From The Font

"You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas."

The whole phenomenon of renaming is somewhat unique to Christianity. From the beginning the Bible, there is a continuous interplay between the name someone is given by their parents, the name someone is given by another person or by God and the name by which someone will be "called." Unfortunately, translations of the Bible make it even harder to pick up on the nuance between these three different conditions - no one translation really does a good job of handling it consistently. (In the defense of those translators, the Bible comes from no less than seven different original languages - including Koine Greek, so-called "Roman" Greek, Aramaic, Latin, Hebrew, so-called "Temple" Hebrew and Persian.)

The process of name-changing is seen as early as Abram\Abraham. It continues with his wife as well as several of the prophets. Jesus, of course, renames Simon to Peter and Saul to Paul.

So what's the story with names and name-changing? In short, names are a sign of identity. When the Jews gave a name, it implied far more than just an identification tag to make conversation easier. In the Old Testament, many names are highly symbolic. They means things like "God Saves" (Yeshua \ Jesus) or "He who is like God" (Michael) or, my personal favorite, "Quick Booty, Speedy Spoil" (Mahershalalhashbaz). This is especially true of the names of prophets. As time went by, names were given to imply association. Certain names were typical of the house of David. Names implied connection. 

The changing of a name implied a shift in identity, connections and purpose. For us, names are very fluid and changeable. We give each other nicknames on a whim. In the ancient world, though, names meant a great deal. When Abram was given a new name, he was symbolically brought into the house, clan and family of God. When Simon was given a new name, he was intimately associated with the clan of Jesus and his purpose was transformed from fisherman to foundation ("rock"). 

In modern Catholicism, there are four common moments of this kind of name-changing: Baptism, Confirmation, Religious Profession and Papal ascension. At Baptism and Confirmation, we take a saint's name because we connect ourselves with that saint's intercession and with their role in God's family. In religious profession, the monk or nun takes a new name to order him or herself to the religious community and to God's family in a new way. The same tradition gave us the custom of the pope taking a new name at his election. This process is somewhat odd to us - but it's clearly significant to the Lord!

Insights From Second Street

Common sense would tell us that "you catch more flies with honey" and that people are not attracted to doomsday prophets. Our natural inclination would be to believe that Christianity grows and thrives when the smiles outnumber the looks of sombre determination or the frowns of penitence. Even Pope Francis has criticized the dour-faced disciples. On the other hand, St. Paul calls down woe upon any who would not "preach Christ and Him crucified." 

For that reason, one of the most amazing preachers and pastors of the modern era - Raymond Cardinal Burke - teaches that preachers should always start a sermon with the Cross, then lead toward the resurrection, and finish the sermon with a practical call to action. The method is very Christ-like. Jesus' teachings frequently begin with what's wrong, teach what's right and then encourage His listeners to make that journey from bad to good in their own lives.

A number of people here in our community have asked why so many of my sermons start with sin and the cross. Why do you talk so often about contraception? Why do you always point out the problems of the world? 

The reason is two-fold. On the one hand, it's a really effective and very Christ-like method of teaching, encouraging, challenging and exhorting. On the other hand, the stakes are high! So many Catholics in the world today have become accustomed to the easy life of Faith. Jesus loves us and so we can just do whatever we want… We've forgotten that our eternal reward is not automatic. We've forgotten that Jesus Christ is not just a story or a character who can be my friend but is someone else's personal savior. Jesus is a real Divine Person and His law is not subject to my ratification, interpretation or appeal. 

Despite the common sense assumptions, the Church has grown most fervently in times of struggle and persecution. The biggest American Catholic Sunday Mass turnout since 1970 (based on P.R. & CARA data) was September 16, 2001. 9/11 drove people to Church. The confession lines were hours long! Our realization of God's presence is most acute when we realize that we are not as self-sufficient as we think we are. It is in times of suffering, illness, and catastrophe that we turn to God with the most fervor.

Those sermons which fail to convict, encourage, challenge and teach are the ones most easily digested and most easily forgotten. They are fast food. What we need for sustenance are the tough sermons that shake us up and make us aware of our need for God.

The Jargon…

by: Fr. Ryan

In 2014, as a core element of our mission as a Basilica to promote excellence in both Sacred Liturgy and Sacred Music, Tommy Myrick was hired as our Director of Sacred Liturgy. 

