GRENADA – The members of the diocesan Envisioning Team have been meeting for several months to reflect on the results of the diocesan listening sessions, learn about strategic planning and discern a new set of priorities for the Diocese of Jackson. The work will result in a Mutually Shared Vision Statement and plan.
The team has a draft with three priorities in the works. Wednesday, October 19, members of the team met at St. Peter parish to continue their work. Maureen Smith, diocesan director of communication, attended to present an outline of the strategic plan for communication her team spent several months writing. The Envisioning team then discussed ways to best communicate and implement the plan and the timing for that implementation.
Upon the recommendation of Bishop Michael Thompson, SSJ, superior general for the Society of St. Joseph, Father George Ajuruchi, SSJ, is appointed pastor of Natchez Holy Family and Fayette St. Ann Parishes and Cranfield St. John Mission.
PARISH, SCHOOL & FAMILY EVENTS
AMORY St. Helen Parish, book discussion group will read “Glass Castle” by Jeanette Wall for discussion at noon on Monday, Nov. 14. Everyone is invited.
BATESVILLE St. Mary, Thanksgiving fare, Sunday, Nov. 6, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and St. Mary’s Ladies Club.
BOONEVILLE St. Francis Parish, “Altar of the Dead” is in the narthex in observance of All Souls Day. Bring photos or write the names of your deceased loved ones on cards and place them on this altar.
BROOKHAVEN St. Francis of Assisi Parish will be open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on election day, Nov. 8.
– Knights of Columbus annual spaghetti dinner, Thursday, Nov. 17.
CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories Parish, blessing of graves at local cemeteries Sunday, Oct. 30 : Delta Heights, 2 p.m.; New Cleveland, 2:40 p.m.; North Cleveland, 3 p.m.
– In observance of All Souls Day, Nov. 2, a special altar is in the entry for people to place mementos or pictures of their loved ones.
– “A Taste of Italy,” Thursday, Nov. 3, from 4:30 – 7 p.m. Featuring homemade lasagna, baked goods. Plates are $10, dine-in or carry-out. Details: 662-846-6273.
COLUMBUS Annunciation parishioners are invited to participate in the “4 Walls Project: Community yard sale” Saturday, Nov. 5, from 7 – 11 a.m. at Hitching Lot Farmer’s Market. Booths cost $25. Details: gtrhomelesscoation.org, email@example.com.
– Annunciation School annual art auction, “A Night at the Museum,” Friday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $25 at the school office or $30 at the door. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GREENVILLE St. Joseph Parish, Doe’s dinner and wine tasting, Sunday, Nov. 6, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Featuring Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars. Hosted by the Restoration Committee. Cost is $125 per person.
GREENVILLE Sacred Heart Parish, annual fish fry dinner, Saturday, Nov. 5, from 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Plates are $10 each. Proceeds will go toward the repair of the roof in the convent and some of the sidewalks in front of the church.s
GRENADA St. Peter Parish, youth Mass, Sunday, Nov 6, at 4 p.m. All are invited to attend, especially the youth to volunteer as active participants for parts of the Mass, as altar servers, lectors, gift bearers, etc.
HERNANDO/SOUTHAVEN parish mission at Holy Spirit and Christ the King parishes, Nov. 13-15 beginning with dinner at 6 p.m. The talks will be from 7 – 8 p.m. Father John Van den Hengel, SCJ, a theologian from Ontario, Canada, will be the speaker. The mission is for parishioners from Hernando Holy Spirit, Holly Springs St. Joseph, Olive Branch Queen of Peace, Robinsonville Good Shepherd, Senatobia St. Gregory and Southaven Christ the King.
Holy Spirit will host the sessions in English and Father Zigniew Morawiec, SCJ, will present the talks in Spanish at Christ the King. Childcare will be available.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit Parish, blessing of veterans at all Masses Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12-13. Veterans are encouraged to attend and wear something to indicate their branch of military service.
– Ladies Association’s frozen casserole sale, Saturday, Nov. 19. Details: Cil Johnson, 662-420-9875.
