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 »

Domestic Church: The Take-Aways

by Katie Sciba

How do you begin a conclusion? When I started writing for The Catholic Connection over eight years ago, I had a two-year-old marriage and a one-year old son. My lofty theories on how the domestic church – the family – should function had yet to be tested in the School of Experience, but I was eager. Sitting here in Nebraska, hundreds of miles away from where I penned my first column, my babies aged 9 down to 2 sleep while their youngest sibling waits for us in Heaven. Andrew, my husband of nearly 11 years, and I have had our share of storms both together and even against one another. We’ve been blessed by friendships with other married couples living their lives for Christ. I’ve been humbled and honored to win six Catholic Press Awards in as many years, and my writing became a springboard for my work as a national speaker. I’m so incredibly grateful, but, my friends, the Lord is calling me away from The Catholic Connection, so I’m writing this last time to bid farewell and offer my prayers for your families.

To wrap up, here are the take-aways – the hopes I have for our families and some lessons I’ve learned in my time as a wife, mother and writer. I pray they will bring our hearts closer to Jesus, so we can see with more clarity that He is actually with us and calling us to eternal life.

1. Go to Mass – The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith; there is no greater way to pray than to participate in the Mass, to receive the God of the universe in the form of a simple host, and to reflect Jesus’ love to others.

2. Be real with Jesus - Once I told Bishop Duca that, in the wake of my father’s passing, I was too angry to pray. “Why don’t you tell God?” Bishop asked me, “He can take it. He’s big enough.” In showing Jesus just how angry I was, I consequently opened my heart and let him in. Following Bishop Duca’s advice saved my faith.

3.  Keeping in touch with God is ESSENTIAL – We are made in the image of God, which means that we’re called to imitate Him. Have you ever tried to imitate someone you hardly know? It doesn’t work out too well. When we are in touch with the Lord through prayer – Mass, Confession, reading scripture, etc, the more spot-on our imitation will be.

4.  Mom and Dad are a kid’s first teachers - Our kids do what we do, say what we say (sometimes to our horror and humiliation), and they will consider Jesus and their Catholic faith as important as we do. Whether we like it or not, kids are the ultimate copycats. So parents, take hold of your faith, pray with each other and keep Catholic families among your friends.

5.  Pornography destroys family - I wrote a column series on pornography’s effect in 2017. Pornography consumption easily leads to addiction in a short period of time, causing anxiety, depression, isolation and shame for the consumer. Spouses of pornography users often develop a deep sense of rejection, as well as Betrayal Trauma or PTSD. The average age of exposure to pornography is 8-years-old, and because children don’t have the cognitive ability to process it, pornography effects unusual behaviors in children, including isolation and depression. For help, go to addorecovery.com and bloomforcatholicwomen.com.

6.  Minimalism is a way to imitate Christ - The idea of minimalism involves cutting distractions in favor of what deserves our full attention. It’s clearing physical clutter to reveal hidden beauty; it’s freeing a calendar of activities not conducive to the life God desires for us, the life we hope to have. It’s finally seeing possessions as just things and recognizing people as more deserving of our time and attention. Giving our best to Jesus and others becomes easier and more joyful.

7.  There’s more than one way to be a faithful Catholic - I know good, holy parents who pray the Rosary with their kids every night and I know good, holy parents who haul their rambunctious kids to Mass only to leave early because of a temper tantrum. The Lord asks for our love and our best; offer Him that and give others the benefit of the doubt.

8.  We have an audience of One – The point of all of the above? To please God; to become fully aware that He is with us and encouraging us to Heaven.

Thank you Jessica Rinaudo, my dear friend and editor, for your confidence in me; and thank you to you, dear readers, for your support and encouragement over my time here at the Domestic Church column. Please pray that I do what the Holy Spirit wills, and know that your families are in my prayers. God bless you. •

Faithful Food: Power in a Word

by Kim Long

Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies. Proverbs 20:15

There is an old story in which a penitent seeks forgiveness for gossip (read here words that hurt or offend whether intentional or not). The priest forgoes a traditional penance of prayer instead charging the penitent with these instructions: cut open a feather pillow and shake it out and gather all the feathers to refill it. This lesson can be applied anytime speech goes awry.

