COLUMBUS – Annunciation Art Teacher, Emmie Sherertz, assists students in Art Club. She teaches painting at the Columbus Arts Council and teaches art here at Annunciation Catholic School and her art work will be featured at Van Der Plas Gallery in New York City read more: (Photos by Logan Waggoner)


VICKSBURG – Senior Theology students hold a monthly food drive the for Storehouse Community Food Pantry of Vicksburg. (Photos by Lindsey Bradley)


MADISON – Mrs. Dukes fourth grade class at St. Anthony School, packs and delivers healthy backpack meal kits each week for local students facing hunger. Students pictured from left to right: Lily Le, Cade Beard and Addison Santana (pictured with their teacher, Mrs. Dukes – center) are working hard to unload the nonperishable healthy food items to be packed into backpack meal kits for local students. (Photos by Celeste Tassin)


CLARKSDALE – Grandparent, Ann Ruscoe watches as sixth grader, Reed Chapman shows fourth grader, Ridgely Walls how warm Polar Bear skin feels at St. Elizabeth School’s Math and Science Family Fun Night. (Photos by Sarah Cauthen)


MADISON – Parents and children enjoy fun and fellowship at St. Francis of Assisi’s annual Thanksgiving feast. (Photo by Chelsea Scarbrough)


SOUTHAVEN – Seventh and eighth grade girls at Sacred Heart School set up a play to get the volleyball over the net. (Photos courtesy of school)


JACKSON – St. Richard sixth grade girls (in red) played Jackson Academy students on Jan. 17. (Photo by Tereza Ma)


NATCHEZ – National Honor Society members at Cathedral School sort and distribute coats at the Natchez Stewpot. (Photos by Cara Moody)


MERIDIAN – Youth dash from the starting line for the kids run at the 6th annual Candy Cane Dash 5K Run for St. Patrick School. (Photos by Emily Thompson)

Historic Catholic school enrollment rise holds steady as U.S. enters fourth year with COVID-19

By Gina Christian
(OSV News) – Enrollment numbers at Catholic schools across the U.S. continue to hold steady following a bump at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. After data released last summer by the National Catholic Educational Association showed a 3.8% nationwide increase in enrollment for Catholic elementary and secondary schools during the 2021-2022 school year, numbers going into the 2022-2023 year continued to look strong.

“This year we had stable enrollment, and to me that means schools already did a great job of retaining students and families,” Annie Smith, NCEA vice president of research and data, told OSV News.

Countering a 6.4% enrollment decline from the previous school year, the 2021-2022 enrollment spike in Catholic schools was the first in two decades, and the largest ever recorded by the Leesburg, Virginia-based NCEA, which represents some 140,000 educators serving 1.6 million students.
Smith also said the rate of U.S. Catholic school closures had declined.

“We used to have about 100 per year,” she said, noting 209 schools closed or merged prior to the 2020-2021 academic year. “This year we had under 50.”

NATCHEZ – Teacher, Justin Johnson goes over an assignment with student, Ella Moak at Cathedral School in Natchez. The U.S. average of Catholic school enrollment is holding steady as country enters fourth year with COVID-19. (Photo by Cara Moody)

In the Archdiocese of Chicago, Greg Richmond, superintendent of schools, said that their numbers had stayed steady for the first half of the 2022-2023 school year – a feat made even more impressive by the fact that “the annual number of births in our archdiocese has been plummeting,” he said.

According to Richmond, annual births within the Chicago archdiocese declined from 90,000 to 65,000 over the last 15 years. “So there are a lot fewer kids than there used to be, but our numbers went up and stayed level,” he said.

In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Catholic schools marked a 4.2% uptick in enrollment last year, jumping from almost 64,700 to just under 67,500, according to senior director and superintendent Paul Escala.

Escala told OSV News the gain – their first in 27 years – was realized while complying with California’s stringent COVID prevention protocols.

“We advocated and worked closely with public health partners to allow for reopening in person, with masking, distancing, desk shields and no visitors,” he said. “It was a tremendous challenge.”

Those efforts have paid off by attracting new families to Catholic education, said Escala.

Smith attributed the growth and subsequent steadiness to “a combination of things,” including Catholic schools’ ability to “pivot in meeting the needs of students” throughout the various phases of COVID restrictions.

