Saint Padre Pio relic tour kicks off in Jackson

JACKSON – Thursday, March 1, the relics of St. Padre Pio were on display in the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Bishop Joseph Kopacz wrote about him in this week’s column on page 3. People from across the area came to venerate the relics and participate in a special Mass in his honor that evening. They shared with Mississippi Catholic production manager Tereza Ma what the relics meant to them.
“Being in the presence of St. Padre Pio’s relics was so breathtaking. He has always meant a lot to me ever since I read about him in my religion class and learned about his stigmata. Later, my love for St. Padre Pio grew even more as I learned about his healing ministry, miracles and powers in the confessional. All which proved his great love of God,” said 13-year-old Leah Munoz, a member of Pearl St. Jude Parish. “One of my most prized possessions is a small statue of St. Padre Pio that I keep by my bed, which my grandmother bought me eight years ago. Today, I was able to take it and touch it to Padre Pio’s glove. Now my statue is a genuine third-class relic,” she added.
“I have been following him for quite some time. He is such a great saint. He did so many things. I wish I was able to go to him for confession because to be able to read souls and for him to be able to help people in that way – it would have been wonderful,” said Maureen Murphy.
Luciano Lamonarca is the founder of the St. Padre Pio Foundation. He is leading the tour across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Lamonarca is from the “heel” of Italy’s boot, where St. Pio ministered. Devotion to the saint is pervasive there.
Lamonarca himself called upon the saint for intersession after his wife suffered a series of miscarriages. They are now proud parents to a son.
“Traveling with the relics, you feel a blessing, when there are people who come from around the state or come from other states just to touch the relics for a few days while I have access to them all the time, so how blessed am I? When I travel with the relics I am not afraid. This sense of calm and protection always follows me,” he said.

Campus Ministry offers college retreat

MORTON – Two dozen college students from three different colleges across the diocese spent the weekend of Feb. 24-25 at Roosevelt State Park participating in spiritual renewal thanks to the College Campus Ministry spring retreat. Students came from Mississippi State, the University of Mississippi and East Central Community College in Neshoba County.
The retreat theme was Heart Speaks Unto Heart. Father Jason Johnston, associate pastor of Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish and teacher at Madison St. Joseph High School was the retreat leader. He and Father Rusty Vincent, coordinator for College Campus Ministry for the diocese, planned the weekend. It included Mass and small group faith sharing.

(Dawn McGinley woirks in College Campus Ministry in Starkville.)

MORTON – Father Jason Johnston leads the spring retreat for college students Feb. 24-25, at Roosevelt State Park. Students from three Mississippi colleges attended. (Photos by Gina Mowdy)

The altar is set for Mass at the retreat. The theme was Heart Speaks unto Heart.

Coping with school shootings: surreal part of U.S. students’ routine

By Carol Zimmermann
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Students in schools across the country have to navigate their way around classes, exams, relationships, cliques, cafeteria food and crowded hallways.
They also have to think about what they would do if someone with a gun came into their school, which seems all the more possible after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The students there now enter brand-new terrain that only students from schools where mass shootings have taken place have any idea about. When classes resumed at Stoneman Douglas on a modified schedule Feb. 28, they faced all their usual routines and challenges right up against the horrific memories of the fear and loss of just two weeks before.
At first, many of these students channeled their raw grief into gun control activism. They gave speeches at vigils and numerous television interviews; they marched and planned bigger marches. They challenged political leaders and businesses associated with the National Rifle Association to do more to stop the carnage they had witnessed. They coined a movement name – #NeverAgain – and spread its message on social media.
But these students – for all their passion and eloquence on camera – also have admitted to reporters that they have a hard time sleeping, or don’t want to be alone or are afraid of sudden noises.
And all of that and more is straight out of books and studies on post-traumatic stress symptoms after what they just experienced.
“What these students have gone through is unfathomable. I think it will be incredibly difficult to cope and move on,” said Rachel Annunziato, an associate professor of psychology at Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York. She said each student will have to find the support they need and to try different coping strategies. For now, she said: “the activism they are showing is heroic and may well help with coping as it could decrease a sense of helplessness and it also strengthens their support network. ‘
The high school has provided grief counselors to students and families since the shooting took place and Annunziato said that will need to continue.
“Some people, miraculously, are very resilient,” she said, but others can have a harder time and need help to connect with others to find healing.
She also told Catholic News Service that the impact of this shooting extends far beyond Parkland, as also was proven by research after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when those impacted by the events were not just the people who directly experienced it. For example, her own 7-year-old sons in New York have talked about the school shooting in Florida and said the students are scared.
In the Diocese of Jackson, School Superintendent Catherine Cook sent a letter to all schools to send to parents. “Please know that the safety of your children, faculty, staff and visitors to our schools is of the utmost importance and steps have been taken to keep them free from harm. Be assured that any and all threats of violence against an individual and/or the school community are taken seriously and will be investigated. School administration consults law enforcement and legal counsel, as needed, to apply appropriate measures for the safety of all,” it reads. The letter urges parents not to believe rumors and assures them they will receive communication from the schools if a threat should arise.
The day after the shooting, the National Catholic Educational Association issued a statement with a link to a prayer service in response to a school shooting and articles about how to talk to kids about these events and turning to God in times of tragedy.
As students nationwide – and particularly in Parkland – consider moving forward, there is one person with particular insight into this situation.
Frank DeAngelis, principal at Columbine High School from 1996 to 2014, was principal at the Littleton, Colorado, school during the 1999 school shooting that killed 12 students and one teacher. Recently retired, he is now an international speaker about school violence and its impact on communities.
USA Today reported that he already has given some advice to Ty Thompson, the Stoneman Douglas principal, telling him: “It’s the things you don’t even think about, things that will trigger the emotions. Teachers won’t know what to expect. It’s a day-by-day experience.”
And the day before the Florida shooting, DeAngelis, who is Catholic, gave a talk at Gregorian Court University, a school founded by the Mercy sisters in Lakeland, New Jersey.
He told students and faculty not only about the horror of the 1999 school shooting but also of the long and difficult road to recovery afterward, even for him.
He said he struggled with survivor guilt – and still does. He wasn’t even sure he would make it after the shooting but was urged on by his pastor, Msgr. Kenneth Leone of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Littleton.
The priest, who is now retired, told Angelis he had a “spiritual imperative” to rebuild the community. That inspired him at first to stay at the job until 2002, when all the students in the freshman class of 1999 graduated, but he ended up continuing as principal until 2014, when the children who were in their earliest school year in 1999, graduated.
At the New Jersey college, the retired principal said a key aspect to finding healing at the high school so marred by tragedy was reaching out to those who felt marginalized.
To illustrate that each student was “loved and included and that they were an indispensable link,” he gave each one a link in a chain that they forged together.
Today, he said, the chain remains for all to see in a prominent place in the school.

(Contributing to this report was Lois Rogers, who writes for The Monitor, newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton.)

Chancery staff take a day for prayer, reflection

MADISON – Chancery staff, including Maureen Smith, director of communications and Father Maurice Nutt, CSsR, pray as Karla Luke, assistant superintendent of schools, at right, reads one of the Stations of the Cross at St. Francis of Assisi Parish. The staff gathered Friday, March 2, for a day of prayer and reflection. Father Maurice led a reflection about Sister Thea Bowman after the staff enjoyed a presenation of the play, “Tolton, from slave to priest.” The day of reflection is an annual tradition for the chancery staff. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

