With Gratitude in Your Hearts

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

                                                                       Colossians 3:16


It’s that time of year again!  How quickly it seems to have come upon us!  The older I get, the faster time seems to fly.  I think it is the ever-increasing awareness of the flight of time that has given me motivation to count my blessings not just during this month of Thanksgiving, but every day of every month of the year!

In most recent months, my family seems to have been bitten by the “homesteading bug” – a desire to move a bit farther out in order to plant food crops, keep bees and maybe raise some livestock.  This is interesting because my husband and I were both raised in the suburbs of New Orleans, and know nothing about farm life – other that what we’ve seen in movies!

Part of the goal of homesteading is to become self-sufficient – less dependent on others for the basic necessities of life.   This is not our goal, however.  We feel a longing for a more simple life – a life of total dependence on God – a life of added freedom from all the noise and hustle that constantly tries to pull us away from communion with our Creator.  Instead of going to the gym for fitness, we’d prefer to work the land.

In driving around looking at property, we’ve traveled to many different kinds of places.  Last weekend, when we returned home from our search, we realized how good we already have it.  Though our dreams and yearnings led us to think that there is something greener out there for us, what we already do have is pretty incredible.  God has provided amazingly for our family every step of the way – even (and especially) when the outlook was most bleak.  Trust in Him is never misplaced!  His love for all of His children is so great that we can completely abandon ourselves to His care.  God is Father, and God is faithful! We still may become farmers someday, but in the meantime, we are appreciating each and every day that the Lord has given us together where we dwell right now, remembering that tomorrow is not promised.

When I get up in the morning, before I even get out of bed, I say, “Thank you God for this day – another opportunity to know, love and serve you better.”  That’s what today is for each of us – another opportunity to get it right!

While it is easy to thank God in the most joyous times in our lives – the births, the weddings, the graduations – but a time of trial brings gratitude to a whole new level.  Do we thank God for the crosses in our lives that make us sharers in His cross?  Do we offer up our sufferings for the salvation of other souls?  Are we worried about the souls of others outside of our family circle, or are we just concerned with our own?  Do we look upon Jesus’ body on the crucifix with a flood of gratitude for what His death and resurrection mean for us?  Are we living focused on the things of this world – all we can do and acquire – or are we keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and eternal life?

I am very grateful for having grown up in and around the city of New Orleans.  Here, there are Catholic churches on nearly every corner.  Here, we have many wonderful priests who sacrifice their lives to administer the sacraments and lead us to Jesus.  Here, we can receive The Blessed Sacrament everyday of the week if we so desire.  There are still places in the world where people have to wait months for a priest to come through town in order for them receive Holy Communion.  How blessed we truly are to live in a city pervaded with Catholicity!  May we never take that for granted!

During this Thanksgiving season, please think of paying a visit to Jesus in one of New Orleans’ beautiful churches or adoration chapels. Sit in the stillness and silence and rest awhile before the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping begins. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28)  There in the tabernacle Jesus waits for us to approach Him with thankful hearts.  There He waits to fill us with His grace and blessing!  May God bless you and yours with a happy and holy Thanksgiving!


For a list of adoration chapels in New Orleans, please visit:



Why ‘Black’ and Catholic?

by Dr. Ansel Augustine

Prayer Service 13

“What does it mean to be black and Catholic? It means that I come to my church fully functioning….I bring myself, my black self, all that I am, all that I have, all that I’m worth, all I hope to become. I bring my whole history, my traditions, my experience, my culture, my African-American song and dance and gesture and movement and teaching and preaching
and healing and responsibility as a gift to the church.” 

-Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA


Since November is designated Black Catholic History Month, I thought it appropriate to address a question that I have been asked over the past 15 years of my full-time ministry. “Why ‘Black’ and Catholic?

I began full-time ministry as the youth minister of my home parish, St. Peter Claver – a predominately Black Catholic Parish.  Following Hurricane Katrina, I was asked to become the Coordinator of Black Youth & Young Adult Ministry for the CYO Office of the Archdiocese of New Orleans where I serve today.  I also teach at Xavier University of Louisiana’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies during the summer. I first encountered these types of questions during speaking engagements or when talking about this ministry with a person of another race. Most of the time they are asked out of respectful curiosity, “Why does something have to be labeled as ‘Black and Catholic’ and not just ‘Catholic?’” I like to describe how it’s similar to when our brothers and sisters of other cultural backgrounds (i.e. Hispanic, Asian, etc) uplift their expression of Catholicism while acknowledging their heritage.  A difference in culture assumes that there is a difference in verbal language, but the “language” among Black Catholics, specifically African-American Catholics, also extends to our artwork, dress, history, music, and other forms of expression.