Tommy is originally from Leesville, Louisiana. He moved to Natchitoches and completed his studies at Northwestern with a degree in Sacred Music. He spent several years as the campus minister for his alma mater and was the de facto director of sacred music at Holy Cross. Tommy is married to Emily Myrick of Evergreen, Louisiana, and lately, of the Natchitoches city Police.

Tommy’s musical and religious background is a significant part of his qualification. Tommy began life as a charismatic, evangelical Christian. He discovered his talent for voice and, later, for instruments and placed them at the service of the Lord while still a young man. His time at NSU exposed him to the official teachings of the Catholic Church while he was, himself, not Catholic. This was a blessing because he was able to approach these teachings in an objective way and see how the Church’s liturgy is supposed to work. Only later did Tommy become a Catholic through the pastoral care of Fr. Jason Gootee.

Since becoming Catholic, Tommy has voraciously studied the Church’s teaching on Music and Liturgy. He has attended conferences and has dialogued with experts around the country and in Rome. His work at the Minor Basilica began short on practical work and long on theory, study and development. In the past year, Tommy has developed three distinct choirs which he directs. The Basilican Choir sings for Basilican Days, Holy Days of Obligation and Holy Week. The “Schola Cantorum” (School of Song) sings for the Traditional Latin Mass and Vespers on Sunday evenings. The St. Mary’s Chorus sings for all school Masses and will, eventually, provide all sorts of services at St. Mary’s and at Immaculate. A Basilican Children’s Choir will likely be established in the years to come. 

In addition to directing choirs, Tommy also provides weekly voice lessons for our clergy. He facilitates, as needed, music for funerals and weddings. Tommy fills in, as requested, for our Sunday choirs. Tommy is also responsible for planning concerts of Sacred Music which thus far include the Solemn High Choral Requiem Mass on All Souls’ Day which was well attended and truly marvelous. Eventually, these events will take place quarterly. 

All in all, Tommy has been an astounding and essential addition to our mission as a Basilica.

Parish News

SMS STUDENTS MARCH FOR LIFE Students from St. Mary’s School will be traveling to Washington DC on Tuesday, Jan. 20, to stand against the continued legalization of abortion in our nation. Please pray for these students and for an end to abortion.

PARISH OFFICE & ST. MARY’S SCHOOL CLOSED Monday, Jan. 19th, the Parish Office & St. Mary's School will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Day. The Office & School will re-open Tuesday, Jan. 20th, at 8am. We pray that everyone has fun-filled and safe holiday!

BLOOD DRIVE On Tuesday, 1/20, there will be a blood drive at St. Mary’s School from 8a-2p. All are welcome to participate. We hope to see you there! 

NO WED. NIGHT ADULT CATECHISM The Wed. Night Adult Catechism class will be cancelled on 1/21. However, students should still report to their CCD class at 6p as normal. The Adult Catechism class will resume on 1/28. Please help us in spreading the word. 

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS’ WEEK BEGINS Catholic Schools’ Week begins Monday, 1/26, and ends this Friday, 1/30. All are asked to pray for Catholic Schools, especially St. Mary’s, and to reflect upon ways in which everyone of us can help assist with the mission of Catholic Education.

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS BINGO FUNDRAISERS The Knights of Columbus #1357 host weekly Bingo nights every Wednesday beginning at 7pm and on the second Sunday of every month. Proceeds from these events go to support all of our local Catholic Churches as well as other worthy causes like the N.A.R.C., the Special Olympics and St. Mary’s School to name only a few. All are welcome.

Sun: 10a-12p
Mon: Closed
Tue: 10a-2p
Wed: 10a-2p
Thu: 10a-2p
Fri: 10a-2p
Sat: 10a-4p

Parish Events

  • Mon, 1/19, Parish Office CLOSED & St. Mary’s NO SCHOOL, MLK Day
  • Mon, 1/19, Pastoral Council Meeting, 6p
  • Tue, 1/20, SMS All-School Mass, 10a
  • Tue, 1/20, CDA Meeting, 6p
  • Tue - Fri, 1/20 - 1/23, SMS Warriors for Life Trip to Washington D.C.
  • Wed, 1/21, CCD, 6-7:30p @ St. Mary’s
  • Mon - Fri, 1/26 - 1/30, Catholic Schools Week
  • Tue, 1/27, SMS Make-up Pictures & Club Pictures
  • Tue, 1/27, SVdP Meeting, 6:30p
  • Wed, 1/28, SMS All-School Mass, 9a
  • Wed, 1/28, CCD & Wed. Night Adult Catechism, 6-7:30p @ St. Mary’s


Our Sunday Collection last week was $9,964. Thank you for your generous return to our Lord!

