New Format for Spring Hill College Master of Theology

050115springhillMOBILE, Ala. – Spring Hill College (SHC) has redesigned its Master of Theological Studies, (MTS) Master of Pastoral Studies (MPS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees in a new blended format of on-line courses and in-classroom experiences.  More than 30 years ago Spring Hill College offered its first graduate degree program in the Diocese of Jackson and since then numerous Mississippians have earned Master of Theology degrees from SHC.  The school also offers extension classes in Atlanta and Birmingham.
Spring Hill is still committed to this mission. In response to a desire from students not near the centers of Jackson, Birmingham, Mobile and Atlanta, Spring Hill has redesigned its graduate theology programs to be accessible to more people in more areas. The new program will require students entering the program to take at least three Level I courses, which are hybrid courses requiring just one six-hour in-classroom session on a Saturday in either Mobile or Atlanta.
After completing these courses, the student will take fully on-line Level II courses. While taking Level II courses, and before completing their program, students will be required to attend three graduate seminars. These seminars will meet in Mobile and Atlanta for one overnight stay from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon or Saturday noon through Sunday noon.
Students from anywhere in the southeastern U.S. would only have to travel to Mobile or to Atlanta six times in total during the course of the entire program. Both the MTS and MPS require a total of 33 credit hours.  The MA requires 48 and builds on the MTS degree.
This new blended program allows students to earn an academically rigorous theology degree in the convenience of their own home and time schedule. At the same time, the program provides targeted in-classroom meetings for the students in the program to build a learning community with other students and with the faculty.

Masters champion, product of Dallas Jesuit prep school, remains humble


U.S. golfer Jordan Spieth hugs his father, Shawn, as his mother, Chris, looks on April 12 after the 21-year-old won the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia. Spieth attended St. Monica’s Catholic School in Dallas and graduated in 2011 from Jesuit College Prep in Dallas. (CNS photo/Mark Blinch, Reuters)


