This is how we march for Life: video contest

The Diocese of Jackson is having a March for Life Video Contest. The videos must be a minimum of two minutes long, maximum four minutes. Judges will select winners by category. First place in each category will receive $200. One runner up for each category will receive $100.
Grab a Go Pro, cell phone or video recorder of your choosing and record the activities your parish/school participates in that promote, affirm and help create a culture of life.
Winning videos will be posted online during the month of January. Creatively recording activities from Respect for Life month is a wonderful way to demonstrate how you March for Life!
• Youth (up to eighth grade)
• High School (ninth – 12th grade. Includes parish youth groups or Catholic high schools)
The winning high school video will be presented at the Diocese of Jackson Youth Conference in February in Vicksburg!
• Parish Groups (for example: College Campus Ministry, Knights of Peter Claver, Knights of Columbus, Ladies Groups, Small Faith Communities)
How to Enter:
Submit a video demonstrating how your local community supports, endorses, advances a culture of life.
Submissions will not be accepted after December 3.
Multiple entries from one parish or school are allowed.
Note the category of your submission and email your video to:

‘O Queen of Heaven and Earth, we consecrate ourselves to you’

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz consecrated the Catholic Diocese of Jackson to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary on Sunday, Oct. 8, at the end of a 2:30 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. The act was a very public one – Bishop Kopacz led a procession through the streets of downtown Jackson at the end of the Mass and before the consecration. Seminarians carried a statue of Mary as part of the procession and more than 100 faithful joined in. The crowd then returned to the cathedral for a litany and the prayer of consecration written by Deacon Aaron Williams.
The act marks two events, the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady at Fatima and the official liturgical launch of the Pastoral Priorities for the diocese. The bishop and his pastoral team have been working for almost two years to get the Priorities written and introduce them to the parishes. This fall, the bishop has asked the pastors to have teams in the parishes write local goals and priorities aligned with the new diocesan plan. The consecration places this work in the care of the Blessed Virgin. Deacon Williams included phrases from the new plan in the prayer of consecration. The weekend started with a rosary at the cathedral on Saturday. More than 100 faithful joined for the public rosary, led by diocesan seminarians.

People came from across the diocese to be a part of the Mass and procession. Tanya Britton, former secretary at Jackson Christ the King, retired to Tupelo several years ago, but returned to the cathedral for this event. “I wanted to be a part of honoring the Mother of Our Lord, to acknowledge her and to show my gratitude to her. Mary took me by the hand and gently drew me to the bosom of Jesus when I was so far from Him that I couldn’t imagine ever being reconciled. A mother’s love is what I needed,” said Britton.
“To see our diocese honor her in such a communal way and with such a public witness reaffirmed my love for our bishop and my local church. It was also a way for me to stay connected and remind myself we are not ever really isolated from either our local diocese or Rome. We’re all on this ‘pilgrimage’ together in a world in desperate need of a Mother’s love and guidance,” she added.
Betsy Carraway, a Carmelite Secular and member of Jackson St. Therese, said she was very encouraged by the crowd of people at both the rosary and consecration. “We needed a conversion experience. When you are Christian, you are always improving and you need these conversion experiences,” said Carraway.
Elsa Baughman, retired editor for Mississippi Católico, has had a special devotion to Mary since she was a child. She said the procession appealed to her heritage. “As a Hispanic, I loved the procession. In our culture, processions are very important. We feel like we should raise Mary up on our shoulders and take her out into our neighborhoods – or into the streets of Jackson as we did here,” she explained.
The day before the consecration, Hurricane Nate made landfall in South Mississippi. Organizers had to watch the weather and come up with contingency plans for the liturgy in case the storm brought high winds and rain to the area.“The weather was beautiful,” said Baughman. At one point, the sun shone so brightly into the cathedral, and I thought, ‘this is God, smiling at us for doing this,’” she added.

