School theme: Living as Missionary Disciples: embrace, serve, inspire

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Hundreds of Catholic School students returned to their classrooms the first and second weeks of August, but the work for administrators, faculty and staff started weeks prior to that. This year the Diocese of Jackson welcomes five new principals while another two administrators move into new leadership positions. The Office of Education is also working on unifying the Jackson area schools as one system and bringing all Catholic schools together with a shared vision and mission.
Natchez Cathedral and Greenville St. Joseph Unit schools as well as Clarksdale St. Elizabeth and Meridian St. Patrick hired new principals. Within the system, Dena Kinsey moved into the role of principal at Madison St. Joseph School while Jennifer David moved to Jackson St. Richard School as principal. Meet the new principals on page 9.
Earlier this year, a representative from the Pacific Institute Education Initiative came to offer a workshop called “Thought Patterns for Higher Performance.” Principals and a school representative from each school across the diocese attended a two-day session in July. The workshop focused on recognizing and changing thought patterns that hold people back from doing new things that might improve their lives.
Catherine Cook, superintendent of Catholic Education said offering the workshop was a starting point in her plan of uniting all the schools with one vision moving forward. “This was about inspiring leadership, getting everyone on the same page with a clear vision,” said Cook. “We wanted to provide them with the tools to take that vision and move forward with it,” she added. A coach from the institute will come back in September. The institute interviewed principals before the process started and will follow up with them during the year.
Cook explained that her office is leading an effort this year to help all the schools in the diocese become a more unified system. One means is through system-wide accreditation through AdvancEd, an agency formed from a merger of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) with North Central Association and the later addition of Northwest Accreditation Commission. Initially, only the high schools were accredited by SACS, and later individual elementary schools applied for accreditation.
“This system (diocesan) accreditation will bring all of our schools into the one accrediting agency. AdvancEd recognizes the National Catholic School Standards that were developed by a task force of Catholic school educators and supporters in communication with the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and promulgated in March 2012,” explained Cook. “Whereas, previously our schools met the general school standards of accreditation with the freedom to have Catholic identity as an ‘add on’ component, this system-wide accreditation using the NCSS will integrate Catholic identity into our standards of operation,” she added.
Cook has asked each school to revisit its mission statement with an eye to making sure it is still appropriate and fits with the diocesan vision and Pastoral Priorities as well as the mission statement for the Office of Education. That work will be ongoing throughout the school year.
In addition to working with administrators, The Office of Education and the Department of Faith Formation offered retreats to faculty and staff at schools in Columbus, Jackson, Greenville, Meridian and Vicksburg. The schools in Holly Springs, Greenwood, Natchez and Southaven hosted their own spiritual kick-offs to the year.
The diocesan theme for the year is Living as Missionary Disciples: embrace, serve and inspire. Living as missionary disciples is what the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops selected as the catechetical theme for this year. The embrace, serve and inspire statement comes from the new vision statement for the Diocese of Jackson: embrace diversity, serve others, inspire disciples.
“When we select a theme, we always look around at what is going on in the life of the Church as a whole,” explained Cook. “We looked at the USCCB theme and it fit perfectly with the new Pastoral Priorities and the vision statement, so we saw an opportunity to tie it all together.”
Karla Luke, assistant superintendent for Catholic Schools, attended the retreat in Jackson, held at the Mississippi Ag Museum. “We learned how our different roles connect to our theme — what does it mean to live as a missionary disciple as a cafeteria worker or teacher or office staff,” said Luke. Fran Lavelle, director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson and Abbey Schuhmann, coordinator for youth ministry for the diocese, planned the retreats. In Jackson, they offered activities to help the staff and faculty from Jackson Sister Thea Bowman and St. Richard as well as Madison St. Anthony and St. Joseph Schools get to know one another better, including a pocket and purse scavenger hunt.
The spiritual component of the day centered on the missionary disciple theme for the year. Kim Brown, counselor at Jackson St. Richard said she enjoyed the day. “I felt like I am part of a bigger mission. It’s not just us at St. Richard – it’s the diocese and Catholic education overall. I am part of that bigger mission so I have a responsibility to do my very best.” She is also looking forward to working with other area schools. “You know, we work in our own little silos, so it’s nice to know there are others out there doing what we do. It was great to put faces to names,” said Brown.

