Make me an instrument of your peace

By Sr. Judy Gomila, MSC

I try not to have a terminal case of negativity! The news – on radio or TV, in local newspapers and toxic personalities can make being realistic, while accentuating the positive, very difficult. Ferguson, ISIS, the Ukraine and those shootings here in the Big Easy plead for justice advocates and peace makers. At least weekly we pray in our parish churches our Archdiocesan Family Prayer. Recently, I spent the day on retreat with the leadership of the NOLA Interfaith Peace Initiative. What an uplifting, ecumenical experience for interfacing with peace before power.

Flyer.v2.6DGThe mission of the group, a collaborative effort of 40 plus organizations, is to support efforts to curb violence in New Orleans by expanding the role of faith communities in bringing an end to the epidemic of domestic violence, murder in the streets, and the general lack of dignity for the human beings, all our sisters and brothers. It is the hope of the organization that this Interfaith Peace Initiative will create a network of sustainable neighborhood peace proposals led by institutions of faith that focus on protecting and enriching the lives of our children and the prosperity of our city.

That’s the backdrop for the two day retreat held in Rosaryville. On arrival I met an array of Church leaders from a variety of religious persuasions. Mormons, Jews, Muslims and an assortment of Christians, including Catholics, had planned for this event and shared in the leadership of the sessions which included Companions on the Journey, Our Journey to the Streets, The Journey in the Public Square. I was invited to make a two hour presentation – “Walking the Journey: The Spirituality of Peace Making”. It became obvious to me in the interaction of the participants that peace principles transcend all religions.

At its best, peacemaking creates relational and structural justice that allows for social and personal well-being. Peacemaking implies the use of cooperative, constructive processes to resolve human conflicts, while restoring relationships. Peacemaking places adversary processes into a larger perspective. A PEACE-MAKER is a person who seeks to create harmony. As in music, for this to happen individuals must be true to their own notes…utilizing their personal talents and gifts while acknowledging their limitations.

1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers and sisters, be compassionate and humble.” The following prayer may deepen our appreciation of peace beginning within ourselves.

Let us walk from thoughts that weaken to promises that inspire

From apparent darkness  to the reality of light

From bitterness to forgiveness

From negatives to affirmatives

From judging others to Christ present in them

From complaining to appreciating

From words that hurt to actions that help

From suspicion to truth

From unrelenting pressures to taking time to pray and to play

From personal anxiety to who’s really in charge

From self-pity to compassion for others

From constant talking to listening

From problems that overwhelm to prayer that overcomes

From discouragement to hope

From the past to the future. Amen.

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.

Reflections from St. Joseph Seminary: Fall 2014

The I Will Give You Shepherds Campaign Cabinet is pleased to share the progress of the I Will Give You Shepherds capital campaign. As of July 31, 293 donors have given gifts totaling $15.9 million – over halfway to the goal of $25 million to renew the seminaries! Leadership of the  Will Give You Shepherds Seminary Campaign share updates and reflections.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There are four legs that make up the Program for Priestly Formation—human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral formation. These four pillars of formation are designed to shape the young man aspiring to the priesthood to be an instrument of Christ’s grace.

When a young man first enters the seminary, he is full of fire and zeal, which is the passion that paved the way for him to consider the priesthood and to take this important step. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the seminarian is called to discipleship and conversion of heart. The seminary formation program trains men to become true shepherds like our Lord Jesus Christ.

For 125 years, St. Joseph Seminary College has been faithfully involved in this important ministry of priestly formation. It is evident that with a record enrollment next fall, the seminary’s tradition of excellence will continue for years to come.

We are excited to welcome 133 seminarians for the fall 2014 semester. This represents the largest number of seminarians that have ever entered our institution since 1978.

I sincerely thank our friends for the outpouring of financial support that enables St. Joseph Seminary College to provide the very best in priestly formation.

Please continue to pray for seminarians and for all those discerning a vocation to the priesthood and religious life. We also promise to pray for you.

In His Sacred Heart,

FrBoquet-webRev. Gregory Boquet, O.S.B.

