News and Press

Information and Announcements About The Diocese

Upcoming events in the Diocese of Lake Charles: 

Bishop’s Bible study series continues in December
LAKE CHARLES – The fourth session of the 2021-2022 series of Bishop Glen John Provost’s First Friday Men’s Prayer Breakfasts continues on December 3. This cycle is based on the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Genesis (Patriarchal History). The Women’s Prayer Luncheons will resume on Wednesday, February 2, 2022.
 
Breakfasts are held in Ave Maria Hall of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception following the Bishop’s 6:30 a.m. celebration of Mass in the Cathedral. The luncheons begin at 11:30 a.m. in the Ave Maria Hall with the Bishop’s teachings starting around 12:15 p.m.
 
The Men’s Prayer Breakfasts will continue in 2022 on Feb. 4, March 4, April 1, and May 6. Men may register for the breakfasts by calling the Diocese of Lake Charles at 337-439-7400, Ext. 309.
 
Dates in 2022 for the Women’s Prayer Luncheons, catered by Treasures of Marilyn’s, are Feb. 2, March 9, April 6, and May 4. Reservations should be made prior to each luncheon by sending a check in the amount of $12.50, payable to the Diocese of Lake Charles, to Victoria Walter, 411 Iris Street, Lake Charles, LA 70601. A stamped self-addressed envelope should be included with payment. For more information, call 337-439-7400, Ext. 309. 
 
Vocation discernment day for young women is Nov. 27
LAKE CHARLES — “Abide,” a one-day retreat to introduce young women to tools for discerning God’s call, is planned from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday, November 27. The vocation discernment retreat, open to young women in high school to age 25, will take place at the Religious Sisters of Mercy convent, 1414 Martha Street. Register at http://lcvocations.com/eventsw.
 
Religious Sisters of Mercy to lead “Cor ad Cor” on Dec. 7
LAKE CHARLES — The Religious Sisters of Mercy will host "Cor ad Cor,” a ministry for unmarried women ages 18-39, from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, December 7, at their convent, 1414 Martha Street. The monthly gathering, which has been moved to the first Tuesday of the month, is for women who want to deepen their capacity to hear and respond to God's voice as He leads them on their daily pilgrimage of faith, hope and charity.
 
The evening begins at 5:10 p.m. with a Holy Hour, followed by dinner and discussion at 6:15 p.m., then Scripture reading and discussion, and ending at 7:45 p.m. with night prayer. It is not necessary to be discerning religious life to attend.
 
“Cor ad Cor,” is a shortened version of “Cor ad Cor Loquitur,” a Latin phrase meaning “Heart speaks to Heart,” which comes from a letter written by St. Francis de Sales to one of his spiritual directees.
 
The gathering is held on the first Tuesday of each month. For more information or to RSVP, call 337-564-0030 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   
 
Marriage enrichment conference planned March 5
MOSS BLUFF — Registration is open for Together in Holiness, a one-day marriage enrichment conference presented by the St. John Paul II Foundation and the Diocese of Lake Charles. The one-day conference scheduled 9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Camp Karol, 1087 Bozo Road, is a series for dioceses inspiring spouses to grow together in holiness and and empowering parents to form their children in the Catholic faith.
 
The Most Rev. Glen John Provost, D.D., M.A., Bishop of Lake Charles, will be the celebrant for the Mass and Marriage Blessing at noon. Conference topics include: The Holy Eucharist, a Nuptial Sacrament; The Eucharistic Mission of the Family; and Liturgical Living in the Home. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will be offered during the day, and exhibitor booths will be available throughout the conference.
 
Early bird discount of $54 per couple, or $35 per individual through January 17 includes a box lunch and light afternoon snack for each registrant. After January 17, registration fee is $64 per couple and $40 per individual. Partial or full scholarships are available for families in need of financial assistance with the cost of registration.
 
For those interested in attending the Together in Holiness marriage enrichment conference, the full schedule and registration form is available at togetherinholiness.org. You can also contact Mylinh Vo, conference coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 832-779-1070, for more information. 
 

