Perks of Marriage Prep

More than 2 million couples married in the United States in 2014, according to the Center for Disease Control. In that same year, more than 800,000 couples divorced. The divorce rate among Roman Catholics is 28 percent. This rate is significantly lower than the divorce rate among any other religious group, including those with no religious affiliation.

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Statistics from Community in Mission

People view divorce differently, whether it was correcting a drunken night in Vegas, or the last resort for a failing relationship. Religious entities, however, often have their views on divorce written into code.

“Islamic law considers divorce among the worst actions that are still legal,” said Madhuri Yadlapati, a professor of Religious Studies at Louisiana State University.

Americans are generally more open to the idea of divorce, but it still is not a favorable outcome.

“Premarital counseling is the formalized way to determine if you have thought about how marriage would change your life and the relationship with the other person,” said Chantel Chauvin, a Sociology professor who specializes in marriage and family at LSU.

Without marriage preparation or premarital counseling, many couples never have these discussions prior to getting married.

Perhaps the low divorce rate among Catholics can be attributed to required marriage preparation. Any couple could partake in some type of marriage preparation, but it is a requirement for couples that wish to be married in the Catholic Church.

Dan Borné is a Deacon at St. Jean Vianney Catholic Church in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. When a couple inquires about getting married there, they receive a folder.

Inside, printed on blue paper, there is a checklist of 16 steps regarding marriage preparation. The process takes a minimum of six months. Some steps are simple and others intricate. The first is to make an appointment with the parish deacon or priest whom the couple wishes to oversee their marriage preparation process.

The folder also encases five pamphlets, two booklets, a newspaper, an envelope and six additional pieces of paper printed on various colors. These supplemental resources further explain each step on the blue paper.

Two of the steps are the most involved and effective. One is to attend a Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend. CEE allows couples to spend an entire weekend in a reflective atmosphere and gives them the time and opportunity to strengthen their own relationship as well as their relationship with God. The other is to get together with a sponsor couple and take a pre-marriage inventory such as Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study or a similar option. FOCCUS is a personality inventory test designed to help couples learn more about themselves and their partner and discuss topics pertaining to a lifelong marriage.

“You can’t flunk these tests,” said Dan Borné. He explained that the purpose is to see if couples are mature enough to marry.

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy there are many factors that can predict future marital satisfaction. The main three factors are individual traits, couple traits and personal and relationship contexts. These form what is called the marriage triangle. Tests like FOCCUS address all of these factors and there are multiple versions available for anyone to take.

“The more preparation that you can give a couple the more that a couple understands going in what is expected of them . . .,” said Dan Borné.

But he and his wife, Lisette Borné, did not go through such an intensive regimen when they prepared to marry in the Catholic Church. They spent one day with about 15 other couples and a priest and their marriage preparation was complete. They are about to celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary, so things still worked out.

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Photo of Dan and Lisette Borné. Photo courtesy of Lisette Borné.

Lisette Borné scribbled down a quote she stumbled upon that she believes is true regarding marriage and divorce:

“If love fails, something was faulty at the beginning.”

Mentor couples are a powerful part of marriage preparation. Priests are vital, but they usually lack real life experience with marriage. At one point, Steve Buttry and his wife were trained to mentor couples in the Catholic Church’s marriage preparation process in Kansas City, Kan.

They would lead the couples in exercises covering topics similar, but not limited to extended family, religious background, natural family planning, child rearing, finances and sexuality.

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Steve Buttry and his wife, Mimi, on their wedding day. Photo courtesy of Steve Buttry.

While going through the multiple week process, tragedy struck one of the couples they were mentoring. The fiancée was killed in a car accident. This inspired Steve and his wife to add another topic to their exercises: death.

They asked the couples to complete the following sentences: “If I should die . . .” and “If you should die . . . .”

Death is a part of life and inevitably a part of many marriages. This is something that many people are often hesitant to discuss, which can be a common theme of marriage preparation. But discussing these sensitive topics can significantly strengthen a relationship.

“It makes you think about and talk about topics that are difficult to broach and may be uncomfortable to have,” said Chauvin.

There are over 60 church parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. Marriage preparation differs throughout these parishes, but follows similar guidelines. For example, marriage preparation is a six-month process in every Baton Rouge Church Parish. Marriage preparation has also evolved.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of change and it’s still changing,” said Darryl Ducote, current Director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge.

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Photo of Darryl Ducote courtesy of Wanda Koch.

