Youth Gallery


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NATCHEZ – Holy Family Early Learning Center’s end of school program on May 14 included a production of The Wizard of Oz. Erik Hutchins portrayed the Tin Man, Carlton Lowe, the Scare Crow, Cayden Johnson the Cowardly Lion, and Samarra Godley played Dorothy. (Photo by Valencia Hall)

Parish Events


  • AMORY St. Helen Parish book review of “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr Monday, June 8, at noon in the parish hall.
  • CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories Parish, series on the Acts of the Apostles on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.
  • NATCHEZ St. Mary Parish, adult Bible study on the Book of Matthew, Sundays at 8:30 a.m. in the conference room of the Family Life Center. Details: Karen Verucchi, 601-870-5388. Adult Sunday School will resume on June 7.


  • AMORY St. Helen Parish picnic, Sunday, June 14, starting at 5 p.m. in the parish hall and grounds.
  • BOONEVILLE St. Francis of Assisi Parish, potluck for First Communion and confirmation, Sunday, May 31.
  • COLUMBUS Annunciation Parish, Pentecost food fest was changed to Sunday, June 7, beginning at 5 p.m. in the church parking lot.
  • GREENVILLE Sacred Heart Parish, volunteers are needed to welcome the tourists from all over the world who will embark from the steamship in downtown Greenville around 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 31. There is a possibility that Sacred Heart Church might be on the tourist’s visiting list. If so, volunteers are needed  to greet the tourists and tell the parish’s history.
    – Picnic, Sunday, June 7, beginning at 1 p.m. Bring your own food. There will be games for youth and adults.
  • GREENVILLE Steve Azar Delta Soul Celebrity Golf and Charity Event, Friday and Saturday, June 5-6. Details:
  • JACKSON Christ the King Parish St. Vincent de Paul/St. Martin DePorres Conference is accepting calls from those who need assistance, call 601-354-3716 from 9 a.m. – noon on Tuesdays, June 9 and 23.
    – Mass for sick and shut-in parishioners or nursing homes will be offered on Fridays at 10 a.m. during June and July. This will replaced the 8:45 a.m. school Mass. Details: Kathleen Feyen, 601-373-4463.
  • JACKSON St. Therese Parish, Relay for Life, Friday, June 5, from 6 p.m. – midnight at Lakeshore Church, 6880 South Siwell Rd., Byram. Needs volunteers to join the team as well as donations. Details: Gail Clark, 601-878-9017.
  • JACKSON St. Peter Parish summer picnic and bingo, Saturday, June 20, from  noon – 2 p.m. Details: RSVP to 601-969-3125.
  • JACKSON The Carmelite Nuns and Carmelite Seculars celebration Mass of the 500th year of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila, foundress of the Discalced Carmelites, Saturday, June 6, at 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Bishop Joseph Kopacz will be the principal celebrant.
  • JACKSON Sister Thea Bowman School is one of three schools in the country selected by the National Black Catholic Congress to participate in the Daniel Rudd Challenge. The school will receive $2,500 if 500 donors give at least $5 from May 1-31.
  • MERIDIAN St. Patrick Parish, Mass and reception to celebrate Father Francis Cosgrove’s 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood, Monday, June 1, at 6 p.m.  followed bya reception in the Family Life Center.
    – Knights of Peter Claver fish and ribs plates, Saturday, June 6, from 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the corner of 26th Avenue and 8th Street. Catfish plates are $7 and rib plates $8.
    – Baptism class, Sunday, June 14, at 2 p.m. in the parish center. Details: David or Morgan Bailey, 601-678-2476.
  • PEARL St. Jude Parish, Mass celebration of the 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood of Father Jeffrey Waldrep, pastor, Tuesday, June 16, at 6 p.m. followed by a reception in the parish hall.
  • SALTILLO May crowning, Sunday, May 31, at 5:30 p.m. followed by a potluck dinner and the celebration of Father Lincoln Dall’s seventh anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
    SHAW St. Francis of Assisi Parish Mass celebration of the feast of the priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ’s), Friday, June 12, at 11 a.m. followed by a luncheon in the Social Hall.
    – Summer social, (cookout) Sunday, June 28, at 6 p.m.
  • SOUTHAVEN Christ the King Parish, Mass celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart (SCJ’S) Friday, June 12, at 11 a.m. followed by a luncheon in the social hall.


  • Clarksdale St. Elizabeth, June 8-12 from 8 a.m. – noon for children ages pre-K 3 (completed) through fifth grade (entering). Details: Sarah Cauthen, 662- 645-6260,
  • Booneville St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Tuesday, July
    14, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Details: Sheila Przesmicki, 662-728-7509.
  • Brookhaven St. Francis of Assisi Parish, “Noah’s Ark,” June 9-11 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. A meal will be served at 5:30 p.m. Details: Emily Phillips, 601-757-0579, Erin Womack, 601-754-0963.
  • Corinth St. James Parish, Monday-Thursday, June 23-26, from 9 a.m. – noon.
  • Gluckstadt St. Joseph, Monday-Wednesday, June  15-17. Details: Karen Worrell, 601-672-5817,
  • Greenville St. Joseph, “Cool Kingdom Party,” July 13-16 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. in the parish hall. Details: Mary Ann, 662-335-5251.
  • Greenville Sacred Heart, June 8-12, 8:30 a.m. – noon for children in K-6th grades.
  • Hernando Holy Spirit, “Son Treasure Island,” June 1-5, from 9 a.m. – noon. Details: Andrea Ludwig, 662-404-0376.
  • Jackson St. Richard, “Everest,” June 1-4, from 9 a.m. – noon for children four years old through six graders. Details: Kim Turner,
  • Jackson St. Therese, “Win the World for Jesus,” June 8-12, from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Details: Betsy Carraway, 601-857-2252.
  • Madison St. Francis, “Godz Werkus Circus,” June 22-26, from 9 a.m. – noon for 3-year-olds-fourth-graders. Details: Mary Catherine George, 601-856-5556 ext. 118,
  • McComb St. Alphonsus, “Around the World with Assorted Saints and Virtues,” June 8-12. Details: Annette Gabler at 601-684-5648
  • Natchez St. Mary Basilica, June 1-5, in the Family Life Center for children ages four and up.
  • Pearl St. Jude, “Playing for God’s Team!,” June 1-5 from 9 a.m. – noon, for ages three through 12 years. Cost is $5 per child, $15 per family. Details: 601-939-3181,
  • Southaven Christ the King Parish, “Joy of the Gospel Around the World,” June 1-5 from 6 – 8 p.m. Details: Donna Williamson, 662-342-1073,

Parishes utilize apps to update faithful, evangelize

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – In an increasingly mobile and digital world, Catholic parishes and other institutions are finding that the ubiquitous mobile app can work for them. In Mississippi, parishes in Tupelo and Greenwood have launched personalized apps to help keep their communities connected.