President-Rector

St. Joseph Seminary College

Reflections from Notre Dame Seminary: Fall 2014

The I Will Give You Shepherds Campaign Cabinet is pleased to share the progress of the I Will Give You Shepherds capital campaign. As of July 31, 293 donors have given gifts totaling $15.9 million – over halfway to the goal of $25 million to renew the seminaries! Leadership of the  Will Give You Shepherds Seminary Campaign share updates and reflections.

Dear Friends,

We are proud that Notre Dame Seminary begins the fall 2014 semester with the highest enrollment in almost 15 years with 42 new seminarians, bringing total enrollment to 115. Our seminarians are from 21 dioceses and religious communities. I would like to think the enrollment increase reflects the confidence our bishops, religious superiors, and vocation directors have in Notre Dame Seminary’s faculty and priestly formation program.

The centerpiece of the I Will Give You Shepherds capital campaign at Notre Dame Seminary is the $10 million renovation of St. Joseph Hall. St. Joseph Hall is the three-story building to the left of Shaw Hall, the main facility on the South Carrollton Avenue campus. This renovation will update all seminarian residential rooms and expand the number of rooms by 30%, while also providing a dedicated wing for additional classrooms and faculty offices. We have secured HMS Architects, and plan to begin the renovation in spring of 2015.

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and his wife, Gayle, who donated a major gift for the renovation of Shaw Hall, are the honorary chairs of the I Will Give You Shepherds capital campaign. We are grateful for their stewardship of the seminary.

As both Notre Dame Seminary and St. Joseph Seminary College experience historic increases in enrollment, we know in all humility that we cannot provide seminarians the formation they need without your support.

Thank you for your prayers, gifts, and leadership, which make a significant impact on how we are preparing future priests in the 21st century.

God bless!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

HS_wehnerRev. James A. Wehner

Rector-President

Notre Dame Seminary

Beauty from the inside out!

holy tshirt jpBy Karen Baker

A little girl’s T-shirt stopped me in my tracks at Wal-Mart the other day. Right across the front, it read:

“My mom is hot.”

Really? Is that the message we want toddlers carrying around on their clothing? (But yes, I do realize that it’s the middle of August and the child’s mother was probably, literally, HOT! We’re all hot this time of year.)

Still, when I start my children’s clothing line, it will include shirts with sayings such as: “My mom is holy” or “Don’t I look virtuous today?”

I was lecturing my 7-month-old granddaughter on holiness one day in the Olive Garden while waiting for lunch with my mother (who is very holy!). “Emmaline,” I said, “I know that people always tell you what a beautiful baby you are – and you are! – but really, the important thing to remember is that you are made in the image and likeness of God, inside and out. So always take care of your virtues!”

I may be a little over the top talking to a baby that way (at least that’s what the waitress seemed to think), but maybe we should start when they’re young. Maybe then we’ll have a chance to raise our children so they stay on the path to holiness; maybe we’ll help them see that the “good life” is a life centered not so much on designer clothes as it is on Christian virtues.

Maybe we’ll get them to listen to Pope Francis! In his homily on June 9, (http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/06/09/pope_the_beatitudes,_a_practical_programme_for_holiness/1101553­), Pope Francis spoke of the Beatitudes as a “program for holiness.” When we are meek, when we seek peace, when we show mercy, we are growing closer and closer to God.

And at the end of the day, God will recognize us not by our good looks but by our holy habits. So let’s all go out and try to be saints. If you don’t believe me, read this article (http://www.nola.com/religion/index.ssf/2014/03/lay_saints_find_god_in_everyda.html) by Dr. Tom Neal, dean of academics at Notre Dame seminary. It’s a great reminder of who we are called to be.

karenbakerKaren Baker is a freelance writer with a Masters in Pastoral Studies from the Loyola Institute for Ministry. She works in the Office of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and in ministry at Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Mandeville.

Back to School Wisdom

By Dana Doyle

dana

Jason Angelette with faculty at Our Lady of Lake in Mandeville.

