Eternal rest grant unto them …

In memoriam: Msgr. Michael Thornton

Msgr. Michael Thornton, retired priest from the Diocese of Biloxi, age 77, of Biloxi, passed away on July 26, 2023.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Nora Thornton; and a grand-niece, Cairín.

He was much loved and deeply regretted by his siblings, May (Frank), Frank (Evelyn), Padraic (Catherine), Kathleen, and Noel (Josephine); many nieces and nephews and their spouses and partners, grandnieces and grandnephews, and all extended family, neighbors and friends. Michael is also deeply regretted by Bishop Louis Kihneman, fellow priests and friends in the Diocese of Biloxi and Diocese of Jackson, and a wide range of colleagues and friends in the United States, Mexico and Ireland.

Msgr. Thornton was a native of Headford, County Galway, Ireland and he attended St. Patrick Seminary in Carlow, Ireland where he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson on June 7, 1969. He has served as an associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Biloxi, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Biloxi and Jackson Dioceses’ mission in Saltillo, Mexico, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pascagoula, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Laurel, St. Bernadette Parish in Waynesboro, Holy Trinity Mission in Leakesville, and he retired to Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Biloxi. He was also administrator of St. Louis Parish in Biloxi and served as the diocesan Chancellor, Judicial Vicar and Tribunal, as well as a tribunal judge and member of the presbyterial council.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church with Bishop Louis Kihneman as the principal celebrant.

Msgr. Thornton will be buried in Cloughanover Cemetery in Headford, County Galway, Ireland.

In memoriam: Father Mark Beard
Father Mark Bryan Beard, a loving son, brother, uncle, pastor, and friend, passed away on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023 at the age of 62. Father Beard was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He held a

Master’s degree in Business Administration from Louisiana State University and a Master’s in Divinity (M.Div) from Notre Dame Seminary. He also received a certification in Spirituality (Spiritual Direction), and Divinity.

Father Beard worked for a number of years in his family’s business, Beard Engineering and United Industries, a company working in the manufacturing and engineering of wastewater equipment. Here, he received a U.S. Patent for Inventor of Turbulence Control System.
After a trip to Medjugorje in 2000, he began to consider priesthood as a possible vocation. After four years of discernment, Father Beard entered Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans in 2004 and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Baton Rouge on May 30, 2009 at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. He was associate pastor at Most Sacred Heart-Gramercy, St. Joseph-Paulina, St. Michael the Archangel-Convent, and Our Lady of Prompt Succor Chapel-Lutcher for two years. He was pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church, in Amite, Louisiana, for the last twelve years. During that time he has built a beautiful campus where tours and retreats are offered. For the last two and a half years, he was also the administrator at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Retreat Center in Osyka, Mississippi.

Father Beard is survived by his loving mother, Florence Mariotti Beard; brother, Gary Beard and his wife, Diane; nieces and nephews, Jason, Jennifer, Nathan, Nicholas, Jacob and Jon; great-niece, Gabriella Beard; and godmother, Nita Vicari and family. Father Beard is preceded in death by his father, Harold James Beard.

A Memorial Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Mercy on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, and a Funeral Mass was also celebrated at St. Helena Church in Amite for family members and parishioners on Friday, Aug. 11.

In lieu of flowers, if you would like to continue supporting Father Beard’s vision, please consider donating on the website to or mail to P.O. Box 130, Osyka, MS 39657 or to or mail to 122 South First Street Amite, LA 70422.

In memoriam: Sister Mary Anne O’Brien, RSM

Sister Mary Anne O’Brien entered eternal life on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023. A native of Ireland, Sister Mary Anne was the seventh of nine children of Mary Anne and Patrick O’Brien.

Upon completion of her high school education with the Presentation Sisters she entered the Sisters of Mercy at Webster Groves, Missouri in September 1951.

Her first ministry assignment in 1956 was in Mississippi where her brother, Rev. John T. O’Brien was a priest. She remained in Mississippi until she retired at Catherine’s residence in St. Louis in 2018.

Sister Mary Anne held degrees from Webster College, Marquette University and the University of Southern Mississippi. She served as an elementary and high school teacher and she also taught ECD on weekends and during the summers. She spent six years as administrator of McAuley Home, a retirement home for the Sisters of Mercy in Vicksburg. In addition, she served as a psychologist at Gulf Coast Mental Health Centers, Catholic Social Services Biloxi.

Her final and longest ministry was at St. Thomas Parish in Long Beach where she served in various capacities, including being Chaplain to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She also volunteered for a short time at the local jail. While at Gulf Coast Mental Health Center she introduced a program for bereaved parents. She continued this ministry throughout the rest of her life.

Sister Mary Anne is survived by one sister, 14 nieces and nephews; 31 grand nieces and nephews and one great-great niece.

She will be interred in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Vicksburg.

In memoriam: Sister Miriam J. Nolan, RSM

Sister Miriam J. Nolan, a Sister of Mercy of the Americas for 65 years, died on July 26 at Catherine’s Residence, the community’s retirement center, in Frontenac. She was 82 years old.

Johanna Nolan was born on April 6, 1941, in Roscrea, County Tipperary, Ireland. She was the daughter of James Nolan and Mary Costigan Nolan. She was preceded in death by her parents, James and Mary, and brothers Dan and Oliver Nolan.

On Sept. 8, 1958, Johanna Nolan entered the Religious Sisters of Mercy and later received the name Sister Miriam Joseph. She professed her first vows in 1961 and made perpetual profession on Aug. 16, 1966.

Sister Miriam completed her high school studies at St. Mary’s Presentation College High School, Mountmellick, Ireland in 1958 and received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Webster College in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1963. She earned her secondary education teaching certificate in 1965; and a Master of Science in Chemistry from Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York in 1971. She also received a certificate for Religious Formation/Spiritual Direction in 1975.
Sister Miriam taught at Sacred Heart High School, Biloxi, Mississippi; St. Joseph Secondary School, Jeanerette, Louisiana; and St. John’s Inter-Parochial High School, Gulfport, Mississippi.

Sister Miriam held numerous integral staff positions within the Sisters of Mercy including vocation and formation ministry and community leadership. In addition to her love of teaching, Sister Miriam established Mercy Conference and Retreat Center and became its first executive director. Sister Miriam served on numerous Mercy Health System boards and most recently was an active volunteer at the Pratt Cancer Center outpatient laboratory.

Sister Miriam is survived by her brother, Tom, and numerous nieces and nephews from County Tipperary, Ireland.

Her ring motto was “Thy Will Be Done.” A Mass was celebrated July 31, 2023, in the chapel at Mercy Conference and Retreat Center in Frontenac, Missouri. A private burial was held at Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Mercy Conference and Retreat Center – Mercy Heroes Fund or another fund supporting the retreat center.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace.