Exploring the History of St. Matthew Church

By John Mark Willcox Exiting I-20 in downtown Monroe on Jackson Street you are met with a beautiful sight….the majestic spire of St. Matthew Church which has stood in downtown Monroe for More »

Discerning a Vocation in Elementary and Middle School

by Seminarian Raney Johnson It might seem too early to begin discerning a vocation in elementary and middle school. Yet, whenever I give a talk about vocations to young Catholics, I remind More »

Rite of Candidacy

A Q&A About the Rite of Candidacy with Seminarian Jeb Key Q: What is the Rite of Candidacy?  Candidacy is a rite in the Church that all people aspiring to receive the More »

Fr. Peter B. Mangum Addresses Thoughts on June USCCB Meeting and the Future of the Diocese

By: Fr. Peter B. Mangum   Dear People of Shreveport, I begin this article on Pentecost Sunday, preparing for the gathering of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore. More »

El padre Peter informa sobre la reunión del USCCB en junio y el futuro de la Diócesis

Querida Gente de la Diócesis de Shreveport Comienzo este artículo en Domingo de Pentecostés mientras me preparo para la reunión de la Conferencia Episcopal de los Obispos Católicos de Los Estados Unidos, More »

The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

by Kim Long On the 15th day of August, we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Body and Soul into heaven. The feast, which has a long More »

Holistic Catholic Education

By: Mike Van Vranken Almost forty years ago, I heard someone respond to the question “what do Catholics believe” with the confident answer: “We believe it all!”  Over the years, and often More »

The Life of Sister Maria Smith, D.C.

by Patti Underwood On Holy Thursday, we in the Diocese of Shreveport and beyond lost a rare treasure, Sister Maria Smith, D.C.  Sister Maria was Mother Superior of the Daughters of the More »

Faithful Step Up in Wake of Tornado Devastation

by Walter Johnson On April 25, the city of Ruston found itself reeling from an EF3 tornado that blew into the area in the early hours of Thursday morning. The vicious storm More »

Christus Vivit, Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment

from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

 Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R, of Newark, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, have issued the following joint statement on the release of Christus Vivit.  Full statement follows:

“The Church of the United States welcomes this teaching from Pope Francis as the fruit of the synodal journey in which we walked with and listened to young people. This exhortation is a wonderful summons to the whole Church to more vigorously invest in youth and young adults, especially those on the peripheries and those who are disconnected from the Church.

We encourage all Catholic leaders to read and study this exhortation and the pertinent documents of the Synod. They provide for us a framework from which we can build upon in our dioceses, parishes, and communities.

Now more than ever, we must turn our attention to our young people and engage them as ‘protagonists’ of the Church’s mission. Their insights can help us grow as a Church and guide us as we all learn to become better missionary disciples in an intercultural and intergenerational context. We look forward to what comes next, in collaboration with Catholic ministry leaders already working alongside young people. We look forward to the journey ahead, and pray with St. John Paul II, a patron of young people whose passing we remember today, for the Church’s ongoing mission to all generations.

The post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Christus Vivit, is a significant milestone of the synodal process begun by Pope Francis in 2016. After two years of consultation by episcopal conferences, movements, and Catholic organizations, along with a worldwide online survey and a Pre-Synod Meeting with young adults in March 2018, the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops met in October 2018 on the theme ‘Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.’ Bishops, clergy, religious and lay people, including a number of young people, together with Pope Francis, addressed the challenges facing younger generations today and ways in which the Church can best respond. Now the work of the Holy Spirit, manifest in the sessions of the Synod, will bear fruit in the dioceses of the United States.”  •

Your Appeal Helps Care for God’s People Subsidies for Retried and Infirm Priests

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Development

This past year our diocese has witnessed the passing of two of our most beloved retired priests with the death of Msgr. Carson LaCaze and Fr. Richard Lombard. Both of these men continued to serve the Church well past their official retirement and their impact on our faith community will be long-lasting. Even though our diocese continues to lose retired priests to advanced age and death, the number of our retired diocesan priests still stands at nine men.

Some of our priests claim retirement but remain an active part of our Church family. You may see Fr. Phil Michiels, Msgr. Earl V. Provenza or Fr. James McLelland celebrating a Mass at your parish while your pastor is on leave. Fr. Patrick Madden was famous for counting down the days to his official retirement, yet he still enthralls his faithful students each Thursday at the Catholic Center as scripture and Church teachings are examined in his class. These men are just some of the retired priests who remain committed to the people of our diocese and count on our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal to provide them with financial support in their later years.

