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2017 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal: Our Vision, Our Mission

by John Mark Willcox The coming months will see our community of faith again striving to enable the work of Christ within our diocese by supporting our Annual Stewardship Appeal.  A new More »

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Catholic Youth Day Coming March 11!

by Nicky Prevou Middle school and high school youth and their adult leaders are eagerly looking forward to Saturday, March 11. Catholic Youth Day (CYD) 2017 will be held at St. Paschal More »

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God is Calling – Diocese in Search of New Deacon Class

by Deacon Mike Whitehead It has been a little over 11 years since the first Permanent Diaconate formation for the Diocese of Shreveport ordained 18 men in 2005, and three years since More »

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Community Volunteers Give Back to Catholic Charities

by Lucy Medvec As with any non-profit agency, the work and support from volunteers are important to the success of the organization. This is no different with Catholic Charities of North Louisiana. More »

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Bishop Friend’s Book Collection in Slattery Library

by Jessica Rinaudo The Catholic Center’s Slattery Library has recently had a huge boost to its book collection. Upon his passing, Bishop William B. Friend bequeathed his vast collection of literature to More »

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Vocations View: Want to Change a Life? Support Catholic Education

by Lisa Cooper Catholic vocations in all forms, from religious and priestly to living and working faithfully as a layperson all have to start somewhere. Oftentimes that place is in Catholic schools. More »

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Navigating the Faith: St. Blaise & the Blessing of Throats

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship The feast day of St. Blaise is celebrated on February 3 with the unique ritual of blessing the throats of those with throat disorders and anyone More »

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Domestic Church: Prayer Turns Burdens to Blessings

by Katie Sciba Andrew has been waking me early every morning. A little nudge and a “Were you going to pray?” I croak “Mm hmm.” He goes to a corner of our More »

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Mike’s Meditations: Who Do You See?

by Mike Van Vranken If the man in this picture came to our country claiming to be a displaced refugee fleeing persecution, would you vote to allow him to stay?  I read More »

Second Collections for January & February

PreK-3 students at St. John Berchmans Catholic School participate in show-and-tell. The Diocesan Catholic Schools Second Collection helps children benefit from programs like these in our diocese.

by Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General

COLLECTION FOR THE CHURCH IN LATIN AMERICA
Announcement Dates: January 8th & 15th
Collection Dates: January 21st & 22nd

Pope Francis said, “I write to thank you… for this outstanding sign of communion and solidarity with the Church in South America and the Caribbean.” Supporting this collection in your parish makes a real difference in the lives of the faithful in these regions.

It is my hope that you take to heart Pope Francis’ personal gratitude to you for your participation in this second collection. Your contribution does far more good than you may think; it makes a real difference in the lives of the least of Jesus Christ’s brothers and sisters.

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo provides a moving example of the power of your contribution to the Collection for the Church in Latin America.

“In Nicaragua, members of the deaf community are often unable to participate in Mass or proper sacramental formation because resources are not available in sign language.  With a grant from the Collection for the Church in Latin America, the Archdiocese of Managua is increasing the number of workshops, Masses and educational materials in sign language. The generosity of your parishioners has provided these resources to train over 200 ministers to serve the deaf community.  … A mother told the story of how she realized her daughter was deaf and what she had to do to make sure her daughter would know Jesus Christ and share her faith.  You and your parishioners have helped her do this.”

Your participation in our second collections saves souls!  You have helped this mother and child, and others like them, to know Jesus Christ. Please give generously to the Collection for the Church in Latin America.

DIOCESAN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
Announcement Dates: January 22nd & 29th  
Collection Dates: February 4th & 5th

Our Diocesan Catholic Schools Collection is a beautiful thing.  Our contribution to this collection is an expression of our love for our own children and/or those of our fellow parishioners. The Diocesan Catholic Schools Collection blesses us with this unique opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to their Catholic education and religious formation. For those of us who do not have children or grandchildren, the children of our parochial and diocesan family are no less ours, as they are our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

Our two Catholic high schools and four elementary schools are amazing places. In them our children and youth encounter Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the witness of the Church saints through the kindness and commitment of auxiliary staff, teachers, aides, administrators and Parent Teacher Associations.

