VARNAMAN - Representates de diferentes países presentaron sus culturas durante la noche del encuentro como parte de la Semana Nacional de la Migración. (Foto de Danna Johnson)

VARNAMAN – Representates de diferentes países presentaron sus culturas durante la noche del encuentro como parte de la Semana Nacional de la Migración. (Foto de Danna Johnson)

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De Danna Johnson

La Semana Nacional de Migración 2017 fue una gran oportunidad de encuentro de diferentes culturas. El Centro de Apoyo al Migrante de Caridades Católicas, la Iglesia Católica de St. James de Tupelo y la oficina de Caridades Católicas de Vardaman, unieron esfuerzos para crear este ambiente de encuentro.
Esta semana de actividades comenzó con la inauguración en St. James de Tupelo con la celebración de Epifanía y con la presentación del video “Los Invisibles”. Mas de 100 personas estuvieron presentes. Todos y todas fueron invitados a compartir sus historias como migrantes en Mississippi. La conclusión de este primer dia fue que: “Migracion es un acto de fe”.
En los siguientes días de la Semana Nacional de Migración, Amelia McGowan, abogada de migración de Caridades Católicas y directora del Centro de Apoyo al Migrante, ofreció talleres informativos y consultas individuales sobre el tema de migración. Esto se llevó a cabo en las comunidades de Ripley, Corinth y Vardaman.
Muchas familias del Deanery V se hicieron presentes. Amelia ha construido confianza y credibilidad con su dedicación, excelente servicio y su pasión por apoyar a las familias migrantes de toda la Diócesis de Jackson.
La Iglesia Católica de San Cristóbal de Pontotoc celebró una misa conmemorando la Semana Nacional de Migración 2017. El Padre Tim Murphy recibió a todos los asistentes, incluyendo al Padre Octavio Escobar, quien nos visitó desde México y quien celebró la Eucaristía en un ambiente de hospitalidad y esperanza. La invitación fue abierta a reflexionar sobre el Salmo 104: “El Señor nunca olvida sus promesas”.
El viernes 13 de enero, la Noche de Expresión Cultural se llevo a cabo en Vardaman. Nancy Sánchez, de la oficina de Centro de Apoyo al Migrante de Caridades Católicas y un equipo de voluntarios hicieron posible este evento de juntar a la diversa comunidad.
Hubieron demostraciones artísticas, comida, bailes de varios países, entre ellos: México, Honduras, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Colombia e India. Liza May y Sandra Loucios ambas nativas de Vardaman, dieron la bienvenida a todos los asistentes con “Gracia Suprema” y presentando datos culturales tanto de la región del sur y de Vardaman. En palabras del Presidente de la junta directiva de la Oficina de NE de Caridades Católicas, “Esto es algo en lo que necesitamos crecer”. Alrededor de 150 personas de diferentes culturas del NE de Mississippi estuvieron bajo un mismo techo, celebrando lo que todos tenemos en común: nuestra diversidad.
La clausura de esta semana especial estuvo a cargo de la Hermana Gabriela Ramírez de Caridades Católicas de Birmingham, AL. Ella abrió su presentación con la pregunta: ¿Podemos crear una cultura inclusiva?
Dorothy Balser, Directora de la división Comunidad y Ministerios de Alcance Social de Caridades Católicas de Jackson, dijo que “Este ha sido un tema muy poderoso para crear conciencia y educación, y que buscaremos la oportunidad de hacerlo de nuevo en este año.”
La Hermana Ramírez cerró la Semana Nacional de Migración 2017 invitándonos a unirnos en oración, teniendo a Jesús como modelo: “Padre, que todos ellos sean uno, como nosotros somos uno” (Juan 17,21)

 

