GRENADA – St. Peter Parish, six-week Scripture study, “Covenant Love,” on Wednesdays after the 6 p.m. Mass starting June 1. Details: Annette Tipton,

BOONEVILLE St. Francis Parish, starting the week of June 1, the weekly liturgy/Mass will be celebrated on Fridays (June 3) at 10 a.m.
CAMDEN Sacred Heart Parish feast day Mass, Friday, June 3, at 6:30 p.m.
– Summer enrichment program, Session I, May 31-June 24; Session II, July 5-22, both from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.  Sewing Camp, Basketball Camp, Robotics Camp. Tuition is $130 per session. Details: Parish office, 662-468-2354.
COLUMBUS Annunciation Parish, soup kitchen fund-raiser, Friday, June 3, from 6 – 8 p.m. at Lion Hills Center. Tickets are available at the parish office, $40.
GLUCKSTADT St. Joseph Parish, Spring Fling, Saturday, June 4, from 7-11 p.m. at the pavilion behind the parish hall. Bring your favorite dessert or appetizer to share. Entrance fee is $15 per person.
GREENVILLE Sacred Heart Parish picnic, Sunday, June 5, at 1 p.m. to welcome the sisters from Techny, Ill., who will run the vacation Bible school June 6-10.
INDIANOLA St. Benedict the Moor Parish, going away party for Father Tarsisius Puling, Sunday, June 4, at 6 p.m.
JACKSON Catholic Night at Trustmark Park with the Mississippi Braves, Thursday, June 9. Door opens at 6 p.m. Father Anthony Quyet, rector of St. Peter Cathedral,   will throw out the first pitch. Catholics are asked to sit on the third base side of the ball park. The Knights of Columbus is selling prepaid ticket vouchers for $7. Details: Charlie Sims, 601-624-9966.
JACKSON Christ the King Parish, King Workers yard sale, Saturday, June 4, from 7 a.m. – noon in the multipurpose room.
JACKSON Pro-Life Mississippi’s annual Walk 4 Life,  Saturday, June 4, beginning at 7:30 a.m. with registration at St. Richard’s Church, 1242 Lynnwood Drive. Brunch will be provided at Foley Hall for all walkers and workers compliments of the Knights of Columbus.
– Bereavement Support Group, Thursday, June 9, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mercy Room, Guest speaker, Dr. Rick Boyte. Details: Suzie Cranston, 601-982-5464.
MADISON St. Joseph School, Bruin Classic Golf Tournament, Friday, June 3, at the Canton Country Club, beginning with lunch at 11:30 a.m. and ending with the presentation of prizes at 6 p.m.

Jubilee celebrations
– Father Gerry Hurley: Mass at Flowood St. Paul, Friday, June 10, at 7 p.m. Reception following.
– Father Tom Lalor: Mass at Vicksburg St. Paul, Thursday, June 9, at 6 p.m. Reception following.
– Father Tom Mulally: Mass at Greenville Sacred Heart, Saturday, Sept. 10, at 10:30 a.m. Reception following.
– Father Richard Somers: Mass at Jackson St. Richard, Saturday, June 25, at 11 a.m. Reception following.

Photos needed for special edition
Mississippi Catholic is again planning to produce a “Spring Sacraments” issue featuring First Communion and Confirmation photos from across the diocese. Please email your photos and captions to, by the end of May.
We need high-resolution photos (this usually means from a camera as opposed to a phone or tablet), the parish name, date and time of the sacrament and the names of your Communicants and Confirmandi. We only allow posed photos in this and the graduation issue. Details: Maureen Smith, 601-969-3581.

Pastoral ministries workshop
Pastoral Ministries Workshop, June 5-9 at Lake Tiak O’Khata for all lay ministers of the church: DREs/CREs, catechists, LEMs, youth ministers, pastoral ministers and volunteers or those interested in getting involved.

Vacation Bible school
– Brookhaven St. Francis Parish, “Barnyard Roundup,” June 12-15, from 5:30 (meal) – 8 p.m. Details: Erin Womack, 601-754-0963.
– Clarksdale St. Elizabeth Parish, “Deep Sea Discovery,” June 13-17, from 8 a.m. – noon for children entering K4 through 6th-grade. Details and to volunteer: Sarah Cauthen, 662-645-6260.
Cleveland Our Lady of Victories, June 5-9, from 6 – 8 p.m. for those entering K4-6th grade. Details: Jenifer Jenkins: 662-846-6273.
Corinth St. James Parish, there will be two different sessions. Tuesday and Wednesday, July 12-13, and  Thursday and Friday, July 14-15, from 9 a.m. – noon. Register for one session only.
Gluckstadt St. Joseph Parish, Monday- Wednesday, June 13-15, from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. Details: Karen Worrell, 601-672-5817,
– Grenada St. Peter Parish, “Birthday Blast” Sunday-Thursday- June 5-9. Details and to volunteer: call/text Tara Trost, 662-515-9126.
Greenville Sacred Heart Parish, June 6-10.
Greenville St. Joseph Parish, “Birthday Blast: A celebration of Life!” June 13-16, from 5:30 – 8 p.m.
Greenwood Immaculate Heart of Mary, June 13-16.
– St. Francis, “Discovery Zone 2016,” June 27-30.
Hernando Holy Spirit, June 5-9, from 6 – 8:30 p.m. Details: Andrea Ludwig, 662-404-0376.
Jackson St. Richard, June 6-9, from 9 a.m. – noon.
Jackson Holy Family Parish, June 14-16.
Jackson St. Therese, June 22-24, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish, June 20-24 from 9 a.m. – noon for preK-fourth graders.
– Creative art camp for fifth and sixth graders at the same time. Details: Mary Catherine,
– Natchez St. Mary Basilica, “Cave Quest: Following Jesus, The Light of the World,” June 6-10, from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. for  children entering Pre K4-6th grade, with a Mass celebration on Saturday, June 11, at 5 p.m. Details: Melinda, 601-597-7178,
– Tupelo St. James Parish, June 13-17. Organizers need donations of toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls and black garbage bags. Place donations in the basket in foyer of church or bring to the office.
Yazoo City St. Mary Parish, “Fishing For Faith with Families,” Friday and Saturday, June 3-4. Details: Babs McMaster, 662-571-3119.

Confirmation letters inspire bishop

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
Over the past month-and-a-half I have celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation on 20 occasions, representing approximately 35 parishes in the Diocese of Jackson. An essential function of the office of Bishop is to strengthen his diocese through pastoral visits, and Confirmation is one of the essential opportunities to do so. In their desire for Confirmation the young members of our families and parishes are witnessing to their growing faith in God through their words and actions.
In this column I want to share with you their inspired sentiments, wisdom, struggles, and dreams as the Holy Spirit stirs in their hearts and minds. The following quotes are a representative cluster from the letters they write to me requesting the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Early on, one Candidate asked: Confirmation, what’s that? I just saw it as another chance to get dressed up for Church and do something that felt important. But throughout the process of preparation many were transformed, including the one who asked the question.
God has put me on this journey for a reason and I couldn’t be happier about it.

This process has been fun and special and the memories we have made will stay with me the rest of my life.

  • I made new friends and met knew people
  • I became more open to others, and I realize that I was missing my Lord.
  • We all need someone to encourage us. We all think that we know the answers to everything, but in reality we don’t which leads us into problems.
  • I am thankful for all the things and people he has put into my life to help me.
  • The retreat was a great experience because I had the chance to see other Catholics and meet them.  It made me feel that it was like a big family celebration.
  • I have learned that God really does love us and that is why he died on the Cross for us.
  • My favorite part of the Confirmation process and becoming closer to Christ is finding true joy in Him.
  • I have had a lot of fun learning about my faith, and I am ready to be an adult in faith.
  • Time has flown and I am happy that I have taken this step and made new friends.
  • I can say that I have felt the Holy Spirit, and I have seen God do His works in my life, and have learned to thank Him everyday.
  • I now believe that everyone deserves my love and respect, even if they are different from me.
  • Because of my faith in God, I never feel alone, and I know no matter what, I am always loved by someone.
  • I have myself been ashamed of my faith. Through knowledge and understanding I gained a new confidence and was able to answer others who questioned my faith, and prove wrong false accusations with facts and evidence of my faith.
  • His love for me goes beyond what I have endured or what I will endure.
  • His forgiveness allows me to live out his word and share with others his light in my life.
  • I have seen the goodness, love and grace of God in my life, and that’s not something that I can just turn away from and forget.
    A developing relationship with the Church, locally and universally, is apparent.
  • The Church does so much work for social justice and issues. It makes me proud to be Catholic
  • The Catholic traditions are the best and I am very passionate about being able to spread the Word with joy.
  • The Church has a long history and a lot of culture, and I find that fascinating.
  • I love being Catholic. It may take a bit of work, but it’s all worth it in my opinion.
  • With Confirmation I will have more courage to share my faith and more knowledge about it.
  • I am very proud to be Catholic, but It can be difficult to be Catholic because it can be very rare down here.
    The gift of family life, the domestic church at work
  • I am reminded on a daily basis of God’s grace and love surrounded by family members that help me to recognize all the many blessings God has give me.
  • By example from my parents I have learned to value reaching out to others outside of my family.
    The gift you have received; give as a gift.
  • As the Catholic faith has been passed on to me, so I have taught younger children and in so doing I have learned much more about my faith.
  • I want to be a prime example to younger kids in the Church, and especially after I am confirmed.
  • I want to encourage my younger siblings to commit their lives to Jesus.
  • I want to live a full life glorifying the Lord and raising my children to do the same.
  • I know in my heart that Jesus loves the little children.
    The blessings from the reception of Confirmation.
  • The grace of God is imparted upon our very being, and that is an amazing gift.
  • The Gift of the Holy Spirit would be greater than any material gift I could receive.
  • I am looking forward to fully accepting the Holy Spirit into my life to continue to do the works of Jesus in the world, and to perform the works of love in the name of God.
  • I will continue serving, not only God, but others, and not putting myself first.
  • The spiritual awakening that will give me many gifts from the Holy Spirit.
  • Getting out of my comfort zone.
  • I have other dreams in life, but serving God will be the most wonderful thing.
  • Letting the Holy Spirit work through me so that I can discern God’s call in my life.
  • Spending one hour with the Lord at Mass on Sunday is something that I want to do faithfully in the years ahead.
  • The spiritual seal to consecrate a connection with God through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.
  • As you can see I have chosen to let Christ guide me through my journey in life.
  • As a young adult entering college, I will face temptations and adversity. I will confront those things with a Christ like attitude.
  • I know that God had a reason to put me on this earth and I want to discover that reason.
  • My spiritual life is a race. I still have questions and hope to continue learning along the way, but feel that this step in my race will further my faith.
  • To stand on my own two feet without my Mom or my Dad telling me what to do.
  • I want to understand my faith and be able to have a conversation about it which is a good thing if I want to represent my faith.

We fall regularly in life, but it is necessary to just take a leap of faith and continue toward the light who, of course, is Jesus.
May the Lord bless our Confirmandi and those still awaiting the Sacrament of Confirmation this year. May the Holy Spirit transform each of us as we heard in the words of Saint Paul during last week’s celebration of Trinity Sunday.
“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5,5)

