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Historic Dig: Artifacts of St. John’s Church & College Unearthed in Shreveport

by Jessica Rinaudo The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans has garnered much attention in recent months for the archeological dig they are conducting on Texas Avenue in Shreveport. There the dig team More »

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Bishop’s September Reflection: The Resurrection of the Body

by Bishop Michael Duca I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen. Most More »

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Classes and Podcast on Catholic Retrospective on the Anniversary of Protestant Reformation

by Dr. Cheryl White As the world prepares to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation on October 31, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans is using this More »

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New Christian Service Facility to Have September Grand Opening

by Jane Snyder The new Christian Service facility on Levy Street will have its grand opening on Wednesday, September 27, at 1:00 p.m. Please join Bishop Michael Duca and Mayor Ollie Tyler More »

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Catholic Charities Presents: Same Kind of Different as Me

by Lucy Medvec Catholic Charities of North Louisiana will be hosting private showings of the movie Same Kind of Different as Me in Shreveport and Monroe during the weekend of October 20-22.  More »

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St. John Berchmans Catholic School Welcomes Changes!

by Kelly Phelan Powell With the advent of a new school year, St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport is undergoing some exciting changes. Former principal Jo Cazes retired this year after More »

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Vocations View: God is Persistent: Being Accepted to the Permanent Diaconate Program

by Mike Van Vranken I had just turned 28 years old and was standing in the vestibule of St. Michael Church in West Memphis, Arkansas with my pastor.  Thumbing through a pamphlet More »

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Navigating the Faith: Spiritual Direction

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship While our diocese does not have an abundance of lay spiritual directors, the number more than doubled in August as four more people completed two years More »

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Catholic Connection Wins Awards!

The Catholic Press Awards were held in Quebec on Friday, June 23, 2017, with Catholic publications from across North America competing in hundreds of categories. The Diocese of Shreveport’s Catholic Connection took More »

Mike’s Meditations: Spiritual Accompaniment

by Mike Van Vranken

Has being a Christian ever seemed like a lonely journey?  Have you ever thought that you would like to talk to someone about what is going on in your spiritual life, but then you wondered who that person might be and how would you ever go about finding them?  Unfortunately, every Christian has experienced this isolation, this feeling of abandonment. It is such an important and enormous issue that many Christian leaders, and even God Himself, has something to say about it.

St. Ignatius Loyola urged that we should “speak with one’s good confessor or another spiritual person” in his famous rules for discernment.

In one Wednesday audience, Pope Benedict XVI reminded us all that having a spiritual guide “remains valid even today as everyone – priest, consecrated persons, lay people and especially the young – is invited to seek the counsel of a spiritual father (or mother) – one capable of accompanying each individual in a profound knowledge of self, and of leading him or her into an intimate union with the Lord so that their lives may be increasingly molded toward the gospel.”

In his first formal, written communication to the entire church, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel, 169,170), Pope Francis, in calling us all to be “missionary disciples,” describes “priests, religious and laity” who are trained in the “art of accompaniment.”  He says this “spiritual accompaniment must lead others ever closer to God.”

And, from scripture: “It is not good for the man to be alone.”  These, of course, are the words of God Almighty, and they certainly apply to our spiritual lives today.

On the night before her final vows as a Carmelite religious, St. Therese of Lisieux felt inner turmoil.  She wrote that she sensed an interior storm like she had never experienced before.  She was in anguish.  However, when she took it to her novice mistress, her spiritual mother, the agony left her to be replaced by God’s perfect peace.

The famous Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton, had a similar experience.  He decided to talk to a wise and spiritual guide, but delayed the conversation and remained in confusion and uneasiness.  But, once he began talking to this trusted spiritual mentor, he was overcome with peace and clarity.

Of course, we don’t have to be confused and in anguish before we seek spiritual guidance. On the contrary, many of those who meet with a spiritual director, either because they are dealing with a troublesome predicament or they just want to get closer to God, experience joy, peace and consolation as a result.

To be sure, I’m not talking here about clinical counseling or therapy, neither am I referring to pastoral guidance. While all these are very important, valid and helpful resources we all may need during our lives, for our purposes here, I’m talking about spiritual direction.

Consequently, it is important to remember that spiritual directors are not counselors, clinicians, therapists or even ministers in the normal understanding of those professions. Instead, spiritual directors are trained listening companions who always turn us back to God. Their role is not to give advice, but to gently, and respectfully point us to the God – the Father, Son and Spirit – who already lives within us.  In short, they help us further develop our conscious relationship with God as they assist us in focusing more on our actual experiences with God rather than what we think about Him.  We become more aware of how God is moving in our lives and even more cognizant of the many ways He communicates to us (see page 11 for more on spiritual direction and page 29 for a list of directors).

