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‘The life I wanted’

Posted November 3, 2020 at 12:00 am

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 Sisters of Mercy and standing before Bishop Michael G. Duca and St. John pastor Father Jeff Bayhi, Sister Edna humbly renewed her vows Oct. 28, another milestone in a 25-year journey rooted in the Philippines with stops in Rome and New Jersey before landing in southeast Louisiana at Metanoia House,

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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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    SEELOS CENTER BLESSING

    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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    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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    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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    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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    PROTECTING THE UNBORN

    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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    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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    Frassati House to offer haven for Catholic young adults

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator 

    As a young adult and high school religion teacher, Ryan Hallford experienced firsthand a paucity of activities offered by the Catholic Church geared toward his age group. 

    He and his peers appear to be caught in a void, certainly too old to participate in many of the activities and ministries targeted may have been actively involved in at the college level but perhaps just

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    Father Johnson generating excitement

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator 

    Two months into his assignment as vocations director for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Father Joshua Johnson, someone typically seen with seemingly boundless energy, has an extra pep in his step. 

    Four young men recently attended a Come and See Weekend at St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict. The weekend including a number of weekend activities, including hiking, listening to current

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    CORDON BLEU

    St. Jude, CHS earn awards
     

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator 

    Students at St. Jude the Apostle School in Baton Rouge celebrate the announcement that St. Jude was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. It is the school’s first Blue Ribbon award. Catholic High School in Baton Rouge was also named a

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    Rosary offers spiritual hope to dementia patients

    By Debbie Shelley

    The Catholic Commentator 

    A diagnosis of dementia often strikes fear in the hearts of the person who will be living with the disease and their loved ones. 

    Myriads of questions arise as loved ones set a protocol to meet the person’s medical, daily practical and later stages needs. 

    In a rosary program offered in October by Stephen Ministry of St. Aloysius Church

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    Modern technology keeps prayer partners connected

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator 

    Quarantined courtesy of a bout with the coronavirus and additional health challenges, Milam Brassett found herself in a quandary, not only about attending daily Mass but also praying with prayer partner John Gabel. 

    John Gabel, left, and Milam Brassett gaze at the flip phone Gabel keeps on during morning at St. Gerard Majella Church in Baton Rouge so Brassett can follow along while she remains mostly in self quarantine at home. Brassett overcame COVID-19 earlier this year and faces additional health issues so

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    PET BLESSING

    Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge held its annual blessing of the pets Oct. 4 at the hospital. About 40 people were in attendance and the pets included dogs, two cats and even a pig. Photo provided by Grace Weber | Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center

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    PASTOR INSTALLATION

    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

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    HURRICANE LAURA RELIEF

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator  

    During his years in the military, Reginald Berry became accustomed to seeing the scorched earth of war-torn areas.  

    Damage is widespread throughout the Lake Charles area. Every church in the Diocese of Lake Charles suffered damage and at least 10 churches were devastated. Photo provided by St. Margaret Queen of Scotland Church in Albany

     

    But those memories did little

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    Irreplaceable statue of Christ destroyed

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA) – A vandal destroyed a statue of Jesus at St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso, Texas on Sept. 15, the latest in an ongoing series of attacks on churches across the United States.   

    According to the Diocese of El Paso, someone entered the sanctuary of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the morning of Sept. 15 and destroyed a nearly 90-year-old statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The statue had been placed behind the main altar of the church,

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    PATRIOT DAY

    Holy Ghost School in Hammond celebrated Patriot Day on Friday, Sept. 11 in memory of the people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.  Students wore red, white and/or blue to school and started their day with a virtual tribute in remembrance of that day in history. Pictured in their patriotic colors are the second-grade classes.  Photo provided by Cindy Wagner | Holy Ghost School  

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    New SVDP center outlet during Laura

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator  

    A newly-minted daycare center that can double as a night shelter during emergencies proved its value in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.  

    A recently opened daycare center at St. Vincent de Paul Society in Baton Rouge also has the versatility to double as a night shelter in emergencies, such as hurricanes and freezes. The shelter recently housed

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    PASTOR INSTALLATION

    Bishop Michael G. Duca, right, presents the keys to the church to Father Eddie Martin after installing him as pastor of St. Anne Church in Napoleonville, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Plattenville and St. Philomena Church in Labadieville at St. Anne on Sept. 6. Father Martin had served as parochial administrator at the church before appointed pastor. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 

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    Finding peace in the Sabbath

    By Debbie Shelley

    The Catholic Commentator  

    The coronavirus pandemic, social unrest and the Gulf of Mexico furiously churning out one hurricane after another has many people caught in distress.  

    Keeping the Sabbath holy can be challenging in these days of a worldwide pandemic and limited seating capacities at churches throughout the Diocese of Baton Rouge. But spiritual leaders say the Sabbath is ideally a time of renewal and helps one maintain spiritual

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    Pastoral appointments

     Bishop Michael G. Duca on Sept. 13 announced the appointment of Father Brent Maher pastor at St. Agnes Church in Baton Rouge and Father Babu Vareeth IMS pastor at St. Ann Church in Morganza and St Vincent de Paul Chapel in Innis.  

    Father Maher’s six-year appointment was effective Sept. 12. His office as pastor at St. Ann and St. Vincent de Paul will cease Oct. 12.  

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    40 Days for Life scheduled Sept. 23-Nov. 1

    By Debbie Shelley

    The Catholic Commentator  

    The Baton Rouge 40 Days for Life Campaign, scheduled for Sept. 23 ­- Nov. 1, is an opportunity for people to keep a prayerful vigil for the end of abortion and let women in crisis pregnancies know “we care,” says Danielle Van Haute, associate respect life coordinator for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  

    The global interdenominational grassroots campaign aims to end abortion through fasting,

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    FEEDING THE SOUL

    ‘Nutrition of love’ served at St. Gerard

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator  

    As students and their families picked up a savory dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, paired with green beans and a roll in the parish hall at St. Gerard Church in Baton Rouge, “Mama” Seaball Thomas stood proud, a smile sweeping across her face as she assisted handing out

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    Diocese responds to Laura relief

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator  

    Parishes, organizations and schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge quickly mobilized to provide relief for victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.  

    Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge Executive Director David Aguillard, left, is pictured with Sister Marjorie Hebert of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Sister Mariam McClean of Catholic Charities of Southwest

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    SCHOLARSHIP FUND DONATION

    On Aug.19, St. Michael the Archangel High School in Baton Rouge received a $10,000 check on behalf of the Baton Rouge State Fair Association. The donation will be used to complete the $50,000 Jim Broussard Greater Baton Rouge State Fair endowed scholarship. The presentation was made posthumously on behalf of Jim Broussard. Broussard was actively involved in his community and originally requested that students receiving the scholarship show an interest in serving their community. Students eligible for need-based tuition are eligible to apply for this

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    Pelosi says Hyde Amendment jeopardized

    The Los Angeles Times  Aug. 31 that Pelosi recently told some House Democrats that funding bills next year

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