JACKSON – St. Peter Cathedral Fall Gala, Saturday, Nov. 12, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Old Capitol Inn in Jackson. Tickets are $60 per person, $100 per couple. Event includes, food, cocktails, a silent action, live entertainment and a 50/50 pot raffle. Proceeds benefit rectory updates and repairs. Details: Traci Avalon, 601-969-3125.
MADISON St. Joseph School, open house, Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m.
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Ladies Auxiliary’s annual “Make It, Bake It, Fake It” fund-raiser auction, Sunday, Nov. 6.
MERIDIAN St. Patrick Parish, annual Variety Show, Saturday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m.
– Sale of memorial bricks at $100, each can have up to three lines. Orders deadline is Oct. 31. Details: Kathy in the parish office.
MOUND BAYOU St. Gabriel Mercy Center, Harvest Festival, Saturday, Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Music by Joe Garcia from Rosedale, Delta Boutique, the Thrift Store and the Christmas Store will be open. The Franciscan Sisters are selling raffle tickets, $1 each/10 a book. Details: 662-741-3255.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, rosary procession, Sunday, Nov. 6, beginning at 2 p.m. at Old Catholic Plot 1 at the Natchez Trace Cemetery.
OLIVE BRANCH Queen of Peace Parish, Fall Fun Fest Saturday, Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
PEARL St. Jude Parish, special Mass of Remembrance, Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. Those who have lost a close family member in the past year call the parish office to give their name.
– Chili Cook-off, Saturday, Nov. 12. Deadline to register is Nov. 7.
– Parishioners are encouraged to participate in the Christmas “Box of Joy” which will be sent to Haiti, Guatemala or the Dominican Republic. Boxes need to be returned between Nov. 6-13 to the parish hall.
JONESTOWN The Jonestown Family Center and the Spring Initiative are sponsoring “The Delta Ball: Vintage Hollywood,” Saturday, Nov. 12, from 7 – 11 p.m. Tickets are $75 each. Judge Joe Brown of the television show “Judge Joe Brown” will be the master of ceremony. Details: 662-358-4335.
CHICAGO, Ill. – Brother Robert (Bob) McGovern, CFC, died Wednesday, Oct. 12, in Chicago. He was 72 years old. Brother McGovern served at Holy Child School in Canton from 1998-2001. He also was part of the Thea Bowman Spirituality Center.
Save the date
MADISON – Matthew Kelly will come to the Jackson area on Saturday, March 11, 2017, from 2 – 6 p.m. at the Madison Central High School Auditorium. The facility seats 1,000 people. Look for more details in upcoming Mississippi Catholic editions.
By Abbey Schuhmann
Teens from all across the diocese gathered at Lake Forest Ranch in Macon, Miss., on October 15-16 for the 2016 diocesan high school fall retreat. The retreat was led by a team from National Evangelization Ministries (NET), a Catholic ministry program out of St. Paul, Minnesota. NET Ministries was established 35 years ago and has grown over the years. NET was very popular in our diocese in the 1980s and we are excited to have them serving here once again.
The mission of NET is to spread the Gospel message of Jesus Christ through prayer, sacraments, fellowship and service. NET Team #2 led the retreat along with a middle school retreat at Southaven Sacred Heart School. Each NET Team is made of eight-12 young adults usually ages 18-24 years old. The leaders commit to a year of missionary retreat ministry by traveling around the country hosting retreats for parishes and schools.
The theme of our retreat was “Fully Alive” and teens had the chance to reflect on what really brings about true happiness. Ultimately, only Christ will fill our deepest desires of happiness. Our happiness motivates every decision that we make and our youth had the chance to discuss this important concept.
The overnight retreat provided the youth with a high-energy, faith-filled program throughout the weekend. The youth were able to hear powerful witness talks from members of the NET Team, engaged in several small group discussions, experienced a powerful prayer ministry Saturday evening that included the opportunity to go to Reconciliation and participate in praise and worship.
The NET Team also performed funny skits throughout the weekend that the teens and adult leaders alike enjoyed; along with two very touching dramas as well. Our teens also had the chance for some fun and fellowship on Saturday afternoon by participating in some friendly competition including games of ping-pong, dodgeball, sand volleyball and basketball.