The home screen of the Greenwood community app showing the three parishes and school. (Courtesy of Catholic Parish Apps)

The home screen of the Greenwood community app showing the three parishes and school. (Courtesy of Catholic Parish Apps)

More parishes are going the app route, and more companies are tailoring their business for the church trade. Among the app developers are, and Catholic Parish Apps.
Edmundo Reyes, founder and CEO of Catholic Parish Apps, the company that developed the Greenwood parishes’ app, told Catholic News Service that since his venture opened for business less than a year ago, he has gotten 65 parish apps off the ground, has another 75 or so in the works, and has secured contracts for the 70-parish Diocese of Orange, Calif., and the 213-parish Archdiocese of Detroit, where he doubles as director of institutional development for the archdiocese and its seminary.
“Not all of them are going to get the app, but a number of them will,” said Reyes, whose company’s site is
“We wanted to found a company that would really be at the intersection of technology and ministry,” he added. “We want things for the parish to be easy to use. We want our app to be flexible. Each parish is different, each ministry is different.” According to Reyes, parishes are interested in at least one of three things, based on how the pastor perceives his ministry: communication, collaboration and evangelization.
He referred to a 2013 survey conducted by the Detroit Archdiocese that garnered 44,000 responses. When asked how they got connected to their parish or the diocese, “95 percent of the people said the bulletin. Below them was the vicariate newsletter, and the thing about it is that the newsletter is included in the parish bulletin,” Reyes said. “The parish website and parish email efforts were only 45 percent. Now that’s a big gap between 95 and 45 percent.”
“People aren’t using computers or even laptops anymore, they really are using their smartphones to communicate,” said Father Lincoln Dall, pastor at Tupelo St. James, who used the company myParish app for his parish. He said he has already used the app to notify parishioners about prayer requests, funerals and changes in liturgy schedules. Some parishioners even said they attended one fund-raiser because of a reminder sent through the app.
Father Gregory Plata said Catholic Parish Apps was able to work with him to include all four of his faith communities, three parishes, a mission and a school, in one app. This helped keep the cost reasonable and allows him to communicate with all four at one time. While all four parishes are on one app, each offers different options depending on the needs of that faith community.
One early adapter was Nativity Parish in Timonium, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb. “The app allows people to check out basic information about Nativity such as service times and where we are. It has a map so people can come and check us out that way,” Hamilton said. “There’s some more in-depth information about some programs like our kids and teen programs.”
Weekend Mass announcements are posted. “We also put our pastor’s messages on the app as well. We break down our messages in series so over the course of four or six weeks we can have a series of messages,” Hamilton said. Nativity has since taken to broadcasting its Masses for viewing via the app, which also links to the pastor’s blog.
Holy Spirit Parish in Dubuque, Iowa, after nearly eight months of development, unveiled its app on Easter, and got 119 people to download it right away.
“It’s a tool for collaboration in the parish and it’s a tool for the new evangelization,” said Brandon Kuboushek, a member of the parish evangelization committee. “We want people to use it to get more information, get questions answered about the parish. We also hope people walking down the street will download it and it’s a way to evangelize. People are being bombarded with media all the time. This is a way to use that new technology.”
Kuboushek spent more than 40 hours volunteering, working with members of the committee and parish officials to get the app off the ground.
“We did this based on how can we get the attention of younger people or anyone who has gone away from the church; (we thought) ‘what are some ways we can appeal to them?’” Leslie Foley, another member of the evangelization committee, told The Witness, Dubuque’s archdiocesan newspaper.
Then there’s iBreviary, replacing the hefty leather-bound volumes of the Liturgy of the Hours. It’s a must-have, Father Clements told The Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix. A handful of priests from the Diocese of Jackson downloaded iBreviary when they attended a training session earlier this year. The app has settings to alert the user to prayer times and offers music and other prayer options.
(Contributing to this story were Dan Russo in Dubuque, Zita Taitano in Jonesboro, Dwain Hebda in Little Rock, Ambria Hammel in Phoenix and Maureen Smith in Jackson.)

Deacon Johnston takes next step on journey to priesthood

Andrew, Sarah Beth and Sophie Johnston, the deacon's nephew and nieces, hand out prayer cards before the liturgy. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

Andrew, Sarah Beth and Sophie Johnston, the deacon’s nephew and nieces, hand out prayer cards before the liturgy. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

Deacon Jason Johnston surrounded by brother clergy during his ordination at St. Paul Parish. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

Deacon Jason Johnston surrounded by brother clergy during his ordination at St. Paul Parish. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

By Maureen Smith
VICKSBURG – On Saturday, May 16, Jason Johnston was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Joseph Kopacz in his home parish of Vicksburg St. Paul. Deacon Johnston’s mother, two brothers, sister-in-law, two nieces and nephew sat in the front row of the packed church to celebrate the day. His father died three years ago. Bishop Kopacz remembered him at the end of the Mass. Deacon Johnston’s extended family, many of whom are not Catholic, also came out in force to celebrate his ordination.
“It was really great to have the support of the home parish and people I grew up with. In a lot of ways it seemed like it meant so much to a lot of people to see a vocation come from Vicksburg. People I hadn’t seen in years came up to me with tears in their eyes,” said Deacon Johnston.
Even several days after the ordination, the deacon was elated. “Saturday was awesome. I was very excited and at the same time very nervous.  I was reflecting on it the whole day — kind of ‘did this really just happen,’ it was kind of a surreal experience,” he said. “I am feeling a lot of gratitude and thanksgiving — first for the gift of ordination and God’s calling me as well as that the bishop was willing to say ‘yes’ to my ordination and all the support I have had over the years,” he added.
Deacon Johnston said he remembers vocations being promoted in elementary and grade school and he gave seminary passing consideration over the years, but it wasn’t until he had finished college and was working in the state auditor’s office that he decided to pursue his vocation. “After college I started asking questions of my own commitments and what I saw myself doing in 25 years. I wondered, would I look back on my life as an auditor and say ‘you have done well good and faithful servant?’ And for me personally that wasn’t really what I felt called to do. I wanted to do something to be involved directly in people’s lives and be a servant to others,” explained Deacon Johnston.
His nieces and nephews passed out prayer cards before the liturgy. Deacon Johnston explained what he selected. “Something about the diaconate that’s important to me is the idea of service, to conform onself to be like Christ the Servant.  So in the picture, Christ came to serve and not be served, he had just said that. He is washing what appears to be Peter’s feet and Peter is somewhat resistant, but Peter is allowing himself to be served which is taking some humility there as well. The verse on the back comes from the Gospel of John when Christ washed the disciples feet – ‘I give you a new commandment that you love one another.’ I think for me that encapsulates the diaconate.
“One of the questions the bishop asks (during the rite of ordination) is ‘do you promise to conform yourself to Christ whose blood you will be the minister of?’ This question’s answer is ‘I do, with the help of God.’ For all of the other questions the answer is simply ‘I do,’ but this one is the pinnacle of what I am trying to do, which can only be done with the help of God, with God’s grace,” he explained.
Johnston will spend the summer in the Catholic Community of Meridian at St. Patrick and St. Joseph parishes and looks forward to working in whatever parish community he is assigned next.
“I love Mississippi because really there is a variety of parishes. We have the smallest of parishes and the big city parishes so I am open to whatever the bishop thinks is best. There is something about both sides of that which I think is great; and I can see myself doing any of it.” Deacon Johnston will be ordained to the priesthood next May. In October, Joseph Le will be ordained to the transitional diaconate Oct. 10 in Greenville St. Joseph Parish.

