Saints are us

Posted November 18, 2020 at 12:00 am

Saints are us

“Everyone is invited to the heavenly banquet, everyone is welcome. But the decision to come is yours. Get ready though, for it is not just the party of the season, or the century; this is the party of eternity.”

I found this wonderful quote in a notebook I keep of ideas for future columns. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down who said or wrote it. But my thanks to author unknown.

It set me to thinking about the feast we recently celebrated, The Feast of All Saints. This year, the Nov. 1 feast day fell on a Sunday. Because of COVID-19 there was no obligation to attend Sunday Mass and because of social distancing our churches

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    Racial reconciliation

    My mother is Catholic and white, and my father is Methodist and Black. They raised our family in the Catholic Church but growing up, I never really felt connected to the church and didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.  

    We were “sacramentalized,” but I was never evangelized until high school, when Protestants began to share Jesus with me. I also lived a lifestyle that was not conducive to becoming a saint, and I stopped going to church.  

    My mom still made us go to religious education classes, and one of my friends was

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    ‘The life I wanted’

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator  

    Petite in statue but gargantuan in heart, Sister Edna Oraca SOM seemed lost in the stately structure of St. John the Baptist Church in Zachary.  

    Sister Edna Oraca SOM prays during her 25th anniversary Mass Oct. 28 at St. John the Baptist Church in Zachary.  Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator 


    Flanked by her fellow Hospitaller

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    Solving the riddle of clergy colors

    Q Why does a priest always wear black?

    A First of all, not all priests wear black. Priests in certain religious orders wear the color of their order. Franciscan friars wear brown or grey robes. Dominican priests normally wear robes that are mostly white. And, many priests in tropical climates wear white to decrease the heat from the sun.

    Most diocesan priests in the United States, however, do wear black, but this

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    Voting as a faith-filled citizen

    This past week early voting began for the presidential election of 2020. Those who are already voting have made up their minds about the best choice for president, but there are many who continue to struggle with how and for whom they should vote. I’d like to present a few reflections on the principles that will help us make an informed and faith-filled decision as Catholics and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.  

    First, we must affirm that in this election

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    Founders’ Day Mass honors legacy of St. Joseph Sisters

    By Debbie Shelley

    The Catholic Commentator  

    St. George Church in Baton Rouge had its prayers answered 60 years ago when the Sisters of St. Joseph arrived to staff the parish’s new school.  

    Pictured is one of the groups that made their commitment as lay associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph Oct. 13 at St. George. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 


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    Pope Francis’ new encyclical

    On Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis released a new encyclical entitled, “Fratelli Tutti – On Fraternity and Social Friendship.” It can appear a rather depressing read because of its searing realism, except it plays the long game of Christian hope. 

    Fratelli Tutti lays out reasons why there’s so much injustice, inequality and community breakdown in our world and how in faith and love these might be addressed. The intent here is not to give a synopsis of the encyclical, other than to say it’s courageous and speaks truth

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    Bishop Michael G. Duca is shown blessing the Seelos Center on the campus of St. Gerard Church in Baton Rouge on Oct. 18. The center has previously served as the parish hall. Pictured to Bishop Duca’s left is St. Gerard pastor Father Tat Hoang CSsR. Father Richard Boever CSsR, director of the National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos CSsR in New Orleans, is to the bishop’s right. Holding the prayers for Bishop Duca is Father Kevin Zubel CSsR. Photo

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    Sister Leyla Cerda-Sanchez CSJ, 60, dies

    Sister Leyla Patricia Cerda-Sanchez CSJ, age 60, passed away unexpectedly Sept. 14, 2020 at the Congregation of St. Joseph Center in LaGrange Park, Illinois.  

    Sr. Leyla was born Dec. 27, 1959 in Managua, Nicaragua, one of five children to the late Enrique M. Cerda and Leila Maria Sanchez. She attended the Colegio Pureza de Maria in Managua. She and her brother Enrique immigrated to the United States in the 1970s to continue their education and eventually became American citizens.  

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    World Youth Day Lisbon unveils 2023 logo

    ROME (CNA) – World Youth Day Lisbon launched its website and unveiled its logo Oct. 15 as Portugal prepares to host the world’s largest gathering of Catholic young people in August 2023.

