JACKSON – When Bishop John Joseph Chanche arrived in the newly formed Diocese of Natchez in May of 1841, there were no Catholic Churches, only a couple of missionary priests, and his flock was far flung. He rose to the challenge and laid the foundation for the Diocese of Jackson. The diocese honors his legacy and thanks those who continue to build on his foundation with the Bishop Chanche medal for service.
This year, Bishop Joseph Kopacz gave 19 adults and nine young people their awards on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. During the Mass, he used Bishop Chanche’s crozier, at right, and spoke of the man who braved wilderness and scarcity to build up the kingdom of God. The brief descriptions on these pages come from the Bishop Chanche nomination forms and offer a glimpse into the men and women who serve the Church today.
Ella Deffner – Clinton Holy Savior
Eucharistic minister to shut-ins, liturgical volunteer.
“Ella lives out her personal devotion to Eucharist in her own life as a faithful Eucharistic Minister visiting and bringing Eucharist to shut-ins weekly. She prepares our altar for Mass daily and Sunday and cares for altar linens, vestments and votive candle.” – Father Tom McGing
Kathleen Edwards – Pearl St. Jude
Certified Catechist, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, hospitality coordinator, liturgical volunteer, RCIA volunteer.
“Kathleen’s ministries have touched many lives. I have seen the impact she has on children, as they respond very enthusiastically to her presence. I have seen her give special attention to children with special needs and they respond very positively to her. She is the face of Christ to many in our parish. She is always serving and taking care of our parishioners, making sure they feel welcome.” – Father Lincoln Dall
Mavis and Lando Fratesi – Leland St. James
Liturgical volunteers, social volunteers, Knights of Columbus
“This couple has been committed to their Catholic faith for past 63 years and they participate in all the ministries of the parish. Lando volunteers for any work in the parish. Young people and children look up to them as role models of parents and grandparents.” – Father Alphonse Arulanandu
Roma Golden – Natchez Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Liturgical volunteer, visited sick and home-bound, inspiring caregiver to disabled son, member Secular Order of Disclaced Carmelites
“For many years, Roma dedicated one day each week to visiting and praying with the sick and home bound and being a Eucharistic Minister to Catholic members. This has been of great service since Assumption Parish did not have a full-time priest. She has been an outstanding witness by her caring for her disabled son.” – Father David O’Connor
Deborah Hopf – Gloster, Holy Family Parish
“Ms. Debbie Hopf is a devoted organist at Holy Family Church in Gloster, as well as for St. Joseph Church in Woodville, as a substitute whenever required. She recently retired from Amite County School System as a Board Supervisor and as an English teacher at Centreville Academy, and has been most faithful to her weekend music ministry at Holy Family Church.” – Father Scott Dugas
Carolyn Koenig – Amory St. Helen
Coordinates parish Christmas charity effort, visits elderly and alzheimers patients, participates in civic charity events.
“Each year more than 80 children and families have some sort of Christmas because of her hard work and dedication. She has a loving heart and her generosity is well known in the parish. There have been times when she was hospitalized but continued with doing what she could from her bed and home. Carolyn is a loving woman who has raised two Catholic daughters who continue to participate in the Church along with her two grandchildren. Her witness of Faith is quietly evident in all she does.” – Sister Lael Niblick
Mary and John Kraft – Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish
Office and liturgy volunteers
For Mary and John, their service to the Church is priority. They see the work that they do for the Church and for the Lord as their path of living out their holiness. So many sacrifices have been made to accomplish the good work the Lord has inspired them to carry out.” – nominating committee
Mike Logan – Woodville St. Joseph
Hospitality volunteer, usher, assists needs veterans.
“Mike Logan has continued a dedicated ministry of Minister of Hospitality and Usher at St. Joseph Church in Woodville for more than 10 years. This goes back to a family tradition started with St. Mary Basilica and Assumption Churches in Natchez.” – Father Scott Dugas
Vivian and Patrick McKinney – Chatawa St. Teresa of Avila
Parish council volunteers, donated construction time, talent and treasure, social gathering volunteers, associates of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
(In addition to preparing meals for parish events), “Pat constructed the concrete foundation for the bell tower at St. Teresa of Avila Church, as well as the concrete ramp to St. James Mission Church, Magnolia.” Vivian serves on several committees and arranges parish picnic annually. They are “a faithful family — totally dedicated to their church in various ways. They are always available to take up any responsibility.” – Father Suresh Reddy Thirumalareddy
Roxian and Daniel Miller – Natchez St. Mary Basilica
Liturgical volunteers, parish event volunteers, social service volunteers, member Knights of Columbus.
