Seminarian summer assignments announced

Every summer, seminarians studying for the priesthood for the Diocese of Jackson are assigned to ministry in a parish or service center as part of their formation. Bishop Joseph Kopacz has approved the following assignments for this summer:

Deacon Nick Adam– Jackson St. Richard Parish
Deacon Aaron Williams – Meridian St. Patrick and St. Joseph Parishes

Andrew Bowden – Our Lady of Victories, Cleveland
Juan Carlos Camacho – St. Therese, Jackson
Andrew Nguyen – Institute for Priestly Formation, Creighton University

Adolfo Suarez-Pasillas and Cesar Sanchez-Fermin – St. Dominic’s hospital, Jackson
Hayden Schmitt & Tristan Stovall – Catholic Camp in Pontotoc



Diocese welcomes two deacons on path to priesthood

JACKSON – Deacon Nick Adam, left, Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Deacon Aaron Williams leave the cathedral after Williams’ ordination Saturday, March 18. See details of both ordinations on pages 8-9. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

JACKSON – Deacon Nick Adam, left, Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Deacon Aaron Williams leave the cathedral after Williams’ ordination Saturday, March 18. See details of both ordinations on pages 8-9. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Friday, March 17, and again Saturday, March 18, the Diocese of Jackson gained two transitional deacons. Deacon Nick Adam, the youngest of eight, first pursued a career in broadcast journalism. Deacon Aaron Williams, a native of Jackson, became an altar server at age five and went to seminary directly out of high school.
The calls may have come differently, but the end result was the same. Deacons Adam and Williams both hope to be ordained into the priesthood next summer after spending a year in service to parishes.
Deacon Adam was ordained at Meridian St. Patrick Parish where he first discerned his call. He was working at television station WTOK as a sports and news anchor. He will spent the next year at Jackson St. Richard Parish.
Deacon Williams, ordained in his home parish of the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, will spend his transitional year in Meridian serving at St. Patrick and St. Joseph Parishes.
See Bishop Kopacz’ shares his reflection on the ordinations here. Read more about Deacon Aaron Williams here and Nick Adam here and continue to pray for these men and the other seminarians preparing for the priesthood for the Diocese of Jackson.

SEARCHers reflect on retreat

The Office of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Jackson offers the SEARCH retreat two times a year usually once in the fall and spring. High-school students gather for a weekend of faith and fun. Those who attend often return as retreat leaders. Several of this year’s attendees from
the March 3-5 retreat offered some reflections on their experience:

Emma Dieckman
Junior at Madison St. Joseph
Emma planned to attend with friends, but when they could not make it, she was not so sure about the weekend.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
As the weekend went on I just felt God with me the whole time. I’m not Catholic but I do go to a Catholic school so I was used to Catholic things. When people would share their stories about their life and spiritual journey they would just touch me so much. When we listened and sang songs it was like the first time I had ever listened to the words and the first time I realized how powerful the words of songs are.
The whole weekend my relationship with God strengthened and I really grew closer to him. I loved seeing young people and people I go to school with be vulnerable to God. This isn’t even the beginning of how much Search impacted my life, it is very hard to put that into words; you should just go and see it for yourself. I am forever thankful for the friend I made and old friends I rekindled my relationship with, the friends I grew closer to and how much closer I grew to God. Search is 10/10 and I highly recommend.

Olivia Patterson
Junior, Madison St. Francis of Assisi SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESParish
I searched in November of 2016 and I could honestly say that it was the best weekend of my life. Throughout the entire weekend, I met so many amazing new people, learned how Christ has worked through others, and finally realized how he is working through me. I felt an overwhelming amount of love from absolute strangers but most importantly I felt love from God himself. I found myself becoming stronger in my faith everyday after that weekend. My main goal was to come back and staff the retreat, and on March 3rd, 2017, that dream became a reality.

