¡Nuestro encuentro diocesano sobre el V Encuentro está muy cerca, reserven la fecha!

Por Por Elsa Baughman
JACKSON – Ya casi todas las parroquias han terminado las cinco sesiones de escucha del V Encuentro y están preparándose para realizar sus Encuentros parroquiales. Ahora, la Oficina del Ministerio Hispano de la Diócesis de Jackson les urge que guarden las fechas para los dos Encuentros diocesanos que se están organizando, que es el próximo paso del proceso. En Tupelo, el Encuentro está fijado para el sábado 7 de octubre de 8:30 a.m. a 5 p.m. en la Parroquia St. James y el del área de Jackson se llevará a cabo en Madison el sábado 21 de Octubre de 8:30 a.m. a 4 p.m. en la Parroquia San Francis.
El precio de inscripción para jóvenes y adultos es $25 e incluye almuerzo y una camiseta. El costo para niños de seis a 12 años es $5 y no incluye camiseta. Para los niños de estas edades habrá actividades dirigidas siguiendo el tema del V Encuentro. No habrá cuidado para niños menores de seis años.
Los organizadores del evento invitan a todos los hispanos de la diócesis, aunque no hayan participaron en las sesiones de escucha.
Hasta el presente se han realizado dos Encuentros parroquiales, uno en Hazlehurst el domingo 16 de julio en la Iglesia San Martín, y el otro en Carthage el sábado 19 de agosto en la Parroquia Santa Ana. En las otras comunidades de la diócesis se continuarán realizando estos Encuentros hasta que todos hayan participado.
En su presentación en el Encuentro parroquial en Hazlehurst, Patricia López le dijo a los participantes que quizás cuando los invitaron a ser parte de este proceso algunos sintieron miedo y duda y pensaron no eran capaces o no estaban preparados para hacer lo que se les pedía. “Pero debemos recordar que cuando Dios nos elige para hacer algo para él, no nos deja solos, ya que Dios no llama a los que están preparados sino que prepara a cada uno de los que llama”, explicó. “Cuando Jesús escogió a sus apóstoles estos eran personas que no tenían ninguna preparación, lo único que sabían era pescar. Jesús sólo les preguntó si querían ser pescadores de hombres y lo siguieron”.
Miguel Cruz, vice-presidente del Movimiento Familiar Cristiano del área de Jackson, dijo que se sentía muy motivado porque con los temas de las sesiones del Encuentro han aprendido a ser líderes y a cómo salir al encuentro de sus hermanos que se han alejado de la iglesia. “Nos han motivado a no quedarnos de brazos cruzados, a salir a encontrarnos con los más necesitados en nuestras comunidades. Me siento contento de estar viviendo este proceso que es una experiencia de nueva evangelización a la que el Papa Francisco nos ha encomendado que participemos,” dijo.
Los temas que cubren las sesiones van a ayudar a Brenda Valdez de la Parroquia San Francis en Madison y San José en Gluckstadt, a continuar siendo una misionera de Cristo. Se siente muy feliz de tener la oportunidad de vivir este Encuentro. “Estoy aprendiendo muchas cosas nuevas, sobre todo los problemas por los que están pasando algunos de los hispanos en el estado y las necesidades que hay en las diferentes comunidades,” dijo.
Según los organizadores nacionales de este proceso, el V Encuentro está teniendo un impacto importante entre los hispanos en los Estados Unidos ya que están participando a nivel nacional más de 5,000 parroquias, unas 175 diócesis y más de un millón de personas en las periferias. Millones de líderes comprometidos han participado en su implementación.