In the pandemic’s initial days, she said, classrooms “may have closed on a Friday, but our Catholic schools had their instruction back up by Monday or Tuesday.”

Whether organizing remote or hybrid learning plans to comply with public health guidelines, the nation’s Catholic schools benefited from “a flexibility and agility you often don’t see in the public system,” Richmond told OSV News.

He said the Archdiocese of Chicago’s schools functioned remotely during the spring of 2020 term as educators “pushed (themselves) to the limit” in order to reopen in the fall of 2021. When they did, enrollment had risen by 3,000 students (4.5%) to a total of approximately 66,000.

“We were free from the extremes of politics that you often see in many public systems,” Richmond said, while diocesan educational leaders “learned from each other through lots of conversations” with their peers across the country.

Concerned about “lack of instruction during lockdowns” in other schools, parents “saw Catholic schools as an opportunity for academics and social, faith-filled advancement during a very difficult time,” he said.

Richmond agreed the push to resume in-person learning “created an invitation for people to check us out and learn about Catholic schools. It shone a light on us.”

But getting kids back to the classroom was not the only driver for the enrollment bump, he said.
“People liked what they saw in terms of academics, values and reliability,” even if they were not Catholic or practicing any faith, said Richmond.

The nation’s Catholic schools have “really focused on the whole child, not only academic learning,” addressing “social skills and mental health” while supporting families, said Smith. “They went above and beyond during COVID, asking, ‘Do you need food, a tuition break, someone to talk to?'”

Escala said he is working closely with philanthropic partners to ensure that assistance continues.
“Our mission orientation is to serve the poor, and our preference will always be for those who have less,” he said. “That’s been a hallmark of Catholic education from the beginning, and it remains so.”

Smith said that Catholic schools used to be a “best-kept secret,” but that phrase no longer applies.
“Now, they’re not a secret,” she said. “People have experienced their local Catholic schools, and they’re staying.”

(Gina Christian is a National Reporter for OSV News.)

Nothing can diminish the value of any human being, pope says

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – No physical limitation or setback can diminish the value of any human being because each person is a unique and beloved child of God, Pope Francis said.

“We are not anonymous, we are not photocopies, we are all originals! And this is how we should be: originals, not photocopies,” he said during an audience at the Vatican Jan. 14 with members of the Pope John XXIII Community association.

“God knows us one by one, with our name and our face, which is unique,” he said.

“Certainly, we also have our limitations; some of us unfortunately have heavy limitations to bear,” the pope said. “But this detracts nothing from the value of a person: each one is unique, a son or daughter of God, each one is a brother or sister of Jesus.”

“A Christian community that welcomes the person as he or she is thus helps to see them as God does,” which is with a look of love, he said.

“God also sees our limitations, it is true, and helps us to bear them,” the pope said. “But God looks above all at the heart and sees every person in his or her entirety. God sees us as an image of Jesus, his only begotten son, and with his love he helps us to become more and more like him.”

The pope thanked the many families at the audience who offer foster care, emphasizing the importance of welcoming children and others into a loving home so they may be “regenerated by Christian love.”

These are men and women “who open the doors of their home to give a family to those who do not have one. A real family; not a job, but a life choice. In it there is room for everyone: minors, people with disabilities, the elderly, Italians or foreigners, and anyone who is looking for a fixed point from which to start again or a family in which to find themselves,” he said.

Pope Francis greets a young girl during an audience with members of the John XXIII Community at the Vatican Jan. 14, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis also thanked those who were unable to be at the day’s audience and had sent him their stories and questions.

“I would like to address some of you personally,” he said, such as Sara, 13, who fled Iraq and carries in her heart “the holy desire that children not be robbed of their childhood: May God help you achieve this!”

The people offered guidance to others without naming them, urging one child who “would like to see your grandmother who has gone to heaven,” to “speak with her in your heart and follow her good example, and one day you will see her again.”

Another young person, the pope said, “like many teenagers,” wrote about the “struggle to perceive the beauty of Mass.” But the pope responded, “Do not fear; at the right moment, the living Jesus will let you feel his presence.”

Pope Francis also thanked a “little friend, who remembers the innocents who are killed in the womb.”
Noting that many members of the community meet online to pray the rosary for peace every Sunday, the pope told them, “God listens to your prayer for peace, even if he does not seem to. God listens to it, and we believe that God gives us peace, immediately, today!”