Meredith McLaurin
College Freshman, Tupelo St. James Parish
This is McLaurin’s second time as a retreat leader.
March 2017, will forever be my favorite SEARCH though, we got the chance to dedicate the SEARCH to one of the girls who gave me the retreat. She passed away a month and a half before the retreat, it felt like the best way to honor her. This SEARCH was the most life-changing (event) for me, letting me feel more full of love and faith than before. I got the chance to give a talk again and lead a small group that made a profound impact on me.
My small group bonded together the first night in a way I had never seen before. It was our job as the leaders to help them with their SEARCH journey, but I believe that they helped us as much as we helped them. This small group opened my eyes to new things and how faith can get you through anything. This SEARCH gave me the strength to realize who I am and help me begin to start to figure out what I want to do after I graduate college.
It’s because of SEARCH that I hope to do something that impacts youth every single day, though I may not know now what I am going to do, I do know that I will forever be changed by the weekends I spend at SEARCH. I can’t wait to keep coming back and giving to the one thing that has helped guide me to God every time I wake up.
The next SEARCH retreat will be in the Fall 2017. For more information contact Abbey Schuhmann in the Office of Youth Ministry –, 601-949-6934 or visit

Youth News

SOUTHAVEN – Each year Sacred Heart School students buy paper links for a nickel each and donate the money to a different charity. The children raised a little more than $2,000. This year the money will help the United Way volunteer program. A group of United Way volunteers plans to install running water and electricity in the home of a client of Sacred Heart Southern Missions Social Services.  (Photos by Sr. Margaret Sue Broker)

JACKSON – St. Richard Pre-K students threw beads and candy to the crowd of spectators that lined up for their annual Mardi Gras parade.

VICKSBURG – “King” Sam Armstrong and “Queen” Luella Lambiotte lead the preschool, Montessori and kindergarten classes in the annual Mardi Gras parade outside of Vicksburg Catholic School. Mardi Gras, celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, was traditionally a day to celebrate and eat sweets and meats before the fasting of Lent began. (photo by Ann Robertson)

MCCOMB– At left, preschool students use art to learn about the Bible in St. Alphonsus’ Parish School of Religion. In right photo, Jessica McMillan, at far right, St. Alphonsus Youth Minister begins Parish School of Religion with a song and dance. (Photos by Connie Harrington)

Rite of election welcomes candidates, catechumens

JACKSON – Almost 70 catecumens signed the book of the elect at the Rite of Election at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle Sunday, March 4. Several dozen candidates also participated and got a special blessing from Bishop Joseph Kopacz.
The Rite of Election is when candidates seeking full communion in the church and catechumens seeking baptism publicly declare their intent, their sponsors speak on their behalf and the bishop of a diocese accepts them.
The tradition brings together people from across the diocese and begins an intense period of final preparation for these faithful as they approach Easter.

