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Emerging leaders connect with missions

       CAMDEN -- “Camden is the birthplace of Catholicism in the middle part of the Diocese of Jackson,” said Trinitarian Father Mike Barth to a group of Catholic Extension visitors to Sacred Heart Parish on Thursday, July 12.
       “Sacred Heart was actually founded in 1944, but the presence of the Catholic Church in this area goes back to the 1840’s,” Father Barth and Sister Donna Gunn, special projects coordinator for the parish, told a group of 12 young adults and members of Catholic Extension staff, including Fr. Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension, about the people and ministries at the parish.
       The group of young adults was part of Emerging Catholic Leaders, a unique mission trip experience coordinated by Catholic Extension, a national fundraising organization committed to supporting and strengthening mission dioceses across the United States. See related story.
       In its press release, Catholic Extension said 12 young adults from across the U.S. participated in its second annual Emerging Catholic Leaders event July 10-13, 2012.
       This annual event brings together young adult Catholics who are active in their faith to experience Catholic Extension’s work in growing the vibrancy of the Church through a focus on developing people, supporting ministries and investing in infrastructure in poor mission dioceses across America.
       As part of this immersion experience, participants witnessed faith in action through visits to local Catholic parishes in Arkansas and Mississippi. Though resources are scarce in these areas, the faith is strong. Their first visit was to Holy Spirit Church in Hamburg, Ark.
       Holy Spirit is a poor, rural mission church with a growing Latino population. Participants met the Missionary Carmelites of St. Theresa, a group of religious sisters who have recently joined the parish in an effort to help it thrive as a faith community.
       The young adults also visited Sacred Heart in Camden, Miss., an African American church with roots in the Civil Rights era. Sacred Heart has become a vibrant parish and a center of service for the entire community.
       Emerging Catholic Leaders offered participants an opportunity to connect with other young adults from both mission dioceses (those supported by Catholic Extension) and non-mission dioceses, and to learn how they, as emerging leaders, can contribute to the future vibrancy of the Catholic Church.


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