Don’t miss YA events in upcoming weeks…

Looking for something to do with other young adults? Looking to deepen your faith among other Catholic young adults? Then check out this week’s upcoming events sponsored by the CYO/Youth and Young Adult Ministries:

  • October 6: Theology on Tap series; 6:30 p.m. at the Fox & Hound with Martin Gutierrez, “One Nation Under God”
  • October 9: Matt Maher in concert; 4p.m. (doors open at 3 p.m.) at the Ohana Pier in Slidell; tickets are $15 in advance/ $20 at the door

For more information on future events, check out the Young Adult Ministry’s website or contact Rachel Longest at

Theology on Tap Lineup

Looking for somewhere to meet other Catholics in their 20s on up, socialize and talk about your faith? Then mark your calendars for Thursday nights in October for the Theology on Tap series! The Southshore will host the four-week series at Fox & Hound in Elmwood Village Center (2100 S. Clearview Parkway) beginning at 6:30 p.m. Show up early for a drink and Catholic fellowship!

The lineup includes:

  • Oct. 6: “One Nation Under God” with Martin Gutierrez
  • Oct. 13: “Life Isn’t Fair but Trade Can Be” with Paula Taylor and Traci Taylor
  • Oct. 20: “What the Mass Says About Us” with Todd Amick
  • Oct. 27: “When the Well Runs Dry” with Sr. Rose Bowen, O.P.

For more information on the individual talks, visit the Archdiocese of New Orleans Young Adult Ministry or contact Rachel Longest at

Don’t Miss…

Looking for a way to get involved in the young adult community within the Archdiocese of New Orleans? Check out some of the events sponsored by the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Archdiocese of New Orleans:

  • What Next? Finding Answers with Faith Retreat; September 16-17 at the Camp Abbey Retreat Center in Covington. Register by September 14 for a $70 registration fee; $75 for on-site registration.
  • Archbishop Hughes to celebrate Mass and teach changes to Roman Missal; September 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Cenacle Retreat House Chapel.
  • Social Justice Series sponsored by the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province; September 8, 15, 22 and 29 at the Columns Hotel at 6 p.m.

For more information on these and other upcoming events, contact Rachel Longest at

The earth shook…

We’ve arrived home, but not after one final bit of commotion.  After landing in Washington, D.C. from our flight from Europe, we were greeted 20 minutes later by the earthquake.  One of our seminarians commented that perhaps our plane touching down with all that grace shook the earth itself. 

Esta es la juventud del papa!


– John Smestad, Jr.

Esta es la juventud del papa!

“We are the youth of the pope!

That was the chant, in Spanish, all throughout the airfield where Pope Benedict XVI joined us in a prayer vigil on Saturday night and Mass on Sunday morning to bring World Youth Day 2011 to a close.  We endured rain and wind, powerful enough that demolished the tent chapels arranged around the field, delayed adoration, and ruined the hosts that would be used for Mass the next morning.  Despite that, though, we were again being living witnesses to what it means to be Catholic, to be the universal Church.  The 1 million people, the multitude of languages, praying together as the Body of Christ, drove home that point as nothing else could.

– John Smestad Jr.

Reflections at the half-way point

Today marks the halfway point of our pilgrimage here at World Youth Day in Madrid.  As early blogs have mentioned, our initial travel had many delays and disruptions and left many frustrated; we all had to offer it up in prayer, and be grateful that we were safe, although late.  Lost luggage, seemingly endless crowds, and lines without end -for food, for the subway, for water.  Did I mention the heat?  Imagine waiting for the Endymion parade in New Orleans, but instead of a cool February or March, you’re waiting for that parade in August for several hours.

I came to realize though, that these were challenges to be overcome, because if I let them drain my energy or enthusiasm, then God’s purpose in our being here would be lost.  And what is that purpose?  To be witnesses to the world that the Catholic Church is young and vibrant, despite what the secular culture and media might say.  It is also to see first-hand how universal the Church, in a way that no book or video or photograph can convey.

It is this universality that is the most important lesson for me so far this week.  All of us experience church at our parish, in our diocese, and in a certain comfort zone of spirituality.  When we fail to journey outside those environs, we can easily assume (sometimes with a self-righteousness that would have impressed the Pharisees) that our practice and expression of Catholicism is the only way -whether that be our style of prayer, our favorite saints, our preferred church movement, how we like our liturgical music, etc.  Being here at World Youth Day reminds me in a powerful way that the Church is a very big place, a very big community.  The pope shepherds a worldwide flock – the Church in the United States is just one of those communities.  The Body of Christ knows no boundaries.  Here, we can all agree on the truths that the Church teaches, and seek an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.  Here in Madrid, it is clear that those are the essentials, and that the rest is “straw,” as St. Thomas Aquinas would say.  To see the multiplicity of religious orders each with their own charism, the diversity of prayer styles, more languages that I can count, ecclesiastical movements from centuries to just years old can only serve to remind that the Holy Spirit is indeed active.  God speaks to each of us in a way that he knows we will uniquely recognize in our souls.  As Catholics, we need to respect that uniqueness.

After three days of catechesis, opportunities to meet and talk with fellow pilgrims from all over the world, and absorb that universal Church, we prepare tomorrow for the vigil and Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.  We bring you here in prayer with us, and ask you to keep us in your prayers as well.

John Smestad, Jr.

August 18, 2011 – Madrid


Yesterday, Archbishop Timothy Dolan said something to our group during a catechetical session that really spoke to me, so I thought that I should share it with all of you. He said, “Faith is always developing. Like a muscle, it needs to be exercised, and of course the best exercise for the faith ‘muscle’ is prayer.”

Over the past two days, I have found myself remembering this simile, and it has really inspired me to delve deeper into my prayer life. Luckily, on this pilgrimage, I am surrounded by prayer as well as opportunities to learn and share about my Catholic faith. From attending catechetical sessions and Mass every morning, to getting to know other young Catholics from across the world, to watching the Pope address the World Youth Day participants, there are so many enriching and interesting things to do, many of them thoroughly working out my faith “muscle” (much, much more effectively than a shake weight works out your arms). Yes, that was supposed to be a joke, so feel free to laugh out loud 🙂

I am also really enjoying bonding with our group from the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Over the past couple of days, I feel like we’ve really gotten to know each other, and we’ve already shared so many memories. Of course, a lot of our bonding experiences occurred when we were in the New Orleans airport for an entire day while we waited for our cancelled flight to be re-booked, but maybe that’s one of the reasons we were delayed in the first place.

There’s still so much left to experience here in Madrid for World Youth Day, and I am very excited for and open to what lies ahead!

God bless!



Laura Giroir