Enlightenment dims in light of Christ

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
What’s the use of an old-fashioned, hand-held lantern? Well, its light can be quite useful when it’s pitch-dark, but it becomes superfluous and unnoticeable in the noonday sun. Still, this doesn’t mean its light is bad, only that it’s weak.
If we hold that image in our minds, we will see both a huge irony and a profound lesson in the Gospels when they describe the arrest of Jesus. The Gospel of John, for example, describes his arrest this way: “Judas brought the cohort to this place together with guards sent by the chief priests and Pharisees, all carrying lanterns and torches.”  John wants us to see the irony in this, that is, the forces of this world have come to arrest and put on trial, Jesus, the Light of the world, carrying weak, artificial light, a lantern in the face of the Light of the world, puny light in the full face of the noonday sun. As well, in naming this irony, the Gospels are offering a second lesson: when we no longer walk in the light of Christ, we will invariably turn to artificial light.
This image, I believe, can serve as a penetrating metaphor for how the criticism that the Enlightenment has made of our Christian belief in God stands before what it is criticizing. That criticism has two prongs.
The first prong is this: The Enlightenment (Modernist Thought) submits that the God that is generally presented by our Christian churches has no credibility because that God is simply a projection of human desire, a god made in our own image and likeness, and a god that we can forever manipulate to serve self-interest. Belief in such a god, they say, is adolescent in that it is predicated on a certain naiveté, on an intellectual blindness that can be flushed out and remedied by a hard look at reality. An enlightened mind, it is asserted, sees belief in God as self-interest and as intellectual blindness.
There is much to be said, positively, for this criticism, given that much of atheism is a parasite off of bad theism. Atheism feeds off bad religion and, no doubt, many of the things we do in the name of religion are done out of self-interest and intellectual blindness. How many times, for instance, has politics used religion for its own ends? The first prong of the criticism that the Enlightenment makes of Christian belief is a healthy challenge to us as believers.
But it’s the second prong of this criticism that, I believe, stands like a lantern, a weak light, dwarfed in the noonday sun. Central to the Enlightenment’s criticism of belief in God is the assertion (perhaps better called prejudice) that faith is a naiveté, something like belief in Santa and the Easter Bunny, that we outgrow as we mature and open our minds more and more to knowledge and what’s empirically evident in the world.  What we see through science and honest observation, they believe, eventually puts to death our belief in God, exposing it as a naiveté. In essence, the assertion is that if you face up to the hard empirical facts of reality without blinking, with honesty and courage, you will cease to believe in God. Indeed, the very phrase “the Enlightenment” implies this. It’s only the unenlightened, pre-modernist mind that still can believe in God.  Moving beyond belief in God is enlightenment.
Sadly, Christianity has often internalized this prejudice and expressed it (and continues to express it) in the many forms of fear and anti-intellectualism within our churches. Too often we unwittingly agree with our critics that faith is a naiveté. We do it by believing the very thing our critics assert, namely, that if we studied and looked at things hard enough we would eventually lose our faith.
We betray this in our fear of the intellectual academy, in our paranoia about secular wisdom, in some of our fears about scientific knowledge, and by forever warning people to protect themselves against certain inconvenient truths within scientific and secular knowledge. In doing this, we, in fact, concede that the criticism made against us is true and, worse still, we betray that fact that we do not think that the truth of Christ will stand up to the world.
But, given the penetrating metaphor highlighted in Jesus’ arrest, there’s another way of seeing this: After we have conceded the truth of the legitimate findings of science and secular wisdom and affirmed that they need to be embraced and not defended against, then, in the light of John’s metaphor (worldly forces, carrying lanterns and torches, as they to arrest the Light of world to put it on trial), we should also see how dim are the lights of our world, not least, the criticism of the Enlightenment.
Lanterns and torches are helpful when the sun is down, but they’re utterly eclipsed by the light of the sun. Worldly knowledge too is helpful in its own way, but it is more-than dwarfed by the light of the Son.
(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and award-winning author, is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.)

Carmelites remember their call as they honor foundress

(Editor’s note: The Carmelite Order celebrates the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila this year. The local Carmelite community has invited all the faithful to mark this day with a special Mass Saturday, June 6, 10:30 a.m., in the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. In an effort to educate people about the order and the anniversary, Dorothy Ashley, a member of the Order of Discalaced Carmelite Seculars (OCDS), in052915carmeliteterviewed
Sister Mary Joanne  Kuzmic,OCD, (aka “Sister Mary of the Angels”);  Sister Margaret Ellen Flynn, OCD, (aka “Sister Margaret Mary”) and Sondra Powell, OCDS.)

Q1.  When did you feel the call to the vocation of a Carmelite / Carmelite Secular?
Sister Mary Joanne:  I knew at a very early age that my vocation would be to live a life of prayer to God. After reading The Story of a Soul, I knew the Carmelite Monastery would be my home. The depth of the spirituality of St. Therese who lived the life of Carmel in the Monastery appealed to me.
Sister Margaret Mary:  My older sister entered the Monastery in St. Louis and from my earliest years I knew I had a religious vocation, but, assumed it would be to a teaching community because I didn’t know Carmelites existed. But after my sister’s entrance, I felt that was where God was calling me. My sister was Sister Mary Jane. We both entered into the Carmel in St. Louis and we both came on the Foundation to Jackson. She is buried in Gluckstadt, MS.
Sondra Powell: I think that the yearning for a deeper spiritual life began when I was very young and told one of the Sisters, in the first grade, at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Vicksburg that I wanted to be a nun.  Over the years growing up in a Methodist Church, I was always involved in spiritual activities.  I didn’t know that God was preparing me along the way.  Roland and I attended a Marriage Encounter weekend in 1979. After that weekend, my whole being was transformed and I felt I was being guided and being called to something else.  I felt a deep yearning of being unfulfilled.  Later, I became involved with the Cursillo Movement, the Charismatic Movement and then the Kairos Prison Ministry.  All of these were deep spiritual encounters and journeys for me, and as I grew spiritually, I still felt that something was missing in my life.  In the middle 70s, I began reading more spiritual books, leading me to the writings of St. Teresa’s The Way of  Perfection (my Patron Saint); St. Therese’s Story of a Soul: and The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross.
After reading these books over the years, I felt such a strong desire and pull in my soul to want to grow even closer to God and turn my life completely to Jesus.  Then, one Sunday after Mass, Dorothy Ashley asked me if I would be interested in visiting their Carmelite meeting.  I said yes.  After several visits, I felt that Jesus had been leading me to Carmel by preparing me along the way with my involvement in other spiritual movements.  I felt a great peace like I had come home.
Dorothy Ashley: I discerned my vocation as a Carmelite Secular after marriage and four children. Depending on the day of the week, I was wife, soccer mom, CYO Leader at my parish, Lector, and, physical therapist. Being a convert to Catholicism at age 10 and having staunch Baptist parents, I had grown up in the Catholic School system of Jackson and Greenville and attended both Mass and Baptist services regularly nearly every Sunday. While attending Alcorn State University, I was introduced to the Life in the Spirit Seminars  and Charismatic Renewal held weekly at St. Mary’s Basilica in Natchez. All this alongwith a Cursillo Retreat after marriage, help me to develop  a better prayer life and personal friendship with Jesus. I was looking for “more” spirituality and increased faith. It was about this time that I received an invitation to Carmelite Secular meetings held at the Carmelite Monastery here in Jackson.  It was through the formation process that I discerned my vocation to become a Carmelite Secular.

Q2. What about St. Teresa of Avila’s spirituality appeals directly to you?
Sister Mary Joanne:  After reading her autobiography, Way of Perfection, and all her writings, I was extremely comfortable with reading them. I felt at home. This is where I belong.  All of it appealed to me. I loved every word that was in the book and it was “for me.” She was way ahead of me in her spirituality, but, I understood what I was reading and was extremely comfortable reading and understanding it.
Sister Margaret Mary: Well, actually, I entered the Carmelite Order, but, I really didn’t know that much about St. Teresa, but, I learned very quickly through reading and spiritual guidance. It was her love of the Lord, prayer, and, solitude.
Sondra Powell: St. Teresa’s spirituality appealed to me because she was a busy person like I have always been.  Yet, in spite of this, she had been called to a deeper relationship with God, so I felt if I followed her example, I could grow deeper in my relationship with God.  She makes it seem so simple, that you are talking with a friend, who loves you more than you love yourself.  She had problems quieting herself and felt at times her mind was racing like a wild horse, yet, she was able to grow and the Lord would not turn her loose.  I said to myself, if he could do that for her, surely there was hope for me.  I still struggle, the path isn’t easy, but I have perseverance and I don’t plan to turn back.  My prayer life has developed tremendously, even with my ups and downs.  I pray the Morning and Evening Prayers daily, sometimes Night Prayers, read about our Carmelite saints and how they persevered, do Mental Prayer, although it varies: sometimes I pray, listen, use meditations or scriptures.  I know as long as I keep myself focused on Jesus, he’s not going to turn me loose.  I get distracted, lose my concentration, get sidetracked but I’m still trying and persevering to become more detached and to grow in humility and the other virtues.  Carmel has been my lifesaver and the answer to the “something else” that I felt was missing in my life.

Dorothy Ashley:  She was a contemplative, witty, often humorous, and a brave  reformer who loved our Lord very much. Her teachings on prayer, particularly, the prayer of  “Recollection”  are timeless and  one method I use in my own prayer life to help me to quiet myself and allow me to enter into the presence of Jesus in the depths of my inner being and commune with Him.
Q3. What would you say to someone considering a vocation in Carmel/ Carmelite Secular?
Sister Mary Joanne:  Stay in contact with a Carmelite Monastery. Continue correspondence with the nuns. Continue your life of prayer. Remain faithful in keeping the Sacraments.
Sister Margaret Mary:  I hadn’t really thought about it, but, I guess the best thing would be to get acquainted with the Community and the Community gets acquainted with the individual to learn more of our way of life and for us to learn more of her background and now why she came to this conclusion. As far as a “Come and See” weekend, that is what the Postulancy is for—to get acquainted with the life and allow the Community to discern if this person can adapt and grow in the life and for the individual to know if this life is what she is called to.
Sondra Powell: If you feel a deep desire to grow closer to God through your prayer life and to become a closer friend to God, the One who loves you dearly; if you have a deep yearning that you are incomplete in your inner self; if the Carmelite saints pull you toward them when you read their lives, then maybe the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order is for you.  I tell them about the length of time involved, the commitment and dedication needed and that we are family, community and friends.  I tell them that this is a vocation, a calling, and not like joining a club or organization.

Dorothy Ashley:  I invite them to come to our monthly meetings at least 3-6 times and just sit quietly, observe and listen to what is going on. Does any of what they may see or hear appeal to them? Does being in “community” during our monthly meetings appeal to them?  Do they want to learn more? Do they want a deeper prayer life?  Carmel offers one a more prayerful, peace-filled life – – especially in the midst of our everyday “comeapart” moments or days. I invite them to ask questions, pray and discern whether God may be calling them to this secular vocation as a layperson who is a Carmelite.  One must be a practicing Catholic at least age 21 who is in good standing with the Church.  I explain the formation process which includes both information and formation into the charism of Carmel and tell them the estimated length of time involved in each step of the formation process. Most importantly, they should pray and ask God to help them to discern this as a vocation. Our Council will also be praying and discerning individuals who may be called.
Q4. As a Carmelite Nun/Carmelite Secular, how do you incorporate your vocation into your daily life?
Sister Mary Joanne: Our life is like a prayer and we have responsibilities that do not distract us from our life of prayer. So, it’s not a matter of incorporating duties into our vocation…it is keeping in the presence of God, keeping in union with God and still continue with our responsibilities. Each nun has her own responsibility: One is in charge of the altar bread department.  Another is in charge of the gift shop. I assist with the community mail. But, it does not take away the essence of our vocation.
Sister Margaret Mary: Yes, that is why we are here. The vocation is a “calling.” Maintaining the life of the community and prayer is all part of our vocation and we live it all day long. My vocation is prayer and being present with the community in times of prayer and doing my best to supply the needs of the individuals and of the Community as the Leader. (Note: Sister Margaret Mary is the Community’s Prioress.)
Sondra Powell: I incorporate my vocation into my daily life with my Liturgy of the Hours, spending time with Jesus through my mental prayer, reading scriptures, and trying to be a better person toward my family, friends, those I meet along the way and myself, praying for others, helping others when needed, and sharing my talents.
Dorothy Ashley: My vocation is how I live my life every day, meaning, how I develop my personal relationship with Jesus through my prayer life and practicing being in His presence all throughout my day and night. It also is lived in the way I treat my family, friends, strangers, patients, parishioners, and co-workers.  My vocation is a life of service to God and my neighbor by praying for and sharing my gifts and talents with them. My vocation is offering my life and everything I do as a prayer and thanksgiving to Him who is my Friend. My vocation is living the evangelical counsels of  Chastity (according to one’s state of life), Poverty (of spirit), Obedience (to the Carmelite Order and Holy Mother Church)  and, the Beatitudes as is stated when I made my First and Definitive Promises.