We must recover those ‘recovering’ Catholics

By Effie Caldarola
As “I’m a recovering Catholic,” our contractor announces jauntily, apropos of what I can’t remember. I think we were trying to decide on flooring for the front deck.

It’s a phrase with which we’ve become familiar, so common that this guy we know only because he’s overseeing some basic repairs to our old house can throw it out casually.

Another common phrase in today’s parlance: “I was raised Catholic.” I can’t count the number of interviews with famous people in which I’ve read that statement. Often, it’s said with fondness. The people being interviewed are ascribing their beliefs in social justice, charity and right order to the years they spent at Mass or in a Catholic school classroom or gathered around the table for grace.

But let’s be clear, their comment implies, “I took the good part and left.” In many circles, to declare one is still a “practicing” Catholic is to admit to being old-fashioned, to still believing in Santa Claus, especially if Santa has been credibly accused of abuse. They’ve left that behind with the avocado appliances and shag carpeting of their childhood.

Effie Caldarola writes for the Catholic News Service column “For the Journey.” (CNS photo)

For those of us who still place their faith in this community of saints and sinners, it can feel lonely. Many people around me are not going to church at all, and some of the stalwart Catholics I knew from my youthful days as a Jesuit Volunteer and young wife and mother are dropping out or experimenting with Christian denominations.

I have a young friend who threw up his hands at the church because he saw our leadership failing to embrace Catholic social teaching. The abuse cover-up was the last straw.

“But what about the sacraments?” I asked. “Don’t you miss the Eucharist?”
His answer was vague. Those other things were very important to him. OK, those things are important to me, too.

But don’t you miss the Eucharist? Don’t you want to be part of the change, part of the synodal process?

At a book sale, I found a used copy of Henri Nouwen’s book, “Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith.” This Dutch priest and theologian, who died in 1996, was a prolific writer. The book was published in 1997, before the abuse scandal hit the news.

Nevertheless, in his entry for Oct. 20, he writes, “Over the centuries the church has done enough to make any critical person want to leave it.”

He recounts “violent crusades, pogroms, power struggles, oppression, excommunications, executions, manipulation of people and ideas, and constantly recurring divisions.”

Whew. And he hasn’t even touched on more recent headlines.

But then he asks if we can believe “that this is the same church that carries in its center the Word of God and the sacraments of God’s healing love?”

He speaks of the human brokenness of the church, which presents the broken body of Christ to the world. Human promises are broken; God’s promise “stands unshaken.”

I love the church because I love the communion of saints. I love the sacramentals, the sacraments, the mystics and monasteries, the heroes from Teresa of Avila to Thea Bowman, from Ignatius of Loyola to Dorothy Day, from Francis of Assisi to Edith Stein. Would this cloud of witnesses want me to leave?

I wish that young man would stay. We need him. We need him involved in the conversation, we need him prodding his pastor and his bishop. We need him finding the promise among the brokenness of an imperfect church. We need the community of each other.

Peter’s plaintive words in John 6:68 echo. “Lord, to whom would we go?”

(Effie Caldarola writes monthly for OSV News.)

Catholics ‘must act’ for racial justice to honor MLK, says USCCB president

By OSV News
WASHINGTON – Catholics “must act” for racial justice, starting with personal conversion, to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggle and eliminate racial injustices in society, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese of the Military Services in his statement immediately referred to the call to action from Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman, one of six Black Catholic women and men proposed for sainthood.

“People keep saying, ‘Where’s the next Martin Luther King?’ We’re all called, I think. We’re called by our citizenship, by our membership in the human race. We’re all called to free ourselves and to free one another,” Sister Bowman said.

Sister Thea Bowman, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, is shown during a talk she gave at St. Augustine Church in Washington in 1986. Sister Bowman, who died in 1990, is one of six African American Catholics whose causes for canonization are being considered by the Catholic Church. Her sainthood cause was opened in 2018 and she has the title “Servant of God.” (OSV News photo/CNS file, Michael Hoyt, Catholic Standard)

Archbishop Broglio noted that while society has made progress toward “a just society that leaves no one on the margins” in the 60 years since Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, nevertheless “much work remains.”

