Columbus Annunciation celebrates newly restored historic church



By Mary Woodward
COLUMBUS – Annunciation Parish realized a long-awaited dream on the Solemnity of the Assumption as they gathered for Mass with Bishop Joseph Kopacz on the Holy Day in the new church and then after the Mass made their way over to the original church to bless the historic restorations completed this summer. Father Robert Dore, pastor, was extremely pleased with the large turnout of parishioners and friends for the celebration.
The cornerstone for the original church was set in 1863 but construction was delayed another decade due to the Civil War and Reconstruction. Father Jean Baptiste Mouton, a French priest who was trained in architecture, designed the original church in Gothic style.
Father Mouton served the church in many places in the early days of the diocese. At one time he covered most of East Central and Northeast Mississippi serving developing Catholic communities from Meridian to Corinth. A chaplain during the war, he ultimately died of Yellow Fever during the 1878 epidemic.
The parish has been researching and planning the historic restorations for almost 10 years. The desire to capture much of its original decorative scheme and preserve its Jacoby stained glass windows fueled efforts to have the church declared a historic building on the National Register.
Parishioners poured over old documents and photographs of the interior of the church in order to preserve the design as closely as possible to the early decorative scheme. Conrad Schmitt Studios in New Berlin, Wisc., implemented the design under lead artist Will Kolstad, who has worked on other projects in the diocese at Jackson St. Peter Cathedral in and Natchez St. Mary Basilica in Natchez.
For the blessing, a standing room only congregation rejoiced in the culmination of years of hard work including no small amount of blood, sweat and tears and plenty of sacrifice.
One special moment for long-time parishioner Frank Troskey was to see the altar cloth his mother, Elizabeth, had made in 1942, adorn the original altar of the church. He said his mother would work on the cloth after dinner each night for several hours until it was completed.
The newly restored church will now be used as a daily Mass chapel, weddings and other special celebrations. A lift has been incorporated into the side of the building near the front steps for those who have trouble with stairs to enter the church.
Anyone wishing to help support the restoration of this historic Catholic house of worship may send a donation to: Annunciation Catholic Church, 823 College Street, Columbus, MS 39701

Principals participate in international collaboration

By Laura Grisham
Principals Bridget Martin of Southaven Sacred Heart and Clara Isom of Holly Springs Holy Family schools attended the third International Meeting of Dehonian Educators (IMDE) July 21-25 in Valencia, Spain, on behalf


of International Meeting of Dehonian Educators (SHSM), which supports those schools. ESIC, a multi-campus business school operated by the Spanish Province of the Sacred Heart Brothers and Fathers (SCJ), hosted the weeklong gathering.

Education is a priority of the SCJs , translated from the hopes their founder, Father Leo John Dehon, to have an impact on people and society through education.
The title given to this year’s conference was “Educare: Sint Unum.” The Latin ‘educare’ was used because of their desire to educate the whole person, and ‘sint unum’ to remind the educators that they are all a part of one project.


The IMDE’s objective is to network and collaborate: to get to know one another, to work on the formation of the Dehonian identity as it applies to the schools and to share resources. All of the educators at local, national and international levels spent the week discussing ideas on how to promote the ideas and a Dehonian curriculum to the students, parents and teachers in our schools.
“You gotta know your history,” said Isom. “Education was his (Father Dehon’s) focus. He sent out his people to teach to break the cycle of poverty.”
However, collaborating across continents is not so easy, not to mention the variety of educational institutions from pre-school, middle and high school, to technical schools, seminaries and universities. Each institution, though striving to teach the same charism (any gift that flows through God’s love to humans), has unique ways to accomplish the mission in their respective cultural and institutional setting. Coming together to share strengths and innovations creatively solves many problems. And that was the focus of the gathering—to draw from one another’s strengths and shared identity.082214photos19
The master plan drawn up to achieve the conference objectives gives a communications hierarchy to educators on a provincial, regional, district and school level. Using technology and the web in particular, all will interact and be able to share in the ideas, projects and events to come. All educators and students will have access to this site.
The principals plan to incorporate more activities at the schools surrounding the Catholic Dehonian ideas and traditions. Each school hopes to effectively be drawn towards the larger common goal.
One way that the US Provincial group suggested coming together was to emphasize feast days for their respective schools — St. Martin, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Holy Family, the Sacred Heart and St. Joseph. Retreats, in-services, combined school events and a host of other things are in the planning stages.
(Reprinted with permission from “… from the Heart,” the newsletter for SHSM.)