Your Appeal generosity also helps to provide high-quality medical care for our aging retirees, while trying to anticipate the annual rise in health care costs every year. In some instances, retired priests require hospitalization, after care and rehab, which can be very costly.  In 2019, a significant portion of Appeal funding is dedicated to offering our retired priests a well-deserved quality of life in their later years as they continue to depend on the Church they served so well.

If you have yet to make your gift to our 2019 Appeal campaign, please use the pledge card found below. If you have already supported our 2019 Appeal effort, may God bless you for helping provide for the needs of our retired priests.  •

Kids’ Connection: Celebrating Mary in May

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on Mary.

Purposeful Work with Meaningful People

The Catholic Charities of North Louisiana staff with Olah (front, third from left).

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Working at Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) means being part of a greater life experience. It is the opportunity to love others for who they are and not where they come from, understanding different cultural perspectives of those who have walked down different paths, and recognizing that no act of service is too small or meaningless.

The poor, the uneducated, the foreigner, the one whose native language is not the same as yours – all of these I have encountered while working at CCNLA. They are the clients, the fellow staff members and volunteers. I am surrounded by diversity ethnically, educationally and spiritually. Yet each and every person has a story to tell that is both fascinating and inspiring. At Catholic Charities, we not only lend a helping hand, but we make a difference every day to people from all walks of life. The impact of reaching out to others in service and in love can never be underestimated.

Imagine a man coming to CCNLA on an ordinary Tuesday morning. He is there to attend The Money School, a requirement for emergency rent or utility assistance. Imagine that same man, in hopelessness and despair, mentioning to the front desk receptionist that he probably would not be coming back. Ever. Now imagine that same receptionist is intuitive enough to be greatly concerned for this man’s emotional stability. She mentions to one of the case workers that the man needs some extra attention and care. Now, this case worker loves his job, understands his clients well and enjoys spending time with people and getting to know them. So then, imagine that the case worker establishes a rapport with the man, commits to checking in with him on a regular basis, visits him on the weekends at his home and even offers him contract work that gives the man purpose. Realize now that after spending time talking with the CCNLA case worker, the man admits that he tried to take his own life the very night before coming into Catholic Charities.

This man is just one of those whose life was changed by their encounter with Catholic Charities. Often CCNLA staff will encounter the tears of the mother of five who is so behind in bills she has lost all hope. We see the gratitude of elderly clients who need help applying for food stamps online because they don’t know how to use a computer. We even get the chance to celebrate with the man or woman who has been granted legal status and can finally see a path towards becoming a U.S. citizen. These are the reasons why working at Catholic Charities of North Louisiana is both gratifying and good for the soul.

It is also why leaving CCNLA in May will be so bittersweet. On one hand, my family and I have decided that after nine years in Shreveport, it is time for us to move back home to Florida and be closer to all of our family. On the other hand, I feel that I am leaving my CCNLA family too soon, leaving an organization that makes such a positive impact in people’s lives. I hope whoever joins Catholic Charities in my place will feel the same joy and satisfaction of being part of such a wonderful organization   •

Humanitarian Award Presented to Sister Martinette

by Mary Ann Van Osdell

Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS, 82, has dedicated her life to serving others around the world. On March 26, she received the first Humanitarian Award from the Sabine Hall of Fame at its 22nd annual banquet in Many.

Seventy years ago she left Zwolle to follow her dream of religious life. She has been a Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows for 66 years.

“I have done many things, but I suppose the highlights of my life’s work would be working in Bangladesh from 1988 to 2002 with Muslims, Hindus and Christians,” she said.

From the seminary, to the poorest villages, Sr. Martinette has lived her life helping the last, the least, the lost and the lowest of all peoples. Rather than see their children die of starvation, Sr. Martinette saw the people of Bangladesh give them up. This meant she brought six of those babies to the United States to be adopted by her friends. Those children have become well educated, adult citizens.

Sr. Martinette also opened a clinic and a school for the poor and begged for money to build them homes after the 1998 flood in Bangladesh. More than 200 homes were built for Muslims, Hindus and Christians from her efforts. In her honor, community members built a school, college and hospital, all which bear her name.

“Poor people don’t care where one studied or what degrees you have, but only how much you love them,” Sr. Martinette said. He motto is living the Gospel message of love and service, spreading His loving concern for others, and loving as Jesus did.