On Sunday we celebrated Mass outdoors at the amphitheater with the beautiful lake as our backdrop, Father Jose de’ Jesus Sanchez, director recruitment for the Office of Vocations, served as our principal celebrant. Three seminarians from our diocese were also present throughout the weekend; Aaron Williams, Hayden Schmitt, and Cesar Sanchez participated in the small group sessions and shared their own personal vocation stories with our youth and assisted with the liturgy.
The adult youth leaders had the opportunity to meet one another and discuss the youth ministry programs at their respective parishes.
The Office of Youth Ministry looks forward to offering valued, faith-filled, meaningful experiences for the youth of our diocese moving forward through retreats, rallies, and other related activities.
If you’d like more information regarding diocesan youth events, contact Abbey Schuhmann, coordinator for the office of youth ministry for the Diocese of Jackson at email@example.com or 601-949-6934.
Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
A medida que las elecciones se acercan, tanto a nivel nacional, estatal y local, la Iglesia Católica afirma el valor de un voto, así como el valor de contribuir al bienestar de la sociedad y las comunidades donde y cuando esto sea posible. Es muy fácil quedar atrapados en el malestar de un sentimiento de impotencia en el rostro de los problemas espinosos de la sociedad, pero lo más importante es concentrarse en lo que podemos hacer en una democracia.
Con respecto a las elecciones, a amar a nuestro prójimo y cuidar a los necesitados entre nosotros significa apoyar a los líderes y las políticas que promueven el bien común y protegen a los miembros más vulnerables de la sociedad. Día a día hay infinitas posibilidades para servir, defender y facultar a los demás. Ayudar a los católicos a reconocer y actuar sobre esta dimensión social de nuestra fe es una tarea esencial para los líderes de la iglesia. Por lo tanto, hay cuestiones fundamentales que deben ser planteadas en la temporada electoral.
• Algunos se preguntan si la religión y la política debería interactuar. ¿Qué dicen los obispos en respuesta a esta crítica? ¿Cuál es el papel de la iglesia en la vida política?
• ¿Cuál es la conexión entre nuestra fe y el deseo de cambiar el mundo para mejor?
• ¿Qué tipos de líderes necesita nuestra sociedad? ¿Por qué deberían abogar y cómo deberían dirigir?
• ¿Por qué los obispos y todos los líderes de la Iglesia animan a todos los católicos, capaces de votar o no, a participar en la vida política? ¿Cuáles son otras maneras, además de la votación, en la que pueden estar abogando en la promoción de cuestiones importantes?
• ¿Qué significa cuando los obispos dicen, “tanto estar opuestos al mal como hacer el bien son obligaciones esenciales” ¿Por qué son ambos, no solo uno o el otro, importantes para los católicos? ¿Cuáles son algunos ejemplos de actos intrínsecamente malos y por qué debemos estar siempre opuestos a ellos?
¿Cuáles son los ejemplos de las necesidades básicas de nuestros vecinos que debemos asegurar que sean cumplidas? ¿Cómo son sus propias acciones para evitar el mal y hacer el bien?
• ¿Cómo podrían las políticas públicas y las leyes ser diferentes si los principios morales de “Fieles Ciudadanos” fueran utilizados como base para las decisiones políticas?
– Vida y dignidad de la persona humana.
– Llamado a la familia, a la comunidad y a la participación.
– Derechos y responsabilidades.
– Opción por los pobres y vulnerables.
– La dignidad del trabajo y los derechos de los trabajadores. La solidaridad
– Cuidar la creación de Dios.
Hace siglos Sócrates hizo la audaz afirmación de que “la vida que no se examina no vale la pena vivirla.” No hay duda de que una vida activa orientada hacia el bien común y la solidaridad son esenciales para el orden justo de la sociedad y para la edificación del reino de Dios. Sin embargo, la suposición que subraya estos principios es la capacidad de una persona para retirarse, reflexionar, rezar, estudiar, permanecer quieto, abrazar el silencio, y entablar un diálogo constructivo a fin de dar una larga mirada amorosa en búsqueda de lo que es real.