So, the next time you feel spiritually lonely, are wrestling with your prayer life, or just want to talk about your experiences with God to a trusted, fellow Christian, pray about the idea of seeking a certified spiritual director; one who can accompany you in many and diverse ways; one who will help you further develop your relationship with God.  It may prove to be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

Mike is a writer, teacher, and co-author of the book, Faith Positive in a Negative World. You can contact him at  www.mikevanvrankenministries.org

Catholic Connection Wins Awards!

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The Catholic Press Awards were held in Quebec on Friday, June 23, 2017, with Catholic publications from across North America competing in hundreds of categories. The Diocese of Shreveport’s Catholic Connection took home three awards this year!

Click the links to read the winning entries.

1. Best Coverage of Pro-Life Issues – 3rd Place (Writers – Bishop Michael Duca, Kim Long and Jessica Rinaudo)

2. Best Diocesan Bishop’s Column – 3rd Place (Writer – Bishop Duca)

3. Best Book Review Column – Honorable Mention (Writers – Kim Long,  Katie Sciba and Mike Van Vranken).

Congratulations to the Diocese of Shreveport and the Catholic Connection for a great showing on an international stage!

Catholic Schools Annual Report

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Click to download the Catholic Schools 2016-17 Annual Report

August, 2017

Dear Friends of Catholic Schools:

The information presented in this report indicates that our schools completed another successful year in providing quality Catholic education throughout our diocese.

As we continue to focus on our core values of Catholic identity, effective leadership, academic quality and sustainable financial viability, we must always give thanks to God for the opportunities He provides us and the blessings we experience every day.

The statistics and data provided in this report clearly indicate that we are a system of schools that, through God’s grace, is moving in the right direction.

I am most grateful to Bishop Michael Duca for his ongoing support and commitment to Catholic education. We are fortunate to have a leader who cares so deeply about young people. I join him in thanking our pastors and the dedicated professionals who work so tirelessly in our schools to make them the quality learning centers that they are.

As this report provides us an opportunity to review and reflect on the previous academic year, it also gives us valuable information to focus on in 2017-2018. I am confident that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit we will build on the success of the past and face our challenges with great energy and enthusiasm.

“Always find your refuge in Jesus,” St. Angela Merici.

Sincerely,
Sr. Carol Shively,  OSU
Superintendent of Catholic Schools

 

 

Bishop’s August Reflection: We are Called to be Missionary Disciples

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by Bishop Michael G. Duca

During the first few days of July, I attended the Convocation of Catholic Leader in Orlando, FL, where the bishops of the United States, along with lay leaders (over 3,000 participants), gathered to reflect on the mission of the Church in the world today.  This gathering was a response to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, and the need for the Church to respond to the challenges it faces in the changing culture and the world.

The process for this convocation began almost eight years ago when the U.S. bishops initiated a process to begin “right brain research” on the reality of the Church today.  We have good statistical information – some encouraging, some troubling – but this information is in percentages and numbers.  The bishops wanted to know how people see the Church from the right side of their brain – that is, what are their concerns, feelings, questions and reasons for their beliefs about the Church?

The research covered traditional areas, such as social justice. Researchers found there was more agreement than expected on social justice issues among the laity, even though there were more public debates among the Church’s leaders and theologians on the topic.

One of the most insightful discoveries was from those interviewed, including believers, fallen away Catholics and agnostics, there was a deep concern and kind of angst that most carry today.  Everyone seems to be hurting, worried, burdened, less hopeful and in need of healing.  There was also a desire to know what it means to be Catholic and the reasons for religious teachings.

In response to these findings, bishops, pastors of parishes and laity have been asking what our response will be and what to bring to the needs and yearnings of the world.

The convocation presentations reminded us of the inspiration of our Holy Father who calls us to a renewed Church where we all understand what it means to be missionary disciples who carry out the mission of Jesus to “go out and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

It has become clear that it is not enough to have a strong parish that meets the needs of its parishioners.  The parish life of sacramental nourishment, support of a Christian community and the guidance of pastoral care is essential to deepen our connection to the Body of Christ, but one more step is needed to mature our faith.  Our faith is matured and complete when we realize that we are called to go out from the comfort of our parishes and be missionary disciples.  We are called to evangelize. Pope Francis calls us to be a Church in a constant state of mission.  In our imagination we may think of evangelizers as those priests and sisters who go to foreign non-Christian lands, or we may think of the preaching of the apostles.  What the Gospel calls us to and what Pope Francis reminds us is that to evangelize is an essential element to being a good Catholic.

The effect of this on the Church is that we are called to go out to those in need, not wait for them to come to us.  We are to proclaim the mercy and love of God to all we meet.  Pope Francis describes this call to evangelize by saying that we are to “go out to the peripheries, the edges, to reach out to those who have been left behind and most in need of God’s mercy and love.”