By Seth Gonzales
DALLAS (CNS) – Even after becoming the toast of the sports world, golfer Jordan Spieth, a 21-year-old Dallas Jesuit graduate, remained humble and down-to-earth as he worked the crowds at Augusta, handled the media, and bantered with morning and late night talk show hosts after his historic win.
That’s no surprise to those who know the new Masters champion, who set course records at Augusta, Georgia, from April 9-12 on his way to the coveted prize and the iconic green blazer. They say he has kept family first, especially his younger sister, Ellie, who is autistic.
“He is just very genuine,” said Steve Koch, athletic director at Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas, which claims Spieth as a graduate of its class of 2011. “He says what he believes. He believes in supporting others, taking care of others before he takes care of himself.”
Michael Earsing, the president of the Jesuit school, said that the foundation of family, balance and caring for others has no doubt created a different perspective for Spieth, one that will serve him well after winning the Masters.
“We talk about Ignatian balance in everything we do and I think Jordan and his family are a really good example of that balance,” Earsing told The Texas Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Dallas. “When we talk about balance, we talk about love. We talk about how much he loves his sister, someone he loves and who has kept him grounded. We talk about how important life is to all of us as Catholics. What a wonderful thing.”050115golf01
At the Masters, Spieth became the second-youngest player to win and was the first to reach 19 under par in the tournament. His 28 birdies in the four rounds at the Masters is a tournament record. He also logged the best scores after 36 and 54 holes. And if that were not enough, he is only the fifth player in tournament history to lead from start to finish. He finished 18-under par, 270.
Spieth is now ranked as the second-best golfer in the world behind Rory McIlroy, and is watching his already rising status accelerate significantly. Spieth’s win at the Masters has inspired the Dallas Jesuit community, but perhaps none more so than the school’s golf team, which was preparing for a regional tournament during the Masters tournament.
Jesuit golfer Cameron Suhy said the team members were constantly checking their phones to get the latest on Spieth, who only four years ago was in their shoes playing golf for Jesuit. “It was pretty nerve-wracking the whole week just watching him having to sit on the lead but when he finally pulled it out, it definitely gave our team a lot of confidence,” Suhy said. “We saw that a kid from Jesuit could win on golf’s biggest stage.” During his time at Jesuit, Spieth led the team to three Class 5A state titles in the University Interscholastic League.
Jesuit golf coach Cathy Marino, herself a 10-year veteran of the LPGA, said while Spieth definitely stood out on the golf course, he was just a normal teenager.
“When he was on the team, he was one of the guys,” Marino said. “He was a regular high school kid a lot of the time and I was glad to see that. I think that’s important especially once you turn pro and it becomes a business.”
For Spieth, the Masters win brought him a paycheck of $1.8 million. He already has an endorsement deal with Under Armour and there is talk that other lucrative endorsement deals are in the works.
He was on various morning shows and late night shows April 13 and April 14. Unlike other Masters champions who take the week off following the tournament, Spieth said that he would play the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, South Carolina, April 16-19 because he wanted to give back to the tournament that was good to him when he turned pro.
That loyalty is not surprising for those who see Spieth on the national stage. They say he is the same young man with the same value system that he had embraced at Dallas Catholic schools, including his elementary school, St. Monica Catholic School.
“Jordan was always respectful to staff and students alike,” said Colette Corbin of the school’s Student Services Department. “He was one of those kids that would just stay and help clean up in the cafeteria if he saw that I was short on students helping. He was considerate of others’ feelings and tried to include other students that might otherwise not be part of a group.”
And Jesuit’s Earsing said Spieth will be an inspiration for students, parents and teachers in Dallas Catholic schools.
“I think it’s a hope of everybody who works in Catholic education that you see somebody who is achieving at such a high level, who is also a wonderful model for our students,” Earsing said. “Jordan is just the common man who achieves greatness through the blessings and talent God has given him to the maximum.”
(Copyright © 2014 Catholic News Service/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news services may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to, such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method in whole or in part, without prior written authority of Catholic News Service.)
(Gonzales is a staffer writer for The Texas Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Dallas. Texas Catholic staff writer Cathy Harasta contributed to this report.)

In memoriam: Bishop William Friend

Bishop William Benedict Friend, the founding Bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport, died at his home in Coral Springs, Florida, Thursday, April 2.  Born Oct. 22, 1931, in Miami, Bishop Friend was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in Mobile, Ala., on May 7, 1959. He and retired Bishop William Houck of the Diocese of Jackson, were good friends.
After lengthy service as a parish priest and pastoral research specialist, Father Friend was named as Auxiliary Bishop of Alexandria, La., in 1979, becoming bishop of Alexandria in 1983. Under the direction of St. John Paul II, Bishop Friend founded the Diocese of Shreveport in July 1986 and remained bishop of that diocese until his retirement in 2006 after 47 years of active priesthood, 36 of those years serving as a bishop. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy of public speaking, pastoral experience, teaching and educational administration as well as published works on both professional and research levels.
Bishop Houck remembers a joyful man who “lived up to his name,” befriending all who knew him. “He was a capable and dedicated leader. He had a joyful and generous manner of using his values, talents and abilities in service to others,” said Bishop Houck. He added that Bishop Friend was a great supporter of Catholic schools. “He contributed greatly in research and planning, which he used to help the church and society at large,” added Bishop Houck.
“He left me a diocese in wonderful shape,” commented current Shreveport Bishop Michael Duca.  “His many years of work to create an active and dedicated community of priests and lay faithful is a tribute to his enormous skill and pastoral leadership.  All of us within our worship community remain grateful for his ministry to us.”
The Funeral Mass was Tuesday, April 14, at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans located in Shreveport. The diocese has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Catholic Charities.