Sr. Martinette met Mother Teresa many times, as well as several popes. Slowing down is not in the picture for her as she continues to remain active in body and spirit. She has lived the seasons of her life very well. In her acceptance speech she said that she hopes to dazzle everyone she meets.

On August 29, 1936, Joan Martinette Rivers was born in Shreveport to Thomas Rivers, descendant of Richard Rivers, and Elizabeth Ebarb. She remembers growing up in Zwolle, riding a wagon to church and pretending to be a religious sister by wearing a towel on her head. She knew at an early age that she wanted to become a sister and go out to help the poor and disadvantaged.

In 1947, her teacher, Mr. Mulkey, told his class to think about how they could make a dent in society. After class, she hurried up to speak to the Sisters at St. Joseph School for information. She was known as a rascal, but they encouraged her to pursue her dream. Her dad left to study at Mississippi College and the family followed, but Sr. Martinette went to San Antonio, TX, to go to high school and later to pursue a vocation to become a Missionary Sister.

After finishing Little Flower High School in 1952, Sr. Martinette entered the convent and continued her education at Incarnate Word University and St. Mary’s University before traveling to Mexico City as an exchange student to study art and architecture. As a young sister, she learned eight languages and ended up at the university in Monterrey, Mexico, studying advanced Spanish and prose and poetry. She later studied at the Gregorian University in Rome, returning to the U.S. to teach for eight years before heading back to Rome to study Bangla and missionary spirituality to prepare for going to Asia. Before she departed, she was garlanded by Saint Pope John Paul II.

In Asia she taught theology at the National Major Seminary in Bangladesh, where she remained for many years. There she helped young women discern their call to sisterhood.

In 2002, Sr. Martinette returned to America from Asia and decided to go back to school at the age of 66, studying gerontology in St. Louis, MO. She finished her studies in 2005 and began working as a gerontologist and geriatric counselor at Azalea Estates Assisted Living, teaching their seniors how to age gracefully with happy hearts.

She is part of a facility where she is loved and respected. She sings, plays the piano, loves to dance, teaches, tells jokes, paints, cooks, does music and grief therapy, or whatever the needs there are at the moment, keeping the residents on their toes and happy. She is teaching one older man to speak Italian and  has arranged violin lessons for another resident.

Sr. Martinette is very involved with the interfaith groups in Shreveport-Bossier. The world religion group is her favorite. She writes for The Catholic Connection, is a religious adviser for Catholic women, a diocesan spiritual director, retreat director, and hopes to finish her own book on “The Delights of Aging” one day. She is a speaker on aging spirituality. “No matter how old one becomes, one can still learn,” she says.  •

Living Out the Love to Which Jesus Calls Us

by Mary Ellen Foley

How do you define love? No dictionary can capture the essence of love. The same is true of our understanding of words like justice, solidarity and compassion. Before I experienced JustFaith, my understanding of justice and my definition of solidarity were dictionary definitions. So inadequate! Such understandings must be formed in relationships. For me, solidarity and justice came to life through our small group sharing and the relationships we formed during the JustFaith program.

In this program, we reflected on the lives of those who hunger for justice, compassion and understanding. We struggled with our preconceived notions; we challenged conventional wisdom. We visited with people in need, “the least of these.” We began to view their situation through their eyes. Through these experiences we began to develop the compassion that Jesus wants us to have for the poor. And we learned how justice and charity, the two aspects of love in action, go hand in hand.

The JustFaith program explores the long-standing social doctrine of the Catholic Church. From the early church fathers right up until our present time, the church has expressed concern for the poor and the laws and social conditions that lead to poverty. Pope Leo XIII responded to the working conditions of the Industrial Revolution with his famous 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum. Since that time the popes of the 20th and 21st centuries have responded to the conditions of their times with major messages concerning social justice. It is now up to us, the people of God, to read, experience and reflect on the principles of justice proclaimed by the Church for the last 130 years.

St. Joseph Parish, Shreveport, will offer the JustFaith experience this coming fall and spring, on Thursday evenings, beginning September 19, and ending in April. This experience uses the adult learning model to help us fully understand the principles of justice that the Church holds dear. We dialogue as a faith-sharing community to deepen our faith and our solidarity with our neighbors. We will explore today’s issues and engage in dialogue around those issues in the light of Catholic social teaching. The program is open to anyone who would like to participate.

“Thirteen years ago I participated in the JustFaith program. The program was a great learning experience in Catholic Social Teaching. The program challenged me to become more active in my faith. It allowed me to form deeper friendships with the other participants. Since that experience we have all been involved in more actively living out the love to which Jesus calls us.”  – Fr. Mark Watson.