Jackson Habitat house honors Sr. Therese Jacobs

By Peggy Hampton
JACKSON – Two years ago, when Polly Hammett drove down Greenview Drive in south Jackson for the first time, she cried.
“Today, I smile,” she said.
This is due, in great part, to the hard work and commitment of Polly and many other volunteers from Catholic churches in Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties, who have given of their time and resources to help revitalize a decaying, blighted street.
The Catholic community in the metro Jackson area has played a significant role in the transformation by partnering with Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area on the first two houses built on the street – the Pope Francis House and the 2015 Catholic Build House – followed by the 2016 Catholic Build House and now the 2017 Catholic Build House.
The goal is two-fold — to help a local family in need of a decent, safe, affordable place to live and to transform a street filled with blighted, decaying and abandoned homes into a beautiful, safe neighborhood where working families live, grow and thrive.
Habitat has acquired 31 properties on Greenview Drive, demolished 18 derelict houses and built 13 homes on the street. The 2017 Catholic Build home is among four additional homes being built this fall. More Habitat builds are planned for 2018.
“I am tickled to see the progress made on Greenview Drive,” Polly said. “I see change, and I see hope.”
The 2017 Catholic Build Habitat House will be purchased with a no-interest mortgage by Khadijah and Xavier Ransom. Khadijah and Xavier, both 23, are a married couple with two children – Xavier Jr., 4, and younger brother Kayden, 1.
“When Xavier and I were dating and started to become serious about getting married, we began talking about and making plans to become Habitat homeowners,” said Khadijah. “Now that we have good, stable jobs and can afford a mortgage, we are thrilled to be partnered with Catholic Build on the building of our home.”
Khadijah is a licensed cosmetologist at a local salon, while Xavier is employed as a car salesman. The family of four has been living in a tiny 1-bedroom, 1-bath apartment with roof leaks, insect problems and an unreliable HVAC system. Their new Habitat home will have a modern HVAC system that is efficient and cost-effective, new energy efficient appliances, lots of space and a yard where the children can play.
The Ransoms have been working alongside of the Catholic Build volunteers in building their new home, something Catholic volunteers have been doing for many years.
Every fall, parishes in the Jackson area pool resources and volunteers to build a Habitat house for a family. This is the 32nd year for Catholic churches to partner with Habitat. Partner parishes include Flowood St. Paul, Madison St. Francis of Assisi, Clinton Holy Savior, Gluckstadt St. Joseph, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, and the following Jackson churches: St. Therese, the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, St. Richard and Christ the King as well as St. Dominic’s Health Services.
The Catholic Build volunteers have been dedicated in their efforts throughout the years and are motivated by service and love of others.

“There is a real sense of accomplishment and community by working together to take pieces and parts of building materials and put them together to become a house,” said Allen Scott of Holy Savior.
Polly agreed, noting that a wonderful byproduct of the process is the laughter, love and good time shared by the volunteers.
“The houses we build are constructed with labor and laughter,” she said.
The 2017 Catholic Build house is built in memory of Sister Therese J. Jacobs, BVM, a pastoral minister at St. Richard Parish in Jackson from 1987-2001 and 2010-15. Sister Therese, who passed away in April, was a longtime supporter and advocate of Catholic Build and Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area.
“As many who knew Sister Therese have noted, she was a woman with a vivacious nature, energy and enthusiasm for her work, community, love of life, and her love of God,” said Raymond Barry, a member of St. Richard and longtime Catholic Build volunteer. “The spirit of giving and love of life and God demonstrated by the Catholic Build volunteers is a wonderful way to remember and honor Sister Therese.”
(Peggy Hampton is the Public Relations, Marketing Fundraising Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area.)

Back to School and Solar Eclipse

Students start new year messed, blessed

Solar Eclipse brightens science lessons

Across the diocese, students and adults alike looked to the skies on Monday, August 21, to watch a full solar eclipse. While much of the Diocese of Jackson was not in the so-called path of totality, there was plenty to see. Students and teachers had to use approved glasses or viewing devices to keep everyone safe, but many could not pass up the opportunity for this event. Some schools, such as Southaven Sacred Heart and Madison St. Joseph, hit the road to Tennessee for a better view. The Sacred Heart students watched from the Nashville Zoo where they could also observe the impact of the event on the animals. Father Greg Schill, SCJ, who went on the trip said the giraffes went wild and everyone could hear insects singing as the skies grew dark. (See facing page)
In top left photo, students from Columbus Annunication’s middle stepped outside in the early afternoon to view the final stages of the eclipse. In the photo above, right, Madison St. Anthony Students are in awe of the show in the sky. (Photos by Katie Fenstermacher and Kristian Beatty.)

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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
Donations can be mailed to Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Seminarian Education Challenge, PO Box 2248, Jackson, MS 39225.

