Vacation Bible school wraps up in Vicksburg

St. Richard Vacation Bible school: mighty fortress

Madison Youth group gets drenched in summer fun

Eagle Scout completes garden

FLOWOOD – St. Joseph Catholic High School graduate and Eagle Scout, Will Foggo, helps children at the St. Paul Early Learning Center place and fill a bird bath in the garden on school grounds. Foggo designed and built the garden for his Eagle Scout Project. (Photos by Jennifer Henry)

Vatican releases survey prior to synod

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – To involve young people in preparations for the Synod of Bishops on youth in 2018, the Vatican has released an online questionnaire to better understand the lives, attitudes and concerns of 16- to 29-year-olds around the world.
The questionnaire – available in English, Spanish, French and Italian – can be found on the synod’s official site: and is open to any young person, regardless of faith or religious belief.
The general secretariat of the synod launched the website June 14 to share information about the October 2018 synod on “Young people, faith and vocational discernment” and to link to an online, anonymous survey asking young people about their lives and expectations.
The answers to the questionnaire, along with contributions from bishops, bishops’ conferences and other church bodies, “will provide the basis for the drafting of the ‘instrumentum laboris,'” or working document for the assembly, synod officials said in January.
Young people from all backgrounds are encouraged to take part in the questionnaire because every young person has “the right to be accompanied without exclusion,” synod officials had said.
The list of 53 mostly multiple-choice questions is divided into seven sections: general personal information; attitudes and opinions about oneself and the world; influences and relationships; life choices; religion, faith and the church; internet use; and two final, open-ended questions. The write-in questions are an invitation to describe a positive example of how the Catholic Church can “accompany young people in their choices, which give value and fulfillment in life” and to say something about oneself that hasn’t been asked in the questionnaire.
Other questions ask about living arrangements; self-image; best age to leave home and have a family; opinions about education and work; measures of success; sources of positive influence; level of confidence in public and private institutions; and political or social activism.
The section on faith looks at the importance of religion in one’s life and asks, “Who Jesus is for you?” That question provides 16 choices to choose from, including “the savior,” “an adversary to be fought,” “an invention” and “someone who loves me.” It also asks which topics – promoting peace, defending human life, evangelization, defending truth, the environment – are the most urgent for the church to address.
The Vatican’s preparation for a synod generally includes developing a questionnaire and soliciting input from bishops’ conferences, dioceses and religious orders. This is the first time the Vatican’s synod organizing body put a questionnaire online and sought direct input from the public.

Greenwood youth groups embrace diversity of members

By Maureen Smith
GREENWOOD – As the Diocese of Jackson rolls out the new Pastoral Priorities, Mississippi Catholic will feature goals, projects and success stories from different groups. The first comes from a youth minister in the Delta. The youth groups from the Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Francis of Assisi are focusing their year on the priority of ‘embrace diversity.’
“We have about 30 kids in our LifeTeen program between the two parishes,” said Derrick Faucheux, youth minister for both parishes. “And they are all from different cultures.” Half, he said, are Hispanic. The rest are African-American or white. The group has been meeting and getting to know one another, but Faucheux was ready to take them a step farther.
When the group started meeting, Faucheux said the kids did not all sit together, but would cluster in groups. “We were not sure how we were going to break that mold,” he said. One night, the students and a group of adult leaders played an icebreaker game and everything changed. “I don’t even remember what the game was, but THAT night, there was an electricity in the room. The kids started actually talking to each other,” he explained. This one breakthrough was the first step in a months-long process to unite the members of the group.
“These kids go to five or six different schools, public and private, they come from different cultural, racial and socio-economic backgrounds. If not for this youth group, they probably would never have known each other at all.”
Once the students got a little more comfortable together, Faucheux started working on ways to explore their diverse backgrounds as a group. They started with a retreat-style gathering at the Locus Benedictus retreat center on the edge of town. The gathering, Saturday, May 6, offered a glimpse into the Hispanic devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Redemptorist community in Greenwood helped with Guadalupe Youth Day, providing insight and the location. The students participated in soccer, a picnic and other outdoor activities, but also spent time exploring how Hispanic cultures honor Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“The Catholic Church is universal. Even though Our Lady of Guadalupe is mostly a Hispanic devotion, she belongs to everyone,” Faucheux said. He wanted the teens to see how they can worship or participate in devotions specific to their culture, but also appreciate the devotions of other cultures.
He plans to expand these lessons throughout the year, examining African-American Catholic culture and leaders, Southern Catholicism, anything that will show the students how they can be diverse, but also unified. “I want the kids to see that the Church is universal,” he said.
Some members of the youth group went to Abbey Youth Fest together. The trip allowed the teens to spend a long time together getting to know one another better within a Catholic context.
Faucheux attended a national gathering of youth ministers where he asked others about their challenges with diversity.
“Very few of those leaders have a group as diverse as this one,” he said. The Mississippi Delta is unique in its blend of cultures. Far from being discouraged, Faucheux finds the challenge to be the perfect way to showcase how the Catholic church can embrace everyone. “Something was telling me to put all these kids together because it is such a witness to the Catholic Church that we can be together, we are universal.”

