The Catholic Church out on Highway 155 welcomed in August a new priest, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Owino Onyach, FMH. The congregation has been energized with Father Nick’s youthful enthusiasm and thought provoking messages. Father Nick’s goal is to spend more time in the Coushatta community and not have to rush off to his duties at Mary, Queen of Peace in Bossier City so he has gotten permission to dedicate his Saturdays to us here in the Coushatta area. Beginning October 6th Saint George’s mass schedule will change to
Saturday Vigil Mass at 4:00 PM
and every Wednesday at 5:00 PM
Here is an introduction, in his own words, of Father Nick:
I am the last born of a family of seven, two girls and five boys. I was born on August 23, 1964, in Slaya County of Kisumu, Kenya in East Africa. Being born in Africa, one hardly dreams of leaving outside the continent. As my friend Fr. John says, “you are born in the banana field, your daily food is bananas, you drink beer made from bananas, and when you die you will be buried within the banana plantations”. God forbid if one does not go bananas.
My teachers in my primary school days were so mean. They could flog us for no good reason. Being the youngest child, I could run to my mom crying and she encouraged me to switch schools. I began in Hafumbre primary school, and continued my education in Got Odima, Lifunga, Busia Township and finally graduated at Sega boys in 1980. I became a seminarian at the age of fourteen, the priest in charge of vocations asked me what kind of a priest I wished to become, I said a missionary priest without really understanding the implication. I then joined Kiserian Minor Seminary. I would later learn that one ministered outside familiar territory. After the minor seminary I worked for a year with a road construction company then joined the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor. As a student I was sent to the country of Zambia in central Africa. My first delicacy was a bunch of caterpillars and mice. Don’t you worry both tasted like chicken.
After my Philosophy at St. Bonaventure College in Zambia, and theology at Tangaza College in Nairobi, the Lord blessed us with a new Community, The Franciscan Missionaries of Hope. I came to Shreveport in 1999, ordained to the deaconate March 19, 2000 and on August 12, 2000 I was ordained to the priesthood. My life after ordination to the priesthood changed drastically. From a village boy running after goats, sheep, and cattle, to a missionary priest away from home and stationed in Shreveport, LA. My first dinner was shrimp and noodles. These looked the same
like caterpillars only they were white. The following day during lunch, we had hot dogs and I almost screamed we don’t eat dogs in Africa.
After four years in Louisiana, I returned to Africa for six years, and then returned to the USA, this time to Long Island, New York. It was winter. The sun was shining and the sight of snow was so beautiful. I went out in my short sleeves to enjoy vitamin D from the sun as we do in Kenya. It was freezing cold and soon I was bundled up like everyone else. The English spoken in NY isn’t close to what I was used to, in Kenya and Louisiana.
One striking thing in Louisiana and in New York is that people appreciated my efforts to learn and to adapt. They would thank me for my service and my vocation to the priesthood. They wanted to know how they could be of help to our people in Africa. These people that I call Friends to the Gospel of Hearts and Hands have indeed transformed many lives in Kenya and have made me proud as an African Franciscan Missionary priest.
It was my pleasure to minister to the people in New York but I am most grateful to the Diocese of Shreveport and entrusting me to serve the parishioners of Mary, Queen of Peace and St. George Catholic Churches. I come among you with great humility, fully aware that God is Good all the time, and all the time, God is Good. Let us take a day at a time and discover His goodness in our midst, for our well being and for the greater Glory of His Name.
The Mayor, the Chamber of Commerce and others turned out Wednesday to welcome the Bank of Coushatta to Shreveport. The official groundbreaking was held on property the bank acquired at 9391 Ellerbe Road in south Shreveport. The gloomy skies could not damper the festive mood of bank officers and local dignitaries gathered for the festivities.
As you can see in the photos, everyone put a hand to a golden shovel and tossed in a scoop or two of dirt. Opening remarks were by Jim Mabus representing the Shreveport Chamber. Mabus said, “We’re proud to have the Bank of Coushatta with a very visible presence. It will enhance the community.” Mabus and others at the groundbreaking all agree that the Ellerbe Road area is destined for economic expansion in the very near future.
Speaking for the bank, Board Chairman Jim Bethard recalled the success the bank has had with a loan production office opened in south Shreveport earlier. “We see the need for a full service branch in this area,” said Bethard, “Keep an eye on this site and come visit us when construction is complete and we are open.”