Please give generously to our Diocesan Catholic Schools Collection. Your mercy helps parents choose a Catholic education and formation for their children. Help our children and youth grow up in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  St. Frederick High School, Loyola College Prep, Our Lady of Fatima, Jesus the Good Shepherd, St. Joseph and St. John Berchmans are OUR corporal and spiritual works of mercy to the civic community.

Joyfully support Catholic education. Give to our Diocesan Catholic Schools Collection.

Navigating the Faith: Meeting the Divine

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Meeting the Divine  
Seeking God in Every Moment & Season of Your Life
by Kim Long, DRE, St. Mary of the Pines Parish

Several weeks ago in a Bible study class some ladies and I were musing about meeting the Divine. All seemed to agree that the Divine presence was easy, indeed almost effortless to recognize when things are going right and are pleasant, but what about other times? I shared this story with them.

A young priest, fresh faced, in love with God, told a congregation one Advent night that we were all, regardless of age, pregnant with the love of God. Yes, he said, even you men don’t get off the hook. That last remark brought forth nervous laughter, but as the priest was so sincere and so obviously in love with God, the congregation embraced his statement and spoke of it for weeks to come.

If we take the liturgical year and look at the images of Jesus at each season, I think we can see emerging opportunities to encounter the Divine presence in each moment.

Advent with its images of a pregnant Mary and an uncertain Joseph conjure up two words: vulnerability and acceptance. The definition of vulnerable is capable of being physically or emotionally wounded, open to attack or damage and covers just about every one of us. So to encounter the Divine with Advent imagery one only has to look to the left or to the right and we find that in that vulnerability is the opportunity to be Christ to someone, anyone, in a small way such as a heartfelt greeting, a kind word or a prayer offered for whatever they are going through. Taking the image of acceptance, the act of assenting, believing or receiving something, we can receive the actions offered to us by those near us, including those we may not want, trusting that God will show us their value.

Lent with its images of desert, journey, temptation and penitence has something for everyone. The words in scripture which indicate a journey is about to be undertaken are “gird up your loins,” in other words get ready, you’re going somewhere for a purpose. But like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we might discover that we need go no further than our own backyard for the journey is an inward one. In the old Lenten hymn we are charged to keep the solemn fast and that Lent will bind us lovingly to faith and hope and charity. Another face of the Divine is contained here and we meet it in the grocery store aisles, in the church when we slip in for a quiet moment with God, in the faces of our family as we make the meatless Fridays together.

Holy Week and Triduum are full of images, including the washing of feet. Many years ago when I was an RCIA candidate, we experienced a foot washing prayer service. Our chairs were gathered in a circle and as the young priest read the gospel passage from John, images formed where none had been before: Jesus and his disciples with dusty feet and Jesus assuming the servant’s role washing each of those feet, leaning in low and humble doing that which would be relegated to a servant. I looked at the woman next to me and I wondered when was the last time she was served? I knew her to be a woman who puts family first and is tireless with her efforts. I recall being thrilled that she was having this experience. Our class attended the Holy Thursday service with a deeper understanding. “I have given you example, so you also may do.” Our vision of the Divine is not limited to always being the doer, but we must learn to receive as well.

Easter is a season of spring, rebirth and joy. When the Alleluia is sung at the Easter Vigil we have recounted our entire salvation history and now we sing that Christ is risen. Nothing, be it hardship, grief, indifference, anger, or hurt will triumph in the end. In Easter we meet the Divine with blessed assurance that we are not alone.