Graduates reflect diversity, service, discipleship

By Catherine Cook
JACKSON – The four Catholic high schools within the Diocese of Jackson graduated 174 young men and women this year. In the center section of this edition of Mississippi Catholic you’ll see a snapshot of the graduating classes as well as features of the top students. The history of these schools dates back to the mid-1800s, so, the graduates of 2017 join a long list of persons formed in faith and educated for the world in the Catholic schools of Mississippi. Our graduates collectively earned $13.2 million in scholarships based on their academic and athletic performances, as well as their leadership and community service.
This year as we fully become engaged in the Pastoral Priorities of the Diocese of Jackson, we note that our graduating class exemplifies the principles of the priorities in their notable accomplishments. We embrace the diversity of our schools as students learn from each other’s differences.  
Our 2017 graduating class is a diverse group – racially, economically, and yes, religiously. Seventy-two percent are Caucasian and the remaining 28 percent are African-American and other ethnic backgrounds.
Forty-nine percent of our students are from other faith traditions. Our students are diverse, too, in their talents and interests. Our students have collectively completed more than 23,000 service hours. They have enthusiastically served their communities in various ways including: working as camp counselors at special needs camps, working in animal shelters, fundraising for Stew Pot and in many other capacities.
As superintendent I am proud of the teachers, administrators and volunteers who work hard to form the students who will go on inspire discipleship as they become our leaders, educators and the future of the Church. Thank you to all parents, alumni and patrons who support the ministry of Catholic education in our schools. Congratulations to the class of 2017!
(Catherine Cook is the diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools.)


Annunciation students end year with song


Mother/daughter tea

By Carolyn Howard
GLUCKSTADT – The Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus at  St. Joseph Parish hosted their first Afternoon Tea on Saturday, May 6, in the church hall.
Ladies of the parish, and many others, purchased tickets in advance and attended the formal tea party wearing pearls and fancy hats. The “little” ladies in attendance were particularly excited to be included in such a grand affair.
The ladies were treated to a menu offering savory tea sandwiches, a fresh array of baked items (including warm-from-the-oven buttermilk scones), and delectable sweet delights from the dessert course.
Proceeds from ticket sales, as well as donations made during the event, helped to raise more than $1,200 for Catholic Charities Adoptive Services including Therapeutic Foster Care and Brian’s Fund.
With the success of this day, the Ladies Auxiliary is already planning next year’s tea. 

Crown for Mary

GREENVILLE – Susannah Swindle crowns Mary at St. Joseph Parish on Sunday, May 7, during Mass. (Photo by Rayetta Serio)











MERIDIAN – on May 7th, the Catholic Community of Meridian honored graduating high school seniors at the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick Church. The graduates were each given a gift and then introduced themselves to the congregation Pictured (left-to-right) are Kelly Bator (Meridian High), Virginia Pressly (MS School of Math/Science, Columbus), Madeleine Hodge (Lamar), Clancy Duggan (Lamar), Manny Routt (Meridian Home School), James Snowden (Lamar), Branson Acton (Lamar).
(Photo by John Harwell)

OXFORD – St. John the Evangelist Parish hosted a Baccalaureate Mass for high school graduates on Wednesday, May 24. Pictured left to right: Kolbe Leary; Carson Stinnet ; Ben Bianco; Zack Smith; Suzanna Cassisa. (Photo by Gene Buglewicz)






PEARL –St. Jude Parish high school graduates Baylee Walter, Austin Murillo and Shelby Chapman make 2017 with pastor Father Jeffrey Waldrep after the Mass honoring them. Honored, but not pictured are Timothy Tran, and Alek Demarest (Photo by Rhonda Bowden)

Youth News

Easter Egg Toss

WINONA – Sacred Heart parish youth hosted their first Easter Eggstravaganza including a raw egg toss, pictured. The students also enjoyed dying eggs, face/arm painting, crafts, relay races, egg toss and a “pock the egg” tourney. The event ended with a picnic lunch. (Photo by Tara Trost)












Crowning Mary

Flight to the finish

JACKSON – The Cardinal Men’s Club hosted the Flight to the Finish 5-K race Saturday, May 6 at St. Richard Parish. Above, Andrew Doherty takes off at the start of the fun run. (Photo by Chris Lombard)












Service project prepares youth for confirmation

Spring recital at St. Thea Bowman


Youth News

Silly science wows Sacres Heart

SOUTHAVEN – University of Mississippi science professor Dr. Breese Quinn  and some of his students wowed Sacred Heart school with demonstrations of physics and science. The students used air to levitate and direct ping-pong balls; distributed force to lay on a bed of nails and watched liquid nitrogen transform marshmallows transform into brittle frozen treats. Alex Pham, above, left, reacts to the cold. (Photos by Sister Margaret Sue Broker)

Project to grow on

CLARKSDALE – Students at St. Elizabeth School made terrariums in the 4H Cloverbuds Program after school.