Governor signs payday loan expansion despite opposition, protests

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Despite opposition from faith leaders and financial advocacy groups, Governor Phil Bryant signed an expansion of so-called payday lending into law on Friday, May 15. The new law, officially called the “Mississippi Credit Availability Act,” paves the way for short-term lenders to charge as much as 297 percent interest on loans of $500 for six-months and allows for the same interest rates on 12-month loans of $2,500.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson and Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi sent a joint letter to the governor opposing the bill. “This bill runs counter to Catholic social teaching as well as biblical and legal traditions calling for restraint against usurious lending practices,” reads the letter.
It points out that these loans trap those already in need into a cycle of borrowing and mounting debt. “Scripture warns strongly against abusive lending to those in desperate circumstances saying, ‘if you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor, you shall not exact interest from them (Exodus 22:25) and ‘do not rob the poor because he is poor’ (Proverbs 22:22).”
The Center for Responsible Lending, a group that advocates for financial justice and inclusion across the country, has been tracking this and similar bills across the nation. “This bill or one with a similar structure, was introduced in 11 states. Mississippi was the only state where it passed,” said Whitney Barkley, policy counsel for the center. “In most places the faith community was able to push back against it,” she added.
Barkley explained that the fees alone can double the payback amounts on loans taken out under this new law. “If you were to take out a $2,500 loan for 12-months, you would pay back $8,000, $5,500 of that is in fees,” she said. A $500 loan with a six-month term would cost $1,021 total.
“What we see is people getting caught in a cycle where they can’t make the payments so they take out another loan and another loan to make payments,” she said. “Research has shown that 75 percent of the fees being charged on these loans are coming from people who have 10 loans or more,” she added.
When someone finally cannot pay, lenders can then get access to borrowers’ bank accounts so they can draft money out before the borrower can pay for rent, food or medicine. Lenders can also sometimes access vehicle titles and personal property. Barkley suggests that people seek help from faith groups or friends before going to payday lenders.
She said often a church or faith-based group can help with smaller shortfalls such as utility bills or rent, but once a borrower has racked up thousands of dollars in fees and interest, the churches can’t help with the larger debts.
The Hope Policy Institute has opposed this law since the bill was introduced, saying in a blog post, “Of most concern are the high costs of borrowing money through this product and its structure, both of which – if kept in the current form – are likely to keep people in a long-term cycle of debt.”
The governor even acknowledged the high cost of payback when he signed the bill commenting, “After careful consideration, I am signing Senate Bill 2409, the ‘Credit Availability Act.’ While I do not believe an installment loan with a 297  annual percentage rate will appeal to most Mississippians, I do believe in greater consumer choice, personal responsibility, and free market principles. This legislation gives consumers another option when seeking emergency cash.”
Other groups opposing the law include the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, an ecumenical group, and the Christian Action Committee, which is an agency of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. The Christian Action Committee urged its facebook followers to oppose the law, saying, “There’s nothing wrong with making a profit. But God is opposed to taking advantage of the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable. (Exodus 22:21–24; Deuteronomy 24:10–22; Zechariah 7:8–14).
“Products like the loans authorized by SB 2409 trap Mississippi’s poor in a relentless cycle of debt, driven by unaffordable loans at 300 percent interest rates. In 2014 the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution against predatory payday lending, because we believe that the Bible means what it says.”

Who are today’s youth?