Morning of Reflection for Medical Professionals is Dec. 11
An Advent Morning of Reflection for Medical Professionals is planned for 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, December 11, at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, 5495 Elliott Road, Lake Charles. The morning will include Mass, a talk presented by Father Ruben J. Buller, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

All physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, nurses, technicians, administrators, and health care personnel are invited to attend. For more information and to RSVP, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

LC Messiah returns with 80th performance on Dec. 5
The Lake Charles Messiah Chorus and Orchestra will present a Southwest Louisiana holiday tradition with the 80th performance of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, in historic F.G. Bulber Auditorium at McNeese State University. Admission is free.

The first Messiah was conducted in 1940 by a young Francis G. Bulber, who was inspired to bring local church choirs together along with McNeese students to create this special event. Bulber’s daughter, Colette Bulber Tanner, is the current Messiah director.

The performance is a little over an hour and will feature songs by soloists who are McNeese student vocal majors. The large chorus, made up of community members from the five-parish area, will be performing several songs including the famous Hallelujah Chorus and For Unto Us a Child is Born. Orchestra members are from the community and the McNeese faculty.

If you would like to help support the Lake Charles Messiah Chorus, visit www.lcmessiah.org to download the donation form. 

"Together for Life" marriage prep classes 
“Together for Life,” the marriage preparation day hosted by the Office of Family Life, announces dates of classes through June of 2022: Dec. 18, Jan. 8, Feb. 19, March 12, April 9, May 14, and June 11. 
 
Marriage prep days are held on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a one-hour break for lunch. With the exception of February session, the location for all sessions will be at the Ave Maria Hall, 935 Bilbo Street, across from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The location for February will be in the Catholic Deaf Center, 416 Iris Street, next door to the Chancery.
 
For more information, contact: Denise Wyninger at 337-309-9555; or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 
 

Melchizedek Project: Vocation discernment groups
The Melchizedek Project hosts meetings for young men in high school and college in an environment where they can freely consider God's plan in their life. The vocation discernment groups meet bi-weekly, and food will be provided. For more information on meeting times and locations, visit http://lcvocations.com/discernment-groups

Vocation discernment day for young men planned Dec. 11
SULPHUR — "Fuse," a one-day event to introduce young men to the tools for discerning their vocation, will be held 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday, December 11, at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church, 1109 Cypress Street. The event is open to young men in high school to 25 years old. For more information, contact Father Michael Caraway, Director of Vocations and Seminarians, at 337-527-5261, or register at www.lcvocations.com

Adoration/Divine Mercy at Saint Charles Center
MOSS BLUFF — Deacon Brian Soileau, director of Saint Charles Center, presides over Eucharistic Adoration and Divine Mercy for Adults at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in the Assumption Chapel. Saint Charles Center is located at 2151 Sam Houston Jones Parkway. For more information, call 337-855-1232.

November 14, 2021
Sunday
                                                     

On the Eucharist

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Praised be Jesus Christ, who has given us His Paschal Mystery, as a living memorial of His Passion, Death, and Resurrection! "To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no 1382).

At their annual Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore November 15-18, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed that the sainthood causes for three laypeople from the U.S. should be advanced by their respective dioceses. Two causes, those of Charlene Marie Richard and Auguste Robert “Nonco” Pelafigue, were presented by Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of Lafayette.

(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)  

November 17, 2021
U.S. bishops approve action items at Fall General Assembly
BALTIMORE— The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathered for the 2021 Fall General Assembly in Baltimore this week. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bishops’ June 2020 spring meeting was canceled, and the November 2020 fall meeting and June 2021 spring meeting were held in a virtual format. This was the first in-person meeting of the full body of bishops since November 2019.