Ordinary time has a spirituality all its own and during this time we read of the miracles and parables and we are given a blueprint, a chance to enter anew the mission field of life and be Christ to one another in simple ways. We meet the Divine in the letter of Paul to the Philippians when he is bursting with joy and states, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or vain glory; rather humbly regard others more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests but for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:1-5)

Then we come to the feast of Christ the King and what began in Advent’s pregnancy is brought in fullness to the altar. We have a chance each year to continue to grow, to recognize, to serve and allow ourselves to be served. We have a chance each day to live  anew the words of our Lord, “On earth as it is in heaven.”

Share the Joy of the Arrival of the Redeemer

from Vatican Information Services

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.” It is not a superficial or purely emotional joy that the Apostle Paul exhorts us to,” observed the pope. “It is not worldly, nor is it the joy of consumerism. … It is a more authentic joy, whose flavor we are called to rediscover. The flavor of true joy. It is a joy that touches the intimacy of our being, as we await Jesus, who has already come to bring salvation to the world. … The liturgy of the Word offers us the right context for understanding and living this joy. Isaiah speaks of the desert, the parched land, the steppe; the prophet has before him feeble hands, weak knees, frightened hearts, the blind, the deaf and the mute. It is the picture of a desolate situation, of the inexorable destination without God.

“But finally, salvation is proclaimed: ‘Be strong, fear not!’, says the prophet. Here is your God … He comes to save you. And immediately, everything is transformed: The desert blooms, joy and gladness fill hearts. These signs announced by Isaiah as revelations of a salvation already present, are fulfilled in Jesus. He himself affirms this, responding to the messengers sent by John the Baptist: ‘The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised.’ They are not words, they are facts that show how the salvation brought by Jesus grips every human being and regenerates him. God has entered into history to liberate us from the slavery of sin; He has set up His dwelling in our midst to share our existence, to heal our scars, to dress our wounds and to give us new life. Joy is the fruit of this intervention of salvation and of the love of God.”

“We are called to participate in this sentiment of jubilation, this jubilation, this joy,” Francis affirmed. “A Christian who is not joyful … is missing something  … or he is not a Christian. The joy of the heart, the joy within that drives us forward and gives us courage. The Lord comes, He comes into our lives … to free us from all interior and exterior slaveries. He shows us the path of fidelity, of patience and of perseverance, because, upon His return, our joy will be complete. Christmas is near. The signs of its coming are evident on our streets and in our homes; here too, in the Square, the Nativity scene has been set up, and alongside it, the tree. These external signs invite us to welcome the Lord, Who always comes and knocks at our door; He calls to our heart to come close to us. He invites us to recognize His steps among those of our brothers and sisters who pass by, especially the weakest and most in need.”

“Today we are invited to be joyful for the imminent arrival of our Redeemer,” concluded the Holy Father, “and we are called to share this joy with others, giving consolation and hope to the poor, to the sick, to those who are alone or unhappy. May the Virgin Mary, the ‘handmaid of the Lord,’ help us hear the voice of God in prayer and serve Him with compassion in our brothers…”

Domestic Church: Bring Jesus Into Your Resolutions

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by Katie Sciba

It’s here and now in the Domestic Church column that I usually hit the topic of resolutions. Whether you rang in the Catholic New Year last month with the dawn of Advent or you put more emphasis on January 1st, it’s a new beginning – a fresh start.

Who doesn’t love a chance to shed a few holiday pounds, drink more water, become a better listener, get up earlier or read a book a week? A new year stirs the soul and invites change – from here on out, I’m going to happen to life instead of it happening to me! Though inspiration strikes and we thrill in new-found motivation, our resolve to BE BETTER tends to fizzle later in the month, or mid February at best. And for many of us who make up the Resolution Fizzlers, our goals are lacking the necessary foundation; the foundation that, in fact, should be another, if not the only, resolution we have: MORE JESUS.