Ducote and his staff are currently redesigning the whole marriage preparation program for the Diocese. For example, they are looking to make the process longer than six months to further strengthen relationships before couples say their vows.

This has been one of Ducote’s main focuses since he took the position a year and a half ago. Prior to his current job, Ducote was a social worker that specialized in marriage and family therapy. Before that, he was an ordained priest for seven years.

For couples marrying outside of the Catholic Church, marriage preparation is not a common occurrence.

“They have to see the incentive and long-term value in it, and if not properly marketed or without tangible incentives, that can be difficult to show,” said Chauvin.

Marriage preparation also costs money. According to Chauvin, this could be a reason why many couples opt out. Partaking in marriage preparation through a church like St. Jean Vianney costs over $300.

Money aside, a couple willing to participate in marriage preparation is already off to a good start.

“Those that are most willing to do premarital counseling are those statistically less likely to divorce to begin with,” said Chauvin.

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The Death of a Legend: Follow-Up

An autopsy of Prince’s body was performed at the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minn. this morning and lasted four hours. The information gathered from the autopsy will not be released until the exam is complete and all results are found according to CNN Entertainment.

It will be weeks before the autopsy results are released to the public according to Martha Weaver, the spokeswoman for the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office. Weaver did not say who received Prince’s body post-autopsy according to CNN Entertainment.

Investigators found no reason to believe the death was a suicide. The body showed no obvious signs of trauma according to Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson.

The Death of a Legend

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Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Music sensation Prince died this morning at the age of 57 in his Paisley Park recording studio in Chanhassen, Minn. His publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, confirmed his death this morning. He was found unresponsive in an elevator according to CBS Minnesota.

The Carver County police responded to a medical situation at 9:43 a.m. according to Sheriff Chief Deputy Jason Kamerud. Authorities confirmed that there was a dead body inside the building later in the morning. He was confirmed dead at 10:07 a.m. according to CBS Minnesota.

“There are no further details as to the cause of his death at this time,” said Noel-Schure.

Prince was hospitalized shortly while recovering from the flu last Friday. He cancelled two shows earlier this month due to the sickness according to CBS Minnesota.

Mass Communication senior at Louisiana State University Kat Latham was shocked upon hearing the news of Prince’s death.

“I had no idea because he’s so young and he had so much more to give to the music industry and to performance in general,” said Latham

Latham remembers her dance school performing to “Purple Rain”, her favorite Prince song, and wearing a “fancy purple costume” for the performance when she was younger. The student has fond memories of Prince.

“It’s kind of scary to think that someone that was so inspiring is now gone,” said Latham.

Eric Boudet, a sophomore studying mass communication at LSU, was also devastated by the news. He was sad to hear that such an iconic figure in the music world has passed.

Boudet said he does not personally listen to much of Prince’s music, but he knows Prince had a huge influence on music culture. Boudet’s favorite Prince song is also “Purple Rain”.

Alexandria Prosperie, a junior studying business at Nicholls State University, considers herself a Prince super-fan. She said she experienced a “sinking feeling” upon hearing the news of his death.

“Prince was a guy who embraced his differences and weirdness, which made him awesome,” said Prosperie.

Prosperie’s mother is the one who introduced her to Prince’s music. She once let her mother play her ’80s music in the car and she was hooked.

“He played almost all of the instruments in his band and wrote the music for them. There’s no doubt that he was an extremely talented musician, and he was also incredibly smart,” said Prosperie.

The recording legend was popular in the ’80s and has been a household name since then. His breakthrough album “1999” catapulted him into stardom in 1982. He won seven Grammys throughout his career according to TMZ.

More recently, he appeared in an episode of the popular television show New Girl in 2014. In this episode, the characters attend a party Prince is throwing and he gives them valuable relationship advice. This cameo allowed younger generations to see what Prince was like.

 

 

“Spotlight” Screening: The Event

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Photo Courtesy of www.civilbeat.com

The screening of the film “Spotlight” put on by the Louisiana State University Manship School of Mass Communication in the Holliday Forum Tuesday night was a success. There were more than 40 students in attendance, not including staff members. Many professors were offering bonus points for students if they attended.

The Holliday Forum was almost full when 6 p.m. rolled around. Dean Jerry Ceppos sat in the front row. Leonard Apcar, one of the faculty members who put on the event, said a few words before the start of the movie. He explained that the movie accurately depicted what investigative reporting is like.

He announced that they would wait a few more minutes for students to finish filing in. The film began at around 6:10 p.m. There was an issue with volume, but it was fixed after a few scenes. The members of the audience were almost silent for the duration of the film. It captured everyone’s attention.

The film ended a few minutes later than expected due to a frozen screen about 30 minutes in. When the credits began scrolling on the screen students almost immediately got in line to sign a sheet for their extra credit. There was no discussion afterward. The faculty members stayed behind for a few minutes.

Aubrey Ticer, a sophomore at LSU, attended the event and was happy she did. Ticer received bonus points for attending, but she had wanted to see the movie anyway. She said she was too young to know what was happening when the story originally broke, but she did not realize the extent of the abuse by the priests at the time.

“It made me cry,” she said directly following the movie. The movie made her very emotional. She is not Catholic, but she was still saddened by the story.

Dean Jerry Ceppos had a unique take on the film because he knows two of the journalists portrayed in the movie. When asked if the movie was an accurate depiction of journalism his response was an overwhelming yes.

Ceppos knows Marty Baron, played by Liev Schreiber in the movie. Ceppos described Schreiber’s portrayal of his friend Baron as “spot on”. He also knew Michael Rezendes, played by Mark Ruffalo. Rezendes, in the beginning of his career, worked under Ceppos.

For more information about upcoming events, visit the LSU Manship School’s website or follow the Twitter account @ManshipSchool.

“Spotlight” Screening

The Louisiana State University Manship School of Mass Communication is putting on a screening of the Oscar winning film “Spotlight” tonight on campus at 6 p.m. in the Holliday Forum of the Journalism Building.

This film reveals the true story of the Boston Globe investigative team uncovering the Catholic Church’s conspiracy to cover up the abuse of children by priests. This will give journalism students and everyone else in attendance an inside look at what it would be like to work not only on a serious investigation, but also just a newsroom in general. The film took home the award for “best picture” at the Oscars this year.

There will be a discussion about the movie immediately following the film led by Leonard Apcar, the former senior editor of The New York Times. Apcar is now the Switzer Chair in Media Literacy at the Manship School. Jerry Ceppos, the dean of the Manship School and professor Steve Buttry will also be involved with the discussion.

This event is open to all students, faculty and the public. Follow @ManshipSchool on Twitter for more information about upcoming events and follow @cat_schexnayder to see live tweets of tonight’s event. Be a part of the fun and use #LSUspotlightscreening in your own tweets.

Louisiana’s Political Ideology and Religious Views

The South is generally a religious region of the United States. Fittingly, Louisiana is in the heart of this region. In a survey study conducted by The Pew Research Center, Louisiana is the fourth most religious state in the country based on overall index of importance of religion, frequency of prayer, worship attendance and belief in God. Seventy-one percent of adults in Louisiana are considered “highly religious”.

Coincidentally, the South is also a historically Conservative region. The Pew Research Center’s table below shows that 50 percent of adults in Louisiana considered themselves as Conservatives in 2014 while only 14 percent considered themselves as Liberals in their political ideology.

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There seems to be a correlation between religious view and political party affiliation. Simply put, conservative means to preserve existing conditions. Conservatism and religion have that in common. On the opposite side, liberal means to favor change. Pew Research Center’s chart below shows the religious composition of Louisiana adults. Eighty-four percent are Christian.

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The Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is commonly referred to as the separation of church and state. These two topics are hard to keep separate from a government point of view, but even more difficult for an individual person with religious beliefs. There is overlap. Religious beliefs sometimes naturally influence political beliefs. The map below was made by politicalmaps.org. Politico predicted the 2016 election results and labeled Louisiana as “Safe R” meaning they have no doubt that majority of Louisianans will vote for the Republican Party nominee. Fittingly, the Republican Party boasts Conservative views. This makes sense especially when social issues are considered.

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There are two political social issues directly correlating to Christian religious values that The Pew Research Center has conducted surveys on: abortion and same-sex marriage. Christians believe in the Bible. The Bible states that killing is wrong. This leads to a pro-life political view. the Bible also states that marriage should be between a man and a woman. This leads to views against marriage equality. These two stances are supported by Conservatives and the Republican Party. The table below made by The Pew Research Center shows that half of adults in Louisiana oppose or strongly oppose same-sex marriage. That is a higher percentage than most other states. This correlates to the religious views of Louisiana residents.

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The table below created by The Pew Research Center shows Louisiana’s views about abortion. Fifty-seven percent of adults in Louisiana believe that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. That is also a higher percentage than most other states. Once again correlating to the residents’ religious views.

