GREENVILLE – St. Joseph School student Virginia French Virden participates in soccer, tennis and cheer at SJCS. She is the 2015 MHSAA 1A Girls Single Tennis State Champion and was recently chosen for the MAIS All-Star Soccer Team.
A member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, Virden was selected to the 2015 Homecoming Court.  She volunteers her time and talent with The Delta Soul Celebrity Golf and Charity event, The Special Olympics, The Delta Cotton Belles Tennis Tournament, St. Vincent de Paul’s Society and many others.
Adrian Thomas Azar has been a member of the SJCS basketball team since eigth grade and the SJCS golf team since ninth.  A high scoring guard, Azar has been named to the 2015 MHSAA All-Region 3-1A Basketball Team and the 2015 All-County Basketball Team. He is a member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta.  He is a Carrie Stern Reading Buddy, a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church Life Teen, and a volunteer with many organizations such as The Mighty MS Music Festival, The Delta Soul Celebrity Golf and Charity Event, and St. Vincent de Paul’s Society.
Chambers Edward Mansour is a member of Mu Alpha Theta and the National Honor Society.  He has been an active volunteer in St. Joseph Catholic Church as a n altar server and lector. He has volunteered with the Special Olympics, Delta Center Stage, and St. Vincent de Paul Society as well as the Delta Soul Celbrity Golf Tournament.  He also serves as a Reading Buddy at Carrie Stern. He plays football, basketball, soccer, and tennis. Chambers is a member of the 2015 MHSAA State Tennis Team.
He was selected a school team member for the University of Mississippi Brain Brawl competition and the MDCC Scholar Bowl. He was a participant in the HOBY leadership conference and a delegate to Boys State. Chambers was selected as a Duke Tip Scholar and maintains a 4.28 GPA.
Nia Nichole Parker is a cheerleader at St. Joseph.  She is a member of the National Honor Society, Mayor’s Youth Council, and the Environmental Science club. Nia volunteers with St. Vincent de Paul as well as New Jerusalem MB Church.  She maintains a 3.7 GPA while enrolled in college prep and dual enrollment classes.


BATESVILLE St. Mary Parish, altar server class, Sunday, Dec. 6, at  at 9:45 a.m. (during Sunday School time) for new altar servers and current acolytes and those who would like to serve.

BROOKHAVEN St. Francis Parish, pajama Christmas party, Sunday, Dec. 6, at the home of Patrick and Kellie Barrett beginning at 6:30. Bring an appetizer and wear your favorite pajamas. Prizes will be awarded to the best pajamas.

COLUMBUS Annunciation School Christimas performance, Thursday, Dec. 3, at 6:30 p.m. at Rent Auditorim.

MERIDIAN – St. Patrick Parish, basketball and dodgeball competition, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. All youth in fifth-12th graders are invited to participate. Youth from Philadelphia Holy Cross Parish will join. Details: Father José de Jesús Sánchez, 601-693-1321.
– Council 802 of the Knights of Columbus is inviting all Catholic students in eighth-12th grades to participate in the Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest. Students are to write a 500 – 700 words essay on the theme “President Kennedy’s words are still important today.” Deadline is Dec. 11. Details: Dave Klutz, 601-479-8703.

PEARL St. Jude Parish, Charlie Brown Youth Christmas Party. Friday, Dec. 18, from 8:30 – 11 p.m. Wear your tackiest sweater or vest. Bring a gift to exchange. It’s potluck. Text us what you’ll bring to share.

