Pope beatifies Blessed Paul VI, ‘great helmsman’ of Vatican II


By Francis X. Rocca
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Beatifying Blessed Paul VI at the concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis praised the late pope as the “great helmsman” of the Second Vatican Council and founder of the synod, as well as a “humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church.”
The pope spoke during a homily in St. Peter’s Square at a Mass for more than 30,000 people, under a sunny sky on an unseasonably warm Oct. 19.
“When we look to this great pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks,” the pope said, drawing applause from the congregation, which included retired Pope Benedict, whom Blessed Paul made a cardinal in 1977.
“Facing the advent of a secularized and hostile society, (Blessed Paul) could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom — and at times alone — to the helm of the barque of Peter,” Pope Francis said, in a possible allusion to “Humanae Vitae,” the late pope’s 1968 encyclical, which affirmed Catholic teaching against contraception amid widespread dissent.
The pope pronounced the rite of beatification at the start of the Mass. Then Sister Giacomina Pedrini, a member of the Sisters of Holy Child Mary, carried up a relic: a bloodstained vest Blessed Paul was wearing during a 1970 assassination attempt in the Philippines. Sister Pedrini is the last surviving nun who attended to Blessed Paul.
In his homily, Pope Francis did not explicitly mention “Humanae Vitae,” the single achievement for which Blessed Paul is best known today. Instead, the pope highlighted his predecessor’s work presiding over most of Vatican II and establishing the synod.
The pope quoted Blessed Paul’s statement that he intended the synod to survey the “signs of the times” in order to adapt to the “growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society.”
Looking back on the two-week family synod, Pope Francis called it a “great experience,” whose members had “felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the church.”
The pope said the family synod demonstrated that “Christians look to the future, God’s future … and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way.”
The synod, dedicated to “pastoral challenges of the family,” touched on sensitive questions of sexual and medical ethics and how to reach out to people with ways of life contrary to Catholic teaching, including divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and those in same-sex unions.
“God is not afraid of new things,” Pope Francis said. “That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us; he constantly makes us new.”
(Copyright © 2014 Catholic News Service/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news services may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to, such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method in whole or in part, without prior written authority of Catholic News Service.)

Biloxi’s retired bishop has been eyewitness to racial division, healing

BILOXI – Bishop Howze lays hands on incoming Bishop Thomas Rodi during the latter’s July 2001 ordination Mass. (Gulf Pine Catholic file photo by Shirley Henderson)

BILOXI – Bishop Howze lays hands on incoming Bishop Thomas Rodi during the latter’s July 2001 ordination Mass. (Gulf Pine Catholic file photo by Shirley Henderson)

By Terry Dickson
BILOXI (CNS) — The harsh realities of racial segregation were spelled out for Bishop Joseph Lawson Howze at an early age.
Bishop Howze, 91, a native of Daphne, Ala., was appointed the first bishop of Biloxi in 1977. He was the first black Catholic bishop in the 20th century to head a diocese, and at the time of his retirement in 2001, he was the top-ranking active black Catholic bishop in the U.S.
The bishop recently shared some recollections of growing up in the segregated South and how racial healing was gradually brought about through the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“I think I was about nine years old when the Depression came on,” he said. “I remember that there was very strong segregation in Alabama, especially in Baldwin County. We went to public schools and the schools for the black kids were closed in March so they could work in the potato fields. The other schools were not closed. So that shows you the difference between the races during that particular time. Segregation was pronounced.”
However, Bishop Howze said his family was fortunate in that they were never the targets of serious racial backlash.
“My grandfather was a mulatto. He was half white. When the census was taken in 1930, my brother and I were listed as mulatto kids,” said Bishop Howze. “I didn’t realize it as a kid growing up, but I’m quite sure he got some privileges because of that. He was also a very strong man. He was a deacon in the Baptist church and I’m sure that, sometimes, he got a lot of things because of who he was.”
Nevertheless, Bishop Howze said that, as a young boy, he wondered about different aspects of racial segregation.
“I wondered why, when we got on a public bus, we had to sit in the back with a curtain drawn in front of us and things like that,” he told the Gulf Pine Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Biloxi. “But there was no racial violence directed toward me and my family when I was growing up.”
A cradle Baptist, Bishop Howze attended Most Pure Heart of Mary School in Mobile, Alabama, as a child, and became a Catholic at age 25 under the instruction of Josephite Father Benjamin Horton.
He met the priest through the family of a student who was in his homeroom. Bishop Howze taught high school chemistry and biology in Mobile’s public schools and also was assigned a homeroom.