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While social issues like these are not the only components considered when affiliating with a political party, the data supports that they are likely significant factors. Religious beliefs of Louisiana residents seem to largely impact their political affiliation.

Tina Trosclair and I Thee Wed

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Tina Albares Trosclair grew up in Schriever, La. with a mother who helped her develop a deeply rooted faith. Her mother instilled in her a strong sense of salvation, mercy, forgiveness and prayer.

Her faith has continued to grow as she actively seeks God on a daily basis. Her career as a schoolteacher has helped her to strengthen her own faith as well as the faith of her students.

While Trosclair was teaching at Evergreen Junior High School in Houma, La., she was the sponsor of the campus Bible Club. This was special because it took place at a public school. The students were not required to attend. They attended by choice. They took it upon themselves to explore their faith and learn more about the Lord. Trosclair worried that her Bible Club efforts were not paying off, but eventually she realized that they did. She now sees so much good in the people she was surrounded by in the organization.

“I guess it is always important to remember that the seeds you plant in life will one day be watered, and grow, but many times we do not see the fruit,” said Trosclair. She believes her job is to plant seeds, believe in faith for good results and to pray.

Trosclair currently teaches at Houma Christian School in Houma, La. She continues to teach students about the Bible and God’s love for them. This is her favorite part of being a teacher.

Trosclair has been married for 27 to her husband, Pastor Vernon Trosclair. She described being married to a pastor as a blessing in many ways, but also challenging. She explained that people both inside and outside of a church are sometimes judgemental.

“I feel like teaching helped to prepare me to be the wife of the pastor because you have to have tough skin,” she said.

About four years ago, the couple decided to do something that truly touched the lives of people. They started a company called I Thee Wed. They began hosting and officiating weddings in their backyard for couples that could not afford a real wedding.

The Trosclairs offered these couples a reasonably priced wedding. They took care of almost everything. They provided decorations, wedding cake and photography. Tina Trosclair described it as her dream job.

“Many, many people thanked us for allowing them to have the wedding of their dreams,” said Tina Trosclair. She followed that by saying, “Seriously, how special is that!”

When the Supreme Court changed the marriage laws allowing gay marriage, the Trosclairs made a somber decision. They decided to stop hosting weddings altogether.

“I feel like I am grieving a loss; like a dear friend is gone,” she said in regards to no longer hosting weddings.

No provisions were made for ministers who owned private businesses to be able to legally withhold from marrying gay couples when the laws changed.

“It’s not out of hate or disrespect; we just don’t believe it is what God intended,” said Tina Trosclair on withholding from officiating gay marriage.

I Thee Wed is now strictly for bridal showers and special events. The words “Sorry, we no longer host weddings” are typed in large font at the bottom of the homepage of the company’s website.

However, no longer hosting weddings did open up the couple’s schedule. They now help out a single mother by keeping her son, Kash, every weekend. They now have more time to help people in need.

At the end of the day, Tina Trosclair lives by Romans 8:28 which states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Spotlight Analysis

In January of 2002 the Boston Globe released the first of several stories uncovering the truth about a Catholic priest who had molested more than 100 children. These molestations occurred in a 34-year span with the Church knowing what was happening. The Catholic Church had been paying off victims to keep this a secret from the public.

The Globe’s Spotlight Team compiled the series of articles. This specific team was made up of four members by the names of Matt Carroll, Sacha Pfeiffer, Michael Rezendes and Walter Robinson.

These four people made up a special unit that was allowed to spend an indefinite amount of time reporting and researching for one specific story. This is a very unique job in journalism that most journalists never get the chance to do. This is largely because most newspapers cannot afford to pay such a team.

The Boston Globe Spotlight Team was created in 1970 by Tim Leland and has been producing outstanding investigative journalism stories ever since. It has investigated 102 stories in 45 years. It is the longest running full-time investigative team in America.

“We find people who are victimized by society and by institutions that are supposed to protect them,” said Robinson in a video released by the Globe. This is very true. The Spotlight Team is a very powerful entity that uses its power for good.

The interest in this particular story was re-sparked when Martin “Marty” Baron became the news editor in late July of 2001. He referenced a Sunday column about 84 lawsuits against one priest by the name of John Geoghan. The personnel records of Geoghan were under court seal. This led the team to believe there was a story waiting to be uncovered. This is where the team’s newsgathering process truly started.