    The logo, featuring the Blessed Virgin Mary in front of a cross, was selected in an international contest with hundreds of participants from 30 countries by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

    It was designed by Beatriz Roque Antunes, a

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    Catholic High School of Pointe Coupee in New Roads has added an engineering class to its curriculum. Offered as a Louisiana State University dual-enrollment class, students have the opportunity to take an Introduction to Engineering class. The class will count as a high school credit or as a college credit. Taught by Lillian Reyad, the class allows students to explore the profession of engineering through lectures, collaborative projects, technical writing and presentations. Students pictured are working on a team building exercise where they must learn to

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    Sister Gracelyn Soignet CSJ, 82, dies

    Sister Gracelyn Soignet CSJ, a sister of St. Joseph for 64 years, passed away at Mount St. Mary Convent in Wichita, Kansas on Sept. 14 at age 82.  

    She was born in New Orleans to the late Mertyle Michael and Grace Walker Soignet and baptized Gracelyn Ann. She is survived by her brother Donald Soignet and his wife Jeanne.  

    Sister Gracelyn graduated from St. Joseph Academy in New Orleans in 1956 and entered the novitiate of

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    Holy Ghost School in Hammond students used their October stewardship to recognize the fight against cancer.  Promoting “Peace, Love, Cure,” students were encouraged to wear a color that signified the cancer they were marching for. During their enrichment periods, students marched around campus carrying signs in honor or memory of loved ones who suffered from cancer. Donations will be sent to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. Brothers, from left, Sal, Landon and Liam DeMarco wear blue to raise awareness for colon cancer.

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    USCCB book on racism honored

    CNA – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ recently-released children’s book “Everyone Belongs” has won a gold medal in the Religion/Spirituality category of the 2020 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, the conference announced Oct. 15. 

    The Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, according to its website, are “100% dedicated to identifying the best children’s books published each year for the North American market.” 

    The book, published by Loyola Press in December 2019, was authored

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    Sister Jane Arbour CSJ 95, dies

    Sister Jane Louise Arbour CSJ, a Sister of St. Joseph for 79 years, passed away at Mount St. Mary Convent in Wichita, Kansas on Sept. 17 at age 95.  

    Sister Jane was born in Baton Rouge, one of eight children of the late Sydney V. and Julia Mae Bahlinger Arbour Sr., and was baptized Julia Mae. She is survived by 31 nieces and nephews and their children.  

    She was pre-deceased by her siblings: Gertie Lee

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    Fratelli Tutti

    On Nov. 3, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, his namesake, Pope Francis, went to that beautiful little town in Umbria, Italy to celebrate Mass in its basilica and announce to the world the publication of his third encyclical letter “Fratelli Tutti.” The words in Italian are taken from a letter of St. Francis to his friars and translate “Brothers All,” a nice historical touch. Titles of encyclicals traditionally begin with the first two nouns, adjectives or verbs of the letter. However, Pope Francis was quick in

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    Bible study group prays at 40 Days

    By Debbie Shelley

    The Catholic Commentator

    As they pray for and encounter women in crisis pregnancy situations at 40 Days for Life in Baton Rouge, the women’s Scripture study group To Jesus Through Mary learn they are fulfilling their own divine missions as moms and disciples.

    From left, Tammie May, Jeanne Garcia and Sheryl Womack pray the rosary at 40 Days for Life in Baton Rouge. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator


    The annual 40 Days for Life campaign sets up

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    Successful Year

    OLOL Children’s Hospital exceeds expectations  

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator 

    Tears doused the young eyes of Bryson Addison as he awaited an operation to remove his appendix, one more procedure that total far too many in his 11 years. 

    Following social distancing and the wearing of masks, several people gathered to attend the first Mass celebrated at OLOL Children’s Hospital on Feb. 20.

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    ‘Saint of the internet’

    A 15-year old Italian tech wiz, Carlo Acutis, made Catholic Church history as the first millennial to be beatified on Oct. 10. 

    The ceremony took place at St. Mary Major Basillica Assisi, Italy, home of St. Francis. One miracle has been already attributed to Acutis, who died from leukemia in 2006, the unexplainable healing of a Brazilian boy with a malformed pancreas to Carlo after the child came in contact with one of his shirts. One more miracle and he will join

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    Imitators of Christ: Witness happiness

    The Mass readings for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time remind us of the primary commandments: love of God and neighbor. The following Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of All Saints, witnesses of the Ten Commandments as well as the Eight Beatitudes.