Vardaman camp offered summer enrichment

By Danna Johnson
VARDAMAN – Summer 2017 had a different flavor for about 35 children from Vardaman. This was possible thanks to the partnership between Vardaman Victory Project Enterpreneurial Learning Center (ELC), part of the University of Mississippi’s MacLean Institute, and Catholic Charities’ Vardaman office. The mission of this program was to provide a fun, educational experience for students to keep them engaged during the summer.
Karson Nelson, Seth Dickinson, and Jessica Clarke were the enthusiastic students from Ole Miss who brought to town this wonderful learning experience. The camp offered speakers, sports and games, engaging activities and enrichment opportunities. Local authorities and parents supported the effort as did businesses such as Sweet Potato Sweets, and Mi Valles Restaurant.
As part of the citizenship and civic enrichment, children had the opportunity to hear from Kenney Scott, Vardaman’s chief of police, about the importance of “making good choices in life, because every choice has a consequence.” He also spoke about falling prey to bad influences, drugs and delinquencies.
Janet Swindle, Director of the Vardaman Public Library, offered a marvelous class about gardening. Each child received a gardening container and planted seeds at the beginning of the summer program. Every week as they were watering and caring their plants, Swindle graciously cultivated the habit of reading in children’s minds and hearts. Each child also received a library card and were able to take home their favorite books and movies. At the end of this program children toured the Ole Miss campus, and closed with a symbolic evening ceremony where each child received a certificate of participation. Organizers wanted the participants to keep learning in the summer, develop healthy habits, and participate in experiences that built self-esteem.
The staff and board members of the Catholic Charities Northeast office are delighted with the outcome and offer thanks to all the supporters of our programs. It is our hope to continue to carry out the mission and vision of the Diocese of Jackson in everything we do: to serve, to embrace, and to inspire.
(Danna Johnson is the director of the Catholic Charities office in Vardaman.)

McComb couple travels to Africa to see fruits of their generosity

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – A McComb couple took the trip of a lifetime in February to meet a child they have supported for 14 years, but never met. Andy and Gail Spinnato spent 10 days in Nairobi, Kenya, on a tour with the Christian group, Unbound. They took with them 250 rosaries donated by the Knights of Columbus to distribute to the people they met.
Unbound was founded by four Catholic siblings and a friend as an effort to reach out to the marginalized people of the world. The organization sets up sponsorships for children and supports communities all around the world. The Spinnatos first heard about it from a visiting priest who preached at their parish more than a dozen years ago. “I picked a boy from Kenya. I was a teacher and my students were primarily African-American, so I wanted a child I could tell them stories about,” said Gail.
The Spinnatos sent money monthly and wrote letters to Peter for many years and they received letters and photos in return. This year, Unbound offered them a chance to go to Africa to see the results of all those years of work. “It was absolutely awesome,” said Gail of the meeting.
Peter is now 22 and wants to get a certification in plumbing so he can find work. “It’s interesting that he wants to do that since they have no running water in their home,” she added. When they met Peter and his mother, they did an art project together using hand prints. Gail went with Peter’s mother to the restroom to wash off the paint and realized she did not know how to operate the soap dispenser or automatic faucet because the African woman has never had running water in her home. One of the community projects Unbound is taking on in Peter’s village is a cistern to collect rainwater. Currently, everyone has to walk to a river a mile away to collect all the water they use. Projects like that one fall outside the monthly sponsorships, so the Spinnatos have been collecting for it since they returned.
Before the trip, the Spinnatos spent some time reflecting on their time as sponsors. “I went back through all the letters he has written. I made copies of some of them so he (Peter) could see the progress he made,” Gail explained. “He was very shy when it came to talking. Like many young people from foreign countries, he was hesitant to speak to a native speaker – still you could feel the connection through the love of Christ because he knows that love is how we are connected,” said Gail.
Fourteen other Unbound sponsors came on the trip, so the Spinnatos got to meet those families as well. As they traveled, they distributed rosaries made by fellow St. Alphonsus parishioner, Charles Schovel, who makes rosaries as a hobby. He recently donated more than 250 rosaries to the Knights of Columbus council there. Andy Spinnato is the Grand Knight of the council. When the knights heard about the Spinnatos trip, they decided that was the perfect place to distribute the rosaries.
“We take so much for granted. So to actually visit in homes and see people in such need, but to also see how they have so much dignity and pride and to see what they have been able to accomplish for themselves, it was amazing,” Gail said.
The Spinnatos left Africa with another connection. They were about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They had asked the priest celebrating Mass for a blessing, but he had another idea. “He called us up and we had to pull our wedding rings off our arthritic fingers and we renewed our vows,” she said.
Back in the states, the couple is currently making presentations at clubs or gatherings to invite others to become sponsors or donate to community development projects. They plan to return next February to travel into the country and see where Peter and his family live. The Spinnatos have decided to sponsor his younger sister, so the cycle of education and empowerment can continue.