Investigating the Roman Catholic Church was uncharted territory for the team, but they were willing to take the risk. Accuracy is important in all journalism, but especially in spotlight stories because the news could be detrimental to those being exposed. The team was thorough in fact checking and newsgathering. They knew this story would change the way many people viewed the Catholic Church.

The team found directories of priests created by the Archdiocese of Boston. This listed the name of the priests, where they had been assigned to work and their status. Pfeiffer realized that when a priest received a molestation complaint, his status would be changed to sick leave. This was a solid form of newsgathering.

They created a database showing where the priests had been reassigned over the years. This put into perspective how serious of a problem this was. Almost 100 other priests had been doing the same thing, but the church was making hush payments to the victims to keep things quiet. Creating a database was a very efficient way to organize and keep information.

The first story went to print on January 6, 2002. Hundreds of victims began to call the Globe and tell their story. Many of these victims had made allegations against priests in the past. They told the Globe when they made these allegations and everything lined up. A lot of the new was gathered through interviews, which is always a good practice. They interviewed victims, a psychotherapist, lawyers, and others involved in the ordeal.

Some records were still sealed. The Globe motioned for these to be released and were eventually granted access. This is another from of thorough newsgathering. They were tenacious in getting the facts.

“It became a daily beat, essentially,” said Pfeiffer in a video interview. More than 600 stories were written on this subject in a year. The team continued to find more evidence and facts.

Their impeccable news gathering practices eventually saved thousands of children who would have inevitably become victims of these priests.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

Yesterday marked the end of the 2016 Mardi Gras season. The two final krewes to roll through Houma, La. were the Krewe of Houmas and the Krewe of Kajuns.

The Krewe of Houmas departed from the Southland Mall parking lot at 11 a.m. and started on the parade route. The route follows West Park Ave. from the mall all the way downtown and ends at Town Hall on Barrow St.

The steadfast parade-goers parked their vehicles and set up their chairs on the parade route as early as 7 a.m.

The parade reached South Louisiana Bank, located on the corner of West Park Ave. and Westside Blvd., around noon. Parade-goers collectively stood and gathered near the street when the sound of sirens was in earshot.

The parade officially commenced when King Houmas LXX, Reuben Williams, passed on the first float of the day. He raised his scepter and exclaimed, “Happy Mardi Gras!” into a microphone as his pages threw hundreds of plastic doubloons into the crowd.

Eighteen floats followed behind him. The krewe members were rowdy and ready to celebrate. The 2015 Rougarou Queen, Miss Courtney Smith, also followed. Her float was an airboat being pulled by a truck and her costume matched the swamp theme.

Mixed in throughout the floats were local high school bands including color guards, dance teams and cheerleaders. These included Vandebilt Catholic, H. L. Bourgeois, South Terrebonne and Houma Junior High.

The Krewe of Kajuns directly followed with a mix of men, women and children aboard the floats, a change-up from the all-male floats that preceded.

A crowd favorite known as the Selucrey Sophistocats marched through following the first float. This group of men is a second line krewe. They wear white suits and dance with members of the crowd while handing out roses. Other dance crews like the Wildcat Stompers dance team marched later in the parade.

Miss Terrebonne Parish 2016, Lauren Carlos, proudly wore her crown as she cruised by in a silver Mustang convertible. The Terrebonne Sugar Queen 2016 passed shortly after in an orange Jeep.

The parade was at a standstill for about 20 minutes with only three floats left. This gave the crowd time to chat and bond with the krewe members stopped near them.

The final three floats then passed, including a float sponsored by the Terrebonne Association for Retarded Citizens that encouraged parade-goers to throw their beads into for them to be recycled. The crowd seemed to enjoy the opportunity to throw beads instead of catch them.

Three cleanup trucks directly followed sweeping up beads left in the street signaling the end of the Fat Tuesday festivities for this year.

Fat Tuesday

Houma, La ends its Mardi Gras season today boasting two parades. The Krewe of Houmas parade embarks, followed by the Krewe of Kajuns.

Parade-goers enjoy celebrating with a little “lagniappe” today. Lagniappe is a Cajun French term meaning ‘something extra’. The reason for this extra celebration is today marking the last day before the start of the Lenten season, a period of fasting, abstaining and repenting. This is referred to as Fat Tuesday, the literal translation of Mardi Gras.

Feel free to be a part of the excitement by using #HoumaFatTuesday2016 or by following @cat_schexnayder on Twitter.