Este equilibrio agrega un valor considerable a nuestras vidas. La formación de la conciencia fluye desde ambas dinámicas, la activa y reflexiva, Marta y María, por así decirlo. Es un poderoso lazo de realimentación que puede dar mucho fruto, acción y contemplación a lo largo de toda la vida.
¿Qué es conciencia? ¿Qué es prudencia? ¿Cómo desarrolla uno una conciencia bien formada y la virtud de la prudencia?
Del Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica #1784, La educación de la conciencia es una tarea de toda la vida. Desde los primeros años despierta al niño al conocimiento y la práctica de la ley interior reconocida por la conciencia moral. Una educación prudente enseña la virtud; preserva o sana del miedo, del egoísmo y del orgullo, de los insanos sentimientos de culpabilidad y de complacencia, nacidos de la debilidad humana y faltas humanas. La educación de la conciencia garantiza la libertad y engendra la paz del corazón.
En el #1785 dice, En la formación de la conciencia, la Palabra de Dios es luz de nuestro caminar; es preciso que la asimilemos en la fe y en la oración, y la pongamos en práctica. También debemos examinar nuestra conciencia en relación con la cruz del Señor. Estamos asistidos por los dones del Espíritu Santo, ayudados por el testimonio o los consejos de otros y guiados por la enseñanza autorizada de la iglesia.
Estas son algunas preguntas para reflexionar:
– ¿Cuándo me ha guiado mi conciencia para “hacer el bien y evitar el mal”? – ¿Cuáles son algunos recursos claves que puedo utilizar para formar mi conciencia?
– La formación de la conciencia es una “tarea permanente.” ¿Qué hago regularmente para formar mi conciencia? ¿Qué más debo hacer? ¿Qué consejo le daría a un amigo que está tratando de decidir entre dos candidatos, ninguno de los cuales comparte plenamente el compromiso de la iglesia en favor de la dignidad de la persona humana? Esto podría requerir la sabiduría de Salomón.
– Los obispos describen dos “tentaciones en la vida pública” en las que los votantes pueden caer: primero, la “equivalencia moral” que “no hace una distinción ética entre diferentes tipos de problemas relacionados con la vida y la dignidad humana”, y la segunda, el mal uso de las distinciones morales “como una manera de rechazar o ignorar las graves amenazas a la vida y a la dignidad humana”.
Describe una situación en la que hayas presenciado una o ambas de estas líneas de pensamiento. ¿Por qué son ambas distorsiones de la enseñanza de la iglesia?
– ¿Qué papel deben desempeñar en nuestras decisiones acerca de por quién votamos y cómo abogamos por el cambio?
En las palabras del Papa Francisco, “los avances en la construcción de un pueblo de paz, justicia y fraternidad dependen de cuatro principios relacionados a constantes tensiones presentes en cada realidad social.” Estos derivan de los pilares de la doctrina social de la iglesia que sirven como “principal y fundamentales parámetros de referencia que interpretan la realidad social y política. Los cuatro principios incluyen la dignidad de la persona humana, el bien común, la subsidiariedad y la solidaridad. Tomados en conjunto, estos principios constituyen un marco moral para la participación católica en la promoción de lo que hemos llamado una “ética consistente de la vida”
Aparte de la vida de principios y la auténtica formación de la conciencia, el miedo y la codicia motivan nuestras decisiones, o una fidelidad ciega a un determinado partido político sin importar a quienes sirven.
Guiados por el Espíritu Santo, que podamos elegir acertadamente mientras laboramos fielmente en nombre de la ciudad de Dios en nuestro mundo, una morada de mayor justicia, paz y esperanza para todos, desde el primer momento de nuestra existencia, hasta nuestro último aliento.
By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
As the elections loom before us, both national, statewide and local, the Catholic Church affirms the value of one vote as well as the value of contributing to the wellbeing of society and neighborhoods wherever and whenever this is possible. It’s too easy to get caught up in the malaise of a feeling of powerlessness in the face of society’s thorny problems, but the most important thing to focus on is what we can do in a democracy. With regard to elections, loving our neighbor and caring for the least among us means supporting leaders and policies that promote the common good and protect society’s most vulnerable members. Day-in and day-out there are endless possibilities for serving others, empowering, and advocating. Helping Catholics to recognize and act on this social dimension of our faith is an essential task for Church leaders. Therefore, there are fundamental questions that need to be posed in the election season.