On August 1, the teachers at Our Lady of the Lake in Mandeville were treated to a wonderful morning of reflection to kick off the school year. Jason Angelette, co anchor of Issues in Faith on WLAE and Co-Director of the Faith & Marriage Ministry of the Willwoods Community, inspired the faculty and staff with stories of hope and witness. His presentation focused on the gifts of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. Jason encouraged us to receive the sacraments as frequently as possible and to utilize the beautiful 24 hour adoration chapel that we are blessed to have on our campus. He helped the staff brainstorm ways to further increase the faith life of the students and the whole school community. Everyone left feeling refreshed and motivated!

One of the things that Jason stressed was the need for a personal prayer life – a time set aside each day to read the Word of God, to talk to God and to Listen. He reminded us that we cannot give what we do not have – that in order to DO, we must first learn to BE. This is very practical advice for which we can all benefit, no matter what we do for a living!

In a recent post on my blog, Catholic Working Mom– a gospel reflection for the feeding of the 5,000 – I listed 10 ideas for finding quiet time each day for prayer. Here’s the list:

  1.  Get up 15 minutes early and read the readings of the day.  Pray.  Listen.
  2. Pop into the adoration chapel or a nearby church.  Just sit in Jesus’ presence.
  3. Set a timer on your phone a few times a day.  Put a prayer card in your pocket.  When the timer goes off, Pray.  Breathe.  Listen.
  4. Take a walk on your break at work, or after work.  Look at the beauty in nature around you – God’s incredible creation.  Talk to God in your heart.  Thank Him.  Listen.
  5. Download the Laudate App.  Use it periodically throughout the day!  Play a rosary or divine mercy chaplet podcast when you lay down to sleep.  Put your phone on your bedside table.  Listen.
  6. Pray a scriptural rosary.
  7. Take a bath or long shower.  Talk to God.  Thank Him for the clean, warm water.  Listen.
  8. Pull up a beautiful religious picture on your desktop.  Put yourself in the scene.  Meditate.
  9. Light a holy candle.  Sit and watch the dancing of the flame.  Think about how Jesus is the Light of the World – how He entered into the darkness of our world and illuminated it.  Think about how you live your calling to be a light in this world.  What might God be calling you to at this moment?
  10. Pick up a good, inspirational Catholic book – faithful to the Magisterium.  Be inspired.  Think.  Pray.

 

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.

College bound: staying ahead of the curve and in tuned with your faith

By Ansel Augustine, MPS

LSU+generic+campus

It’s that time of year again when parents and students are going crazy preparing for college. Many students are preparing to embark on a new young adult chapter in their lives as college freshman. For those that have the opportunity to go to college, it can be seen as a rite of passage, while others think it is just a period of delayed adolescence.

No matter the perspective, going to college is a big deal for all parties involved. So here are some tips that were in an article for incoming freshmen. The only one that I would add would be to PRAY and connect with a local church or campus ministry to stay grounded in faith. There will be plenty of challenges, obstacles, and temptations; especially if you are going away from home, but remember that you are a child of God and never forget who you are and WHOSE you are, and carry yourself accordingly no matter what your peers are doing around you.

5 things every freshman should know before their first college class

wwltv.com, Posted on June 20, 2014 at 6:51 AM

Updated Friday, Jun 20 at 7:08 AM

1. CHECK YOUR COLLEGE EMAIL

Typically, before a semester will begin, your professor (get used to calling them “professor” now) will send out an email welcoming you to their section. The email will most likely give some background on what you will be learning in the class and what your professor will expect of you as their student. Also, your professor may include the textbooks needed for the class. Be sure to order them ahead of time; they may start using the book the second or third day of class!

2. THERE MAY BE HOMEWORK DUE (YES, ALREADY)

This kind of goes along with the first point. In that welcome email, your professor will state if they expect you to read a book over the summer, or to take notes from a textbook before the first day of class. Keep this in mind, as you most definitely want to stay on your professor’s good side, and not give them the wrong idea about the student you are if you’re constantly missing homework. Start with your best foot forward, try your best to impress your teacher with your excellent time management skills (you never know when you’ll need a recommendation…).

3. BE OPEN-MINDED ABOUT YOUR CLASSMATES

Colleges tend to be an extremely diverse environment. Walking into your first day of classes and realizing you’re not going to see your BFFs from high school may freak you out at first. That’s totally natural and okay, but don’t close yourself off to new people. College is the best time to open up, start fresh and create a new, diverse group of friends. Everyone has a really interesting story to tell; I suggest you listen to as many as possible. You’ll be surprised who will end up being your friends 4 or 5 weeks down the road.

4. PARTICIPATION IS HUGE

Whether it’s a small class or a lecture, a professor will always be able to point out and recognize those who actively participate and seem engaged. As you’ll soon learn, most classes use 10-15% of the final grade as participation. Do you raise your hand? Do you work well in a group? Do you do your homework? It’s always awkward if a professor asks a question and no one raises their hand. Be that person to speak up, you and your professor will be so glad you did. Never feel intimidated. Just think about all of the people in the room who probably have the same comment or question as you.

5. SIT IN THE FRONT OF THE ROOM

This rule also applies in high school as well, but is MUCH more important when you’re in college. Lecture halls sometimes have between 100-300 people in them. If you’re sitting all the way in the back, where your professor can’t see you and you can’t see them, think how much work you’re going to get done… NONE. Be sure to sit in the front of the classroom. Knowing that the teacher can see you will limit your phone usage during class, and will keep you more engaged as the professor may call on you or make eye contact with you since you’re within reach. It’s also easier to take notes when sitting in the front, that way you never miss a word and aren’t distracted by people in the back who may not take the class as seriously.

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.

Building more than patience

By Cory J. Howat

jm_200_NT1.pd-P7.tiffI have to admit that I drive the fastest on Interstate when we pass an IKEA store on a family trip. I cringe at the thought of putting together another wildly named Scandinavian-influenced BEKKESTUA Bedroom set. Their assembly instructions are as hard to follow as the pronunciation of their pieces. Luckily, New Orleans does not have these patience-absorbing big box furniture stores, yet. I was reminded this past weekend about my IKEA-esque patience challenges while embarking on a DIY (sort of) home outdoor shed project. My wife and I decided that an outdoor shed was needed for our growing family to gain space indoors. We knew the summer was the time to make that shed a reality.

I can handle most of the minor construction stuff but always looked for help from my dad, brothers or friends. I simply enjoy doing projects together and know that detailed and tedious work is a place that I can grow. *Cue the former blog on gardening* So, the shed building started moving along nicely, mainly because I was the 3rd string assistant on the project. As I was shuttling sheets of plywood to the backyard, I began to think about the importance of building and planning in our spiritual lives also. Hang with me here as I know my construction credibility is low…

I knew that I could not build a shed without the proper planning or savings. I needed the vision of what I wanted it to look like. I needed planning to have all the pieces ready for our build day. Then, I needed the patience to build and finish the project. Our spiritual lives mirror the same journey in many ways. I invite you to take some time to reflect and ask yourself:What is your vision for how you can live as a disciple of Jesus Christ? What does that look like to you? Does that mean you are a joyous person? Generous? Prayer-filled? What are the steps you can start working on to achieve this goal? Are you willing to commit to a little more quiet prayer time? Lastly, do you desire the patience needed to let God work on the project that is you? The summer is a prime opportunity to take an inventory of where you are mid-year and where you are going.

I am convinced more each day that God reveals His plan for our life in our everyday activities and work. We just have to be aware and listen. I could have just seen this weekend as just for building a shed in my yard. Instead, I intentionally challenged myself to try and think of what God has planned for me and what He wants to build with my life. I sometimes foolishly fight that plan, but I can rely on God to bring me around if I can only keep open my heart to His will for my life. My prayer is that you take some summer downtime to reflect and pray for God to reveal His plans for your life. I know HIS plan is marvelous and unique for each of us, just as God promised in scripture. Enjoy the last days of summer knowing that God has great plans for you in the days ahead… more glorious,I can promise, than my shed!

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.