Summer Camp a Palooza at St. Joseph

GREENVILLE – St Joseph Catholic Unit School held its annual Summer Camp-a-Palooza in June.  Children from the Delta had the opportunity to attend Tennis Camp, Mini-Cheer Camp, Football Camp, Basketball Camp, Baseball Camp and Soccer Camp. “Summer camps offer area children opportunities for fun and learning outside of the classroom. Coaches from each sport teach discipline, pride, self-esteem, determination and love of that particular sport. All in all, 120 Delta area children ages 5-12 attended the various camps last month. We love hosting camps and watching the children grow. We have many year-to-year repeaters and they always leave saying, ‘See ya next year,’” said Missi Blackstock, public relations director for the school. (Photos by Missi Blackstock)

Vacation Bible Schools in Jackson, Natchez, Hernando

JACKSON – An army of volunteers helped make St Therese Parish Vacation Bible School fun for everyone. Above, Betsy Caraway leads a small group activity. (Photo by Cathy Eaves)

NATCHEZ – Holy Family Parish hosted a Vacation Bible school with the theme Maker Fun Factory in June. Students learned about creation and vocation while they sang, danced and created crafts. At the end of the week, the kids got to meet Bishop Joseph Kopacz, who was in town for a pastoral visit. (Photo by Valencia Hall.)























HERNANDO – Holy Spirit Parish hosted A Mighty Fortress Vacation Bible school during the last week of June. Forty children attended. Adult and teen volunteers helped to guide the children through religious class, music, snacks and crafts. Teachers led a balloon ceremony on the last night in which the children wrote notes to God which they tied to balloons and released into the sky to go to heaven. (Photos by Licritia Holland)

Honoring Our Lady of Fatima

MAGEE – St. Stephen Parish’s First communion class, Robert Talon Michael Hardy, Huynh Minh Dang and Lillian Amelia Ponder, led a procession at the parish in honor of the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Mary at Fatima carrying flowers and candles. The congregation followed praying a decade of the rosary. The procession concluded in the Parish Hall where the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was placed on a special alter and the parish prayed a prayer of consecration to Jesus through Mary. (Photo courtesy of Kelleigh Wilson)














Graduation honors for Holy Family

NATCHEZ – Holy Family Early Learning Center graduates process out of Mass in their honor showing off their certificates in May. The center continues to educate young people from pre-k through kindergarten. (Photo by Valencia Hall)

Winona youth locked in

WINONA – Sacred Heart youth in Winona participated in a team builder called “Airlocking” after geocaching and two competive games of capture the flag at their summer kick-off lock-in “The sleepless sleepover” held in the family life center. The youth continue summer fun sessions with plans to attend Geyser Falls and the escape room in Jackson. (Photo by Tara Trost)