Schools provide strength to communities

Forming our Future
By Catherine Cook
This year our celebration of Catholics Schools Week marks 170 years of continuous Catholic education in Mississippi. No other school – public or private – in our state can make that claim. Six of our Catholic schools/centers trace their beginnings to the 1800s and have continued throughout the educational history of our state.
Each year Catholic schools across the United States set aside the week that begins with the last Sunday in January as Catholic Schools Week. It is a time to reflect upon and celebrate what each school provides to its students, families, parishes, cities, states, and the nation.
January 29th – February 4th, the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Jackson join the national celebration with activities that highlight and thank the many persons who contribute in large and small ways to make our schools what the 2017 Catholic Schools Week theme proclaims: Catholic Schools – Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.
This theme speaks to the heart of what our schools strive to be – communities that at their core are rooted in the love of God that is lived out in service to others – educational communities in which students learn academic lessons and life lessons. This is what sets our Catholic schools apart from other educational institutions across the state. It is why throughout the 170 year history of Catholic schools in Mississippi families have made sacrifices to provide a Catholic education to their children. This Community of Faith, Knowledge, and Service is why teachers and administrators commit themselves to carrying forth the tradition of a quality education marked by faith and service – an institution begun and sustained for much of our Catholic school history by women and men religious.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the comments from students, parents, faculty, administration, and alumni included in the Catholic Schools Week insert. There is little I can add to what they say about their experiences in the Catholic schools in our diocese. I ask that you take the opportunity during Catholic Schools Week to visit the Catholic school in your area and see first-hand what Catholic education in the 21st century is about.
Consider taking a friend and or neighbor to help share with community stakeholders what a Catholic school provides to students, families, and the community. Vibrant Catholic schools enhance the faith life of their parishes and the social-economic-cultural life of their civic communities. You don’t have to be a parent to be invested in your local Catholic school as it has an impact on your parish and your local community. Catholic schools always welcome persons who wish to support their mission with time, talent, and/or treasure.
Finally, this is a time to say “thank you” to the many Catholic school stakeholders – employees, volunteers, patrons, alumni, and friends. “Thank you” to pastors and parishioners – your support is essential to the life of our Catholic schools. “Thank you” to faculty, staff, and administration for your commitment to the education and formation of students – your dedication continues the legacy left by the religious sisters and brothers on whose shoulders we stand.
“Thank you” to volunteers – your service in endless ways and groups, such as, advisory councils, committees, parent associations, booster clubs, fund-raising events, etc. is vital to operation of our schools. And, “thank you” to parents for choosing to place your children in our Catholic schools. We exist to partner with you to provide a community that teaches, leads, and develops your children into persons of faith, knowledge, and service. Congratulations to each Catholic school in our Diocese on your celebration of Catholic Schools Week 2017! We are proud of your efforts and accomplishments.
(Catherine Cook is the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Jackson.)

Taking the time to renew benefits ministry, church

Kneading Faith
By Fran Lavelle
I was fortunate enough to participate in the Catholic Leadership Institute’s (CLI) program Tending the Talents, which is a program for lay leaders. The program began in May and just completed its work earlier this month. The cohort consisted of Lay Ecclesial Ministers, youth ministers, directors/coordinators of religious education programs, pastoral council leaders and diocesan staff. We represented nearly every deanery in the diocese and included diversity of ethnicity, age, parish size and background. The group met five times over the course of these eight months.
Our time together varied, but usually included two or three days. When Bishop Joseph Kopacz introduced the idea of CLI bringing Tending the Talents to the diocese, I was very excited. I knew it would be an opportunity to strengthen some existing friendships and develop new ones. Being someone who values interpersonal relationships I knew this was right up my alley. What I did not expect was how quickly the cohort would come to feel like family. Our scheduled meetings began to feel like mini-family reunions in addition to being awesome learning opportunities. If a member of the cohort was not in attendance his/her absence was immediately felt.
As the end grew closer in sight I started to ask myself those deeper reflection questions about the experience. I thought about how accustomed I had become to visiting with these folks every six weeks or so. I thought about how much I would miss our late night discussions on the deck where robust conversation mixed seamlessly with laughter and sometimes even tears. I thought to myself, “This is Church.” Our cohort truly reflected the Body of Christ. We prayed together, broke bread together (boy howdy, did we eat well), shared stories of frustration, affirmed one another’s successes and encouraged one another to remain faithful to our vocational call to serve Christ and his church. I am certain that some of you have had a similar experience going through a master’s degree program, a parish faith formation program or certification of some kind. We create ties that truly bind us to one another.
These experiences are good, no they are great because they can lift us up out of the status quo and ask us to look at ministry with fresh eyes, a renewed spirit or a less judgmental attitude toward those we serve. Most importantly, they keep us grounded in relationship with others. I cannot serve the church if I work out of my own agenda, my own needs and my own ego.
Growing, learning, praying, discerning with others allows one to take on the perspective of another person. I can better see the challenges and opportunities that I face when I see how others respond to similar challenges and opportunities. I am grateful for every member of our cohort. They reminded me of the good men and women who selflessly serve God’s people. I will miss our time together.
The completion of this program happened the week after many members of our formational ministry teams met in Kenner, La., for the Gulf Coast Faith Formation Conference. Looking back on both of these opportunities I am reminded of the value of a change in venue. In contrast to Tending the Talents, the conference lasts only three days. However, those three days can be effective in getting us out of our regularly scheduled lives and opening ourselves up to hearing, seeing and experiencing something new and/or different. It’s a new year. If you have been in full-time ministry or a volunteer for several years and have not taken the opportunity to do continuing education/formation or you have not gone to a conference, what are you waiting for? Go! It is in the practical day to day living of our faith that we express it best.
Taking time out to go on a personal retreat, conference, enrichment opportunity is one of the best ways you can ensure that you have the inspiration and energy to continue to serve God’s people. Proclaim your faith from your abundance. It is hard to give what you do not have. So the next time you see an opportunity to renew and refresh your ministry-take it!
I am relishing the time I had with conference attendees and cohort members of Tending the Talents. The ultimate gift in all of it is knowing that we are all a phone call or email away from a friendly response. If you would like ideas on possible professional development, retreat or educational opportunities shoot me an email at fran.lavelle@jacksondiocese.org.
(Fran Lavelle is the director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson.)