Under the Sea on the stage

COLUMBUS – On April 6-7, Annunciation School middle school students performed The Little Mermaid for sold out crowds! The entire cast takes a bow at the grand finale. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)


Crowning Mary

GREENVILLE – Students at St. Joseph School gathered in the outdoor prayer garden for the May Crowining. Senior Class President Allison Wise crowned Mary. (Photo by Missi Blackstock)

MERIDIAN – Matthew Wilson holds a banner while Ellie Rush places a crown of flowers on a statue of Mary during St. Patrick School’s May Crowning Mass on May 4. Ms. Pressly’s first-grade students participated in the Mass and placed flowers at Mary’s feet.(Photo by Helen Reynolds)

Matthew Wilson and Ellie Rush











GRENADA – Above, Father Aroika Savio, pastor, places rosary beads in Mary’s hands while, at right, Blaire Johnson places flowers during a Mass at St. Peter on Sunday, May 7. (Photo by Michael Liberto )


Leading the way on Holy Week

RIPLEY – The youth from St. Matthew Parish led stations of the cross outside during Holy week. Fourteen students participated in the hour-long devotion on the parish grounds. (Photo by Madeleine C. Hale)

Easter Egg tradtion

JACKSON – Children from pre-k through sixth grade claim prizes at the St. Richard Egg Hunt on the First Sunday of Easter. The parish’s youth groups organize the activity. (Photos by Maureen Smith)


Trevor Muzzi

GREENVILLE – St. Joseph Catholic School Junior Trevor Muzzi has been selected to play in Omaha, Nebraska from June 17 to June 22 with the 18u UnderArmour National Baseball Team.  “At these select nationwide events, top high school talent is showcased for over 100 college coaches and professional scouts. Through this joint association, Baseball Factory’s players not only receive quality training and guidance, but also the kind of exposure essential for success at the next level (Photo courtesy of Missi Blackstock)

Program seeks to connect students, campus ministry

By Abbey Schuhmann
For the past several years the Diocese of Jackson has partnered with the Newman Connection in an effort to help connect our high school seniors with a Catholic campus ministry program at their chosen college, university, or community college. The Newman Connection is a non-profit organization that provides structure and support to dioceses, parishes, Catholic high schools and Catholic campus ministry programs across the nation free of charge.
Newman Connection is focused on strengthening today’s Catholic young adults in the faith during their college years; they work with nearly 50 dioceses to help connect as many young people as possible. This program fits in very well with our renewed diocesan mission and vision and supports the priority to facilitate life-long formation of intentional disciples.
How to get connected? High school seniors at our parishes and Catholic high schools will be asked to fill out a brief information card from Newman Connection that includes their name and school they plan to attend in the fall; that card is then collected by the parish or high school and mailed back to Newman Connection. This program is completely free for participating parishes and schools and what a great way to help keep our young people engaged with their Catholic faith as they begin this new adventure into college life.
A senior Mass, banquet, or Baccalaureate are great opportunities to have your students fill out the information cards. The Newman Connection enters the information into their database that will then reach Catholic campus ministers at more than 400 campuses around the United States. Catholic campus ministers will then know who the incoming freshman are, what diocese they are from and can reach out to them and encourage them to get involved in the Catholic campus ministry program.
The staggering fact is that “80 percent of students stop practicing their faith at some point during college, while only 15 percent look for a campus ministry on their own.”
But together, we can change this. Let us get connected and stay connected. Newman Connection packets have been sent to all parishes and Catholic high schools in our diocese and information cards should be available. You may also go on the Newman Connection website, and “connect” individually or to find out more about the Newman Connection program and other resources available.
Please contact Abbey Schuhmann in the Office of Youth Ministry if you have any questions about the implementation of the enrollment process with Newman Connection. or 601-949-6934
(Abbey Schuhmann is the coordinator for youth ministry for the Diocese of Jackson.)

Southaven Sacred Heart School recognized for service learning program

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Southaven Sacred Heart School brought some national recognition home from this year’s National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) convention held in St. Louis April 18-20. Sacred Heart School was one of three finalists in Innovations in Catholic Education (ICE) award presented by the magazine Today’s Catholic Teacher.
The school was nominated for its Catholic identity program. It’s a two-pronged program. “Our theme for this year was ‘mercy knows no bounds,’” explained Bridget Martin, principal. Each month, the school highlighted two things, the diversity within its own community and contributions the students can make on their own.