Some people question whether religion and politics should ever interact. What do the bishops say in response to this criticism? What is the role of the Church in political life?
What is the connection between our faith and the desire to change the world for the better?
What types of leaders does our society need? For what should they stand and how should they lead?
Why do the bishops and all concerned Church leaders encourage all Catholics, whether able to vote or not, to be involved in political life? What are other ways, in addition to voting, that you can be involved in advocacy for important issues?
What do the bishops mean when they say, “Both opposing evil and doing good are essential obligations?” Why are both, not just one or the other, important for Catholics? What are examples of intrinsically evil acts and why must they always be opposed? What are examples of the basic needs of our neighbors which we must ensure are fulfilled? What might your own actions to avoid evil and to do good look like?
How might public policies and laws be different if the moral principles from Faithful Citizenship were used as a basis for political decisions?
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
Rights and Responsibilities
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
Care for God’s Creation
Centuries ago Socrates made the bold statement that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” There is no doubt that an active life directed toward the common good and solidarity are essential for the just ordering of society and for building up the Kingdom of God. However, the assumption underlying these principles is the capacity for a person to step aside, reflect, pray, study, be still, embrace silence, and engage in meaningful dialogue in order to take a long loving look in search of what is real. This balance adds considerable value to our lives. The formation of one’s conscience flows from both dynamics, the active and the reflective, Martha and Mary so to speak. It is a powerful feedback loop that can bear much fruit, action and contemplation in a lifelong dance.
What is conscience? What is prudence? How does one develop a well-formed conscience and the virtue of prudence?
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart. #1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is a light for our path. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the church
When has my conscience guided me to “do good and avoid evil”?
What are some key resources I can use to form my conscience?
Forming conscience is a “lifelong task.” What do I do to regularly form my conscience? What more should I do?
What advice might you give to a friend who is trying to decide between two candidates, neither of which fully share the Church’s commitment to the dignity of the human person? This might require the wisdom of Solomon.
The bishops describe two “temptations in public life” that voters can fall into: first, “moral equivalence” which “makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity,” and second, the misuse of moral distinctions “as a way of dismissing or ignoring serious threats to human life and dignity.” Describe a situation in which you witnessed one or both of these lines of thought. Why are they both distortions of the Church’s teaching?
What role should they play in our decisions about who we vote for and how we advocate for change?
In the words of Pope Francis, “progress in building a people in peace, justice and fraternity depends on four principles related to constant tensions present in every social reality.” These derive from the pillars of the Church’s social doctrine, which serve as ‘primary and fundamental parameters of reference interpreting social and political reality. The four principles include the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity. Taken together, these principles provide a moral framework for Catholic engagement in advancing what we have called a “consistent ethic of life”
Apart from principled living, and the authentic formation of conscience, fear and greed motivate our decisions, or a blind allegiance to a particular political party no matter whom they serve up. Guided by the Holy Spirit, may we choose rightly as we faithfully labor on behalf of the City of God in our world, a dwelling place of greater justice, peace, and hope for all, from the first moment of our existence until our final breath.
(Editor’s note: Read part one of this two-part column on www.mississippicatholic.com.)
By Dennis Sadowski
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Is there a Catholic vote?
Well, yes. Kind of.
Voting patterns show Catholics vote much like the rest of America, with minor swings one way or the other, depending on the candidate and the state.
Nevertheless, the Catholic vote still is important, as syndicated columnist, political commentator and Georgetown University professor E.J. Dionne likes to say.
Any way it’s examined, analysts say the Catholic vote — about 22 percent of the electorate — is not as monolithic as it once was.
That is, except for Latinos, who now comprise about 35 percent of U.S. Catholics: More than 65 percent regularly vote for Democrats, and about 20 percent vote Republican, leaving few to be swayed by the candidates’ political positions.