To Donate Onlineclick here or scroll to the bottom of this page.

For more information on our parish finances, click here.

Within the Sanctuary

Sat 1/17 4p Kathleen Hicks, (Lector) • Michael & Joanne Yankowski, (EMHC-CI) • D.Bennett, J.Friedel, (Altar Boys)

Sun 1/18 9a Karen Apponey, (Lector) • Elaine Bacon, (EMHC-CI) • Michael King, Stephen Taylor, (EMHC-CH) • M.&P.Vienne, M.McCart, (Altar Boys)

Sun 1/18 11a Kathy Bundrick, (Lector) • Tara Whitehead, (EMHC-CI) • Sam & Lillie Misuraca, (EMHC-CH) • A.&J.Parker, C.Fisher, (Altar Boys)

Sat 1/24 4p Levi Thompson, (Lector) • Micky Hennigan, David Bouchie, (EMHC-CI) • D.&M.Thibodaux, (Altar Boys)

Sun 1/25 9a Joe Cunningham Sr., (Lector) • Emelda Odom, (EMHC-CI) • John Cunningham, Buddy Giering, (EMHC-CH) • J.Miley, C.Cunningham, G.Fidelak, (Altar Boys)

Sun 1/25 11a John Laborde, (Lector) • Barbara Laborde, (EMHC-CI) • Joseph Sklar, Haley Johnson, (EMHC-CH) • E.Norwood, J.Burrell, (Altar Boys)

*Altar Boys who are not scheduled may serve if space permits. Come to the Sacristy 10 minutes before Mass.

Memorials & Prayer Intentions
Holy Masses

  • Sat 4p: Doris & Will Pierson and Elise James
  • Sun 9a: John Bacon
  • Sun 11a: Pro Populo
  • Sun 5p: Dr. Robert & Eloise Shannahan
  • Mon 6:30a: Greg Lightfoot
  • Mon 8a: NO MASS
  • Tue 6:30a: James K. & Jean Lee
  • Wed 6:30a: Johnnie Mallory
  • Thu 6:30a: Red & Sadie Thomas
  • Fri 6:30a: Len Dalton
  • Sat 8a: Martha LaCaze

Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for this Month are that those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace. And that, in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal. 

Please pray for our Recently Deceased: Frances James

Please pray for our Sick & Suffering: Bob Allen, Lolette Allen, William Lynn Basco, Lauren Bienvenu, Millard Bienvenu,  Danny Bostick, Chad Bouchie, Mar-Lou Brasher,  Cayleigh Braud, Marion Brossette, Flo Brouillette, Bailey Byrd, Sonya Campbell, Carolyn Carter, Marie Charleville, Emilia Cofio, Woody Cox, Kim Cunningham, Lela Mae Dalme, Joe Davis, John DeFee, Richard DeVargas, RJ Ducote, Angela Eversall, Tom Foshee, Reba Friday, Paula Gagymad, Kramer Gahagan, Vicki Gahagan, Patsy Gallion, Sophie Gill, Elizabeth Governale, Curt Harrington, Joyce Hayne, Deborah G. Hernandez, Frederick Hickman, Sue Van Hook, Kalita Jones, Michael Kearney, EvaGrace Keyser, Gary Kilgore, Jheanny Ladao, Samuel Lane, Raymond Litton, Jaden Eli Lodridge, Patricia Loftin, Joseph Longo, Lisa Mack, Dominic Majorie, Danny Manuel, Jack McCain Jr. Meg Michael, Lacey Mitchum, Mary Moss, Shane Niette, Mary Odom, Judy Risty, Sharon Roach, Wes Rollo, Makaehan Ross, Shirley Roy, Joseph Ryan, Donna Slaughter, Lil Taylor, Clay Thompson, Ren Todtenbier, Brent Trichel,Patricia Vazquez, Julien Vienne, Ruthie J. Wallboughly,Jessica Warner, Glen & Mary Williams, & Marilyn Williams