Schools welcome students, improvements

By Maureen Smith
Almost 4,000 students flooded hallways once again at the 13 Catholic schools across the diocese during the second week of August. Many schools are embracing the theme of “joy” in one way or another thanks to the work of the Office of Education, Pope Francis and Bishop Joseph Kopacz.

MADISON — Mary Ann Bourn, technology coordinator at St. Joseph School installs software on to laptops in the school’s new STEM lab. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

The bishop distributed copies of the Pope’s apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” or the Joy of the Gospel, to department heads at the chancery and has included discussions about it in regular meetings.
“We have quarterly sessions at each school focused on Catholic identity at our schools. This year, thanks to the leadership of the bishop, we decided to focus on Evangelii Gaudium in those sessions,” explained Catherine Cook, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the diocese.
The diocese saw increases in enrollment at several schools, including a 25-student jump in Southaven, while other schools added facilities to make room for new students and programs. Here is a look at improvements, additions and expansions across the diocese:
Thanks to five years of steady increases in enrollment, Columbus Annunciation opened the doors to a new middle school building housing classrooms, a new computer lab and offices to be used for tutoring and speech therapy.
“Having this new, large space dedicated solely to our middle school students will allow us to better accommodate their specific educational and social needs,” said Annunciation principal Joni House.

HOLLY SPRINGS — Workers install air conditioning equipment in the gym at Holy Family school. (Photo by Laura Grisham)

Natchez Cathedral School dedicated a new middle school building Friday, August 15, the Feast of the Assumption. The facility was the second of a three-phase capital campaign for the school.
“Most of our time this summer has revolved around the new middle school building, so I think everyone is just excited to see that finally done and ready to go,” said Pat Sanguinetti, principal for the high school. The new building has eight classrooms and a science lab. The school has seen enough enrollment increases this year to create a waiting list. “That speaks highly of our school and the staff,” added Sanguinetti. Air conditioning is being added to the gym at Holly Springs Holy Family. “We just thank God, Sacred Heart Southern Missions, our families, our sponsors, and members of the community who rallied around us to get this done,” said Clara Isom, principal. This will also allow the school to host gatherings earlier in the year. Previously, the administration had to wait until cooler weather to hold family meetings for the whole school.
A second improvement at Holy Family is the addition of two Promethian boards so now every classroom has one. Promethean boards are interactive boards that allow teachers and students to access the internet, participate in online learning and group quizzes and more. Finally, seventh and eighth graders will have art classes at Holy Family this year.


NATCHEZ — Bishop Joseph Kopacz, center, offers a prayer of blessing at the new Cathedral Middle School facility. Pastor David O’Connor took the bishop on a tour as part of the celebration. (Photo submitted by Regina Mardis)

Madison St. Anthony added a science, technology, religion, engineering, art and mathematics lab (STREAM) inside an existing art lab. The school also welcomes new principal Julie Bordelon for the year.
Clarksdale St. Elizabeth offered a summer camp this year. Principal Jeannie Roberts said parents were thrilled. The days were themed and parents could use the camp when they needed it without having to make a season-long commitment. Students in grades three to six will add a typing skills lesson to their weekly routine this year and the school will continue the mother’s morning out program started last year.
Sister Margaret Sue Broker, OSF, takes on a new role at Southaven Sacred Heart, becoming the religious education director for the elementary school. Sister Broker has been connected to Sacred Heart for 50 years. The school also added Brother Clay Diaz, SCJ, as middle school religion teacher and transitional coach for new students and families. “One thing I really like about our school is that we represent 15 nationalities here,” said Bridget Martin, principal. “Brother Diaz is a native of Puerto Rico so he speaks Spanish fluently. He also speaks sign language and we have some hearing impaired parents so he can help us bridge communication gaps with those families. He is a great asset,” added Martin.
Madison St. Joseph added a science, technology, engineering and mathematics lab (STEM) utilizing new laptop computers, is building new seating for the baseball field and got new seating for the gymnasium.
Greenville St. Joseph has added Chromebook research stations to its STREAM curriculum. The tablets are part of “an effort to build a student-based community problem solving / critical thinking component into our STREAM classes,” said Paul Artman, principal. He added that the school is testing an initiative to give each student a dedicated tablet.
At Meridian St. Patrick work crews spent the summer transforming the old hardwired lab into a third-grade classroom and creating a mobile computer lab utilizing Chromebooks that can work in any classroom environment so it can go where the students are.
The iPad tablets are on the move at Jackson St. Richard where a cart with 20 of the devices was added so students can participate in group activities using them. Volunteer Angie Hembree spent the summer organizing a STREAM lab at St. Richard for pre-k through sixth grade students.
The St. Aloysius Student Writing Center at Vicksburg Catholic is a new resource of the English Department dedicated to supporting both students and faculty members in the pursuit of writing across the curriculum and the use of writing to develop critical thinking skills. Students in grades seven through 12 may access the center before school starts every day, where trained student partners will assist them with any writing assignment from any class.
The Writing Center will be staffed initially by senior English students who received training this summer from Dr. Alice Myatt, Associate Director of the Center for Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi.
(Editor’s note: see related Back to School material on pages 8,9 and 15.)

Immigrant children deserve refugee status

Millennial Reflections
By Father Jeremy Tobin, O.Praem
Last month I wrote about the children at the border. As stories go their plight may get put on the back page with even more alarming news from Ukraine or the Middle East coming front and center. These children represent the least among us, and have no voice. We have to be their voice.
Even the major news networks have praised the heroic efforts Catholic Charities in the Southwest is putting forth to provide for their necessities and well being. The agency stands out as being non-political, bypassing all the rhetoric and hate talk. Their work cannot be praised enough.
The journeys of these children, some with mothers and siblings, are the last attempt for these families to survive. The economies of these countries have been wrecked by American trade policies, NAFTA and CAFTA. The lack of work fuels the illicit drug trade, as it does in the cities in the United States. The drug lords fight over turf and power. Their influence runs these governments. Corruption is rampant. Tegucigalpa, the capitol of Honduras, is the murder capitol of the world. Murders are so frequent, many go uninvestigated. Children see bodies on the street daily. They witness violence daily. They are traumatized daily.
The need for qualified attorneys in immigration law is critical in order that these children’s rights be protected. In addition, specially trained social workers are needed in order to conduct proper interviews that capture as much as possible what these children have gone through.
They and their families have an abiding belief in America. They believe what many of us were taught in grade school, that immigrants made the country what it is. This country welcomes everybody. The stories are legend. This belief is shared by people all over the world.
We are experiencing a new nativism movement, just as ugly as the nineteenth century version.
I continue to make the point, immigrants are scapegoated to insure a continuous flow of cheap labor. This steps all over human rights and what our church teaches. Whatever your views are on the immigration issue, and all points of view should be treated with respect in civil dialogue, the Catholic Church is the spiritual fortress of immigrants’ struggle for human rights.
President Obama met with the presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. They said that demand for drugs in the United States is what fuels the drug cartels in Mexico and Central America. I would add to that, the lack of legal, meaningful work creates a vacuum where the drug trade thrives, as well as the influence it has on all levels of government.
This creates a state of low-level, undeclared war and the poor are caught in it. These children are refugees, and should be accorded their full rights under the law, and treated as such.
The pressure on the White House is intense. Immigrant groups have massed in Washington under the banner “No more meetings about us, without us.” They have already met with the Center for American Progress, the National Immigration Forum, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights before rallying in front of the White House.
They are simply asking that the people most impacted by immigration reform have a seat at the table. White House spokesman, Shawn Turner, said in an email that “Obama and his senior staff meet regularly with immigration advocates and supporters to discuss the immigration issue.”
Much more needs to be done. More voices need to be heard. The children at the border, run willingly into the arms of the border patrol. They trust them. They believe in America, that America will do the right thing. Our bishops support them.
(Father Jeremy Tobin, O.Praem, lives at the Priory of St. Moses the Black, Jackson)

Assistance rules revised after public comment on drug testing

JACKSON – Children’s rights advocates are applauding a revision in the rules governing Mississippi’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. During the last legislative session, lawmakers passed a provision which would force some people who apply for TANF to take a drug test. A positive result would mean an end to the assistance for the whole family.
Children’s advocates argued the practice would punish children in those families and did not provide adequate resources for the parents, who would be expected to pay for the test and any ensuing treatment. The state took comments at a July 22 public hearing and the Mississippi Department of Human Services revised the rules so children will still receive assistance. The Mississippi Center for Justice, one of the organizations speaking out against the harsher drug testing rules, released a statement Aug. 5.
“We applaud DHS for adopting a provision that protects TANF payments for children. This action comes after a July 22 public hearing that we called for and that featured heartfelt testimony calling for the change to protect payments for children, among other things. While we are generally very pleased with the new regulations, we continue to express concern about the viability of the chosen screening instrument, and reassert that TANF recipients should not be required to pay for the treatment process,” the statement said.
Other critics of the law, including the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, argue that drug testing, especially when the person knows the date of the test, is inefficient and ineffective and that recipients are already screened by a case worker who should be able to identify and address any substance abuse problems. The revised rules went into effect Aug. 1.

