Parish News

Year of Mercy 2016 • Pope Francis has declared a Year of Mercy from Dec 8, 2015 to Dec 8, 2016. During that year, special graces and spiritual activities will abound around the Church and here in Natchitoches. Please begin to pray now for those planning activities. If you have ideas or are interested in helping out, please let us know at the office. Thanks!

Today is the Feast of St. Francis • The feast of St. Francis of Assisi is today, October 4. St. Francis of Assisi was the patron of the first chapel located on the grounds of Ft. St. John Baptiste atop what is now American Cemetery. The Church of St. Francis was established as a parish and all the Churches in Natchitoches bore than name until the Diocese of Natchitoches was established at around the same time the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed by the Holy Father in Rome. At that time, the newly consecrated Bp. Martin established his Cathedral as the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Since then, the Cathedral turned Parish Church turned Minor Basilica has born the name of the little friar from Assisi. Today is an Indulgenced Feast day under the usual conditions. So pray & celebrate!

SMS Living Rosary • The St. Mary’s Living Rosary will be prayed on Friday, Oct 9 at 9a in the Gym. Parents ans guests are welcome  to attend, but are asked not to arrive on campus before 8:30a. All are very welcome!

Wednesday Night Catechism • This Wed, Oct 7 at 6pm at the St. Mary’s Chapel, Fr. Ryan’s talk will be titled “Purgatory, Heaven & Hell.” He will discuss the four “last things.”

Parish Supper • This Wed, Oct 7, the Basilica Choir will sponsor our parish supper at the St. Mary’s cafeteria at 5:15p. CCD and Wednesday Night Catechism will follow as usual at 6p. The meal is free, but donations can be made to support our parish musicians. Invite your Catholic & Non-Catholic friends to join us!

Prayerful Levity • Today (10-4) is the unofficial day of prayer and thanksgiving for our nation’s teamsters and truck drivers. Take a moment of prayer today for all those under appreciated men and women who work behind the scenes to keep our markets stocked, our gas tanks filled and our supplies delivered. Thanks, too, to all those hard working folks who earn their living behind the scenes - we may not notice - but our Lord does. Keep up the good work!

Theft Resolved • The theft of sacred vessels from St. Anthony’s Catholic Church as well as those who attempted to steal money from the Poor Box & Historical Restoration box have been apprehended. Thanks to the Natchtioches Police Department for their excellent, hard work!


From the Font

“From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.”

In a world where evolution in all things - from biology to psychology to economics - is simply assumed to be dogmatic truth, it’s challenging to think that God really did make plans “from the beginning.” The wonderful, joyful truth is that “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” For better and worse, so is human nature. The creation and fall of Adam and Eve is as fresh and relevant today as it has ever been. So is the story of Abraham’s trial of faith, Moses’ stuggles of leadership, Jonah’s fear of his calling, the temptation of Peter to deny Christ and the struggles of Paul to preach the faith in spite of his personal “demons.”

Because all truly spiritual things are eternal, God’s perfect plan for us is unchanging. As we weave and sway to stay on that path, God is always providing alternative or corrective paths to get us back to His plan for us and to make the very best of the detour. 

If we’re honest, we have to admit that these detours can be frustrating. We can find ourselves investing in one path, only to be called to take an unexpected turn at any moment. We can spend years anticipating a particular vocation, only to be called elsewhere. We can spend months learning and preparing to assist the pastor by teaching CCD or preparing couples for marriage only to be asked for help with something entirely different. We can be utterly devoted to a particular spiritual tradition, only to find ourselves strongly led to another tradition. None of these things should be seen as random or counter-productive. From the beginning, God has had a plan for us. In fact - like male & female gender - that plan is baked into who we are. Our gifts, talents, weaknesses and temptations are not foreign to us - they are in our DNA.

The great challenge set forth in the scripture is less about finding the voice of God on a mystical mountain journey like Elijah and more about discovering what God has made you to be. From a talent for singing to an approachable demeanor to a passion for reading, the seeds of our personal vocation and God’s perfect plan for us are visible and tangible. To these seeds, we add the power of prayer, fasting and almsgiving which “give us eyes to see and ears to hear” the opportunities and invitations which God places before us. These skills in combination with our God-given gifts reveal to us - with remarkable clarity - an ability to follow the path God has set for us. They work in combination with the knowledge and love of God which the psalms call a light unto the path - a path which will lead to true happiness, fulfillment and joy which cannot be articulated by human words and thoughts!

Insights from Second Street

The single biggest pastoral request that comes from our parishioners and from the Pastoral Council is for increased Youth Ministry. For the past hundred years, the Church has seen a fascinating revival of youth ministry in a series of waves. In the early 20th century, Holy Name Societies spread widely across the US and offered all manner of youth ministry in the form of dances, rallies, seminars and the predecessors of what we would call retreats. By the mid-1920s, Boy Scouting and the Knights of Columbus were thriving and were offering young men, specifically, excellent training in virtue and spirituality. In the 1940s, civic societies picked up some of the slack and hosted their own events. The 1970s brought the advent of CYOs (Catholic Youth Organizations) and Church League sports. In the 1980s, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal began to thrive among the young and “retreat movements” like Cursillo established youth-focused spin-offs. In the 1990s, LifeTEEN re-energized Catholic Youth with a decidedly instructional focus. 