The meeting agenda included more than a dozen action items that were up for a vote: 

  • By a voice vote, the bishops affirmed their support for the advancement of the causes of beatification and canonization for three lay individuals at the diocesan level: Charlene Marie Richards, Auguste Robert Pelafigue, and Joseph Dutton.
  • The bishops received an update on the Eucharistic revival initiative and voted on moving forward with a National Eucharistic Congress in the summer of 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The bishops approved the national event with 201 votes in favor, 17 against, and 5 abstentions.
  • Through the USCCB’s Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines, the Conference exercises faithful, competent, and socially responsible stewardship in how it manages its financial resources. The updated guidelines were presented to the body of bishops and this action item was approved with 216 votes in favor, 10 against, and 5 abstentions.
  • The bishops discussed the draft of a statement that is meant to be a reflection on the transformative beauty of the Eucharist that invites each of us into a deeper relationship with Christ. The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church was approved with 222 votes in favor, 8 against, and 3 abstentions.
  • The Latin Church members voted to approve the revised National Statutes for the Catechumenate for use in the dioceses of the U.S. by a vote of 222 - 1 with 0 abstentions. It was followed with a vote to approve the Estatutos Nacionales para el Catecumenado for use in the dioceses of the U.S. with 224 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention.
  • The Conference’s longstanding commitment to promote financial accountability in the pastoral governance of the diocesan bishop is affirmed through the Resolution on Diocesan Financial Reporting, which encourages the adoption of a voluntary financial reporting system by the dioceses as a means of offering further evidence of their compliance with canon law (Church law) pertaining to fiscal administration. Since its original passage in 2000, the resolution has been renewed by the bishops approximately every five years. It was approved by the bishops with 233 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention.
  • Each year, the USCCB publishes the Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America which lists each day’s celebration, rank, liturgical color, citations for the Lectionary for Mass, and Psalter cycle for the Liturgy of the Hours. In a vote of 213 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention, the bishops approved the proposal to inscribe Saint Teresa Calcutta as an optional memorial on September 5.
  • The Latin Church members of the Conference voted to approve the translation by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) of Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery Outside Mass for use in the dioceses of the United States, which was approved with 200 votes in favor, 14 against, and 4 abstentions.
  • The Latin Church members of the Conference approved the revised English edition of the Order of the Christian Initiation of Adults with 215 votes in favor, 6 against, and 2 abstentions. It was followed by a vote on a revised Spanish edition of the Ritual para la Iniciación cristiana de adultos, which was likewise approved with 218 votes in favor, 3 against, and 1 abstention.
  • The full body of bishops authorized the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People to begin a review of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults in advance of the June 2025 mandated review date. The proposal was approved with 230 votes in favor, 5 against, and 0 abstentions.
  • The bishops accepted the recommendations of the USCCB’s Committee on Budget and Finance to approve the 2022 budget by a vote of 223 - 4 with 5 abstentions. 

Recordings of the bishops’ general assembly and the press conferences may be accessed at www.usccb.org/meetings.

November 16, 2021
USCCB election results announced at Fall General Assembly
BALTIMORE — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) have convened their November General Assembly in Baltimore, their first in person meeting in two years in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the bishops elected a new Conference treasurer and chairmen of five standing committees. The elected bishops will serve for one year as the treasurer-elect or as committee chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term that begins at the conclusion of the bishops’ 2022 Fall General Assembly. The bishops also elected 3 members to the Board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and a general secretary for the Conference.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen as treasurer-elect and chairman-elect of the Committee on Budget and Finance in a vote 135 to 106 over Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle.

Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing as chairman-elect of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations in a 137-103 vote over Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver.

Bishop Steven J. Lopes of Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter as chairman-elect of the Committee on Divine Worship in a 121-120 vote over Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of St. Louis.

Archbishop Borys Gudziak of Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in a 125-116 vote over Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield.  

Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles as chairman-elect of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth in a 140-103 vote over Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas.

Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso as chairman-elect of the Committee on Migration in a 127-116 vote over Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami.

Reverend Michael J. K. Fuller, STD was elected as General Secretary of the USCCB in a vote over Reverend Daniel Hanley. The general secretary’s term is five years.

Additionally, 3 members of the Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services were elected from a slate of 4 candidates. They are (alphabetical order):

  • Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio
  • Bishop Donald J. Hying
  • Bishop Oscar A. Solis

News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations and other materials of the General Assembly are posted at: www.usccb.org/meetings  

November 11, 2021
Winner of CCHD’s Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award named
WASHINGTON — The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has named Ms. Ogechi Akalegbere of the Archdiocese of Washington as the recipient of the 2021 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award. Each year, this prestigious award from the CCHD recognizes a young adult between the ages of 18 and 40 who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions. Ogechi will be honored at a reception on November 16 during the U.S. bishops’ annual General Assembly in Baltimore.
 
