faiths.

Carl Piehl, who is Jewish, has been with the organization for six years. Piehl is well known in the community for developing the Money School, a financial education course that aims to empower the poor to take control of their future. Piehl came to know the good work being done by CCNLA through the immigration program because he taught English as a Second Language. He loved the interaction between the staff and clients.

“The greatest part of my job is inspiring others to realize the strengths within themselves,” said Piehl. “Though not all of us are Catholic, we embody Catholic social teaching every day through our work.”

Catholic social teaching calls for the respect for human life, importance of family and community, dignity and responsibility for the worker and care for the poor, vulnerable and all of God’s creations.

Two other non-Catholic staff members came to CCNLA by way of a temporary employment agency. Suhad Salamah, who is Muslim, has been with CCNLA since September 2016. She is the State Benefits Manager and oversees Gabriel’s Closet – the parenting program that helps low-income parents with baby essentials.

“I am grateful that I have a chance to serve others,” said Salamah. “The clients are just so appreciative.”

Occasionally, she gets mistaken for a nun because of her hijab, and Salamah finds it humorous when someone calls her “Sister Sue.”

Intake Coordinator Allison Kulbeth, another temporary work referral, was surprised when she first came to the office on East 71st Street. Kulbeth, who is Baptist, didn’t know much about Catholicism before working at CCNLA, but she knew that clients did not have to be Catholic in order to receive help.

“What I like about Catholic Charities is that the people who work here aren’t judgmental. Everyone who walks through our doors is welcomed” said Kulbeth. “Now that I’m the one everyone sees when they first walk in, I try to make everyone feel special.”

Executive Director Meg Goorley is extremely proud of her diverse staff. She said, “The similarities of all of our faiths are greater than the differences between them.”

She added, “We are comfortable with our own faiths, yet learn that each person brings depth and value to the world. My colleagues are a living illustration of the vision of Catholic Charities: Together we invest in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice.”  •