“Both of these nominees are outstanding witnesses and examples in St. Mary Basilica parish. They are leaders in the “Respect Life” activities of the parish and in the functions of the Knights of Columbus. Both can be found in the Family Life Center kitchen helping to prepare and serve the weekly parish dinners and do the clean up afterwards. Both are very dedicated to praying the rosary, often making rosaries to give to those who need one and leading many rosary services throughout the year, especially during the month of October.” – Father David O’Connor
Rosalinda and Joel Montoy – Jackson St. Therese
Hispanic ministry, catechesis, parish and finance council volunteers, donors of construction time, talent and treasure,
“Most recently Joel helped recruit and coordinated volunteers who are donating $115,000 worth of labor for construction of the new parish offices and religious education classrooms.” Rosalinda has also been an example of one who gives her time, talents and leadership to the parish. She serves on the pastoral council and on the liturgy committee. For three years Rosalinda has been the director of the Parish School of Religion for Hispanics. Like a good leader, she prepared someone to take her place this year, and Rosalinda has returned to teaching one of the classes.” – Msgr. Elvin Sunds
Evelyn Villanueva Riveros – Vicksburg St. Michael
Hispanic ministry coordinator, sacramental preparation volunteer, social service volunteer
“Evelyn is a native Puerto Rican and her home country was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Being barely able to communicate with family and friends made this time very difficult for Evelyn but she threw her heart into doing whatever she could for her fellow Puerto Ricans. She took her love of Hispanic Ministry and her love of country to the global scale. Almost single handedly she arranged for the St. Michael Parish Hall to be used as the Warren County drop off location for relief items going to Puerto Rico.” – Father Robert Dore
Derek Singleton – Jackson Christ the King
Liturgical volunteer, parish council member, school supporter, physical plant volunteer, catechist Knights of Peter Claver.
“Derek is a true example of who a Catholic is. His deeds are not not done because he was asked to sign up for something. He does things because he feels as a Catholic it is something that he should do. It is in his persona to go out of his way to serve.” – Deacon Denzil Lobo
Barbara and Donnie Tynes – Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle
RCIA coordinators, liturgical volunteers, Habitat for Humanity volunteers, prison ministry, parish council
“Since their registration as parishioners 14 years ago, Barbara and Donnie are the smiling faces that inquirers and visitors see at the Cathedral They are always ready with a smile or hug or both to help those in need feel special.” – Father Anthony Quyet
Doug Prosen – Philadephia Holy Cross Parish
Food pantry ministry, Knights of Columbus
“He is a vibrant person who spends his time serving the poor and runs this ministry free of charge.” – Father Darnis Selvanayakam
Britt Virden – Greenville, St. Joseph Parish
School and parish volunteer and donor. “Britt exemplifies what it means to believe in a mission and put every ounce of talent and energy into mission. He believes in it and he lives it. He has also made financial sacrifices in order to support our school and parish. No matter what the need was, Britt would see to it that we got it.” – Father Bill Henry.
Gracie Wilson – Gluckstadt St. Joseph
Liturgical volunteer, hospitality volunteer for parish and diocesan events, Hispanic ministry, social service, Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxillary
“Gracie is invaluable to me, personally, and to our community. She leads when called to leadership, she is on the team when needed, and she serves in the background when that service is necessary. She is always there, helping, supporting, and praying for our parish family.” – Pam Minninger
Olivia Artigues – Starkville St. Joseph
Youth ministry and catechetical volunteer, liturgical volunteer, community service volunteer.
“When she speaks about or lives out her faith, it is a pure and well intended example for the others to follow. And it is done in such as way, as John the Baptist, pointing to someone much greater than herself.” – Deacon Jeff Artigues
Raphael Barner – Jackson Holy Ghost
Liturgical volunteer, musician (Sonic Boom of the South member), role model.