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
A seminarian I know recently went to a party on a Friday evening at a local university campus. The group was a crowd of young, college students and when he was introduced as a seminarian, as someone who was trying to become a priest and who had taken a vow of celibacy, the mention of celibacy evoked some giggles in the room, some banter, and a number of jokes about how much he must be missing out on in life. Poor, naïve fellow!
Initially, within this group of millennials, his religious beliefs and what this had led to in his life was regarded as something between amusing and pitiful. But, before the evening was out, several young women had come, cried on his shoulder, and shared about their frustration with their boyfriends’ inability to commit fully to their relationship.
This incident might serve as a parable describing today’s young people in our secularized world. They exhibit what might aptly be called a bi-polar character about faith, church, family, sexual ethos, and many other things that are important to them.
They present an inconsistent picture: On the one hand, by and large, they are not going to church, at least with any regularity; they are not following the Christian ethos on sexuality; they seem indifferent to and even sometimes hostile to many cherished religious traditions; and they can appear unbelievably shallow in their addiction and enslavement to what’s trending in the world of entertainment, fashion, and information technology. Looked at from one perspective, our kids today can appear irreligious, morally blasé, and on a heavy diet of the kind of superficiality that characterizes reality television and video games.  More seriously still, they can also appear myopic, greedy, pampered and excessively self-interested. Not a pretty picture.
But this isn’t exactly the picture. Beneath that surface, in most cases, you will find someone who is very likeable, sincere, soft, good-hearted, gracious, moral, warm, generous and searching for all the right things (without much help from a culture that lacks clear moral guidance and is fraught with over-choice). The good news is that most young people, at the level of their real desires, are not at odds at all with God, faith, church and family. For the most part, youth today are still very good people and want all the right things.
But, that isn’t always so evident. Sometimes their surface seems to trump their depth so that who they really are and what they really want is not so evident. We see the surface and, seen there, our youth can appear more self-interested than generous, more shallow than deep, more blasé than morally sensitive, and more religiously indifferent than faith-filled. They can also manifest a smugness and self-sufficiency that suggests little vulnerability and no need for guidance from anyone beyond themselves.
Hence their bi-polarity: Mostly they want all the right things, but, too often, because of a lack of genuine guidance and their addiction to the culture, they aren’t making the kinds of choices that will bring them what they more-deeply desire. Sexuality is a prime example here: Studies done on millennials indicate that most of them want, at the end of the day, to be inside a monogamous, faithful marriage. The problem is that they also believe that they can first allow themselves 10 to 15 years of sexual promiscuity, without having to accept that practicing 10 to 15 years of infidelity is not a good preparation for the kind of fidelity needed to a sustain marriage and family. In this, as in many other things, they are caught between their cultural ethos and their own fragile securities. The culture trumpets a certain ethos, liberation from the timidities of the past, complete with a smugness that belittles whatever questions it. But much of that smugness is actually whistling in the dark. Deep down, our youth are pretty insecure and, happily, this keeps them vulnerable and likeable.
Maybe Louis Dupre, the retired philosopher who taught for some many years at Yale, captures it best when he says that today’s young people are not bad, they’re just not finished.  That’s a simple insight that captures a lot. Someone can be wonderful and very likeable, but still immature. Moreover, if you’re young enough, that can even be attractive, the very definition of cool. The reverse is also, often times, true: More than a few of us, adults, suffer from our own bi-polarity: we are mature, but far from wonderful and likeable. This makes for some strange, paradoxical binaries.
So who is the actual young person of today? Is it the person who is wrapped up in his or her own world, obsessive about physical appearance, addicted to social media, living outside marriage with his or her partner, smug in his or her own non-traditional moral and religious views? That, I believe, is the surface appearance. The actual young person of today is warm, good-hearted, generous and waiting – waiting consciously for love and affirmation, and waiting unconsciously for God’s embrace.
(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX.)

Bishop blesses St. Joseph High School chapel

By Elsa Baughman
MADISON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz blessed a new chapel during Mass at St. Joseph High School on Friday, May 20.
Present and remembered were those who through the years worked faithfully to see that this new place of worship became a reality, including retired Bishop Joseph Latino.
“This new chapel will be a special place for students, teachers, alumni and friends to come together to pray and celebrate the Eucharist,” said Bishop Kopacz. “This place of worship will nurture and strengthen the faith of all who are part of the St. Joe community,” he added.
The chapel is located in the administration building between the library and the counselor’s office.
At the end of Mass, Catherine Cook, superintendent of Catholic Schools, recognized all the donors and artists who contributed to the construction of the chapel:
– Tom Gerrets’ family. He chaired the committee to build the chapel, but died before it was completed.
– Arthur Schmidt, class of 1958, and his wife Brenda donated the stained-glass window of the Holy Family which was designed by Rob Cooper and Andy Young of Pearl River Glass.
– Nancy McGhee and her daughter, Shanon Brumfield, class of 1985, donated the stained-glass window of the symbols of the Gospels and St. Joseph, in memory of their son/brother, Dean, class of 1984, who died in 1989, and her husband/father, Charles, who died in 2013.
– The late Bishop Emeritus, William Houck. The stand for the sanctuary candle came from Bishop Houck’s personal chapel.
– Betsy Edge, class of 1974, donated the paintings of Mary and Joseph placed at each side of the altar.
– Lou Ann Turner teaches pottery at the school and made the holy water font.
– Fletcher Cox, a member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, made the altar, ambo, credence table and matching cabinet under the tabernacle.
– St. Gabriel Parish and School in Mound Bayou. The parish and school have closed so the Sisters currently running the community center on the site, donated the crucifix, the Stations of the Cross and the tabernacle.
Sister Donald Mary Lynch, who served in Mound Bayou for years, said that the sisters and parishioners of St. Gabriel are truly honored that the tabernacle and Stations of the Cross are being used at another school. “St. Joseph was also founded by the Sisters of Mercy. The mission church in Mound Bayou opened in 1949 and closed in 2013,” she said adding that two men from St. Gabriel Church found their priestly vocation in Mound Bayou. “We are pleased that God’s glory continues.” Sister Lynch now lives in St. Louis. Sister Monica Mary DeQuardo, from the current community of Franciscans who continue to run the St. Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou, attended the dedication to represent the community.
The stained-glass window of the symbols of the Gospels and St. Joseph, donated by the McGhee’s family, was modeled after the window of the St. Joseph School chapel on Boiling Street, as a way to honor the old school in Jackson.