Black Catholics have been around since the foundation of the Church. Many scholars point to stories of black people in biblical times; from the Old Testament tribes, Simon of Cyrene that helped Jesus carry his cross, to the Ethiopian Eunuch in the Acts of the Apostles. Black Catholics were here when the first Catholics set foot, and established cities, in this country in St. Augustine, Florida in 1513 and Los Angeles, California in 1765. Though we have been long standing members of the Church since the beginning, throughout history Black Catholic’s have felt that the Church viewed us as “second-class citizens”. There was a time when we had a designated time to receive communion and sanctioned areas where we had to sit in certain churches. Unfortunately, the Church wasn’t immune to racism in the past and historically, Black Catholic’s expression of faith was not always viewed as “authentically Catholic,” and our historical contributions to the faith have been ignored in the past. Many Black Catholics left the faith because of these factors but fortunately many others chose to stay despite them and put their hope in God that a Church without racism was on the horizon.

Today, this is why positions like mine (Offices of Black Catholics) and organizations like the Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver exist; to make sure that we, as Black Catholics (African-American, Caribbean, African, etc.) unite our history, heritage and culture together to share our gifts in communion with the whole Catholic Church. These programs that are labeled “black” are not a way to separate, but an avenue to enrich and educate all Catholics about our rich heritage.  Our history, our dedication to the Faith, our contributions to the church remind all of us that the Church is one body, with many unique parts that work together for Christ’s mission.

To truly commemorate this historic month,
ALL ARE INVITED to join us for our annual Black Saints Celebration on 11/14 (flier below)


Christ the Pediatrician

Worshiper Lighting Votive Candle on Altar
Worshiper Lighting Votive Candle on Altar

Today, on All Souls day, we take time to remember loved ones that have passed and to continue to pray for their souls. Archbishop Aymond said recently, “on All Souls Day, we remember all the deceased and those in purgatory en route to their journey toward heaven. We accompany them with our prayers and express our love and care for them.” – See more at: http://clarionherald.info/clarion/index.php/archbishop-aymond/4967-all-saints-and-all-souls-days-are-special-in-no#sthash.4Nq9fG8b.dpuf

I would like to share a reflection about a dear soul that spent his time on earth bringing the light of Christ to others. I hope this message may help those grieving a loss cling that much closer to our Lord.

A cloudy Monday morning.  The perfect setting for my mind to drift.  It doesn’t help that I’m sleep deprived from my youngest son teetering between teething and a cold for a month now. My wife and I could sure use some doctor-ly advice to comfort our weary parent-souls. Here in-lies the challenge, to add to the clouds this Monday, I am missing our pediatrician this morning.  Our pediatrician was a man that gave us so much comfort, friendship, love and care, but he is no longer with us on earth.

Many of you may have heard the story by now of this amazing pediatrician that captured the hearts of so many. He captured my wife and I’s heart right before we had our first child. As a highly recommended referral from a friend, we went to go meet him with all the nerves of a new parent.  We arrived with suspicions in hand just like many parents expecting their first child.  This doctor had a fairly new practice and acted more like my big brother.  A firm hand shake and a gentle smile met us at the door.  The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe behind his desk scattered any semblance of discomfort. His openness to our uneasiness was the peace of Christ.  Dr. Collins exuded a warmth and wisdom above his own. Little did we know that his gifts would only be on loan to this world for a brief time, a much shorter time than we signed up for that day.

Dr. Collins was called home to His heavenly Father on the 10th anniversary of Katrina. He passed after a brief battle with a very rare form of cancer. It was so quick; we didn’t even get to say a true goodbye.  In truth, only now, with his passing, am I able to fully process. He left behind a wife and a beautiful budding family. The loss felt by all those families and babies that were cared for by Keith combined will never amount to their pain, but it still hurts not having him here. Where is our doctor on this cloudy Monday morning to help bring healing to our kids, our family?

Of all the lessons to learn from Keith, one big lesson sticks with me the best.  Keith had a unique way to cut through some serious and intense times, especially around tender topics of your children’s health.  He provided each individual including parents and children comfort that touched your soul.  He did it with a smile and charm.  You never thought for once that Keith was working or charging you. He was present with you. He lived his profession as a vocation. You could tell that part of his calling on earth was to bring healing. He was a godly man, but he didn’t preach a word. You could tell he was a disciple of Jesus Christ simply in the way that he used his medical training to bring healing.  He did it with gentle action.  His example alone was the greatest gift he could have given me as a father.  Keith extended Christ into his work… into his profession… into his vocation… into my family.  As the Bible reminds us of these faith-filled words, “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” Keith truly lived this example.