Young Catholic Women invited to conference

Washington D.C. – The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) announced a first-of-its-kind leadership event for young Catholic women, to be held June 7 – 12, 2016, at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Officially named GIVEN: the Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum, the event will be a week-long immersion in faith formation, leadership training, and networking. The GIVEN Forum will provide a platform for what St. John Paul II called “the feminine genius,” and a response to Pope Francis’ plea for a deeper understanding and activation of the unique gift of women in the Church and the world.
Throughout the week, young Catholic women will engage three principal themes, which include receiving the gift you are, realizing the gifts you’ve been given, and responding with the gift only you can give.
The event will feature many distinguished women leaders as speakers. The keynote speakers include Dr. Carolyn Woo, the President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, Sister Prudence Allen, R.S.M., and Helen Alavaré. Helen Alvaré is currently a Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law, a prominent news consultant, and advisor to various Catholic organizations and United Nations conferences concerning women and the family.
Ms. Alvaré looks forward to the event, stating, “The GIVEN Forum is exactly what young women need today in the Francis era – a place to discover that every woman is called by God to contribute, a place to learn to overcome the fear of speaking out, and a place to be inspired to get to work.”
The Forum is open to all young women between the ages of 20 and 30 who are vibrantly living their Catholic faith. Attendees must apply on the GIVEN Forum’s website,, by the deadline of February 2, 2016. Women who are accepted to attend GIVEN will receive a scholarship covering the full cost of the Forum, including food, lodging, and travel.
The CMSWR, the host of the GIVEN Forum, is located in Washington, D.C. The CMSWR was founded in 1992 with the canonical approval of St. John Paul II, and the sisters of the CMSWR communities represent more than 120 communities nationwide with approximately 6,000 sisters. For more information, including application links for the GIVEN Forum, visit

30,000 American Catholics expected at World Youth Day

By Dennis Sadowski
BALTIMORE (CNS) — The American contingent to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, in July is expected to top 30,000 pilgrims.
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in a Nov. 17 presentation during the U.S. bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore, that the U.S. delegation of young people is expected to be the largest outside of North America.
He said that about 13,000 people already were registered for the event.
Pope Francis, in inviting young people and young adults to the celebration, connected World Youth Day with the Year of Mercy, which is set to open Dec. 8. The event in the southern Polish city will become a “youth jubilee,” Bishop Caggiano said.
The bishop, who is working with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, said people of all ages are invited to attend the weeklong World Youth Day, set for July 25-31.
“If everyone can be a pilgrim, where will you celebrate and how will you embark on this pilgrimage?” Bishop Caggiano asked.
He urged his fellow bishops to consider heading their local contingent, saying the deadline for prelates to register was Dec. 4.
While not all young people will be able to travel to Poland, Bishop Caggiano urged the bishops to plan events in their diocese to coincide with World Youth Day.
“World Youth Day is not simply an event that happens every three years. It is not limited to those who have the means to travel. Rather, World Youth Day is an opportunity for encounter, transformation and conversion offered for every youth and young adult in all of our dioceses and eparchies,” he said.
World Youth Day activities, locally or in the host country, provide an opportunity for young people to discern their call to a priestly or religious vocation, the bishop added.
“So many hear God’s word at an event like this to priesthood, religious vocation or consecrated life,” he said. “We’ve found that World Youth Day plays an indispensable role in young priests, sisters and brothers and lay leaders.”
Already the secretariat is preparing catechetical resources and other materials for bishops and diocesan staff preparing for the celebration. He said opportunities for Americans to meet in Poland for prayer, tours and other activities. Two particular events are being planned, including a gathering of pilgrims July 27 and a concelebrated Mass will all U.S. pilgrims July 30. Details will be announced in the future.
Bishop Caggiano also said that precautions are being taken to assure the safety of Americans making the journey. He said the bishops’ World Youth Day staff is working with the U.S. Department of State, the Polish embassy in Washington and the U.S. Consulate in Krakow on security measures.
“We will continue to be diligent and proactive in all of these matters,” he said.
(Editor’s Note: Information about World Youth Day is available at and