Q5.  Do you have certain set times for “community prayer?” (Nuns only)
Sister Mary Joanne:  Yes, we have 2 hours of mental prayer and 3 hours of vocal prayer. We take our meals together.  We converse about the latest events at the dinner table.

Q6. What are the most pressing needs that your Carmel or Carmelite Community has today? How can the general public help with those needs?
Sister Mary Joanne:  We need religious vocations to help us. We have much property that needs our attention.
Sister Margaret Mary: Financial needs…..we have to pay the hired help. We want to pay them fair wages. Thanks to our Foundresses, we have established a financial background that helps us attempt to support ourselves by benefactors through the mail and we have a mailing list that Sister Joan helps to take care of.  That particular way of correspondence, I would say is one of our major sources of contributions from benefactors. Occasionally, someone will leave a piece of property when they die to our Community. If it’s not something we can utilize, we will get advice and sell it as appropriate.
Sondra Powell: Our most pressing needs:  building up our Order with more vocations to keep us viable; helping our Friars and Nuns, when possible, so they can continue to offer the prayers that are needed to keep this world going.  We can help by trying to live as examples of someone who has been touched by God, not being overbearing in our approach so that the way we live will attract others to Carmel.
Dorothy Ashley: We have a Carmelite Secular Community right here in Jackson—St. Joseph and St. Therese of Lisieux Carmelite Secular Community. We meet monthly at the Carmelite Monastery at 2155 Terry Road on the 4th Saturday of every month except July (no meeting), November and December (meet 3rd Saturdays of these months). Our meetings begin with Mass with the nuns at 9:30a.m. We welcome those who would like to visit our Community to come and be with us for a couple of hours. Shopping in the Carmelite Gift Shop is another source of financial support for the nuns. They really need customers to come and shop for religious items as this helps to support their household. Gift Shop hours are M-F 10-4p.m. and Sat. 11-3p.m.; 2155 Terry Road; Jackson, MS  39204. I would also like to invite the public to come meet and celebrate with us and the Carmelite nuns the 500th birthday of  the Foundress of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, St. Teresa of Avila, at St. Peter’s Cathedral; 123 N. West Street; Jackson, MS  39201 at 10:30a.m. on Saturday, June 6, 2015 with Mass.

Q7.  How many nuns can stay in this Monastery/Carmel?
Sister Margaret Mary:  Well, it’s like this…the Monastery is built for the normal capacity of a Monastery which is 21. But since we haven’t had 21, we 6 have expanded into all the empty spaces (laugh)….everyone has a workroom and a playroom….

Q8. Where were you born? Catholic or Convert? How many siblings and their sex(es)?  Where were you  in the birth order…Number what?
Sister Mary Joanne: I was born in Kansas City, Kansas. I am a member of a very devout Polish Catholic family. I am the eldest of 6 children. Among our devotions, at Christmas and Easter, my father shared a wafer called an oplatki with mother as the family gathered around the dinner table. . My father would say a prayer, “May God continue to share his blessings with you.”  Then, Mother shared it with the person next to her and said a prayer, “May you live forever in God’s grace.” Each person at the table partook in the family blessing.
Sister Margaret Mary:  I was born to a Catholic family in St. Louis, MO.  I have 5 brothers and 1 sister. My sister was a member of the Community.  She entered Carmel first and I followed in her footsteps. I am in the middle of 7 children, so, I was the 4th child. My mother went to daily Mass and brought me up going to daily Mass with her. We all received the Sacraments. My parents sent all of us to Catholic School. We lived in an area where there was a new parish starting and they didn’t have a school. One mile in one direction, there was a Catholic school. One mile in the other direction, there was a Catholic school. My mother wondered where she would send us. Well, the one in one direction, there was a railroad crossing right at the school boundary, so, my mother decided that she wasn’t trusting her kids to get across that railroad, so we went to the other Catholic school (laugh). I had 5 brothers. In St. Louis, they have diocesan high schools and if you go to them, your parish has to pay part of your tuition. Actually, my sister and I went to a different system—a parish high school taught by the Dominican nuns because my mother had a cousin that attended that school and she wanted us to go there, but, my brothers all went to diocesan high schools.
Sondra Powell: I was born in Vicksburg, MS.  My first school was Saint Mary with the Holy Spirit Sisters.  I grew up as an African Methodist Episcopal member, although I went to St. Mary’s to church often and the teachings never left me that I was determined that one day I would become Catholic, which I did, after I married.  I was the oldest of 3 children.  My baby sister died at the age of 3 from asthma complications when I was 5 and my brother was killed in an automobile accident while serving in the army in Germany at the age of 23. I was 25. I was 23 when I converted to Catholicism.
Dorothy Ashley:  I was born in Neshoba County in Philadelphia, MS. I began Catholic School in Jackson at Christ the King Catholic School, now renamed “Sister Thea Bowman School”, at age 5. I am an only child. We moved to Indianola, MS when I was 9 years old and I then attended Sacred Heart Catholic School in Greenville, MS from 4th through 8th grades. Ninth and tenth grades were attended at St. Joseph Catholic School in Greenville, MS and I graduated from Gentry High School in Indianola, MS. My parents were staunch Missionary Baptists and never converted to Catholicism although they  consented to my request to become Catholic and allowed me to be baptized Catholic at age 10  on
May 7, 1967.  They were very faithful in allowing me to go to Mass every Sunday. They would drop me off for Mass while they continued  to their church for Sunday School about a mile away. Indianola was a small community and they knew the families at our small church, so, they felt secure that I was safe. When Mass was over, I was taken to the Baptist church by one of the parishioners if it was the second or fourth Sunday because my mother and father’s church continued with preaching after Sunday School on those Sundays and I had to attend. There was no way that I could remain at home and they be in church….it just wasn’t happening in my household!! Looking back, I know that all that was a great grace given to me by our Lord and one of the highlights of my journey of faith.

Q9. How long have you been in your vocation?
Sister Mary Joanne: After graduation from Loretto Academy High School, I worked for three years as a secretary. After those 3 years, I decided that my vocation was in Carmel. I celebrated my Golden Jubilee in Carmel in 2009. I have been in the Monastery 56 years.
Sister Margaret Mary:  I entered Carmel in 1949. That’s 66 years.
Sondra Powell: I have been a Discalced Carmelite Secular since 2009.
Dorothy Ashley:  I became a Discalced Carmelite Secular on Oct. 11, 2003.

Q10. What do you want people to remember about you?
Sister Mary Joanne: (She could think of nothing to say about herself, but, instead elaborated on Sister Margaret Mary.) Sister Margaret Mary is invaluable. You know Thomas Merton said, “The only person qualified to be the perfect Superior in a Monastery is Jesus. She fits in that category. She oversees everybody. She’s just perfect. She never complains. She’s so humble and peaceful. We go up and approach her and all we see is PEACE. So I say, “What am I doing here?” (laugh) “Go back to what you were doing.” She’s just a beautiful person. She goes over and helps Sr. Dona in the Gift Shop. She helps me with my mail. She helps everybody with their work. So, we all go to her. She gets to know each one’s responsibility. She oversees everybody and having the quality of doing that is just superb!
Sondra Powell: I want people to remember that I loved my Carmelite community; that I was dedicated, helpful and tried to use my gifts to strengthen my community and to help it grow.
Dorothy Ashley: My name, “Dorothy” means, “Gift of God.” I hope that people remember me as one who loved the Lord and others and who used the gifts that God gave me to build up His Kingdom.

Q11.  Sister Margaret Mary, what gives you that peace?
Sister Margaret Mary:  I think it’s something I grew up with. I was from a very large family, but, it was always very peaceful and everybody was always very amenable and it’s just been my way of life my whole life. Obviously, my prayer life contributes to my own inner peace. We were just a very peaceful household.  There were 7 of us—7 children and 2 parents. We had to learn to live in peace. My mother didn’t put up with anything at all (laugh)!

Q12.  (Carmelite Seculars only):
A. Tell me about your family (husband, married how long, how many children, ages), type of work you do, or, if retired, what type of work you did.
Sondra Powell:  My husband, Dr. Roland H. Powell, Sr., is a retired veterinarian (Valley Street Animal Clinic and Terry Animal Clinic) and college professor (Assoc. Prof. of Biology-Jackson State University).  We married December 23, 1955 and will celebrate 60 years this year.  We have 5 adult children: one daughter-57; 4 sons: 55, 54, 51, and 49,
Before moving back to Jackson, I worked as a chemist and research technician in cardiac research and later, sickle cell anemia.  After moving to Jackson, I was administrative assistant (manager) for our 2 clinics until 1997, and later for 2 of our sons in their business.  I still help them with their accounting.
Dorothy Ashley: I have been married for 34 years and have 4 adult children—3 sons and 1 daughter who are 23, 25, 27, and, 30. I am a physical therapist and worked in hospitals, long-term rehab and home health for 29 years. I stopped work for 3 years to care for my widowed father who had Alzheimers. He passed away in 2013. I am now blessed to be working as a Pastoral Associate at St. Dominic Hospital here in Jackson.

B.  What does your family/or spouse+/or children think of you being in this vocation as a Carmelite Secular?
Sondra Powell:  They accept my vocation as a part of me.  They also know I don’t let too many things interfere with my fulfilling my needs in my vocation.  I try to arrange family things around my time needed for my vocation when possible.  I do not neglect my time needed for my husband and family.  It’s a matter of scheduling, getting up earlier sometimes, or staying up later at other times, or just using your time wisely instead of wasting it with frivolous things, such as TV.
Dorothy Ashley:  Before making your Promise, my Secular Council asked me the same question. One’s spouse, in particular, has to be in agreement that one enter into this vocation because it is a way of life. My husband was very supportive of me entering Carmel. My children were in preschool and elementary school when I began my formation and by the time I became Carmelite, they were in elementary and high school. But, because of the support from my husband, I was able to attend the monthly Saturday meetings while he was the “soccer dad”  and “taxi-driver.” (laugh) They are very accepting and supportive of my vocation. My adult children just say I am “different.” (laugh)

Q13. (Nuns only):  
A.  What do you like about living in a cloister? What do you like about living in community?
Sister Mary Joanne:  The cloister provides the silence and solitude needed for contemplative prayer. The community provides the communication with others who have the same interests. This is my “family.”
Sister Margaret Mary:  Well,….I’ve been doing it for so long, I can’t remember! (laugh) Actually, it’s a wonderful family spirit and I grew up in a very close family and I find community life very supportive in prayer and in duties, and, the cloister protects our way of life and gives us more time and freedom for prayer time and for privacy. I don’t know anything to compare it with because I’ve never lived as a teacher.  I was a student nurse and I at times thought I would become a Sister of Mercy, but actually that wasn’t what developed. This is the only life I’ve known for 60 plus years.

B.  What did it take you a long time to get used to or accept when you were discerning your vocation to be a cloistered nun?
Sister Mary Joanne:  It didn’t take very long. I was the oldest of 6 and I helped my parents financially with another income so that after high school, there were three incomes coming in. And, I worked for three years.  When two of my brothers and sisters graduated from high school, I decided to enter the Carmelite Monastery.
Sister Margaret Mary: It took time, but, I grew up in a large family and I was accustomed to sharing and taking my turn and doing the things I was supposed to. Now the prayer time….two hours of mental prayer a day…I think it took me….it wasn’t something that was difficult….but, it wasn’t something I felt that I was doing correctly for a long time. It wasn’t something I didn’t like…it’s just that it felt like I was fighting for my life to be prayerful two hours a day.  It was just adapting to the structure as it was. I do one full hour of morning prayer and one full hour of prayer in the evening. The first hour in the morning is an hour of mental prayer and again from five to six in the evening.
Sister Mary Joanne:  We arise at 6:00 in the morning and then we have one hour of mental prayer 6:15 to 7:15. Vocal Prayer/Morning Prayer from 7:15 to 7:30, then, Mass. Then, we have after Mass, Office of Readings, and, then, 4:30 is Evening Prayer followed by one hour of Mental Prayer. Night Prayer is at six followed by Supper and then nothing structured. Night Prayer used to be at 7:30 but we were down to so few Sisters that we decided to have it at six. However, the 7:30 bell still continues to ring. Maybe one day we will go back to 7:30. Bedtime is different for each Sister. Some go to bed at 8, some 9, some 10p.m.