“In 2007, St. Joseph Church offered the JustFaith program to people in our community who were interested in learning more about social justice in a small community setting. When I joined, I had no idea how powerful this experience would be for me. I learned to view the world with new eyes, seeing it from the heart of those who were less fortunate than me, and responding in a new compassionate way to those who are different from me. The JustFaith experience was truly life changing.” – Jane Snyder

For more information, contact Mary Ellen Foley at me.foley@comcast.net, or 318-869-1120.  •

The Catholic Cemetery Tradition & Revitalizing St. Joseph Cemetery

from The Catholic Parish Cemetery & Randy Tiller

Catholic cemeteries trace their roots back to the Jewish practice of providing separate burial grounds for community members. The early Christians continued this practice, both because it was a familiar tradition, and also because it was a statement of faith about the dignity of the human body in death and the reality of Jesus’ resurrection.

At death we focus on Baptism and the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, nourished at the Eucharistic table. Rooted in that recognition, we remember our beloved and give thanks for the life we shared. When we visit the burial sites of our loved ones, we experience the same Eucharistic dynamic. Oftentimes we recognize the need for reconciliation with our beloved dead and prayer

at the cemetery is an effective approach toward healing.

Catholic cemeteries manifest the “now/not yet” status of the Kingdom of God. We are now a people of history, a people redeemed but still in pain and sorrow. This is why we pray as Jesus did, “Thy Kingdom come … ”

We are a people who visit our cemeteries to be reminded of our history, our Catholic beliefs and practices, and our parish community/ family. We, as a community, profess our beliefs and value system … even in the silence of the grave.

In the Catholic parish cemetery, our deceased relatives and friends are laid to rest among members of the same faith community who preceded them into eternal life, and professed the same sure conviction that one day the body will be reunited with the soul in glory to be with the Risen Lord. Then the kingdom of God will be fully realized.

Painful as it might be, family and friends are encouraged to return to the burial places to find there, in the presence of those mortal remains, people joined with the Communion of Saints. The church invites you to unite in prayer for their eternal rest. In the stillness of the cemetery, may you connect with that great prayer of the early Church, “Marana tha!”

“Lord Jesus, come!” •

Article originally published in The Catholic Parish Cemetery,
Vol. 1, Issue 3. Reprinted with permission.

 

Revitalizing St. Joseph Cemetery

by Randy Tiller

Having celebrated Lent and the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I cannot help but reflect on my life and turn my thoughts to my death, salvation and resurrection. Burials and cemeteries are an inherent part of our passing through this life. Thus we are all called upon to not only consider our days in the tomb, but those loved ones, those faithful and those communion of saints who have gone before us.

There is a commitment to revitalizing St. Joseph Cemetery and we need your help. Whether or not you one day will be laid to rest there, whether you have laid to rest family members, or friends; or whether you are just one of those people that find peace and consolation at the cemetery as I do, it is our responsibility to care for the dead, to respect the dead and to pray for the repose of their souls.

Please help us continue the work with your prayers, your talents and your treasure.

Msgr. Earl V. Provenza will be offering Mass at St. Joseph Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 27, 2019, at 10:30 am. If there is inclement weather, we will have Mass in the chapel Mausoleum. We look forward to celebrating with you.  •

From the Pope: Forgive Us Our Trespasses

from the Vatican Press Office

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

After asking God for our daily bread, the Lord’s Prayer enters into the field of our relations with others. Jesus teaches us to ask the Father, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Mt 6: 12). Just as we need bread, we need forgiveness. Every day.

The Christian who prays asks first and foremost that God forgive our trespasses. This is the first truth of every prayer: even if we were perfect people, even if we were also crystalline saints who never deflect from a life of good, we always remain children who owe everything to the Father. The most dangerous attitude of every Christian life is pride. It is the attitude of those who place themselves before God, thinking that they always have their accounts in order with Him. Like that Pharisee in the parable, who thinks he prays in the temple but in reality praises himself before God. On the contrary the publican, a sinner despised by all, stops at the threshold of the temple, as he does not feel he is worthy of entering, and entrusts himself to God’s mercy. And Jesus comments, “This man, rather than the other, went home justified before God” (Lk 18: 14), and is therefore forgiven, saved.

There are sins that are seen and sins that are not seen. There are egregious sins that make a noise, but there are also sly sins that lurk in the heart without us even realizing. The worst of these is pride, which can even affect people who live an intense religious life. It is the sin that divides fraternity, that makes us presume we are better than others, that makes us believe we are similar to God.

