Saint John Berchmans Cathedral Parish: Authentic Catholicism in the “heart” of the “Bible Belt”

CathedralSJB

by Doug Lawrence

We traveled to northwestern Louisiana this past weekend to attend a family reunion. On arrival, it became abundantly clear that the people living in and around the Shreveport area tend to be very religious – but mostly – NOT Catholic.

Out of the estimated eighty or ninety who attended the reunion, only six Catholics assembled early Sunday morning, in order to attend Mass at the Cathedral of Saint John Berchmans, originally constructed in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1902.  (Saint John Berchmans – pronounced “Berkmans” – is the patron saint of altar servers.)

A Cathedral is considered to be the principal church of a diocese and it is also typically, the “seat” (cathedra) of the local Bishop.

Near as I can tell, most everyone else at the family reunion was Baptist, but the thing that I noticed most was the sheer diversity of Christian denominations in the area, along with the fact that most of the AM radio band and more than half of the FM band seemed to be devoted solely to religious programming – and NOT just on Sundays! (Thank God for Sirius Satellite Radio!)

Non-Catholic Christian churches could be observed on almost every block, while Catholic churches were comparatively rare.

Here’s the mix:

Apostolic Churches (4)
Lutheran Churches (6)
Assembly of God (20)

Baptist Churches (333)

Bible Churches (6)
Methodist Churches (37)
Nazarene Churches (5)
Non-Denominational (15)

Catholic Churches (21)

Orthodox Churches (3)
Christian Churches (11)
Pentecostal (13)
Church of Christ (17)
Presbyterian (13)
Church of God (32)
Reformed Churches (1)
Seventh Day Adventist (2)
Episcopal Churches (5)
Vineyard Churches (1)
Evangelical (1)
Other Churches (23)

Source: USA Church

But while the Catholic “profile” in the area appeared to be definitively low, the quality of the Catholic faith experience there turned out be pleasantly high – at least, at Saint John Berchmans Cathedral Parish!

Here’s a little of what we experienced, this past Sunday:

The church was traditional and beautiful – as were most all cathedrals of similar – 1920’s “vintage”.

We were suitably impressed by the vaulted ceilings; the detailed wood and plaster work; the abundant and exquisite stained-glass windows; the deep-breathing, antique pipe organ;, the marble columns and the genuine stone (not wood) altar; along with the traditional statuary – which was both elegant and easily recognizable.

The tabernacle could be found in the very center of the sanctuary, directly behind the main altar. There was a raised pulpit/ambo for proclaiming the Word of God and the sanctuary was fully provisioned for a quick turn around and transformation, in the rare event of a TLM (Traditional Latin Mass.)

We observed altar boys/servers (not altar girls) – and the servers were NOT wearing the usual dreaded, gaudy, overly casual – popular but seriously out of place athletic shoes. Coincidentally, this parish also produces more than the average number of new, priestly vocations.

The congregation appeared to be well rounded and diverse, spanning the ages from eight months to around eighty years – with a number of young families in attendance.

The standard Novus Ordo liturgy was celebrated reverently and totally “by the book” – with no shenanigans.

A small group of RCIA catechumens occupied reserved seating. They seemed very happy and privileged to be there,  reverently filing out at the appropriate time.

A Deacon proclaimed the Gospel and delivered a homily that was both technically excellent and distinctly on-point.

tenlepers

Afterwards, I began to wonder if the nine of ten lepers
who never returned to thank Jesus for their healing
might have suffered a relapse at some point in the future! 

The Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel was led by the priest and deacon, immediately following the official end of the liturgy.

michael_fighting_devil_4x6

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the Divine Power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Compared to some very disappointing similar experiences in New York, Minnesota, California and Washington State, I would rate this as one of the best. A very pleasant surprise, in a part of the world where the Catholic Church remains seriously under-appreciated!

The parish website will tell you much more, as will this Wikipedia post.

I suggest you also take a few minutes to watch a very nice video presentation on the saint, the cathedral and the parish.

So much negative Catholic stuff comes across my desk every day.
It’s nice to be able to post something almost entirely positive,
for a change! 

T H A N K  Y O U,  J E S U S! 

Gov. Jindal’s over the counter solution to the onerous HHS Mandate

“As a conservative Republican, I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control,” Jindal wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Keeping birth control as prescription medicine, he said, only drives up health care costs with unnecessary doctors’ visits and lines the pockets of pharmaceutical companies. He cites a recent recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that oral contraceptions should be sold over the counter.

At the same time, the pro-life Republican argued against the Obama administration mandate that most employer-based insurance cover contraception, writing that “anyone who has a religious objection to contraception should not be forced by government health-care edicts to purchase it for others.”

Link

Editor’s note: Catholics would be free to practice their faith without government coercion.

Girl Scouts forced to go Trans-Gender. Troops disband instead.

Three Girl Scout troops at a Christian school in Louisiana have disbanded in protest of a policy of inclusion for transgenders.

Read more

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal Signs Pro-Life Bill With Abortion Conscience Clause

Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill Tuesday that gives pro-life doctors and other medical professionals more conscience protections on abortion under state law.

The bill covers both public and private health care workers and allows them to opt out of involvement in abortions. The measure also allows withdrawal from participating in anti-life bioethics practices such as human cloning, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research. The bill allows the medical workers to receive job protection and legal immunity from employer discrimination if they refused to participate in the practices.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the conscience protection for doctors and health care workers claiming that it would somehow reduce access the medical services, even though that has not been the case in other states. Full story at LifeNews.com