Congratulations to NOLA Catholic Blogger Cory Howat and his wife Molly on their newest addition to their family, John-Damian Howat!
Our prayers and good wishes are going your way!
-The NOLA Catholic Experience Blog Team
By Sarah Comiskey McDonald, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New Orleans
Just this week it hit me – the hot, humid air that only means one thing: it’s summer in New Orleans and it’s going to be hot for a long time. We can now all expect to break a sweat on even the shortest walk from our parking places to our offices daily. True, we have been blessed by God in recent weeks with some unseasonably cool weather, but now here we are at the end of May getting ready for the lazy days of summer.
Amidst spending more time in the pool with the BBQ pit and our family vacations, are we spending some of our downtime with the Lord? Are we making sure the laziness and heat of our NOLA summer is not stopping us from daily prayer, receiving the sacraments and even getting to Mass on Sunday?
Vacations are meant to rejuvenate us, leave us well-rested and ready to return with full vigor to our daily routine and tasks. So if we’re taking the time to do this for our household and career tasks, it is even more important to do that in our faith-lives. Vacations are meant to bring families together and form bonds between friends. So if we’re taking the time to do this with those most important to us on this earth, it is even more important to strengthen our relationship with Our Lord.
As we’ve said so often in this blog, this is a Year of Family and Faith in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. We are being called to a deeper, richer relationship with Our Lord and to build up our families through God’s grace. Let’s not let the laziness of our New Orleans summer get in the way of that call.
There are a few ways we can work towards this during the summer months as well.
Of course, take the time to have fun this summer, but don’t forget to bring along the Lord!
Sarah Comiskey McDonald, a native of the New Orleans area, has served as Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New Orleans since 2008. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from the University of Louisiana Lafayette and is a graduate of Archbishop Chapelle High School. She has served on numerous area boards and committees including most recently the Young Leadership Council, the Public Relations Association of Louisiana – New Orleans Chapter and the River Region Ballet. She is wife to David and mother to Nathan (2) and Eloise (10 weeks).
By Anna Toujas, NOLA Catholic Experience Admin
For NOLA Catholics, our city has had many special ties to Mother Mary for her constant protection in turbulent times throughout history. In fact, the patron(ness) of our entire state is Our Lady of Prompt Succor. You may have heard a saying to the effect of “Behind every great person, is a great mom.” This also can be said of our city! From individual prayer intercessions to the saving of the entire city in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, Catholics in the Archdiocese of New Orleans hold Mother Mary close to their hearts.
In the month of May, the Archdiocese of New Orleans is highlighting the many devotions our city has to Our Blessed Mother through Instagram! Follow @archdioceseofno on Instagram and #MotherMaryNOLA for some neat images of the many titles and faces of Mother Mary that can be found in our city. What’s your favorite Marian devotion and where can we find it in our archdiocese ? We’d love to know! Leave it in the comments or post your own Instagrams pics with #MotherMaryNOLA to join in our dedication this month. Here is our series so far. If your’e a history buff, check out the links in the captions for some interesting history on Mother Mary in our city…
Fun fact: Pope Francis holds a special devotion to Mother Mary too!
The “Salus Populi Romani” is the mother that looks after our growth, she helps us face and overcome problems, she gives us freedom,’the Pope said. So Francis is a pope who is deeply devoted to the Virgin Mary and is not afraid to show his attachment to forms of devotion which post-Conciliar theology saw as dated. One image of the Virgin Mary which Bergoglio helped to spread devotion for in Argentina, was that of “Our Lady, Untier of Knots”. This tradition originates from a Bavarian devotional image (Maria Knotenlöserin) created by German painter, Johann Melchior Schmidtner, in 1700. The icon is now preserved as an altar piece in a chapel inside the Romanesque church of St. Peter am Perlach, in the Bavarian city of Augsburg.
In an article for Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, Stefania Falasca wrote that Bergoglio discovered the icon during one of his study trips to Ingolstadt and started spreading the word about it when he returned to Argentina. As auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, he dedicated a shrine to the icon and as archbishop he inaugurated a number chapels named after the Virgin Mary depicted in the icon. He even printed the image on his personal “business card” which he always included in correspondence. The image is of Mary looking determined to untie a number of big and small knots in a ribbon that is being handed to her by some angels. “All of us have knots in our hearts, failings and all of us go through difficult times. Our good Lord, who bestows grace on all His children, wants us to have faith in Her; he wants us to entrust the knots of our woes to her, the knots of our miseries that prevent us from reaching God, so that She can untie them and bring us closer to His son Jesus. This is the meaning of the icon.”