Because here’s the deal – whatever the desires of your heart, whatever the ambitions, the dreams, the bad habits we try to tackle every January 1st, the Lord cares! It’s not an idea we ever really consider – what does Jesus have to do with my new workout regimen or plan to spend less and save more? Everything. Our desire to improve – to be better – is a draw heavenward; and though it seems farfetched, consider that God is goodness itself, love itself. Though it might not look like it on the surface, our hopes for a richer life are hopes for closeness with God.

And chances are, it was God who put the desire on your heart in the first place to show you that He’s the one who can fulfill it. Who better to see you through than Jesus?

But it’s tempting to leave Him out of those parts of life. “I like to leave church at church, thanks.” But I tell you that keeping Him out of our hopes and resolutions is like taking the wind out of a sail: we might drift, but we don’t reach full potential. And ultimately, our goals in and of themselves will be incomplete. St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, Lord.” That’s ideal insight for our resolutions – they simply won’t be enough unless we ask Jesus to be part of them.

So go ahead! Tell Jesus what you’re shooting for, what you wish you could overcome but feel impossibly stuck in. “Prayer is a launching out of the heart towards God,” St. Therese once said, and heartfelt prayers do not have to be verbose or eloquent. Two of my favorite prayers are “I want to be better, Jesus,” and a simple “Change me, Lord.” Pray simply and invite Jesus into your goals.

And once we invite the Lord into our resolutions, we’ll see just what grace can do and how far we can go; the Lord will bless what we offer. We’ll be able to see more clearly through Heaven’s eyes what is and isn’t worth ambition. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). It’s obvious and real that our personal improvement is what
He desires, too.

Katie Sciba is married to Andrew and together they have four children (with another one on the way). She is the author of thecatholicwife.net.

Faithful Food: New Year’s Transformational Cooking

by Kim Long

January has always seemed a bit of a lull, an in between time. Advent and Christmas are over. For us in Louisiana, Carnival is beginning and will reach a fever pitch the week of Fat Tuesday (this year on February 28), but for now it is January, quiet, cold and a time to collect our thoughts. Decorations are sorted and stored, all the holiday food is eaten and we look forward to a bit of plain cooking, which  by this time of year is just what our hearts desire. We are in Ordinary Time again. And while we celebrated the new Church year on the first Sunday of Advent, in January, we are offered both a look back and the vision needed in order to thread our way forward into the next year.

January finds us dreaming of future plans, everything from weight loss to what flowers and vegetables we will plant and eventually harvest, to books we must finally get round to reading to places to visit and bad habits to cast aside. I don’t know about you, but nine times out of 10 my resolutions did not even make it to Lent.

This year in an effort to be honest with myself I have foregone resolutions and instead have promised myself three, yes only three, things; one of which is to not give up on myself and my goals. I turned to scripture for a bit of inspiration. 2 Chronicles (15:7) reads, “but as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” So I wait, attempt patience with myself and continue to work, believing in, hoping for, having faith in the transformation which will come.

One of the most obvious places I see transformation occur on a daily basis is in the art of cooking. I take items, seemingly unconnected, and when the work is done, the blessing is made, there is a delicious meal to bring to the table and the ones you love.

Soup is my favorite meal at this time of year when it is still dark early. My Aunt Carolyn and several of her church friends realized that the aging residents of our hometown who relied on Meals on Wheels for food assistance during the week lacked a hot meal on the weekends. They gathered in the kitchen at the church to make and can pint jars of vegetable soup, which they then packaged in decorated boxes with packages of crackers and individual servings of fruit and cutlery. Their effort was transformative on many levels: women recognizing a need, doing what they could to meet that need and quietly going about their lives. I cannot say whether they made resolutions or  promises to themselves about the future, but I can say that they acted in the moment, and sometimes it can be that simple. We can all make a difference.

January brings us a clean sweep, a fresh start. Sometimes all you need is a little courage and a bit of faith Here is her soup recipe. Make it, eat it, enjoy it and perhaps share it!

Aunt Carolyn’s Soup

Ingredients:
• 1 lb. ground chuck
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 small can corn
• 1 small can green beans
• 1 small can potatoes
• 1 small can carrots
• 1 small can English peas
• 2 cans beef broth
• salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1) Brown ground chuck and chopped onion over medium heat.
2) Add salt and pepper.
3) Drain the meat.
4) Add browned meat and onions to a large pot.
5) Add all drained vegetables.
6) Add beef broth.
7) Adjust seasoning to taste.
8) Simmer (low flame) for an hour, checking to make sure more broth or water is not needed. Serve with a salad and bread or crackers.

Green Street Park and Drop by Drop by the USCCB

Green Street Park and Drop by Drop
by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
reviewed by Kelly Phelan Powell

Like so many first-time parents, I had a lot of lofty goals before my daughter Harper, now 5, was born. I was going to exclusively cloth-diaper her – no chemical-laden disposables would touch her brand-new baby behind! I would also make all my own (organic) baby food, never allow her to watch TV until she was at least three-years-old and teach her Mandarin Chinese.

My fellow parents are chuckling pretty hard right now because they know exactly what became of all my ideals. All four grandparents flatly refused to deal with cloth diapers. Harper now subsists solely on meat, cheese and the occasional carrot, and she can quote entire movies word for word. And anyway, I don’t even speak Chinese.

But one ideal that did end up becoming reality is that my husband, Blake, and I read to Harper every day. Our family ritual of reading two stories together before bedtime is one of her favorites parts of the day. And while we as a family enjoy all types of stories, we are especially pleased when the stories contain a bit of catechesis. So I was very enthusiastic for the opportunity to review two children’s story books by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

Green Street Park presents a straightforward scenario wherein kids – yes, kids! – can put Catholic social justice teachings to use to enact positive change in their communities. It’s about a group of Catholic school friends who realize that the park in which they regularly play is littered, run-down and not being utilized to its potential. Their teacher, Sr. Mary Clare, tells them about St. Francis of Assisi, inspiring the kids to form “The St. Francis Project Team,” write a proposal, and present it to the mayor of their town. The mayor agrees to give The St. Francis Project Team the resources they need, and so they’re able to revitalize the park and even plant a community garden.

Illustrated by Jill Arena, the pictures in Green Street Park are fun and vibrant, and the vocabulary is appropriate for a very wide range of ages. Plus, it introduces a saint and Church teaching as well as depicting children praying and talking with the adults in their lives about their problems and concerns. So it’s not only educational for kids, it’s empowering for them as well.

The second book, Drop by Drop, is illustrated by Carrie Gowran in a very different but no less attractive style. In it, Mike, a Catholic Relief Services (CRS) worker in West Africa, tells a class of children about a girl named Sylvie, who lives in Burkina Faso, where he has been living. Sylvie desperately wants to go to school but can’t because she must walk six miles to the river and back each day to fetch the family’s water in heavy jugs.

Eventually, Sylvie’s village gets a well through the efforts of Mike and CRS, which enables her to go to school and get an education.

In the context of the story, the narrator (who is one of the children in the class) learns how basic but essential water is to human life and how much it costs to build a well. Thus, he and his class decide to raise money for a well by selling plastic pins in the shape of water droplets. At the end of the book, there are more facts about the importance of water and about what CRS does throughout the world.

Both of these books teach kids how they can put Catholic social justice teachings to work in the world in a fun, practical and relatable way, and our family gives them a resounding eight thumbs up.

Green Street Park and Drop by Drop are available for purchase  from Amazon.com and to borrow  from the Slattery Library inside the Catholic Center.

Mike’s Meditations: God in Our Everyday Lives

by Mike Van Vranken

During the last month, I found and pondered many scriptures urging me to be prepared for the coming of Jesus. Some related to his first coming while others to his future return. With both seasons behind us, we can move on, right? Well, not so fast. In my morning conversation with Jesus today, I heard him say something like: “I’m so joyful that you have eternity on your mind and are planning for my certain return. But today, I’m wondering: are you prepared for me to come to you today – in your everyday life – in the world where you live right now?”