Faith Formation Day offers catechists resources, fellowship

MADISON – Sister Michele Doyle, OSF, leads a workshop on faith and moral development at the Faith Formation Day organized by the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. The day-long series of five workshops at St. Francis of Assisi Parish Saturday, Aug 16, offered catechists training in the creed, prayer and spirituality, sacraments and scripture. Dr. Tom Ryan from Loyola University, New Orleans, was the keynote presenter speaking about Pope Francis’ spirituality. Thirty-six catechists representing 10 parishes, including one in Biloxi attended.  (Photo by Fabvienen Taylor)

Catechists trained in Call to Protect workshop

By Maureen Smith
MADISON – The diocesan Office for the Protection of Children welcomed Audrey Oliver, a safety analyst from Praesidium, for two workshops in August. Praesidium is the company that produces “Called to Protect,” the program used in schools and parishes in the Diocese of Jackson.
Oliver led workshops in Madison and Tupelo for catechists and parish leaders who will actually be training youth. “We talked about boundaries, how molesters violate them and how teens can protect themselves,” she explained. In these workshops, Oliver goes through the training process, even asking the adults to participate in the activities teens will do during their trainings. Each group gets a sample situation and they have to discuss how they would react. This exercise in Madison inspired a lively group discussion about how the teens might react.

Audrey Oliver, standing, left, trains catechists in “Called to Protect” during a workshop at St. Joseph School. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

Oliver said she often gets feedback to take back to Praesidium from these trainings. “A lot of people said they have to deal with teens who act as if they don’t want to take this training seriously. This material can be hard to talk about, it can be embarrassing. Sometimes this is the first time people are giving them information about sexual abuse,” she said. “What I tell the trainers is that it isn’t just meant to be you teaching. It’s also about having a discussion with youth. It’s about them talking about their feelings and you have to assure them you are available to them,” Oliver added. Trainers have reported that victims of abuse have come forward as a result of the trainings.
In the afternoon sessions Oliver talked specifically about bullying. “I talked about how to recognize bullying as being different than normal teenage conflict and how to monitor high risk areas and activities for bullying,” said Oliver.
“Bullying is intentional, repeated conduct or negative behavior against a youth who has trouble defending himself or herself,” she explained. Teens will have conflicts, but in normal conflict the people involved are on equal footing and they seek some resolution to their conflict. Bullying, said Oliver, is about how the bully feels as a result of the behavior.
Oliver said the participants had lots of discussion during this segment of the training. Her advice for preventing bullying is for teachers and catechists to be present in as many situations as possible, standing in the hall during class changes and even checking bathrooms and hang-out spots to see if teens are bullying. If a situation arises, she suggests separating the parties and trying to find out why the bullying started. The bully may also need help. “Getting to the root of what’s going on is important.” She suggested telling the bully you support him or her as a person, but you cannot support his or her behavior.
Social media has added a whole new term to the discussion, cyberbullying, or using online tools to target an individual. Oliver urges catechists and parents to do their research so they know what apps and social media networks their teenagers are using.
At the end of the day, she said, catechists and teachers can’t control behavior outside their classrooms, but good communication and a good understanding of Catholic teachings will help prevent this kind of bullying.