NCEA keynote links Catholic education with quality of life

Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, speaks about Catholic education to some 5,000 Catholic educators April 7. She delivered the opening keynote address of the annual convention of the National Catholic Educational Association at the Orange County Convention Center. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy)

Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, speaks about Catholic education to some 5,000 Catholic educators April 7. She delivered the opening keynote address of the annual convention of the National Catholic Educational Association at the Orange County Convention Center. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy)

By Tom Tracy
ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) – The head of Catholic Relief Services made the case for Catholic education and Christian beliefs and values by retracing her own roots as a student of American missionaries in Asia through her higher education experiences as an international student in the U.S.
Speaking April 7 to some 5,000 Catholic educators in Orlando for the National Catholic Educational Association convention, Carolyn Woo, CEO and president of the U.S. bishops’ overseas and relief agency, recalled her early education in Hong Kong at a school run by the Maryknoll Sisters.
“The nuns taught us not to compete with each other but to help each other and to become friends,” she said. “Today, I am in almost daily contact with my colleagues from first grade, and so in my life I have been in many competitive contexts but never felt competitive with my peers.”
Woo recalled that as a young member of the Legion of Mary, she would volunteer to work with the poor in Hong Kong, and how the nuns provided them with rudimentary medical care. “I remember how difficult it was to bend down to wash, and touch and smell the feet of these individuals, but I also remember coming back from these service activities and asking, ‘Why them and why not me?’”
Today’s young people, she said, are not so much immoral as they are not given the adequate resources to “cultivate their moral intuitions, to think broadly about moral obligations and to have the tools to evaluate and navigate moral situations.”
She noted that one in five children live below the federal poverty line in families fraught with underemployment, homelessness, failed marriages, highly influenced by the popular media and advertising, violence, bullying, scams, child abuse, sexually transmitted disease and abandonment.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Woo served on the CRS board of directors from 2004 until 2010 and traveled to observe the agency’s program in Africa and Asia, including Banda Aceh, Indonesia, soon after the Indian Ocean tsunami.
She immigrated to the United States to attend Purdue University in Indiana, where she received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. She held various positions at Purdue, ultimately serving as associate executive vice president for academic affairs.
Before becoming head of CRS in January 2012, she had been dean of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame since 1997. She was featured in the May/June 2013 issue of Foreign Policy magazine as one of the 500 “most powerful people on the planet” and one of 33 individuals in the magazine’s “force for good” category.
“In my work at CRS, I have come back full circle and now go to many places where there are no bathrooms and I understand what people have to live with,” said Woo, “and that came from the (Maryknoll) sisters, and from that the sisters helped us to define … what is the common ground in making friends with these people and about dignity of other people.”
Woo said Catholic education is so important because it places a high value on the real value of young people and on raising the next generation with Christian values.

Chicago-based bullying expert Jodee Blanco meets April 8 with participants at the National Catholic Educational Association’s annual convention, held this year in Orlando, Fla. Bullying was a popular workshop topic at the April 7-9 convention. (CNS photo /Tom Tracy)

Chicago-based bullying expert Jodee Blanco meets April 8 with participants at the National Catholic Educational Association’s annual convention, held this year in Orlando, Fla. Bullying was a popular workshop topic at the April 7-9 convention. (CNS photo /Tom Tracy)

“What happens through the many assemblies, retreats, lessons, catechism classes, youth groups, sporting events, extracurricular outings, confessions, the Eucharist, social actions projects, fundraisers, prayer circles, academic balls and so on? Clearly Catholic education is trying to teach students about Christ and Christianity and how this belief forms values and these values inform behavior,” she said.
The “mother of all questions” that Catholic education is transmitting to young people, Woo said, is: How real is God?
Young people have to see faith demonstrated through the actions of adults and church and parish life, Woo added, noting that she was a recipient of great hospitality as a foreign student at Purdue University and benefited from Catholic community support there.
Woo also recalled the value of stopping at chapel for a few minutes of quiet time as a student. That same true hospitality undergirds Catholic values everywhere, she said.
“It’s not just about academic rigor but all the different things that allow us to make God real in the lives of young people,” Woo said. “Think about the big questions that your students are asking at this point.”
“Our job is to help them and provide an environment for them to come to their own answers, where those answers are life-giving, that they don’t rule out possibilities and hope and joy on this earth,” she said, and show students not to give up ethics “thinking that in the end it is the strongest who survive and that it is OK to cheat so long as no one catches you, or to give up on marriage because of a father who walked out.”
(Copyright © 2014 Catholic News Service/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news services may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to, such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method in whole or in part, without prior written authority of Catholic News Service.)
(Editor’s note: The Diocese of Jackson sent several representatives to the NCEA conference. They will share what they learned with schools here.)