Hispanic Ministry plans two V Encuentro gatherings for diocese

By Elsa Baughman
JACKSON – As parishes come to the end of their five listening sessions of the V Encuentro, the Office of Hispanic Ministry of the Diocese of Jackson is asking parishes to save the date for the two diocesan-wide Encuentros.
The word Encuentro loosely translates as ‘encounter’ and is meant to describe the start of a new relationship and exchange of ideas, a strengthening of faith. These diocesan gatherings are the next step in a national process. In Tupelo, the Encuentro is scheduled for Saturday, October 7, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at St. James Parish. The Jackson-area Encuentro will be held on Saturday, October 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Madison St. Francis Parish.
The registration fee for youth and adults is $25, which includes lunch and a t-shirt. The cost for children ages six to 12 is $5, but does not include a T-shirt. There will be activities planned for these children in keeping with the theme of the V Encuentro. There will be no childcare for children younger than the age of six.
These gatherings are part of a process which will take several years to complete. First, dioceses across the country have assembled Encuentro teams to lead group discussions. Then, those teams host listening sessions at individual parishes to discuss specific issues facing the Hispanic Catholic community in America. These parish groups lead to a parish Encuentro to invite the whole community to participate.
Parishes will bring the results of their discussions to the diocsean Encuentro meetings. Finally, the dioceses will present their thoughts and themes at a national Ecuentro set for 2018 in Texas. National organizers hope to get an accurate picture of the Hispanic Catholic Church in America and to use that information to evangelize and strengthen the church overall.
Two parish meetings have been held so far, one in Hazlehurst on Sunday, July 16, at St. Martin’s Catholic Church and the other was held Saturday, August 19, at Carthage St. Ann Parish. Other communities in the diocese will continue to hold these Encuentros until all have participated.
In her presentation at the parish Encuentro in Hazlehurst, Patricia Lopez told the participants she understands that they may have felt a little unprepared to be a part of the Encuentro process. “But we must remember that when God chooses us to do something for Him, he does not leave us alone, since God does not call those who are prepared, but prepares each one who is called,” she explained. “When Jesus chose his apostles, these were people who had no preparation, they only knew how to fish. Jesus only had to ask them if they wanted to be fishers of men, and they followed him.”
Miguel Cruz, vice president of the Jackson-area Christian Family Movement, said he was very motivated because the attendees of the sessions have learned how to be leaders. One of the parts of the training he valued the most was learning how to meet their brothers and sisters who have moved away from the church.
“They have motivated us to not sit idly by, to get out there and to meet the needy in our communities. I am happy to be living this process which is the experience of new evangelization that Pope Francis has entrusted to us,” he said.
The themes covered in the sessions will help Brenda Valdez of Madison St. Francis Parish in Madison, be a missionary of Christ. She is pleased to have the opportunity to live this encounter. “I’m learning a lot of new things, especially the problems that some of the Hispanics are going through in the state and the needs that exist in different communities,” she said.
According to the national organizers of this process, more than 5,000 parishes, 175 dioceses and more than one million people are participating in the country. Millions of committed leaders have participated in its implementation.
To register or find more information, visit the Hispanic Ministry page on the Diocese of Jackson website, or call 601-949-6931.

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 Download the Prayer of Consecration for the diocese, parishes and families here.)