Regional Encuentro advances process of identifying ministry priorities

By Tom Tracy
MIAMI (CNS) – The head of Catholic Relief Services told several hundred Hispanic leaders from the U.S. Southeast recently that they are a vital part of the church’s future “global voice” and missionary discipleship.
“The statement you see on signs all the time now is ‘when you see something, say something,’ and to be a missionary disciple it is ‘when you see something, do something,'” said Sean Callahan, president and CEO of CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church’s overseas relief and development agency.
“We need to be seen as the doers, and there is a great opportunity right now for the Catholic Church to come together and be more of a force for right and for justice in a country of people who want justice,” he said.
Callahan, a 28-year veteran of CRS in his second year of leadership at the Baltimore-based agency, spoke Feb. 23 to more than 340 mostly Hispanic leaders gathered from among some 30 dioceses that are part of the Southeastern Regional Encuentro comprising church’s episcopal regions V and XIV.
A delegation from the Diocese of Jackson attended, taking with them the results of parish-level and diocesan gatherings identifying the priorities of the Diocese of Jackson. One of the delegates, Danna Johnson from Pontotoc St. Christopher Parish, said faith formation remains critical.
“In the area of ‘leadership development and pastoral training,’ the strategy that was identified as a region is to increase programs of pastoral formation for Latinos in both languages (English and Spanish) or more, depending on the needs of each parish,” said Johnson. “The online theological education program in Spanish CAMINO and in English STEP from the University of Notre Dame is one of the most successful pastoral programs in the region. Dioceses from South Carolina and Lexington, Kentucky, have implemented these programs and are getting great results. I am excited that this regional strategy is connected with one of the priorities of Pastoral Plan of our Diocese of Jackson, which is ‘the life-long formation of intentional disciples,'” Johnson added.
Groups from all across region five met in Miami February 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish’s sprawling complex just west of Miami International Airport.
Since 2015, CRS has been one of four major sponsors of the encuentro, which is described as the most important and comprehensive initiative in Hispanic ministry ever undertaken by the Catholic Church in the United States. The initiative involves an estimated 1 million pastoral leaders, 175 dioceses and numerous church organizations, parishes and lay ecclesial movements.
Now that parish- and diocesan-level encuentros have taken place, regional encuentros will be going on around the country through June. What has been an overall four-year process of reflection and action will culminate with the U.S. Catholic Church’s Fifth National Encuentro, or “V Encuentro,” to be held Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas.
The U.S. church’s First National Encuentro was in 1972. For the upcoming V Encuentro, 163 dioceses and archdioceses and more than 2,500 parishes across the country are involved.
Callahan told the Florida Catholic, Miami’s archdiocesan newspaper, that the gathering in South Florida represented a significant moment of encounter for CRS and U.S. Hispanic Catholic leadership, and that CRS is interested in listening as the encuentro participants discuss and define their future role as Hispanic Catholics in America.
“This is the first encuentro we have been so involved with this intimately,” he said. “As we have seen the U.S. becoming more and more Hispanic, we thought it would be important for us to understand what people feel the direction of the church should be, and then how can we be a part of it,” he said.
“And one of the strengths (of this partnership) is bringing the voice of the American people overseas to people in difficult situations and letting people know that they are not alone and that people here care about them and share that solidity,” he said of the work of CRS. “We want to see where that part of the church comes out in this encuentro process.”
“In many cases, people are being forced out from where they are, and our job is to allow people to stay where they want to stay with safety and security for their family with the right to employment,” he said. “The Northern Triangle is one area that we really want to intervene and reduce violence and give people other opportunities,” Callahan said of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Venezuela, he added, is a key country where there is a lot of turmoil, the inflation has gone up, the people are in a dire situation, “and so we work with Caritas International and Caritas Venezuela as a lead organization so we can provide greater assistance to the people of Venezuela,” he said.
CRS now works in some 110 countries and assists 137 million people annually, he noted, adding that large scale migration trends from Africa into Europe will continue to be a source of humanitarian challenges in the coming decades.

(Tracy writes for the Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Miami.)

Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, speaks Feb. 23 during the Southeast Regional Encuentro for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV. Held in Miami Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish complex, it drew 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

Eva Gonzalez, Hispanic ministry director from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., speaks Feb. 23 with Susana Becerrie of Jackson, Miss., at the Southeast Regional Encuentro. Held for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV, the gathering took place Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church's parish complex. On hand were 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

Piarist Father Rafael Capo, director of the Miami-based Southeastern Pastoral Institute, talks with Eva Gonzalez, Hispanic ministry director from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., Feb. 23 during the Southeast Regional Encuentro for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV. Held in Miami Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish complex, it drew 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

MIAMI – Participants in the regional Encuentro pray the Way of the Cross for Life during the Feb. 22-23 gathering. (Photo courtesy SEPI)

Chanche medals, awards recall founding bishop

Youth and adults recipients

JACKSON – Nineteen adults and nine young people received the Bishop John Joseph Chanche Award for service on Saturday, Feb. 24, in the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Bishop Joseph Kopacz distributed the awards during a special Mass. The Chanche medals, named for the first bishop of the diocese, honor those who give of themselves to their parish or faith community. The awards are presented on the weekend closest to the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the patronal feast for the Diocese of Jackson.

Chanche Medal honorees: serve, embrace, inspire

Adult honorees

Eddie Adkins – Gluckstadt St. Joseph
Finance Council President, RCIA team member, Knights of Columbus, member of envisioning team for Pastoral Priorities.
“Eddie is a talented businessman, but unlike most he looks at business through the eyes of service. In our council deliberations, he speaks of justice and mercy and ‘right’ before even looking at the practical business side of things.” Pam Minninger, Lay Ecclesial Minister

Joyce Brasfield Adams – Jackson Holy Family
Director of faith formation, member of Liturgy committee, liturgical minister, Ladies’ Guild member, member of strategic planning team.
“Mrs. Adams has been influential in reforming and structuring all aspects of faith formation in the parish since 1989. She is as much a leader as she is a follower. She has participated in parish, diocesan and statewide committees and is sought-after to do so.” Father Xavier Amirtham, pastor

Virginia Brown – Pearl St. Jude
Director of Religious Education, retired; founder of Why Catholic small faith group, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd advocate, coordinator of ministry to sick and shut-ins, Cursillista.
“Ginger is very joyful about living her faith. She is definitely seen as a leader in our community, who by word and action gives testimony to our faith. She has touched many lives, especially the adults, youth and children who have known her through the faith formation programs here at the parish, as well as the many families she has touched through her visits to the sick and shut-ins.” Father Lincoln Dall, pastor

Earl Joseph Gooden – Clarksdale Immaculate Conception
Finance Council, former Catholic School teacher and member of Education Board for Catholic Schools, collection counter.
“His service has continually helped to keep Immaculate Conception alive in the community. Whether it was his time as a teacher or now contributing to the life of the parish, Earl is a key reason why African Americans have had access to adequate schooling in Clarksdale, as well as access to Jesus in the Eucharist. … He is a spiritual role model who has dedicated his life to the teachings of the church, the Blessed Mother Mary and praying the Rosary.” Father Scott Thomas, pastor

Mariland and Brian Hendley – Madison St. Francis of Assisi
Catechists, RCIA team members, ChristLife team leaders, parish religious education committee, liturgical ministers, parish sports volunteers.
“Brian and Mariland love their faith, they love their family and they love their parish. They strive to live out the church’s call to a holiness of life and though they do not brag about it, nor do they seek accolades, others can certainly see their willingness to help and their love for their family and their faith.” Father Abbeenreddy Vatti, pastor

Nancy Hoang – Amory St. Helen
Religious education coordinator, ecumenical Vacation Bible school coordinator, CYO volunteer, food pantry volunteer.
“She is deeply committed to her faith and family. She works with all ages, races and religions. I see her as a true example of a Catholic woman in the Church today. Without her giving, our Church and young people would not be the same. She is creative, loving and yet knows how to handle children and youth with a mother’s strength and love.” Sister Lael Niblick, CSA, Lay Ecclesial Minister

