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 18 adults (one posthumously) and one young person their awards on Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. The brief descriptions on these pages come from the Bishop Chanche Award nomination forms and offer a glimpse into the men and women who serve the church today.
Lillie Arrexi – st. Helen, amory
Lillie Arrexi embodies a true disciple of Christ. She has given witness to her faith by her simple yet profound prayer life and by putting her faith into action. Recently widowed, she was a devoted wife and is a loving mother and grandmother. In the parish she ministered as First Communion catechist for over 30 years as well as ministering in the school as an ESL teacher. She has been in constant contact with many of the Hispanic members of our parish supporting them, as well as all the children of the parish. Miss Lillie as she is fondly called, continues to serve in various ministries and truly embodies Christ in her life. Lillie was also among those members who raised monies to build the present church and center. – Sister Lael Niblick
Carla Lott – St. Joseph, Gluckstadt
Carla has been the parish secretary since January of 2008. When Carla is asked to do something, you never have to worry that it won’t get done. She is committed and dedicated to our parish and is always smiling, welcoming, kind and helpful! She is truly our “Minister of First Impressions” and “Minister of Welcome.” She is patient, kind, and helpful to everyone she encounters. As a religious education teacher, she spent her “free” time planning and gathering materials for her class. As a Germanfest booth chair and worker, she spends a lot of time at planning meetings and working during her “non-working hours” to contribute to the success of the fest. As a member of the KC Auxiliary, she attends meetings and contributes to the projects the organization sponsors. During COVID, when we had strict health and safety protocols in place, she attended every Mass to make sure everyone was safe. – Pam Minninger, LEM
Dr. Robert E. Wolverton, Sr. – St. Joseph, Starkville
This is a lifetime achievement award. Dr. Wolverton is 96 years old. He has spent many years in service to the church in many ways. He loves his faith, his family, his church and has served in many different capacities through the years to follow his Savior.
Dr. Wolverton was heavily involved in the begining days of RCIA at St. Joseph and led and taught the catechetical instructions for many years. He was on the first parish council at St. Joseph and also served on the diocesan pastoral council, serving twice as president under Bishops Brunini and Houck. Additionally, he led Word and Communion Services on the campus of Mississippi State University at the Chapel of Memories touching the lives of both students and faculty, bringing them the Lord Jesus, quite literally – in Word and Sacrament for many years.
Dr. Wolverton continues to serve as a great lay witness. People in the parish have a great amount of respect and admiration for Dr. Wolverton and see him as a leader and a good and faithful Catholic Christian. There have been times when a priest could not be in Starkville for Sunday Mass for one reason or another. Dr. Wolverton was always happy to lead a Word and Communion Service and offer a great reflection on the Scriptures. – Father Jason Johnston
Herman Cooper – Holy Savior, Clinton
Herman is a ‘household name’ in the parish. Herman has been active in parish ministry for more than 30 years. All recent pastors have sought his help and counsel in administration. His fingerprints are on every big project in the parish – new church building, the new parish hall. A steady hand with parish finances, and the gift of his time to meetings and reports. He is a good listener to people and their complaints – always ready to help and serve.
He has served as a lector and an usher.; and as a member of Knights of Columbus parish council.
Raised in a small catholic community in Anguilla, Mississippi he is proud of his catholic roots and the family he came from. He and his wife, Carol, have passed on this faith and love of church to their children and grandchildren. – Father Tom McGing
Carrie Meyer – St. Michael, Vicksburg
Carrie coordinates one of the most visible outreach programs of our parish – Meals on Wheels. One Friday a month, St. Michael Parish provides a hot meal for approximately 100 individuals in Vicksburg and Warren County. Carrie plans the menu and completes the grocery shopping. She then coordinates various groups of parishioners to cook, package and deliver the meals to those individuals on our designated Friday. She also coordinates with local businesses and restaurants who volunteer to provide all or part of a meal.
Today, in any given community there are many who struggle to have enough to eat or a hot meal on a regular basis and Vicksburg is no different. Being able to help a small portion of our city is a blessing. We have received phone calls and notes from the recipients of these meals thanking us for what we do and thanking us for the interaction between themselves and ourparishioners. Thanks to Carrie and this ministry, Vicksburg is able see the Gospel being lived through the actions of our parishioners. – Father Robert Dore
Stephenie Morrisey – St. Richard, Jackson
Stephenie has volunteered diligently for many years with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd religious formation program for children in our parish. She was one of the first to volunteer for training and helped establish the program in the parish. She has continued to serve as catechist throughout the years and remains an integral part of the program long after her own children have graduated from the religious education programs. Stephanie’s love for this program, in spite of the large commitment of time and energy throughout the years, keeps her returning to share the beauty and great mysteries of her faith to the children of the parish. She continues to inspire others to serve through her service. – Susan O’Connor, Director of Religious Education
Jimmie Pappa – St. Joseph, Woodville
Jimmie is a dedicated and faithful/Lay Ecclesial Minister for liturgy at St. Joseph, as a Lector, Eucharistic Minister, Sacristan, in addition to assisting his lay Franciscan Community in Baton Rouge. He has also coordinated the RCIA program for both St. Joseph and Holy Family Churches for the past five years. Jimmie fulfills all his ministries with a patient, Christ-like love and devotion while displaying the essence of a true steward – disciple. – Father Scott Dugas
David and Michelle Chabreck – Holy Family, Gloster
David and Michelle are both foundational parishioners of Holy Family church, going back to its beginning in 1983. They are both lectors and ushers for Holy Family. Additionally, Michelle is also serves as a Eucharistic Minister.