Pope: Lead people to certainty of Gospel

By Cindy Wooden
ROME (CNS) – In an age that often seems to be a “carnival of worldly curiosity,” Christians are called to lead people to the solid ground of the Gospel like St. Dominic did, Pope Francis said.
“We are moving in a so-called ‘liquid society,’ which is without fixed points, scattered, deprived of solid and stable reference points, a culture of the ephemeral, of the use-and-dispose,” the pope told members of the Dominican order.
At Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran, the pope celebrated Mass Jan. 21 with the Order of Preachers, founded 800 years ago, and with women religious and lay people who trace their spirituality to St. Dominic.
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy and its description of proclaiming the Gospel at a time when people were “always seeking new teachers, myths, different doctrines and ideologies.”
The situation today is even more exaggerated, the pope said, because of “the seduction of subjective relativism.”
The response must be to attract people to the unchanging truth of faith in God and in the Gospel, he told the Dominicans.
When a Christian gives glory to God through his or her actions and words, Pope Francis said, people will notice and ask, “Why does that person act that way?”
The Gospel calls Christians to be salt of the earth and light for the world, he said. “Woe to a church that loses its flavor. Woe to a priest, a consecrated person, a congregation that loses its flavor.”
St. Dominic, he said, was “full of the light and salt of Christ” and preached the Gospel with “the word and his life,” helping many men and women “not become lost in the carnival of worldly curiosity,” but experience “the taste of sound doctrine, the taste of the Gospel and become, in turn, light and salt, artisans of good works.”
Closing the celebrations of the Dominicans’ 800th anniversary, the Mass came at the end of a five-day Congress on mission to examine the situations in which Dominicans are called to preach, to promote cooperation across the different Dominican branches and evaluate where the order’s missionary outreach needs strengthening.
Dominican Father Vivian Boland, vicar of the master of the order, told Catholic News Service Jan. 17 that in almost any situation of difficulty or challenge, “there are Dominicans somewhere in the world trying to respond to those questions.”
Pope Francis, he said, is an example for members of the order in helping others not just through their words, but also with concrete action.
(Contributing to this story was Junno Arocho Esteves at the Vatican.)