Recently, this happened to me with my daughter-in-law. No malice aforethought, no anger, just one person trying to be helpful and the help – which was offered in kindness – was not received as intended. The path from brain to mouth to ear is not always straightforward, often the route is fraught with nuances, tone and points of reference to which the involved parties are not always privy. This can run the best of intentions afoul. God speaks creation into being and with His help, repair can occur.

Once my offer of help was uttered it took a moment to see that it wasn’t helpful at all. I saw my daughter-in-law struggle, become upset and then suddenly she was very busy, too busy, and brightly cheerful. Always a bad sign. I was ready to throw my bags in the car and leave, my rode home paved with cowardice, escape my sole aim, good intentions all but forgotten.

Thankfully, I abandoned my first instinct. Speaking a second time I allowed God’s loving kindness to guide me, reminding me of the love I feel for her, gratitude for the happiness she brings my son, and her goodness to my grandchildren. Those feelings come from a deep reservoir of Divine Love, available and waiting for us when we are ready. Understanding between the two of us was spoken into being that late Friday night with much help from God.

You would think as a writer awareness of the power of words would be second nature for me, but not always.

Beginning with a blank page, a sentence, or a scrap of memory, we as writers weave something around these fragments in an effort to make them whole and complete and, by extension, ourselves. That text holds us accountable. With spoken words carelessness is almost second nature, and calling those words back to us is impossible. Words have the power to build up and tear down sometimes in the space of a few moments; take care with them.

Like most of us, whether intentional or not, I have feathers I am chasing, but when kind or cheerful words lead me to respond rather than react, I believe I am refilling my pillow that way, too. With God’s help, I pray that I think before I speak and that when I must give chase He will guide my steps.

With 66 references in both testaments enjoining the wise use of speech, and 56 references about honey and its benefits, this offering combines the two. Here is a little prayer before you begin: “Lord guide my hands as I create this dish both for your glory and the nourishment of those who will eat it. May we always be mindful of what is offered and how we receive it. AMEN.”

Psalm 119:103 “How sweet are your words, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”

Milk and Honey Kugel

Ingredients:

• 16 oz package of egg noodles

• ½ cup butter

• ½ cup honey

• 2 teaspoons salt

• 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar

•  ½ cup cream

• 5 large eggs

• ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Boil and drain noodles and return to pot.

3) Add butter, honey, salt and vanilla sugar.

4) Mix well and add eggs and cream.

5) Pour into a buttered casserole dish and bake for about an hour, or until kugel is golden brown and firm to touch. Serves 8-10.

This unusual dessert should make for some good conversation since your words are already sweetened! Enjoy!

 (from Eating the Bible by Rena Rossner, published by Skyhorse Publishing copyright 2013)


Bidding Farewell to Longtime Connection Columnist

by Jessica Rinaudo

While every issue of The Catholic Connection is dear to me, this one, in particular, will always hold a special place in my heart. After more than eight years of column and feature writing, longtime columnist Katie Sciba has penned her last Domestic Church column in this May issue.

I’ll never forget when Katie first tentatively contacted me about writing for The Catholic Connection. Unbeknownst to her, she reached out to me at just the right time. I was in the middle of completely overhauling the format of The Catholic Connection, working to give it more of a “feature magazine” feel. Part of this reimagining meant that I would need regular columnists. Through conversations with my editorial board and while chatting with friends in the local Catholic community, I learned that there was an overwhelming desire for information on how to better bring the Catholic faith into the home, especially to children. And, fortunately, as a newly minted wife and mother, Katie was up to the challenge. Thus, the Domestic Church column was born.

Working in print media, readers often reach out to tell me what we did wrong, or how we infuriated them. I’ve discovered that we only really hear when we’re doing a good job through secondary sources, or, on occasion, people will joyfully call or email if a piece really knocks it out of the park. To this day, however, I still regularly hear from people who enjoy Katie’s column on family life. I know a mom who pulls out her Domestic Church column each month, laminates it, and places it on her fridge as a spiritual reminder!

I’ve always known Katie’s writing was special – partly because as a young mother myself I found her writing so encouraging – but also, because her column brought home a Catholic Press Award to our magazine for the first time in many, many years. And that was only the beginning. Katie’s column, feature writing as well as her in depth series on the harm of pornography, continued to rake in the awards in the years that followed.

I watched her grow from a tentative budding writer to a confident author, willing and able to share her own vulnerabilities to help others with the pains and struggles in their own lives.