Ogechi Akalegbere is a Nigerian-American, Catholic young adult leader who is passionate about the faith call to do justice. With Action in Montgomery (AIM), a CCHD-funded organization in the Archdiocese of Washington, Ogechi trained low-income and immigrant parents to advocate for equitable access to resources in schools so their children could thrive. Now an AIM board member, she continues to help local communities give witness to the needs of their members. Ogechi also leads trainings on equity for parishes with Catholics United for Black Lives. After several incidents of national unrest, Ogechi took inspiration from Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA, and founded a small group for young adult women of color to discern their response as people of faith. Ogechi works as the Christian Service Coordinator at Connelly School of the Holy Child, and serves as a catechist, lector, and pastoral council co-chair at St. Rose of Lima parish.
 
Bishop David G. O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the USCCB’s  Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development said, “Ogechi embodies CCHD’s mission to empower individuals to become active participants in their lives who transform the systems and structures that perpetuate poverty. We are honored to award Ogechi with the 2021 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award and we hope that her dedication to putting her faith into action proves an inspiration and example for us all.”
 
The award, bestowed annually, is named for the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who was archbishop of Chicago from 1982 till his death in 1996. Cardinal Bernardin served as the first general secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference from 1968-1972, and as the conference’s third president from 1974-1977. More information about the award is available at: www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/cardinal-bernardin-new-leadership-award.cfm 
 
November 9, 2021
USCCB Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection Releases Annual Report
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released the 2020 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a specialty consulting firm headquartered in Rochester, New York, which provides forensic, internal, and compliance audit services to leading organizations nation-wide. A survey on allegations conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is also included as part of the report.
 
This is the eighteenth such report since 2002 when the U.S. bishops established and adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People a comprehensive set of procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and made a promise to protect and a pledge to heal. The report, which is typically released in June each year, was delayed due to the health and safety restrictions as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A mid-cycle adjustment was made to extend the time frame of the audit process to accommodate diocesan offices which had closed, diocesan staff who had transitioned to remote work, and for the elements of on-site audits to go virtual. This adjustment did not alter data collected or information garnered from the audit process.
 
The 2020 report for audit year July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020 states that 3,924 adults came forward with 4,228 allegations. The number of allegations is slightly less than that reported in 2019. As noted in the 2019 Annual Report, the number of allegations increased significantly in large part due to allegations received in connection with lawsuits, compensation programs, and bankruptcies.
 
During this audit year, 22 allegations were made by current minors, six of which were substantiated, two were unsubstantiated, three were unable to be proven, seven were still under investigation, and four were categorized as “other.”
 
The report notes the ongoing work of the Church in continuing the call to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. In 2020, the Church’s investment in protective services increased by 15 percent. This included over 2.5 million background checks conducted on clergy, employees, and volunteers. In addition, in 2020 over 2.5 million adults and 3.1 million children and youth were trained on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs. The Church also continues to provide outreach and support to 2,458 victim survivors and their families in the form of counseling, spiritual assistance, and other social services.
 
Despite restrictions experienced due to the pandemic, evaluation of compliance with the Charter continued. Necessary adjustments to social distancing did not alter elements included in the audit process conducted by Stonebridge Business Partners. The Archdiocese of New Orleans requested a one-year postponement of the audit as the area continues to recover from natural disasters. The report noted the following:
  • 61 dioceses/eparchies were visited either in-person or via remote technology and data collected from 135 others.
  • There were four instances of non-compliance: the Diocese of Fort Worth and the Diocese of Helena were found non-compliant with Article 2 of the Charter due to inactivity of their Review Boards; St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy and Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark Eparchy were both found non-compliant with Articles 12 (training of youth and adults) and Article 13 (background checks) of the Charter.
  • Two eparchies did not participate in the audit: the Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace, and the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle.
The USCCB’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and the National Review Board continue to emphasize that the audit and continued application of zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church's broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter.
November 5, 2021
Pope Francis names new Auxiliary Bishop of Pittsburgh
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. Mark A. Eckman as auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh. Bishop-elect Eckman is a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and currently serves as pastor of Resurrection parish in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on November 5, 2021, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Father Eckman was born February 9, 1959, in Pittsburgh. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh (1981) and a Master of Divinity from Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe (1984). He was ordained to the priesthood on May 11, 1985.
 