Taking our wounds to the Eucharist

IN EXILE
By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
Recently a man came to me, asking for help. He carried some deep wounds, not physical wounds, but emotional wounds to his soul. What surprised me initially was that, while he was deeply wounded, he had not been severely traumatized either in childhood or adulthood. He seemed to have just had to absorb the normal bumps and bruises that everyone has to absorb: some belittling, some bullying, never being the favorite, dissatisfaction with his own body, unfairness within his family and siblings, career frustration, unfairness in his workplace, the sense of being chronically ignored, the sense of never being understood and appreciated and the self-pity and lack of self-confidence that results from this.
But he was a sensitive man and the combination of all these seemingly little things left him, now in late mid-life, unable to be the gracious, happy Elder he wanted to be. Instead, by his own admission, he was chronically caught-up in a certain wounded self-absorption, namely, in a self-centered anxiety that brought with it the sense that life had not been fair to him.
Consequently he was forever somewhat focused on self-protection and was resentful of those who could step forward openly in self-confidence and love. “I hate it,” he shared, “when I see persons like Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul speak so with such easy self-confidence about how big their hearts are. I always fill with resentment and think: ‘Lucky you!’ You haven’t had to put up with what I’ve had to put up with in life!”
This man had been through some professional therapy that had helped bring him to a deeper self-understanding, but still left him paralyzed in terms of moving beyond his wounds. “What can I do with these wounds?” he asked.
My answer to him, as for all of us who are wounded, is: Take those wounds to the Eucharist. Every time you go to a Eucharist, stand by an altar, and receive communion, bring your helplessness and paralysis to God, ask him to touch your body, your heart, your memory, your bitterness, your lack of self-confidence, your self-absorption, your weaknesses, your impotence. Bring your aching body and heart to God. Express your helplessness in simple, humble words: Touch me. Take my wounds. Take my paranoia. Make me whole. Give me forgiveness. Warm my heart. Give me the strength that I cannot give myself.
Pray this prayer, not just when you are receiving communion and being physically touched by the body of Christ, but especially during the Eucharistic prayer because it is there that we are not just being touched and healed by a person, Jesus, but we are also being touched and healed by a sacred event. This is the part of the Eucharist we generally do not understand but it is the part of the Eucharist that celebrates transformation and healing from wound and sin. In the Eucharist prayer we commemorate the “sacrifice” of Jesus, that is, that event where, as Christian tradition so enigmatically puts it, Jesus was made sin for us. There is a lot in that cryptic phrase. In essence, in his suffering and death, Jesus took on our wounds, our weaknesses, our infidelities and our sins, died in them, and then through love and trust brought them to wholeness.
Every time we go to Eucharist we are meant to let that transforming event touch us, touch our wounds, our weaknesses, our infidelities, our sin and our emotional paralysis and bring us to a transformation in wholeness, energy, joy, and love.
The Eucharist is the ultimate healer. There is, I believe, a lot of value in various kinds of physical and emotional therapies, just there is immeasurable value in 12-Step programs and in simply honestly sharing our wounded selves with people we trust. There is too, I believe, value in a certain willful self-effort, in the challenge contained in Jesus’ admonition to a paralyzed man: Take up your couch and walk! We should not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by hyper-sensitivity and self-pity. God has given us skin to cover our rawest nerves.
But, with that being admitted, we still cannot heal ourselves. Therapy, self-understanding, loving friendsand disciplined self-effort can take us only so far, and it is not into full healing.
Full healing comes from touching and being touched by the sacred. More particularly, as Christians, we believe that this touching involves a touching of the sacred at that place where it has most particularly touched our own wounds, helplessness, weaknesses, and sin, that place, where God “was made sin for us”. That place is the event of the death and rising of Jesus and that event is made available to us, to touch and enter into, in the Eucharistic prayer and in receiving the body of Christ in communion.
We need to bring our wounds to the Eucharist because it is there that the sacred love and energy that lie at the ground of all that breathes can cauterize and heal all that is not whole within us.
(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher, and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX. He can be contacted through his website www.ronrolheiser.com or on Facebook www.facebook.com/ronrolheiser)

National Migration Week offers opportunity for encounter, faith sharing

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VARDAMAN/PONTOTOC - Dancers present samples of their culture during a night of encounter.

VARDAMAN/PONTOTOC – Dancers present samples of their culture during a night of encounter.