I am so grateful Katie reached out to me that day more than eight years ago. Not only did she play an essential role in raising the quality of The Catholic Connection, but she became a dear friend and an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your time and talent with the people of the Diocese of Shreveport, Katie. May God bless your future endeavors.

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

by Jessica Rinaudo

The words “Ruston” and “Louisiana Tech” go hand in hand. And with only one Catholic Church in the city, St. Thomas Aquinas parishioners have taken up the task of bridging a relationship between the church and university.

In the early 90s, Father Paul Gallagher, OFM, began a “dollar lunch” program to feed any student who dropped by their student center every Wednesday. What began as a small group of 10 to 15 students has evolved into a weekly program that regularly feeds more than 100 students and faculty members.

Spearheaded by a group of volunteer parishioners including Coordinator, Pat Crawford, long time member Sandi Adams, and Brother Mike Ward, OFM, each week the parish offers a safe space, fellowship and a warm meal to students.

As the students walk through the doors of the St. Thomas Aquinas student center, their faces light up as the smell of homecooked shepherd’s pie wafts through the room. The meal and the volunteers are blessed, then students quickly seek out friends, grab a meal and a seat and enjoy fellowship with one another. Faculty members also stop by, visiting with one another and students. Other regular fixtures at the weekly meal are Louisiana Tech Campus Minister Brother Mike Ward, OFM, and St. Thomas Aquinas pastor, Fr. Tony Posadas, OFM.

“My favorite part of this program is that the students have a place to come where they can be with each other. And we provide that and provide a meal for them,” said coordinator Pat Crawford. “But we get as much out of it as they do, all of us. Most everybody has been involved with this for many years: our groups of people who cook. It’s kind of a scary thing to cook for this many people and stay within a budget. We are serving more now than ever. This year, we’ve offered 2,111 meals since September.”

Students echo Crawford’s sentiments, “We come every week that they have “Wednesday lunch.” I like the people and the community. It’s a way that the parish connects with the students, where the parishioners cook the meal and serve it and the students get to come in and get to enjoy a good home cooked meal away from home. I like interacting with the parishioners as well,” said student and Association of Catholic Tech Students member André Aguillard.

“I love being able to sit down at any table and have a great conversation and then enjoy the food and know you’re with like minded people with similar values,” added student Abby Morgan.
To make all of this happen every week takes a village both on and offsite. Pat Crawford manages the complete meal schedule for the year, calendaring meal assignments for different St. Thomas Aquinas ministry groups. Some people volunteer to bring desserts each week; some cook, but can’t serve; others show up on site to serve the students; still others are needed to take donations and keep track of how many students come through.

The result of all of this is a full meal for students including a protein, vegetable, side item, dessert and a drink – all for a minimal donation of $1. It takes a combination of budgeting, discounts and donations to make it work, but the results are undeniable.

“It’s a good witness. A good number of people who come to “Wednesday lunch” are not Catholic. So it kind of de-mystifies some of the thoughts other people have about Catholics,” said Fr. Tony Posadas, OFM, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church.

“It’s a safe place to eat. It helps students feel at home, especially when they are feeling lonely. We’ve been here since the beginning, and this is the best I’ve seen it,” said cooking volunteer, Sandi Adams. She added, “The students are so appreciative. They’ll come by, some of them, and thank us.”  Adams also said that students regularly volunteer to help with setup and clean up.
The “Wednesday lunch” program has quickly become St. Thomas’ largest outreach ministry, and one that parishioners and students alike take great pride in. No one is ever denied a meal for not having money, and often people will come through and pay for others.

“My hope is always that the students see other people doing something for them, so that when they graduate, marry, whatever they do out in the world in their jobs and communities, they’re more likely to volunteer their time,” said Crawford.

Theirs is truly a mission of presence and kindness, following the command of Jesus to love thy neighbor.

Updating St. Joseph Cemetery

by Randy Tiller

In 2023 we will be commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Shreveport Yellow Fever epidemic of 1873. This is not only significant for our diocese, but of importance to St. Joseph Cemetery. Never during the epidemic was Shreveport left without a priest to administer the sacraments and the last rites to approximately 25% of the population that was wiped out by the fever. Before a priest fell ill and succumbed to the fever, another priest was there to care for the people.