Somewhat startled by the thought, I sat and listened as several examples of how Jesus might come to me today came to mind. Some of the questions I sensed Jesus was asking me include:

Are you prepared for me to come to you today in the form of someone who is lonesome and needs companionship?  I immediately remembered a recent moment when I thought of an old friend I should call and check on, but I knew the conversation would take up 30 minutes. I convinced myself I was too busy, but now I think I should have made that call. The reason this person likes to talk so much is because they are lonesome. Jesus reminded me that whatever I do to the least of those around me, I’m doing it to Jesus (Matthew 25:40).

Are you prepared for me to come to you today in the form of a displaced refugee? Now this one is a little easier. I don’t know of any local refugees needing help, so I’m off the hook here. But, what about organizations like Catholic Charities who are helping the estimated 65 million human beings around the world who have fled their homes over the last few years? Could I financially help? Do I pray for them? And, have I taken the time to even discover if there are any local refugees here I can assist?

Are you prepared for me to come to you today in the form of your wife or daughter while you are reading or watching TV?  Now He’s getting personal. Of course, I’m the one who, for the last couple of decades, has proclaimed to anyone who would listen that multitasking is a myth. It can’t be done. But, man do I try sometimes. Am I prepared to be totally responsive, to give 100% attention to my family when they ask for it? Can I at least see Jesus in them when they come to me?

Are you prepared to spend time in prayer with me whenever I ask? I actually smiled at this one. I do spend time with Jesus in prayer each day. And, I normally ask him if there is more he wants to say to me before I finish my prayer time. But then there are other times when I set the agenda. I begin and end when I choose. I’m not always prepared to do it his way. Can I do a better job of visiting with Jesus on his time and not mine?

There were many other questions that came to mind about my preparedness to meet Jesus in every day life. This experience reminded me that we are a pilgrim people. We are on a journey. Am I prepared for the coming of Jesus in everyday life?  Just like you, there are times that I am prepared. And then, other times – not so much.  But, in those times when we are not prepared, he is gentle, loving, extremely merciful and eager for us to get up and try again.  It turns out that our Advent and Christmas seasons were very fruitful. They always are. They allow us to get to know our God a little bit more – a little bit better. And in doing so, we travel a little further down that road of preparedness for the day that is coming for all of us when we meet our Savior face-to-face.

MONTHLY REFLECTION:

During January, ask God for the grace to reveal different ways you can prepare for encounters with Jesus in every day life.

Then, with each one of these encounters, take some time to reflect on how Jesus met you in the moment.

Finally, be prepared: Jesus comes to us far more often than we normally realize.

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

Bishop’s Reflection: Renewed Hope for the New Year

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by Bishop Michael Duca

In November of last year I was uncertain if I would be able to begin this New Year with an optimistic spirit.  I have to admit that last year was full of so many state and national meetings, activities and travel that I seemed to be rushing through each month without any focus.  This flurry of activity came to a climax with a trip to India after Thanksgiving to visit the homes and religious communities of the Indian priests and sisters who serve in our diocese.  I admit I felt rather burned out as I planned for the trip, but as it is with many choices in life I found the journey to be inspiring and the beginning of a change in my spirit.

After more than 24 hours of travel I finally arrived in India. What a surprise and wonder!  During my trip I saw how dynamic and alive the Catholic Church is in India. The Sisters of the Destitute, the community of Sr. Suny, Sr. Ranjana, Sr. Jaya and Sr. Sajini who work at Christus Highland Medical Center, run inspiring ministries for the most needful and neglected people.  They are a truly joyful and loving community of religious women.