World Meeting plans in high gear, diocese seeks more participants

By Matthew Gambino
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) – Organizing for the World Meeting of Families and the visit by Pope Francis to Philadelphia in September has taken a major step forward with the announcement of the 15 committees and leadership charged with spearheading operations in hospitality, liturgy, volunteers and more.
Executives for the events including Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre and Independence Blue Cross CEO Daniel Hilferty, who is a co-chairman of the World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia, unveiled the committees and introduced their chairpersons at the IBX headquarters March 11.
The congress has already registered approximately 7,500 attendees, according to officials. Between 10,000 and 15,000 people from the United States and 150 countries are expected to register for the Sept. 22-25 congress. Up to two million people are also anticipated for the papal events, including a cultural celebration and Mass celebrated by the pope, Sept. 26-27.
The Diocese of Jackson has partnered with Proximo Travel to offer three different trips to the event. Unfortunately, fewer than two dozen people are currently signed up to go. One trip is an eight-day trip by air and includes hotel, most meals, registration to the World Meeting of Families and Mass with Pope Francis. The second trip is five days and includes airfare, hotel rooms, tours of Philadelphia, some meals and Mass, but does not include attendance at the conference. The final trip is a five-day trip by bus which includes Mass with the pope. The bus must be full in order to make the trip so it is important to reserve a seat early. Air travelers can fly out of any airport in the continental United States so parishes in any part of the diocese can arrange to fly out of the airport nearest to them. Exact details of each trip are posted on the Diocesan News section of
“I just think this is such a unique opportunity to get in touch with what we call the one, holy, Catholic church,” said Kami LeVern, of Proximo Travel.
“For some, the chance to see Pope Francis will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she added. As an added bonus, Proximo is donating profits from the trip to Catholic Charities.
The World Meeting of Families, held every three years, will come to the United States for the first time since it was begun by St. John Paul II in 1994. The aim of the congress is to strengthen the bonds of family life and highlight its value to society throughout the world.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said in a statement that he was grateful to the people serving on the committees. “I’m confident that we will create a beautiful and memorable week for our families here in the Philadelphia region – and for families from around the world,” he said.
To join the diocesan trip to the World Meeting of Families, call LeVern at Proximo travel, 855-842-8001.
(Maureen Smith, editor of Mississippi Catholic, contributed to this report.)