Reclaim beloved after suicide

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
Each year I write a column on suicide Mostly I say the same thing over and over again, simply because it needs to be said. I don’t claim any originality or special insight, I only write about suicide because there is such a desperate need for anyone to address the question. Moreover, in my case, as a Catholic priest and spiritual writer, I feel it important to offer something to try to help dispel the false perception which so many people, not least many inside the church itself, have of the church’s understanding of suicide. Simply put, I’m no expert, not anyone’s savior, there’s just so little out there.
And, each year, that column finds its audience. I am constantly surprised and occasionally overwhelmed by the feedback. For the last 10 years, I don’t think a single week has gone by when I did not receive an email, a letter, or phone call from someone who has lost a loved one to suicide.
When talking about suicide, at least to those who are left behind when a loved one succumbs to this, the same themes must be emphasized over and over again. As Margaret Atwood puts it, sometimes something needs to be said and said until it doesn’t need to be said anymore.
What needs to be said over and over again about suicide? That, in most cases, suicide is a disease; that it takes people out of life against their will; that it is the emotional equivalent of a stroke, heart attack, or cancer; that people who fall victim to this disease, almost invariably, are very sensitive persons who end up for a myriad of reasons being too bruised to be touched; that those of us left behind should not spend a lot of time second-guessing, wondering whether we failed in some way; and, finally, that given God’s mercy, the particular anatomy of suicide, and the sensitive souls of those who fall prey to it, we should not be unduly anxious about the eternal salvation of those who fall prey to it.
This year, prompted by particularly moving book by Harvard psychiatrist, Nancy Rappaport, I would like to add another thing that needs to be said about suicide, namely, that it is incumbent on those of us who are left behind to work at redeeming the life and memory of a loved one who died by suicide. What’s implied in this?
There is still a huge stigma surrounding suicide. For many reasons, we find it hard both to understand suicide and to come to peace with it. Obituaries rarely name it, opting instead for a euphemism of some kind to name the cause of death. Moreover and more troubling, we, the ones left behind, tend to bury not only the one who dies by suicide but his or her memory as well.
Pictures come off the walls, scrapbooks and photos are excised, and there is forever a discreet hush around the cause of their deaths. Ultimately neither their deaths nor their persons are genuinely dealt with. There is no healthy closure, only a certain closing of the book, a cold closing, one that leaves a lot of business unfinished. This is unfortunate, a form of denial. We must work at redeeming the life and memory of our loved ones who have died by suicide.
This is what Nancy Rappaport does with the life and memory of her own mother, who died by suicide when Nancy was still a child. “In Her Wake, A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother’s Suicide” (Basic Book, N.Y., 2009). After her mother’s suicide, Nancy lived, as do so many of us who have lost a loved one to suicide, with a haunting shadow surrounding her mother’s death.
And that shadow then colored everything else about her mother. It ricocheted backwards so as to have the suicide too much define her mother’s character, her integrity, and her love for those around her. A suicide, that’s botched in our understanding, in effect, does that, it functions like the antithesis of a canonization.
With this as a background, Nancy Rappaport sets off to make sense of her mother’s suicide, to redeem her bond to her mother, and, in essence, to redeem her mother’s memory in the wake of her suicide. Her effort mirrors that of novelist Mary Gordon whose book, “Circling my Mother,” attempts to come to grips with her mother’s Alzheimer’s and her death. Gordon, like Rappaport, is too trying to put a proper face on the diminishment and death of a loved one, redeeming the memory both for herself and for others. The difference is that, for most people, suicide trumps Alzheimer’s in terms of stigma and loss.
Few things stigmatize someone’s life and meaning as does a death by suicide, and so there is something truly redemptive in properly coming to grips with this kind of stigma. We must do for our loved ones what Nancy Rappaport did for her mother, namely, redeem their lives and their memory.
(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX.)

School library cleanup results in book donation

JACKSON – St. Andrew’s Episcopal School donated more than 1,000 books to Catholic Charities in August. The books will go to the many children’s programs of the agency, including Therapeutic Foster Care, the domestic violence shelter and more.

Amy Turner, program director of Therapeutic Foster Care joins fellow therapists Sherrita Harrison, Stacy Pajak, Ann Skelton and Jill Cauthen in selecting books for their clients. (Photo by Michael Thomas)

The donation, according to lower school librarian Laura Ginsberg, was the result of a regular culling of library resources. When books are no longer being checked out, or are a little worn, the library will replace them. The originals are still in good shape, so the librarians started looking for agencies that could make good use of them. When Ginsberg heard about the many children served by Catholic Charities, it seemed like the perfect fit.
Most are children’s books, but some young adult and high school material added. “We had a book fair Aug. 11-14, allowing therapists from all Catholic Charities programs to get books for their consumers,” said Kim Thomason, volunteer coordinator for Catholic Charities. “Our programs were excited for this opportunity to share with their children.  We are very appreciative of this generous gift,” she added.