On the back of the image of the Virgin Mary which Bergoglio used to send out with his correspondence, there is a prayer that reads (in rough translation): “May evil never ensnare you in its chaotic web… May you act as an example of how to unravel the knots in our lives and help us through difficult times with simplicity and patience, through the intercession of Your Son.” Read full article from Vatican Insider.
Anna Toujas is admin for the NOLA Catholic Experience. She is also the Communications Coordinator for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans.
By Daniella Zsupan-Jerome Ph.D., Guest Blogger
In response to the Second Vatican Council, the Church has for decades observed “World Communications Day,” with a new theme each year to reflect about. On Sunday, May 12th, it is the 47th such occasion to pause, ponder and pray about how communication plays a part of our identity and mission as Church, this time with the theme: “Social Networks: Portals of Truth and faith; New Spaces for Evangelization.”
This brief annual message is a blessed opportunity for reflection. Social networking and digital communication are part and parcel of our culture. The various screens we sit in front of, carry around, gaze at, poke, or talk into are shaping our culture in profound way. We are connected to a constant network of communication.
Can this connection lead to community, or even toward a sense of communion? Does the experience of the social network have the potential to reveal the profound bond that undergirds all of creation, a bond that animates authentic human relationships, a bond that forms communities and one that offers a dim reflection of the very essence of God as Father, Son and Spirit in eternal, loving relationship? When it comes to being part of the social networks of our digital age, the challenge for us as Church is to witness the depth of communion these connections can lead to.
New Orleans food critic Tom Fitzmorris has a theory about our city. In his 2010 book Hungry Town, he proposes: “ I believe there are only 500 people living in New Orleans …each performs not just one function in your life, but many. You constantly run into the same people, playing different roles.” (62) His observation fills me with hopeful joy about teaching theology in New Orleans.
The graduate students whom I encounter at the Loyola Institute for Ministry all have a holy desire to live their faith in the service of the Church and the world – what an amazing calling! Their studies is a time for growth, preparation and discernment, a time for listening to the voice of the tradition, the voice of the Spirit, the voice of their own experiences. When thinking about ministry and service, grappling with the reality of our digital culture is a regular part of the discussion. And from a Catholic perspective, such a discussion is replete with challenges.
In the short time I have lived here, New Orleans has also taught me that such a discussion is also one that is full of possibilities. This is a place that understands social network not just as a means of digital communication but also as those “500 people” Fitzmorris writes about. Connections abound here; we discover ties us to one another in multiple, unexpected ways. New Orleans “social networking” is also deeply embodied – we feast, we celebrate, we eat, we serve, we accept and lend a hand. When the culture of this city meets digital culture, the authentic meets the possible, and offers food for thought for imagining the path toward genuine community.
Daniella Zsupan-Jerome Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Liturgy, Catechesis, and Evangelization at the Loyola Institute for Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans. She holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s degree in liturgy from St. John’s University in Collegeville, a master’s degree in religion and the arts from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D . in theology and education from Boston College. Her research explores media and ministry, especially digital media and its potential for catechetical formation. She has published a number of practical and devotional resources, including Daily Prayer 2013 (Liturgy Training Publications) and regularly contributing to Liturgical Press’ Give Us This Day series. Her current research focuses on synthesizing the Roman Catholic Church’s approach to social communication from Vatican II to present day for her forthcoming book Proclaiming Good News: Exploring the Church’s Documents on Social Communication and Digital Media. (Liturgical Press)
As we close this academic year here at Notre Dame Seminary, one might ask what happens towards the end of the year at a seminary. First, seminarians participate in an evaluation process in which faculty members, vocation directors, bishops, and the seminarian review where the seminarian is at in his discernment of a priestly vocation. We review how the seminarian has participated in the community, how he interacts with other seminarians, we review his pastoral skills from his pastoral assignment. We talk about his commitment to celibacy and his understanding of what he is sacrificing and how celibacy allows him to love in a new way. We talk about what is happening in his prayer life and his understanding of obedience. The faculty then offers recommendations about the seminarian’s readiness to advance to the next class level.