As a disciple, Keith lived out his profession with its ups and downs, trying to bring Christ to those he helped heal through medicine. We often hear of Christ referred to as the great healer.  The greatest compliment I could have ever given Keith is that I would often see Christ in him, Christ the Pediatrician. As Catholics, we use the examples of people that live out their faith as motivation and inspiration. We call them saints, and they live amongst us but we are also called to be the next saints and Keith showed us that daily.  Let us all look at how we can be like Christ in our own work, to bring comfort, mercy, healing or whatever it is that we do to those that need us. Those that need us are right in front of us.  Let us look up on those cloudy days like today, say a prayer of thanksgiving for his example and the examples of all that we knew, and try to live like Keith! Though I can say with almost certainty that if Keith was sitting across from me in the examination room, he would say it himself, don’t live like Keith, live like Jesus.

Goodbye my friend.  Rest In Peace.

Patron Saint of Miraculous Cure


Since All Saints day is approaching this Sunday, what better way to tie in the festive Halloween feeling than with a look into the St. Roch chapel and it’s quintessential New Orleans legacy that many of us #NOLACatholic’s know well.

In the St. Roch chapel, located in the middle of the St. Roch cemetery in the neighborhood of St. Roch, there is a room behind an iron gate. Looking through, you’ll see offerings of thanksgiving left by people who have prayed to Saint Roch for healing. Prosthetic limbs, shoes, crutches and braces, fake flowers, stuffed animals, thank you notes, coins and of course- Mardi Gras beads. Fittingly, it’s something you would expect to find only in New Orleans. Though it’s a fun and unusual site to see, the eclectic objects often have a deep and personal meaning to the people who have offered their prayers and thanksgiving to Saint Roch. Looking around, you can feel a sense of gratitude from the people who have left a part of their life in this place, as a sign of their hope in Christ through His saints who pray for us.

The St. Roch Chapel and it’s surrounding cemetery were built by Reverend Peter Thevis. In the 19th century, when a yellow fever epidemic broke out in New Orleans, he prayed and asked St. Roch for protection over his parish. When he recorded no losses, he owed it to St. Roch and as promised built the shrine that still stands today and whose existence has brought a tangible place for locals to pray and give thanks.

Visit NOLA Catholic Cemeteries for more information and open hours.

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Saint Roch is pictured with a dog because it is said the dog healed his leg sores by licking his wounds.

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Remembering St. John Paul II: 10 ‘Great’ Facts

Today is the memorial of Saint John Paul the Great so through our prayers today we ask for his intercession as we remember his life and service. To commemorate, here are 10 ‘great’ facts you may not know about the 264th pope.

Pope John Paul II leaving New Orleans in September 1987
Pope John Paul II leaving New Orleans in September 1987

1.) St. John Paul II’s papacy was the third longest in history, lasting 26 years, 5 months, and 17 days!

2.) He was the most widely traveled pope in history. His papacy took him on 104 apostolic journeys and 129 different countries, distancing more than 725, 000 miles.

Aren’t I supposed to be pope for all the world? -JPII

3.) Saint John Paul II was the first Pope to visit the White House. Pope Benedict XVI was the second and the third? Pope Francis


4.) His devotion to the Divine Mercy was central to his life. He died on Saturday, April 2, 2005, at the end of the vigil Mass of Divine Mercy Sunday, the feast that he himself instituted five years earlier for the universal Church.

There is nothing that man needs more than Divine Mercy.

5.) In 1947, Fr. Wojtyla (Saint Pope John Paul II) visited Padre Pio who heard his confession.

Pope John Paul II would canonize him 55 years later.


6.) Saint John Paul II could speak Latin fluently. Besides also speaking his native Polish, he could converse in: Slovak, Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Ukrainian, and English.

7.) He was an avid skier until he was 73 years old.

Pope John Paul II (center, in red boots) prays with a group of skiers before heading down a slope in this 1984 file photo. The pontiff, who enjoyed skiing in his native Poland before his election, was able to slip away to ski only a few times as he led the worldwide church. (CNS photo from the Vatican) (Feb. 10, 2005)
Pope John Paul II (center, in red boots) prays with a group of skiers before heading down a slope in this 1984 file photo. (CNS photo from the Vatican) (Feb. 10, 2005)

8.) He was a poet:

“My place is You, your place is in me. Yet it is the place of all men. Am I not diminished by them in this place. I am more alone – more than if there were no one else – I am alone with myself. At the same time I am multiplied by them in the Cross which stood on this place. This multiplying with no diminishment remains a mystery: the Cross goes against the current. In it numbers retreat before man.

In You – how did the Cross come to be?

Now let us walk down the narrow steps as if down a tunnel through a wall. Those who once walked down the slope stopped at the place where now there is a slab. They anointed your body and then laid it in a tomb. Through your body you had a place on earth, the outward place of the body you exchanged for a place within [emphasis mine], saying: ‘Take, all of you, and eat of this.’