By Danna Johnson

VARDAMAN – National Migration Week 2017 was a great opportunity to bring people together. The Migrant Support Center of Catholic Charities, Tupelo, St. James Parish, and the Family Life Center in Vardaman, joined efforts to create a culture of encounter, following the theme Pope Francis inspired for the week.
The observance started at St. James with an Epiphany celebration followed by the documentary “The Invisibles.” More than 100 people attended. Participants were invited to tell their stories and share challenges as immigrants in Mississippi. The conclusion of this first-day event was that “migration is an act of hope.”
The following days, Amelia McGowan, immigration lawyer for Catholic Charities, and director of the Migrant Support Center, offered workshops and free legal clinics in the communities of Corinth, Ripley and Vardaman. Many families traveled from different parts of the deanery to work with her.
Pontotoc St. Christopher Parish celebrated Mass commemorating National Migration Week. Pastor Father Tim Murphy concelebrated with Father Octavio Escovar, visiting from Mexico. He invited all to reflect on Psalm 104: “The Lord remembers his covenants forever.”
On Friday, January 13, the night of cultural encounter was hosted in Vardaman. Nancy Sanchez, cultural specialist for the Migrant Support Center and a team of volunteers of Family Life Center made this first-ever gathering possible. There were demonstrations, food and dancing from various countries including Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Colombia and India.
Liza May and Sandra Lucious, both natives of Vardaman, opened the night with “Amazing Grace” and gave a presentation of their cultures: Southern and Vardaman.
“This is something to build on” said Northeast Catholic Charities Board president. Nearly 150 people of different cultures in Northeast Mississippi gathered under one roof to celebrate that what we have in common is our diversity.
Sister Gabriela Ramirez from Catholic Charities of Birmingham, Ala., closed the week with a presentation asking the question: Can we develop an inclusive culture?
“This was a powerful topic for awareness and education, and we will find the opportunity to do it again in this year,” said Dorothy Balser, director of community and social outreach ministries for Catholic Charities. Sister Ramirez closed her program by all to pray: “Father, that all of them may be one, as we are one” (Jn. 17, 21).
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops celebrates National Migration Week every January to honor those who leave their homes seeking better lives.
(Danna Johnson is the head of the Family Life Center in Vardaman.)

Pope offers prayers for President Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump places his hand on the Bible as he takes the oath of office administered by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts Jan. 20. At Trump's side are his wife, Melania, and children Barron, Donald, Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany during his swearing-in as the country's 45th president at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters) See INAUGURATION- Jan. 20, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump places his hand on the Bible as he takes the oath of office administered by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts Jan. 20. At Trump’s side are his wife, Melania, and children Barron, Donald, Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany during his swearing-in as the country’s 45th president at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters) See INAUGURATION- Jan. 20, 2017.

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As President Donald Trump was being sworn in, Pope Francis told an interviewer it would be “reckless” to pass judgment on the new president before he had a chance to do anything.
“We must wait and see,” the pope told two reporters from the Spanish newspaper El Pais during a 75-minute interview Jan. 19.
The interview was published late Jan. 20 in its original Spanish with an English translation.
Asked if he wasn’t worried at least about some of the things Trump said before his election, the pope responded, “I’m waiting. God waited so long for me, with all my sins.”
“Being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite reckless,” the pope said. “We will see. We will see what he does and then we will judge always on the concrete. Christianity either is concrete or it is not Christianity.”
El Pais asked another question about Trump and populists in the United States and Europe who, the interviewer said, “capitalize on fear in the face of an uncertain future in order to form a message full of xenophobia and hatred toward the foreigner.”
“Crises provoke fear, alarm,” the pope said. “In my opinion, the most obvious example of European populism is Germany in 1933. After (Paul von) Hindenburg, after the crisis of 1930, Germany is broken, it needs to get up, to find its identity, a leader, someone capable of restoring its character, and there is a young man named Adolf Hitler who says: ‘I can, I can.'”
“Hitler didn’t steal the power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people,” Pope Francis said.
In times of crisis, he said, large segments of the population think, “Let’s look for a savior who gives us back our identity and let’s defend ourselves with walls, barbed-wire, whatever, from other peoples who may rob us of our identity. And that is a very serious thing.”
Obviously, Pope Francis said, nations have a right and duty to control their borders, especially under the threat of terrorism, but “no country has the right to deprive its citizens of the possibility of talking with their neighbors.”

Adam, Williams announce ordination plans

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Aaron Williams

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The Diocese of Jackson is pleased to announce the ordination to the transitional diaconate of Nick Adam and Aaron Williams. All are welcome to the celebrations.Adam, an Alabama native who considers Meridian his hometown, will be ordained Friday, March 17, at 6 p.m. at Meridian St. Patrick Parish. Williams, a Jackson native, will be ordained Saturday, March 18, at 5:15 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. A reception will follow both Masses.

The men will spend a year in service as deacons before being ordained priests. During that year they can preach and proclaim the Word, witness marriages, preside at funeral liturgies and baptize babies. They cannot celebrate Mass until they become priests.
Please keep our seminarians in your prayers as they make final preparation for this next step in their journey to the priesthood.