Remembering Father Martin Ruane, storyteller, evangelizer, friend

By Father Gerard Hurley and Maureen Smith
PEARL – Hundreds gathered at Pearl St. Jude Parish to remember and celebrate Father Martin Matthew Ruane, 76, with a funeral liturgy. He was buried in Gluckstadt St. Joseph Parish cemetery after the Mass Wednesday, May 20.
Father Ruane died May 15 at St. Dominic Hospital after a short battle with cancer. He was born in Menlough, Co. Galway, Ireland, on December 20, 1938, son of the late Martin and Margaret Ruane of Garbally House.
He was the second of seven siblings raised on a small dairy farm. Father Ruane attended the local school after which he went on to St. Jarlath’s Minor Seminary in Tuam. From there, he moved to the Major Seminary, St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, where he completed his philosophy and theological studies.
Father Ruane was ordained on June 8, 1963, at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Carlow, for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson. He arrived in the diocese on September 4, 1963, and shortly thereafter took up his first assignment at Pascagoula Our Lady of Victories. From there, he moved to Meridian St. Patrick Parish. In 1970, he was appointed the pastor of Belzoni All Saints Parish, where he served for 10 years. Next, he pastored at Clinton Holy Savior where he was best noted for leading the people in building their new sanctuary.
After spending two years at Columbus Annunciation Parish, Father Ruane moved to Pearl St. Jude Parish where he served for 12 years, his longest tenure. He spent one year at Crystal Springs St. John and Hazelhurst St. Martin Parish before finally settling in at Grenada St. Peter Parish and its mission, Charleston St. John.
Those who knew him all mentioned his sense of humor and his great love for evangelizing.
“He loved the Catholic faith and he just felt we had a great treasure in our Catholic faith and he used every opportunity he got to share that. If we were in a restaurant he would start a conversation with the waiter or waitress and find a way to bring it around and talk to them about their faith,” said Father Mike O’Brien, pastor of Jackson St. Richard Parish and friend of Father Ruane.
“He also loved reconciliation services for Christmas and Easter. He did everything to have a big turnout so his parishioners would be ready for the big feasts,” added Father O’Brien.
Father Gerard Hurley, pastor of Flowood St. Paul Parish, agreed. “It was a particular gift that Mattie had. He could really draw close to people. He was the perfect model of a missionary. Once he could draw near, he could instruct people and bring them into the church,” said Father Hurley.
Both men remember Father Ruane’s love for sports, entertaining and telling a good story. He would play golf with friends as often as he could. Once, when Father Ruane was on a golf outing, he met a man fishing and ended up accepting some fish. “He left the fish in the back of Father Walter Maloney’s car. Walter went back to Yazoo City and didn’t even realize the fish were back there. Mattie called me the next day to say Walter had called to say every fly in Yazoo County was in his car,” said Father Hurley.
Father Hurleys and O’Brien said humor was one of the gifts he used to get to know people. “He was a great entertainer, a great friend to the priests and he loved to have a good time,” said Father Hurley. He said Father Ruane was always comforting his fellow clergymen and offering his support.
“Those who have been ordained share a bond in a unique fraternity,” said Mary Woodward, diocesan chancellor. “When a member of the priesthood dies, it is a brother dying to those in that bond. Father Martin Ruane was a brother to so many of his Irish and adopted state’s priests. He was also a mentor to young men considering the priesthood. His life was about priesthood and bringing people to Christ.
“Though there are a million stories from the golf course, his real story is the legacy he leaves – of hearts touched and healed, spirits lifted and revived, lives changed because Father Martin Ruane took the time to share the compassion and invitation of Jesus Christ with those whom he encountered along his own journey to the Father,” Woodward added.
Rhonda Bowden, who worked with Father Ruane at St. Jude, said he was always the one people turned to in times of need. “Once, when there was a standoff in our neighborhood, our first thought was to call Father Ruane. He came – the swat team was there and everything – and he helped talk a man into surrendering,” she said. She also noted that he was able to diffuse almost any situation with humor.
In all, Father Ruane had 52 years of dedicated service, and each assignment brought him great joy in his ministry. He had an uncanny ability to touch the lives of many people because of his enthusiasm, energy and great love of the Catholic faith.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Father Tommy and Paddy. He is survived by his brothers, John, Michael, and Larry (Maire); and his sister, Annie “Sister Anthony.”
In lieu of flowers, send donations to the Priests’ Retirement Fund of the Dioceses of Jackson and Biloxi, c/o P.O. Box 2248, Jackson. MS 39225-2248.

Bishop’s Ball auction items arriving

JACKSON – Tickets are still available for the 10th annual Catholic Charities Bishop’s Ball to be held on Saturday, June 6, at the Country Club of Jackson. Catholic Charities will be honoring Mr. Archie R. McDonnell, Jr., Citizens National Bank of Meridian and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gaston of Madison who have worked relentless in helping Catholic Charities mission.

Auction organizers sort and package items for the Catholic Charities Bishop’s Ball, set for June 6 at the Country Club of Jackson. (Photo by Julie O’Brien)

Auction organizers sort and package items for the Catholic Charities Bishop’s Ball, set for June 6 at the Country Club of Jackson. (Photo by Julie O’Brien)

The event will offer a live auction featuring a painting by Yvette Sturgis, a three-night stay in Sandestin, a football autographed by Eli Manning, and a chair by Greg Harkins. The silent auction will feature many pieces of art by Diego Larguia, Paul R. Smith and Walter Anderson just to name a few. Decorative items from John Richard Furniture, jewelry, gift cards, trips and so much more.
Don’t forget the fabulous raffle packages “All About You” for the ladies, “Made in Mississippi.” “Cheers” for the wine lover, “Outdoor Living” for those avid hunters and a 48” HDTV. The Bishop’s Ball is Catholic Charities premier fundraising event to support programs such as adoption, therapeutic crisis centers, foster care, and the domestic violence programs. Visit to purchase tickets or contact Julie O’Brien at (601)326-3758 or

Retiring sisters honored in Greenville

By Lisa Zepponi
GREENVILLE – During the annual crowning of Mary at Our Lady of Lourdes School on Friday, May 15, the students, current and former faculty, parents and friends recognized and honored Sisters Mary Elizabeth DeBoer and Marie Elizabeth Alspaugh for their unwavering devotion and loyalty to the students, both past and present.
Both sisters will be returning to their religious orders in New York and

ay Robinson walks Sister Mary Elizabeth DeBoer to her seat.

ay Robinson walks Sister Mary Elizabeth DeBoer to her seat.