Maureen Irby– Natchez Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Administrative assistant at both Assumption and Woodville St. Joseph Parishes, coordinator for parish Stewpot volunteers, coordinator for direct assistance, liturgical minister.
“Approximately four years ago, Maureen Irby agreed to serve in a secretarial role for St. Joseph Parish in Woodville when no suitable person could be found. She is a self-starter and carries out her work without requiring a large amount of my time. The work at St. Joseph in Woodville would not be done without her. She has been most valuable to the pastor there. She has enabled both parishes to function and have meaningful liturgies and weekly bulletins.” Father David O’Connor, pastor

Hilton Kalusche – Vicksburg St. Michael
Parish manager, former RCIA team member, liturgical minister, pastoral council member.
“It is hard to imagine where St. Michael Parish would be without Hilton Kalusche. He could easily be called the backbone of our parish. There is rarely a day that he is not involved in some activity that will benefit our parish community. Not being one to call attention to himself, Hilton works and leads by quiet example.” Helene Benson, director of religious education

Phil Lieb – Jackson St. Richard
Finance council member, parish grounds and maintenance supervisor, parish project manager.
“On a daily basis, Mr. Lieb is a constant presence here at the parish, carefully inspecting our property, documenting issues and arranging to have those issues resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner. There is no telling how much money Mr. Lieb has saved the parish and how many conflicts he has helped us avoid with his careful oversight.” Father John Bohn, pastor

Wesley Lindsay – Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle
Liturgical minister, altar server trainer, volunteers for maintenance work, oversees logistics for events.
“Wesley is a living example of a Christian. He never meets a stranger, he always has a kind greeting for everyone. He is always willing to help on any committee, event or ministry. His life is truly a “standard” for our young adult servers, they learn respect and reverence for the Eucharistic Celebration.” Father Anthony Quyet, pastor

Geraldine Matthews – Greenwood
Immaculate Heart of Mary
Parish council member, RCIA team member, liturgical minister, sacristan, prayer leader.
“Geraldine (Gerry) Matthews is and has been a faithful Catholic laywoman all of her 92 years and a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish for over eighty years. She has been devoted to the practice of her Catholic faith, demonstrating effective leadership and motivating her fellow parishioners in the practice of their faith through prayer, her own good example of service and through catechesis. She is an excellent role model for women of faith and continues, as an elder of the parish community, to find ways of service by her presence and her good works.” Father Joachim Studwell, OFM, pastor

Mary Jean Pendleton – Shelby St. Mary
Pastoral council member, chair of liturgy committee, hospitality committee member, communication committee member, fundraising chairperson, bereavement committee chairperson.
“Mary Pendleton is the linchpin of St. Mary, Shelby pastoral team. She is the most able, unselfish, joyful, energetic, caring, faith-filled, kind, humble person I have ever met. She is willing to tackle any job, volunteering her time and resources with a smile. With a heart of gold, she cares for family, friends and others with a great sense of generosity, asking nothing in return.” Jane Letchworth, parish volunteer

Wilson Patrick Roy – Batesville St. Mary
Sacristan, liturgical minister, prayer leader, Knights of Columbus member.
“Pat Roy is one of the liturgical backbones of our parish. He is a dedicated and devoted daily Mass attendee – both at St. Mary in Batesville and the mission church St. John in Sardis. His faith runs very deep. His wealth of knowledge of the Catholic Church is immense. He is the true definition of a person who knows and lives the fact that Jesus is the best and most valuable friend a person can visit with. Pat makes daily visits with our Lord in the church outside of Mass time.” Father Pradeep Thirumalareddy, pastor

Allen and Maureen Scott – Clinton Holy Savior
Parish and finance council leadership, liturgical ministers, Habitat for Humanity volunteers.
“Allen has chaired the international Pentecost gathering recognizing the ‘many nations and peoples’ in our parish and Maureen has shared her abilities as a CPA to develop and monitor the parish budget as well as participating in programs for the diocese to plan for a new payroll system.” Father Tom McGing, pastor.