Survey reveals millennials’ attitudes about contraception, abortion, family

By Carol Zimmermann
WASHINGTON (CNS) — U.S. millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, don’t want to be pigeonholed into categories.
They are predominantly religiously unaffiliated and not identified by any political party. They are more ethnically and racially diverse than the general population.
This group of 18- to 35-year-olds doesn’t like to be labeled as “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” They mostly approve of the use of contraception and they support policies to make contraception more widely available and affordable. They also have a predominantly positive view of marriage, not viewing it as old-fashioned or out of date.
These findings are from a study released March 27 by the Public Religion Research Institute, which surveyed 2,314 young adults online in February. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. The study, “The 2015 Millennials, Sexuality and Reproductive Health Survey,” looked at how race and religion shape attitudes on these topics.
During a presentation in Washington to review the results, panelists including health care advocates and Robert Jones, the research institute’s CEO, emphasized that today’s young adults tend to form their views on sexuality and reproductive health based on those of friends and family.
They said millennials focus on relationships and tend to take a more liberal view such as supporting same-sex marriage or accepting those who are gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual. The group, as a whole, also tends to be pragmatic. As one panelist pointed out, millennials have always lived in a world where HIV/AIDS exists.
“Experience trumps ideology,” said more than one panelist, noting that often young adults base their opinions on experiences of people they know.
According to the survey, 71 percent of millennials said the use of contraceptives was morally acceptable and 9 percent said it was morally wrong. Fourteen percent said it depends on the situation.
When the survey group was broken down by religious and ethnic traditions, white evangelical Protestants stood out as the only group that views abstinence as more effective than contraceptives.
Seventy-two percent of white Catholics and 74 percent of Hispanic Catholics said an emphasis on safe sexual practices and contraception was more effective than abstinence. The Catholic Church teaches that artificial contraception is morally wrong.
On the issue of abortion, millennials reflect the attitudes of the general public. Fifty-five percent of them said abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Along religious divides, 80 percent of white evangelical Protestants again said abortion should not be legal. Fifty-one percent of white Catholic millennials and 55 percent of Hispanic Catholics said abortion should be legal.
The Catholic Church believes abortion is morally wrong and that human life is sacred from conception onward.
Compared to other ethnic groups, Hispanic millennials exhibited the greatest moral reservations about having an abortion. Forty-five percent of Hispanic millennials said having an abortion is morally wrong, compared to 35 percent of whites, 30 percent of blacks and 23 percent of Asia Pacific Islanders.
The survey also showed that 73 percent of millennials said sexual assault is at least somewhat common on college campuses and 53 percent said such incidents are somewhat common in high schools.
In another reveal, the survey notes that millennials view men who concentrate too much on work as a more serious concern for families than women who have a full-time job. Forty-nine percent of millennials said that family life suffers when men focus too much on their work, compared to 30 percent who said family life suffers when a woman has a full-time job. Sixty-six percent of millennials disagreed that women working full time is a threat to family well-being.
When panelists reviewing the survey were asked what it is millennials, so often described as nonjudgmental, really want, the consensus was that they want what everyone else does: love, support and companionship.