Ash Wednesday: Ancient tradition still thrives in modern times

By Carol Zimmermann
WASHINGTON (CNS) – In more ways than one, Ash Wednesday — celebrated March 1 this year – leaves a mark.
That’s because not only are Catholics marked with a sign of penitence with ashes on their foreheads, but the rich symbolism of the rite itself draws Catholics to churches in droves even though it is not a holy day of obligation and ashes do not have to be distributed during a Mass.
Almost half of adult Catholics, 45 percent, typically receive ashes – made from the burned and blessed palms of the previous year’s Palm Sunday – at Ash Wednesday services, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
Parish priests say they get more people at church that day than almost any other – excluding Christmas and Easter – and the congregations are usually much bigger than for Holy Thursday or Good Friday services.
“Virtually every parish that I’ve worked with will have more people come to Ash Wednesday than almost any other celebration,” said Thomas Humphries, assistant professor of philosophy, theology and religion at St. Leo University in St. Leo, Florida.
“We talk about Christmas and Easter as certainly being the most sacred and most attended events during the year, but Ash Wednesday is not even a day of obligation. In terms of liturgical significance, it’s very minor, but people observe it as overwhelmingly important,” he said in a Feb. 17 email to Catholic News Service.
Humphries said part of the Ash Wednesday draw is the “genuine human recognition of the need to repent and the need to be reminded of our own mortality. Having someone put ashes on your head and remind you ‘we are dust and to dust we shall return’ is an act of humility.”
He also said the day — which is the start of Lent in the Latin Church — reminds people that they are not always who they should be and it is a chance to “stand together with people and be reminded of our frailty and brokenness and of our longing to do better.”
“This practice is particularly attractive to us today because it is an embodied way to live out faith, to witness to Christian identity in the world, ” said Timothy O’Malley, director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame, where he also is a professor of New Testament and early Christianity.
He said that’s the only way to explain why millions of people identify themselves “as mortal sinners for an entire day.”
Jesuit Father Bruce Morrill, the Edward A. Malloy professor of Catholic studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee, thinks the appeal of Ash Wednesday is partly because participants receive a “marker of identity” as Catholics.
The day also has rich symbolism, he said, of both flawed humanity and mortality. He pointed out that even though a large percentage of Catholics do not go to confession they will attend this very penitential service because they “get a sense of repentance and a kind of solidarity in it.”
“Clearly it touches on a deep sense of Catholic tradition in a way few other symbols do,” he told CNS Feb. 17.
For many, it also links them to childhood tradition of getting ashes. It also links them, even if they are unaware of its origins, to an ancient church tradition.
The priest said the use of ashes goes back to Old Testament times when sackcloth and ashes were worn as signs of penance. The church incorporated this practice in the eighth century when those who committed grave sins known to the public had to do public penitence, sprinkled with ashes. But by the Middle Ages, the practice of penance and marking of ashes became something for the whole church.
Ash Wednesday also is one of two days, along with Good Friday, that are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholic adults – meaning no eating meat and eating only one full meal and two smaller meals.
The other key aspect of the day is that it is the start of the 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving of Lent.
“Ash Wednesday can be a little bit like New Year’s Day,” Father Mike Schmitz, chaplain for Newman Catholic Campus Ministries at the University of Minnesota Duluth, told CNS in an email. He said the day gives Catholics “a place to clearly begin something new that we know we need to do.”


