Mississippi Catholic 2018 Publication Schedule

The staff at Mississippi Catholic is looking forward to a busy and productive 2018. As always, we invite participation from faithful from across the diocese. Please submit your stories, photos and events so we can include them in the paper.
The publication schedule for 2018 follows.

Look for special sections this year marking Catholic Schools Week, two priestly ordinations, graduations and the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation.
Send submissions to editor@mississippicatholic.com. Send information three to four weeks before or within one week after an event. Ads are due one week prior to publication. Visit the paper online at www.mississippicatholic.com.
The staff here at Mississippi Catholic would like to thank you, our readers, for your prayer and support and wish you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Ospino to speak at National Migration Week events

By Maureen Smith
Parishes in northeast Mississippi will mark National Migration Week, January 7-13, 2018, with five days of educational programing, liturgy and celebrations.. The week offers the faithful a chance to learn more about refugees and migrants in their midst.
The keynote presenter for the week is Hosffman Ospino, an associate professor of theology at Boston College, the director of the V National Encuentro, a member and consultant to the National Catholic Educational Association and the USCCB. He has written several books about Hispanic ministry and Hispanic Catholic identity.
A committee made up of lay ministers Danna Johnson and Raquel Thompson and pastors Father Tim Murphy and Father Mario Solarzano came up with the programs.
“When (Pontotoc) St. Christopher Parish was part of the Glenmary Missioners ministry, it was contacted by Dr. Hosffman Ospino to be part of a national survey of churches with large Hispanic populations. Dr. Ospino is one of the leading experts in Hispanic ministry practices, trends and planning for future ministry in the United States, said Father Murphy, pastor at Tupelo St. James.
“Our Planning Committee has used his research and articles. We asked Danna Johnson to contact him and explore the possibility of a presentation in northeast Mississippi. Beyond all odds, he was available during National Migration Week 2018, and was willing to join us,” he added.
See sidebar for full schedule. For more information about the programs, call the parish at 662-842-4881.

Diocese sponsors Civil Rights Museum exhibit

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – A pair of new museums set to open Dec. 9-10 in Jackson will tell the story of Mississippi and of the Civil Rights movement here – including the role the Catholic Church played in the movement. The Diocese of Jackson has sponsored an exhibit in the Civil Rights museum.
The Museum of Mississippi History takes visitors back to the earliest days of this land, including the stories of the Native Americans who hunted and traded here. The exhibits run all the way through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum zeroes in on a 30-year period in history, 1945-1976, when the state was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement to gain civil liberties and equal rights for African Americans. The Civil Rights Museum is the first state-sponsored museum of its kind in the United States.

JACKSON – The exterior of the two museums sitting side-by-side in downtown Jackson. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