Secondly, there are final examinations that include presentations, papers, completion of coursework, and written and verbal examinations. There are seminarians preparing for ordination to the diaconate and ordination to the priesthood. These seminarians are seeing to details regarding invitations, first Masses and even vestments. Most of the seminarians have already been given their assignments therefore they also are meeting with their pastors and supervisors to learn about their responsibilities. Those to be ordained are practicing for the last time in how to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments as well as an assessment of their preaching skills. There are some seminarians who are discerning out the program preparing to move on having been formed as a Catholic man, a man of prayer, and a man committed to the Church. Applications are also coming in from new seminarians. Some have made visits to the seminary to learn more about what it means to be a seminarian. So, in short, these are busy days for both the seminarians and for the faculty.
Tomorrow, May 9, we have graduation and then the seminarians move into their Summer responsibilities. Please pray for the men preparing for ordination, for the seminarians as they continue their discernment, and the faculty as they carry out their formational responsibilities.
Thanks, Fr. Jim
A Prayer for One’s Own Vocation
God our Father, life is your gift to me. Through baptism, you invite me to share in the gift of my life in service to others. Be with me as I choose each day to show your presence in our world. Give me the courage and generosity to respond to your love, to your call. I pray especially for those who serve you as priests, brothers, sisters, deacons and lay ministers. Keep them close to you. Open the minds and hearts of many other men and women that they may accept your challenge to build the Kingdom. Amen.
From Prayers for Seminarians (The Pontifical North American College)
Father James A. Wehner, S.T.D. is rector/president of Notre Dame Seminary. He holds STB, STL, and STD degrees from the Pontifical Gregorian University specializing in ecclesiology and evangelization. Read more about this blogger here
By Dana Doyle
May is a very special month of the year for our family. Two of our children were born in May. It’s the month that school lets out for summer here in New Orleans. Yahoo! Our oldest is graduating from college this May -a major accomplishment for our son, and for us as parents! Of course, there’s the celebration of our earthly Mothers squeezed right there in the middle!
Most notably, May is the month of Mary. For hundreds of years, it has been a beautiful custom of our Church to honor our heavenly mother in a special way during this month dedicated to her. Children (especially young ones – and surprisingly some of the older ones too!) love to celebrate the traditions of our faith in the home.
Here are some ideas for celebrating this special month of Mary with your family.
If you have any ideas for honoring Mary in the home this month, please “comment” and share them with our readers.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
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.
By Ansel Augustine, MPS
The legendary song by Sam Cook says it best, “A Change is Gonna Come.” As long as we live through life, we will always face change. Many of my high school students are getting ready for college, military, or just post high school life. Many of my college students are getting ready to graduate and enter into graduate school or the “real world.” I myself am dealing with the newlywed lifestyle as well as a new job on the horizon.
With change, there is always some anxiety and excitement. As humans we are always in a state of change. Our body’s change as we grow older. Our emotions change throughout the day. The death of a loved one or the birth of a baby are also forms of change in peoples’ lives. We are constantly bombarded with change. So how do we deal with it?
It is important to have a positive attitude about change, even when it is forced upon you (I remember dealing with the loss and forced changes brought on by Hurricane Katrina. I did my best to keep my head up and be a moral source of support for my evacuated family and friends). As Catholics, we are called to have faith in God’s plans for us, even when they don’t make sense. Is this easy? Not at all, just look at most of our ancestors in faith from the Bible. They struggled constantly, but they knew they had to trust God. Think about how Mary and Joseph felt when they were told that Mary would become pregnant, before marriage, with the child of God! As I talk with the youth and young adults that I am blessed to minister with, I try to share some realistic things for them to work on to deal with change. Here are some tips from Positive Changes Coaching:
No matter what change you may be facing, negative or positive, always trust that God is in the mix. This is the prayer that sits on my desk at work that I pray every time I begin my work day, “Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen today that you and I can’t handle together.” Remember trust God in the midst of your change because, “Change is gonna come. Oh yes it is.”
Ansel Augustine is 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.