The Gift of the Holy Priesthood

By Dana Doyle

Priests of our archdiocese process into St. Louis Cathedral at this year's Chrism Mass. Follow @archdioceseofNO on instagram for more!

Priests of our archdiocese process into St. Louis Cathedral at this year’s Chrism Mass. Follow @archdioceseofNO on instagram for more!

Each year, our school takes its seventh graders to the Chrism mass, the Tuesday preceding Easter. As the mass begins, priests from all over the archdiocese process up the aisle. It is so inspiring to see the sheer numbers of men who have generously responded to God’s call. I love to see the faces of priests who have served in parishes where I have attended.

I remember Fr. Joe Bourgeois (deceased) who was pastor at Christ the King where I grew up. Every Christmas, he would get out his Teddy Bear and give a very special homily for the children in the Parish. It was warm and wonderful.

I also remember Fr. Pedro Nunez who was parochial vicar at that same church for a time – how every kid wanted to go to him for confession because he always offered a welcoming smile. His manner put many a nervous penitent at ease.

I remember Fr. John Reynolds (deceased) who was the pastor at St. Patrick’s on Camp Street. During his final years of illness and suffering, his life was a beautiful example of courage, and perseverance. He taught me how much God REALLY does love us.

When Father John Talamo was pastor at Our Lady of the Lake in Mandeville, he taught me that discipline is key to good discipleship. I loved his devotion to the (religious) education of youth. I gained a deeper appreciation of the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation because of his leadership.

I fondly remember Fr. Joseph Cazenavette’s time in Mandeville. He always had an air of peace surrounding him. He was quick with a smile or a kind word, and boldly defended our Catholic Faith. He taught me that faithfulness to prayer is very important. He modeled a great love and deep respect for the Blessed Sacrament.

This is just a small sampling of the many archdiocesan priests who have greatly touched my life. Why do I take this walk down memory lane with you?

Chrism Mass. Follow @archdioceseofNO on instagram for more!

Chrism Mass. Follow @archdioceseofNO on instagram for more!

I think that the job of a priest is a very difficult one in today’s world, and I think that we often take them for granted.  It is through their holy priesthood and through their hands that we receive Jesus in the Eucharist. It is through them that we are able to hear the reassuring words of absolution. Let us lift them up in prayer daily, thanking God for the gift of their vocations. Let us pray that God will strengthen our priests with courage and perseverance to do God’s Will and to faithfully lead His people. Let us remember and honor our priests who have passed away by offering masses and rosaries for them. Finally, let us pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood. May the young hear God’s call in their hearts and courageously answer with an emphatic, “Yes,” just as the many men who have served as priests in the Archdiocese of New Orleans have done in the past. From the bottom of my heart, “Thank you, Fathers!”

What priests have influenced or inspired you? Let us know in the comments!

Chrism Mass. Follow @archdioceseofNO on instagram for more!

Chrism Mass. Follow @archdioceseofNO on instagram for more!

Dana Doyle is a teacher and religion coordinator at Lady of the Lake School in Mandeville, a wife, a mother of three, an author and an avid blogger. Visit her blog, “Catholic Working Mom” at www.danardoyle.wordpress.com. Read more about this blogger here.

 

Warning! Beauty ahead.

By Karen Baker

NOLA.APRILIt was of those unexpectedly delightful moments. I was walking across the parking lot at St. Margaret Mary School in Slidell with a group of sixth-graders on the first day of spring. The sky above us was blue, the birds around us serenaded us with sweet songs, and the gardens ahead of us were splashed with color.

No doubt about it – this was a beautiful day! And that is when young Olivia stopped me in my tracks. “It is so beautiful today that we really should not be in school!” Yes, I said, I agree! “In fact,” she added, “it might be dangerous to drive on a day like today! Everyone would be distracted” by the sheer beauty of it all.

Wow. I think young Olivia is onto something here. Why do we stop everything for ice days? Why do we shut the town down for storms? What if we decided to all take a break on the first truly gorgeous day of the year? What if we all took the day to revel in the beauty of God’s world, to stand in awe of the azaleas putting on their show or the dogwoods bursting into bloom?

Alas, I do not think this idea will fly. But still, it reminds us: Every day is a gift; it’s just that some are wrapped up more prettily than others. Why not take at least a little time to enjoy the gift and give thanks to the Giver?

karenbakerKaren Baker is a freelance writer with a Masters in Pastoral Studies from the Loyola Institute for Ministry. She works in ministry at Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Mandeville and St. Margaret Mary Catholic School in Slidell.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

By Fr. Kyle Sanders

Shelob’s Retreat, by Ted Nasmith

Shelob’s Retreat, by Ted Nasmith

As someone who has a regular settlement on the digital continent, it is necessary to traverse the roads of social media, whether it be blog comboxes, Twitter®, Facebook®, Instagram®, and for certain things Google+®. The chatter and images are incessant, only growing with each follower or friend request or new circle. As many young adults (and younger) have found out, these social networks can catch you in a web similar to that of Shelob, the giant spider in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are so many lines of information, you can find yourself tangled with no way out except to go deeper. So for Lent, I decided to fast from social media, a sort of cleanse, to the let the light of Eärendil, i.e. the light of Christ, shine in on the network I was interacting in.

We just started the 5th Week of Lent and I have kept true to my fast with one or two minute-long exceptions (priest aren’t perfect – don’t padre hate!) As you might notice from the title of this post, it has not been easy. However, that difficulty doesn’t lie in the obvious.

Connections!

Connections!

I don’t miss an hour scrolling through photos on Instagram or news feeds or Twitter feeds seeing where everyone else is. I don’t miss likes or retweets or favorites or comments or innumerable links to inane articles and ridiculously unscientific test that tell me what character I am in Game of Thrones. What I miss are the people beyond the avatars with whom I connected. I miss my Catholic friends from around the country from LA to DC. I miss my fountain pen geek friends on Instagram. I miss talking to people who aren’t just another avatar or a persona displayed on the internet, but real people with whom I’ve created real, not virtual relationships.

So many of the generation before ours mourn that these social networks depersonalize, as a matter of course, turn persons into pictures and text. This worry isn’t totally unfounded though because social media can be like the facehuggers from the movie Aliens, and become a means to, although being in a network, never actually relate to anyone. However, social media can also be a means to establish and maintain real relationships and build people up.

The difference between the two is how we use what we are given. Being without has allowed me the opportunity to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, so that I can toss aside the bad and the ugly in favor of the good, real relationships. Absence has provided clarity and turned distraction into direction. Oh the joys of fasting!

 

photo

Fr. Kyle grew up in Kenner, graduated from Archbishop Rummel High School, and entered the seminary after graduation. He has been active in blogging since 2007 over at reverencedreading.com where he co-writes about seeing God in the mundane. He’s appeared as a guest on several other blogs and podcasts and is a part-time participant in the podcasts Steampunk Chesterton and SportsFathers. He was ordained a priest in 2012. He is the parochial vicar at St. RIta of Cascia in Harahan and is the chaplain at Cabrini High School. He loves to read, play music, write fiction, and collect fountain pens. You can contact him at ksanders@arch-no.org. Check out Fr. Kyle’s other projects at:

http://reverencedreading.com
http://www.steampunkchesterton.com/
http://thesportsfathers.com/

Confession is good for the soul

By Sr. Judith Gomila, MSC

stanselmRecently, we ended a three day parish Lenten mission at St. Anselm in Madisonville, with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Msgr. Frank Giroir had arranged for seven or eight priests to be present. The evening was filled with lines of penitent people in front, on the sides and down the back of the Church. I could almost see the multiple blessings wash across people’s faces as they let go of the burdens on their souls and returned to their seats to pray their penances.

That being said, the Penance Service, is not what I was referring to in the title of this blog. I feel I need to confess to you what I learned while supposedly leading the Lenten Mission at St. Anselm (commemorating its 50 anniversary this year!). My interaction with the pastoral team, the staff and the People of God was both formative and informative to me.

Being present for the weekend liturgies, to plug the up-coming mission, was a great experience of what it means to be a worshipping , Church community. From the devoted leaders of the rosary, prayed a half hour before most Masses, to the interaction of the congregations welcoming one another (families of all ages and sizes), youth checking up on “what’s cool with you?,” greetings by the celebrants, Fr. Frank or Fr. Gary, the deacons and altar servers, punctuated by beautiful words and music that made “to sing well is to pray twice” (St. Augustine) quite real. Lectors and extraordinary communion ministers accomplished their sacred roles with both skill and reverence. They were clearly at the service of their family of faith. In my distraction, I wondered if the Elect from the RCIA sessions were as aware as I was of the dynamics during the liturgies of Saturday and Sunday. I chuckled to hear a proud pastor announce that St. Anselm’s sold more than 800 dinners at the Friday Fish Fry…adding almost under his breath, that a certain parish down the road only sold 700… that brought an outburst of laughter and applause.Rite_of_Election

I had a feeling of belonging! I looked forward to being in their midst at the 8:00 a.m. morning Mass followed by a session on our Mission Theme: Lineage of Grace based on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays (Cycle A in 2014) and recommended at liturgies when celebrating the Scrutinies of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Staff had aroma of coffee and delish pastries ready as we reflected day by day on The Woman at the Well; The Man Born Blind; and the Raising of Lazarus.

The morning session, held in St. Joseph Hall, was especially appreciated by the elderly, who preferred not to be out at night, those who had small children, and a few who came both a.m. and p.m. The morning session ran for about 30-35 minutes. At 7:00 p.m. those same Scripture personalities were vital to our common prayer and reflection in the Church, plus we had musicians and cantors to round out the evening. It lasted about an hour. “Can you not watch one hour with me?” Matt. 26: 40

Perhaps as you continue your Lenten Journey, you will find it helpful if I offer a thimble-full of questions/insights that we “unpacked’ together in morning or evening sessions:

  •  This Lent, dare I find the words to admit that Jesus is the one I have thirsted for all my life?
  • Am I willing to spend time with my own “blindness” and where/why I miss the presence of Jesus in others or myself?
  • What entombs me right now? Can I hear the liberating word of Christ, “Come forth”?

man born blindLent is more than giving up beer or dessert , although that sacrifice helps us to identify with the suffering Jesus – after 40 days we can grab our favorite brew or slice of cheesecake. Relying on God’s mercy, Lent is about a call to conversion, a change of heart. The nameless Woman at the Well or the Blind Man and Lazarus can motivate or inspire us. In my case, however, I confess that the Parish Family at St. Anselm called me to be “a joyous herald of the message of mercy and hope.” (Pope Francis) Thank you one and all!

HS_JudyGomilaSr. Judith Gomila, MSC is a Marianite Sister of Holy Cross. She holds a Masters in Theology and Religious Studies from St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada. Sr. Judy has served the Church in education/evangelization/mission outreach for 50 years. Currently she coordinates the Public Relations and Communication ministry for the Marianite Congregation and is co-director of the Marianite Associates, an organization for lay women and men who identify with Holy Cross spirituality. For more about this blogger, click here.

Show Up and Show Off

nola festivalIt’s that time of year where my phone blows up with texts and voicemails saying:

“Hey Ansel, we’re coming in town for —fest! I hope we can connect!” 

“Hey bro, we’ll be in New Orleans for vacation, can you recommend some spots to visit, or things to do? Also, we hope to see you while we are in your city!”

One thing I know for sure is that we New Orleanians love our city and love to show it off. My love for sharing our cultural heritage came when I was still rebuilding my home parish, St. Peter Claver, and helping to gut the homes of senior parishioners and St. Philip the Apostle church after Hurricane Katrina. There were many volunteer groups from around the country that we helped to organize to serve in this capacity. They would always want to take some time out and “tour” the city. It was great to “show up and show off” the uniqueness and blessing of New Orleans.

Many of these visitors are surprised at how intertwined our Catholic Faith is to our Cultural Heritage, even to those residents that aren’t Catholic. Call it our own form of the “New Evangelization,” but when people visit here, they leave changed, enriched and refreshed with life. Our way of life leads others to think we are “strange” until they come down and experience it for themselves. In fact, many don’t want to leave such a special place. It is no surprise that event after event (Superbowls, conferences, concerts, meetings, etc.) is held here throughout the year. The one thing that many visitors say about our city is how nice and hospitable we are and how they can’t wait to come back.

Yes, we are one of the most unique places in the world. Whether it is our culinary accomplishments, musical contributions, or the intertwining of the cultural and the spiritual,  there is an “enchantment” that takes place when people come here. So take some time out with yourself and your loved ones and be a tourist in your own city this Spring and fall in love again in the city that loves to “Show up and Show off!”

Ansel Augustine is the Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries. He has also served as the Associate Director/Coordinator of Black Youth & Young Adult Ministry for the CYO Office of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.  He is also on the Faculty of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana. Read more about this blogger here.

Know Meat, Know Problem

By Cory J. Howat

nomeatIt didn’t take long. A day or two after Mardi Gras and the Catholic “no-meat” devouring of delicious Louisiana seafood began. You know what I am talking about. Every dining establishment in the area from drive-thru to the grocery store were immediately concerned with my fasting and abstinence habits. It only took me driving to work on Ash Wednesday when I came across this gem (the sign above). There in the main window of a local pizza joint, my Catholic-conscious dough throwing pals reminded me that this Lent, I would be okay – “No Meat? No Problem!” They would  be there with me in my sacrifice. Whew! I immediately felt better. I needed the reassurance that giving-up-meat for the next forty days would be not a problem… Then I paused.

I began to ponder the whole fasting and abstaining part of Lent. As the Catholic Church teaches, fasting is one of the three traditional pillars of Lenten observance along with prayer and almsgiving. THREE important aspects, but one of those three seems to get more attention than the others in the days between Mardi Gras and Easter brunch. Our society seems to be obsessed with Catholics giving up meat. Even Jimmy Fallon jokes about it at least 2 to 3 times a week on late night TV. I see why this practice seems novel and intriguing, especially in New Orleans, a city known for its seafood. However, somewhere along the way, the real message gets lost somewhere. We end up consuming delicacy after decadent, seafood delicacy on Fridays during Lent. It makes us feel like we are doing the right thing as a sacrifice because we avoid meat, but is there really a sacrifice?

Now, before I get run out of my hometown, know that I just want to pose a question or two to help us reflect and make some intentional decisions. I must confess that I hold our crawfish boils, thin-fried catfish and seafood gumbo in the highest regard. However, I know we have a higher moral obligation to not just be cultural Catholics.

Have you taken time to look at prayer and almsgiving as a part of your Lenten observance? If you want to learn more about those two and fasting, go here for a great place to start.

Here’s some Lenten food for thought to ask yourself:

  • What can I be doing to increase my communication with God this Lent?
  • What part of my day can I find silence so that I can hear God talking to me?
  • How can I allow God to work through me?
  • Why am I fasting? Why do I abstain from meat on Fridays?
  • Know what your “meat” is – what are you really abstaining from this Lent and why?
  • Is it a sacrifice to eat boiled shrimp or just a different choice on the menu?
  • Take the time to discover what someone else’s needs are in the spirit of charity. How can you help them?

The answers to all these questions vary, but most importantly, they help start making Lent your own and not some period of time ‘forced’ on you. This time of year can be a wonderful and enriching time to reconnect, cleanse and find rebirth through the Paschal Mystery.

There is more joy than just the feast at the crawfish table. We need to make sure that the spirit of sacrifice is not hijacked into some opulent fish fest during Lent. Yes, it can be tough (especially in our city), but let’s walk together as Catholics and experience a hunger for God by practicing self-control and sacrifice for the good of another. We have much to celebrate in having the gift of the Church guide us through life. Embrace it this Lent. I’ll be challenged to embrace it when I pass the pizza place. I know that I have the support of my faith community this Lent and I will be glad that I just get my pizza there and not my conscience.

 

Cory J. Howat is the Director of Stewardship for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.  His love for traveling, culture and adventure provide a unique perspective on life and the universal Church. For more about this blogger, click here.

 

Gifts from the Heart

Spring is finally in the air in NOLA! We begin to fill our calendars with all the fun events and festivals that Spring brings in our city. This often includes wedding dates for friends and family for many in NOLA. As we welcome these upcoming celebrations of new beginnings, take a look at how one NOLA couple put the gift of caring for the vulnerable and needy at the top of their wedding registry.

When Melissa and Jean-Marc Pellerin were planning their wedding, they knew they wanted their big day to be more than just a big party. They wanted their day to be a celebration of the love they found in one another. So, when it came to putting together a wedding registry, instead of a blender or a toaster or something that comes with a gift receipt, Melissa and Jean-Marc asked their guests to give a gift from the heart. In lieu of traditional wedding gifts, they asked their friends and family to make a donation to Padua Community Services in honor of their wedding.

pellerins

Melissa and Jean-Marc Pellerin on their big day at St. Mary’s Assumption Church

Melissa who works with the Louisiana Restaurant Association was introduced to Padua’s ministry to the disabled and the elderly through the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation’s (LHF) annual “Santa Drop-off” at Padua House. “I had seen pictures and I had heard about Padua, but we wanted to learn more.” Melissa said. She and her now-husband Jean-Marc, who works with his family’s manufacturing business Pellerin-Milnor, decided to take a tour of Padua House with LHF’s CEO David Blitch and his wife Margaret. After their visit, they knew they wanted to do something to help. “It was Jean-Marc’s idea,” Melissa said. “We felt like it was important to bring attention to Padua and our wedding was a really good opportunity to do that. We really wanted to do this.”

Padua House resident Jeremiah gives a big hug to his Padua caregiver!

Padua House resident Jeremiah gives a big hug to his Padua caregiver!

Padua Community Services provides comprehensive and specialized care for children and adults through Padua House, Padua Community Homes and Padua Home and Community Services. Care includes residential sites as well as in-home care and adult day health care for clients with a range of developmental and physical disabilities who often have nowhere else to go. Padua provides individualized care plans for each client that includes stimulation and activities that ensure quality of life. “Padua really allows these children and adults to live with dignity and purpose,” Melissa said after visiting Padua House.

Although some guests were a bit surprised by their registry request, Melissa and Jean-Marc’s friends and family ultimately responded with a huge outpouring of love and support for this cause. Through their guest’s generosity, Melissa and Jean-Marc raised over $9,890 for Padua through their wedding registry!. “I did not dream that we would raise so much, “Melissa said. “In the end, everyone was supportive and it showed.”

Melissa and Jean Marc Pellerin were married on October 26, 2013 at St. Mary’s Assumption Church in New Orleans followed by a reception at the Audubon Tea Room, and according to Melissa, . “It was a beautiful day!”” Melissa said.

This article recently featured in the latest issue of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans “Notes from the Heart” newsletter. To learn more about the work of Catholic Charities, click here.