Welcoming baby Jesus Anguilla parishioner shares nativity collection

By Mary Margaret Halford
CARY— As a schoolteacher for 38 years in Cary and Rolling Fork, Mary Hazel Weissinger took advantage of her Christmas and summer breaks and usually spent that time traveling the world. On a Christmastime trip to Alaska with her late husband, Charles Hyde Weissinger Sr., Mary Hazel stumbled across a nativity that she wanted to add to her small, but growing collection.
“I’ve always had a special feel for nativities,” said the 88-year-old parishioner of Our Mother of Mercy in Anguilla. “Every time I visited another country, I tried to find a nativity. I saw a little bitty one that caught my eye in Alaska, and it keeps growing from there.”
Weissinger’s nativity collection dates back to the early 1960s when her brother and cousin were living in Germany and sent her a Hummel nativity in pieces.
“It seems like it’s been always,” Weissinger said with a laugh, “like I’ve always had the nativities.”
As time went on, the collection grew into hundreds of pieces as Mary Hazel’s travels continued and friends and family picked up on her hobby, sending her nativities from around the globe.
“I have a cousin that is a Catholic missionary priest in Peru, and about 10 or 15 years ago, my mother asked if he would send back a nativity that was indigenous to that area. He sent her back the most beautiful ceramic long neck,” said Maryanne Smith, one of Mary Hazel’s six children. “He had to carry it in a backpack hiking down the Andes to get back to a town where he could put it in the mail. Some of the lengths these nativities have gone through just to find their way to us… It’s amazing.”
The handmade nativity that made its way to Mary Hazel from Peru was broken in route from the post office, but repaired.
“They all have a story,” Smith said. “They’re all catalogued. You can’t imagine the inventory control you have to do on this to get them stored and put out every year.”
And each year at Christmas, Mary Hazel would proudly display her nativities throughout her home, going so far as to adding furniture to her home to hold them all. “She had bookcases built, but still you couldn’t even see them all because there were so many,” Smith said.
“The living room was full, the den was full,” Mary Hazel said. “Maryanne said it was just selfish not to share them.” “In 2009, we convinced her (Mary Hazel) to start putting them on public display,” Smith said.
“The family had been creating the displays, packing and unpacking the nativities, and viewing the end product,” Smith said. “It was a shame that such a beautiful and unique collection should only be seen by a small number of people each year. It needed to be shared. Although it took a little bit of convincing, Mom finally embraced the idea.”
So each year around Thanksgiving, the family sets up her nativities at Goodman Memorial Methodist Church just off US 61.  At the first year of the display, there were approximately 200 nativities that all fit in the main room of the church’s Family Life Center. Just as it did in the Weissinger home, the collection has grown into a need for more display cases and rooms at the church. Today, there are about 400 on display.
“When people see the display, they say it’s not at all what they expected,” Smith said. “Some are origami, some are baking sets, others are pillows or ornaments; it’s just every shape, form, and fashion. It could take you hours to go through and see all the ones she has.”
“Some of them are what you’d call ‘whimsical’,” Mary Hazel said. “One of them is a jigsaw puzzle, one is made out of pencil erasers. I’m always looking for anything different, and my friends know I’m interested, so they bring them to me, and that’s added a lot.”
The nativities are on display at Goodman Memorial Methodist Church off US 61 in Cary the first three weekends in December on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. There is no entry cost to see the nativities.

Holy Family Parish Celebrates 125 years

By Maureen Smith
NATCHEZ – The kindergarten students at Holy Family Parish probably do not realize the significance of the history they acted out Sunday, Nov. 22, but hopefully, in time they will appreciate their place in the story of this community. The play depicting the 125-year history of Holy Family Parish was the closing activity to a celebration of the 125th anniversary of the parish.
Holy Family is the oldest parish for African Americans in the state, founded on the heels of the third plenary council of Baltimore, at which American bishops decided they should found parishes specifically for black Catholics. Prior to the council, black Catholics in Natchez worshiped in the basement of St. Mary Basilica.
Duncan Morgan’s grandmother sang in the choir the day the parish was dedicated in 1894. His grandfather was on the committee that polled black people to see if they even wanted a parish. The day he was born a pair of sisters walked to his house to check on the baby.
History shows that the parish was the center of the Civil Rights Movement in Natchez. Morgan said the Josephite priests and Franciscan and later Holy Spirit Sisters unwittingly started on it long before the turbulent 1960s with their focus on education. “Even in the worst of times with Jim Crow and segregation, if you were at Holy Family you were treated with dignity. You were prepared with the best education possible,” he said. “Our graduates became lawyers, doctors, military officers,” he added. Morgan said this education and respect prepared community members. “It laid the groundwork for what happened in the 1960s – they already had self-respect.”
Father William Morrissey, SSJ, played a pivotal role in guiding those parishioners as well as the community at large through the Civil Rights Movement. He let the NAACP use the parish hall for office space, serving as the only white officer in the state chapter of the organization. He led the effort to get black people admitted to the National Democratic Party. “Father Morrissey could help balance them (community leaders) from going overboard and at the same time, meet with city and state officals on an equal basis,” said Morgan. The priest sponsored interracial gatherings and encouraged his parishioners to integrate schools in Natchez.
“He sacrificed his own school to integrate Cathedral School,” said Valencia Hall, catechist and parishioner. She and her sisters were some of the first African Americans to attend Cathedral. Her family made the decision to try it for a year when she was 11. “I vividly remember sitting at the dinner table telling my Daddy, ‘I don’t want to stay,’” Hall recalls. He told her he thought it was best she stay. “It was best, it built my character. It was from that experience that I learned all people are persons of dignity and integrity.” The transition was hard at times, she was the only African American child in the fifth and sixth grade.
“There were a couple of people who I felt welcomed by. To the day I die, I will be indebted to those who made me feel welcome,” she said. Hall helped organize an effort to renovate the church several years ago, helping secure a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in recognition of the role the parish played in the Civil Rights Movement.
Current pastor, Father James Fallon, SSJ, said the celebration was meant both to honor the past and plant seeds for the future. “We try to look at this as the intersection of the past and future,” he said. “We want to recognize the people like Father Morrissey, who made headlines, but we also want to advertise the lady who said her rosary and made it to daily Mass,” he added.
Today the parish boasts a multicultural congregation and an Early Learning Center. Both Hall and Morgan hope the celebration is a sign of a vibrant future here. “I would like to see our Catholic faith deepened and for others to see the struggle our church had to go through to have a place of worship,” said Hall. Father Fallon said one of the challenges is regaining the sense of sacrifice and pride the whole community once felt about its church. He considers part of his vocation to inspire faith in the young people in his community.
The original Holy Family was in a wood frame structure on the edge of town. The founding pastor went on a tour of the Northeast to raise money for the present brick structure, located on a hill in what was then a growing neighborhood of families. St. Katherine Drexel was one of the donors. “Holy Family has always been a beacon. It was sitting on a hill for a reason, I guess,” said Morgan. “When there was no leadership anywhere else, you could get it here,” he added.