Walker Zapponi walks Sister Marie Elizabeth Alspaugh to her seat for a ceremony to honor both sisters service to Our Lady of Lourdes School.  (Photo by Lisa Zepponi)

Walker Zapponi walks Sister Marie Elizabeth Alspaugh to her seat for a ceremony to honor both sisters service to Our Lady of Lourdes School. (Photo by Lisa Zepponi)

Pennsylvania, respectively.
Seventeen years ago, Sister DeBoer arrived in Greenville to begin teaching language arts and math to fifth and sixth graders. During the past eight years Sister DeBoer has been the volunteer librarian at Our Lady of Lourdes, where she has shared her love of reading with children and adults alike.
Sister DeBoer entered the Dominican Sisters of Hope in Newburg, NY in 1949, and began her teaching career in 1952. She has taught in Catholic schools in New York, North Carolina, New Jersey and Mississippi and served as principal of two separate schools in Durham, NC and Glen Rock, NJ. She brought her love of education to many who have walked through the doors of Our Lady of Lourdes.
“Teaching children and developing their spiritual life is a life process, which I am most proud to have participated,” said Sister DeBoer.
As she begins her new chapter of life in Ossining, NY, she said, “My hope is to read children’s books to adults who can no longer read or are incapable of reading.”
After turning down several different principal positions, including one in West Virginia and three in the Jackson area, Sister Alspaugh chose to make Our Lady of Lourdes and Greenville her home for the next 25 years. She joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in Philadelphia in 1956, and began teaching in 1959 at St. Bern in Philadelphia. She has taught and served as principal in Catholic schools in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey and Mississippi. She has served as a classroom teacher for 16 years and as a principal for 33 years, 18 of which were for Our Lady of Lourdes.
“I chose Lourdes and Greenville because of the great support I received from Father Ferrell, formerly of St. Joseph Catholic Church, the parents and the strong group of teachers,” she said, adding that she wanted to involve the families in their children’s education. “I felt I could accomplish this goal here in Greenville where I stayed for 25 years because I love Greenville, the culture, the children and the families.”
Sister Alspaugh retired as principal of Lourdes in 2008 and began her new parish work including volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul, which she continues today. In 2011 she was enticed to return as a teacher of an advanced math class for sixth grade students, which she continued for the past four years to fifth and sixth graders.
We pray for their safe return to their respective orders and for the Lord’s continued blessing upon them.   You will be missed and forever loved.
(Lisa Zepponi is the public relations director for Greenville St. Joseph Catholic School.)

Parents urged to set guidelines online interactions

By Paul Artman
“Not my child!” That was a comment recently used at a parent information night when the school community gathered to discuss cyber issues. “Yes indeed, my child,” should be the convincing words used in every family to deal with today’s most fashionable and dangerous cyber issues. Whether the issue is online cheating and plagiarism, cyber bullying, social networking, sexting or encountering predators, parents need to understand that they are the front line point of contact on these real life issues, and that family communication regarding such is a must.

"New technologies are not only changing the way we communicate but communication itself," says Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli. The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications addressed journalists and executives from faith-based and secular news agencies May 22 at the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y.'s 23rd annual World Communications Day. (CNS photo/Sebastiao Moreira, EPA)

“New technologies are not only changing the way we communicate but communication itself,” says Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli. The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications addressed journalists and executives from faith-based and secular news agencies May 22 at the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y.’s 23rd annual World Communications Day. (CNS photo/Sebastiao Moreira, EPA)

“We have responsibility as Catholics to promote internet safety as a church. Education for both adults and children is important to us as good Catholics to be respectable and appropriate users of digital and social media,” explained Vickie Carollo, coordinator of the Office of Child Protection for the Diocese of Jackson. “Technology is constantly evolving. We must stay abreast of these changes due to the dangers that threaten us, our children and young people,” she added.
Please talk with your children about cyber safety, online dangers, your expectations, the ground rules, monitoring, how to respond to a threat, reporting issues and how positive peer pressure can help. Likewise, these tips could help save a child from a life of torment brought on by reckless online behaviors. We must remain realistic; it could very well be your child.
Do something about this today because, believe it or not, your child is tethered to electronic social networks and devices at least eight hours daily! Especially now that summer has arrived and kids will have more free time.
First and foremost, parents should institute internet safety rules for the household, adhere to these, and continually monitor effectiveness. Rules should center on non-disclosure of sensitive information online, the reporting of uncomfortable encounters and the posting of photos. Through the monitoring process, parents need to be cognizant of online lingo used and insist that the family should know online friends just as we would demand knowing and visiting with friends in person. Parents must focus on constant communication with their children regarding cyber issues.
Discuss early and often the expectations, dangers, ground rules, peer pressure and appropriate responses regarding matters of the internet. Make no mistake, online predators do exist and are ready to prey on any vulnerable person. Often posing as someone else, online predators and evil sites may attempt to lure children through their confidences or gifts.  Children must be instructed not to open spam or emails from unknown persons. Pornography and evil electronic providers must be reported immediately to your internet service provider and law enforcement.
There is no doubt that social network sites have broadened relationship opportunities, but not all relationships are psycho-socially healthy. Regarding internet sites, it must be noted that some sites gather profiles; therefore, we must always consider what information we wish to be held by others. Adding online social contacts just for the sake of adding contacts can be dangerous. Caution should become second nature, but often times young people cast caution to the wind, especially when electronic devices are concerned.
Online postings become public information and have a shelf life beyond your own life expectancy. Today, more than eight percent of future employers and higher education intuitions review applicants’ social network postings.
Sexting, the exchange of personal explicit photos online, is a generational exercise that is difficult to understand, but a sad youthful reality. Our children must be reminded to think about the consequences, ultimate destinations, and the longevity of images before they ever hit the send button on any electronic device.  The guiding principle is to never take a photograph that one would not mind everyone else in the world viewing.
The cyber-explosion has also drastically impacted educational institutions with regard to academic applications, bullying, digital cheating and plagiarism. In this era, we often post negative things about others online that we would never say in person. It is time for a new standard of being kind and understanding how comments will be taken negatively online. We must all resist the opportunity to personally bully someone or employ a proxy to engage in bullying. In taking anti-bullying action, tell someone, walk away without incident and reach out for help.
Again, for the greater good achieved by laptops, tablets, and smartphones it must be noted that these devices often promote the opportunity to cheat. Plagiarism is another form of cheating that has only intensified in our cyber rich world.  Plagiarism is the taking of another’s scholarly work as if it were our own. While often misunderstood by students and parents alike, this is considered theft of intellectual property.
Today’s cyber world certainly offers new insights into relationships, learning, and communication, but its detriments can be even more overwhelming. Caution is urged as we face a dangerous new world.
The Mississippi Attorney General’s Cyberbullying Task Force is ready and willing to help you educate your children and youth about the improper use of social networking. A task force representative can be reached at 601/576-4281 or 601/576-4265.
(Paul Artman is the principal of Greenville St. Joseph School. Maureen Smith contributed to this report)