Both maintain the parish’s memorial garden and assist in the maintenance of the church’s interior and exterior needs. They both faithfully maintain the outdoor flag and pole stand dedicated to the deceased veterans-parishioners. They have provided valuable labors for parish socials, especially vital cleanups. Their dedicated, faithful witness of genuine stewardship of time, talent and treasure has truly been a witness to their fellow parishioners. – Father Scott Dugas
Michael and Stacy Wolf – St. Jude, Pearl
“Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil. If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a
Stacy and Michael Wolf are the personification of this scripture passage. Their sense of collaboration and partnership has had such an impact on the parish in so many ways as their personal devotion to Christ has been magnified. Together they have unselfishly and joyfully given of themselves to share the Good News of Christ, especially to the children and youth of St. Jude. By supporting each other and working together to evangelize and teach, lives have been changed. The parish has been changed.
Sadly, this partnership has also changed. Stacy died July 7, 2021 from an accident. Without his partner by his side, Michael is persevering in his efforts to share understanding of God’s love with our youth.
Stacy served as St. Jude’s director of faith formation and was especially devoted to our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program, working at St. Jude for approximately 11 years.
Michael and Stacy’s dedication to their faith has made them good examples for all of our parishioners. The effect of their love of God and of others was evident by the response of members of the parish and the community at large when Stacy died. – Father Lincoln Dall
Kerri Patrice McKnatt – St. Mary, Batesville
Kerri is the faith leader of her family and a true and major faith leader in her parish. Her gift of being a servant leader overflows from her family to her parish and within her job. When the church began to open up after shutdowns, Kerri stepped up to the plate and became the song leader/cantor for the main Mass. She has also been teaching religious ed classes and has been a leader of youth activities for at least 12 years – if not more! She is a marvelous cook and will gladly provide food and meals for the sick of the parish or for parish activities. Plays, picnics, Vacation Bible Schools, and other activities would never happen if not for Kerri’s leadership, creativity, energy and her family. – Father Pradeep Thirumalareddy
James AND Mary Sue Shipp – St. Mary, Yazoo City
James and Mary Sue are good catholic role models for the younger generation. Many parishioners openly appreciate their involvement in the parish activities. They regular to Sunday Mass and other sacraments, and faithful in growing their children and their grandchildren in the Catholic life. They are very helpful to the church with their time, skills and stewardship. Both served in the parish council in different times, as lectors and Sunday School teachers for many years. Additionally, Mary Sue served as a choir leader and as an Altar Society member for many years; while Jimmy served in the parish finance council. This year they are celebrating their Diamond Jubilee of their marriage. – Father Panneer Selvam Arockiam
Linda Ferretti Sandifer – All Saints, Belzoni
Linda lives a life of love, faith, and service. She has been a member of All Saints for close to 45 years and an educator in the church and community for as long. Linda has served as Religious Coordinator for many years and religious education teacher every year. She is a Lector and Eucharistic Minister. She is always organizing projects to help families in need in the community and is not shy about sharing her faith.
Linda sacrifices her time above and beyond. She donates food and materials to help those in need. Linda has been an educatorfor many years and could surely justify retiring, but she has a genuine need in her heart to serve, to educate, to live her life asJesus would. She has a heart pf pure gold. – Father Panneer Selvam Arockiam
Mary and Mike Robinson – St. Francis of Assisi Madison
Mike and Mary have served in so many ministries, that it is difficult to name them all. They are often the first ones there to set up and work and last ones to leave. Mary and Mike will drop everything to assist their parish – they are true stewards. They are always ready to volunteer to help at the church and in the community. This was visually witnessed daily and especially during the Covid Pandemic. One of the most important roles that Mike has taken, with Mary’s assistance as well, is that of Social Concerns Coordinator for the parish. Mike and Mary are committed to providing for the poor, needy, and the homebound, and to our sister parish, St. Anne’s in Carthage. Mike continued service to the community during the pandemic shut down, when many people were desperate for assistance. They have both coordinated the MadCAAP Christ in Christmas family adoption program in their parish, monthly food pantry donations, and have provided gentle direction to many individuals seeking assistance. – Father Albeen Vatti