The Diocese of Kanjirappally, the home diocese of Fathers Philip and James who work at St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe, has over 200 social justice projects throughout the region as a part of their diocesan ministry. I was taken up into the mountains to see their farm co-op of hundreds of acres of farmland growing spices, and an Eden of untouched land that nurtures native plants.  They work with farmers and farm workers to encourage better profits and organic farming.

The Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, whose priests work in so many of our parishes, have large dynamic schools full of 5,000 enthusiastic students, varied social ministries, centers for dialogue among different religions and respected colleges.

I was also inspired in a way I did not expect by the founder of the order who was recently canonized, St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara (1805-1871). Fr. Philip from Rayville was my guide, along with Fr. Thomas. As we visited the holy sites that were important to the life of St. Chavara, I began to feel like I was on a pilgrimage. St. Chavara was an inspiration. In the beginning of the order he taught the poor Sanskrit, the language of education for the elite. He taught both boys and girls, irrespective of caste, creed or status. St. Chavara actively challenged the privilege of the rich and the caste system of India that divided the people into social classes. His work inspired him to establish a school at every parish they founded. St. Chavara was a priest, architect, playwright, poet, builder of ministries to the poor and homeless, educator, mediator and a great preacher. His life reminds me of the life of St. John Paul II.  He inspired me to see how much one person can do when they live their faith with zeal and conviction. How much a catalyst for good we can be when WE act from the Gospel and not from social convention?  All the Indian priests and sisters who work in our diocese bring this same vital breath of the Holy Spirit to us.  I am grateful for their presence in the Diocese of Shreveport.

I returned to Shreveport on December 7, in time to officially receive the Reliquary that contained the heart of St. John Berchmans into the diocese.  The sacred connection I felt in the presence of his heart made all the saints more real to me and deepened the effects of my pilgrimage. I feel the support of the saints even more today as we begin this New Year.

On December 10, I ordained Fidel Mondragón to the Transitional Diaconate and I was encouraged again. In the gathering of the faithful for the ordination I was uplifted by the beautiful and enthusiastic presence of our Hispanic brothers and sisters.  For the first time I celebrated the Mass and Ordination service completely in Spanish because Spanish is the first language of Fidel, his family and so many of those who were present. Spanish was important that day because even if we speak a second language, when we pray, our first language is the one we always prefer. It is the prayer of our heart. I hope all those gathered for the ordination of Fidel feel more at home here because of our prayer together that day. We are richer as a diocese because of this beautiful community within our Church and I am happy Fidel will reach out to them in the language of their hearts.

While last year with all its busyness was unsettling to me in my eighth year of being your bishop, it ended with so many graced-filled moments that I am beginning this year full of enthusiasm and hope.  I hope you will find the same hope and renewed enthusiasm in your life this year.

Students Participate in Relic’s Visit

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The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport highly anticipated the arrival of the heart of St. John Berchmans. The students prepared by saying a Chaplet of the Immaculate Conception daily in morning assembly. Many students attended a press conference with Fr. Peter Mangum and numerous media outlets to discuss the arrival of the heart. SJB students had the opportunity to attend the first Mass to venerate the heart. Each class in K3-8th grade, had a unique opportunity to venerate the heart with a special explanation from Fr. Peter. SJB students also attended presentations from Andrew Thomas, discussing his comic strip about the life of St. John Berchmans, as well as Fr. Carlos Martins, who shared the exposition of Sacred Relics. All have been blessed by this experience!

JGS Students Receive Fruit Donation

Jesus the Good Shepherd School received an organic fruit donation and special blessings from Fr. Job, Matthew and Mercy Edavettal and Angie O’Pry from Fiesta Nutrition Center. The Edavettal Family Farm out of Hessmer, LA actually produced the organic fruit. Fr. Job told the JGS students that all good things come from God and that He provides us with natural, healthy food grown from the Earth. The students received a special blessing along with fresh satsumas. Fr. Job blessed the children and the school’s organic garden.