Shreveport Mayor Ollie Taylor added her welcome to the bank. Taylor said, “We are pleased to have a branch of the Bank of Coushatta coming to Shreveport.” Referring to the bank’s 120 years of service, Taylor said, “We are so glad to include your great legacy in the Shreveport community. We need another great bank to serve the economic development in this area of the city.”
Coushatta Mayor Johnny Cox and Police Chief Kevin Stafford made the trip to the groundbreaking. Cox said it was a great event, “I am excited about the project. It is a great day for the bank and for Coushatta.”
Following the welcoming speeches, everyone donned a hard hat and construction vest, then grabbed a golden shovel, and tossed in a couple of shovels of dirt. This marked the official groundbreaking for the bank. (Editor’s note: There was talk among some of the attendees of cranking up the big machine in the background and doing a proper ground breaking. But it remained in the “talk” stage.)
The new Bank of Coushatta Shreveport branch will be in a strip shopping center the bank will construct on the property on Ellerbe Road. Details of other occupants of the center will be announced later.
Coushatta’s American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary Post 118 held their annual recognition banquet this week for the students they sponsored to Boys and Girls State. The event was held at Northwestern State University over the summer.
Peggy Ray of the Auxiliary opened the program with a brief remembrance of three American Legion members who had passed away during the prior year. They are Henry Bethard, Johnny Duco and Willie Robinson. Ray said, “They were charter members of the Post and had remained active throughout the years. We will miss them.”
Henry Bethard had been a delegate to the very first Boys State in Louisiana. The year was 1940. Bethard was among 110 delegates to “Pelican Boys State.” Three years earlier Bethard had attended the very first Boy Scouts of American National Jamboree held in Washington, DC.
Each delegate presented their observations from their week. Teanna Eason, representing Red River High, went first. Eason said, “I was frightened at first but got to know a bunch of great girls. I enjoyed running for School Board but the highlight of the week was the dance the last night.”
Delegate Charli Williams, also from Red River High, said, “I wanted to go home after the first day. The food was definitely not my grandmother’s cooking. But it was the best week of my life. I got to help create a school. I got to see how much work Superintendent (Alison) Hughes does just to keep the schools running. It was life changing, and I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Delegate Sagar Patel recalled he had no idea what he was getting into, but several people and his counselor advised him to go. “As I got settled in, I knew it would be unforgettable,” said Patel, “I was elected Insurance Commission for my city and parish. I ran for state but did not make it.” He said the people he met at Boys State became more than friends, “they are brothers and my family.”
Delegate Logan Smith represented Central School at Boys State. He said, “I had no idea what was going to happen until I got there. I was put into a group and they became a family. I am still in contact with friends I made. At the end, I did not want to go home.
All of the delegates spoke of all night sessions writing speeches and preparing for elections. All said they enjoyed making new friends, learning how our state and local governments work, and enjoying the week-long experience. Some said they wanted to return next year as a counselor to others going through the Boys and Girls State experience.
Applications for 2019 Boys and Girls State will be taken next spring. Students interested may get information on line or from their school counselors.
With the Red River Parish Fair beginning on October 2nd, Sheriff Edwards would like to share the following tips to help keep your family safe while enjoying the festivities:
* Keep your children in sight and teach them to stay close to you, especially in large crowds.
* Talk to your children about what being lost means and what to do if they become lost.
* Should your child get lost, don’t look for them alone. Immediately notify law enforcement by contacting an officer or deputy at the fairgrounds or by calling the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office (RRPSO) at 932-4221.
* Have your children carry or wear emergency information that tells how to reach you. Include phone numbers, emergency contacts, important medical information, and anything else you think is important.
* Dress kids in bright colors to make them easier to spot.
* Use your phone to take a photo of each child before leaving home. This will ensure that you have a current photo and will provide a record of exactly what they are wearing.
* Teach your child that it is okay to say NO and GET AWAY from any person or situation making them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused.
* Pay attention to the weather forecast and prepare appropriately.
* Know where the first aid area is located should you need to access it quickly.
* When riding carnival rides, follow the safety rules and instructions of the carnival workers.
* When attending the parade, keep children a safe distance from moving vehicles and floats. Allow your children to eat only factory-wrapped treats.
Fair week is always an exciting time for the children and families of our community. Sheriff Edwards and RRPSO deputies look forward to seeing you all at the fairgrounds and will be present to help ensure that everyone has a safe and fun week!