College scholarships available

Two scholarships are available to college students in the Diocese of Jackson. The Bishop Brunini Memorial Scholarship was established to be used specifically for tuition assistance for undergraduate or advanced studies at any accredited Catholic college or university. There are no specific restrictions for the field of study.
The Stella Schmidt Memorial Scholarship was established to be used specifically for tuition assistance for advanced studies in theology or religious education at Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala.
Full and part-time graduate students are eligible to apply for the scholarship. If the recipient is currently enrolled in the Department of Faith Formation’s Pastoral Ministries Program and receives tuition assistance from the diocese and their school or parish, scholarship money can be used to offset the amount of tuition paid out-of-pocket by the individual.
The specific annual amount of the scholarships will be determined by the interest shown. Applications are due to the Department of Faith Formation by October 15. For more information, please contact Fran Lavelle, director of the department of Faith Formation at (601) 969-1880 or by email at fran.lavelle@jacksondiocese.org.

Donate to Seminarian Endowment, Catholic Extension will add to gift

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – The Diocese of Jackson is sending ten sons to college this year. Some of them are pursuing an undergraduate degree while others seek advanced studies in theology, philosophy, liturgy and ministry. All of them intend to spend their lives in service to the church, in fact, most of them spent the summer serving at parishes across the state.
As the seminarians report back to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, St. Joseph Seminary college in Benedict, La., and Sacred Heart Seminary in Wisconsin, the costs begin to add up. Of course, the return on the investment is out of this world, but, the bills are pretty steep in the meantime. The diocese will pay $325,000 this year on seminary education.
The diocese featured snippets from the seminarians’ summer assignments on the facebook page for the last couple weeks. Among the more far-flung adventures were Tristan Stovall’s nine-day wilderness hike with COR International, Andrew Nguyen’s participation in the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University and Aaron Williams’ continuing studies at the Liturgical Institute. Closer to home, Cesar Sanchez and Adolfo Suarez learned about pastoral ministry in a hospital setting at St. Dominic’s Hospital. Andrew Bowden and Marc Shoffner served in parishes.
While regular college students might take summers off or work at home, these men continued their formation in one way or another.
Catholic Extension has offered a $25,000 match if the diocese can raise $100,000 in new donations for seminary education this year. To help people better understand how anyone can support this effort, the Office of Vocations and Stewardship and Development are sponsoring a series of brunches in three locations.
Flowood St. Paul Parish will host the first brunch on Saturday, Sept. 9. The second is at Natchez St. Mary Basilica’s Family Life Center on Saturday, Sept. 23. The final brunch is set for Saturday, Nov. 4 at Oxford St. John Parish. At the brunches, donors will meet the seminarians and have the opportunity to support this fund.
A group of people can pool their money, but each new gift must equal at least $1,000. Those who cannot attend the brunches are welcome to send donations separately. To learn more about the Seminarian Endowment, to RSVP to a brunch or to donate, contact Pam McFarland at 601-960-8479 or by email pam.mcfarland@jacksondiocese.org.
Donations can be mailed to Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Seminarian Education Challenge, PO Box 2248, Jackson, MS 39225.

Foundation still accepting grant applications

By Rebecca Harris
JACKON – The mission of the Catholic Foundation is to help our donors create a legacy by supporting their parish, school or organization within the Diocese of Jackson through planned giving gifts such as bequests, trusts and charitable gift annuities. Over the years, many families have chosen to start a family trust that support charitable works. Currently the Foundation has 38 such trusts. Parishes, schools and organizations within our diocese can submit a grant requesting funding for a project.
In the past five years the Catholic Foundation has awarded more than $290,000. Last year these trusts supported 26 projects throughout our diocese totaling more than $68,000. Twelve parishes received funding for their projects that helped to purchase religious education materials, after-school care, summer enrichment programs, church repairs and bilingual materials.
The Foundation made it possible for Houston Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish build a new handicapped ramp for their church. The previous ramp was steep and extremely dangerous. Now with the new ramp elderly and handicapped parishioners can safely enter the church.

HOUSTON – A parishioner watches as a work crew puts finishing touches on a handicapped ramp at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. The parish used a Catholic Foundation grant to build the new ramp. (Photo courtesy of Lorenzo Aju)

At Indianola St. Benedict the Moor, a grant was awarded for outreach and evangelization in that community. “Our goal is to reach out to the unchurched in our community and educate them on our Catholic faith,” stated Jaqueline Mabace, outreach chairperson. “The grant enabled us to have a successful vacation bible school with children of all nationalities and faiths from our community,” she added.
The Foundation awarded grants to four of our Catholic Schools. Grants that built a new outdoor space and Greenville Our Lady of Lourdes and ELL tutoring at Jackson St. Richard. At Clarksdale St. Elizabeth School a grant added a promethean board to the fifth and sixth grade math and science room. “I wanted to provide an interactive and real-world learning experience. Even though our school is in rural Mississippi I wanted to bring the outside world into our classroom by using technology. If we would not have gotten this grant we would not have been able to have this is my classroom,” stated Jane Rutz, math and science teacher.
Grant awards went out to six organizations within our diocese. The Catholic Charities Shelter for Battered Families and Born Free and New Beginnings purchased supplies for their clients with grant money.
Funding was given for a computer lab at St. Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou. Many of the citizens of Mound Bayou cannot afford a home computer. They can go to the computer lab to work on homework, seek employment opportunities and learn computer skills. “Students that are seeking online college classes can come into the computer lab to work on their college courses. We also utilize the lab to help our GED students to prepare for the exam,” said Mavis Honorable, assistant director for St. Gabriel. “They work in conjunction with Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, to allow students to utilize the pre-testing center that will help them to pass their GED test,” she added
The Bishop’s Poor Soul Novena Trust helps to fund charitable projects that specifically fund senior citizens’ ministries. Last year four grants awarded includes Greenville Sacred Heart Parish community garden where parishioners do all the planting, watering and harvesting for their elderly neighbors in need. Jackson Christ the King Parish used their grant to promote healthier, happier lives for senior citizens by offering them opportunities to socialize and grow spiritually. Not only do Christ the King parishioners attend by invitations are extended to senior citizens of other faiths. Transportation is even provided if needed. “This grant allows us to have speakers on health issues, legal issues and scams that prey upon our senior citizens. The grant also helped to provide transportation to attend a civil rights museum event. We usually have 30 to 40 people in attendance,” stated Genevieve Feyen, senior activity chairperson.
It is not too late to submit a grant application for this year. Applications are being accepted through August 31. Contact Pam McFarland at pam.mcfarland@jacksondiocese.org. If you would like to start a charitable works trust in your family name please contact Rebecca Harris at The Catholic Foundation, 601 960 8477 or email: rebecca.harris@jacksondiocese.org.

(Rebecca Harris is the director of Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Jackson.)

Biloxi’s Msgr. Farrell remembered for service in two dioceses

Monsignor Martin Francis Farrell

Monsignor Martin Francis Farrell, died peacefully on August 12 in Biloxi.
Martin Francis Farrell was born in Co. Mayo, Ireland on September 23, 1930 and studied for the priesthood in St. Patrick College, Carlow.
He was ordained on June 5, 1955 for the Diocese of Natchez, in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow, Ireland. As a priest he served in the following parishes as associate pastor: Jackson St. Richard, Vicksburg St. Paul, Natchez St. Mary, which was then the cathedral. As pastor he served at Natchez Assumption, Sacred Heart in D’Iberville, Our Lady of the Gulf, Bay St. Louis and his final assignment as pastor was at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Biloxi until his retirement on December 31, 2000.
Father Farrell was elevated to Monsignor on July 9, 1989. Since his retirement he has resided at Our Lady of Fatima and assisted there as long as his health permitted.
Monsignor Farrell was predeceased by his parents John and Margaret Roche Farrell of Westport, Ireland, His sisters Anne and Theresa Farrell of Galway, Ireland and Kathleen McLoughlin of London, England.
He is survived by his brother Patrick ‘Paddy’ Farrell of Lecanvey, Ireland, his nieces Margaret Bentaleb, Catherine Hunt and Mary Bennebri and their families, of London, England, and numerous cousins around the world.
A Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated Friday, August 18, in Our Lady of Fatima Church, followed by burial at the Biloxi City Cemetery at the priests’ plots on Caldwell Avenue.
In lieu of flowers, Monsignor Farrell requested that donations be made to any of the following charities: Fatima St. Vincent de Paul Society, P.O. Box 4098, Biloxi, MS 39535; Catholic Extension Society, 150 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60606 or; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105-1942.