Retired Bishop Joseph Howze, 91, a native of Daphne, Ala., and the first bishop of Biloxi, Miss., proudly displays a plaque recognizing his induction into the University of Mississippi’s Alpha Phi Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa as an honorary member in 1988. In an interview Bishop Howze recalls his life and ministry when the South was segregated and describes the racial division and healing he has witnessed over the years. (CNS photo/Juliana Skelton, Gulf Pine Catholic)

Retired Bishop Joseph Howze, 91, a native of Daphne, Ala., and the first bishop of Biloxi, Miss., proudly displays a plaque recognizing his induction into the University of Mississippi’s Alpha Phi Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa as an honorary member in 1988. In an interview Bishop Howze recalls his life and ministry when the South was segregated and describes the racial division and healing he has witnessed over the years. (CNS photo/Juliana Skelton, Gulf Pine Catholic)

The student, Marion Louis Carroll, was a Catholic. The youth’s parents invited him to dinner one evening and he met Father Horton.
Bishop Howze was baptized at Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Mobile Dec. 4, 1948, and made his first Communion the next day at Our Mother of Mercy Mission Church.
Father Horton soon transferred and was replaced by Josephite Father Vincent Warren, who was “a very missionary-minded priest,” said Bishop Howze. “After my baptism, I used to travel with him to his mission churches. At the time, I was playing the organ and piano a little bit and would do the music for him. It was he who really inspired me to become a priest.”
While waiting to be accepted by a diocese as a seminarian, Bishop Howze spent a year teaching at St. Monica Catholic School in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Bishop Vincent S. Waters of Raleigh, North Carolina, “adopted” him, he said, sent him to the diocesan preparatory seminary in Buffalo, New York.
After graduation, Bishop Howze was admitted to Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure in New York, where he was the lone black seminarian but experienced no racial prejudice. He received his doctor of divinity degree in 1959 and was ordained for the Diocese of Raleigh that same year.
Bishop Howze served in several black parishes throughout North Carolina before being appointed pastor of the Basilica of St. Lawrence, a predominantly white parish in Asheville, in 1968.
“There was a period of adjustment,” he recalled, “but I got to know everybody and was loved by the people.”
However, he wasn’t immune to the indignity of racial segregation.
He described a meeting the Raleigh bishop had with priests at a Holiday Inn and the management of the hotel “made it known that they weren’t going to serve me at the dinner. So, the bishop and the entire group of priests left. It was terrible.”
In 1972, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Natchez-Jackson, Mississippi. “I was scared to come here and wondered why I was being sent to this place where there was all this terrible racial segregation,” he said.
“But my bishop, Bishop Michael Begley, told me, ‘Almighty God is appointing you to go and serve the church in Mississippi and you do that. You’ll be OK.’ So I did and I was ordained a bishop 44 years ago.”
At the same time as Bishop Howze’s episcopal ordination at the Jackson Civic Center, a kneel-in supporting church desegregation was taking place down the street at the predominantly white First Baptist Church.
Bishop Howze’s first assignment in Mississippi sent him to Philadelphia where three civil rights workers — James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner — were murdered in 1964.
“Could you imagine I went up there by myself? I didn’t have a driver. Cardinal Bernard Law was still in the diocese then as a young priest, but he didn’t go with me,” he said. “The Missionary Servants (of the Most Holy Trinity) were in charge of the parish in Philadelphia at the time. I was a little concerned about it, but everything went well. The confirmation class had black kids, white kids and Indian kids. I had no problems. It was an historic day.”
Bishop Howze’s appointment was a watershed moment for African-American Catholics. Then-Bishop Joseph Brunini of Natchez-Jackson “was looking for a black bishop to come here,” he recalled. “That’s the reason why I was named here.
As far as the changes that came about as result of the implementation of the Civil Rights Act, Bishop Howze found them to be “drastically wonderful.”
“Right now, there are more black mayors in Mississippi than any other city in the country and, of course, last year a black guy ran for governor and did well,” said Bishop Howze.
“The change in Mississippi was really phenomenal, and I think the reason was because the direct relationship between whites and blacks in the South was good,” Bishop Howze said. “I lived in a community in Mobile growing up with both whites and blacks living in the community. But racial segregation was still there.
“After we played, we couldn’t go to school together and we couldn’t go to church together, but we were friends. So I think that, after integration, it was easier for those whites, it was easier for those whites who wanted to integrate.”
He added, “Now I’m not saying that integration was easy in Mississippi. It wasn’t because the white kids left and went to private schools. So the public schools became predominately black schools. Then, effective changes were made. And I will say this. I have seen dramatic changes in race relations in Mississippi.”
(Dickson is editor of the Gulf Pine Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Biloxi. This story was part of a Catholic News Service series on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.)