Bishop-elect Eckman’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at Resurrection parish in Pittsburgh (1985-1990); Saint Sebastian parish in Pittsburgh (1990-1991); Saint Valentine parish in Bethel Park (1991-1992); Saint Winifred parish in Pittsburgh (1992-1994); and Saint John Vianney parish in Pittsburgh (1994-1998). He served as pastor at Saint Sylvester parish (1998-2009); administrator (2005-2006) and pastor (2006-2009) at Saint Norbert parish in Pittsburgh; pastor (2009-2013) and later as administrator (2020-2021) at Saint Thomas More parish in Pittsburgh. Father Eckman also served as administrator for Epiphany parish (2017-2018), and Saint John Capistran parish (2020-2021), in Pittsburgh. He also served as chaplain of  education at Seton-LaSalle Catholic High School (1992-1998), and DePaul School for Hearing and Speech in Pittsburgh (1996-1998).
 
His priestly ministry has also included service at the diocesan level: the Computer Committee (1990-present), and assessor for the Tribunal (1992-present). From 2013-2020, he served as episcopal vicar for Clergy Personnel, and as a member of the Priests’ Benefit Plan Board, the Priest Personnel Board, the Seminary Admissions Board, the Permanent Diaconate Formation Board, the Priest Council, the Priesthood Candidate Admissions Board, and the diocesan College of Consultors. Bishop-elect Eckman also served on the National Advisory Board for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2010 to 2014.
 
The Diocese of Pittsburgh is comprised of 3,754 square miles in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has a total population of 1,893,567 of which 625,490 are Catholic.
 

October 22, 2021 
Bishop chairmen call on U.S. Senate to retain bipartisan pro-life policies
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, the chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Appropriations released the text of several appropriations bills which, like their House counterparts, currently exclude several longstanding, bipartisan provisions like the 46-year-old Hyde Amendment and the Weldon Amendment. Eliminating these provisions would force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions and would have the effect of forcing health care providers and professionals to perform and refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as forcing employers and insurers to cover and pay for abortion.  

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:   

 “The bills released by the Senate Appropriations chairman this week represent a radical departure from the will of the American people and the principle of justice for all. By proposing to eliminate the Hyde and Weldon Amendments, among other longstanding, bipartisan pro-life provisions, the Senate is staking out an extreme position of forcing taxpayers to pay for the taking of innocent unborn human life and forcing health care providers to participate in this injustice.  

“We recognize and appreciate that these bills also include many life-affirming provisions that help vulnerable people, including pregnant moms, refugees, low-income families, and the elderly. The laudable concern and support these provisions represent must also extend to our vulnerable brothers and sisters in the womb. 

“We reiterate the fact that funding the destruction of innocent unborn human lives, and forcing people to participate, are grave abuses of human rights. We call on the Senate to prevent this injustice by passing appropriations bills that fully support and protect human dignity, and the most vulnerable among us.” 

  The U.S. bishops have made previous statements on upholding the dignity of life in appropriations bills:

October 20, 2021
Diocesan level phase of “Synod on Synodality” begins
WASHINGTON – In May 2021, Pope Francis invited the global Catholic Church to gather and reflect on communion, participation, and mission within the Church. The two-year process of listening and dialogue is themed, For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, & Mission being referred to as the “synod on synodality,” which the Holy Father officially opened with Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica on October 10. This past weekend, dioceses throughout the world began the next phase of the synod which includes consultation and dialogue at the diocesan level. Using a preparatory document and questionnaire to guide the discussion from the Holy See’s synod office, this phase runs through April 2022.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed solidarity with Pope Francis and the universal Church on the embarkation of the synod saying, “The Holy Father has called for the local churches to hold inclusive consultations with the People of God as part of the synod. We face a challenge after over a year of being physically distanced within our communities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This synod is an opportunity to meet the immense and important request of the Holy Father to engage in dialogue to better understand our call to holiness and feel the responsibility to participate in the life of the Church.” He continued, “Outreach, communication, support, and encouragement are vital in order to be missionary disciples. As is with the nature of the synod, I hope we will learn as we ‘journey together,’ and I pray that the process will enrich and guide the future path of both the local Church as well as the universal Church over the course of the next two years, and beyond.”

In carrying out the synod here in the United States, Father Michael Fuller, interim general secretary for the USCCB has been leading the efforts of the Conference to share information with the U.S. bishops. Richard Coll, executive director of the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development was appointed as the bishops’ diocesan liaison. “The Conference’s role in supporting the local diocesan efforts of the synod includes sharing the resources prepared by the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in Rome such as the Preparatory Document and Vademecum, as well as additional tools and tips,” he said. “I welcome the opportunity to be a resource to the diocesan representatives as they engage with their local faithful in this most important phase of the synod.”

In order to best share the many materials in an organized manner, the USCCB’s website will be updated regularly with highlights from the synod at the local level, as well as an ongoing effort to incorporate synodal lessons learned into the resources offered. The USCCB’s webpage on the synod may be found at: www.usccb.org/synod. 

October 18, 2021
Pope Francis appoints Bishop Cozzens as Bishop of Crookston
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, as Bishop of Crookston. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on October 18, 2021, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The biography for Bishop Cozzens may be found here.

The Diocese of Crookston is comprised of 17,210 square miles in the State of Minnesota and has a total population of 227,689 of which 34,875 are Catholic. 

 

October 14, 2021
Total of 100 vandalism incidents reported at Catholic sites in U.S.
WASHINGTON — In May of 2020, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty began tracking incidents of arson, vandalism, and other destruction at Catholic sites across the United States. October 10 marked the 100th incident: satanic and other hateful graffiti scrawled on the walls before Sunday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colorado.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement:

“These incidents of vandalism have ranged from the tragic to the obscene, from the transparent to the inexplicable. There remains much we do not know about this phenomenon, but at a minimum, they underscore that our society is in sore need of God’s grace.

“In all cases, we must reach out to the perpetrators with prayer and forgiveness. True, where the motive was retribution for some past fault of ours, we must reconcile; where misunderstanding of our teachings has caused anger toward us, we must offer clarity; but this destruction must stop. This is not the way.

“We call on our elected officials to step forward and condemn these attacks. We thank our law enforcement for investigating these incidents and taking appropriate steps to prevent further harm. We appeal to community members for help as well. These are not mere property crimes – this is the degradation of visible representations of our Catholic faith. These are acts of hate”.

The USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee for Domestic Justice and Human Development previously issued a statement on church vandalism on July 22, 2020.

The Committee for Religious Liberty’s “Beauty Heals” project, launched in response to the destruction of Catholic statues, features videos from various dioceses discussing the significance of sacred art.

The committees are advocating for increased funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

October 11, 2021
Migration chairman welcomes refugee admission target of 125,000
WASHINGTON — On October 8, the Biden Administration announced a Fiscal Year 2022 Presidential Determination (PD) of 125,000 refugees for resettlement through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). This is the highest PD since 1993 and follows four consecutive years of historic lows. During the previous fiscal year, which ended on September 30, the U.S. resettled only 11,411 refugees out of a possible 62,500, the lowest number in the program’s history.
 
The USRAP was created in 1980, and it has received strong bipartisan support ever since. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is one of nine national resettlement agencies that partners with the U.S. government in this effort. The Catholic Church’s involvement in refugee resettlement stems from the Church’s social teaching on the common good and is consistent with its longstanding role in welcoming newcomers and supporting integration.
 
Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:
 
“The last few years have had a devastating impact on refugee resettlement, all while we witness the greatest forced migration crises in decades. We commend the Administration for seeking to reassert American leadership in this area, and we look forward to continued action in support of this goal. We also urge Congress to provide the resources necessary to not only rebuild the Refugee Admissions Program but sustain it for the next four decades and beyond.
 
“Whether fleeing war, natural disaster, or persecution, the positive contributions of refugees to our society have been well documented. First and foremost, however, we recognize them as vulnerable members of the same human family to which we ourselves belong.
 
“In a special way, we as Catholics are called to this ministry of welcome and encounter, through which we express the fullness of the Church’s universality. The bishops of the United States pledge our continued commitment to this work, and we praise the many Catholic organizations, communities, and persons dedicated to what Pope Francis has referred to as ‘a new “frontier” for mission, a privileged opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Gospel message at home, and to bear concrete witness to the Christian faith in a spirit of charity.’”
 
In May, Bishop Dorsonville called 125,000 refugee admissions “a figure more consistent with our values and capabilities as a nation.” For more information about refugees, the USRAP, and the Church’s work on this issue, please visit the Justice for Immigrants website.
 

October 7, 2021
Dates announced for World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal
WASHINGTON — Lisbon, Portugal will be the host of the next international World Youth Day (WYD), from August 1 to 6, 2023. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas, the USCCB’s episcopal liaison to World Youth Day, released a statement expressing solidarity with Pope Francis and the universal Church as anticipation builds for the major international event.

“We are overjoyed to now have the dates we can look forward to when millions of people will come together and join the Holy Father for World Youth Day in Lisbon in August 2023.

“We hope that many from the U.S. will participate, and we invite all youth and young adults – in fact, every person age 16 to 35 in the United States – to join us. Whether you plan to travel to Lisbon, participate through digital media, or join your peers at one of many local celebrations taking place in dioceses across the country, we want you to be part of this moment in the life of the Church.

“It is providential that the WYD Mass with the Holy Father will take place on the feast of the Transfiguration, August 6, 2023. The experience of the Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration was a pivotal moment of transformation for them.  We hope that WYD will have a similar impact on young people today, no matter where or how they make this pilgrimage to celebrate this special international festival of faith.”

Since 1985, the international World Youth Day has been held every two to three years in a different country and is intended to draw together youth and young adults, ages 16 to 35, from every continent for a worldwide pilgrimage and festival of faith along with the Holy Father. The Lisbon WYD gathering was originally scheduled to take place in the summer of 2022; however, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis extended the preparatory period to August 2023.

The USCCB will be developing materials and supporting local communities in the coming months before WYD 2023. More details can be found online at: https://www.usccb.org/topics/world-youth-day.

October 7, 2021
Pro-life chairman's statement over rescinding of "Protect Life Rule"
WASHINGTON – The Biden Administration has published a new rule rescinding the “Protect Life Rule” governing the Title X family planning program. That rule had the commendable effect of ensuring compliance with federal law by stipulating that Title X projects may not share office space or financing with abortion facilities and are not required to refer for abortion. The rescission becomes effective on November 8. 

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement:  

“The Catholic bishops have grave concerns about government promotion of contraceptives. At the same time, we have long supported efforts to ensure that abortion is kept physically and financially separate from family planning under Title X.

“Title X was intended and authorized to be a program entirely separate from abortion and it plainly states that ‘the funds authorized under this legislation [shall] be used only to support preventive family planning services, population research, infertility services, and other related medical, informational, and educational activities’ (emphasis added). 

“Abortion is not family planning. Abortion takes the life of an already-conceived and growing child. The violence of abortion wounds countless women physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The Administration is wrong to allow taxpayer dollars to fund abortion providers who participate in a pre-pregnancy program specifically designed to exclude abortion.”

In January, Archbishop Naumann issued a statement reacting to the White House’s decision to rescind the Title X Rule: U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman on White House Action to Rescind Title X Rule | USCCB.

The USCCB filed comments to the proposed rule: 2021.title-X-comments-final (usccb.org).

October 5, 2021
Statement on report of clergy sexual abuse in France
WASHINGTON – Following the news this week of a report commissioned by the French bishops on sexual abuse in the Church in France, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People issued the following statement:

“I am deeply saddened by the news reports coming out of France of sexual abuse by clergy there, and I echo our Holy Father, Pope Francis who has expressed his sorrow at the news. In renewed solidarity with victim-survivors who have courageously come forward, we join the Church of France in praying for forgiveness, healing, and protection.

“This report underscores the need for us to repent and grow in our commitment to serve the people of God. The Holy Father, in his pastoral concern for the Universal Church has called us all to greater accountability and transparency in addressing the sins of abuse and the mishandling of abuse claims at every level.

“Here in the United States, the Catholic Church has established a comprehensive set of child protection standards that the dioceses and eparchies have committed to following, but the painful experience of survivors always calls us to continual vigilance and improvement. This report opens painful wounds for those who have suffered abuse by a priest, bishop, or someone in the Church, and to those who have experienced this, I urge you to report this to law enforcement and to Church authorities. Let us all continue to pray for healing and reconciliation.”

For more information on how and where to report abuse, please visit www.usccb.org/committees/protection-children-young-people/how-report-abuse.

September 24, 2021
Response to House vote that imposes “abortion on demand until birth"
WASHINGTON — Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 3755. This bill would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute and would eliminate pro-life laws at every level of government — including parental notification for minor girls, informed consent, and health or safety protections specific to abortion facilities. H.R. 3755 also would compel all Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars and would also likely force health care providers and professionals to perform, assist in, and/or refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as force employers and insurers to cover or pay for abortion.  

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement:  

“This deceptively-named bill is the most extreme pro-abortion bill our nation has ever seen. H.R. 3755 is not about the health of women, but only about eliminating any and all protections for unborn children — including baby girls. It would lead to the deliberate destruction of millions of unborn lives, leaving countless women with physical, emotional, and spiritual scars.  

“This bill assumes that abortion can be the only, or best, solution to a crisis pregnancy, H.R. 3755 is built on a false and despairing narrative that utterly fails women. In treating abortion as the moral equivalent to the removal of an appendix, this proposal is radically out of step with the American public. As a nation built on the recognition that every human being is endowed by its Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, this bill is a complete injustice. Congress should embrace public policy that respects the rights of mothers, their children, and the consciences of all Americans, not advance a radical ‘abortion on demand until birth’ policy that is completely out of step with our country’s principles.”

September 9, 2021
Updated edition of National Directory for diaconate program released
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has released the second edition of the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States. First promulgated in November 2004, the directory outlines the guidelines and directives to be used by dioceses in preparing or updating a diaconate program and formulating policies for the ministry and life of deacons

According to the most recent available data from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, there are 18,075 permanent deacons in the United States; it is also reported that 97 percent of the world’s permanent deacons live in the Americas and Europe. The updated directory reflects on the wisdom gleaned from a broad spectrum of deacons and their formators. With a focus on the identity of the deacon as a “living icon of Christ the Servant within the Church,” and a minister of Word, Liturgy, and Charity in the community, the new edition reflects poignantly on fifty years since the establishment of the permanent diaconate in the United States. Developed by the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV), the second edition includes norms that will take effect on June 9, 2022. 

In a recent meeting with permanent deacons and their families in Rome, Pope Francis described the spirituality of deacons as “availability inside and openness outside…available inside, from the heart, ready to say ‘yes,’ docile, without making one’s life revolve around one’s own agenda; and open outside, looking at everyone, especially those who are left out, those who feel excluded.” The Holy Father reminded those present that the Church should have “a heart that burns with love and serves with humility and joy.” 

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations expressed gratitude for the update of the document. “I am grateful for the good work of the CCLV committee that has led to the publication of the updated National Directory. This document will serve as an instrumental resource for dioceses as they work to strengthen their permanent diaconate programs. It is my hope that permanent deacons and those who accompany them will be encouraged by the new edition of the Directory and be inspired to continue in their faithful service to the Church in imitation of Christ the Servant.” 

The National Directory, 2nd edition is available for purchase on the USCCB store: https://store.usccb.org/products/national-directory-for-the-formation-ministry-and-life-of-permanent-deacons.