Catholic Extension honors St. Gabriel Center

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Saint Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou is getting national recognition thanks to Catholic Extension. The center is one of eight finalists in the running for the Lumen Christi Award.
The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Chicago-based organization, the leading national supporter of missionary work in poor and remote parts of the United States. St. Gabriel fits that description perfectly. Situated in Mound Bayou, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, the center offers hope and assistance to one of the poorest communities in the state.
Mound Bayou was once a thriving center for black commerce – founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. The town boasted of cotton mills, manufacturing businesses, even a hospital that treated African-Americans from across the state. A National Public Radio report from March, 2017 told the history of the town. In the story, Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, said desegregation and the promise of better jobs lured away the population and led to the overall decline of the community. The mills closed, the hospital shut down. Empty properties began to fall apart. Once a town of 9,000, the population now hovers around 1,500.
The Catholic Church has been a presence in the community since St. Gabriel chapel opened in 1949. A school followed. As the years went by and the population dwindled, St. Gabriel had to re-invent itself. The school closed in 1990, but the Mercy Center opened to provide resources to the community. The parish closed in 2013.
Sisters of Mercy ran the operation until 2015 when a group of Franciscan Sisters of Charity took over administration. “In many ways, our St. Gabriel Mercy Center is a hub for outreach services that accommodate the people of Mound Bayou and the surrounding areas throughout Bolivar County,” said Sister Monica Mary DeQuardo, current executive director.
She works with a team of locals to anticipate and offer what the people in the community want and need. “Our services are professional, and delivered simply – completely dependent on volunteers, donations, grants and effective and efficient management. Thus, our present programs … offer a variety of adult educational services – at no expense to our patrons.
“We have a computer lab; General Education Diploma training, Parents as Teachers, senior outreach, a sewing program and the Delta Boutique,” she added. The staff offers emergency assistance for food and utilities and a thrift store.
Sister said there are signs of hope in the town once known as the “jewel of the Delta.” A clinic has opened to once again provide medical care. Most of the staff is from the town – in fact, several senior administrators at St. Gabriel have moved back to the town after living elsewhere.
The next project on the center’s list: adult education and tutoring. As the staff assisted parents they realized many adults in the community struggle with literacy.
When a youth group from the Diocese of Biloxi came to visit a couple summers ago, the board of directors set them to work converting the old church building into classrooms for an expanded adult literacy program. The work continued in April when a group from Maine came to offer service. “Though the edifice is still standing empty because we have not been able to secure a grant for furniture,” said Sister DeQuardo. If St. Gabriel wins the Lumen Christi Award, Catholic Extension will provide $25,000 to help with the effort.
The Latin phrase “Lumen Christi,” taken from the Easter Vigil, means “Light of Christ.” Since 1978, the award has honored individuals or groups who demonstrate how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. “Our Lumen Christi finalists have answered Pope Francis’ call to all Catholics to be ‘missionary disciples’ and are proclaiming and living the Gospel in America’s ‘peripheries,'” said Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension. “They are an example to all of us.”
Winners will be announced in the fall.

Bishop seeks candidates for permanent diaconate

JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz has asked pastors for candidates for a new class of permanent deacons for the Diocese of Jackson.
A permanent deacon fulfils a ministry of service, proclaimng the word, visiting the sick, serving the poor and doing the work assigned him by the local bishop. Deacons are ordained, but do not act in the same capacity as priests. They can perform weddings, baptisms and funerals, but cannot offer Masses.
A permanent deacon can be married or single, but cannot enter into marriage once ordained. A married deacon will promise not to re-marry if he is widowed.
Preparation for the diaconate takes five years and includes both academic study and spiritual formation. If a candidate is married, his wife should be a supportive part of his ministry. Last year, six men were ordained deacons. Most serve at their home parishes. One, Deacon Denzil Lobo, serves as the ecclesial minister for Jackson Christ the King Parish.
Men interested in the ministry should speak to their pastors. A pastor must recommend someone for candidacy. The applications are lengthy and are due to the chancery by August 31.

JACKSON – At left, Deacon Denzil Lobo, left, and Father Jeremy Tobin accept the Book of the Gospels from a member of the Ladies of Peter Claver at the Mass to install Deacon Lobo as the eccelsial minister and Father Tobin as the sacramental minister for Christ the King Parish Sunday, June 11. Deacons are ordained clergy who fulfil a ministry of service for a diocese. The tradition of deacons goes back to the earliest days of Christianity when the community appointed a group to care for the poor of a community. (Photo by Sallie Ann Inman)

BATESVILLE –St. Mary Parish welcomed new pastor, Father Pradeep Kumar Thirumalareddy, with a parish brunch after he celebrated his first Mass in the parish on June 11. Father Pradeep came from his home in India to serve in the Diocese of Jackson. The parish also celebrated his June 14 birthday. (Photo by Robin Ridge)

Setting politics aside for the Kingdom

By George Evans

(George Evans is a retired pastoral minister and member of Jackson St. Richard Parish.)

What would Jesus do if He were living in the chaotic times we are in at present? I am taken back by the language and actions of our President. I lament his positions on health care, taxes, education, immigration and lack of respect for women. He and his party seem only to care for the richest top two percent in our country. Apparently the Russian involvement gets more complicated every day that passes. The Democrats tread water with no power in either the Congress or Executive Branch of government. If they have a plan or solutions they need to come forward with them. To get something done requires both parties to work together. They say they will, but they don’t. So our country languishes and the international dangers from the North Koreans and others continue to fester and stoke fear in all of us.
I found some hope in the Gospel from the Mass today (July 11) the Feast of St. Benedict. What a great saint he was and is. Its a shame he’s not around to write a “Rule” for the Congress and all the government as he did to profoundly impact monasticism for the last 1,500 plus years until today. He followed Jesus admonition in the Gospel of today’s Mass to go out into the harvest of the Master. He did more than just pray for laborers in the master’s harvest. He did it himself and sent out many more he trained and formed.
It struck me that too often we think that our times are such a mess and no one ever had to deal with anything so bad. But the Gospel read today sounds like a preview:
A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus, and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke. The crowds were amazed and said,
“Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons.” (Mt: 9:32-33)
Here we have one group seeing and praising a miracle of great power and grace and an opposing group seeing the exact same thing and cursing it as an act of the devil to be scorned and condemned. Sounds like the difference between MSNBC and Fox News. Jesus simply continues with the work of his Father.
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. (Mt. 9:34-38)
Instead of cursing the darkness of the present situation, Republican and Democrat, perhaps we should do as Jesus did, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, reaching out to the sick and poor, taking care of the troubled and abandoned.
This is what he taught his disciples and that now includes us. St. Benedict did it. The disciples did it. Its now our turn to follow suit. If we do it and pray for and send out laborers for the harvest we will have done our part.
(George Evans is a retired pastoral minister and member of Jackson St. Richard Parish.)

Letters to a bishop inspire Confirmation program

By Fran Lavelle

Fran Lavelle is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson

I recognized early on in my role at the chancery that I was not a typical diocesan director for formation and religious education. I have been a catechist, but never directed a religious education program. For certain, there were many things that I didn’t know and committed myself to learning. What I did know, having spent many years in youth and college ministry, was that we are witnessing a paradigm shift in how young people articulate and witness their faith. One piece of wisdom I have gained over the years is the importance of listening to people to understand where they are. I truly believe young people are speaking their truth to us in the Church, but we have not been great at “hearing” what they are telling us.
Out of pure curiosity or perhaps a prompting of the Holy Spirit, I asked Bishop Kopacz if he would share the letters he received from the confirmadi as I was interested in “listening” to what our young people of faith are telling us. What became apparent regardless of demographics of the parish or what program the parish used is that our young people are struggling to reconcile the faith they have been taught with the world they live in. Reading over the letters I was struck by their honesty and sincerity.
For the most part, the tone of the letters are casual as if they are writing a good friend. Many express their doubts, fears and inadequacies. Even those with the greatest doubt in God or themselves ask for the sacrament. After reading their letters, I felt a deep desire to do something that would help allay theirs fears and create a conversation about, if not normalize, their doubt. I realized I was being called to write a confirmation preparation program based on the letters and using the curriculum for Confirmation in The Catechist Companion, a curriculum guide for catechesis and religious education.
The program takes its name from the genesis of this work, Letters to a Bishop: The Journey to Confirmation. What became abundantly clear with the prompting of the Holy Spirit is that the work of catechesis is organic. We are all being lead to think, reflect and respond to the Spirit in our ever-changing world. Development of the Confirmation preparation program is a candid reminder to always and in all ways, be open to what the Spirit is calling us to.
The word confirmation is from the Latin confirmare which means “to strengthen” or “to establish.” What is strengthened in the sacrament are the graces we received at Baptism through the Holy Spirit. There are, in fact, very few requirements laid out in Canon Law that speak to what is necessary for the sacrament to be administered.
The primary requirement is that the individual, free from impediments that would prevent reception of the sacrament, asks for the sacrament. The secondary requirement is that the pastor and others have the responsibility to worthily prepare those who ask for the sacrament.
Can. 843 §1 Sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.
§2 According to their respective offices in the Church, both pastors of souls and all other members of Christ’s faithful have a duty to ensure that those who ask for the sacraments are prepared for their reception. This should be done through proper evangelization and catechetical instruction, in accordance with the norms laid down by the competent authority.
It is in the latter requirement that we find the greatest variance in sacramental preparation. Our diocesan sacramental preparation directives in the Catechist Companion communicate the nine areas that should be included in the curriculum. The first area is scripture which does not have specific curriculum guidelines. In developing the confirmation program for our diocese, I chose to insert scripture in the lesson plan for each session.
A session on human dignity was added bringing our total of sessions to nine. I felt strongly that a foundational understanding of our creation in God’s likeness and image was an important prerequisite. The remaining eight areas from the curriculum of the Catechist Companion are: tradition; the church as the faith community; morality: forming a Christian lifestyle; the reality of sin and the need for redemption; missionary initiation/service; the nature of the Paschal mystery; prayer; and liturgy and worship.
There is no requirement to use the confirmation program. If you currently have a confirmation preparation program that you love, keep using it. If, however, you would like to investigate trying something new, I encourage you to look at the program. I am hoping that some parishes will use it and provide feedback as to how it worked and what adjustments should be made to improve the program. A copy of the program is available to download from the diocesan website, If you are interested in implementing all or part of the program and would like to meet with me before the academic year gets underway, please contact me at:
(Fran Lavelle is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson.)


Seminarian Adolfo Suarez Pasillas admitted to candidacy for ordination

CLEVELAND – Seminarian Adolfo Suarez Pasillas was admitted to candidacy for ordination on Saturday, May 20, at Our Lady of Victories Parish. Bishop Joseph Kopacz was in Cleveland for Confirmation so the parish was able to celebrate both vocational events on one day. Suarez will be ordained as a transitional deacon next spring. Admission is when he formally asks the bishop to consider him for ordination. (Photo courtesy of Jenifer Jenkins)

Vatican to bishops: check your hosts, wine

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Vatican recently published a circular letter, “On the bread and wine for the Eucharist,” sent to diocesan bishops at the request of Pope Francis. Dated June 15 – the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ – the letter was made public by the Vatican July 8.
Because bread and wine for the Eucharist are no longer supplied just by religious communities, but “are also sold in supermarkets and other stores and even over the internet,” bishops should set up guidelines, an oversight body and/or even a form of certification to help “remove any doubt about the validity of the matter for the Eucharist,” the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments said.
In response to the Vatican statement, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Divine Worship has answered some of these frequently asked questions.
Q: Why is the Vatican worried about what makes up a Communion host? Doesn’t it have more important things to focus on?
A: To say that the Eucharist is important to Catholics is an understatement; the bishops at the Second Vatican Council referred to it as the “source of and summit of the Christian life.” On the night before he died, Jesus considered it important enough to spend time with his apostles at the Last Supper, telling them to continue to celebrate the Eucharist, instructing them to “do this in memory of me.” So the Vatican is naturally interested in making sure that this instruction is carried out properly, and this requires not only a priest who says the correct words, but also the use of the correct material. Therefore, the Catholic Church has strict requirements for the bread and wine used at Mass.
Q: Has the validity of the materials used for the Eucharist been a problem in the United States?
A: The circular letter is addressed to the entire church, to bishops all over the world. Circumstances are very different in various places around the globe, so it’s difficult to know whether the Holy See’s letter is a response to particular problems in certain places. It’s important to note that the letter does not introduce any new teachings or regulations – it simply reminds bishops of their important duty to ensure that the correct materials are used in the celebration of the Mass. We’re fortunate in our country, insofar as it’s not difficult to find bread and wine that are clearly suitable for the Mass.
Q: Concerning low-gluten hosts, how much gluten is in them? Are they safe for someone with celiac disease?
A: The gluten content in low-gluten hosts can vary by producer, but they typically contain less than 0.32 percent gluten. Foods with less than 20 parts per million gluten can be marketed as “gluten-free,” and some low-gluten hosts – while containing enough gluten to satisfy the church’s requirements for Mass – would even fall into that category. The amount of gluten present in low-gluten hosts is considered safe for the vast majority of people with gluten-related health difficulties.
Q: For someone who does not want any exposure to gluten, the church says that Communion may be received under the species of wine alone. What happens if a diocese does not offer Communion under both species?
A: Parishes are more than willing to make special arrangements to assist people who need to receive the Precious Blood instead of the host for medical reasons, even if the parish doesn’t normally offer Communion under both kinds. It can take a little advanced planning to organize the procedures, but pastors are happy to do this. If for some reason a person in this situation runs into difficulties at the parish level, he or she should contact the bishop’s office for assistance.
Q: What about someone, especially a priest, who has alcoholism? Is grape juice allowed?
A: Grape juice is not allowed for the Catholic Mass, but the use of “mustum” can be permitted. Mustum is a kind of wine that has an extremely low alcohol content. It’s made by beginning the fermentation process in grape juice, but then suspending the process such that the alcohol content generally remains below 1 percent, far lower than the levels found in most table wines.
Q: Who do I talk with if these issues are a concern of mine? Must my pastor accommodate my needs?
A: Someone who suffers in this way should talk to his or her pastor. Naturally, if someone arrives with this kind of request at the last second before Mass is set to begin, the pastor might not be able to accommodate his or her needs. But if someone reaches out in a reasonable manner, pastors are happy to help. Again, if someone runs into difficulties in this regard, he or she should contact the bishop’s office for assistance. One of the greatest duties and privileges of bishops and priests is making the Eucharist available to the Catholic faithful, and they do their best to make this possible.

National Black Catholic Congress engages younger attendees

By Gail DeGeorge
ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) – A standing-room-only crowd of young black Catholics in a frank session that lasted more than two hours told bishops, priests and women and men religious why they stay in the church, what threatens to drive them away and that they want a stronger voice from church officials for the Black Lives Matter movement.
As the National Black Catholic Congress got underway in Orlando July 6 with more than 2,000 attendees, some 120 participants discussed ways to keep young adult black Catholics engaged in their parishes and the church – and raised criticism of, and an apology for, the church’s silence regarding the movement spawned by the killings of unarmed blacks by police.
Among the bishops attending Congress XII was Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
“How do we respond as people of faith to issues of race that have always been going on in society but especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement? And in a lot of the police killings, a lot of people feel that the church has been almost silent in its response,” Stacy Allen, one of the facilitators, said toward the end of the session.
“The church is very vocal on a myriad of issues – immigration for instance – which are important,” Allen said. “But specifically on the issues of race, especially from the perspective of a young adult black Catholic, what should the Catholic response be?”
That prompted Auxiliary Bishop Fernand Cheri III of New Orleans to stand. With a bow to those in the room, he said, “To the black youth, I apologize to you as a leader of the church because I feel we have abandoned you in the Black Lives Matter movement and I apologize.
“Partly, I didn’t understand it, and by the time I did understand it, it was too late – the moment was gone,” he said. “I’m very proud of you – you stood up and said enough is enough. As a leader, I want to say that to you – thank you.”
He then went on to tell of challenges in his own journey as a priest and a bishop, his outreach to bring young people, and starting choirs in parishes. “You’re going to struggle and you’re going to persevere,” he said. He counseled that young black adults reach out to each other and others within their parishes and church communities.
“No one knows how to best minister to you as young people – we’re all learning this together,” he said. “One of the reasons we have faltered when it comes to vocations from our community because when it comes to being church, we just don’t have the community working at it together and that’s the failure.”
Many at the session spoke of the need to address a lack of programs for young adults and meaningful engagement and leadership opportunities within parishes and the larger church. Young adults want more than to be tapped to set up tables, take out trash, run kids’ programs and generally do things that older parishioners don’t want to do, participants said.
Too many parishes have youth programs that end at high school – and nothing for those who come back after college with talents and skills and a willingness to get involved, participants said. A participant from New Orleans said the reason she stays Catholic is the strength of her parish community, she has encountered resistance in other parishes. “One reason young adults are leaving is that sometimes it feels like the church does not want us,” she said.
She said she’s tried to volunteer and has been told “no because of age, or no because they don’t say it, but because I’m a young adult, and they think I’m too young to know about that, or no because that’s ‘too black’ and that might be fine for your church in New Orleans but not here,” she said.
“We as young adults don’t want programs, we want a relationship,” said a participant. “We don’t want things to do – we have enough to do. We want a place to belong. Successful young adult ministries are where they feel invested to make change within their parishes.”

History of Saltillo mission focus of new book

(Editor’s note: Msgr. Michael Flannery has penned a book, “Saltillo Mission,” detailing the history of collaboration between the Diocese of Jackson and the missions in Saltillo, Mexico. Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit Madison St. Anthony school. Father Michael O’Brien offers the following review.)
By Father Michael O’Brien

The cover of Msgr. Michael Flannery’s book features Perpetual Help Church, the main parish for more than 30 years. While the Diocese of Jackson no longer sends pastors or youth groups to the missions, the church in Mississippi still takes up a collection and Bishop Joseph Kopacz has visited several times.

Inspired by the Second Vatican Council and the call for the “first world” to reach out to the “third world” and share their resources, Father Patrick Quinn was selected by then Bishop Joseph Brunini to open a mission for the diocese of Natchez-Jackson in Saltillo, Mexico. Msgr. Mike Flannery’s book chronicles the history of this mission since its inception in 1969 to the present day (2017). As a young priest Father Flannery spent three wonderful years (1971-1974) working with Father Quinn at the mission. His book captures the excitement, challenges, faith and creative spirit of this great mission and particularly the charisma and vision of Father Patrick Quinn. The mission in Saltillo was, in my opinion, the most significant and inspiring program ever undertaken by the Catholic community in Mississippi.
Father Patrick Quinn was truly an amazing priest. He made everyone feel special and loved. He particularly loved the poor. He loved America and especially Mississippi. He loved his native Ireland, but he laid down his life every day for the people of Saltillo, Mexico. He served as pastor of four churches in the city and approximately 50 mission churches in the surrounding mountain villages. He built 2,250 cinder block homes for poor families. He established the “Saltillo Summer Program” where high school and college youth from Mississippi and beyond were invited to spend a week at the mission. More than 20,000 youth participated in this program over a 40-year period. It was a life-changing experience for most of them as they experienced poverty, faith and the rich Mexican culture.
The mission inspired many vocations, both in Saltillo and at home in America. Father Serio Balderas from Saltillo is serving as pastor of St. Elizabeth parish in Ocean Springs. Father Quinn’s ministry continues through him in Mississippi. Many young priests from our diocese served with Father Quinn in Saltillo. They learned to speak Spanish and it has laid the foundation for our present outreach ministry to the Hispanic community in Mississippi.
Two years ago, a reporter from Saltillo, Jesus Salas Cortes wrote a book on the life of Father Quinn. Father Flannery’s book builds on this and compliments it nicely. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Father Quinn and 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the mission. Writing this book “Saltillo Mission” is a wonderful way to celebrate these occasions.
Finally, a personal story. I was at home in Ireland one summer about 30 years ago. I stopped at Father Quinn’s home in Ballaghlea, Co. Galway. Father Quinn was at the table working. I asked him later what he was doing. He told me he was writing Christmas cards (in July) to all the supporters of his mission in Saltillo. Even on his vacation in Ireland, when he should be visiting with family or playing golf, he was thinking about his poor parishioners at his mission in Mexico!
This book is filled with inspiring stories, life-changing stories, faith stories, and stories told by many of the priests and lay people who visited and worked at the mission in Saltillo, Mexico.
The book is available at the chancery office on Amite Street in Jackson, Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish, the Carmelite Monastery gift shop on Terry Road in Jackson and Downtown Marketplace, Main Street, Yazoo City.
Father Flannery is also planning to bring the book to the Diocese of Bioxi later in the fall to offer at several parishes and the chancery office there. The cost is $15 plus shipping.
(Father Michael O’Brien is the pastor of Canton Sacred Heart Parish.)

Libro se enfoca en la historia de la misión de Saltillo

(Nota del editor: Monseñor Michael Flannery ha escrito un libro, “The Saltillo Mission” que detalla la historia de la colaboración entre la Diócesis de Jackson y las misiones en Saltillo, México. Los ingresos de la venta del libro beneficiarán a la escuela de Saint Anthony en Madison. El Padre Michael O’Brien ofrece el siguiente análisis.)
Por Padre Mike O’Brien

La portada del libro de Monseñor Michael Flannery presenta a la Iglesia de Ayuda Perpetua, parroquia principal por más de 30 años. Mientras que la Diócesis de Jackson ya no envía pastores o grupos de jóvenes a las misiones, la iglesia en Mississippi todavía toma una colección y el obispo Joseph Kopacz ha visitado varias veces.