And instead before God we are all sinners, and have a reason to beat our breast, like the publican at the temple. Saint John, in his first Letter, writes: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn 1: 8).

We are trespassers, debtors, first and foremost because in this life we have received so much: our existence, a father and a mother, friendship, the wonders of creation. Even if all of us have difficult days, we must always remember that life is a grace, it is the miracle that God extracted from nothing.

Secondly, we are debtors because, even if we succeed in loving, none of us is able to do so with his own strength. None of us shines with his own light. There is a “mysterium lunae,” not only in the identity of the Church, but also in the history of each one of us. If you love, it is because someone, external to you, smiled at you when you were a child, teaching you to respond with a smile. If you love it is because someone next to you reawakened you to love, making you understand that in it there resides the meaning of existence.

Let us try to listen to the story of someone who has made a mistake: a prison inmate, a convict, a drug addict. Without prejudice to responsibility, which is always personal, you ask yourself sometimes who should be blamed for his mistakes, if only his conscience, or the history of hatred and abandonment that some carry with them.

It is the mysterium lunae: we love first and foremost because we have been loved; we forgive because we have been forgiven. And if someone has not been illuminated by the sunlight, he becomes frozen like the ground in winter.

How can we not recognize, in the chain of love that precedes us, also the provident presence of God’s love? None of us loves God as much as He has loved us. It is enough to stand before a crucifix to grasp the disproportion. He has loved us and always loves us first.

So, let us pray. Lord, even the most holy among us never ceases to be in debt to You. O Father, have pity on us all!  •

Navigating the Faith: Titles of Our Lady

May is the month of Mary, a time when we bring the Rosary to the forefront, have May crownings and make special time to pray through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. Mary is represented under a number of different titles. Here are a few you may not be as familiar with.

 Click to download and view this graphic!

Second Collections for May & June

by Father Rothell Price

 DIOCESAN RETIRED PRIESTS’ FUNDCollection Dates: May 4th & 5th 

As we move toward the climax of the Easter Season, I wish you every spiritual blessing from Heaven. I especially wish you a new and transforming encounter with the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. May the grace of Christ’s resurrection from among the dead lead you to a heartfelt and generous support of our Diocesan Retired Priests’ Fund. Make a simple and dignified life possible for our retired diocesan priests who have given all to Jesus Christ and his mission of salvation. These are priestly men you know and love. You can personally vouch for their good name and character. You can truthfully testify to their inspired labor among the people of God. So again, I thank you for opening your heart and your resources to the men who have faithfully served the Risen Lord Jesus and the People of God in north Louisiana with heart and soul.

Our Diocese of Shreveport Retired Priests’ Fund supports good and faithful priests you know and love. One hundred percent of this collection remains in our diocese to cover the care of your loving shepherds in their retirement years: Fathers Kenneth Williams, Pike Thomas, Patrick Scully, Joseph Puthuppally, Phil Michiels, Patrick Madden, James McLelland, John Kennedy and Msgr. Earl Provenza. You know them, love them and can bear witness to their good work. Our active priests, who are such a spiritual help and joy to you, will one day reach the reward of retirement age. I thank you for helping us take care of our current and future retirees. Please give generously to our Diocesan Retired Priests Fund collection.  •

 

CATHOLIC COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN

Announcement Dates: June 1st & 2nd 

Collection Dates: May 19th & 26th  

My father, Robert, was the strong silent type. He wasn’t shy and retiring, nor was he a wall flower. He said little, but did much. He reminds me so much of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father and guardian of our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Joseph and my father, Robert, communicated profound wisdom in his sparsity of words and largess of action. Their fatherly examples express something of essence and power of our second collection for the Catholic Communication Campaign. This second collection gives our nationwide Catholic family the opportunity to receive and spread the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Jesus communicated to us what he heard and learned from his Father. The Apostles communicated what they heard and learned from Jesus. We, the Church today, communicate to each other and the society around us what we have heard and come to believe. Our words and actions continue those of Jesus and the Apostles through the Catholic Communication Campaign.

I hope this “communication” campaign comes to mind each time you profess your faith in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Half the funds collected in the Catholic Communication Campaign remain in our diocese so that we can reach souls through the internet, television, radio, print and social media. The various departments at the Catholic Center share the Good News with you in many forms. Be part of this “campaign” to spread the Gospel message. Please generously support the Catholic Communication Campaign.  •