Pastoral Assignments

Father Joseph Le is appointed associate pastor of Pearl St. Jude Parish

Father Jason Johnston is appointed associate pastor of Madison St. Francis of Assisi parish and will serve as a catechist at St. Joseph High School
Both appointments effective May 31.
Father Juan Chavajay has been granted a leave of absence.

Seminarian Summer Assignments:
Andrew Bowden: Meridian St. Patrick and St. Joseph Parishes.
Cesar Sanchez-Fermin and Andrew Nguyen: Notre Dame Seminary and McComb St. Alphonsus Parish.
Adolfo Suarez Pasillas: Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF) at Creighton University in Omaha Neb.
Nick Adam and Mark Shoffner: Clinical Pastoral Education and will be staying at Jackson St. Richard Parish.
Aaron Williams: Mundelein University working on a degree in Liturgy.
Hayden Schmitt: Clarksdale St. Elizabeth Parish.

Parish stages hilarious whodunnit

By Maureen Smith
HERNANDO – What happens when a tour bus gets stranded in a snowtorm near a convent of women who all took the name ‘Mary’ while police frantically search for a serial killer who targets women named Mary? Parishioners from Hernando Holy Spirit Parish watched this hilarious setup play out in a dinner theater presentation of “Murder is Habit Forming,” on Saturday, May 7.
For years the parish hosted a Fall Follies variety show, but last this year, parishioners opted for a play instead. Parishioner Ken Hoover and his wife Dana spearheaded the project.
“My wife and I both have a form of cerebral palsy,” said Ken Hoover. “We have always felt excluded from theater and drama – we are not represented. Most of the time when you see a ‘disabled’ actor it’s an able-bodied person acting disabled,” he said. Hoover and his wife love theater and have even taken acting classes in Memphis. They decided that staging a play together would be a great way to get people together and do something they love.
“We had some trouble filling the cast,” he explained. “I think it was the Lord and the Holy Spirit at work. My wife prayed that the Lord would send us actors. She is a substitute teacher in DeSoto County schools. She just so happened to mention it to a young lady in the library of a school where she was filling in. That lady is member of a local theater group!” The volunteer is not Catholic, but was delighted to get involved and bring along some friends to fill out the cast.
While Hoover and his wife brought their creative energy, other volunteers helped with logistics, public relations and dinner. Barbara Smith, who works for FedEx in Memphis, describes herself as having a “type-A” personality. She took on the task of helping set a rehearsal schedule, making a poster, tickets and getting the word out about the show. “The play had 17 cast members! Trying to coordinate practice with people who are working full-time or going to school or who are parents – it was a real challenge,” she said.
Smith and her husband even had to tackle a modified stage setup that allowed Hoover, who uses crutches to walk, to get on and off stage.
In all, 150 people came to the whodunnit. The ladies club made a spaghetti dinner. All the proceeds went to the debt reduction fund for the parish.
“The audience was laughing hysterically for most of the show!” said Smith. She called all the work a ministry and said she will do it again next year. Hoover said he encourages everyone to step outside their comfort zone sometimes. “Go ahead and try something. Even if what you do ends up not being perfect or not being what you expected, you will learn something!”