Dr. King, whose birthday is Jan. 15 but is celebrated on the following Monday as a federal holiday, led the civil rights movement until his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, April 4, 1968. He was just 39 years old and would have turned 94 this year.

“Beyond remembering and quoting Dr. King today, we must act to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, access to affordable housing and health care, and economic opportunities,” the USCCB president stated.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, poses for a photo Nov. 16, 2022, after being elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at a Nov. 15 session of the fall general assembly of the bishops in Baltimore. (OSV News photo/CNS file, Bob Roller)

He noted the USCCB “continues to support policy changes in these areas of society,” and encouraged people to read about the USCCB’s policy work and efforts to overcome racism, as well as “ministry resources in working with and for Catholics of African descent.”

Archbishop Broglio pointed out Rev. King’s faith drove his civil rights work, and Catholics today must undergo conversion and look to the saints to undo unjust structures of racism in society.

“Remembering that Dr. King was guided first by his faith also challenges us to personal conversion. Unjust structures exist because personal sin persists,” he said. “As the late Pope Benedict XVI expressed, ‘To renew the church in every age, God raises up saints, who themselves have been renewed by God and are in constant contact with God.’ For models of lives transformed, we can always turn to the saints.”

Archbishop Broglio highlighted the USCCB’s efforts to advance the sainthood causes of “six inspirational African American men and women: Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Servant of God Mother Mary Lange, Venerable Henriette Delille, Venerable Augustus Tolton, Servant of God Julia Greeley, and Sister Thea Bowman.”

He said, “May their holy examples convert our hearts and our society, that we may achieve Dr. King’s dream of building a society where every person is recognized as a beloved son or daughter of God and treated with the justice and dignity that they deserve.”

Editor’s Note: To read about the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, which works on the bishops’ domestic policy priorities, please visit:

For more information on African Americans and Catholic ministry, please visit:

For additional information on the USCCB’s efforts to overcome racism, please visit:

Further information on the lives of Black Catholic men and women up for sainthood can be found in the OSV book “Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood”:

‘We are not yet done’: March for Life holds first national event after overturn of Roe v. Wade

By Kate Scanlon
WASHINGTON (OSV) – Tens of thousands of pro-life advocates descended upon the nation’s capital for the 50th March for Life Jan. 20 – the first national march since the overturn of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that initially prompted the annual demonstration.

Standing on the event stage at the National Mall, with the U.S. Capitol visible in the background, Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, told attendees at a rally prior to the march that “the country and world changed” when Roe was reversed in June 2022. But she said the annual March for Life would continue in Washington until abortion is “unthinkable.”

“While the March began as a response to Roe, we don’t end as a response to Roe being overturned,” Mancini said. “Why? Because we are not yet done.”

The march took place on a sunny and unseasonably warm day in Washington. A headcount of attendees was not immediately available, as the National Park Service does not release crowd size estimates.

The national March for Life first took place in Washington in 1974 in response to the Roe decision legalizing abortion nationwide the previous year. The protest has taken place in Washington each year since, with a smaller-in-scale event during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.

The 2023 event was the first national March for Life since the high court’s June 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe and returned the matter of regulating or restricting abortion to state legislatures.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch speaks during the 50th annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 20, 2023. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

At the pre-march rally, the Christian band “We Are Messengers” performed, followed by a number of speakers, including Jonathan Roumie, known for his role as “Jesus” in the television series “The Chosen,” former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy, Democratic Connecticut State Rep. Trenee McGee, and Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla. Canonized in 2004, St. Gianna gave her life for Giana Emanuela, choosing to move forward with her fourth pregnancy even after doctors discovered a tumor in her uterus.

Molla told the rallygoers that she thanks her “saint mom” for the gift of life. “I would not be here now with all of you if I had not been loved so much,” she said.

Roumie took a picture of the crowd behind him from the stage, telling marchers to tag themselves on social media, and quipping he is the “TV Jesus,” not the real one.

“God is real and he is completely in love with you,” he said, adding that each person is individually loved by God.

The rally also featured some lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, a Catholic Republican and co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said at the rally, “Future generations will someday look back on us and wonder how and why a society that bragged about its commitment to human rights could have legally sanctioned” abortion.

“The injustice of abortion need not be forever, and with your continued work and prayers, it will not be,” Smith said.