Bishop, advocates oppose sanctuary cities bill

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – A bill that would keep agencies, cities and college campuses in Mississippi from offering sanctuary to unauthorized immigrants would not keep communities safe and goes against the Christian tenet of caring for those in need, said Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson.
He issued a statement Feb. 15 opposing S.B. 2710, also known as the “sanctuary cities” bill, which passed the state Senate in a 32-16 vote Feb. 9. The bill goes to the state House for consideration.
The measure would prohibit cities and institutions of higher learning from declaring themselves sanctuary cities. There are currently no sanctuary cities in the state, although the city of Jackson proposed such a declaration last year.
“As Christians we are called to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. As citizens, we are called to keep our communities strong and safe. We feel that the so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ bill being debated right now in the Mississippi Legislature damages both of those efforts,” wrote Bishop Kopacz.
In a sanctuary city, local law enforcement would not be forced to act as federal immigration agents, like the officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In fact, they would be prohibited from asking a person they detained about his or her immigration status. S.B. 2710 would prohibit cities from enacting sanctuary policies.
The bill’s opening statement says it would apply to entities such as “a state agency, department, political subdivision of this state, county, municipality, university, college, community college or junior college, or any agent, employee or officer thereof.”
Immigrant advocates said the bill raises several concerns.
Amelia McGowan, an immigration attorney for the Catholic Charities Migrant Resource Center based in Jackson, said the vague language, especially in relation to schools, opens up a number of potential problems.
“The first provision is potentially extremely dangerous. It could allow any state official, or anyone working for the state government to report any individual to federal immigration authorities. In other words, it prevents the state and local agencies from prohibiting its employees from reporting an individual to ICE,” said McGowan in an email to the Mississippi Catholic, newspaper of the Jackson Diocese.
“That means, undocumented – or suspected undocumented – individuals seeking services in any state or local agency – courts, police protection, K-12 education, higher education, state hospital, state health and mental health agencies – could be reported to ICE by a disgruntled employee,” McGowan explained.
It also means an agency “could not prohibit its employees from doing so,” she continued. “Now, presumably that person may be protected in some cases by privacy laws, but I am afraid that this provision would prevent individuals from seeking state services, which include reporting violent crimes to the police.”
According to Christy Williams, an attorney at the headquarters of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, known as CLINIC, in Silver Spring, Maryland, the provision also opens up municipalities to potential liability. A school employee who discloses a student’s immigration information could be violating federal privacy laws and the school could be held liable.
If any officer reports a person they suspect is in the country without legal permission but that person turns out to have a valid legal status, the local agency can be sued. CLINIC highlighted one example from Allentown, Pennsylvania, when officers arrested a U.S. citizen for alleged drug crimes.
“He had both his driver’s license and Social Security card with him at the time of the arrest and was eventually found innocent,” according to a CLINIC document about sanctuary cities. “During his time in custody, the police called ICE based on the presumption that, because of his race, he was undocumented.
“Despite being documented, the citizen was held for three days after posting bail based on an ICE detainer. He was released only after an ICE agent interrogated him and confirmed his citizenship. The U.S. citizen sued local and county officials in 3rd District Federal Court, leading to verdicts in his favor and settlement costs totaling nearly $150,000,” the document said.
When a local agency reports someone to ICE, the federal agents may ask the local agency to detain the suspect. The local agency has to absorb the cost of housing, feeding and caring for the person until ICE can process the case. That money is rarely reimbursed to state and local agencies.
Critics of the Mississippi bill say that because it is vague, it also could erode the relationship first responders have with their communities. If immigrants, even those in the country legally, believe police officers, medical personnel or firefighters are going to report them to immigration officials, they may hesitate to call for much-needed help.
McGowan said she thinks if the bill becomes law, it “would have a chilling effect on individuals seeking state services” such as medical care, mental health care and police protection,” and would negatively affect immigrants’ educational opportunities. She also thinks it would subject victims of violent crimes and/or abuse “to greater danger.”
President Donald Trump has pledged to strip federal funds from jurisdictions that declare themselves “sanctuary cities.”
“We urge lawmakers and advocates to oppose S.B. 2710,” Bishop Kopacz said in his statement. “We will, as a Catholic community, continue to work with immigrants and refugees – welcoming their contributions to our community and culture – even as we pray for a just solution to the challenges of immigration and security.”
(Editor’s note: the full text of the statement is available here.)

Charter member donates custom window to Holy Savior


CLINTON –above, an image of Jesus, familiar as the Divine Mercy image, is visible in the new window at Holy Savior Parish.  (Photos by Maureen Smith)

By Maureen Smith
CLINTON – The Callegan family of Holy Savior decided they wanted to leave a family legacy to their parish, but after Ivy Callegan put instructions in her will to direct part of her inheritence to her parish, she changed her mind. “A while back I started thinking, I don’t have to wait until I’m gone, so I called Father (Thomas McGing).” Callegan told him she wanted to give the money now and asked Father McGing how he thought it could be best used.

The result is a window incorporating the Divine Mercy image of Christ flanked by two crosses. The crosses are not obvious at first, but come into focus when the viewer spends some time in front of the image.
“The passion cross has the five wounds of Christ in red. The cross of the Easter resurrection has Easter colors, pastels and whites,” explained Andy Young, the artist from Pearl River Glass studio who designed the

At left, Julie Harkins, parish secretary, Father Thomas McGing, pastor, and Ivy Callegan, founding member and donor, talk about the new window.