Stephen and Edine Seal – Woodville St. Joseph
Liturgical ministers, ecumenical bereavement support team members, social event coordinators.
“Both Stephen and Edine have inspired fellow parishioners with their personal faith and active presence in parish activities. These have included their sacrificial presence at bereavement ministerial outreaches to the families of deceased families of the Woodville community, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Also, they have been most faithful, despite numerous health appointments, in coordinating parish social functions such as the annual St. Joseph Spiritual Homecoming, both in fellowship and worship, the past ten years.” Father Scott Dugas, pastor
(Editor’s note: Stephen Seal died the weekend prior to the awards ceremony, but was granted the medal posthumously.)

Richard Warren – Natchez St. Mary Basilica
Liturgical minister, Boy Scouts of America scout master, pastoral council member, Knights of Columbus member.
“Ricky Warren is a man of vision and action. He energizes and inspires others to serve as the need arises. He is currently bringing our Family Life Commission back to life. He is pleasant to all, making many feel welcome to become a part of the parish or the organization on which he serves. His gentle, kind manner exemplify what our church is.” Father David O’Connor, pastor

Youth honorees

Dayane Arvizu, senior – Kosciusko St. Therese
Bilingual interpreter, liturgical minister, regular volunteer.
“Dayane serves as a role model for the younger children. She lectors at both Spanish and English Masses whenever needed.. She encourages her peers to participate at Mass. Dayane brings a positive attitude to our newly formed youth group.” Father Odel Medina, ST, pastor

Madelyn Olivia Bennett, senior – Gluckstadt St. Joseph
Tutor, retreat leader, confirmation sponsor, service work volunteer, youth group leader.
“In our community, Maddie has worked to keep the excitement in our Youth Ministry program alive. She encourages others who may not yet “feel it” to find joy and fun in being a Catholic teen, as well as inspires them to learn more and dig deeper in their own faith lives.” Patti Greene, youth minister

Connor Clark, senior – Vicksburg St. Michael
Altar server, CYO member, service work volunteer, counselor at special-needs camp, retreat leader.
“Connor truly takes the gospel message to heart and strives to make the world a better place by his actions and his words. We have seen Connor put others before himself many times. In today’s self-centered, me-first world, this is a very special quality for a young man.” Helene Benson, director of religious education

Cristina Marie Craig, freshman – Brookhaven St. Francis of Assisi
Religious education volunteer teacher, service work volunteer, rosary leader, liturgical minister.
“Cristina is a loving, concerned, faithful young lady. She shows concern for her friends, enemies, and strangers alike. She cares about their well-being physically as well as spiritually. She is faithful to her church and its missions and services to others … Without Cristina many of our other youth would have drifted away. She is a rock and Christ-like example to all in our parish and community.” Ange’le Bartholomew, youth minister

Haley Fisackerly, senior – Columbus Annunciation
CYO volunteer, prayer leader, parish volunteer.
“Haley lives a very Catholic life, full of prayer, service, kindness, and humility. Her involvement in the parish has always extended beyond CYO. She leads the other teens by example, I suspect sometimes without realizing she’s leading by example. She encourages her peers, is always positive, and is always outgoing and warm. She’s faithful to Sunday Mass. She’s not shy about saying she’s Catholic at a school that is not friendly to Catholics. Lastly, she is knowledgeable about her faith, and clearly has it in her heart to have a strong relationship with her Creator.” Leslie Jones, youth minister

Trey McMullan, senior – Jackson St. Richard
Tutor, youth group leader, volunteer for religious education, service work volunteer, liturgical minister, usher, retreat leader.
“Trey’s impact on our youth group does not go unnoticed. The younger teens look to him as a role model, someone they aspire to be like. Trey’s willingness to lead small group discussions, crowd breakers, games and to jump in and play with the youth when needed is an invaluable help. Trey senses where he is needed most then quietly goes and leads by example.” Amelia Rizor, youth minister