“In the early stages of the two-museums project, Bishop Joseph Kopacz asked Bishop Emeritus Joseph Latino and me to meet with Former Governor William Winter, Kane Ditto, former mayor of Jackson; and Trey Porter, director of development for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH); to discuss how the diocese could be a part of these two museums,” said Mary Woodward, diocesan chancellor. “Because of the church’s connection with the history of the state, especially in the Civil Rights Movement, Bishop Kopacz and Bishop Emeritus Latino believed the diocese should be integrally involved.”
Ultimately, the diocese offered to sponsor one of the permanent exhibits focusing on the Sovereignty Files as a gift to the State of Mississippi to mark the bicentennial. “We chose the Sovereignty Files exhibit because many of our Catholic clergy and faithful are included in the files that were kept by the State Sovereignty Commission, created in 1956, to maintain tabs on ‘subversives and outside agitators,’” Woodward continued. “The objective of the commission was to preserve segregation under the guise of defending sovereignty from interference by the federal government. Basically, the commission became a spy agency for the State of Mississippi in a time when segregation was beginning to be challenged publicly. Priests were followed, and citations in the files reflect various clergy and lay Catholics attending gatherings at Tougaloo College and being active in speaking out for civil rights and against racism,” Woodward added.
“It was a scary time; I even found my father’s name in the files, which are available online through the MDAH web site. These files show how racism was a state-sponsored system. As Catholics, we should be very proud of how the church stood for justice in a very difficult time in our country’s and state’s past. Hopefully, this will inspire us to continue to speak out and work for justice, because as we have seen over the past year, racism still is just below the surface,” Woodward concluded.
The diocesan office is not the only contributor to the effort, Valencia Hall of Natchez Holy Family Parish, is on the board of trustees for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and for the two-museum project. She came of age during the movement and her family participated in a key moment in Natchez’ Civil Rights history.
She said she has been delighted to watch the project rise up from a hole in the ground.
She recalls her pastor, Father William Morrissey, SSJ, was on many watchlists. “I remember Father Jonathan Doyle, who was an associate pastor, and Father Morrissey were in fear for their lives sometimes,” said Hall. Morrissey was the first white officer in the NAACP. During his time in Natchez, he allowed the NAACP to meet at the parish, sponsored integrated youth gatherings and spearheaded the integration of Catholic schools in Natchez at the urging of then Bishop Richard Oliver Gerow.
“Father Morrissey asked my parents to enroll us in Cathedral School to integrate the school,” said Hall. “I found out later that Bishop Gerow picked the families he wanted to approach so not too many families would integrate at one time,” she added. Hall and her sister left Holy Family, an all African-American school, to attend the all-white Cathedral. After a year, the pair did not want to return, but their parents insisted.
“I think it was the best decision for our education. It introduced us to people of different economic backgrounds and people of different color,” said Hall. She still laments that the effort was not reciprocal. No white students were asked to integrate Holy Family school.
The efforts of the Hall family did have an impact she herself can attest to. “I made a friend there – she and I will be friends until the day we die,” said Hall. Every day at recess, Hall and her friend would have to wait before they could play together. Her friend’s mother made a habit of walking to the playground at recess time to make sure her daughter was not playing with the black children. Once the mother left, Hall and her friend could play. Hall grew up and went away to school, eventually returning to Natchez.
“When I came back in 2001, I was at a celebration at St. Mary’s and my friend’s parents were the first to come up to me. Her mother gave me a huge hug. They embraced me and welcomed me home, and I thought, ‘this can’t be the same mother,’” she said. “That was a profound moment for me as an adult. They literally embraced me and I knew I could – I had – forgiven her.”
Hall said the exhibits in both museums are powerful. “This will be emotional for some people. They will look and ask why this is here, why do we have to look at it. The why is because of the profound impact of the Civil Rights Movement on the state and the nation.” Hall said the artifacts pull no punches. They include burned crosses and a lynching display. Some parts, however, recall the hope and progress the state has made. “Where the light shines in from the skylight, and you can hear ‘This Little Light of Mine’ playing. It’s wonderful,” she added.
She is delighted that the diocese supported the project and thinks the sovereignty exhibit is the perfect one to sponsor given the true nature of the church’s role in the movement. “The greatest contribution of the diocese is that we (the church) fought for the integrity and equality for all people.”
The museums are located in downtown Jackson. Details on tickets and hours are available on the website: http://give2mississippimuseums.com

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us: study says devotion may impact immigrants’ health

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – A good talk with your mother every day could improve your health. At least, that’s what happened for immigrants in one Mississippi community. A study out of the University of Alabama exploring the link between faith and health demonstrated that those with a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe had fewer negative health issues related to stress.

JACKSON– The Hispanic community at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle hosts a procession downtown, like this one from 2016, for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Photo by Elsa Baughman)

“This drives home how important faith is. In the study results I found that people who are exposed to stress – their wellbeing goes down over time. Those who were Guadalupan devotees broke that pattern,” explained Rebecca Read-Wahidi, the study’s author.
She grew up in Forest where the state’s largest concentration of Latinos work in poultry plants. They worship at St. Michael or at its mission San Martín. A community of Sisters, Guadalupan Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, ministers to the mix of Mexican, Guatamaulan and other Latin American people. The sisters teach English, host consulates and even offer workshops in what to do if people are stopped by police or immigration agents.
Constant worry about immigration raids can wear down an already poor population. Read-Wahidi was told stories of a 2012 road-block that led to the deportation of 40 people, sending a wave of fear through the rest of the community. Having a patroness, a protector and a surrogate mother helps ease that physical and mental stress.
Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in 1531 to Juan Diego, a poor Indian and recent Christian convert. She told him she wanted him to go to the bishop and have a church built on Tepeyac Hill. The lowly Juan Diego was turned away. He told the Virgin to send someone else. When his uncle become deathly ill, Juan Diego went in search of a priest instead of returning to the bishop, trying to avoid the Virgin by walking another way around the hill. She appeared anyway, declared that Juan Diego’s uncle was already cured and sent him, again, to the bishop, telling him to take flowers as a sign. She herself tied the flowers into his cloak, or tilma. When Juan Diego unwrapped the cloak, he and the bishop were shocked to find a perfect image of the Virgin on the cloak under the flowers.
In the image, she is dark skinned, pregnant, and surrounded by stars. She stands in front of the sun’s rays, a commonly known symbol of an Aztec god, symbolically eclipsing his power as she looks lovingly down on her people. Millions of pilgrims still flock to Tepeyac to see the tilma.