Historia, academia, servicio hacen grandes escuelas

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
La celebración de la Semana Anual Nacional de las Escuelas Católicas comienza este fin de semana y continuará de lunes a viernes con una variedad de actividades creativas, significativas y vivaces en cada una de nuestras escuelas. La educación escolar católica en la Diócesis de Jackson (la Diócesis de Natchez en aquel momento) comenzó en la parroquia de la Catedral de Natchez en 1847 y ha continuado ininterrumpidamente hasta el presente.
La población católica ha sido siempre un pequeño porcentaje de la población del estado de Mississippi, pero nuestro compromiso con la educación ha sido una luz que brilla en la oscuridad para muchos en cada generación, desde mediados del siglo 19, un gran porcentaje de ellos que no profesan la fe católica.
Nuestras escuelas católicas están en el corazón de nuestra misión diocesana, originado con el mandato del Señor Jesús de hacer discípulos de todas las naciones, enseñándoles todo lo que yo les he mandado. Aprovecho esta oportunidad para agradecerle a todos los que colaboran juntos para promover la misión de la educación católica en nuestra diócesis hasta este día: familias, profesores, administradores y personal de apoyo escolar, la oficina diocesana, párrocos y líderes parroquiales, alumnos, benefactores y feligreses en las bancas, y aquellos que ya no viven en nuestra diócesis pero continúan apoyándonos con su oración y generosidad.
Es un continuo trabajo de amor el mantener y desarrollar nuestras escuelas en cada generación al esforzarnos por la excelencia. Para mí es una alegría visitar nuestras escuelas, y la oportunidad de hacerlo abundarán durante la semana próxima. Tengo una larga relación con la educación católica. Durante muchos años enseñé en las escuelas en la Diócesis de Scranton, y muchos años antes del sacerdocio, desde kindergarten (no pre-k en ese momento) hasta mis estudios de doctorado, yo fui beneficiario de la educación escolar católica.
Cada una de nuestras escuelas tiene una identidad propia, y sin embargo todas abrazan la misión perfecta que es la razón de su existencia. En la página de internet de cada escuela hay, de una u otra forma, un propósito, una misión o declaración de visión que expresa su identidad y objetivos. Para mi beneficio y el de ustedes he seleccionado al azar ocho de estas declaraciones que hablan de manera elocuente de esta orgullosa tradición en nuestra diócesis.
• Para apoyar el desarrollo espiritual, intelectual, estético, emocional, social y el crecimiento físico de cada miembro de la comunidad.
• Dedicados a preparar a los estudiantes para ser líderes servidores a través de la excelencia académica, de la formación de la auténtica fe y de las oportunidades de la vida estudiantil dentro de un ambiente de aprendizaje seguro y de atención centrado en Cristo.
• Comprometidos con la excelencia académica y los valores enseñados por Jesucristo, procurando preparar a los jóvenes de todo el mundo mientras se preparan para el cielo.

• Busca la excelencia académica y se esfuerza por formar las mentes, los corazones y las almas de sus alumnos a semejanza de Cristo.

• Ofrece una educación basada en la fe católica que equilibra lo académico con la formación de carácter, enriqueciendo sus vidas y su relación personal con Jesucristo.

• Enseñar al niño en un ambiente centrado en Cristo, formando su carácter, fomentando comunidad, y creando estudiantes interesados en aprender.

• Existe para el doble propósito de formación de la fe y buena educación para todos los niños, con los ideales del Corazón de Cristo.

• Para proporcionar un medio ambiente amoroso, centrado en Cristo con una educación académica de calidad arraigada en el desarrollo del carácter, la compasión y los valores del Evangelio.
Los invito a que la próxima vez que disfrute de un día de nieve, cuando todas las responsabilidades al aire libre y los compromisos se retrasen o cancelen, para que busquen en el internet estas declaraciones y las hagan coincidir con sus respectivas escuelas. Las ocho representan menos de la mitad de nuestros colegios católicos de secundaria, de escuelas primarias y centros de aprendizaje de niños pequeños. Usted puede ver claramente que se esfuerzan por abrazar el Evangelio como camino de vida y por una excelente formación académica en el momento actual, con el fin de preparar a los estudiantes para su futuro y, finalmente su ciudadanía en el cielo. Y sí, cada escuela ofrece un rango de oportunidades de deportes, de servicio y actividades culturales adecuadas para cada edad que son esenciales para el desarrollo de la mente, el cuerpo y el espíritu.
El tema de la celebración para el 2016-2017 es (FAMILY) FAMILIA, una sigla que significa: fe, académico, misericordia, integridad, amor y tú. Hay mucho que reflexionar y celebrar con FAMILIA y es especialmente notable a la luz del Jubileo extraordinario de la misericordia, y de la Exhortación Apostólica del Papa Francisco Amoris Latitiae o, la Alegría del Amor (en la familia).
Este año, al comienzo de la Semana de las Escuelas Católicas me reuniré con sacerdotes, diáconos, ministros eclesiales laicos y varios de nuestro equipo de liderazgo diocesano para comenzar la aplicación del plan pastoral diocesano. Estamos orgullosos de afirmar que la declaración de nuestra renovada Visión es vivida a diario en nuestras escuelas: servir a los demás, abrazar la diversidad, inspirar a los discípulos. Como jóvenes y adultos hijos de Dios, que todos podamos seguir creciendo como discípulos intencionales a lo largo de toda la vida, deseoso de crecer en sabiduría, conocimiento y gracia.