Catholic Extension honors St. Gabriel Center

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Saint Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou is getting national recognition thanks to Catholic Extension. The center is one of eight finalists in the running for the Lumen Christi Award.
The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Chicago-based organization, the leading national supporter of missionary work in poor and remote parts of the United States. St. Gabriel fits that description perfectly. Situated in Mound Bayou, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, the center offers hope and assistance to one of the poorest communities in the state.
Mound Bayou was once a thriving center for black commerce – founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. The town boasted of cotton mills, manufacturing businesses, even a hospital that treated African-Americans from across the state. A National Public Radio report from March, 2017 told the history of the town. In the story, Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, said desegregation and the promise of better jobs lured away the population and led to the overall decline of the community. The mills closed, the hospital shut down. Empty properties began to fall apart. Once a town of 9,000, the population now hovers around 1,500.
The Catholic Church has been a presence in the community since St. Gabriel chapel opened in 1949. A school followed. As the years went by and the population dwindled, St. Gabriel had to re-invent itself. The school closed in 1990, but the Mercy Center opened to provide resources to the community. The parish closed in 2013.
Sisters of Mercy ran the operation until 2015 when a group of Franciscan Sisters of Charity took over administration. “In many ways, our St. Gabriel Mercy Center is a hub for outreach services that accommodate the people of Mound Bayou and the surrounding areas throughout Bolivar County,” said Sister Monica Mary DeQuardo, current executive director.
She works with a team of locals to anticipate and offer what the people in the community want and need. “Our services are professional, and delivered simply – completely dependent on volunteers, donations, grants and effective and efficient management. Thus, our present programs … offer a variety of adult educational services – at no expense to our patrons.
“We have a computer lab; General Education Diploma training, Parents as Teachers, senior outreach, a sewing program and the Delta Boutique,” she added. The staff offers emergency assistance for food and utilities and a thrift store.
Sister said there are signs of hope in the town once known as the “jewel of the Delta.” A clinic has opened to once again provide medical care. Most of the staff is from the town – in fact, several senior administrators at St. Gabriel have moved back to the town after living elsewhere.
The next project on the center’s list: adult education and tutoring. As the staff assisted parents they realized many adults in the community struggle with literacy.
When a youth group from the Diocese of Biloxi came to visit a couple summers ago, the board of directors set them to work converting the old church building into classrooms for an expanded adult literacy program. The work continued in April when a group from Maine came to offer service. “Though the edifice is still standing empty because we have not been able to secure a grant for furniture,” said Sister DeQuardo. If St. Gabriel wins the Lumen Christi Award, Catholic Extension will provide $25,000 to help with the effort.
The Latin phrase “Lumen Christi,” taken from the Easter Vigil, means “Light of Christ.” Since 1978, the award has honored individuals or groups who demonstrate how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. “Our Lumen Christi finalists have answered Pope Francis’ call to all Catholics to be ‘missionary disciples’ and are proclaiming and living the Gospel in America’s ‘peripheries,'” said Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension. “They are an example to all of us.”
Winners will be announced in the fall.

Bishop seeks candidates for permanent diaconate

JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz has asked pastors for candidates for a new class of permanent deacons for the Diocese of Jackson.
A permanent deacon fulfils a ministry of service, proclaimng the word, visiting the sick, serving the poor and doing the work assigned him by the local bishop. Deacons are ordained, but do not act in the same capacity as priests. They can perform weddings, baptisms and funerals, but cannot offer Masses.
A permanent deacon can be married or single, but cannot enter into marriage once ordained. A married deacon will promise not to re-marry if he is widowed.
Preparation for the diaconate takes five years and includes both academic study and spiritual formation. If a candidate is married, his wife should be a supportive part of his ministry. Last year, six men were ordained deacons. Most serve at their home parishes. One, Deacon Denzil Lobo, serves as the ecclesial minister for Jackson Christ the King Parish.
Men interested in the ministry should speak to their pastors. A pastor must recommend someone for candidacy. The applications are lengthy and are due to the chancery by August 31.