The peripheries certainly include the poor and homeless, but they also include members of our own family who have been pushed out, or the neglected elderly in our own parishes. The marginalized are everyone who needs the mercy and love of God.

In the convocation we reflected on how these changes might look in all areas of Church life, but it was obvious that the Church will be transformed first by the transformation of our own hearts to being “missionary disciples.” That term “missionary disciple” is intentional to describe not just a believer, but a believer who has been filled with the joy of the Gospel and is inspired by the Holy Spirit to reach out to others and be a witness of Christ’s mercy and love.  When this is the motivation of our hearts, our parishes will be transformed.

Missionary disciples will greet new parishioners with love and not judgments like, “they do not belong here.”  Parish organizations will look for ways to reach out to help others outside the parish. One parish in our diocese sent invitation postcards to the neighborhoods in their zip code to let them know they are welcome.  Support Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul who are already reaching into the peripheries of our neighborhoods in your name.

Our convocation was just a beginning of a conversation that will, I hope, have a lasting effect on the Catholic Church in the United States and throughout the world.  Let’s start the conversation in our parishes now and let each of us reflect on what it means to be a missionary disciple.

USCCB Chairman Expresses Ongoing Support for DACA

from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON— Over 750,000 youth have received protection from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2012. While DACA provides no legal status, it does provide recipients with a temporary reprieve from deportation and employment authorization for legal work opportunities in the United States.

In response to the recent petition to the U.S. Department of Justice to terminate DACA, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chair of the Migration Committee and Bishop of Austin, TX, expressed support for DACA:

“The Catholic Bishops have long supported DACA youth and continue to do so. DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. These young people entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. The dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be protected.

I urge the Administration to continue administering the DACA program and to publicly ensure that DACA youth are not priorities for deportation.
However, DACA is not a permanent solution; for this reason, I also call on Congress to work in an expeditious and bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for DACA youth as soon as possible. My brother bishops and I pledge continuing efforts to help find a humane and permanent resolution that protects DACA youth. Additionally, I note the moral urgency for comprehensive immigration reform that is just and compassionate. The bishops will advocate for these reforms as we truly believe they will advance the common good.

Lastly, to DACA youth and their families, please know that the Catholic Church stands in solidarity with you. We recognize your intrinsic value as children of God. We understand the anxiety and fear you face and we appreciate and applaud the daily contributions you make with your families, to local communities and parishes, and to our country. We support you on your journey to reach your God-given potential.”

Kids’ Connection: Saint John Eudes

Click to download and print the August Kids’ Connection!

Louisiana Catholic Federal Credit Union: And the Two Became One

by Randy Tiller

On March 1, 2016, St. Joseph Broadmoor Federal Credit Union merged with Louisiana Catholic Federal Credit Union.  At that time, Louisiana Catholic FCU inherited the members of St. Joseph Broadmoor FCU as well as its assets and liabilities. The merging of these two credit unions could be considered a marriage of two entities with one common goal.

In 1951 Louisiana Catholic FCU (originally St. John’s Parish Federal Credit Union) was chartered to serve the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans and in 1953, St. Joseph Broadmoor FCU was chartered to serve St. Joseph Parish.  Both credit unions have a long history of providing excellent financial services.

Louisiana Catholic FCU’s field of membership includes all the Catholic churches and schools in the Shreveport and Bossier area, the Diocese of Shreveport and even some churches in Ruston, Zwolle, Minden, Homer and Haynesville, as well as several local businesses. Some of Louisiana Catholic FCU’s services include: loans, mortgages, savings, checking, debit cards, money market accounts, IRA’s, Health Savings Accounts, money orders, safe deposit boxes, mobile banking, online financial services and bill pay.

Because the board of directors and management wanted the members of St. Joseph Broadmoor FCU to feel welcome, safe and comfortable with the merger and wanted to unify the two merging credit unions, Louisiana Catholic FCU adopted St. Joseph Broadmoor FCU’s logo.  Also, three of St. Joseph Broadmoor FCU’s board of directors joined the board of Louisiana Catholic FCU.

God continues to bless Louisiana Catholic FCU with growth.  A new branch location at 814 Jordan Street was opened in November 2016.
It hopes parishioners and staff of the Catholic churches and faculty, staff and students of the Catholic schools in the field of membership will take advantage of the services offered by Louisiana Catholic FCU. With the merger of the two Catholic credit unions, Louisiana Catholic FCU is presently the only Catholic credit union in the Diocese of Shreveport. They are hoping to expand their field of membership in the near future to potential member parishes, churches and schools throughout the Diocese of Shreveport.