“Even though people use the shorthand of ‘the Catholic vote,’ ‘the vote of Catholics’ is probably the better way to describe it because there is that diversity now,” said Mark Gray, senior research associate at the Washington-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
Gray suggested that the elections of 1960 and 1964 were the last where Catholics could be considered a uniform voting bloc. In 1960, they were moved to support Democrat John F. Kennedy, the country’s first and only Catholic president, and that wave carried into the election four years later.
But since then, Gray told Catholic News Service, Catholics “have not been really in one camp or the other,” and they hold values similar to the rest of the voting populace, an indication that church teaching holds little sway in the election at the polls.
“(Catholics) look for teachings of the church that are consistent with the party affiliation that they have,” Gray said.
Monika L. McDermott, associate professor of political science at Fordham University, who has analyzed exit poll data for national news organizations, echoed Gray, saying the diversity among Catholics means they vote the way they want no matter what the Catholic Church teaches.
“They go their own way. They pick and choose what they want and what they want to follow,” she said. So there’s no need to expect that Catholics by themselves will sway the eventual outcome of this year’s presidential election, with its strange twists as candidates trade extraordinarily nasty barbs and accuse major party leadership of a lack of transparency in the delegate selection process.
Factors such as anger and distrust among voters are fueling the rise of self-proclaimed “outsiders” whose message has appealed to those who have felt betrayed by the institutions of government, church and social services that they once trusted to work on their behalf.
Stephen F. Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, said perhaps no other group has felt more betrayed than white working-class communities in places such as Pennsylvania, Appalachia, the Ozarks and the Deep South.
In an address during a daylong symposium, “Rebuilding Trust,” in April at the university, Schneck described the high levels of drug abuse and alcoholism, marriage failures, declining life expectancy and rising crime rates that plague such communities.
“There are many angles from which to consider the correlation between decaying social capital and what’s happening to the quality of life for these populations, but one way to see it is as a crisis of trust,” Schneck told the audience.
“It’s a breakdown of trust with even basic institutions of social life. Their distrust of government is something we all hear about, but it goes far beyond that,” he said.
Later in an interview, Schneck said working-class whites feel “like they’ve lived up to their end of the bargain, but the other institutions have not,” so they are turning to candidates who seem to offer them a better life.
Matthew Green, assistant professor of political scientist at The Catholic University of America and another symposium speaker, said that could explain the appeal of candidates who have positioned themselves as outside the political mainstream.
Green said the high turnout in Republican primaries among people feeling forgotten helped Donald Trump hold off challengers.
“If you distrust the institution, but there is a candidate who says ‘I’m going to fix things,’ then that might motivate you to vote,” Green told CNS.
Even with the large turnout among working-class white voters during the primaries, Latinos may hold the key to the general election. If they show up at the polls in places such as Florida, Nevada and Colorado, they will influence who becomes the next occupant of the White House, said Luis Fraga, co-director of the Institute for Latino Studies and professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame.
As goes the Latino vote, so goes Catholic Latino voters, he said.
He offered a few statistics that are expected to influence election outcomes beginning this year, but especially in the future:
— 63 percent of Latinos in the U.S. were born in the U.S. and another 15 percent are naturalized citizens.
— Of the Latinos younger than age 18, 94 percent were born in the U.S.
— About 800,000 Latinos turn 18 every year.
“If I wanted to register new Latino voters, that’s where you tend to focus, it would be 17-year-olds. You have a huge group that has the possibility of engaging (politically),” he said.
Fraga pointed to Florida, with its rapid growth in newcomers from Puerto Rico, with large numbers of young and educated people seeking opportunities that are unavailable on the Caribbean island territory.
Fraga said the number of Florida residents of Cuban origin, who tend to vote Republican, remains flat and, because both trends are expected to continue, the political landscape in Florida will change.
However Catholics vote, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops again is disseminating its quadrennial document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” with accompanying study and discussion guides, bulletin inserts, and materials for use by bishops.
The latest iteration of the document, approved at the bishops’ annual fall meeting in November, draws on papal teaching since 2007, particularly the latter part of Pope Benedict XVI’s tenure and Pope Francis’ three years overseeing the Vatican. It also considers recent developments in U.S. domestic and foreign policy related to same-sex marriage, the use of drones in warfare and care for the environment, among other issues.