Diocese announces return of #iGiveCatholic giving blitz

By Christopher Luke
JACKSON – Most parishes have a ‘honey-do’ list. Maybe there is a need for more ministry space, perhaps the parking lot could be repaved or a school could use new lab equipment. The diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development is offering a chance for parishes to tackle the fund-raising for those needs through #iGiveCatholic.
#iGiveCatholic is a 24-hour online crowdfunding effort held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This day is known as Giving Tuesday around the nation. On November 28th, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson will be participating in its second year with #iGiveCatholic. The national version of this campaign involves 16 total arch/dioceses and has a goal to raise $3.5 million.
#iGiveCatholic isn’t just a fund-raiser. It is an opportunity for the Catholic community to affirm its faith, share the gifts they have been given and inspire Catholics to come together as faithful stewards. It offers a chance to proclaim faith through financial and social media support.
In 2016, the campaign included the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Dioceses of Baton Rouge, Houma-Thibodaux, Biloxi and Austin.
This year it has extended to the Archdioceses of Atlanta, Kansas City and Mobile, as well as the Dioceses of Helena, Mont.; Knoxville/Memphis, Lexington/Owensboro, Ken.; Lubbock, Tex.; and Paterson, NJ.
The goal for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson is $150,000.00. Last year, the national goal was to raise $1.5 million from the participating dioceses, but by the end of giving day 2016, donors had exceeded that by $307,311 with a total of 6,826 gifts. Participants from the Catholic Diocese of Jackson raised $96,460 online and $36,276 offline, with a total of $132,736 given by 1,019 donors.
Many of the 47 participating parishes, organizations and schools around the diocese had great results last year Twenty-two churches, 11 non profit organizations, and 14 schools were a part of #iGiveCatholic in 2016.
They found many ways to advertise their needs. The sisters at Carmelite Monastery, who created an online video to gain support, used their donations to pay for building upgrades and renovations.
Clarksdale Saint Elizabeth Parish needed a parking lot and used photos with captions, called memes, to explain their need. Father Scott Thomas even staged a fake bicycle crash in a pothole to add some humor to the effort.
Jackson Sister Thea Bowman School raised money for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) lab equipment and an interactive smart board. Their cheerleaders posted a video on social media to gain support from current parents and alumni.
Clarksdale Saint Elizabeth School’s students shared all the reasons they give Catholic in their promotion. Columbus Annunciation Catholic School and Greenville Saint Joseph School both promoted giving Catholic by making videos of students frozen in place to play off of a national trend called the mannequin challenge.
Here is how #iGive Catholic works: donors visit, and search for their parishes, schools, ministries and nonprofit organizations. From November 10-26, donors can schedule gifts to their favorite ministry via an advanced giving option.
Donors may also donate on the actual giving day, Tuesday November 28. The website administrators will update leaderboards all day so people can see how close each organization is to its goal. The minimum donation is $25. There is no maximum donation. The site offers users a chance to post messages on social media inviting others to give as well.
Chris Luke can answer any questions by phone at 601-960-8481 or email at
(Christopher Luke is the coordinator for the Office of Stewardship.)

Seven schools welcome new leaders

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Seven Catholic schools in the Diocese of Jackson will start the year with new principals. Some are familiar faces, others are new to their communities. At Madison St. Joseph, Dena Kinsey moves into the role of principal after serving in the administration there for several years.
Prior to that, Kinsey taught at both St. Richard and St. Joseph. “Teaching chose me. It’s a calling that I’ve always had. I tried to ignore it, but I kept being called back. I’ve had brief stents in the public schools, but Catholic schools are where I find my family, my center,” she said.
Part of her plan for the school is to get the word out about the quality of education available through Catholic schools in Jackson. “I’m definitely a believer in servant leadership. I’m a worker, so I hope to be in the midst of everyone going about the business of helping young people grow to be better than they were. Mother McCauley (of the Sisters of Mercy) said, ‘fitting them for the world without unfitting them for heaven.’ I love that. I have full faith in the teachers at St. Joe,” Kinsey added.
Jackson St. Richard welcomed Jennifer David as principal on July 1. David was previously the principal at Meridian St. Patrick School. She also worked at Columbus Annunciation for several years. She said she is excited to work in a community where she has access to so many other Catholic schools and is looking forward to collaborating with all the other communities in the Jackson area. Her daughter will attend Madison St. Joseph High School.
Meridian St. Patrick’s new principal, Montse Kaun Frias, a native of Spain, comes to Mississippi from Mexico, where she was the principal of a school run by the Legionaries of Christ. She has also been a teacher and school counselor. “I’m glad to be in a Catholic environment because from my educational experience, teaching and promoting virtues and values is what makes a real impact in a student’s life and is what makes a teacher or school unforgettable,” Frias said. Her previous position in Mississippi was with Lamar County schools.
“I have always considered working in a school as an opportunity to contribute to making a better world. A good education provides society with constructive leaders who will live justice and love,” said Frias.
Sally Olivi has lived in Clarksdale her whole life, is an active member of St. Elizabeth parish and has been in education for decades, so when the principal at St. Elizabeth School retired she saw a great opportunity to step into the spot. “I am honored and lucky to be here,” said Olivi.
Olivi worked at a local public vocational school where she taught and then served as director for six years. She also taught at Lee Academy until it closed its elementary school at a time that coincided with the retirement of St. Elizabeth’s previous principal, Jeannie Roberts.
“Things are already set up in a good, organized way,” Olivi said of the school. “I like to have good communication and keep the children first in what we do,” she added. She is grateful to be able to now take her faith into the classrooms. “The great thing about Catholic school is that it is Christ-centered and that’s one thing I love about this school.”
When she worked at public and private schools she noted “students who graduated from St. Elizabeth were better prepared, better behaved and had better morals. That stood out to me,” said Olivi. She said the Catholic school graduates tended to get honors in their high schools. She intends to continue the strong tradition of excellence St. Elizabeth holds in the community.
“I’m really excited about this new chapter at St Elizabeth School, building off the success of recent years,” said Father Scott Thomas, pastor of St. Elizabeth Parish and canonical administrator for the school. “Mrs. Olivi brings a great love for education as well as the Catholic Church. I’m thankful to God for sending us yet another faith-filled educator for the future of Clarksdale,” he added.
Greenville St. Joseph Catholic Unit School has new leadership for both Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary and St. Joseph High schools. St. Joseph unified onto one campus last year and the new leadership hopes to continue to emphasize the theme of ‘one school.’
Steve Weis is the overall administrator and high school principal. A product of Catholic schools in Missouri, Wies comes to St. Joseph from Cleveland High School. Since 2010, Wies served as Cleveland’s athletic director and math teacher, as well as baseball and soccer coach.
Dr. Jo Anne Heisterkamp will serve as principal of Our Lady of Lourdes. Although new to the role, she has a history with the school. “Both of my children graduated from here and I was a special education teacher and academic director in the high school,” said Heisterkamp. She left to teach at Mississippi Valley State University where she was tapped to be director of student teaching.
Heisterkamp retired from that position to care for her husband, who died last year. He was an engineer who helped build the Uncle Ben’s plant in town.
“This was not on my radar. This was a call from God,” she said of the job. After Paul Artman and Michelle Gardiner announced their plans to retire from St. Joseph, a couple of friends asked Heiserkamp if she planned to apply, so she got an application and started thinking about it. “Three times God just came to me and said, ‘apply.’”
Heisterkamp said she and Weis make a great team. “We are working through it together. We truly do have the same vision. This is just awesome,” she said. She already had a good impression of the faculty at St. Joseph. “These teachers are so great here. When I had a student teacher here, her mentor teacher was just so good.”
Teamwork is already part of the culture in Greenville. “They (teachers) work together – it’s just phenomenal, the mindset of this school,” said Heisterkamp. She and Weis hope to provide a place for students to thrive. “We like a lot of structure. They (the students) need structure, even in high school,” she explained.
Norm Yvon is already putting his personal touch on his administration as principal at Cathedral High School and chief administrator of the unit school. “He wrote individual notes to each senior and left them in their lockers,” said Cara Serio, development director at Cathedral. Yvon also wrote a prayer for the school community, which he hand-delivered to teachers in their classrooms earlier this summer.
Yvon came up with the theme for the year – Positively Catholic – during the Pacific Institute’s seminar for principals in July. The workshop was offered by the Office of Catholic Education to help unify administrators from across the diocese. (See page 1 for related story.)
“We held a prayer service to kick off the year – it was absolutely beautiful,” said Serio. The staff also attended a retreat led by Joanne Waycaster with the theme “Feeding the lambs: care and tending of future shepherds.”
Serio added that Yvon is serious about his responsibilities. She said he is detail oriented and is taking time to learn the ins and outs of school operations.

