Hands-on Learning takes center stage at Annunciation

COLUMBUS – Annunciation school kindergarten students “stomp” through the hallways for their annual dino parade on Wednesday, Oct. 4. When the students complete their studies of the prehistoric beasts, they get to dress up and act out a little. (Photos by Katie Fenstermacher)

COLUMBUS –Father Jeffrey Waldrep shows second-grade students how a baby is baptised during a role-play exercise at Annunciation School.

Pets blessed at St. Anthony

MADISON – Father Albeen Vatti, pastor of St. Francis Parish, blesses Landon Lipovetsky’s lizard at St. Anthony School on Friday, Oct. 6. The school was celebrating the feast of St. Francis. In right photo, Bishop Joseph Kopacz brought his beloved lab, Amigo, for a blessing. (Photos by Kristian Beatty)

Back to School and Solar Eclipse

Students start new year messed, blessed

Solar Eclipse brightens science lessons

Across the diocese, students and adults alike looked to the skies on Monday, August 21, to watch a full solar eclipse. While much of the Diocese of Jackson was not in the so-called path of totality, there was plenty to see. Students and teachers had to use approved glasses or viewing devices to keep everyone safe, but many could not pass up the opportunity for this event. Some schools, such as Southaven Sacred Heart and Madison St. Joseph, hit the road to Tennessee for a better view. The Sacred Heart students watched from the Nashville Zoo where they could also observe the impact of the event on the animals. Father Greg Schill, SCJ, who went on the trip said the giraffes went wild and everyone could hear insects singing as the skies grew dark. (See facing page)
In top left photo, students from Columbus Annunication’s middle stepped outside in the early afternoon to view the final stages of the eclipse. In the photo above, right, Madison St. Anthony Students are in awe of the show in the sky. (Photos by Katie Fenstermacher and Kristian Beatty.)

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Spare Change helps military archdiocese

PEARL – Students attending Vacation Bible School at St. Jude Parish collected spare change for the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA. This archdiocese does not have one geographic area. It serves Catholic military personnel and their families around the world. Students sent the money and a letter about their Vacation Bible School experience and got a nice thank you letter in return. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

VBS a breath of inspiration

WEST POINT – Immaculate Conception Parish teamed up with the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation to host a vacation Bible School this summer. Youth volunteers from both churches assisted the teacher from Immaculate Conception while Incarnation provided food daily. The theme this year was Maker Fun Factory – Created by God Built for a Purpose. The classes ran from July 10-13 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and averaged 20 children participating each night with an average of 10 youth helpers. “We opened our VBS to the community so we had children that do not necessarily attend our churches. I feel we had a great turnout and we had awesome helpers and teachers,” wrote Penny Elliott, who submitted the photos. At right, students make their own cars. At left, they blow into the sails to race the cars to demonstrate how God is with us even when we can’t see him just as their breath invisibly moves their cars. (Photos by Penny Elliott)

Inspiring Day on the water

SEMINARY – Mason Daniels, a member of the Meridian St. Patrick and St. Joseph youth group, uses a rope swing to jump into the Okatoma Creek Saturday, July 15. A group of 19 youth and adults spent the day on the water. One of the highlights was listening to the faith story of Dan Ryan. He is currently a student pilot at Naval Air Station Meridian and a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis. After we lunch on the creek side bank, Dan shared some of his faith story and how important it has been to him during his time at the Naval Academy and now at NAS Meridian as he is progressing toward earning his wings. He encouraged the youth to hold fast to their faith and that Christ will see them through to their tough times and celebrate with them during their joyful times. (Photo by John Harwell)

Two dozen from Oxford attend Catholic conference

OXFORD – Twenty-seven members of St. John the Evangelist Total Youth Ministry (TYM) and eight chaperones left Oxford early Friday morning, July 21, to attend the annual Mid-American Conference sponsored by the Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. The Mid-American Conference is held at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo., and is sponsored by the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Teen Conferences are held in 25 locations throughout the United States, and attract some 50,000 teens and young adults annually. The Mid-American Conference, Springfield, is held in two sessions with a combined attendance of some 7,000 teens. This is the eighth year St. John’s TYM has attended. Students earn their expenses by taking part in fund-raising projects at St. John. (Photo by Gene Buglewicz)

St. Elizabeth hosts 86 for Vacation Bible School

CLARKSDALE – St. Elizabeth Parish hosted Vacation Bible School June 12-16. The theme was Maker Fun Factory- Created by God, Built for a Purpose. An average of 86 kids came each day. The week filled with music, games, scripture, and inventions aimed at teching the children that God individually created each person for His specific purpose.

Alive in You offers work, play

CHATTANOOGA – Eight girls from Clarksdale St. Elizabeth Parish attended Alive in You Catholic Service Camp and Conference in Chattanooga, Ten June 20-25. The girls worked an an area elementary school on the playground and painting classrooms and did a full yard cleanup for an elderly lady. On their day off, they took a white water rafting trip. At left, Olivia Watts, Madisen Lutts and Shelby Gordon spread mulch at the school. At right on the rafting trip, the guide is Evan from Outland Expeditions, Read Middleton, Madisen Lutts, Olivia Watts, Lauren Agostinelli, and Shelby Gordon. (Photos by Sarah Brooks Cauthen)


Diocesan Confirmation retreat builds community

By Fran Lavelle
CLINTON – What do you get when you mix the Holy Spirit, enthusiastic high school students, dedicated catechists, faith filled college students, an engaging speaker and a beautiful weekend at Camp Garaywa in Clinton? An awesome diocesan high school Confirmation Retreat! The retreat focused on how we are called to service in our families, our community and the world. The Confirmation students were challenged to look for opportunities for service from the smallest acts of kindness.
The retreatants came from parishes of all sizes and demographics from around the diocese Feb. 6-7. Gathered together, the youth beautifully represented the reality of our Catholic faith in the Diocese of Jackson. All together more than 160 youth and adults came together in to pray, reflect, listen and prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Our speaker was Cari Williams, a youth minister and retreat leader from the Diocese of Alexandria, La. Father Rusty Vincent served as the spiritual director for the weekend. We were blessed to have Catholic students from Mississippi State serve as small group leaders.
On Saturday evening retreatants had an opportunity to go to Reconciliation and Sunday morning Bishop Joseph Kopacz celebrated Mass. Recognizing the importance of the sacramental life of the Church helped them better understand the value of completing the sacraments of Initiation through Confirmation. The youth appreciated the opportunity to spend time with Bishop Kopacz. The six priests who came out to hear confessions include Msgr. Elvin Sunds, Fathers Jeffrey Waldrep, Jose de Jesus Sanchez, Joseph Le, Jason Johnston and Rusty Vincent. It was an awesome sight to see nearly every student and adult present to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Asked what they would take away from the retreat many of the young people commented that they recognized a need to spend more time with God. They also saw what the larger Catholic Church in our diocese looks like, especially for smaller parishes with 2-3 students in the Confirmation program.
Making new friends was a natural by-product of the weekend. I hope they continue to pray for one another and reflect on the message of service. I invite you to pray for all the young people in our diocese who are being prepared for the Sacrament of Confirmation. They need our prayers as much as we need their full and active participation in the Church. Confirmation is not Catholic graduation. It is only the beginning of a wonderful life of faith, service and friendship.
(Fran Lavelle is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson.)