Since November, The Catholic Connection has been printing articles and a comic strip story about these five priests who ministered to those who succumbed to Yellow Fever in Shreveport (see page 17 in this issue). Additionally, our own Diocesan Administrator, Fr. Peter Mangum, recently traveled to France to conduct more research on these five men and has continued to share their stories.

You may not know though, that some of these priests were originally buried in the basement of Holy Trinity Church in downtown Shreveport. Fr. Isidore Quemerais, Fr. Jean Pierre and Fr. Francois LeVezouet were originally buried at Holy Trinity Church and moved in 1884 to St. Joseph Cemetery. Fr. Jean Marie Biler was originally buried in the Daughters of the Cross cemetery on Fairfield Ave., and exhumed and moved to Forest Park in the 1960s. Fr. Louis Gergaud was buried at St. Matthew’s Cemetery in Monroe.

With the approaching 150th anniversary, it affords us a fantastic opportunity to reconsider and restate the corporal work of mercy to bury and care for the dead. St. Joseph Cemetery is the only Catholic cemetery in the Shreveport/Bossier area. In conjunction with this anniversary, we will also complete necessary updating, uplifting, renovating, landscaping and beautification.
Some of our updates will include new registers for the tops of the graves of the three priests who died in the Yellow Fever epidemic, as well as pouring a concrete form around the crypts to seal them and keep water from seeping in. The calvary monument will also be restored. This includes cleaning and correcting the plaque, as well as reworking the steps and the landings. We will also be installing a new flag pole in front of the mausoleums, continuing the task of cleaning and straightening various monuments, replacing the fence at the back of the cemetery, widening streets, investigating stained glass windows in the chapel mausoleum, landscaping and adding statuary. Adding restrooms to the grounds is also a possibility.

All of these updates and changes will prepare the cemetery for visitors who will travel there from across the globe in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Shreveport Yellow Fever epidemic. In order to do this important work, we will happily accept donations to the Cemetery Fund. If your family has monuments and tombstones that need renovation or crypts that need to be painted and cleaned, we have professionals available to handle those repairs and renovations for the family. We can facilitate having the work done if families notify us and are willing to pay for the renovations. If you know of families with historical ties to the cemetery, please share this with them. There are still plots available for purchase.

Keep looking for more updates as we continue refurbishing the cemetery. We will also be establishing a Cemetery Board to look into long range plans to build an additional mausoleum and columbarium.

Our Immediate Projects:

New granite tops on the crypts of the three priests who gave their lives in the Yellow Fever epidemic
$5,000 each installed

Wrapping the crypt walls with wire mesh and a concrete formto stop water seepage
$7,500

Repairing the steps and landings of the Calvary monument
$ 5,000

Re-fencing the back of the cemetery with 6’ black vinyl fencing
$12,000

Landscaping
$15,000

Future projects include stained glass in the chapel mausoleum, extending the irrigation system and establishing a priests’ section at the cemetery to encourage our diocesan priests to be interred in our historic Catholic cemetery.

Other projects will include building an additional mausoleum with 200+ crypts and adding several small columbarium around the cemetery. We are also looking into securing additional contiguous property. Donations can be made to Diocese of Shreveport St. Joseph Cemetery Fund and are tax deductible.

Prior to Lent, St. Ann Church in Ebarb had a Mardi Gras Celebration. Pictured are Fr. Richard Norsworthy, King and Queen Benjie and Carol Rivers, and parish children.

Ashes at St. Francis Medical Center

Fr. James Dominic distributed ashes to team members in various departments around St. Francis Medical Center as part of Ash Wednesday.

Serving Others in Rayville

Society of St. Vincent de Paul members in Rayville, along with Fr. Philip Pazhayakari, CMI, prepared bags to accompany the jambalaya meal for their “Saturday Meals” February delivery.

Valentine’s Day Dance at St. Elizabeth’s

The church hall was filled to celebrate St. Valentine. Participants danced to a variety of music and enjoyed dance lessons as well as plenty of food and fun!

Students Make King Cakes to Raise Funds

The St. Paschal Sr. high Youth group held their annual Mardi Gras King Cake fundraiser. All of the ingredients are homemade by the youth, including cream cheese filling, pecan praline filling and dough. They sold 265 King Cakes this year to fund their upcoming conferences.