At left, Julie Harkins, parish secretary, Father Thomas McGing, pastor, and Ivy Callegan, founding member and donor, talk about the new window.

window. He also created the windows in the sanctuary of the church back in 1988. He said the mix of abstract and specific imagery is deliberate. He wants people to be able to interpret different things from the windows.
Callegan said she is delighted with the result. She came to check on the progress of the work one day, not knowing that the project was more than half-way done. “When I hit the door to the sanctuary, I looked up and I just sort of froze. I guess the Lord was with me to tell me to do this window,” she said.
Young said the parish gave him an image of Divine Mercy as his inspiration. Father McGing said it seemed like the perfect place to start.
“We wanted to highlight the name of the parish – Our Savior – and we started talking about it during the Year of Mercy and the more we talked about it the more we wanted to highlight Our Savior, who is the source of mercy and whose heart bleeds with love and mercy for us,” said the pastor.
The window is made up of several panels which sit at a 90-degree angle in the chapel behind the main altar. The chapel is used for daily Mass, but is visible from the sanctuary.
“If you look from the right spot inside the sanctuary, the lines of light radiating from Jesus line up just right behind the tabernacle,” said Young. “I had not intention of doing that whatsoever, but it was such a nice serendipity- it was a blessing,” he added.
Callegan surprised her family – only showing them the window after it was installed. “The best reaction I got was when Catherine, my 9-year-old granddaughter, came through the door there, and said ‘oh mamaw, it’s amazing,’ I don’t know how many ‘a’s there were in there! I’m really close to those kids, she and her brother, who is 12,” she said.
Callagan and her husband were founding members of Holy Savior. She said his years of hard work in the oil industry made the Callegan family donation possible.

Knights of Columbus build ramp for Carmelites


JACKSON – Knights from Clinton, Holy Savior build a ramp for the Sisters at the Carmelite gift shop

By R. Allen Scott
JACKSON – The Carmelite gift shop on Terry Road in Jackson is easier to get into thanks to the Knights of Columbus Council 7854 out of Clinton Holy Savior Parish. The knights built a ramp on the side of the steps and cleaned up some of the convent grounds while they were on the property.
At a planning meeting back in the fall council Chaplin and pastor Father Thomas McGing made several suggestions on community service projects. One of those suggestions was to contact the Carmelites and see if we could offer any assistance.
The Council contacted Sister Mary (Agonoy), OCD, the prioress, and discussed several projects with her.
On October 29, 2016 Knights Allen Scott, Chris Halliwell, Jim Sharp, and Steve Miller and Holy Savior parishioner Maureen Scott cleaned all the statues on the grounds and pressclinton-knights-build-ramp-2_cure washed the sidewalks.
The Sisters have a gift shop on the grounds and the shop was only accessible to the public through a set of steps. According to Sister Mary this severely limited the ability of the handicapped and some elderly persons from easily accessing the gift shop.
On January 21 and 28, the Knights constructed a handicap ramp to the gift shop. The ramp is about 53 feet long and 4 feet wide and is constructed of treated timber. The Knights solicited funds to purchase the materials and provided the labor to construct the ramp. The total material cost was approximately $2,000. Council 7854 Knights who assisted with the project were: Chris Halliwell, Allen Scott, Craig Harrell, Steve Miller, Mike Kirby, Mike Weisenberger, Mike Booth, Arnie Senger, and Charlie Collins. A total of 206 man hours was donated to complete the construction.
(R. Allen Scott is a member of Council 7854)

Surgery postpones Biloxi ordination for bishop-designate

msgr-louis-kihneman-iiiDue to health reasons, the Ordination and Installation of Bishop-designate Louis F. Kihneman as Fourth Bishop of Biloxi has been postponed. A new date for the Ordination and Installation will be announced at a later date.
On the advice of medical staff, Bishop-designate Kihneman will be undergoing surgery for diverticulitis and will be unable to travel to Biloxi for the 17th of February.
Please pray for our bishop-designate for a successful surgery and speedy recovery.
In lieu of flowers and plants, please send a spiritual bouquet or make a donation to your parish or school.