Matthew Prater, senior – Madison St. Francis of Assisi
Youth group leader, leadership council member, retreat leader, service work volunteer, liturgical minister, Eagle Scout.
“Matt has served in so many ways over the past years, it would be almost impossible to list them all. He has assisted with children’s activities such as VBS and the Advent Fair, service projects such as the adopted family project and nursing home visits. Most importantly, Matt is always aware of those who need assistance and offers to help in many small ways, such as setting up, cleaning up, opening doors, and carrying things for others, and is not afraid of hard work or physical labor. Matt seeks out ways to serve but does not seek attention. He never expects any acknowledgement or reward for his service; and it is very clear he does so because of his love for God, for others, and for the Church.” Father Jason Johnston, associate pastor

Brooke Lee Thompson, sophomore – Jackson Christ the King
Altar server trainer, leader and volunteer, active in youth ministry and religious education.
“Brooke is a person who is strong in her faith. Even though her classmates are not Catholic she is able to be a good witness of her Catholic faith. When faced with questions about her faith, rather than give a false answer, she will take the trouble to go find the correct answer. She does not miss coming to Mass and is an active participant during the Liturgy.” Deacon Denzil Lobo, ecclesial minister

Mary Rose Wolf, junior – Pearl St. Jude
Choir member, parish leadership team member, religious education volunteer, service work volunteer
“Mary Rose serves on our parish leadership team representing the youth (this takes the place of the parish council at St. Jude). She also serves in the choir and is a very loyal member. Mary Rose is in attendance at every youth event and volunteers for all of the service activities … I would say that she stands out because she so willingly serves in a variety of activities here in our parish and does so very joyfully and willingly, drawing others into those activities.” Father Lincoln Dall, pastor

Adie Adkins

Joyce Brasfield Adams

Virginia Brown

Earl Joseph Gooden

Mariland and Brian Hendley

Nancy Hoang

Maureen Irby

Hilton Kalusche

Philip Enochs Lieb

Wesley Lindsay

Gelardine Matthews

Mary Jean Pendleton

Wilson Patrick Roy

Allen and Maureen Scott

Richard Warrern

Dayane Arvizu

Madelyn Olivia Bennett

Connor Clark

Trey Thompson McMullan

Matthew Prater

Mary Rose Wolf

Brooke Lee Thompson

Cristina Marie Craig

Haley Fisackerly

(Photos by Maureen Smith and Tereza Ma)


Health ministry welcomes new director

Franciscan Sister of the Holy Family Pat Clemen

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Franciscan Sister of the Holy Family Pat Clemen said she feels like she has come full circle as she starts her new position as Catholic Charities’ coordinator for Parish Health Ministry. Sister Clemen has worked in healthcare her entire career, but almost always in the public sector. Her most recent job was as a quality control director for a home health agency, training home health nurses and auditing paperwork as well as making some home visits herself.
Her religious community provides grant money to Catholic Charities to support a human trafficking awareness program. Dorothy Balser oversees both the human trafficking and parish health ministry. One day the women were chatting and Balser mentioned that Charities was going to need a new director for the parish health ministry. Sister Clemen said the timing was perfect.
“It was really just amazing,” said Balser. “It seemed the timing was right; she had the passion and interest and we had the space. I think she will be able to provide a broader view for the whole diocese and build on what Ann Elizabeth (Kaiser, the previous director) had been doing,” Balser continued.
“My first task is to meet with parishes – maybe starting at a deanery level – to educate them about what the parish health ministry program is and what a Faith Community Nurse (FCN) is,” said Sister Clemen. She said many parishes have programs, but she would love to see it continue to spread.
Sister Clemen is getting in touch with the more than a dozen FCNs already in the diocese as she recruits more. “The focus of a community health nurse is the intentional care of the spirit,” said Sister Clemen. “I do believe Faith Community Nurses are valuable to a parish. I see them using a blend of spirituality and wellness prevention as part of a holistic model. They would offer prevention, support and navigation,” she added. Lay volunteers could assist with much of the work so a parish without an FCN could still have a health ministry. Sister Clemen’s office has resources and can help train and coordinate a ministry or the certification of an FCN.
The ministry might look different in different parishes. Some FCNs might offer lectures on disease prevention or basic health screenings. Other communities might put together a team to offer wellness activities such as a walking club. In still other settings, FCNs might help someone navigate the healthcare system, helping them find resources such as a living will or education about the disease process. The program uses a set of indicators to help communities and individuals evaluate their overall wellness.
“My mission statement for myself is to promote health and wellness and prevent disease in mind, body and spirit for all those we serve,” said Sister Clemen. She is grateful to St. Dominic Hospital for the grant that makes the program possible. Balser and Sister Clemen met with the founder of the Parish Health Ministry program, Mary Patterson, and Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, OP, of St. Dominic Foundation, to talk about the grant and the future of the program. Sister Dorothea told the group she would like to see all parishes have access to this idea of holistic healthcare.
Sister Clemen would love to hear from any pastor or lay ecclesial minister interested in establishing a parish health ministry by phone at 601-213-6378 or email at