Prior to speaking to the sea of pro-life marchers on the National Mall, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who argued the Dobbs case before the Supreme Court, told OSV News that “empowering women and promoting life” were the next steps post-Roe.

“Some of the things that we’re talking about in Mississippi and promoting legislation on are workplace flexibility options, particularly for mothers,” she said. “We lose young mothers because they don’t have any options. They don’t have that flexibility. We’ve got to have childcare. It’s got to be affordable, accessible and quality.”

Fitch said she wants to see the pro-life movement do “some heavy lifts” to push laws enhancing child support enforcement and reforming the adoption or foster care systems.

“(These systems) are failing our children; they’re broken,” Fitch said. “We’ve got to make those (changes) happen and put those children in these loving families.”

Speaking with OSV News at the march, Kristan Hawkins, president of the pro-life group Students for Life of America, said the next front of her organization’s activism will focus on fighting the spread of medication abortion. Hawkins said the pro-life movement should also focus on broadening the social safety net and its remaining goals at the federal level, such as stripping Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest single abortion provider, of taxpayer funds.

“There is a lot for us to do as a nation, especially raising awareness among its citizens,” Isalyn Aviles Rodríguez, who came to the march from Miami, told OSV News. Rodríguez said she was motivated to march because “the nation needs to know that children are part of God’s plan from conception until natural death.”

As in prior years, the March drew teenage advocates for life as well. Angeline Moro, 14, from Trenton, New Jersey, attended the event to learn how to raise her voice in defense of the most vulnerable.
“We all need to have a chance to live,” Moro said.

At various events leading up to the march, pro-life advocates joined together in prayer and solidarity.
At the Jan. 19 opening Mass for the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life, the night before the march, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, said in his homily that the pro-life movement has “much to celebrate” because Roe v. Wade “is no more.”

But, he added, a “new important phase” for the cause of life “begins now.”

“Our efforts to defend life must be as tireless as ever” not only to change laws but also hearts “with steadfast faith in the grace and power of God to do so,” said Bishop Burbidge, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

The event, held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, drew between 6,000 and 6,500 people, with most of the congregation filling the Great Upper Church. Dozens also viewed the Mass via screens in the lower level of the basilica.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., read a message from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, issued on behalf of Pope Francis, who imparted his blessing on all those participating in the March for Life.

“His Holiness trusts that Almighty God will strengthen the commitment of all, especially the young, to persevere in their efforts aimed at protecting human life in all its stages, especially through adequate legal measures enacted at every level of society,” the message said.

The Mass was followed by a “Holy Hour for Life” at the basilica, which launched a series of Holy Hours of Eucharistic devotion throughout the night in dioceses across the country. Auxiliary Bishop Joseph L. Coffey of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services celebrated Mass at 8 a.m. Jan. 20 to close the vigil.

Meanwhile, hundreds of teens and young adults from the Archdiocese of Washington gathered at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle for the Youth Mass of Celebration and Thanksgiving for Life, where homilist Father Robert Kilner of Solomons, Maryland, urged them to be “witnesses to life, witnesses to the truth that every life matters.”

“Pray and be confident that God can and will do great things,” he said. “Witness by the way you love your family, and especially the smallest, most helpless around you. Witness by your words in defense of the unborn, witness to God’s mercy, inviting everyone back to the joy of confession.”

Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, the principal celebrant of the Mass, said it was “a special joy for me to be able to celebrate this Eucharist with you, our young, youthful, joyful, happy church.”
The thousands of attendees at these events then streamed into the National Mall, where they assembled at the noon rally and prepared to begin marching an hour later.

With the overturn of Roe, organizers had planned for a reworked march route, resulting in a new final destination: the East Front of the U.S. Capitol, symbolizing the movement’s new goals. However, restrictions on the use of sticks for signage put in place by the U.S. Capitol Police after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol resulted in the route instead passing by the West Front. For the 50th time, the national march ended in the same spot: before the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

(Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Julie Asher, Gina Christian, Marietha Góngora and Kurt Jensen contributed to this report.)

Papal calendar: 2023 holds important events for Pope Francis

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis will soon pack his bags for his first foreign trip of 2023, a year that promises to be as busy as ever.

The pope, who celebrated his 86th birthday Dec. 17, can move quickly – in a wheelchair – and keeps saying in interviews that a functioning head and heart – not a well-functioning knee – are essential to the exercise of the papacy.