Spirituals, dance moves a testament to joy of new auxiliary bishop

By Peter Finney Jr.
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — Let the record show that never before in the nearly 300-year history of St. Louis Cathedral have Catholics seen a dancing bishop.
But when Bishop Fernand “Ferd” Cheri III, a Franciscan priest and native son, made his first remarks to the nearly 1,000 people gathered for his ordination as auxiliary bishop March 23, the hometown boy in him couldn’t resist breaking into several spirituals and even moving a few body parts.
Very reverently.
Bishop Cheri, 63, spoke briefly after giving Communion to his 87-year-old mother, Gladys, seated proudly in the front pew just six weeks after she had fallen and broken her right hip.
Gladys Cheri’s medical condition hardly fazed her as she jumped to her feet and began twirling a colorful “second line” umbrella — a local custom at celebrations — as Bishop Cheri broke out into song during his remarks before the final blessing.
All of the Cheri ladies — the bishop’s four sisters and his mother — were dressed in red, the episcopal color. Bishop Cheri’s brother Richard, a longtime choir leader, watched from the balcony as he directed the Archdiocese of New Orleans Gospel Choir, established 31 years ago by then-Father Cheri.
“I feel like King David felt when the ark of God was being brought into Jerusalem,” Bishop Cheri said, smiling broadly after being ordained the 11th auxiliary bishop of New Orleans by Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, who heads the archdiocese. He joins the ranks of about a dozen U.S. black Catholic bishops.
Two of those bishops, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta and Bishop J. Terry Steib of Memphis, Tennessee, were co-consecrators. Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Bishop Emeritus Joseph Latino were also on hand.
“Like David, I’m so overjoyed by God’s blessings and God’s grace and God’s mercy. I feel like I have to give a testimony,” Bishop Cheri said.
That drew murmurs from the knowing crowd, many of whom had heard Bishop Cheri speak before in their churches or at Gospel-based revivals.
An organist began playing a few notes, indicating a joyful noise was about to erupt.
It did.
In his remarks, Bishop Cheri used the lyrics of some of his favorite spirituals to express what he was feeling inside. He was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 1978 before transferring to the Franciscans in 1992. His most recent appointment was as director of campus ministry at Quincy University in Illinois, a Franciscan university.
“Lift every voice and sing, to give all praise, all glory and honor to God,” Bishop Cheri said, reciting one song. “For I’ve come — we’ve come — this far by faith … treading a path through the blood of the slaughter. … I feel like singing my song, I feel like singing my song. Yes, I’ve been through a lot, and I’m going with Jesus all the way.”
Citing the lyrics of another spiritual, Bishop Cheri said he wanted to give thanks to the many people who had lifted him up during the toughest moments of his seminary and priestly life. When Bishop Cheri faced several racially charged incidents, he said God allowed him to persevere in his vocation by bringing people into his life, especially members of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, who told him personal stories about what they had endured.
“I want to give thanks to so many who have taught me and ‘brought me along a mighty long way,’” Bishop Cheri said.
After Bishop Cheri returned to his chair to extended applause, Archbishop Aymond turned to the congregation and said: “I think this afternoon we have been to church.”
Earlier, in his homily before the rite of ordination, Archbishop Aymond looked at his fellow Notre Dame Seminary alumnus and said: “Ferd, welcome home!”
From one hometown priest to another, it was a touching, fraternal moment.
Archbishop Aymond thanked Gladys Cheri and her late husband, Fernand Jr., for rearing seven children and helping see to it that all “were brought up in the faith.”
All seven Cheri children attended Catholic elementary and high schools, and all seven earned college degrees while Fernand Jr. made ends meet for his family on a postal carrier’s salary.
“Ferd, we also thank you for your faith and your priestly ministry over the years and for faithfully answering God’s call to serve the church as a servant leader,” Archbishop Aymond said.
Archbishop Aymond also noted that Bishop Cheri followed in the footsteps of the late Auxiliary Bishop Harold R. Perry of New Orleans, who in 1966 became the first African-American Catholic bishop in the United States in the 20th century.
“You bring the richness of the African-American tradition to our church,” Archbishop Aymond said. “Bishop Perry led a prophetic life. Ferd, you have the privilege to walk in his footsteps.”
Archbishop Aymond explained three of the outward signs of the bishop’s office: the ring as a symbol of “unconditional fidelity to Christ and his church”; the miter, a bishop’s headpiece, as a sign of the “call to holiness”; and the crozier, or pastoral staff, representing “Christ the Good Shepherd in whose name he will lead.”
“Ferd, sometimes you will find yourself leaning on the pastoral staff acknowledging your dependence on Jesus, especially when you bear the burdens of God’s people,” Archbishop Aymond said. “When you lean on the crozier, be reminded of your motto, ‘God is My Strength.’” Since so much is expected of a bishop, he said, it may seem like an impossible burden.
“Can you do all of this?” the archbishop asked. “Yes, if you stay close to Jesus the Good Shepherd. As you follow him, you will be able to lead others.
“Ferd, we are here today to pray with you and support you. We also promise to be there tomorrow as you fulfill your important ministry as bishop of the church.“
(Finney is executive editor and general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.)