Carmelites elect new prioress

JACKSON – The Jackson Carmelites elected Sister Mary Jane Patricia of the Resurrection, OCD, as Prioress of the community Tuesday, May 24. Sister Margaret Mary Flynn, OCD, will step down from the position, but remain in the community in a prayer ministry.
The community gathered for Mass concelebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Father Kevin Slattery, the Vicar General, and Father Jeremy Tobin, OPraem, followed by a prayer service asking God to send His Holy Spirit and invoking the intercession of Carmelite Saints.
Members then cast secret ballots which were counted by two so-called scrutators. The ballots are burned after the election. Once elected, Sister Jane knelt in prayer while the community prayed aloud the confirmation prayers. Bishop blessed her and then all congratulated her.
Sister was born Mary Jane Agonoy in the Phillipines on Jan. 25, 1951, and entered the Carmelite order in her home country in 1977.

Friars to make pilgrimage on foot, will celebrate Mass, promote vocations

By Peter Finney Jr.
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) – The idea of making a walking pilgrimage in the United States took root about four years ago when Dominican Fathers Francis Orozco and Thomas Schaefgen were studying together for the priesthood.
They saw the movie, “The Way,” featuring Martin Sheen, who portrayed a father honoring his late son’s memory by completing the 450-mile Camino de Santiago, the “Way of St. James,” a pilgrimage route across Spain taken for centuries by pilgrims.
“We had both studied abroad in Spain, but we thought, why don’t we do something more local, something in this country?” said Father Orozco, chaplain of the Catholic Student Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. “We looked up places, and there really weren’t any established pilgrimages in the U.S., so we said, ‘Let’s make up our own.’”
From that seed sprouted “Friars on Foot,” a 478-mile pilgrimage on foot from New Orleans to Memphis, Tennessee, which will begin after the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Orleans May 29 and arrive in Memphis June 29.
Folks can follow the two young friars and their travels at the website
Father Orozco, 33, and Father Schaefgen, 32, who is director of the Catholic Student Center at Tulane University, will wear their white Dominican habits and take small backpacks with water and other essentials such as sunscreen, but they will carry no money or cellphones.
“We want to do this very minimally,” Father Orozco told the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. “We will not carry any money and we will sort of beg. We hope people will provide us with apples and granola bars. We don’t plan to use any money. We will carry ID cards and medical insurance cards in case that’s needed. We’ve compromised with our superior that we will have somebody update the website every time we reach a destination.”
The friars plan to stay overnight at Catholic churches or with Catholic families along the way, celebrating Mass and even giving history and vocation talks about the 800-year-old congregation – the Order of Preachers – whose earliest members were itinerant preachers, walking from town to town.
They will average about 16 miles a day. There are only two stops in Mississippi without Catholic churches – Pickens and West – and on those nights they probably will stay at a local Protestant church.
The friars are encouraging people to join them on the walk, if only for an hour or two.
“We will have a pilgrim rule, and part of it will be to the pray the rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours every day, but that won’t take up the entire time,” Father Orozco said. “If there are people with us, we can talk about whatever they would like to talk about.”
Since walking along interstate highways is prohibited, the Dominicans will take local and state highways. The pilgrimage route will basically track Highway 51 north to Memphis.
The pilgrimage will conclude June 29 at St. Peter Church in Memphis, the National Shrine of St. Martin de Porres.
So what do their families and their fellow friars think?
“As we progressed, the first reaction was the question ‘why’?” Father Orozco admitted. “Then it was just a matter of explaining. In many ways, I’m glad it’s taken four years to plan it because it gave them time to soften up to the idea. We presented this to the province a couple of years ago, and I think the vague response was, ‘These are young guys. Once they’re ordained priests they’ll forget about it.’”
“I bet some of the friars forgot about it,” Father Orozco said. “Some said, ‘I guess they’re really going.’ I had one student tell me, ‘You know, it’s very humid in Mississippi, right?’ By and large, 99 percent are excited about it.”
(Finney is executive editor/general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.)