History, academics, service make great schools

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
The Annual national celebration of Catholic School Week begins this weekend, and will continue Monday through Friday with a variety of creative, meaningful and spirited activities in each of our schools. Catholic School education in the Diocese of Jackson (The Diocese of Natchez at the time) began in the Cathedral parish in Natchez in 1847, and has continued uninterruptedly to the present. The Catholic population has always been a small proportion of the State of Mississippi’s population but our commitment to education has been a light shining in the darkness for many in every generation since the mid-19th century, a large percentage not of the Catholic faith. Our Catholic schools are at the heart of our diocesan mission, originating with the mandate of the Lord Jesus to make disciples of all nations, teaching them everything I have commanded you. I take this opportunity to thank all who collaborate together to promote the mission of Catholic education in our diocese to this very day: families, teachers, administrators, and school support staff, the diocesan office, pastors and parish leadership, alumni, benefactors, and parishioners in the pew, and those who no longer live in our diocese who continue to support us with prayer and generosity. It is a continual labor of love to sustain and develop our schools in each generation as we strive for excellence. It is a joy for me to visit our schools, and the opportunity to do so will abound during the week ahead. I have a life long relationship with Catholic education. For many years I taught in our schools in the Diocese of Scranton, and for many more years before priesthood, from Kindergarten (no pre-k at the that time) through doctoral studies, I was a beneficiary of Catholic School education.
Each of our schools has a distinctive identity, and yet all embrace the seamless mission that is the reason for their existence. On each school’s website there is, in one form or another, a purpose, mission, or vision statement which expresses its identity and goals. For my edification and yours, I have randomly selected eight of these statements that speak eloquently to this proud tradition in our diocese.

• To support the spiritual, intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, social, and physical growth of each member of the community.

• Dedicated to preparing students to be servant leaders through academic excellence, authentic faith formation, and student life opportunities within a Christ-centered, caring and safe learning environment.

• Committed to academic excellence and the vaues taught by Jesus Christ, striving to equip young people for the world while preparing them for Heaven.

• Seeks academic excellence and strives to form the minds, hearts, and souls of its students in the likeness of Christ.

• Provides a faith based Catholic education that balances academics with character building, enriching lives and personal relationships with Jesus Christ.

• To teach the whole child in a Christ-centered environment, by building character, fostering community, and creating life-long learners.

• Exists for the dual purpose of faith formation, and quality education for all children, with the ideals of the Heart of Christ.
• To provide a loving, Christ-centered environment with a quality academic education rooted in the development of character, compassion and Gospel values.
I invite you the next time you enjoy a snow day when all outdoor responsibilities and appointments are delayed or canceled to go online and match up the above statements with their respective schools. The eight represent less than half of our Catholic high schools, elementary Schools, and early childhood learning centers. You can clearly see that they strive to embrace the Gospel way of life and excellent academic formation in the present moment, in order to prepare students for their future, and ultimately for their citizenship in heaven. And yes, each school offers a range of age appropriate athletic, service, and cultural opportunities that are essential in the development of mind, body and spirit.
The Catholic School theme for 2016-2017 is FAMILY, an acronym that signifies: faith, academics, mercy, integrity, love,and you. There is much to ponder and celebrate with FAMILY and it is especially noteworthy in light of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, and the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Amoris Latitiae, or in English, the Joy of Love (in the family).
This year at the outset of Catholic School’s Week I will be gathering with priests and deacons, Lay Ecclesial Ministers and several of our diocesan leadership team to begin the implementation of the diocesan pastoral plan. We are proud to affirm that our renewed Vision statement is daily lived out in our schools: to serve others, to embrace diversity, to inspire disciples. As younger and older children of God, may we all continue to grow as life long intentional disciples, eager to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and grace.