Abbey Youth Fest celebrates holiness

By Beth Donze
COVINGTON, La. – The time is now for young Catholics to claim the holiness they received at baptism and to live lives of purpose, rather than deferring their life’s mission to some vague time in the future,” said Father Mike Schmitz, addressing 4,700 young people assembled at St. Joseph Seminary grounds March 21 for Abbey Youth Fest. About 120 teenagers from nine parishes across the Diocese of Jackson, as well as Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Vocations Director Father Matthew Simmons, and Kathie Curtis, coordinator of the Office of Youth Ministry, made the trip.
“Some people hear those words “be holy” and (think) there’s no way I could ever do that. I’m disqualified,” said Father Schmitz, chaplain of the University of Minnesota in Duluth. “The reality is that a lot of times we disqualify ourselves because we don’t know what it is to be holy,” he said, noting that this defeatist attitude toward holiness is especially prevalent in the United States, a culture obsessed with performance and competition.
“Holiness is not perfection,” Father Schmitz said. “To be holy is not the same thing as having the letters ‘S-T-period’ in front of your name; holiness is not just performing certain religious things” like all-night vigils, multiple rosaries and daily fasting.
Father Schmitz said God claims his children right now.
“If you’ve been baptized, you are already holy!” he said. “He’s not waiting for you to score the winning goal; he’s not waiting for you to perform; he’s not waiting for you to be ‘better’; and that thing you’re struggling with, that maybe no one else knows about? He’s not waiting for you to beat that in order to claim you. He’s already set you apart for a purpose.”
To hammer home his point, Father Schmitz displayed a priest’s chalice, a vessel which despite its dulled luster and dents had been set apart for a holy purpose: holding the precious blood of Christ.
Father Schmitz has observed in his ministry as a college chaplain that although there exist many young “people of mission” who strive to live lives of purpose – by going to Mass, cultivating prayer and helping neighbors in need – too many use their youth as an excuse to drift through life. They typically say, “I don’t know why I did that” when pressed on what led them to sublimate their holiness and choose bad behaviors.
“A lot of times we live on accident,” said Father Schmitz, citing biblical examples of people who lived lives of purpose from a young age. King David of the Old Testament is one who embraced his mission early on by using his work as a protective shepherd as preparation to slay Goliath, he said.
“So often, when someone’s just a kid, even if they’ve been given the power of the Holy Spirit, even if they’ve been given a mission, even if they’ve been given a life that’s supposed to be lived on purpose, they say, ‘Later on I’ll start living on purpose; later on I’ll start living on mission; later on I’ll start living with meaning,’” Father Schmitz observed. But David knew that “later doesn’t exist. All I’ve got is right now. This time, this moment, this hour.”
“Jesus walked up to teenagers and he said, ‘Hey, you! Come follow me! Do you want to live on purpose or do you want to live on accident? Do you want to live with a mission or do you want to live just drifting through life?’” Father Schmitz said, turning his attention to the young people before him.
“The hour has come for you today to start living on purpose. You’re already holy! You’re already sanctified! You’re already justified! You’re already set apart for a purpose!”
Abbey Youth Fest also featured a keynote by singer-songwriter Jackie Francois Angel, live music, a fair of religious exhibitors, outdoor confession and a culminating Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gregory Aymond. Rain cut short the day’s traditional candlelight adoration. The annual event is coordinated by seminarians at St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College.
(Beth Donze is a staff writer for the Clarion-Herald. Reprinted with permission.)

Bishop William Norvel, SSJ, celebrates 50th anniversary of ordination

Father William Norvel, SSJ, superior general of the Josephites, a Pascagoula native and former pastor in Natchez, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on March 27 with a Mass and celebration in Moss Point.
He is the first African-American to be elected Superior General of the Josephites, who were founded to serve the African-American community in its 143-year history and he is the only African American to head a community of Catholic priests in the United States.
Father Norvel is the oldest child and only son of the late William and Velma (Wilson) Norvel. He attended St. Peter Elementary School and Our Mother of Sorrows High School in Biloxi.  After being told in the early 1950s by the archdiocese that there was “no place in the church” for him, young William Norvel was invited by his pastor, Father Edward Lawlor, to join the Josephites. Supported by family, friends and his pastor, he left Pascagoula by train following his junior year in high school to enter the seminary in Newburg, NY.
He was ordained on March 27, 1965, at the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis in New Orleans and offered his first Mass at St. Peter the next day.  Friends, family and parishioners who traveled from Pascagoula by bus to the ordination were briefly detained by police who mistook them for “freedom riders.” They were released only when Father Lawlor spotted the bus and stopped to verify their identity and destination.
Father Norvel’s first assignment was at Holy Family Parish in Natchez, Miss. There, he had a brief run-in with the Ku Klux Klan when “city officials” objected to a dance that was being held for teenagers.
Father Norvel stood up to them affirming the right of the church to have safe and wholesome activities for youth. Father has since served as pastor at St. Benedict the Moor in Washington, D.C., St. Brigid in Los Angeles, Calif., Most Pure Heart of Mary in Mobile, Ala., St. Francis Xavier in Baton Rouge, La., St. Francis Xavier in Baltimore, Md., (the Mother parish of African-American Catholics), St. Peter the Apostle Church in Pascagoula, Miss., and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Washington, D.C.
He has also taught at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, the Josephite flagship school, and was briefly on the faculty of Notre Dame University and the Institute for Pastoral Ministry in the Black Community at Loyola Marymount University.
Father Norvel has bachelor and master’s degrees in education and philosophy from St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the Knights of St. Peter Claver, the Knights of Columbus and the National Association of Superiors General.