Purple Dress racers gather to ‘run’ domestic violence out of city

JACKSON – Cindy Hyde-Smith, commissioner of the State of Mississippi Department of Agricultural and Commerce, welcomes a crowd of more than 400 people of all ages who attended this year’s Purple Dress Run on Thursday, Oct. 23. Proceeds from the event sponsored by Catholic Charities, benefit the battered women’s shelter. Purple-clad participants gathered before sundown at Jaco’s Tacos for the 5K run/walk through downtown Jackson in support of awareness for domestic violence issues. Sam Rhodes, 23, a visitor from Virginia who was invited by his family to enter the run, was the first to cross the finish line at 6:19 p.m. After the race the crowd gathered at Jaco’s Tacos to continue the celebration with food, music and drink.
Michael Thomas, development director for Catholic Charities, (contributer of photo), said this year’s race was the most successful so far raising $18,000. “People went all out to make this a festive, friendly event,” Thomas added.

Youth Briefs & Gallery


GREENVILLE/MADISON – Greenville St. Joseph School senior, Emily Mansour, captured the Class 1 North State high school swim championship in the 50 and 100 yard free style. Sophomore Jennifer Mansour placed third and the girls’ team placed fourth overall in points. .
Emily, Jennifer and Michael Mansour all qualified for the State swim meet individually. Emily Mansour, Jennifer Mansour, Kelsi Mixon, Brandi Grothman and Katherine Anne Terracina qualified for State in relays.
The State swim meet is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 1, in Tupelo and will feature swimmers from Greenville St. Joseph, Madison St. Joseph, and Vicksburg St. Aloysius.
We hope to have extended results of the state meet in an upcoming edition of our paper. Congratulations to all our student athletes.
JACKSON – Ian Hennington, a junior at Madison Central High School, won sixth place in congressional debate at the Yale Invitational Tournament in New Haven, CT, on Sunday, Sept. 21.
Ian Hennington is the son of Gary and Tracy Hennington and a member of St. Richard Parish. Congressional debate is a mock legislative assembly competition where students draft bills and resolutions which they and their peers later debate and vote to pass into law.

Pope Francis’ closing speech: let Holy Spirit guide us

(These are excerpts from a provisional translation of Pope Francis’ speech from Vatican Radio at the closing of the Synod. The full text is available online at http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/10/18/pope_francis_speech_at_the_conclusion_of_the_synod/1108944.)
I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”

Pope Francis talks with Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, during the morning session on the final day of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis talks with Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, during the morning session on the final day of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:
— One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.
— The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”
— The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).
— The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.
— The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…
Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).
And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! …
This is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord …
We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.
His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ…”
So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).
Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families. …
May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!
[The hymn Te Deum was sung, and Benediction given.]
Thank you, and rest well, eh?
(Reprinted with permission from Vatican Radio)
(Copyright © 2014 Catholic News Service/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news services may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to, such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method in whole or in part, without prior written authority of Catholic News Service.)