And, so, his appointment book for 2023 is starting to fill up, although he usually agrees to appointments with the caveat of “God willing.”

Several events are already inked in:
– A pastoral visit to violence-torn Congo Jan. 31-Feb. 3, followed by an ecumenical pilgrimage for peace to South Sudan Feb. 3-5 with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and the Rev. Iain Greenshields, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
– Pope Francis celebrates his 10th anniversary as pope March 13.
– He is scheduled to join perhaps 1 million young people from around the globe for World Youth Day Aug. 1-6 in Lisbon, Portugal.
– And the first session of the world Synod of Bishops meeting on “synodality” is scheduled for Oct. 4-29 at the Vatican.

His constant pleas for peace in Ukraine will not end until the war does.

Pope Francis gives a thumbs up as he rides in a wheelchair during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 7, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

And while Pope Francis indicated Dec. 21 that he had reached, or at least was reaching, the end of a series of general audience lessons about spiritual discernment – what it is, how it is done and how the results are judged – his emphasis on teaching Catholics how to listen to the Holy Spirit when making decisions individually or communally will continue as the synod process does.

In October, saying he did not want to rush the process of discerning how the Holy Spirit is calling the church to grow in “synodality,” the pope announced that the assembly of the Synod of Bishops would take place in two sessions. The gathering scheduled for 2023 is only the first session.
Having published his constitution reforming the Roman Curia in June, Pope Francis is expected to make some changes in the top positions of Curia offices in the coming year.

The normal retirement age for cardinals and bishops working in the Curia is 75, but the pope has often kept cardinals who are prefects of dicasteries in place beyond their 75th birthdays.

The two cardinals likely to retire in 2023 are: Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, who will be 79 in April and has been in office since 2017; and Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal, who turned 78 in September and has led the office since 2013.

Four other cardinals continue to serve past the age of 75. Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, celebrated his 76th birthday in July. Cardinal Joao Bráz de Aviz will turn 76 in April. Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, turned 75 in September. Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, celebrated his 75th birthday Dec. 22.

In 2023 Pope Francis also will hear continuing calls to address the clerical sexual abuse scandal and, especially, to ensure greater consistency in dealing with abusers and greater transparency in how the Vatican has handled the cases.

The case of Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, the Slovenian artist, will continue to make headlines; in late December the Jesuits asked victims to come forward and published a timeline that showed the Vatican’s doctrinal office in May 2020 confirmed the priest had incurred automatic excommunication for granting sacramental absolution to a woman with whom he had had a sexual relationship. After he formally recognized his abuse and expressed repentance, the excommunication was lifted the same month.

In 2021 another allegation of abuse was made by several women who belonged to the Loyola Community he served as a spiritual adviser in Slovenia; the doctrinal office ruled that the statute of limitations had passed and closed the case. News of his previous excommunication came out only after the second case was dismissed, raising questions about why the statute of limitations was not waived and about whether Pope Francis knew about and was involved in lifting the previous excommunication.

Returning to Rome from Bahrain in November, Pope Francis told reporters that over the past 20 years, the Catholic Church had made huge efforts to stop hiding abuse cases and simply shuffling abusive priests to new assignments – “an ugly habit,” he said – and “we are moving forward.”

(Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden)


WASHINGTON (OSV News) – A songwriting competition aims to inspire new Catholic music as a part of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival initiative. The Eucharistic Revival Musical Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis, seeks entries from Catholic composers, poets and songwriters for Catholic music, with a particular emphasis on the church’s teachings on the real presence of the Eucharist and the church’s unity as the body of Christ. Marilyn Santos, associate director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, said music is a beautiful way of “expressing our faith” and that she hoped the contest would “discover these new evangelists who use music as their medium of conveying the message.” Submissions are due April 21 with winners announced June 9.