CANTON – Inspirado por el Concilio Vaticano II y el llamamiento para que el “primer mundo” llegue al “tercer mundo” y comparta sus recursos, el Padre Patrick Quinn fue seleccionado por el Obispo Joseph Brunini para abrir una misión para la diócesis de Natchez-Jackson en Saltillo, México. El libro de Monseñor Mike Flannery narra la historia de esta misión desde su creación en 1969 hasta ahora (2017). Como sacerdote joven, Padre Flannery pasó tres años maravillosos (1971-1974) trabajando con el Padre Quinn en la misión. Su libro capta la emoción, los desafíos, la fe y el espíritu creativo de esta gran misión y particularmente el carisma y la visión del Padre Patrick Quinn. La misión en Saltillo fue, en mi opinión, el programa más significativo e inspirador que la comunidad católica de Mississippi ha adoptado.
El Padre Patrick Quinn fue realmente un sacerdote increíble que hizo que todos se sintieran especiales y amados. Él amaba particularmente a los pobres. Amaba a los Estados Unidos y especialmente a Mississippi. Amaba a su Irlanda natal, pero cada día dedicaba su vida a la gente de Saltillo, México. Él sirvió como pastor de cuatro iglesias en la ciudad y aproximadamente 50 iglesias de la misión en los pueblos de montaña circundantes. Construyó 2.250 casas de bloques de cemento para familias pobres. Estableció el “Programa de Verano de Saltillo” donde estudiantes de secundaria y universitarios de Mississippi y más allá fueron invitados a pasar una semana en la misión. Más de 20.000 jóvenes participaron en este programa durante un período de 40 años. Fue una experiencia que cambió la vida de la mayoría de ellos, ya que experimentaron la pobreza, la fe y la cultura rica mexicana.
La misión inspiró muchas vocaciones, tanto en Saltillo como en los Estados Unidos. Padre Serio Baldares de Saltillo está sirviendo como pastor de la parroquia de Santa Isabel en Ocean Springs. ¡El ministerio del Padre Quinn continúa a través de él en Mississippi! Muchos sacerdotes jóvenes de nuestra diócesis sirvieron con el Padre Quinn en Saltillo. Aprendieron a hablar español y han sentado las bases para nuestro ministerio actual de extensión a la comunidad hispana en Mississippi.
Hace dos años, un reportero de Saltillo, Jesús Salas Cortés, escribió un libro sobre la vida del Padre Quinn. El libro del Padre Flannery se basa en esto y lo complementa muy bien. Este año se conmemora el 20 aniversario de la muerte del Padre Quinn y 2019 marca el 50 aniversario de la misión. Escribir este libro, “The Saltillo Mission” es una manera maravillosa de celebrar estas ocasiones.
Finalmente, una historia personal. Yo estaba en casa en Irlanda un verano hace unos 30 años. Me detuve en casa del Padre Quinn en Ballaghlea, Condado de Galway. Padre Quinn estaba trabajando. Le pregunté más tarde qué estaba haciendo. Me dijo que estaba escribiendo tarjetas de Navidad (en julio) a todos los partidarios de su misión en Saltillo. Incluso en sus vacaciones en Irlanda, cuando debía estar de visita con la familia o jugando golf, estaba pensando en sus feligreses en su misión en México. Este libro está lleno de historias inspiradoras, historias que cambian la vida, historias de fe e historias contadas por muchos de los sacerdotes y laicos que visitaron y trabajaron en la misión en Saltillo, México.
El libro está disponible en Madison, Parroquia de San Francisco de Asís; Jackson, Monasterio Carmelita; Y la ciudad de Yazoo, mercado del centro, calle principal. El Padre Flannery también planea traer el libro a la Diócesis de Biloxi más adelante en el otoño para ofrecer en varias parroquias allí. El costo es $15 más gastos de envío.
(El Padre Michael O’Brien es pastor de la parroquia del Sagrado Corazón de Cantón).