Hai Long Le (Joseph Le) was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and is the youngest of five siblings. Joseph’s father was an officer in the Army of South Vietnam, and after the fall of Saigon in 1975, was sent to a labor camp for seven years. During this time, the rest of the family was forced to move to a town with no electricity or water.
Although Le and his family were forced to suffer through poor economic conditions, they were greatly blessed with a rich religious life, for it was “truly a Catholic town.” Almost 100 percent of the residents were faithful Catholics, and Le’s family lived within walking distance of their parish. Here, his days were filled with schoolwork, farming, working as a delivery boy and attending daily Mass.
When his father was released in 1983, Le and his family returned to Saigon, where he continued to serve in his parish. One of his duties, during his high school years, was to drive his pastor to Thanh Binh Lepers’ Camp and serve as an altar boy for their Sunday Mass. During this time, he also worked in a carpentry shop producing wooden chairs for export and he developed a love for the carpentry craft.
Le and his family moved to the United States in 1992, and he became a U.S. citizen in 2002. He became a Carmelite monk for 17 years and spent most of his time in various monasteries in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. Because of his love of St. Joseph, a humble and quiet carpenter, Hai Long Le legally changed his name to Joseph Le.

Home parish: I would consider my home parish, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Greenville

Favorite Saints and why?
My favorite saints: St. Joseph the Worker and St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I chose St. Joseph because he is a quiet and humble man, a carpenter like myself. I try to imitate him. St. Thérèse has such a love for everything. Her praying method is quite simple, love.

Do you have a favorite devotion, religious image or prayer and why?
My favorite devotion is praying the rosary. Usually I pray only two decades before going to bed, not a whole rosary. It is such a beautiful form of praying if we focus and pay attention to its words.

Who vested you at ordination and why?
Father Anthony Quyet vested me at my priestly ordination. He was the reason I joined this Diocese of Jackson. I knew him when I decided to leave the Carmelite Order.
Do you have any hobbies?
My hobbies are: photography, carpentry, riding a bicycle and driving to visit different places such as national parks.

In what parishes have you served?
I have been in different religious monasteries instead of parishes. Our monasteries are located in San Antonio, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Little Rock-Arkansas, New Orleans. So I served in those monasteries.

Can you tell me a little about your vocation story – when you felt called and how you responded?
Around 1995 while I was in college at the University of Oklahoma, I realized that I was called to be in religious life.
This happened after a parish retreat during Lent. After college, I joined the Discalced Carmelite Order in San Antonio, Texas, and I remained in religious life until I came to the Jackson diocese three years ago.

Can you share something about yourself people may not know?
I have a big appetite for photography. Also, I love driving to visit different places, our country in particular, to take pictures during my vacations.
I’ve driven from Key West to Alaska, from San Diego to Main. The only two states I haven’t driven to: Hawaii and North Dakota. Since our diocese is widespread, the love for driving probably is a good help for my ministry in the future.

What advice do you have for those discerning a vocation?
My advice is simple, be honest with yourself and with your spiritual director. Chose a good and holy spiritual director and trust in him/ her. Personally, I found that being happy in your vocation is the first sign of being called to priesthood!

Is there one part of priesthood in particular you are looking forward to?
I would like to serve in the area with the sick such as in the hospitals and nursing home.

What are you looking forward to about your first parish assignment?
I feel a lot of excitement and nervous at the same time. Fortunately I have many people to learn from – the pastor as well as the pastoral council, staff and people. I look forward to gaining more experiences from working with different organizations in the parish.

Can you share details on your first Mass and is it open to the public?
– My first Mass was  in Greenville at 10:30 a.m. Sunday May 15. I am very excited. Everything suddenly becomes a reality. I mean the consubstantiation, the bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ.
I can’t get more excited than being a main part of the Holy Mass. Usually in the sacristy, there is sign saying, “Priest, celebrate this Holy Mass as if it was your First Mass, your last Mass and your only Mass.”
I have read and heard it so many times before and didn’t think much of it because the sign wasn’t for me. Now, it really applies to me!