DEDHAM, Mass. (OSV News) – Lawyers for Theodore McCarrick want the criminal sex abuse case against the disgraced cleric dismissed, claiming the 92-year-old former cardinal is incompetent to stand trial. In a motion filed in the Dedham District Court Jan. 13, lawyers for McCarrick claimed an independent evaluation shows the laicized cleric in steep mental and physical decline. Prosecutors are expected to seek their own evaluation, and a Massachusetts judge will ultimately decide if McCarrick can stand trial. He is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14. The outcome of the competency hearing will not stop the many civil cases now pending against McCarrick, who was removed from ministry in 2018 following a credible allegation of abuse of a minor, as well as wide-spread reports that he abused young men, going back decades. He was laicized in 2019.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis asked Cubans “to make present in their hearts” the actions and words of St. John Paul II during his visit to their nation 25 years ago to “give a new push to building the country’s future with hope and determination.” In a letter to the Cuban people, released at the Vatican Jan. 14, the pope marked the anniversary of St. John Paul becoming the first pope to visit the island nation. The visit began with Cuban President Fidel Castro welcoming the pope Jan. 21, 1998, to begin a five-day visit. Upon landing in Havana, St. John Paul called for Cuba to “open itself up to the world” and for the world to “open itself up to Cuba.” Pope Francis reminded Cubans that St. John Paul had asked them to return to their “Cuban and Christian roots” to face the country’s challenges while remembering that each person “is primarily defined by their obligation to others and to history.” Twenty-five years later, the pope said those roots of the Cuban people have grown and flourished through “work and sacrifice each day, not only for your families, but also for your neighbors and friends, for the whole people, and in a special way for those most in need.” Pope Francis told them, “Thank you for this example of collaboration and of mutual assistance that unites you and reveals the spirit that characterizes you: open, welcoming and supportive.”

Sister André, a French Daughter of Charity who was the world’s oldest known person, is pictured in an undated photo. Sister André died Jan. 17, 2023, at age 118 in a nursing home in Toulon, France. (OSV News photo/courtesy EHPAD Sainte Catherine Labouré)

TOULON, France (OSV News) – Sister Andre, a Daughter of Charity and the world’s oldest known person, died at age 118, a spokesman of the nursing home where she died told AFP agency on Tuesday. “There is great sadness but … it was her desire to join her beloved brother. For her, it’s a liberation,” David Tavella, speaking for the Sainte-Catherine-Laboure nursing home, told AFP. Sister Andre, a Catholic convert raised in a Protestant family, was born Lucile Randon Feb. 11, 1904. It was 10 years before World War I, Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States, New York opened its first subway line and U.S. Army engineers began work on the Panama Canal. She also lived through the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and through 10 pontificates. Sister Andre died Jan. 17 in her sleep at her nursing home in Toulon, on France’s Mediterranean coast, Tavella said. An avid listener of Vatican Radio, the French nun sent well wishes to the radio operation on the occasion of its 90th anniversary in 2021. Sister Andre, who was blind, was a “dedicated listener of the radio that offers her a window of the world” and supports her prayer life, Vatican News reported Feb. 11, 2021.

Calendar of events

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. Women’s Morning of Spirituality, Saturday, Feb. 4 at Church of the Incarnation. Breakfast at 7:15; program at 8:15 and Mass at 12:15. Speaker is Cathy Reineking and Keynote is Ann Leatherman. Mass celebrant will be Bishop Terry Steib. Register at Details: email

GREENWOOD Locus Benedictus, School of the Holy Spirit, Feb. 16-19. Cost $100 per person, no charge for age 18 and under. Featured speakers: Father Tom Dilorenzo, Maria Vadia and Pastor Myles Milham, with worship team of Mike McDuffee and Arianna Alberti. To register or more details visit: Details: Magdalene (662) 299-1232 or

NATION Bible in a Year Online Retreat, Feb. 10-13, led by Father Mike Schmitz. Details: for info and to register visit

ST. LOUIS Discernment retreat, Feb. 17-20 at the School Sisters of Notre Dame Sancta Maria in Ripa campus. Retreat theme is “Caught up in God’s love: Listening to the call.” Weekend will include time for personal and communal reflections. Sessions will provide opportunity to learn – through conversation, contemplation, prayer and spiritual guidance – how to recognize God’s invitations in your life. No cost to attend. Private rooms provided, all meals included. Details: for more information and to register visit

CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories, Knights of Columbus Spaghetti Supper, Thursday, Feb. 9 from 4-6:30 p.m. at the KC Hall. A limited number of tickets will be sold; plates are $15 and drive thru only. Tickets can be purchased from any Knight at the parish.