BAY ST. LOUIS “The Cor Seminar: God, Sex and the Meaning of Life,” Saturday, Dec. 5, from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. at Our Lady of the Gulf Church. Led by Christopher West and musicians Mike Mangione and Jason Clark. Tickets are $35. Reserve at Details: 228.467.6509,
JACKSON St. Peter the Apostle, Advent retreat and anointing, Saturday, Dec. 5, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Mass and lunch to follow.
JACKSON St. Richard Parish, Lectio during Advent, a way to pray scripture, Tuesdays Dec. 1, 8 and 15, from 10 – 11:30 a.m. in the Mercy Room. Mary Louise Jones and Claudia Addison will facilitate. Details: Claudia Addison, 601-594-3937,

BATESVILLE Visit of the Mexican Consulate to St. Mary Parish, Dec. 5-6, to issue ID cards, passports, and other services.
– Youth performance of a short play for their Christmas program, Sunday, Dec. 13, during the 10:30 a.m. Mass. Next practice on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m.
BROOKHAVEN St. Francis of Assisi Parish, women’s Christmas party, Sunday, Dec.13, at 2 p.m. in the parish center. Bring an ornament to swap and an appetizer to share.
– Wednesday, Dec. 9, meal, faith formation class and Reconciliation, beginning at 5:30 p.m,
– Wednesday, Dec. 16, Faith Formation Christmas party at 5:30 p.m.
CLARKSDALE St. Elizabeth Parish, KC’s auction of items from the KC Hall on Saturday, Dec. 5.
CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories Parish, Christmas Program,  Sunday Dec. 6, at 5 p.m. followed by the Christmas potluck dinner.
GREENVILLE St. Joseph Parish, Healing Mass, Thursday, Dec. 10, at 11:30 a.m.
GRENADA St. Peter Parish Christmas party, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 5 p.m. in the Family Life Center. Las Posadas will be part of the celebration. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. followed by Christmas songs and a visit from Santa. The Knights of Columbus will provide turkey, dressing and gravy. Please bring a dish to share.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit Parish, daily Mass during Advent, Monday through Friday at 8 a.m.
– The religious goods store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturday evenings before Mass and on Sunday mornings after Mass.
– Performers are needed for the young people’s Christmas Program, on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m. Rehearsals will be on Sunday, Dec. 6, from 11.45 a.m. – 1 p.m. and on Saturday (dress rehearsal), Dec. 12, from 9 – 11 a.m. Details: Barbara Smith, 901-413-8102.
JACKSON St. Richard Parish, candle-light remembrance celebration, “An opportunity to gather, remember, celebrate and honor our loved ones,” Thursday, Dec. 10, at 6:30 p.m. in Foley Hall, followed by a social.  Details: RSVP immediately to Linda Lalor, 601-853-8840, or email
MERIDIAN – St. Patrick Parish and Philadelphia Holy Cross Parish, basketball and dodgeball competition, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. Youth in fifth-12th grade from both parishes are invited to participate. Details: Father José de Jesús Sánchez, 601-693-1321.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Advent wreath workshop, Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 6:15 p.m. in the O’Connor Family Life Center. Cost of materials is $12.
– Alcorn State University Christmas concert, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. Free and open to the public.
– Lessons & Carols Christmas Program, Sunday, Dec. 13, at 3 p.m.
OLIVE BRANCH Queen of Peace Parish, daily Mass during Advent, Monday through Friday at 9 a.m.
SHAW St. Francis of Assisi Parish Christmas dinner, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. Bring a $5-10 gift to play “Dirty Santa.” RSVP.
SOUTHAVEN Christ the King Parish, daily Mass during Advent, Monday through Friday at 9 a.m.
– Advent/Christmas concert, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 4 p.m. followed by a spaghetti dinner.
TUPELO St. James Parish, catechist Christmas party, Sunday Dec. 13, at 2:30 p.m. in Shelton Hall. Teachers, assistant teachers and their families are invited.