Elementary schools

Annunciation – Columbus (PreK-8)
Mrs. Joni House, Principal
223 North Browder St. 39702-5236
Tel: 662-328-4479

Holy Family – Holly Springs (PreK-8)
Ms. Clara Isom , Principal
395 N. West St. 38635-1922
Tel: 662-252-1612

Sacred Heart – Southaven (PreK-8)
Mrs. Bridget Martin, Principal
5150 Tchulahoma Rd. 38671
Tel: 662-349-0900

St. Francis – Greenwood (PreK-6)
Mrs. Jackie Lewis, Principal
2607 Highway 82 E 38930-5966
Tel: 662-453-9511

St. Elizabeth – Clarksdale (PreK-6)
Mrs. Sally Olivi, Principal
150 Florence Ave. 38614-2720
Tel: 662-624-4239

St. Patrick – Meridian (PreK-8)
Montse Kaun Frias, Principal
2700 Davis St. 39301
Tel: 601-482-6044

Unit schools

Cathedral – Natchez (PreK-12)
Mr. Norm Yvon, Chief Administrator;
High School Principal
701 Martin Luther King Jr. St. 39120-2962
Tel.: 601-442-1988Mrs. Shannon Bland, Assist Admin;
Elem. Principal
701 Martin Luther King Jr. St. 39120-2962
Tel.: 601-442-1988

St. Joseph Catholic Unit School (PreK-12)
St. Joseph High School (7-12)
Mr. Steven Wies, Chief Admin;
High School Principal
1501 VFW Rd. 38701-5841
Tel.: 662-378-9711
High School Website

Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary (PreK-6)
Dr. Jo Anne Heisterkamp, Assist. Admin;
Elementary School Principal
1501 VFW Rd. 38701-5841
Elem. School Website
Elementary School Secretary: Keri Moss
Tel: 662-334-3287

Vicksburg Catholic Unit School (PreK-12)
St. Aloysius High School (7-12)
Dr. Buddy Strickland, Chief Admin;
High School Principal
1900 Grove St. 39183
Tel.: 601-636-2256 / Fax: 601-631-0430

St. Francis Xavier Elementary (PreK-6)
Mrs. Mary Arledge, Asst. Admin;
Elementary Principal
1200 Hayes St. 39183
Tel.: 601-636-4824
Elementary School Secretary: Linda McMinn

St. Joseph – Madison (7-12)
Mrs. Dena Kinsey, Principal
308 New Mannsdale Rd. 39110
Tel.: 601-898-4800
Web Page
Secretary: Melinda Weisenberger

St. Anthony – Madison (PreK-6)
Mr. Jim Bell, Principal
1585 Old Mannsdale Rd. 39110
Tel: 601-607-7054 / Fax: 601- 853-9687

St. Richard – Jackson (PreK-6)
Mrs. Jennifer David, Principal
100 Holly Dr. 39206
Tel: 601-366-1157 / Fax: 601-366-4344
Secretary: Tammy Conrad

Sister Thea Bowman – Jackson (PreK-6)
Mrs. Shae Robinson, Principal
1217 Hattiesburg St. 39209-7411
Tel: 601-352-5441

Birthright adds confidential text service

By Monica Walton
FLOWOOD – Birthright of Jackson has added a new option to connect young men and women to free, non-judgemental and confidential help with an unplanned pregnancy – texting. Birthright offers guidance toward lifegiving options, so the expectant mother can make the best decision for herself and her unborn child.
Anyone can text BRJXN to 41411 and get an immediate response from a Birthright of Jackson volunteer. Birthright has been helping girls and women across the state of Mississippi since 1983, before personal mobile phones were even a thing. “We felt we needed to update the way we make ourselves available to potential clients,” said Dennis Riecke, Birthright of Jackson board president. “One of our board members suggested a texting program since that is an easy and discreet way for a young woman to reach out for help. We all agreed,” he added.
“Texting is something common to most girls in their teens and twenties which is the typical age of our Birthright clients.” Most Birthright clients have a cell phone, even those without a car or a place to live. There are more cell phones than people in the U.S. People stay connected. For a good percentage of the population, a cell phone is the only phone they own.
There is much research supporting this. According to Pew Research Center, texting is the number one way all teens get in touch with their closest friends, and 80% of people older than 65 own a cell phone and send an average of ten texts a day. (Aug 2015) In May, 2017, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reported in their National Health Information Survey NHIS, “Adults living in poverty (66.3%) and near poverty (59.0%) were more likely than higher income adults (48.5%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones [cell phones].”
Birthright volunteers noticed that people text so much, it’s no big deal when the person sitting next to you pulls out their phone to send or read a text. Others scarcely notice, and discretion is vital to the work of Birthright.
Imagine this…17-year-old Gabrielle missed her period and she is worried that she might be pregnant. She’s thinking to herself: “How can this be? It was just one night. We went a little too far. Who hasn’t done that once or twice? Surely I’m not…
What can I do? I can’t be seen buying a pregnancy test. I can’t risk taking the test at home.” Gabrielle certainly does not want to make an actual phone call asking for help. Someone might hear her say she needs a pregnancy test. She can’t even bring herself to think the word “pregnant,” much let say it out loud.
So, rather than having to speak the words, “I think I might be pregnant,” a simple text – BRJXN – to this number – 41411 – will get Gabrielle help, answers and guidance to navigate this time of uncertainty. It is available to anyone, any time.
Gabrielle texts BRJXN to 41411. A reply comes immediately, “Hey there! Text or call me at 601- 421-1818 so we can set up a time to chat and get the info you need! — BRJXN” She breathes a sigh of relief. Help is a quick text away. When she is ready, Birthright is ready. She knows someone cares and Birthright is waiting and willing to help. Simple. Discreet.
Gabrielle, and anyone else who is struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, has a direct line to get the help she needs.
No counseling is done by text, but a local Birthright volunteer will be happy to chat on the phone or set up a time to meet at the Birthright Center. Birthright offers free pregnancy testing, emotional support, and all the resources a woman needs to follow through with her pregnancy.
(Monica Walton is the executive director of Birthright of Jackson.)