FOREST – This 2012 photo shows a procession honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe from the Scott County Courthouse to St. Michael Parish. Rebecca Read-Wahidi conducted her doctoral research on the link between devotion and health in this community.(Mississippi Catholic file photo)

Read-Wahidi studied at Mississippi State University. Her Spanish studies took her to Mexico where she was exposed to the pervasive devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. “While I was there, I became interested in Mexican Catholicism because it was different than what I was familiar with,” she said. When she returned home, she began to see the Virgin in her own hometown.
“It is really fascinating to me because it really is a contrast in Mississippi – which is very Protestant. Here is this Mexican feast being carried out in the streets of a Mississippi town,” she said. Read-Wahidi wrote her master’s thesis about Our Lady of Guadalupe and migrant communities in Mississippi. She expanded upon her earlier thesis while studying for a doctorate in biocultural medical anthropology at the University of Alabama. “I liked going there because I could continue working with the same community,” Read-Wahidi said. “I went from (looking at) the celebration itself into how they use it to deal with stress, specifically immigration stress,” she added.
The sisters in Morton welcomed her, introducing her to the community and facilitating meetings. Read-Wahidi developed a survey to gauge the impact of their faith on their health.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is more than just a mother figure to her people, she is their mother. Read-Wahidi said most of the devotees she interviewed have conversations with her throughout the day. Sister Lourdes Gonzalez, MGSpS, who helped with the study, said Mary “listens to their worries. It’s a way to pray. People talk to her as if she is alive and in the room. She has a special place in the family.”
Father Tim Murphy, pastor at Tupelo St. James Parish calls the relationship profound and inspiring. “She is their mother in faith, in heaven and is present to them,” he said.
This connection to the poor may be why people see Mary as the perfect intersessor. “They may not feel comfortable talking to God – but they can speak to the Virgin. She is the mother figure. When they are so far from home, they need a mother figure,” Read-Wahidi said.
Father Michael McAndrew, CsSR, has been working in Hispanic ministry for many years and gives presentations on Juan Diego’s experience. “When Juan Diego does not want to go to the bishop, Mary tells him ‘am I not here? Am I not your mother? Would your mother not protect you on your journey? I am with you.’”
Read-Wahidi wrote in a journal article that immigrants place their stress in Mary’s hands. “When I asked what people petition the Virgin to help them with, they mentioned: finding work and keeping their jobs, not getting deported or arrested, the health of their family back in Mexico and here in the United States, the safety of family members who were making the journey across the border, and their own safe return back home.”
These prayers offer relief from the stress of their everyday lives. “They are seen as outsiders. They are not equal (here). They have the experience of racism, It is a way to remind themselves that in the eyes of the Virgin, all people are equal,” said Read-Wahidi. This idea has spread to other immigrants through public celebrations surrounding the feast.
Every year on or around the Dec. 12 feast day, immigrants across Mississippi leave the safety of their homes and churches to take their mother to the streets and celebrate her love and protection. Celebrations include processions, hours-long traditional Aztec dances, meals and liturgy. Everyone, especially other immigrants are welcome. In this way, the celebration in America is unique. Instead of being only a Mexican feast, it is a feast for all. “They make the celebration public – it is taken out into the streets. It gives the Mexican community a chance to share her (the Virgin). They enjoy seeing other people embrace her,” explained Read-Wahidi.
“We make processions because we know as a people we are walking in life, we are on a journey – we are walking to heaven, to God,” said Sister Gonzalez.
The celebrations are a sharp contrast to daily life for immigrants. They spend most of their lives trying to avoid attention. But for the feast, they come out in droves. Father Murphy said 300 people attended one procession in northeast Mississippi. “They will come straight from the fields. This will be the end of the sweet potato harvest so they will come with the dust still on them, but they will come and celebrate,” said Father Murphy.
“The best of liturgy does not represent, it re-presents the truth,” said Father Murphy. “This celebration is good liturgy. Who does (Our Lady of) Guadalupe appear to? The lowest of the low,” he said. Asking Mary to intercede offers a powerful conduit to Jesus since, in Our Lady of Guadalupe, “the mother of our savior is the mother of the poor.”
(See page 13 for a schedule of celebrations for this year.)

Diocese partners with Givelify app

JACKSON – Donors can now give to the Diocese of Jackson through an app on their tablet or phone. Givelify is available on the Apple and Google Play download centers. Users create their own secure account and can then donate in a few taps. The diocese will take care of tax documentation.
The Office of Stewardship and Development decided to use the Seminarian Education Challenge for the launch of Givelify for the diocese. Other organizations will be added later. The Seminarian Education Challenge is an effort to raise $100,000 in one year to help pay for tuition for diocesan seminarians. “This app is a very cost effective option for the diocese and will let people give from wherever they are,” explained Rebecca Harris, director of Stewardship and Development for the diocese. “We are always looking for ways to make it easy for people to support the causes that mean a lot to them. Online and mobile giving are great ways to get people involved,” she added.
To download the app, search for Givelify in the application store on a device. The download is free. Once you have the app, open it and search for Catholic Diocese of Jackson and look for a photo of Bishop Joseph Kopacz with the seminarians.

2017 Diocese of Jackson Seminarians

The Diocese of Jackson currently has 10 men in discernment for the priesthood serving in parishes or studying at one of three seminaries. Please keep them in your prayers. Anyone interested in learning more about vocations in our diocese can find contacts and details on the vocations page of the website: www.http://jacksondiocese.org/about/offices/vocations/

Deacons to be ordained May 31, 2018
Deacon Nicholas Adam
Deacon Aaron Williams

Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans, La
Mark Shoffner
Adolfo Suarez Pasillas
César Sánchez Fermín
Franklin Eke
Andrew Nguyen

Sacred Heart Seminary, Franklin, Wis.
Carlisle Beggerly

St. Joseph Seminary College, St. Benedict, La.
Andrew Bowden
Tristan Stovall

L-R bottom: Adolfo Suarez Pasillas, Mark Shoffner, Deacon Nicholas Adam, Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Deacon Aaron Williams, Andrew Nguyen, 2nd and 3rd row Andrew Bowden, Franklin Eke, group of Knights of Columbus 2nd row on left Tristan Stovall.

Purple Dress Run

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Thursday, Oct. 19, runners took the streets of downtown Jackson decked out in purple dresses to benefit Catholic Charities’ domestic violence shelter. In its sixth year, the 5-K run lets runners and walkers have a little fun with their exercise.
Purple is the advocacy color for domestic violence and October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Many runners and walkers wear purple dresses to in honor of women who suffer or those who have ‘run’ from their abusers. Iconic downtown restaurant Hal and Mal’s hosts a gathering before and after the race, which winds around the capitol and through the streets of downtown as the sun sets.
Bishop Joseph Kopcaz kicked off the race with prayer and then handed out water at the turn by the capitol building. Bands from Jackson Prep and Madison St. Joseph High School played along the route to give the runners inspiration.


MSU Bulldog, Father Burke Masters to headline Journey of Hope dinner, luncheon

JACKSON – Catholic Charities is pleased to welcome Father Burke Masters to this year’s Journey of Hope meet-and-greet on Monday, Nov. 6 at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and then to the Journey of Hope lunch the following day, Tuesday, Nov. 7, at the Jackson convention complex.
The two-day Journey of Hope event is one of the biggest fund-raisers staged by Catholic Charities every year. The Monday evening meet-and-greet is $25 per person and runs from 6-8 p.m. This gathering gives people a chance to get up close with the speaker and get a preview of the luncheon event. The lunch starts at noon and is free to anyone. Table captains host attendees, inviting them to make an offering at the end of the program. Michael Thomas, development director for Catholic Charities makes the promise every year to keep the event to an hour so working people can always attend.
Father Masters has strong ties to Mississippi – he was part of the Mississippi State Bulldog baseball team that played in the College World Series and was nominated as one of the top student athletes in the college’s history. His vocation story is unusual since he was not raised Catholic. According to an interview he gave to Our Sunday Visitor in 2016, he went to a Catholic high school in his home state of Illinois because it offered strong academics and the opportunity to further his ambition of becoming a professional baseball player.
Father Masters became Catholic his senior year of high school, but continued to pursue baseball, earning accolades throughout his college career. God, it would seem, had other plans. He played for one professional team, tried his hand at team management and then went into the business world. He had a girlfriend and was living what he thought was a pretty normal life. He told OSV his call to the priesthood started when his girlfriend took him to Eucharistic adoration for the first time. He describes it as God’s gentle, persistent call.
After seminary, he worked in parishes in the Diocese of Joliet, Ill. Now, he is on the vocations team, helping other young men respond to God’s call to the priesthood. He also serves as the chaplain to the Chicago Cubs so he can stay connected to his love for baseball.
Tickets for the meet-and-greet are still available as are positions for table captains and seats at the luncheon. Contact Julie O’Brien at 601-326-3758 to purchase or reserve a place at both events.


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: fran.lavelle@jacksondiocese.org