    Social laws

    The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time readings begin with Chapter 22 in the Book of Exodus. We hear details of guiding norms for social

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    Vets live faith through clinic

    By Debbie Shelley

    The Catholic Commentator  

    Pets receive “special treatment” during visits to Staring Plaza Veterinary Center in Baton Rouge, where “arff and meow” are spoken and there are doors welcoming “cats” on the left and “dogs” on the right.  


    Brett Berryhill (holding Hannah) and wife Lucie (holding Stella) enjoy working with people at Staring Plaza Veterinarian Center. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The

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    AMEN offers men opportunity for Christian fellowship

    By Debbie Shelley

    The Catholic Commentator 

    A low-key evening of good food, drink and socializing is the key that opens men up to the depths of what is going on in their minds and souls, say organizers of the Ascension Men Evangelizing Now (AMEN) organization. 

    Paul Braud and Keith Beaucoudray are part of a group of friends from Ascension civil parish area churches St. Mark and St. Theresa of Avila, both in

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    Father Matthew Graham, left, accepts the key to Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs from Bishop Michael G. Duca during Mass on Sept. 27. Bishop Duca installed Father Graham as pastor during the Mass. Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator


    The hidden face of evil

    We tend to be naïve about evil, at least as to what it looks like in everyday life. Our picture of evil has been falsely shaped by images taken from mythology, religious cults and from books and movies that portray evil as personified in sinister spiritual forces. Demons haunt houses, appear at séances, are summoned up by Ouija boards, contort bodies and are exorcized by the sprinkling of holy water. Whatever evil does reside inside this concept of demonic forces (and you can believe in them or not) is

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    St. Jean Vianney Catholic School in Baton Rouge opened on Aug. 12, 1985 with only grades kindergarten through 4th and 90 students. Today the school offers preschool through 8th grade and has almost 500 students. The school celebrated its 35th anniversary Sept. 17 with an 80s Day. Pictured is the second grade class. Photo provided by St. Jean Vianney

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    Bishop Duca’s message regarding Phase 3

    (The following is a letter Bishop Michael G. Duca wrote to priests in the Diocese of Baton Rouge regarding Louisiana moving into Phase 3 of Louisiana’s pandemic response.)

    This week (Sept. 14) we entered “Phase III” of our social pandemic response.  I have been working to formalize a response to how that will affect our current diocesan guidelines and the prevailing practices in Diocesan parishes. I

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    St. George Catholic Church’s Dragon Hearts Club and Divine Mercy Girls made 695 brown bag lunches including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and special notes for residents affected by Hurricane Sally in Iowa which is near Lake Charles. These services clubs (for girls in Kindergarten through 8th grade) live by their motto “Do small things with great love” from St. Teresa. St. George volunteers also traveled to Iowa on Sept. 19 and assisted with cleanup, repairs and providing a jambalaya meal for more than 600 residents.

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    St. Peter: Pope, missionary, martyr

    In my most recent column for The Catholic Commentator, I wrote about the Gospel accounts of St. Peter’s rocky road as leader of the apostles through Jesus’ three-year ministry, death and resurrection. 

    Jesus stated his intention to found his church on St. Peter, the human rock. At the Last Supper he prayed for St. Peter that after the crucifixion, he would reverse his shameful denial of his Lord and strengthen his brother apostles. 

    How Jesus accomplished this through St. Peter we learn mainly from St. Luke’s addition to his Gospel, the Acts of the

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    Learning fun for PK3 students at SPC

    Even though school looks different this year, the coronavirus and hurricanes haven’t stopped learning in the PK3 classes at St. Peter Chanel School in Paulina, according to principal Paula Poche. 

    The students began the school year sharing stories about themselves and making new friends in their classes. Students also enjoyed making play dough. 

    While learning about the beautiful bodies God gave them, students built body snacks using crackers and pretzel sticks and painted with

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    Does evil exist? Saints have the answer


    In an evolving culture where religion is horrifically villainized and traditional values impugned, is it any surprise the existence of evil is being questioned? 

    For the skeptics seeking proof, look no further than St. Faustina Kowalska, St. John Bosco, St. Theresa of Aliva and even the children of Fatima who all experienced up close and frightening encounters with evil. 

    While on an eight-day retreat in 1936, St. Faustina had a vision in which an angel led her to the chasms of hell, which the future saint described as a “great place of torture.” In

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