WALLS – Elian Munoz from Sacred Heart School works at the Sacred Heart Southern Missions food Pantry in November as part of service learning. The school was one of three recognized nationally for innovative Catholic identity programs. (Photo by Laura Grisham)

“Our 325 students represent 17 nationalities,” said Martin. Each month families from these nations get space in the school lobby to put up a display about their culture and students learn more about their neighbors. This month, Guatemala takes center stage. The second part of the identity program highlights community involvement.
The priests of Sacred Heart sponsor 13 different social service ministries in northeast Mississippi. Students learn about each one in a way appropriate to their age group. “Each month a representative from a different ministry comes to speak to them. The sixth, seventh and eighth graders will even go to the ministries to do service projects,” said Martin. At the end of the month the students have ‘denim days’ on which they can pay to wear denim and the money goes to the ministry of the month. “So we have been learning about and praying for and supporting the ministry all month,” said Martin.
“We hope that when they grow up, if they find they are in need, they will know where to go for help. We also hope that when they grow up, if they have a gift or a talent they will volunteer or donate to help their communities,” said Martin. She added that many students who go on to Catholic high schools in Memphis return to fulfill their service hours at Sacred Heart or one of the social service organizations.
This is not the only innovative program the school has offered. This year, Sacred Heart switched its fund-raiser from golf to running, but with a twist. The school offered a fun run during the school day. Different classes ran during different times of the day and were joined by parents and other community members. “The police came out at one point and ran with the kids and they loved that,” said Martin. The activities included inflatable bounce houses.
Martin promised if they topped $20,000 she would sleep on the school roof. On Tuesday, May 2, the effort had gathered $31,000 and Martin was headed up with a member of her maintenance staff to find a safe spot to ‘camp.’ “The last time I promised to do this my school had a flat roof,” she joked. The money will go toward new library furniture.

Spring Hill College to offer

Spring Hill College’s Summer Institute of Christian Spirituality will offer a course on Walker Percy’s “Tarnished Woman of Grace” during our first session (June 5-9) on the campus in Mobile. The course will focus on Percy’s later book, “The Second Coming,” a book about suicide, testing God, faith and redemption (through the grace of a woman escaped from an insane asylum). The course will be 5 days, each morning from 9-11 a.m.

Walker Percy, born in Alabama, growing up in Mississippi, and living and writing in Louisiana, is one of the great Southern Catholic writers (He was an adult convert to Catholicism). He became known as a “Southern Catholic writer” when he wrote the essay “Stoicism in the South” in 1956 for Commonweal, condemning southern segregation and advocating a new kind of Christian philosophy in Southern life.

His most famous book, “The Moviegoer,” published in 1960 won the National Book Award. In 1989, the University of Notre Dame awarded Percy its Laetare Medal, which is bestowed annually to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church, and enriched the heritage of humanity.” Walker Percy was buried on the grounds of St. Joseph Benedictine Abbey in St. Benedict, LA.

About the course, Dr. Katherine Abernathy says, “I would say that Christians in the South should read Percy because they will find a fresh look at their faith. He is irreverent and hilarious, yet his response to spiritual despair is Catholic at its depth.”

Dr. Katherine Abernathy is an associate professor of English at the University of Mobile where she has taught since 1997. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Dallas in 2000. Her research interests have focused on Southern literature, especially Walker Percy and Caroline Gordon, and she is currently working on a study of the works of the modern Norwegian novelist Sigrid Undset.

For more information on the Summer Institute of Christian Spirituality at Spring Hill College go to or call (877) 857-6742.


Charities tournament benefits

JACKSON – Catholic Charities hosted its annual Charity Tennis Tournament March 30-April 7 at River Hills Club. One unique feature of this event is Kid’s Day, held this year on Wednesday, April 5.

The day began early when 55 students from Rowan Middle School arrived at River Hills. They were all wearing matching Kids Day t-shirts made for the event. USTA officials gave the students an overview of the game of tennis. They were then joined by students from the Brinkley Junior High tennis team.

The interesting thing about the Brinkley group is that they are part of a newly formed team made up of members who were introduced to tennis for the first time at this very kids day event during the past two years.

Soon after instuction, all the students watched as the ladies on the pro-circuit competed. They then moved to an hour of on-court instruction provided by both pro circuit players and local tennis pros. From there the enjoyed lunch at the club while hearing from a local speaker.

The tournament consists of pro-am play as well as Catholic Charities events, dinners and luncheons every day. Money from this tournaments goes to children’s programs at Charities. This year’s winner was Barbara Haas from Austria.

Bishop Joseph Kopacz congratulates the singles winner, Barbara Haas from Austria. (Photos submitted by Julie O’Brien)