Batesville St. Mary, Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m.
Brookhaven St. Francis, Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m.
Canton Sacred Heart, Thursday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m.
Crystal Springs, St. John, Saturday, Dec. 12, 11 a.m.
Gluckstadt St. Joseph, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 5 – 8 p.m.
Grenada St. Peter parishioners are invited to attend Batesville St. Mary service on Tuesday. Dec. 1 at 6 p.m.
Greenville Sacred Heart, Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 6:30 p.m.
Greenville St. Joseph, Monday, Dec 7, at 7 p.m.
Hazlehurst St. Martin, Saturday, Dec. 5, 11 a.m.s
McComb, St. Alphonsus, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 6 p.m.
Natchez St. Mary, Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 6:15 p.m.
Cathedral School, Dec. 10, beginning at 9:25 a.m.

MADISON St. Anthony School’s 2015 Starry Night Gala, “Embrace the Moment,” Saturday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. on the school’s campus, 1585 Old Mannsdale Road. Guests will enjoy music and dancing with “D-Play Band,” live and silent auctions, food from the Knights of Columbus and area restaurants, and the $5,000 drawdown. Tickets are $150 per couple. Details: Theresa McMullin, 601-607-7054,

“Women and Spirit” will air on Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 3 p.m. and on Monday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m.
“A Mission of Healing and Hope” will air on MPB on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 4 p.m.  and on  Friday, Dec. 18, at 9:30 p.m.

JACKSON – World Marriage Day 2016, Sunday, Feb. 7, at 3 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. There will be a Mass followed by a reception. The Mass honors all married couples, but invites those celebrating their 25th, 50th or 60th anniversaries or any significant anniversary.
Submit your name, address and wedding date to your pastor or parish secretary by Dec. 30. Details: Jennifer Eidt, 601-960-8487,

‘Spotlight’ an opportunity to acknowledge responsibility, appreciate advances in protecting children

“Spotlight,” a movie on the Boston Globe articles on child sexual abuse in the church, is currently showing in theaters across the Diocese of Jackson. The drama from Open Roads Films depicts the work of the investigative team that first publicly exposed the scandal. It was directed and co-written by Tom McCarthy and features several notable actors and actresses: Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci and John Slattery.
In 2002, the crime and sin of child sexual abuse was brought out in the open for all to see. In bringing light to this crisis, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was approved. A nationwide network of victim assistance and safe environment training was created to implement the requirements of the Charter.
Individually and together the church acknowledges the mistakes of the past. We acknowledge our responsibility and role in the suffering this has caused and we continue to ask forgiveness.
Twelve years later the church at large and the Diocese of Jackson in particular remains committed to the principles of that Charter and we ask for your continued help, support and prayers as we: promote healing and reconciliation with victims/survivors of sexual abuse, respond effectively to allegations of sexual abuse, become accountable for our procedures, and protect the faithful in the future.
The Diocese of Jackson constantly evaluates its office of Child Protection, making improvements whenever possible. A new program to train clergy, parish leaders and volunteers is being introduced in January. Read more about it in the next issue of Mississippi Catholic.
We humbly invite anyone who may have experienced abuse to please come forward. Our victims’ assistance coordinator, Valarie McClelland, can be reached at 601-326-3728. And if anyone is currently being abused, please contact the police.

