Chanche medals recall pioneer bishop

medal_img_1242JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz presented 21 adults and five young people with the Bishop Chanche Award for service during a Mass on Saturday, February 18, in the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. The award was established during the celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Diocese of Jackson back in 2012.
Priests and Lay Ecclesial Ministers are invited every year to nominate members of their parish who have offered service to the church. The medal recognizes these unsung heroes for their sacrifices. In many cases, the service may seem simple, someone who cleans the church or makes sure everything is set up for Mass. In other cases, a recipient has led the charge on a huge parish project. Either way, the Bishop Chanche award calls to mind the first bishop of this diocese, John Joseph Chanche, who arrived in the dead of night to lead a diocese with no church buildings, no priests and barely any people. His steadfast courage and persistence remain an inspiration today.
The youth award follows similar guidelines, encouraging young people to embrace their role not as leaders of the future, but as today’s church leaders.
Two recipients received the award posthumously. Robert “Bob” Newell from the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle and Jane Sullivan from Tupelo St. James parish both died earlier this year.
Mississippi Catholic does not have room to feature every recipient in print, but a photo gallery of all winners is available online at