The radiation of that place within relates to the outward places on Earth to which I came on pilgrimage. You chose this place centuries ago – the place in which You give yourself and accept me.”

You can read more poems in this book:

9.) He had an incredible sense of humor. Just one example: “While in Krakow in June of 1979, and being kept up until midnight by an enthusiastic crowd, the Holy Father said to the cheering throng: ‘You are asking for a word or two, so here they are – Good night.’”-source


10.) And one last thing: He was praying for you during his last days. Ask him to intercede in your prayers today!

Peddlers of Hope


By Cory J. Howat

The news never vacations does it? Tap on a link or talk with a friend. It won’t take you long to realize that recently the news circuit has been chalk full of ethical questions, moral tests and religious challenges that have produced enough chatter to make an auctioneer want to catch their breath. Everything seems to be on the table including the recent exposure of the Planned Parenthood horrors, same-sex marriage, racial tensions and climate change. Even with an appreciation for the large scope of views within Catholic thought, I believe it wouldn’t take much to convince someone of the challenges of living as a Christian in our increasingly relative world. For me personally, it has felt exhausting. I was not quite through sorting out my opinions on one dilemma as the next issue arrived like an unrelenting wave. I needed some perspective but the clouds seemed to gather again and it was getting dark.

Then there was the pink bike.

This summer passed with a snap, but we were able to reap joy from outdoor activities that refreshed and excited us: pool time, bike rides and lightning bugs.  One of the great joys that my wife and I experienced this summer was watching our daughter learn how to ride her bike. Though starting off, she was convinced it was going to end with total tragedy. But slowly and surely her perseverance began mixing with our encouragement and she started to take flight. My wife helped her to focus on the joy of riding with the wind blowing in her hair. My walking and running behind her gave the proper dose of reassurance to help her push the pedal just a little bit harder. Then it happened. Her unsteady hand turned into a confident grasp. She was a bike rider. Her journey from fear to confidence was a special moment for us as parents. And suddenly, as we watched her and her pink bike cruise by, I realized the gift the Lord had given me: perspective.

The life of the disciple is not just filled with dark clouds or teary crashes. Our lives as Christians won’t end with tragedy, even if it means pain and challenges in this life. We are Easter people. We have Good Friday, but we have HOPE. We have Scripture, the Sacraments and each other to imagine that our reuniting with the Lord in heaven would be the same as my daughter imagining the lakefront wind blowing through her hair on her bike. We didn’t want our daughter to imagine crashing and getting hurt, though that can certainly happen and is part of the journey. We encouraged her to see the bigger picture, the “heaven” in that moment. The HOPE of an eternal reward provides energy and optimism that is needed to address the many questions we face as disciples. We need to enter into these worldly discussions and challenges with love, conviction and compassion. The challenges don’t go away if we avoid them or we might never learn to “ride the bike.” We can’t discuss issues as Catholics if we only talk about the negative effects of not following the rules or what we can’t do. We need the balance.

The world needs us to bring light into the darkness. We need to remind ourselves and each other of this HOPE through encouragement and personal prayer. It is in an encounter with Jesus Christ, that our hearts are touched and we feel loved. We then are the ones who need to reflect that love of Jesus, the true HOPE to the world. Just like my daughter learned this summer, I continue to remind myself that I am a peddler of HOPE!

Reflections from Rev. Gregory Boquet, O.S.B., President/Rector of Saint Joseph Seminary College

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Saint Joseph Seminary College made history this semester by having a record enrollment of 138 seminarians.   In just a few short years we have more than doubled our enrollment.  Several things point to this and most importantly the fact that we are providing quality formation and education, which attracts dioceses outside the region to send their young men to our campus.

The I Will Give you Shepherds capital campaign will allow us to meet the challenges of growing enrollment by constructing a new library and addressing the need for more seminarian housing.

The next I Will Give You Shepherds capital campaign project on our campus will be the library. Constructing a new library is historic in that this will be the first time Saint Joseph Seminary College will have a state of the art library to meet the academic needs of what is required in an accredited liberal arts institution like ours.

Also, Saint Joseph Seminary College has been blessed with the addition of two more priests who join the Formation Program. Fr. Jonathan Wallis from the Diocese of Fort Worth will work full time as an Assistant Dean of Students.  Fr. William Farge, S.J. will be available for full time spiritual direction.  As we continue to grow, it is very important that dedicated priests meet the needs of an increasing seminary population.

The monastic community is most grateful for the strong bond that exists between the people of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and this Abbey as we enter into the next 125 years of our history.

May we all find increasing joy and peace in the Father’s care.

In His Sacred Heart,

Rev. Gregory Boquet, O.S.B.


Saint Joseph Seminary College