More students in our area will be recognized for the outstanding job they do. The local VFW and Auxiliary are expanding the Student of the Month program to include Riverdale Academy.
Riverdale Academy Principal, Dr. Robert Peters is excited that his students will be getting recognition for the outstanding work they do. Riverdale is in the process of selecting their students and they will be announced shortly.
At the September meeting of the Red River Parish School Board, VFW Post 7287 and Auxiliary 7287 presented students from Red River Elementary, Red River Junior High and Red River High schools with a certificate and gift card to Dairy Queen. The post expects to present certificates and gift cards to a student from Riverdale Elementary, Riverdale Middle, and Riverdale High schools also.
Wednesday was “See You At The Pole” day across the nation. Students at Red River High gathered about 7:30 am to celebrate before classes. A large group of students listened to inspirational speakers, sang songs, and saluted the flag with posting of the colors.
Sagar Patel gave a brief history of the observance. He noted that gathering at the flag pole before school was started in Texas by students. Since the early 1990s the event has grown to involve about three million students in the US and around the world today.
The opening prayer was offered by Gakerreon McDonald. Joshua Loftin read the scripture and delivered the devotional. Teanna Eason led the song. And Charli Williams closed the program by thanking everyone for coming this year. Williams closed with prayer.
The student body of Riverdale Academy gathered in the gym for the “See You At The Pole” event. All students from first through twelfth grades attended. Riverdale’s celebration was held at 8:00 am.
Special guest speaker was Greg Hunt of Cowboy Life Ministry. Hunt is a Riverdale graduate. He recalled going to class “in that little red school building right back there.”
Hunt’s message to the students was “enjoy being a kid. You are special, like nobody else.” He spoke about bullying and other things children face today. “I just ran away, there was no such thing as the internet and cyber bullying,” he said. Hunt told the students they can “just turn it off” to get away from bullying online.
Hunt had a life-lesson for students. “The best thing to do is to fail,” Hunt said, “because every successful person has failed more times than they succeed. But just keep going and don’t believe that you are not good enough.” Hunt added, “God made you unique. Don’t let anyone keep you from being what God created you to be.”
Dr. Hunter Brown invited the students to come and gather around the flag posted in the center of the gym. Then he led in the singing of “Sanctuary” before closing with prayer.
This is a home and away weekend. Red River’s Bulldogs will be playing at home. Riverdale is on the road tonight. You can hear both games live on The Journal’s website and social media posts.
Red River hosts Richwood at Pat Strother Memorial Stadium. Richwood High is located about five miles south of Monroe along US 165. Red River’s record is now 2-1 after a loss to Alexandria Senior High last week.
Riverdale Academy is on the road to Winnsboro to play Franklin Academy. The Rebels are 3-2. They defeated Claiborne Academy 30-14 at home last Friday.
Kickoff for both games will be 7:00 pm. The broadcasts of the games begin about 6:45. Just look for the Journal Sports Live Broadcast banner and click on the team you wish to listen to.
Louisiana State University seeks to contact relatives, descendants and friends of a Coushatta man and 29 other former students who were killed in World War I. The Coushatta man is Alan Loughery Melton who attended LSU in 1916 and 1917.
LSU’s Memorial Oak Grove is being reimagined as a prominent place of remembrance, and on Sunday, Nov. 11, the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, a rededication ceremony will be held on campus. Leading up to the rededication ceremony in November, LSU is looking for friends, relatives and descendants of the former LSU students and alumni who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I and are honored in the Memorial Oak Grove. For more information or if you know one of the men honored at the Memorial Oak Grove, please contact LSU Biological Sciences Professor Gary King at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two programs are featured at the Red River Parish Health Unit next Friday. The Health Unit and the MLK Health Clinic’s H E A R T program will host a Breast Cancer Awareness event fro 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Following that at 3:30, LERN will present “Stop the Bleed! Save a Life” at the Health unit.
First Methodist and Wesley Chapel United Methodist Churches are haing a 5th Sunday lunch honoring Joy and Edgar Gaddis who moved to assisted living two weeks ago. Bring entrees, vegetables, salads and desserts. All members of Wesley Chapel and FUMC are invited as well as any others who might like to attend.
Northwestern State University will hold its fall break Oct. 1-2. Administrative offices will be open during the break. Classes will resume Wednesday, Oct. 3.
Congratulations to NSU’s Coach Mike McConathy. He begins his 20th season as Head Basketball Coach of the Demons.