By Maureen Smith
The Redemptorist community serving the Hispanic population in the Mississippi Delta is asking for votes to help earn Catholic Extension’s Lumen Christi Award.
Every year, Catholic Extension honors an individual or group working in one of America’s mission dioceses who demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. Lumen Christi recipients are the hidden heroes in our midst. They bring light and hope to the forgotten corners of the country and inspire those around them to be the “Light of Christ” as well. The award comes with a $50,000 grant to support the recipient’s ministry.
Extension uses several factors to determine who gets the award, but one of them is online votes. All nominees are posted on the Catholic Extension website. Anyone can go vote and then post their vote on social media to encourage others to vote.
The Redemptorist community came to the Diocese of Jackson in the fall of 2014. They live in Greenwood, but serve the Hispanic community throughout the Delta. The men who serve here say they have found a warm welcome and plenty of work to do in the communities where they serve. They go out into the Delta seeking Hispanic communities – offering a Good Friday service between shifts on the grounds of a catfish processing plant, celebrating Mass in a trailer park where many people don’t have transportation to get to a parish and speaking with local pastors about the needs in their communities.
If they get the award, “we will use it to train lay ministers and catechists,” said Father Scott Katzenberger, CSsR, a member of the community here. He said the community would also invest in catechism for the people. While much of their ministry so far has been the ministry of presence and teaching, a lot of it also involves driving. Father Patrick Keyes, said for every hour they spend with a community, the fathers may have spent three hours driving.
The Redemptorist order reformulated its national provinces in 1996. As part of that, they decided to create teams of people who can minister in dioceses in need for limited amounts of time. The community conducted a national search to find places where the need what greatest. Mississippi was one of the communities the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recommended. The Redemptorists priests are from the Denver Province and have committed to five years in the Jackson diocese.
Past recipients of the Lumen Christi Award, Latin for “Light of Christ,” have included priests, women religious, and lay leaders from across the nation. This year there are almost 40 nominees from dioceses across the nation.
Those who wish to support the Redemptorists can vote online at: http://www.catholicextension.org/about-us/lumen-christi-award/2015-lumen-christi-award-nominees.