Pilgrimage ‘across the pond’ provides fellowship, food, thanksgiving for Irish priests

Bishop Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
After three and one half years as the 11th bishop of the Jackson Diocese it was time to follow in the footsteps of our diocesan bishops in the modern era who traveled to Ireland. Many may not know that for the greater part of a century half of the priests in Mississippi were from Ireland, the seedbed for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Countless thousands of Irish missionaries were sent as heralds of the Gospel throughout the English speaking world. Of course, I like to say that the best came to Mississippi to serve in the Diocese of Natchez, Natchez-Jackson, and since 1977, the dioceses of Jackson and Biloxi, to the American Missions, as is commonly understood in Ireland.
Bishop Joseph Brunini had the joy of going to Ireland to ordain clergy for the diocese of Natchez-Jackson. In the latter part of his episcopacy the ordinations ceased, and the purpose of his visits was directed toward the celebration of Masses of Thanksgiving with the families of priests who had served, or were still serving in Mississippi.
Bishop Joseph Howze during the time of Bishop Brunini did the same in his ministry as the Auxiliary Bishop of the diocese of Natchez-Jackson. Bishop William Houck and Bishop Joseph Latino continued the pastoral visits to the locales and counties in Ireland where family members and priests could gather with the bishop to offer the Eucharist, the Church’s great prayer of Thanksgiving.
Although my pilgrimage of a week’s duration is not a large period of time, it still required a generous measure of organization and coordination. In this regard I thank Father Mike O’Brien, and his family and the family of Father Patrick Noonan back home in Ireland.
Originally, Father Mike and I had planned to celebrate two Masses of Thanksgiving, one in Roscommon and the other in Limerick with Father Noonan as the local guide. His unexpected death on July 4 added a third Mass, his Month’s Mind, or the Mass offered a month after someone has died, on the Vigil of the Assumption in his home parish church of Saint Ita’s at Church Raheenagh.
Our first Mass of Thanksgiving took place at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Roscommon and nearly 60 family members of the priests, living and deceased, who have served in Mississippi were in attendance: Father Brian Carroll, Father Gerry Hurley, Father Dan Gallagher, Father Frank Cosgrove, Father Tom McGing, Father P.J. Curley, Msgr. Patrick Farrell, Father Bernie Farrell, Father Tom Delaney, Father Mike O’Brien, Father Mattie Ruane, Father Sean Atkinson, Father Jim O’Riordan and Monsignor Noel Foley.
After the Mass we gathered at the Abbey Hotel to continue the reunion with the original Dominican Abbey, constructed in the early 1200s, providing the background setting, reminding me of how ancient the Catholic faith is in Ireland. Our second Mass of Thanksgiving occurred in the Library Room of the Strand Hotel in Limerick overlooking the River Shannon and the city center.
Although a much smaller gathering, the ambience was well suited for a comfortable and more intimate Mass and luncheon.
The families of Father David O’Connor, Father Mike O’Brien, Father Patrick Noonan, Father P.J. Curley, Father Jim O’Riordan, and Father Frank Corcoran were represented on this occasion.
With this second Mass of Thanksgiving, the pilgrimage shifted its locus from Roscommon in the center of Ireland to the southwest of the country to Father Noonan’s beloved County Limerick. In classic Irish banter, Father Noonan had pointed out to me, knowing that Father O’Brien would be my chauffer and guide for the first leg of the journey, that there is a lot more to Ireland than County Roscommon, the home turf of Father Mike.
As we had enjoyed the hospitality and home of Tom O’Brien, Father Mike’s brother in Roscommon, we were warmly welcomed into the home of Michael Noonan where we were lodged for the remainder of our time in Ireland.
On three consecutive mornings we had the pleasure of enjoying and the challenge of consuming the “Full Irish,” the smorgasbord breakfast for which Ireland is well known. These meals were provided graciously by five of Father Noonan’s nieces.
On Monday evening the family of Father Noonan and many of the parishioners of his home parish devoutly participated in the cherished Month’s Mind Mass on the Vigil of the Assumption. How fitting it was to celebrate the Blessed Mother’s entrance into eternal life through the merits of her Son’s death and resurrection while commending Father Noonan to God at the Eucharist that he celebrated for 54 years as a priest.
Afterwards, we gathered at the family farm where Father Noonan spent his formative years prior to his seminary formation and ordination. His younger brother, now in his 70s, and his sons continue the family’s tradition of dairy farming.
In conclusion, I recall the words at the end of the Gospel of Saint John when the Evangelist asserts that if he wrote down everything that Jesus said or did, there wouldn’t be enough books in the whole world to contain it all. Likewise, there was so much to see as we drove through the Irish countryside.
There were so many engaging conversations that rolled on into late night gatherings. Always, there was plenty to eat and plenty to drink. There were bog lands and stone, a pint of Guinness, and a drop of Jameson. There was men’s hurling, and women’s rugby, goats and cows, and, of course, an opportunity to golf. It was the “full Irish” of hospitality and graciousness at every turn along the country roads. Until we meet again, may God hold us in the palm of his hands.

Bishop to consecrate diocese to Immaculate Heart of Mary

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – In honor of the centennial of the appearance of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal, and as a way to strengthen the Pastoral Priorities implementation, Bishop Joseph Kopacz will consecrate the Diocese of Jackson to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary on Sunday, Oct. 8.
All are invited to the Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle at 2:30 p.m. After the Mass, the bishop will lead a procession around downtown and present representatives from each parish with prayer cards to take back to their home communities. Bishop Kopacz is asking every parish to offer the prayer as the Pastoral Priority teams start their work. On Saturday, Oct. 7, all are welcome to the cathedral for a  a rosary starting at 10:30 a.m. 
Outlying parishes can participate by offering a rosary at that hour so the diocese is all praying together. The bishop will also ask parish priests to consecrate individual parishes to the Immaculate Heart the weekend following the diocesan consecration.
When Mary appeared to a trio of poor shepherd children in Fatima 100 years ago, she asked them to spread a message of prayer and repentance. She appeared to the three for six months and asked that people pray the rosary and make sacrifices for sinners. Two of the visionaries, 9-year-old Francisco and 7-year-old Jacinta, became the church’s youngest non-martyred saints earlier this year. Both died young of illnesses. Their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, went on to become a nun. Her cause for sainthood is underway. The three shared Mary’s messages, which included predictions of war, a vision of hell and encouragement to pray and repent.
“This is one way we can ask Mary to guide us and watch over us during implementation (of the Priorities),” said Mary Woodward, chancellor for the diocese.

An image of Mary, taken from a window at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, is seen on the Pastoral Priority Booklet cover.

Bishop Kopacz pointed out that Mary is already prominent in the Pastoral Priority plan as her image, taken from the rose window at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, is on the cover of the booklet outlining the Priorities. “The Blessed Mother is almost a subtle presence on our Pastoral Priorities booklet, yet clearly present,” said the bishop. “I think we can safely say she is our model for life-long intentional discipleship – right to the foot of the cross and into the resurrection and Pentecost event,” he continued. ” She gave birth to the incarnate Son and was central to the birth of the Church. As the Mother of the Church I think it is fitting to consecrate the diocese to her intercession and maternal care on the 100th anniversary of Fatima,” concluded Bishop Kopacz.
The Congregation for Divine Worship lists the consecration as one of the devotions approved by the church, but only with a proper understanding of what it is. The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy describes it this way: “The history of Marian devotion contains many examples of personal or collective acts of ‘consecration or entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary’ … Seen in the light of Christ’s words (cf. John 19, 25-27), the act of consecration is a conscious recognition of the singular role of Mary in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church, of the universal and exemplary importance of her witness to the Gospel, of trust in her intercession, and of the efficacy of her patronage, of the many maternal functions she has, since she is a true mother in the order of grace to each and every one of her children (253).”
“There is a rich tradition of Marian consecrations in the Church. Many people immediately think of Louis de Montfort’s 33-day consecration – or the spinoff, ’33 Days to Morning Glory,'” explained Deacon Aaron Williams, who composed the prayer to be used in the Diocese of Jackson. Deacon Williams researched different forms of consecration during the process. He also took language from the Pastoral Priorities and the new mission and vision statements.
“Pope Pius XII wrote his own consecration prayer, in response to the request of Our Lady of Fatima, which he urged all priests to make use of in parishes during his reign. We could have naturally looked to any of these prayers, but in the end, I felt it was more fitting for our situation to have a prayer which expressed the goals we had in mind for the consecration of our diocese,” said Deacon Williams.
“I decided to look at a number of consecration prayers and see what elements should be included, and used some elements of the Pius XII prayer as a model. I also wanted to include references which were particular to our own diocese. For example, the Diocese of Natchez was established under the patronage of Our Lady of Sorrows (the titular title of the Basilica in Natchez). So, there was already some form of consecration to Mary in our diocese. The prayer I composed makes the consecration itself to ‘the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.’ A later line speaks of Mary as ‘constantly showing [Jesus] the sorrows of [her] heart,'” explained Deacon Williams.
When an individual consecrates themselves to the Virgin, they commit to receive reconciliation, pray a rosary, receive Eucharist and offer certain prayers and meditations on the first Saturday of each month. They put themselves entirely in Mary’s care in their prayers.