College retreat inspires director

By Fran Lavelle
My last official act as the campus minister for the college students at Mississippi State was a peer-led retreat at Lake Forest Ranch the weekend of October 17-19. This year’s theme was “The One and Only” and the talks revolved around on the things that keep us from staying focused on God. The weekend was glorious. The weather was beautiful, the camp was enshrined with early signs of fall, and the students who took this spiritual

LAKE FOREST RANCH – John Suedel and Anna Jackson give a talk about time at the college retreat sponsored by the Office of Campus Ministry (Photo courtesy of Fran Lavelle)

LAKE FOREST RANCH – John Suedel and Anna Jackson give a talk about time at the college retreat sponsored by the Office of Campus Ministry (Photo courtesy of Fran Lavelle)

journey to the woods were exceptional. It was in a word: perfect. I was reminded of how precious and essential these opportunities away with God really are.
Once back in Jackson I wondered why more people don’t take advantage of opportunities to take retreats. One of the talks, given by college sophomores Anna Jackson from Starkville and John Suedel from Clinton, was on time. They correctly pointed out that we have a misguided concept of “making time” for God. God, they asserted, made time. We do not need to make more of it. What we do need, however, is recognize that God should not be appropriated to a few fleeting minutes in the “busyness” of our days.
Rather, they contended, God should be in all that we are and all that we do. In essence, all our words, actions and thoughts should be focused on bringing greater glory to God. If we “take” time to center ourselves on Christ and we take time to deepen our intimacy with Him we will as a result be more intentional and focused on God. I marveled at their awareness and insight.
It occurred to me that we “make” time for the things that matter most to us. We travel weekend after weekend to tournaments, juggle kids between activities, travel to major cities to hear our favorite artist in concert or spend an entire day taking in a college football game. Now, before you criticize me let me say I love the garden and enjoy entertaining dinner guests. I love watching the sunset. I love spending time with family and friends. I get it.
These are the activities that make life special. It is not in the “doing” of these things that trips us up. It is when we adopt “activity” over presence. It’s when we jump from activity to activity rendering ourselves completely exhausted at the day’s end. It’s when we are so busy taking pictures to post on social media that we failed to “see” what is actually happening. Perhaps we fail to recognize that how present we are to others impacts how present we are to God.
I was walking into the office this morning with the usual background sounds of city traffic, sirens and car radios. The juxtaposition of waking up Sunday morning to the calls of nature versus the daily noise of life called me to recognize why retreats really matter. We were not hard-wired for the fast-paced, instantaneous world we live in. However, we have become conditioned to accept the insidious pace of modern life.
I remember in the 80s my dad used to give me a hard time about yuppies being “stressed out” all of the time. Our world then was a cacophony of bleeping fax machines, conference calls and hauling around cell phones that were the size of a shoe box. We thought we were busy.
The speed of life has exponentially increased since then. We multitask, we devour media nearly 24/7, we are literally lost without our smart phones and Facebook reminds us daily of how we’re doing in “keeping up with the Joneses.” Psalm 46:10 reminds us, “Be still and know that I am God.” What better way than a retreat to help us find the space and the freedom to put on pause the duties that press us into frenzied activity?
Advent will soon be here. Perhaps a retreat would help integrate a prayerful experience in the midst of Christmas parties, shopping and decorating. You don’t have to make a special trip to a retreat center. If you love the beach, make a trip to your favorite coastal town. If you enjoy hiking a trip to the mountains may be just what you need to reconnect with God.
A favorite retreat for me has always been a weekend alone at a state park. I fast from noise – no radio, television or cds. I take a journal, my Bible and spiritual reading. In the beginning the silence is too much to bear. I think I’ll go crazy before the weekend ends. Many years later, the silence for me has become a welcomed opportunity. My visits with God rarely involve audible words.
My college students reminded me quite profoundly the misguided notion of making time for God. If we take two weekends a year for retreat, that leaves us with 50 more to do the other things we enjoy. If weekends away are not for whatever reason do-able let’s be aware of those pockets of time and space which allow our hearts and minds to be present to God, our One and Only.
(Fran Lavelle is the director of the Office of Faith Formation)