Temporada nos llama a apreciar la gratitud

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
Estamos por comenzar nuestro fin de semana anual de Acción de Gracias que es una oportunidad única como individuos, familias, comunidades y nación para hacer una pausa en agradecimiento por las bendiciones del año que está pasando.
Este es un desafío para muchos de nosotros que a menudo nos encontramos como en piloto automático atendiendo a las exigencias de cada día, anticipando al mismo tiempo las tareas del futuro inmediato. Estas responsabilidades pueden dejarnos agotados al final de día, simplemente agradecidos que el día ha terminado, sin notar las bendiciones a lo largo del camino.
El espíritu de gratitud también puede ser difícil para aquellos que están experimentando la muerte o enfermedad grave de un familiar o amigo, o una pérdida grave en otras partes de sus vidas. A veces la acción de gracias y el acompañado espíritu de alegría no son posibles debido a un pasado que aún no está reconciliado con Dios.
Es difícil estar agradecidos si el pecado pesa sobre nosotros. Asimismo, la oscuridad de la mortífera violencia indiscriminada o el terrorismo, nos pueden dejar sintiéndonos agitados o temerosos. Estas no son ficciones de nuestra imaginación, sino elementos de la realidad que puede erosionar nuestra fe, esperanza y amor.
Cualquiera que sea la razón o razones que nos impiden ofrecer fácilmente las gracias, sabemos que Jesucristo, nuestro Rey, nos está invitando a abrir nuestro corazón y nuestra mente a una experiencia más profunda de la vida que permite que la luz de la fe ilumine nuestras luchas diarias.
Él está llamando a la puerta (Revelaciones 3:20) con la esperanza de que él pueda entrar y disfrutar de una comida con nosotros. El día de Acción de Gracias, un momento en el que estamos mucho más conscientes de la familia y de los amigos, es un momento tan bueno como cualquier otro para cenar con el Pan de Vida.
También llamemos esto a la mente, que como cristianos somos bendecidos al comenzar el tiempo de Adviento que surge cada año de nuestra celebración del Día de Acción de Gracias. El Señor no sólo está a la puerta llamando de vez en cuando, sabemos por la fe que él siempre está cerca. La oración de Adviento para apresurar la venida del Señor, es una que debe ofrecerse en temporada y fuera de temporada. “Amén, ven, Señor Jesús”. (Apocalipsis 20:22)
Si ésta es la única oración que podemos rezar durante tiempos difíciles, entonces es suficiente. Él es nuestro gozo y nuestra paz. Esta espléndida temporada de cuatro semanas, fácilmente consumida por las prisas de la Navidad, es un regalo para cada uno de nosotros para estar agradecidos por la presencia de nuestro Señor a través de la fe.
La Palabra de Dios en cada vuelta, nos recuerda que el miedo es inútil; lo que se necesita es confianza. (Lucas 8:20). Esta se basa en la convicción de que el Señor está siempre cerca y fuera de esta garantía, podemos decir con San Pablo: “Alégrense siempre en el Señor. Repito: ¡Alégrense! Su amabilidad deberá ser conocida por todos. El Señor está cerca. No se aflijan por nada, sino preséntenselo todo a Dios en oración; pídanle, y denle gracias también.” (Filipenses 4:4-6).
El Papa Francis ha declarado un Jubileo Extraordinario de la Misericordia que comenzará el 8 de diciembre de 2015 y continuará hasta la fiesta de Cristo Rey, 2016. La misericordia de Dios es siempre posible en nuestras vidas porque el Señor está siempre cerca.
Él es el Emmanuel, con nosotros y por nosotros, para siempre. Este es el prisma que pueden invitarnos a un Año de Gracia del Señor, renovando nuestra fe, fortaleciendo nuestra esperanza y encendiendo nuestro amor a ser testigos fieles de su constante presencia en nuestras vidas y en nuestro mundo.
Sacramentalmente vemos su presencia en la Eucaristía, la promesa de estar con nosotros hasta el fin de los tiempos, y en el sacramento de la reconciliación, la promesa de la paz que fluye de la misericordia de Dios, eliminando las trabas que nos liberan para ser fieles discípulos del Señor.
El amor de Cristo nos impulsa a vivir nuestras vidas por una norma diferente. Cada vez que abrimos nuestros ojos por la mañana, este don y llamada está ante nosotros.
Cómo respondemos en servicio a nuestras familias, a nuestros vecinos, a nuestros parroquianos, al forastero, al refugiado, y de hecho incluso a nuestros enemigos, es el trabajo que cada uno de nosotros ha de edificar para el reino de Dios.
Qué el Señor nos inspire durante estos días de acción de gracias y de Adviento a ser agradecidos, a tener esperanza, a ser alegres, a ser menos temerosos, y tener  paz sabiendo que el Señor Jesús siempre está cerca. Maranatha, Ven, Señor Jesús.