“There’s no doubt that this is something that’s very important to bring to the attention of Catholics, and formation of conscience, as the document says, is a lifelong undertaking, and our need to bring our faith to the public square is also not about one election,” said Susan Sullivan, director of education and outreach in the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.
(Editor’s Note: See Bishop Kopacz’ column on page 3 for additonal reflections and find a link to “Faithful Citizenship” materials online at www.jacksondiocese.org.)
Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski
By Fran Lavelle
There are some things about working directly with college-aged young people that I will forever miss. Clearly on the top of that list are the opportunities to be present and to really hear their stories. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with the National Evangelization Team (NET) who came to our diocese for a high school retreat entitled, “Fully Alive.” The retreat was held at Lake Forrest Ranch in Macon. The team spent Friday night in Starkville and, still having my home there, I invited them to come to dinner.
It was a lovely evening. The team was made up of 12 members aged 18-23. Members represented several States from California to West Virginia; and, from Minnesota to Florida and various States in between. My heart filled with gratitude as each bright, cheery faced young person disembarked from the van, hand extended, followed by a warm, “Hi, I am…”
These types of gatherings a few years ago were quite common at my home. I have been away from full time campus ministry for two years now and it was quite clear that I miss these opportunities.
Abbey Schuhmann, Coordinator for the Office of youth Ministry was responsible for bringing the NET Team to the diocese. She was also the leader of the caravan to my house. It was truly a gift and blessing to share not just a meal but our mutual love for God’s young people. Abbey brings so many gifts to ministry, including a gentle reassuring presence. In addition she is has excellent organization and planning skills. Since day-one she has been busy planning and preparing for a full calendar of events for the youth in our Diocese. The Fall Retreat was her inaugural diocesan youth event since she joined the chancery staff in May.
Having had experience with NET Ministries in her youth ministry job in her parish she knew NET would be a great fit for the diocese. Word on the street is the weekend was well received by youth and the adult advisors. The take away from a weekend like this, especially for youth, is recognizing that they are not alone.
There is no substitute for taking the opportunity to be present to God in a truly magnificent environment with amazing youth and a great retreat team. Our youth heard great talks, spent time reflecting and sharing in small groups, playing games, singing, going to Reconciliation, and celebrating Mass with friends old and new. Times like these create touch tones that both youth and adults will think back on for years to come.
In thinking about the gift of the weekend and the many graces shared, I was reminded how important it is to encourage our young people to think about this kind of service. NET is one many ministries our young people can volunteer for a more extensive experience. NET teams, for example, are formed in mid-August and complete their work in mid-May. No matter what your interest, education, health care, pastoral care or evangelization, there are so many opportunities to spend a year or two after college graduation or in between college.
A great resource for finding volunteer ministry experiences is the Catholic Volunteer Network (https://www.catholicvolunteernetwork.org/). They publish an annual book, RESPONSE, which lists volunteer opportunities. The website also includes a database of opportunities. In being exposed to these sorts of options, young people are given a greater insight into how they may come to serve the Church and one another as adults.
I have known many young folks over the years that did one or two years of volunteer service. Face it young people, you have years of gainful employment to look forward to. Why not give of your time and talent to serve the Church in a way that you personally find meaningful? Often times these volunteer opportunities provide loan deferment so you can put off paying back student loans until after your volunteer service is completed. In meeting the dynamic NET Team that came to Mississippi I was also reminded of how good it is to be exposed to people from other regions. It breaks down stereotypes and challenges us to see one another as part of God’s family.
If you are looking for a retreat opportunities for youth or need more information on volunteer service opportunities, shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help.
(Fran Lavelle is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson. See page 15 for a story and photos from the Fully Alive Retreat.)
Reflections on Life
By Father Jerome LeDoux, SVD
Whisperings were here, there and everywhere. “I have deep misgivings about the funeral. We must be very careful,” some were saying. “This thing is not over yet.”