“At our church and at school, Raphael is known for his leadership and his willingness to assist and prayerfulness. The youth at our church look up to Raphael because is always available for the young males to talk to school and sometimes about music. Raphael has no problem praying with his friends and sharing his religious beliefs. For a young man who have so much going on in his life, he is a jewel.” – Father Alfred Ayem, pastor
Catherine Cook – Jackson St. Richard
Youth ministry leader, retreat leader, liturgical volunteer, community service volunteer
“Catherine has a deep faith in God and a strong personal relationship with Christ. Her relationship with Christ is evident in everything she does. Catherine truly loves the Lord and this becomes very apparent in the way she lives her life. You don’t have to spend much time with Catherine before her love of Christ becomes apparent. She just can’t help sharing his love with others. “ – Amelia Rizor, youth minister
Margaret Elizabeth Gordon – Gluckstadt St. Joseph
Liturgical volunteer, catechist volunteer, community service
“Meg has an enthusiasm for her participation and faith that inspires not only her leaders but our younger members as well. She is always willing to guide the younger teens when needed.” – Patti Greene, youth minister
Cassandra Klutz – Meridian St. Patrick
Liturgical ministry, particularly music ministry, Vacation Bible school and summer service camp volunteer.
“She is the most empathetic young person I have ever been around, she has a knack for sensing what someone may need, whether it be a kind word, a smile, or a helping hand and then providing it without fanfare. She is very creative in the arts with the ability to vision an idea and then follow through to its completion. Her kindness extends throughout our youth, she will take the time to teach younger kids arts, crafts, music and anything that she has had experience with previously. Finally, her integrity might be her strongest suit. She has been taught a strong moral foundation by her parents and she has built upon that herself.” – John Harwell, youth minister
Dominic Lopez – Pearl St. Jude
Youth ministry volunteer, liturgical volunteer, volunteer for Carmelite monastery, parish leadership council, hospital volunteer
“He is a strong leader in our community and in our youth program. He has a strong devotion to the Eucharist and the Mass and to many of the devotions of our Catholic faith. He tries to get other youth involved in our parish and is always encouraging to them. Many of the other youth look to him for leadership and as an example. He promotes the traditions and devotions of the Filipino community in our parish.” – Father Lincoln Dall
Ryne Hamilton McCallum – Vicksburg St. Michael
Peer catechist, youth leader
“It is really hard to narrow down to three words Ryne’s character. Loyal, hardworking and faith-filled easily come to mind. However, the one word that really stands out is inquisitive. Ryne has been attending our Parish School of Religion since second grade and in those eleven years there have only been a handful of times that he has missed. He is still attending this year as a Confirmed high school senior.” – Helene Bension, Director of religious education.
John Paul Moorman – Madison St. Francis of Assisi
Youth ministry volunteer, Vacation Bible School volunteer
“John Paul’s service has done a lot to help build a culture of outstanding young Christian men and women in our parish community. By working with young men and women almost every Sunday and serving as he is needed he is helping others see an example of a youth who takes his faith seriously and lives it out. We are very thankful for John Paul and everything about this outstanding young man. He consistently attends youth activities, participates in worship activities and extends himself beyond what is required by volunteering this year with the EDGE core team.” – nominating committee
Mary Swinney – Kosciusko St. Therese
Youth ministry leader, civic volunteer, community service volunteer
“Well organized and dependable with tasks large and small. This year she helped organize and worked at four fundraisers to pay for the nine youth and two chaperones to attend the Youth Conference in Vicksburg. Mary is very humble and is not one to call attention to herself and is willing to help where ever there is a need.” – nominating committee
Julianna Vaughn – Tupelo St. James
Youth leader, liturgical volunteer, Vacation Bible school volunteer, community service volunteer.
“She is a leader in every way. She is the captain of her cheer squad, captain of the soccer team, Vice President of her senior class, Vice President of high school student government, President of the BETA club, Contributing write to the Quill and Scroll high school paper, volunteers for the Nettleton peewee football league. She is also pursuing a career in service to her country. “ – Mary Frances Strange, youth minister
Christopher James Walton – Flowood St. Paul
Youth leader, liturgical volunteer, Eagle Scout
“In referring again to his genuine nature, he participates in our program because he knows it is the right thing to do and really enjoys it. He is the type of student that the adult volunteers have come to know they can count on to help inspire other students. All of his current and past youth volunteers have nothing but great things to say about him.” – Corey Head, youth minister