Franciscan leader in Black Catholic ministry named auxiliary bishop

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Pope Francis has named Franciscan Father Fernand “Ferd” Cheri III, a New Orleans native who currently is director of campus ministry at Quincy University in Illinois, as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Father Cheri has visited the Diocese of Jackson on many occasions, leading and attending workshops here.
The appointment was announced Jan. 12 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-designate Cheri, 63, has a background that includes extensive roles in black Catholic liturgy, music and spirituality, in addition to having served on the Franciscans’ provincial council and as their director of friar life.
He also is a board member of the National Black Catholic Congress and has been involved in activities including the NBCC gatherings, the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on Black Catholic worship and the National Joint Conference of Black Religious Planning Committee.
He originally was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans May 20, 1978. He studied at Notre Dame University and at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University, both in New Orleans.
During a news conference in New Orleans after his appointment was announced, Bishop-designate Cheri said he never truly left his hometown and was surprised but thrilled that Pope Francis had appointed him as auxiliary bishop in the city where most of his family still lives. He said he is pleased that he will be working alongside Archbishop Gregory V. Aymond.
“I’d like to say first of all thank you to Pope Francis for appointing me to this position,” he said.
“It was a total surprise, but it was a wonderful moment to just be told that I was appointed auxiliary bishop,” added Bishop-designate Cheri. “I also want to thank Greg for accepting me in this position as well. I look forward to just working with the people of New Orleans again. I never left New Orleans. It’s always a part of me. Wherever I go, I bring New Orleans. It’s going to be great to be back in the city.”
Bishop-designate Cheri will be ordained bishop at a Mass March 23 at 2 p.m. at St. Louis Cathedral.
“He is very gifted in music and preaching and liturgy,” Archbishop Aymond said. “This is also a very significant moment, I think, for us as New Orleans (Catholics) – another hometown boy joining us again. But also a great gift from the African-American community to the church and to the archdiocese.”
As a diocesan priest for four years at four parishes in New Orleans and Marrero, La., Bishop-designate Cheri was involved in ministry in the black Catholic community. It was at that time that he began discernment in becoming a Franciscan.
He entered the novitiate for the Order of Friars Minor, in the Sacred Heart Province, based in St. Louis, in 1992 and made his solemn profession as a Franciscan two years later. Since then he has served as a chaplain at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago and as pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Nashville, Tenn.
He also served as a choir director and guidance counselor at Althoff Catholic High in Belleville, Ill., while part of a contingent that launched St. Benedict the Black Friary in East St. Louis, an outreach to the poor, African-American community.
Prior to beginning his position at Quincy University in 2011, he was director of campus ministry at Xavier University in New Orleans. In addition to his post at Quincy, he is vicar of Holy Cross Friary, located on the campus.
Bishop-designate Cheri said he organized teams of students from Quincy University to provide annual cleanup and repairs in New Orleans. Last year, 50 students made the mission trip.
The New Orleans Archdiocese has had no auxiliary bishops since Bishop Shelton J. Fabre was named in 2013 to become bishop of Houma-Thibodaux. Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Carmon retired in 2006.
(Contributing to this story was Peter Finney Jr. in New Orleans.)