Annunciation explores expansion

By Heather Skaggs
Columbus – Annunciation School is in the initial planning phase of expanding to possibly include ninth grade. Currently, the school serves students PreK 4 – 8th grade.
The school is looking at the possibility of adding a ninth grade class in the 2015-2016 academic year, with the hope of offering students the opportunity to complete grades PreK – 12th in the coming years. This is the result of a large number of ACS parents having voiced sincere interest in the addition of a ninth grade class and a commitment to the continued growth of the school.
Accoring to Joni House, ACS principal, enrollment has steadily increased over the past six years, with more than 10 percent total increase from the 2013-2014 academic year, and a 76 percent enrollment increase from six short years ago.
As a result, in August a new middle school building was added to accommodate the students. The new facility houses five large middle school classrooms and an updated computer lab used by the entire student population.
House said everyone is excited about the possibility of expanding the school to serve students in higher grades. “What we offer our students is unique to North Mississippi, and the commitment to high academic and moral standards will remain the same in the future and in all grades. I personally invite you to visit our school and experience the Annunciation difference for yourself,” House said.
Tours of the school are available daily by appointment. Contact Heather Skaggs, marketing and admissions director, 662-328-4479,  acsmarketing@cableone.net, to schedule a tour.

Catholic Build kicks off 29th year of partnership


JACKSON – At 7:45 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 18, Father Michael O’Brien of St. Richard Parish gathered with volunteers, Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area staff and homeowner Carolyn Madlock, to bless Catholic Build 2014 in Jackson. Every fall parishes in the Jackson area pool resources and volunteers to build a house for a family. This is the 29th year for the project.
Father O’Brien began with a reading from the Acts of the Apostles about how the early Christian community shared everything. “I thought that passage might be very appropriate because that is our version of that today – the community coming together, to make sacrifices, to work together, to give of their time and gifts and talents to build a house together for Carolyn and her family,” said Father O’Brien. Madlock is an employee of St. Dominic Hospital.
Ibby Joseph, a member of Madison St. Francis of Assisi has helped build 12 homes. “My husband got me started. It makes me feel useful. I agree that everyone deserves decent housing,” she said. “This is a little way that I can help. My sister teased me that the houses that I worked on will fall down. I don’t think they have,” joked Joseph.
Marion Coleman is a Habitat homeowner and a fellow employee at St. Dominic. She said she came out to pay it forward. Her coworker, Marshall Belaga, said this is his way of contributing to the overall health of the community. “One of the things that as a psychiatrist I deal with is a lot of people who live on the streets. Housing and a secure place to live, along with food, are a prerequisite to mental health,” he said.
Jim Jeter, chief development officer and foundation executive director at St. Dominic Health Services and member of the Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area Board of Directors, was on hand to work.
“Many people do not understand what a ‘not-for-profit’ healthcare organization really means. St. Dominic’s leadership and employee involvement in Catholic Build is one of many examples of how we try to give back to the community we serve,” Jeter said.
“Our only reason for existing is to serve our community with time, talent and treasure,” he explained. “We are a ministry of Christian healing, and Habitat is just one way that we give back. I am proud to serve on a board that truly helps individuals by giving a hand up, not a hand out,” continued Jeter.
Charles Graham, a member of Christ the King Parish, has been volunteering at Habitat builds for 18-20 years, volunteering initially in a community service project with fellow firemen. “I do it to give back. I have been blessed and want to pass on that blessing,” he explained. “I like building and repairing, and have the skills and tools. It was just a natural for me, when I retired from the fire department, to keep on volunteering at Habitat builds. Once you work on a build, you are hooked,” he noted.
Volunteers also came from Gluckstadt St. Joseph and the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Habitat homeowners must invest ‘sweat equity’ in their homes, meaning they work to help build and maintain their homes. The organization will help them learn about homeownership and money management even after they move in. Work will continue for two months.
Plans are already underway for the 2015 Catholic Build. For more info, contact Merrill McKewen, resource development director, Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area, at 601-353-6060.
(Peggy Hampton, Public Relations, Marketing and Fundraising Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity and Maureen Smith contributed to this report)