BATESVILLE –St. Mary Parish welcomed new pastor, Father Pradeep Kumar Thirumalareddy, with a parish brunch after he celebrated his first Mass in the parish on June 11. Father Pradeep came from his home in India to serve in the Diocese of Jackson. The parish also celebrated his June 14 birthday. (Photo by Robin Ridge)

Seminarian Adolfo Suarez Pasillas admitted to candidacy for ordination

CLEVELAND – Seminarian Adolfo Suarez Pasillas was admitted to candidacy for ordination on Saturday, May 20, at Our Lady of Victories Parish. Bishop Joseph Kopacz was in Cleveland for Confirmation so the parish was able to celebrate both vocational events on one day. Suarez will be ordained as a transitional deacon next spring. Admission is when he formally asks the bishop to consider him for ordination. (Photo courtesy of Jenifer Jenkins)

History of Saltillo mission focus of new book

(Editor’s note: Msgr. Michael Flannery has penned a book, “Saltillo Mission,” detailing the history of collaboration between the Diocese of Jackson and the missions in Saltillo, Mexico. Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit Madison St. Anthony school. Father Michael O’Brien offers the following review.)
By Father Michael O’Brien

The cover of Msgr. Michael Flannery’s book features Perpetual Help Church, the main parish for more than 30 years. While the Diocese of Jackson no longer sends pastors or youth groups to the missions, the church in Mississippi still takes up a collection and Bishop Joseph Kopacz has visited several times.

Inspired by the Second Vatican Council and the call for the “first world” to reach out to the “third world” and share their resources, Father Patrick Quinn was selected by then Bishop Joseph Brunini to open a mission for the diocese of Natchez-Jackson in Saltillo, Mexico. Msgr. Mike Flannery’s book chronicles the history of this mission since its inception in 1969 to the present day (2017). As a young priest Father Flannery spent three wonderful years (1971-1974) working with Father Quinn at the mission. His book captures the excitement, challenges, faith and creative spirit of this great mission and particularly the charisma and vision of Father Patrick Quinn. The mission in Saltillo was, in my opinion, the most significant and inspiring program ever undertaken by the Catholic community in Mississippi.
Father Patrick Quinn was truly an amazing priest. He made everyone feel special and loved. He particularly loved the poor. He loved America and especially Mississippi. He loved his native Ireland, but he laid down his life every day for the people of Saltillo, Mexico. He served as pastor of four churches in the city and approximately 50 mission churches in the surrounding mountain villages. He built 2,250 cinder block homes for poor families. He established the “Saltillo Summer Program” where high school and college youth from Mississippi and beyond were invited to spend a week at the mission. More than 20,000 youth participated in this program over a 40-year period. It was a life-changing experience for most of them as they experienced poverty, faith and the rich Mexican culture.
The mission inspired many vocations, both in Saltillo and at home in America. Father Serio Balderas from Saltillo is serving as pastor of St. Elizabeth parish in Ocean Springs. Father Quinn’s ministry continues through him in Mississippi. Many young priests from our diocese served with Father Quinn in Saltillo. They learned to speak Spanish and it has laid the foundation for our present outreach ministry to the Hispanic community in Mississippi.
Two years ago, a reporter from Saltillo, Jesus Salas Cortes wrote a book on the life of Father Quinn. Father Flannery’s book builds on this and compliments it nicely. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Father Quinn and 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the mission. Writing this book “Saltillo Mission” is a wonderful way to celebrate these occasions.
Finally, a personal story. I was at home in Ireland one summer about 30 years ago. I stopped at Father Quinn’s home in Ballaghlea, Co. Galway. Father Quinn was at the table working. I asked him later what he was doing. He told me he was writing Christmas cards (in July) to all the supporters of his mission in Saltillo. Even on his vacation in Ireland, when he should be visiting with family or playing golf, he was thinking about his poor parishioners at his mission in Mexico!
This book is filled with inspiring stories, life-changing stories, faith stories, and stories told by many of the priests and lay people who visited and worked at the mission in Saltillo, Mexico.
The book is available at the chancery office on Amite Street in Jackson, Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish, the Carmelite Monastery gift shop on Terry Road in Jackson and Downtown Marketplace, Main Street, Yazoo City.
Father Flannery is also planning to bring the book to the Diocese of Bioxi later in the fall to offer at several parishes and the chancery office there. The cost is $15 plus shipping.
(Father Michael O’Brien is the pastor of Canton Sacred Heart Parish.)

Knights of Columbus offer sweet treat to Hope Haven

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Knights of Columbus throughout Mississippi hold Tootise Roll drives during the year to raise money for people with intellectual disabilities. It may seem like a small gesture, but when all the knights join forces, their work has a substantial impact.
On Tuesday, July 11, Jim McCraw, the past state deputy, presented a check to Hope Haven at Catholic Charities headquarters in Jackson. Hope Haven is a residential program for teens in crisis. It offers temporary shelter as well as counseling and a way for families to get back on track.
The donation could not have come at a more perfect time. “Each year Knights’ councils nation wide host fundraising drives for people with intellectual disabilities – the tootsie roll drive is kind of our mainstay — and the councils in Mississippi do the same thing,” said McCraw. “Seventy-five percent of what the council raises goes back to an agency of their choosing, but 25 percent of that money is pooled together collectively and the board of directors identifies 501c3 agencies throughout Mississippi that we fund,” said McCraw. “This year, with the budget cuts that have happened, particularly in the area of mental health we felt like this Hope Haven program is a very worthwhile thing to get some of that money so we set aside $2,500 to go to that,” he added.
Michelle Hamilton is the program director for Hope Haven. She explained that the service aims to be a turning point for young people and families facing mental health crises. “They stay for 14 days at a time. We are a crisis residential so they come and receive individual and group therapy and then they move on to a longer-term placement,” said Hamilton. In addition to treating the teens, counselors offer sessions with the parents while the teens are staying at Hope Haven. Once the 14 days are done, counselors don’t just release the teens, they work with the family on the next appropriate step. It might be a different in-patient program or out-patient counseling or perhaps a counselor will make home visits.
This way, the teens and their families have a new path forward.
This year has been hard for all Mississippi mental health programs because of drastic budgets cuts coming from the legislature. “General funding by Medicaid has been cut and it has greatly affected us. Currently we have seven residents, so we are full,” said Hamilton.
Hope Haven is just one of many programs at Catholic Charities facing steep cuts. Directors hope to maintain as many services as they can, but many of these programs are already working on lean budgets. “We don’t like to turn anyone away,” said Amy Turner, director for childrens’ services. Learn more about Catholic Charities programming on their website,

Social Justice workshops announced

JACKSON – Sue Allen, Coordinator for Parish Social Justice Programs has announced a series of Social Justice workshops for the diocese called “Living our Faith.” Any parish representative is welcome at any workshop. They are aimed at helping parishes form Faith in Action Teams to embrace and support Catholic Social Teaching in their communities. The workshops will include an overview of Catholic Social Teaching as well as suggestions for how to do outreach and advocacy projects.
There is no charge, but representatives should register so organizers have enough materials on hand. Contact Sue Allen to register by email at

The workshops are all on Saturday
mornings, from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

  • September 16 St. Therese, Jackson
  • September 23 St. Elizabeth, Clarksdale
  • September 30 Sacred Heart, Louisville
  • October 14 St. Francis of Assisi, Greenwood
  • October 28 St. Helen, Amory
  • November 4 St. Alphonsus, McComb

Calendar of events

BROOKSVILLE Dwelling Place Retreat Center, Associate Weekend, August 18-20. It will be a time to share our common vision and ministry, support one another in prayer, renew our commitments for another year, welcome new friends & plan for the future. Begins with supper at 6:30. Details: (662) 738-5348 or email
CULLMAN, Ala. Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center, Introduction to Centering Prayer, September 1-3. This workshop/retreat is designed for those new to centering prayer and silence is required. Details: (256) 734-8302, or
TUPELO St. James, Catholic Book Club, meets the second Wednesday of each month at noon in the library. The next meeting is September 13. The selection will be “The Complete Father Brown Mysteries” by G.K. Chesterton. Details: church office (662) 842-4881.
VICKSBURG St. Michael “You Can Understand the Bible,” Sundays at 9:45 a.m. The Bible Timeline is a Catholic Bible study that can help you make sense of the Bible. Facilitators: Karla and David McHan. Details: contact Karla at or the church office, (601) 636-3445.
GRENADA St. Peter, Save the Date, Saturday, October 7, Adult Retreat. More details will be forthcoming. Details: church office (662) 226-2490.

CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories, July Fellowship Luncheon at A La Carte on Court Street, Tuesday, July 25 at 11 a.m. Details: Ellen Duplantis, (662) 402-9722.
JACKSON St. Richard, Diocesan Church History Course: Level II, 9:30 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. on the following Tuesdays in August: 15, 22 and 29. Facilitator: Mary Louise Jones. The class will use The Catholic Church through the Ages by John Vidmar, OP. Details: church office (601) 366-2335.
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi, Discovering Christ 2017, begins Thursday, September 7, and lasts for seven weeks. An opportunity to deepen your faith and grow closer to your fellow parishioners. Free and includes a meal and live music. Complimentary child care is provided. Space is limited so register early. Details: (601) 856-5556, or
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Knights of Columbus spaghetti dinner to benefit, family life center, Sunday August 20, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Eat in or take out. Details: church office (601) 445-5616.
– Natchez Convention Center, Mae and Friends’ 10th Annual Lemonade Stand, Friday, July 28 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Selling lemonade, cookies, pottery and t-shirts. All proceeds benefit the Natchez-Adams County Society of Mississippi Spray and Neuter “Natchez Fund”. Details: Basilica church office (601) 445-5616.
ROBINSONVILLE Save the Date, Tunica National Golf and Tennis, 1 Champions Lane, 11th Annual Coahoma Community College Morgan Freeman Scholarship Gold Tournament, Friday, October 27, Details: LaShasa Griffin, (662) 621-4146, or
TUPELO St. James, Benefit Concert for the Eschete Family, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, Saturday, August 26, in Shelton Hall, 7-9 p.m. Social hour from 6-7 p.m. which will include hors d’ouevres and beverages. Eight or more classically trained musicians and vocalists will perform. Tickets are $20 for ages 12+; children under 12 are $5. Childcare available. All proceeds will go to the Eschete Family. Details: Keith Merritt at (662) 322-1427 or David Friloux at (662) 213-3742

MADISON St. Anthony School, Bruin Burn 5K race, benefitting St. Joseph School Booster Club. The course winds through Madison, ending at Saint Anthony Catholic School. Details: Christy Campbell, (601) 209-4619,
St. Anthony School, 3rd – 6th graders interested in playing football. Details: Sean Meredith or Scott Glorioso at
TUPELO St. James, Homework, July 26-29. Open to youth going into grades 6-12. They will have games, service projects, guest speakers, and more. There is no cost. Details: Dori Stearns, (662) 842-4881 or

DUBUQUE, Iowa. Two Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) who served in the Diocese of Jackson will celebrate diamond jubilees in the Mount Carmel Motherhouse Chapel in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sept. 10, with a liturgy of thanksgiving. They entered the BVM congregation on Sept. 8, 1947. They professed first vows on March 19, 1950, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1955.

Sister Mary Paul Francis Bailey

Sister Mary Paul Francis Bailey, BVM (Luellen) was born in Springfield, Ill. Sister taught at Immaculate Conception ES/HS in Clarksdale, Miss. Sister is retired and lives at Mount Carmel, Dubuque.





Sister Granville Jeanne

Sister Jean Granville, BVM (Suzette) was born in St. Louis. She was principal at Holy Ghost School in Jackson. Sister is retired and lives at Mount Carmel, Dubuque.
To send a congratulatory message to either sister on her jubilee or to donate to the BVM congregation on behalf of these sisters, please go to



Father Noonan remembered for pranks, devotion to people of Mississippi

By Maureen Smith
FLOWOOD – On Friday, July 7, Catholics from across the diocese gathered to remember and honor Father Patrick Joseph Noonan at his funeral Mass at St. Paul Parish.

FLOWOOD – St. Paul Parish overflowed with people for the funeral Mass for Father Patrick Noonan on Friday, July 7. Father Noonan died after a very short battle with cancer. On display at the funeral was a just-completed portrait of Father Noonan (inset at left). Artist Craig West painted the image for the Moorehead family, who requested it just a few weeks ago. West worked from photographs, but said he wanted to capture Father Noonan’s familiar expression. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

People sat and stood in every available space of the church, spilling out into the vestibule. Father Noonan died Tuesday, July 4, after a short battle with cancer. He was born in Kilcoora, Broadford, Co. Limerick, Ireland on January 23, 1937, son of the late Michael and Johanna Noonan.
Father Gerry Hurley remembered his friend as a joyful prankster who once got into an informal competition with a fellow Irish pastor for who could appear most in the pages of Mississippi Catholic. Father Hurley also noted that Father Noonan, who took a sabbatical during his ministry, would encourage his brother priests to rest and take care of themselves. The parish hosted a lively reception, something of an Irish wake, immediately following the Mass.
Father Noonan was the fourth of five boys raised on a dairy farm. He attended the local school, Raheenagh National School, after which he went on to St. Munchins College in Limerick. From there, he moved to major seminary at Clonliffe in Dublin, and later transferred to St. Patrick’s Seminary in Thurles where he began to study for what was then the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson.
Father Noonan was ordained on June 9, 1963, at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles Co. Tipperary. He arrived in the diocese on September 4, 1963, and shortly thereafter took up his first assignment at St. James in Mississippi City.
After five years, he moved to Natchez St. Mary, then the cathedral, and became pastor two years later at Chatawa St. Teresa. In April 1972, he became pastor of Greenwood Immaculate Heart of Mary. In June 1978, he became pastor of Jackson St. Mary, and after 10 years of service, he took a sabbatical at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.
In January 1989, Father Noonan became pastor of Canton Sacred Heart, and two years later added the care of Carthage St. Anne. In 1992, he also added the pastoral care of Canton Holy Child Jesus. In January 2001, he was appointed pastor of Brookhaven St. Francis of Assisi and Sacramental Minister of Meadville St. Ann Mission.
On January 31, 2008, he retired from active ministry, but continued to serve by filling in for brother priests on most weekends. Father Noonan spent 54 years in service of the Catholic Church in Mississippi. He touched the lives of many in every parish in which he served. He is mourned by dear friends throughout the state and beyond. The lilt of Irish laughter, and his wit and humor endeared him to so many. He will be greatly missed in the Magnolia state.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Seamus, and his sisters-in-law, Breda, Mairead and Nora. He is survived by his brothers, David, Michael and Donal, seven nieces, and five nephews, all of whom looked forward to his annual summer vacation in Ireland. He was buried in Ireland.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Our Daily Bread Feeding Ministry, P.O. Box 1021, Canton, MS 39046.

Jubilee blessings abound