It’s the credit union’s goal to serve its members in a friendly and professional manner and provide financial services that meet their needs. If you’re not yet a member of Louisiana Catholic FCU, you are invited to visit one of the locations and start enjoying the benefits of being a member!  •

Vacation Bible School Gives Back

During the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans’ Vacation Bible School, children collected items for Catholic Charities’ Gabriel’s Closet, a program that provides resources and education for parents of young children.  In addition to the collection, campers also donated their spare change throughout the week, totaling over $215 for Gabriel’s Closet.

Catholic Charities Welcomes Refugee Family

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by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

There is nothing quite like the anticipation and excitement of someone arriving at the airport –  the smiles and hugs at the gate, along with the happiness of being home and being with family.  Last April, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) had the unique opportunity to help welcome a refugee family of four from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) as they arrived in Louisiana.  In conjunction with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services program, CCNLA has worked to ensure this family has properly resettled and adjusted to their new home.

The journey of Lian Sut Khai began in 2009 when he attempted to come to the United States to be with his mother, her husband, and Lian’s siblings. He wanted to leave Myanmar because it was a time when Christians were being persecuted for their religious beliefs.  Before he was able to leave, he met and married his wife, Niang En Lun, which delayed the resettlement process.  While they were still waiting to come to the United States, they had two children, now ages 4 and 2.  After four years of time spent at a refugee camp in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, they successfully arrived in Shreveport on April 5.  Since their arrival, this family has been welcomed into a Burmese community in Bossier City, receiving help in securing housing, employment and other resources.

CCNLA has played a role in the resettlement process by enrolling the adults in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, providing transportation as needed, registering the family for eligible state benefits, and offering information on cultural orientation.  Case managers also work with them by providing information on personal safety and public rules and issues.

Meg Goorley, executive director of CCNLA, explained, “Reuniting this young family with their relatives is important to the organization’s mission of bringing Christ’s love to the poor and vulnerable.  In working with the USCCB, we have been able to provide the resources necessary to help them become a part of our community.”

This is the first refugee family that CCNLA has worked to resettle.  While the timing of any future resettlement of refugees is unknown, Catholic Charities is honored to continue to serve immigrants and refugees already living in our communities throughout North Louisiana.

Mondragón and Trombetta Ordinations Bring Joy & Hope to Diocese

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by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

June was an exciting and encouraging month for the Diocese of Shreveport with two ordinations – one to the priesthood and another to the transitional diaconate.

On June 10, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans was filled to standing room only as people from across the diocese and travellers from Mexico filled the pews to watch as Fidel Mondragon was ordained to the priesthood. That Mass was said primarily in Spanish, Fr. Fidel’s native tongue. Priests, deacons and laity alike looked on with tears in their eyes as Bishop Duca laid hands on Fidel, and as his brother priests welcomed him with hugs. Following his ordination, Fr. Fidel gave his first blessing to Bishop Duca, and then to his mother.

At the end of Mass, Fr. Fidel stood up and said a few words, first in English, then in Spanish.

“I am very grateful to God for this great gift of the priesthood. Thank you to my mother, present here, my father, who from heaven looks down on me,” said Fr. Fidel. He continued, “The Virgin Mary has always occupied a very important place in my vocation. Today I continue asking her for her blessings and I know she blesses me all the time. Pray for me, sisters and brothers, so that my weaknesses do not obscure the face of Christ in my priestly ministry and pray for me so that I will learn from Jesus to offer my life each day for the beloved people of God.”

As he exited Mass and walked outside the Cathedral doors, his brother priests awaited him and greeted him with loud applause and enthusiastic cheers.

Fr. Fidel Mondragon has been assigned as Parochial Vicar to St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport, where he will serve with Fr. Matthew Long in the parish and get to work with a Catholic school. He is also serving at the Spanish Mass at St. Mary of the Pines Parish in Shreveport on Sundays.

Two weeks later, on June 24, Duane Trombetta took one of his final steps towards becoming a priest when he was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate at Holy Trinity Parish in downtown Shreveport. Holy Trinity is Duane’s home parish and he was embraced with love and offered encouragement by the permanent deacons after Bishop Duca ordained him to the diaconate.

Following his ordination to the diaconate, Deacon Duane Trombetta has been assigned to the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans until October 30, then he will return to seminary to finish out his final classes before being ordained a priest in the summer of 2018.

Even in the wake of several priests retiring, 2017 has given the Diocese of Shreveport two more men dedicated to serving God and His people. Please continue to pray for our seven men in seminary, and consider writing notes of congratulations and thanks to both Fr. Fidel Mondragon and Deacon Duane Trombetta.

Fr. Fidel Mondragon
St. Joseph Parish
204 Patton Ave.
Shreveport, LA 71105

Deacon Duane Trombetta
Cathedral of St. John Berchmans
939 Jordan St.
Shreveport, LA 71101