Season calls us to embrace gratitude

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
We are in the midst of our annual Thanksgiving weekend which is a unique opportunity as individuals, families, communities and nation to pause in gratitude for the blessings of the past year. This is a challenge for many of us because we find ourselves so often on automatic pilot attending to the demands of each day, while anticipating the tasks of the immediate future.
These responsibilities can leave us worn out by day’s end, simply grateful that the day is over, completely overlooking the blessings along the way. The spirit of thanksgiving can also be difficult for those who are experiencing the death or serious illness of a family member or friend, or a serious loss in other parts of their lives.
Sometimes Thanksgiving, and the accompanying spirit of joy, are not possible because of a past that is not yet reconciled in God. It is difficult to be grateful if sin is weighing heavily upon us. Likewise, the darkness of deadly random violence or terrorism, can leave us feeling shaken or fearful. These are not fictions of our imagination, but elements of reality that can erode our faith, hope, and love.
Whatever the reason or reasons that prevent us from easily offering thanks, we know that Jesus Christ our King is inviting us to open our hearts and minds to a deeper experience of life that allows the light of faith to illuminate our daily struggles.
He stands knocking at the door (Revelations 3,20) hoping that he can enter and have a meal with us. Thanksgiving, a time when we are much more mindful of family and friends, is as good a time as any to dine with the Bread of Life.
Let us also call this to mind, that as Christians we are blessed to begin the season of Advent that annually emerges from our Thanksgiving celebration. The Lord not only stands at the door knocking on occasion, but as we know in faith, he is always near. The prayer of Advent to hasten the coming of the Lord, is one to be offered in season and out of season.
“Amen, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelations 20:22) If this is the only prayer we can offer during troubled times, then it is sufficient. He is our joy and peace.  This splendid season of four weeks, easily consumed by the rush to Christmas, is a gift for each of us to be thankful for the presence of our Lord through faith. The Word of God at every turn reminds us that fear is useless; what is needed is trust. (Luke 8:20)
This is grounded in the conviction that the Lord is always near, and out of this assurance we can say with Saint Paul, “rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, rejoice. Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your request knows to God.” (Philippians 4:4-6)
Pope Francis has declared an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to begin on December 8, and continue through the Feast of Christ the King, 2016. The mercy of God is always possible in our lives because the Lord is always near. He is Emmanuel, with us and for us, forever. This is the prism that can invite us into a Year of Favor from the Lord, renewing our faith, strengthening our hope, and enflaming our love to be faithful witnesses to his abiding presence in our lives and in our world.
Sacramentally we see his presence in the Eucharist, the promise to be with us until the end of time, and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the pledge of peace flowing from God’s mercy, removing the shackles that liberate us to be faithful disciples of the Lord.
The love of Jesus Christ compels us to live our lives by a different standard. Each time we open our eyes in the morning this gift and call is before us. How we respond in service to our families, our neighbors, our fellow parishioners, the stranger, the refugee, and in fact even our enemies, is the work that each of us has to build up the Kingdom of God. May the Lord inspire us during these days of Thanksgiving and Advent to be grateful, to be hopeful, to be joyful, to be less fearful, and more at peace knowing that the Lord Jesus is always near. Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus.