Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, was the leader for the Bishops' Retreat in January. (photo: Catholic News Agency)

Prayer Before Action A Reflection on the Bishops’ Retreat

by Father Peter Mangum, Diocesan Administrator We just celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and have brought the Season of Christmas to a conclusion. May the graces of that More »

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Continuing the Mission: 2019 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

by John Mark Willcox One might ask these days, “Since our diocese is without a bishop, will we be conducting the Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal?” The answer to that question is a More »

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Catholics and Methodists: Working Together to Bring Christ’s Message of Love to the Poor and Vulnerable

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA)has been working together with area Methodist churches to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ’s message of love to More »

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Knights Raise Funds to Purchase Ultrasound Machine

story and photos by Kelly Phelan Powell One of the most encouraging signposts in the recent years of the pro-life movement is the enthusiastic involvement of men. So often shouted down and More »

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Saying Goodbye to Father Richard Lombard

by Lucy Medvec Fr. Lombard is why my family is at St. Joseph. When he baptized our son in 1995, and one year later welcomed me into the Catholic Church, our family More »

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Moving Forward in Sede Vacante

by Jessica Rinaudo Bishop Duca’s appointment to Baton Rouge earlier this year made our diocese, Sede Vacante or a “vacant see:” a diocese without a bishop, overseen by a diocesan administrator, who More »

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Praise Academy: Building Faith, Education and Community in Lakeside

by Jessica Rinaudo Every city has them – areas rampant with crime, populated by the poor, the hungry, those surviving day to day. Shreveport, Louisiana is no exception. I found myself driving More »

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U.S. Bishops Approved “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism”

from the USCCB BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved during its November General Assembly, the formal statement, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter More »

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LaCaze Lagniappe Gala: Celebrating the Life of Monsignor J. Carson LaCaze

by Randy Tiller Msgr. Carson LaCaze was a force of nature in the Diocese of Shreveport, but in sharp contrast to that dynamic personality, he was also well known to collect various More »

St. John Berchmans School’s Principal Deason Earns Doctorate

Jennifer Deason, principal of St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport, graduated on November 17 with her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Louisiana Tech University.

Deason has always believed her faith is the reason she is where she is. She said, “My Catholic faith has always been an integral part of my life. We prayed nightly family rosaries and we went to first Friday Masses at 6:30 in the morning. I feel my parents instilled in me such a deep love and respect for my faith.“

She attended Louisiana Tech University, and eventually Louisiana State University (LSU), where she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She began teaching in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System upon her graduation. She then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Education in School Counseling from LSU.

After relocating to Sulphur, Deason completed additional graduate coursework at McNeese State University in Lake Charles. In 2008, she began working as a middle school counselor in the Calcasieu Parish School System, and in 2010 was named Calcasieu Parish Middle School Counselor of the Year. She then went on to be awarded Louisiana Middle School Counselor of the Year.

Shortly after receiving this award, Jennifer and her family relocated to Benton, moving away from her parents, siblings and the close knit Catholic community she had always known. Longing to find a sense of Catholic community in their new location, Jennifer and her husband, Chris, enrolled their boys in Catholic school and she began working in the Diocese of Shreveport school system.

Initially, she completed a long-term substitute teaching position for the 2010-2011 school year as a 5th grade teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School. The following school year, Jennifer accepted a counseling position at St. John Berchmans Catholic School. After Jennifer obtained the Educational Leadership I certification, she became Assistant Principal. She also obtained her dual certification as a National Certified Counselor and a National Certified School Counselor.

In 2014, Deason began the Educational Leadership doctoral program with Louisiana Tech University, and in 2017, she was promoted to principal of St. John Berchmans School.

Deason emphasized, “When it came time to choose my dissertation, I wanted my topic to be something that would help me as a Catholic school leader.” Her research focused on factors influencing parental school choice in North Louisiana.

On October 4, she successfully defended her dissertation before her doctoral committee and officially completed her doctorate. On November 17, she walked across the stage at Louisiana Tech for the “doctoral hooding” ceremony and received her diploma in Ed.D in Educational Leadership.

Deason said, “I feel God has led me to where I am supposed to be, doing His work in our Catholic school, where I am able to integrate my faith, family and profession all into one.”

Loyola Student Organization Hosts Meal Drive

Loyola College Prep student organization Flyers Aiding the Hungry (F.Ai.T.H) holds an annual event serving the Shreveport and Bossier City communities just in time for the holidays.

On December 3, F.Ai.T.H. will serve over 900 baskets from the Loyola gymnasium. Meals come in baskets filled with canned goods, bread and ham – all supported by fundraising, donations and sponsorships.

The community is invited to sponsor a basket for $30 which helps to cover the cost for its contents. Supporters are also encouraged to donate goods and children’s toys for various ages. Over its near three decades of operation, approximately 87,000 people have been fed on F.Ai.T.H. Day.

In addition to its chairmen and officers, over 55 percent of the student body helps distribute the baskets. Santa Claus even makes an appearance to hand out toys to children in attendance.

SJS Students Attend Annual Vocations Luncheon

As part of National Vocations Awareness Week, St. Joseph Catholic School has annually held a vocations luncheon that allows middle school students to visit with men and women of the diocese who have answered God’s call to priesthood, the diaconate or religious life. The event is held at the St. Joseph Church Family Life Center, includes lunch and provides a casual atmosphere for conversation about vocations. The students who attend have voluntarily expressed an interest in speaking with the priests, deacons, seminarians and sisters, and they dine in separate rooms to allow for more intimate conversations about each type of vocation. Fr. Matthew Long, pastor of St. Joseph Church, was in attendance, as well as seminarian Jeb Key, Deacon Bill Roche, Sr. Anna Maria Iannetti, OLS, and two novices. Fr. Long makes regular visits to religion classrooms throughout the year, as well. During National Vocations Awareness Week the students enjoyed visits from Fr. Matthew Long, Fr. Fidel MondragÓn, Fr. Biju Kuriakose and Deacon Bill Roche.

Kids’ Connection: O Antiphons

Click here to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection!

Year-End Giving

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Stewardship

In these times of rapid change, the end of the year can be an excellent time to review your important financial matters, especially those dealing with your desire to make any charitable gift to the Church before December 31, 2018. With changes to federal tax laws constantly being proposed, giving to the Church this year may save you more.

One of the last tax savings opportunities completely within your personal control are your monetary gifts provided for supporting the ministry of the Church. Naturally, the higher your tax bracket, the more your charitable Church gifts will save you. The amount you save depends on tax rates and the portion of your gifts you are allowed to deduct. Facilitating your financial incentives to give to the Church before year’s end can significantly reduce the amount of taxes you will owe next April.

Gifts of Cash

Most of the Church’s faithful give in this way in the form of cash, donating online, electronic transfers or personal checks. When you itemize your tax deductions, up to one half of your Adjusted Gross Income or AGI can be positively affected by gifts of this nature.

Gifts of Appreciated Property

Mutual funds, bonds, securities or individual stocks that have risen in value can result in tax savings. If you have owned these items for more than one year, they can be deducted from your income tax at full value. This also gives you the added advantage of avoiding capital gains tax due on a sale instead of a gift.

Some of your investments may have decreased in value \ as 2018 comes to a close. Consider selling them and making a charitable gift of the cash you receive for them. This creates a loss you may be able to deduct from other income subject to taxation, along with the amount of the cash donation. Remember that any tax deductions you choose not to use this year, may be carried forward for up to five future tax years.

Life Insurance Gifts

You may own an insurance policy that has accumulated cash value, but is no longer needed for its original purpose. You have the option of gifting the value of that policy to the Church and benefitting from welcome income tax savings.

Estate Plans

December is also an excellent month to review your immediate and long-range estate and financial plans. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies and wills are just some of the tools of estate planning that can leave a lasting legacy to the Church. These meaningful future gifts can also generate income while providing immediate tax savings. After your loved ones have been provided for, consider leaving a specific amount or a percentage, or the residue of your estate to the Church.

Action Equals Benefits

If you want to take advantage of the strategies listed above, the month of December is the time to act. See your advisors and accountant to provide you with your specific needs and spend time right now to decide on how best to make your year-end gifts work best for you and the Church you love. For more information on how your year-end or planned gift can help both you and the Church, contact the Diocesan Office of Stewardship at 800-256-1542.

 

Appeal Sunday Slated for February 17, 2019

The Masses of February 16-17, 2019 have been selected to launch our 2019 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal Campaign. Please mark your calendars and begin to plan now on how you can gift your time, talent and treasure to the good of our combined ministry to the people of this region.

Appeal highlights for the coming year will be featured in the February issue of your Catholic Connection and don’t forget, additional Appeal donations received at the Catholic Center on or before December 31 can be attributed to your charitable contributions on your Federal Income tax form for 2018.  •

Save the Date: Gala to Honor Msgr. Carson LaCaze

by Randy Tiller

As many of you may know, Msgr. J. Carson LaCaze had an extensive collection of rabbits – yes, rabbits – and although they are not live rabbits, they still seemed to multiply over the years, as rabbits tend to do.

Msgr. LaCaze’s family has donated the collection and several other choice items to the Diocese of Shreveport. The Cathedral of
St. John Berchmans and Catholic Center have joined together and formed committees to plan a “Monsignor LaCaze Memorial Gala.” Who better to kick off the Mardi Gras season than that quintessential Mardi Gras Monsignor?

His love of people, infectious smile, great stories and an all-round friend to all (if he liked you, he kidded you!) makes him the perfect “poster boy” to make this gala both a memorable event, as well as a great source of funding for the Diocesan Priest’s Retirement Fund. As discussed with Msgr. LaCaze’s family, all the proceeds from this event will go to this fund in his honor.

The items have been inventoried and catalogued by the committee. A few of the more special items will be held for a live auction, while the other items will be set up for a silent auction. This will all take place in the Multi-Room at St. John Berchmans Catholic School.

Saturday, February 16, 2019, has been reserved for the event. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Sponsorship tables are encouraged. Individual tickets will be sold in advance at $50 per person. This will include several drink tickets and a very lavish buffet with many of Msgr. LaCaze’s favorite food and spirits.

As we move closer to the date, more information will be posted on websites, bulletins, and The Catholic Connection magazine.

Please mark your calendars and join us in celebrating the life of Msgr. J. Carson LaCaze.

Tickets will be available at the Catholic Center and the Cathedral Office.

Committee Chairs:
Carol Gates and Randy Tiller

Catholic Charities Announces New Development Director

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) recently announced that Tiffany Olah has joined the organization as the new Director of Development and Communications.

As Director of Development and Communications, Olah will not only be responsible for maintaining donor relations, coordinating with community outreach programs and creating public awareness, but will also be responsible for annual social events that support Catholic Charities, such as Bingo on the Bayou and Lights of Broadway.

Originally from Florida, Olah resides in Shreveport with her husband and daughter while her son is a student at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. She is excited to bring her communications and public relations knowledge to Catholic Charities and eager to work with those at Catholic Charities.

“I am honored to be part of such a diverse staff that genuinely cares about what they do and who they do it for,” Olah said.

For more information about CCNLA, visit www.ccnla.org or email questions to development@ccnla.org.  You may also call 318-865-0200 or visit CCNLA on Facebook or Instagram.

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana was established in 2010 through the efforts of the Diocese of Shreveport. It continues to uphold its vision of investing in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice.  •

Fitzgerald Named Outstanding Philanthropist

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by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

On November 7, 2018, the Association of Fundraising Professionals North Louisiana Chapter hosted their 27th Annual National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bossier City. Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) was there to support this year’s recipient for Outstanding Philanthropist: Martha Holoubek Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald is the immediate past president of the CCNLA board of directors and has served on the board since 2013. She has additionally supported our organization with personal donations in the eight years since Catholic Charities began its mission to serve the poor and vulnerable in North Louisiana.

It is because her many years of service to the Shreveport/Bossier community, and especially for her outstanding work at Catholic Charities that CCNLA Executive Director, Meg Goorley, nominated Fitzgerald for this prestigious honor.

“Because of her gentle demeanor, most people don’t know what a powerhouse she is,” Goorley said. “Martha Fitzgerald is the most remarkable, ordinary person I’ve met.”

Such sentiments couldn’t ring more true. Her community service contributions are impressive and extensive. Before her work with CCNLA, Fitzgerald served as a board member, a committee member or held office for LSU Health Sciences Center Foundation-Shreveport, the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences Visiting Committee for Loyola University, the Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation, Louisiana Press Women, National Federation of Press Women and the Leadership Council for Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves as a board member of Pet Pantry of Northwest Louisiana, a committee member of River Cities Network for business women, and serves as lector and minister of care at the Cathedral of
St. John Berchmans.

She has been a member of the Women’s Philanthropy Network of Shreveport since its founding. Through that program, Fitzgerald participates in the selection of grants for organizations such as Step Forward, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Volunteers for Youth Justice, Caddo Parish Transformation Zone, Caddo Parish School Board, LSU Shreveport Foundation and Biomedical Research Foundation.

Not only has Fitzgerald made a lasting impact on the community within the non-profit sector, but in her professional career as well. Fitzgerald, a former journalist, is an author, editor and independent publisher. She owns Little Dove Press LLC, Martha Fitzgerald Consulting, LLC and manages Holoubek Family, LLC.

She is a former columnist and associate editorial page editor for The Shreveport Times. In fact, she held several editor positions while at The Times and did her share of special assignments for Gannett as well.

A graduate of the 100th class of St. Vincent’s Academy in Shreveport, Fitzgerald earned her Bachelor’s degree from Loyola University, her Master’s degree from Louisiana Tech University and holds a Certificate of Advanced Biblical Studies from the University of Dallas.

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana could not be more proud or honored to have been a part of Fitzgerald’s legacy of service.

Father Lombard Celebrates 65 Years of Priestly Ministry

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by John Mark Willcox

There are few Catholics who live in Shreveport or Bossier City that have not had their lives affected in a positive way by Fr. Richard Lombard, who celebrates his 65th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood on December 20. After he received Holy Orders in 1953, Fr. Lombard was encouraged by the late Bishop Charles P. Greco to minister in the mission field of Louisiana.

Upon his arrival in Alexandria, Fr. Lombard began providing his unique priestly ministry to the Catholics of central Louisiana. His many early assignments included serving as an assistant in three locations until he came to his first pastor’s assignment at St. Edward Church in Tallulah, LA, in 1962. Four years later, Bishop Greco asked that he go to west Shreveport and serve as the founding pastor of a new parish. Thus, Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Shreveport was born in August of 1966, and the parishioners there enjoyed 20 years of Fr. Lombard’s pastoral leadership.

Fr. Lombard departed Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in 1986, but not before proudly burning the mortgage of the new church and leaving the parish entirely debt free. He then served short appointments to Shreveport’s St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in 1986, and Christ the King Parish in Bossier City from 1987-90. The remainder of his active ministry has been centered on St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport, where he served as an associate priest before being named as pastor, later guiding St. Joseph during the parish’s 50th anniversary in 1999.

Throughout his priesthood, Fr. Lombard has excelled at instructing and welcoming new Catholics through the RCIA process and helping divorced Catholics through the marriage annulment process. Through his devoted ministry, thousands of new Catholics have entered the Church and hundreds among the faithful are able to lead new lives following their successful annulments. Fr. Lombard has never lost a case he brought before the Marriage Tribunal, a feat of which he is most proud.

Even with his senior priest status, Fr. Lombard continues to offer his ministry to the people of our region without hesitation. He is a priest who built and renovated parishes, guided his people in true stewardship to God’s many blessings, marked and celebrated milestones with his congregations, and spent decades bringing people into and back to Mother Church. He is truly devoted to his vocation and remains a wonderful example of the priesthood to thousands of Catholics in two different dioceses.

God bless you Father Lombard, and thank you for your years of service to the faithful of Louisiana!

Vocations View: Serving in a Parish

by Jeb Key, Seminarian 

What an incredible year it has been for me. I am now beginning my fourth year as a seminarian for the great Diocese of Shreveport and I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by. It seems like only yesterday that Bishop Michael Duca accepted me as a seminarian. I have learned and grown a great deal in the past three years as your seminarian, and I continue to grow in the love of God each and every day.

Since beginning this journey, I have felt the desire to serve the people of our diocese grow in my heart. I am happy to say that this year, I have been following this desire a little more immediately by serving as a seminarian in the parish of St. Joseph in Shreveport. For this entire school year, I will remain at St. Joseph’s in lieu of returning for theological studies at Notre Dame Seminary.

During this period of time, I will be serving Masses and assisting our priests in providing the Sacraments to the people of Shreveport. I will also be able to take a more active part of the liturgical year of our diocese. My close proximity to St. Joseph School, as well as our other Catholic schools, will allow me to hopefully assist and be a part of these communities in any way that I can.

Most importantly however, this experience allows me to really think and pray more deeply with my vocation. In almost every job, you spend a certain period of time studying and learning under a more experienced person. This apprenticeship for me is teaching me the in’s and out’s of priesthood and parish life. So far I have been working with RCIA, high-school and middle-school youth groups, the parish school of religion, as well as learning from the wonderful staff at St. Joseph’s.

I’ve even spent several class periods with the middle-school religion classes answering questions and sharing my story. These experiences have given me a fresh outlook on what it means to be a part of the parish. The things that I have learned so far are things which you simply cannot learn out of a book in a school; but things which are learned by doing and being with the people of the diocese.

It is lucky that St. Joseph is one of our busiest parishes and I have many opportunities to learn about parish life. I know that my time at St. Joseph will change not only my life, but my future priesthood forever. •