Father Roberto Mena, ST

Upon the recommendation of the Father Michael K. Barth, General Custodian of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, Father Roberto Mena, ST, is appointed to serve as part of the missionary ministry of the Sacred Heart Cenacle in Camden; and as Sacramental Minister for Forest St. Michael Parish and its missions, Morton St. Martin and Newton St. Anne, effective February 12.



Deacon Edwin Santos

Upon the affirmation of good standing by Father Bryan Jerabek, Chancellor of the Diocese of Birmingham, Deacon Edwin Santos is appointed to minister to Forest St. Michael Parish and Morton St. Martin Mission, effective February 5.




Southaven students get library upgrade

By Laura Grisham
SOUTHAVEN – When students at Sacred Heart School returned from the Christmas holidays, they were delighted to see their library had received a grand facelift. The tired carpet and bland colors were replaced with new flooring, vibrant hues, as well as new bookshelves, tables and seating.
The inspiration for the improvements came from the evolution of how people today consume information. The role of libraries and librarians has changed. Today’s libraries are not intended only for silent reading and studying. Students need a space to collaborate and problem solve together.
“Since I became the librarian at Sacred Heart, I noticed areas of the library that needed upgrades and improvements. I started with small, inexpensive projects, such as changing the way the books were displayed on the shelves and weeding our collection of materials. Sister Margaret Sue (Booker) gave me some ideas based on how she displayed books in her classroom,” said librarian Rae Davis.
The furniture that was purchased is more mobile. Now tables and chairs can be rearranged based on class activities. The space is now more accommodating for both younger and older students. Books and resources are much easier for students to locate — arranged by grade level and interests.
Davis said that she and school principal Bridget Martin had many conversations about how the space could be improved, but funding had always been a stumbling block. “Furniture and flooring are very expensive,” said Rae.
That all changed when the school hosted it’s first annual Race For Education Day last spring. Students raised money by finding individuals and businesses to sponsor them to jog or walk in a race that took place during the school day. Students participated by grade level and raced for about an hour. Volunteers helped students keep track of their laps. A local DJ played music and held games for the students; and parents grilled hamburgers for lunch. The wildly successful event raised more than $30,000 for the school.
Although much of the renovation has been completed, there are a few minor details left to tackle. Davis says that she plans to purchase some new shelving units and add some color to the old shelves.
“I am so appreciative of the support I’ve received from our PTO and from Mrs. Martin. The library should be the heart of the school, and these improvements not only will help me serve our students better, but they will help students better utilize the library as well,” Davis beamed.
(Laura Grisham is the Public Relations director for Sacred Heart Southern Missions)

SOUTHAVEN – Librarian Rae Davis teaches middle school students in the newly refurbished Sacred Heart School Library. (Photo by Laura Grisham)