“They have not yet found the killer,” others were saying ominously. “Revenge killings are sure to follow.” There was a general malaise in the air about the execution-style killing of 19-year-old Shawn Parish and 21-year-old Nakia Ramer, Jr., both of Opelousas, Louisiana.
The hit went down, not in a big city but in the small, unincorporated community of Plaisance, Louisiana. One shot fired into the car penetrated the back of one man’s head. When the second turned to see what happened, a second shot blew into his forehead. Ironically, Plaisance is the French word for pleasance. Sad to say, this kind of marksman belongs in the Mideast theater of war against ISIS.
Unfortunately, I had been to the well more than once before when I served at St. Augustine Church in New Orleans. The worst funeral was that of a 19-year-old who was shot to death on the elevated I-10. The 700-seat church was full and even the standing room was jammed. Six young men dressed impeccably in white with pink trim 3-piece suits, bow ties and white shoes moved in unison with whatever the folks in church did. But their reverence ended with the conclusion of the Mass.
Denser than Mardi Gras, outside the church people were packed like sardines for a couple of blocks in every direction. Although moving among the thousands was extremely difficult, I had to muscle my way to the lead car. Once there, we witnessed in shock the impeccably-dressed young men leap onto the hood of two limousines, then onto the roof, break-dancing and crushing the roofs in. They inflicted $7,000 damage to said limousines before dismounting and melting away.
With Police Chief Donald Thompson and Officer Baxter Iford at hand on October 8, with Holy Ghost Church only about 2/3 full, with no crowd outside, all the young folks there, as well as the old, sported a sad, serious mien, expectant of words of some consequence. I began the funeral sermon with the talk around the town.
“’This is not over yet.’ ‘They have not yet found the killer.’ ‘Revenge killings are sure to follow.’ I’ve been hearing about vendetta – revenge. I do not want to hear this. You do not want to hear this. We do not want to hear this. More killings will not solve or heal anything. On the contrary, more killings will aggravate and make more raw the sorrow, pain and hurt that need a mighty healing!
“What we need to hear from all the adults here, especially the more mature, is our resolve to help take care of what we call the extended family or the village. We have heard repeatedly, ‘It takes a village to rear a child.’ Indeed, we all know just how difficult it is to rear a child, particularly in these days when we have to contend with drugs and the fast, loose life that threatens us even in small towns nowadays.
“We need to hear our resolve, our commitment right now! We need to hear from one another our pledge to one another, but, most importantly, to God that, with God’s help, we will stand next to, stand behind in support, stand before in defense, counsel them in whatever way we can, and defend our children from infancy, to the toddler stage, from childhood to adolescence, to young adulthood. We want to defend them at the risk to our own safety and the possible cost of our own lives.
“Do I hear a pledge from you? Say, ‘I pledge!’ A weak ripple of ‘I pledge’ followed. I repeated ‘I pledge!’ The ripple grew stronger. When I again repeated, the ripple increased to a firm ‘I pledge!’ We just want our children to know that we, the entire village, are firmly and resolutely with them!
Once again, I said, “I pledge!” There was resonance in their pledge. Once more, “I pledge!” An enthusiastic chorus followed. One more time, “I pledge!” That time there was a bit of rumble and drum-like hand-slapping on the seats. It is our fond prayer and hope that a seed of God’s Word and human solidarity is growing into constant care of our children.
Since the hearse had left without me, church head usher Joseph Butler drove me, overtaking the funeral cortège that was mysteriously going in the wrong direction to reach Serenity Memorial Park cemetery. But the route was planned, stopping to transfer Nakia’s body to a horse-drawn hearse, passing the Briford White Eagle in The Hill section of town where Sam Cooke and other singers once starred, stopping at the home of Nakia’s mother, Lisa, where Gospel pieces were sung, reaching the cemetery after an hour and 15 minutes.
After the grave blessing, a sore-foot, barefoot relative read her last tribute to Nakia whose life had come to a premature end. Then dozens of children and adults sprinkled each other with holy water, saying aloud how much each of them needed a powerful blessing.
“God is love, and all who abide in love abide in God and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)
(Father Jerome LeDoux, SVD, has written “Reflections on Life since 1969.)