As we have entered the 21st century, the young have stopped attending Church (Catholic Churches or otherwise). Attendance at CCD around the nation has declined dramatically. Youth Groups have decreased in number - even where parishes spend extravagantly on them. New buzzwords like “event-based ministry” have dominated conferences and meetings. 

In our own local area, youth groups of all sorts have been tried repeatedly. As recently as 2009, Immaculate Conception sponsored a youth group. Most of our kids end up attending the well-like weekly event sponsored by First United Methodist.

As always, ideas are welcomed and encouraged. We do sponsor groups of teens to attend summer conferences. The Cenla ACTS group (a modernization of Cursillo) has teen-focused retreats. Right now, though, we find ourselves in a lull.

The one constant in youth ministry that has been universally successful in Catholicism throughout the tumultuous times of the last century is Catholic School. St. Mary’s provides top notch religious education combined with human formation in virtue, discipline and responsibility. Without any doubt, St. Mary’s is our primary youth ministry. We certainly don’t want to dismiss the needs of our younger parishioners - they are our future! - but we do have to acknowledge the advantages of a Catholic School for religious instruction, discipleship and community-building. 
As new opportunities for youth ministry arise, we will certainly pursue them. As you read this, plans are being prepared to provide some social events for our corps of altar servers. A basic plan, although without a time-table, is ready for an organization of Catholic Girls based upon the life and spiritual wisdom of St. Philomena: the Children of Mary. Our CCD confirmandii have asked about mission opportunities. Many of our young people will travel to Washington, DC to the March for Life. There’s a lot happening - but please feel free to bring ideas & suggestions!

From Rome

from Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes (On the Church in the Modern World), #22

The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown.

He Who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15), is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.

As an innocent lamb He merited for us life by the free shedding of His own blood. In Him God reconciled us to Himself and among ourselves; from bondage to the devil and sin He delivered us, so that each one of us can say with the Apostle: The Son of God "loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). By suffering for us He not only provided us with an example for our imitation, He blazed a trail, and if we follow it, life and death are made holy and take on a new meaning.
The Christian man, conformed to the likeness of that Son Who is the firstborn of many brothers, received "the first-fruits of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:23) by which he becomes capable of discharging the new law of love. Through this Spirit, who is "the pledge of our inheritance" (Eph. 1:14), the whole man is renewed from within, even to the achievement of "the redemption of the body" (Rom. 8:23): "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the death dwells in you, then he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also bring to life your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who dwells in you" (Rom. 8:11). Pressing upon the Christian to be sure, are the need and the duty to battle against evil through manifold tribulations and even to suffer death. 

Intentions & Dedications

Mass Intentions

For the week of October 4th

  • Sat 4p Gene Doll and Calvert Scott
  • Sat 5:30p Francis Michael
  • Sun 9a Pro Populo
  • Sun 11a Shirley Ragland, Harry Gongre, Jr. and Janis Abraham
  • Sun 5p Reid Mestayer & Easton Barbier
  • Mon 6:30a Latief Ackel
  • Mon 8a Leo Abraham
  • Tue 6:30a Clifton Lemoine
  • Wed 6:30a Mary Jean Thomas
  • Thu 6:30a Burl Young
  • Fri 6:30a Mae Desadier
  • Sat 8a Joe Bienvenu
  • Sat 4p Red & Sadie Thomas and NL Vercher
  • Sat 5:30p Jackie R. Flynt
  • Sun 9a Billy Benefield, Sr., Latief Ackel, Ross Gwinn, and Grant Ingram
  • Sun 11a Pro Populo
  • Sun 5p The Humphries, Mestayer & Barbier Families

Our Sick & Recently Deceased

Lolette Allen, Teresa Arafat, Flay Rose Balthazar, Maudie Baranowski, William Lynn Basco, Cletus Bauer, Chad Bouchie, Mary-Lou Brasher, Marion Brossette, Flo Brouillette, Darlene Bynog, Bailey Byrd, Carolyn Carter, Marie Charleville, Emilia Cofio, Peggy Cooper, Kim Cunningham, Lela Mae Dalme, Joe Davis, John DeFee, RJ Ducote, Jayce Estep, Angela Eversall, Tom Foshee, Reba Friday, Paula Gagymad, Kramer Gahagan, Vicki Gahagan, Patsy Gallion, Anne Giering, Sophie Gill, Jeff Green, Ross Gwinn, Tammy Hall, Andy Harrington, Curt Harrington, Joyce Hayne, Deborah G. Hernandez, Sue Van Hook, Kalita Jones, Michael Kearney, EvaGrace Keyser, Gary Kilgore, Angelette LaCour, Jheanny Ladao, Samuel Lane, Raymond Litton, Jaden Eli Lodridge, Patricia Loftin, Joseph Longo, Irene Lynche, Brittany MacBrown, Lisa Mack, Dominic Majorie, Barbara Manshack, Danny Manuel, Jack McCain Jr., Meg Michael, Lacey Mitchum, Gary Murphy, Shane Niette, Mary Odom, Sue Prudhomme, Sharon Roach, Wes Rollo, Makaehan Ross, Shirley Roy, Joseph Ryan, Donna Slaughter, Meredith St. Andre, Lil Taylor, Clay Thompson, Mariano Timotio, Ren Todtenbier, Brent Trichel, Patricia Vazquez, Julien Vienne, Ruthie J. Wallboughly, Jessica Warner, Charlene White, Glen & Mary Williams, Marilyn Williams, Laura Young, & Melinda Zolzer