Pope Francis uses incense as he venerates a statue of Our Lady of Fatima during the canonization Mass of Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the three Fatima seers, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, May 13. The Mass marked the 100th anniversary of the Fatima Marian apparitions, which began on May 13, 1917. The Diocese of Jackson will honor the centennial in October when Bishop Kopacz will consecrate the diocese to Mary. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“Since this consecration is being done to highlight the envisioning plan, I also wanted the prayer to reference that in some way. One of the intercessions of the prayer quotes the diocesean Mission statement. ‘Help us, Joyful Mother, through your example of living the Gospel, to faithfully proclaim Jesus Christ to be Savior of our hearts,'” said Deacon Williams.
“Finally, as a sort of homage to the Pius XII prayer, I wanted something in this prayer to hint at the ministry of the Holy Father. Pope Francis is often talking about the need to ‘accompany’ people in their journey towards holiness. The prayer I composed speaks of Mary saying, ‘you do not abandon any person who loves your Son, Jesus, but instead accompany the Christian people in true discipleship.'”
Jackson joins a number of dioceses across the nation who have consecrated themselves to Mary this year, including the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the Diocese of Victoria in Canada and the Diocese of Winona, Minn.
Diocesan Chancellor Mary Woodward is working on a brochure to distribute at the consecration with information on the devotion and prayers people can use in their homes with their families.
(Editor’s note: to see the Pastoral Priorites or find the prayer, go to http://jacksondiocese.org/vision/. Download the Prayer of Consecration for the diocese, parishes and families here.)

Carmelites Celebrate Feast Day with Jackson area parishes

The small chapel in the Carmelite Monastery on Terry Road was overflowing with friends and supporters of the Carmelite nuns and Carmelite Seculars during Mass at 6:30p.m. on Sunday evening, July 16, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This, too, was the final day of the Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel which began on Sat., July 8, and continued with daily Masses and Novena Prayers to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Celebrants and choirs were from different parishes in the Jackson area each day of the Novena. On the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, St. Richard Choir graced the chapel with beautiful harmony. Father Jeremy Tobin, OPraem, and Father Kevin Slattery concelebrated the Mass. The homilist was Deacon Denzil Lobo.

Deacon Lobo reminded the congregation that when Mary stood under the cross with John, the beloved disciple, she then understood Simeon’s prophecy, “Your heart will be pierced by a sword.”  Looking down and seeing his mother with his beloved disciple, Jesus passed the responsibility of taking care of his mother to him.  John then took her into his heart and his home.  Just like John accepted Mary into His home, Jesus invites us to accept Mary into our hearts and homes. Mary is now our mother and prays for us, her children, and we, in turn invoke her protection and intercession. After the Mass, all were invited to a reception on the lawn of the Monastery catered by the Catholic Filipino Community and Carmelite Seculars. (Those who may be interested in learning more about the Carmelite Secular lay vocation may contact Dorothy Ashley, 601-259-0885 or carmelite57@yahoo.com.)