Our Lady of Victories, 2nd annual Supper and Substance for married couples, Saturday, Feb. 11 in the parish center, following 5:30 p.m. Cost $50 per couple. Forms due Feb. 1. Details: church office (662) 846-6273.

FLOWOOD St. Paul, 20th Annual $10,000 Draw Down Mardi Gras party, Saturday, Feb. 18 from 7-11 p.m. Tickets $125/admits two. Details: call Pat at (601) 953-6370.

GREENVILLE St. Joseph School, Spring Fling, Feb. 11 from 7-11 p.m. at the Delta Men’s Association in Eudora, Arkansas. Tickets include dinner, drinks for two; entertainment by Stylish and $10,000 Draw Down. Details: visit

St. Joseph Church, Youth Group Strawberry Fundraiser. Cost 8 lb flat $30 or 4 lb $15. Orders due by Feb. 10, payable to St. Joseph Church. Details: order from Alyssa at (662) 335-5251 or stop by the office.

GREENWOOD Immaculate Heart of Mary, Annual Fat Tuesday Chili Fest, Feb. 21. Details: church office (662) 453-3980.

GLUCKSTADT St. Joseph, Family Bingo Night, Friday, Feb. 3 from 6-8 p.m. in the parish hall. Items needed for prizes. Details: church office (601) 856-2054.

HERNANDO Cocktails and Catholicism, Second Friday of each month from 7-8:30 p.m., for adults only. Meeting space at Holy Spirit Church (545 E. Commerce Street) in the Family Life Center. On Feb. 10, Father Ben Bradshaw of St. Michael’s in Memphis and creator of Soul Food Priest will discuss faith and food in his talk “Can we eat alligator on Fridays and other important things to prepare for Lent.” Details: RSVP at or call Deacon Ted at Christ the King at (662) 342-1073.

JACKSON St. Richard School, Krewe de Cardinal, Friday, Feb. 10 at The South Warehouse in Jackson. Theme is “Rio de Janiero.” Enjoy food and drinks, plus music by the Epic Funk Brass Band. Silent auction and raffles. Tickets $200 per couple. Details: Tammy at
JACKSON St. Richard Church, Liturgical Living in Lent, Thursday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. in Foley Hall. Event for parents – nursery, refreshments, fellowship and materials provided. Details: email for more information.

MADISON St. Joseph School, Jeans, Jazz and Bruin Blues Draw Down, Saturday, Jan. 28 from 6-9 p.m. at The Country Club of Jackson. Tickets are $130 per couple. Enjoy a wide selection of food, open bar, auctions and a chance to win $10,000. Only 500 draw down tickets will be sold. Details:

MERIDIAN St. Patrick, Travel with Father Augustine to Italy and France, September 9-19, 2023. Travel to Rome, Tuscany, Florence, Assisi, Venice, Italy and Lourdes, France. Cost: $4,999 with airfare and all included. Details: To register contact (855) 842-8001 or register online at

NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, “Rekindling Eucharistic Amazement” Catholics as Intentional Missionary Disciples of Jesus, Jan. 30 through Feb. 1. Featured speaker is Father James Wehner of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Events begin at 6 p.m. each day of the program. Details: church office (601) 445-5616.
PEARL St. Jude, Feed My Sheep Ministry will be serving lunch and passing out “Blessing Bags” at Poindexter Park in Jackson on Sunday, Jan. 29. Donations accepted to help with cost of meal. Volunteers are needed to assemble blessing bags, prepare the meal and transport and serve the meal. Details: contact Beth at to volunteer.

PEARL St. Jude, “Lent: A Season of Preparation and Renewal” – Mission and Mass with Father Joseph Krafft, professor of pastoral theology at Notre Dame Seminary. He will preach at all Masses the weekend of Feb. 18 and 19. Mission on Feb. 19, 20 and 21 at 6 p.m. Details: church office (601) 939-3181.

STARKVILLE St. Joseph, Deacon John will be hosting ENGAGE this Spring. Come and engage in your faith on Monday nights from 6-7 p.m. in the church. The schedule is as follows: Jan. 23; Feb. 6 and 20; March 6, 20 and 27; April 17; May 1 and 15. Details: church office (662) 323-2257.

JACKSON 17th Annual Sister Thea Bowman School Draw Down, Saturday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose building. Details: school office (601) 352-5441.