Diocesan elementary schools move to MAIS

By Joanna King and Staff Reports

JACKSON – The seven remaining Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Jackson have collectively decided to join diocesan Catholic high schools in the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools (MAIS). This summer, St. Anthony, Madison; St. Elizabeth, Clarksdale; St. Patrick, Meridian; St. Richard, Jackson; Sr. Thea Bowman, Jackson; Sacred Heart, Southaven; and Holy Family, Holly Springs became the newest members of MAIS.

“We are very excited about this move as it broadens our opportunities for student activities and educator professional development and widens the professional network among our nonpublic and independent school counterparts,” said Karla Luke, executive director of Catholic education for the diocese.

With this decision, all diocesan schools and early learning centers in the Diocese of Jackson will remain internationally accredited by Cognia, Inc. Additionally, the Office of Education will withdraw membership from state accreditation obtained through the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE).

“We are proud of our Cognia accreditation as it is based on a strict set of school improvement principles and is aligned with the National Catholic Education Association’s adopted National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools (NSBECS),” said Luke.

PEARL – Newly hired diocesan coordinator of curriculum, professional development and standards review, Virginia Hollingsworth evaluates Terra Nova testing data with Caitlin Walker, an educator at St. Elizabeth Clarksdale and Anne Cowger, principal of St. Anthony Madison, at a principal and educator’s meeting on Thursday, July 13 at St. Jude parish. (Photo by Rachel Patterson)

The state accreditation obtained through MDE is a regional performance-based accreditation centered on adherence to and compliance with a set of requirements established by the Mississippi State Board of Education. Cognia, through its partnership with MAIS, operates on the principle of continuous school improvement. This difference allows school administrators and their organizational leadership to render important education-related decisions based on the needs of their community. The NSBECS standards, incorporated in the Cognia accreditation process, advocate that a concentrated focus on continuous improvement will increase a school’s effectiveness and viability.

This recent decision results from months of research, consultation with Bishop Joseph Kopacz, pastors, advisory council members, teachers and administrators. “The decision is borne out of a desire to exercise more flexibility in intentionally aligning our Catholic identity and mission with instructional and managerial practices that set our schools apart,” said Luke.

The move to MAIS will increase offerings in professional development for teachers, educational leadership training for administrators, academic competitions for elementary students, and exciting extracurricular activities for both athletic and non-athletic students. Students can participate in activities like art, chess, creative writing, choir, quiz bowl, spelling bees, drone competitions, robotics and eighteen competitive sports programs offered through MAIS.

“I am very excited about the level of support our staff will receive in professional development and the increased opportunities for our students throughout the year. Activities like the Reading Fair and Science Olympiad will allow our students to participate in academic competitions with their peers. MAIS works with its member schools to create educational communities that share ideals, values and priorities with children, teachers, and families,” said Sarah Cauthen, principal of St. Elizabeth School in Clarksdale.

School administrators have attended several district meetings and have been warmly welcomed by the members of MAIS.

“We are excited to welcome the Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Jackson as part of this great organization. We look forward to the collaboration with Catholic school leaders and current members of MAIS as we share resources and ideas to build a stronger Mississippi through education,” said executive director, Dr. Shane Blanton at a diocesan principal’s meeting last week.

Chris Payne, principal of Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School, says, he’s excited about joining MAIS because of its dedication to supporting their schools.

“You feel a presence of community and fellowship which has made this transition worthwhile. The teacher and administrative development available to us as members is not only beneficial but cost effective. I’m excited for the collaboration of ideas and resources that we will take full advantage of,” said Payne.

This move is among the many exciting plans diocesan office, administrators, and advisory councils have developed for the 2023-2024 school year. “We look forward to continuing our high expectations for our students in spiritual and intellectual formation through their education in Catholic Schools,” said Luke.

“Please keep our school communities in your prayers for a successful transition and a happy and productive school year.”

Sacred calling answered, Beggerly ordained as new priest for diocese

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Homegrown seminarian, Carlisle Beggerly was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Jackson on May 27 at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson, where family, friends, priests, deacons, fellow seminarian and supporters from around the diocese were present for the joyous occasion.

Growing up in Florence, Beggerly had a profound spiritual awakening during his college years. Influenced by St. Augustine’s Confessions, Beggerly embarked on a quest to find the church to which Augustine belonged, ultimately leading him to the Catholic faith. Under the guidance of Father Bill Voller in Hattiesburg, Beggerly received instruction and embraced Catholicism, sensing a calling to the priesthood from the very beginning of his conversion.

After spending time with a religious order, Beggerly realized it was not the perfect fit and decided to pursue a different path. Even upon completing law school at Mississippi College, the call to priestly life continued to resonate within his heart.

After moving to West Point and joining Immaculate Conception parish, Beggerly made the decision to enter seminary for the Diocese of Jackson, drawn by a deep desire to minister to the people who influenced and shaped his life.

After the Liturgy of the Word during the Mass of ordination for Beggerly, Bishop Joseph Kopacz called upon his worthiness and testimony was given by Father Nick Adam, director of vocations for the diocese.
“Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose this man, our brother, for the order of the priesthood,” said Bishop Kopacz to applause from those gathered for the occasion.

During the Rite of Ordination, Bishop Kopacz anointed Beggerly’s palms with holy chrism. Afterward, his hands were wrapped in a binding cloth. At his first Mass of Thanksgiving at his home parish of Immaculate Conception West Point, Beggerly explained a tradition that sometimes accompanies the ritual.

“The cloth symbolically represents the ropes that were tied around our Lord,” explained Beggerly. “And it also serves a practical reason in that it cleans the oils off your hands,” he said to laughs from the pews.
Beggerly went on to explain a custom that some priests continue today, in presenting their mothers with the cloth.

“It is custom to give this piece of cloth or maniturgium to the mother of a priest as a gift, so that she is buried with it and presents it to our Lord and says, ‘I have given You my son as a priest,’” Father Beggerly told those gathered at his home parish.

Welcoming his mother forward to receive the gift, those gathered smiled and applauded the special tradition they witnessed.

As a self-described “son of Mississippi,” Father Beggerly looks forward to ministering to the people who have helped form him through the years. His first assignment will be with the Catholic community in Meridian at St. Patrick and St. Joseph beginning July 1.


(Photos by Michael Barrett and Joanna Puddister King)

First Mass

(Photos Joanna Puddister King)

Seminarian takes next step towards priesthood,Stovall ordained to transitional diaconate

By Joanna Puddister King and Tereza Ma
JACKSON – In a momentous ceremony held at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle on May 20, Tristan Stovall was ordained to the transitional diaconate for the Diocese of Jackson, marking a significant milestone in his journey towards the priesthood. Surrounded by family, friends and members of the diocese, the ordination of Stovall was a joyous occasion filled with faith, hope and celebration of vocations.

Deacon Stovall’s path to the diaconate began in the red clay hills of Neshoba County, where he first encountered Catholicism, being fascinated with the funeral of Pope St. John Paul II as a young boy. At the age of 15, his interest and thirst for knowledge of the Catholic faith grew when he attended Mass for the very first time at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. After that experience the young Baptist knew then that he “had to become Catholic.” This journey ultimately led him to convert to Catholicism in 2014, where he was received into full communion with the church.

Throughout his faith journey, Stovall’s desire to dedicate his life entirely to God grew stronger, and the example of the saints, particularly St. Catherine of Siena, played a significant role in his discernment. Drawn to the care of souls, he felt a calling to the diocesan priesthood, which he believed was his specific ministry within the church.

The ordination ceremony itself, was presided over by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, who bestowed the sacrament of Holy Orders upon Stovall. As the faithful witnessed the laying on of hands and the prayers of consecration, the solemnity of the moment resonated with all present, feeling the commitment that Stovall felt within his heart.

The next day, Deacon Stovall was able to take part in his first Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Cross Philadelphia with Father Augustine Palimattam Poulose on the Feast of the Ascension, filled with family, friends and parishioners.

“It was a beautiful experience preparing for ordination after seven years of seminary and then preparing for [my] first preaching on Ascension,” said Deacon Stovall. “It’s like a culmination of so many years of preparation.”

With his ordination to the transitional diaconate, Deacon Stovall now stands on the threshold of priesthood, embracing his role as a servant-leader within the church. As a deacon, Stovall will be an ordinary minister of Baptism, and will be able to preside at weddings, assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel and preach, as well as preside at wakes and funeral services.

Of those responsibilities, preaching is the thing that Deacon Stovall says he is most looking forward to this coming year. “The ministry of the Word is [one of] the primary things I’m going to focus on … and also the ministry of charity … becoming more attuned to people’s needs in the parish and talking with them and spending time with them.”

Currently, Deacon Stovall is in Cuernavaca, Mexico – outside of Mexico City – with Father Nick Adam and several other seminarians, taking part in a language immersion program to better serve the Hispanic community in the diocese. After returning from the program, Deacon Stovall is assigned to the Basilica of St. Mary in Natchez with Father Aaron Williams this fall before returning to seminary, and ultimately continuing his journey to the priesthood.


First Mass

Diocese announces “Pastoral Reimagining” process

By Joanna Puddister King

JACKSON – The Diocese of Jackson has a new initiative that will focus on renewing and reimagining parishes across the diocese. The one-year “Pastoral Reimagining” process, that will begin on Pentecost Sunday, will focus on parishes and missions across the diocese taking a more direct and intentional look at the reality of their communities in the spirit of the Synod of Synodality in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“We are allowing the Holy Spirit to bless and guide us in our willingness to cooperate with God’s grace in a spirit of renewal,” writes Bishop Joseph Kopacz in his column for Mississippi Catholic on the reimagining process.

The theme from the process is from Ephesians, “There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism and one God and Father of all.” (Ephesians 4:5-6)

Thinking about the Synod process undertaken in the diocese and throughout the world, Bishop Kopacz noted that the church is at a crossroads locally and globally. With that, an extensive demographic review of the diocese will be a part of the “Pastoral Reimagining” process.

“Without a doubt [it] will enrich the local conversations,” said Bishop Kopacz.

There will be four stages of the pastoral reimagining process over the course of the year, running from Pentecost this year to Pentecost 2024.

The first stage will run from Pentecost through August 2023, with each pastor or LEM establishing a pastoral reimagining committee and having the committee view four ecclesiology video sessions and answer a series of questions designed to guide conversation on who we are as a church, says Fran Lavelle, director of faith formation for the diocese and member of the core team who will be working on the pastoral reimagining process.

The four video sessions, led by Bishop Kopacz will focus on the four marks of the church: one, holy, Catholic and apostolic; and will be available for anyone to view on the diocese website after Pentecost.
Stage two, will include each parish undertaking a parish assessment that includes the current situation at the local parish, the growing edges, the areas that are diminishing, the opportunities for collaboration with other parishes in the area, and other local realities.

With this stage, demographic information will be prepared for each parish, including sacramental data, local economic data and more, says Lavelle.

The third stage will focus on each deanery working though challenges and reviewing the growing edges and diminishing areas of ministry within the deanery.

“The goal is to gain a realistic perspective of the health and well-being of the deanery within the setting of the individual parishes,” Lavelle says.

The final two stages will include a period of discernment on reports from the six deaneries in the diocese and a pastoral letter from Bishop Kopacz, concluding with a diocesan celebration at Pentecost 2024.

“Calling upon the Holy Spirit, we pray that each parish will be encouraged, as well as challenged to be whom God calls us to be,” says Bishop Kopacz.

Holy Child Jesus parish celebrates Sister Thea Bowman

By Joanna Puddister King
CANTON – Faithful from around the diocese gathered to celebrate Sister Thea Bowman at her home parish of Holy Child Jesus in Canton on Sunday, March 26. Sister Thea died on March 30, 1990 in her family home in Canton from breast cancer. Parishes throughout the country celebrated Sister Thea leading up to the 33rd anniversary of her death.

“We made sure to perform some of Sister Thea’s favorites,” said Myrtle Otto of the musical selections for the event.

Myrtle Otto performs “Oh, It’s Jesus” at the Sister Thea Bowman celebration at Holy Child Jesus on Sunday, March 26. (Photos by Joanna King)

Otto, a student of Sister Thea’s who performed on the Holy Child Singers album “The Voice of Negro America” in 1967, said that some of the songs included in the celebration were “It’s Me, It’s Me, O Lord” and “Every Time I Feel the Spirit.” Otto was featured during the celebration singing “Oh, it is Jesus,” backed up by the combined choirs of Holy Child Jesus and Sacred Heart Camden.

During Mass, Bishop Kopacz often closed his eyes to fully experience the unity of the body of Christ through song. “It was obvious that even without the music, the choir was singing fully and unsparingly, in perfect harmony. The music gave the celebration even more life,” said Bishop Kopacz, referencing the piano player being tied up at another celebration early in the Mass.

Instead of wearing his traditional vestments, Bishop Kopacz opted for a piece of history in the diocesan archives to honor Sister Thea – a vestment from Mound Bayou, one of the first African-American incorporated towns in the United States.

A lifelong friend of Sister Thea, Mamie Chinn present for the event summed up the day perfectly.
“It’s always a good day to celebrate Thea.”

Catholics give back for #iGiveCatholic on #GivingTuesday

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Eight years ago (2015), the #iGiveCatholic campaign for #GivingTuesday took off as an initiative of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, raising over a million dollars in a 24-hour period for Catholic parishes, schools and ministries. Subsequently, this campaign spread to other dioceses throughout the nation, with participating dioceses increasing with each year. The 2022 #iGiveCatholic campaign had a great impact, with partnerships including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Catholic Educational Association, raising over $18.5 million for Catholic entities this year.
The Diocese of Jackson joined the #iGiveCatholic campaign in 2016, making this year the seventh year of participation in the nationwide campaign, and generating a record $207,000 in gifts to a total of 43 parishes, schools and ministries within the diocese.

The success of each organization is based on the amount of effort put forth in publicizing their causes, or reason to raise funds, by reaching out to donors via social media (Facebook, Instagram, emails, websites, etc.) and print publications such as bulletins, posters and flyers.

The #iGiveCatholic campaign focuses on electronic giving and includes a specific website provided to the organizations at no cost, in hopes to encourage greater participation and help generate funds. Each year, the diocese receives a generous grant from Catholic Extension to cover half of the online giving platform fees.

Also included in the grant from Catholic Extension was additional money earmarked for training or prizes to aid in a successful campaign and help generate excitement. Five prizes were awarded in random drawings for entities who had online donors during specific time frames; and three prizes were awarded to the top three fundraisers. The grand prize winners this year were St. Richard Catholic School in Jackson; St. Jude Catholic Church in Pearl; and the Carmelite Monastery in Jackson.
The National Sponsor of #iGiveCatholic this year was Our Sunday Visitor, a Catholic publisher that serves millions of Catholics globally through its publishing and communication services. For the past few years, Our Sunday Visitor has donated offertory envelopes at no cost to participating organizations, to encourage donors, who otherwise would not want to give electronically, helping to increase participation and overall total giving.

“Throughout history, Catholics have always been generous people. Our world and our society need to see and experience increased generosity, but more importantly, they need to see the joy Catholics have as we ‘give back’ out of gratitude in return for how we have been blessed,” said Julia Williams, assistant development director for the Diocese of Jackson and diocesan support contact for the #iGiveCatholic program.

“Each year, we are so grateful to the Catholic Community as they support various ministries as they continue to ‘Give Thanks – Give Back and Give Catholic.’”

Greenville parish and school give thanks for generosity of longtime parishioner, Salvado Sarullo

By Joanna Puddister King

GREENVILLE – The grey skies on Tuesday, Nov. 29 did not dampen spirits in celebrating the memorial to longtime St. Joseph parishioner, Salvador Sarullo. The dedication and Mass at St. Joseph School, planned for outdoors, was moved indoors due to the threat of severe thunderstorms in the region.
The ceremony following Mass marked the incredible generosity of Sarullo, who bequeathed a large portion of his estate to St. Joseph parish in Greenville.

GREENVILLE – On Tuesday, Nov. 29, Bishop Joseph Kopacz blesses a statue dedicated to the memory of Salvador Sarullo, who bequeathed a large portion of his estate to St. Joseph parish. The statue is located on the St. Joe School football field. The festivities were held indoors due to inclement weather. (Photo by Joanna Puddister King)

Sarullo was born in 1931 in Greenville and graduated from St. Joseph High School (formerly St. Rose of Lima) and attended Springhill College in Mobile. He was a lifelong resident of Greenville, where he was a well-respected and successful businessman, who was known for his integrity, generosity and involvement in the community. Passing in December 2018, Sarullo helped many in need during his 87 years.

Bishop Joseph Kopacz prayed with Sarullo many times during the last year of his life, calling him a “great man of faith.” During the event he lauded Sarullo as a remarkable example of Catholic generosity and challenged everyone to live up to his example and great works of charity in the community.

Since his passing, St. Joseph parish has worked hard to preserve the legacy of Sarullo’s gift, while embarking on multiple projects to spread the Good News of the Gospel and support those in need in the Greenville community.

During the dedication ceremony, that included a blessing of a projected photo of the “Touchdown Jesus” statue and plaque commemorating Sarullo due to the inclement weather, several shared the impact he made with his gift, as well as future plans to impact the Greenville community.

President of the St. Joseph parish finance council, Ken Purvis shared renovations completed at the church and those to come thanks to the gift made by Sarullo. He said that the parish approved plans for an extensive remodel and improvements to the interior of the Victorian-Gothic style church including the complete re-plastering of interior walls, artwork and murals painted throughout the sanctuary, including the ceiling. Purvis shared that future plans include extending and enlarging the altar to better accommodate service. The historic restoration project is set to commence in 2023 right after Easter.

Purvis told those gathered that the church has already completed a re-design of its sound system and that part of the Sarullo bequest helped match funds donated by parishioners to replace the slate tile roof in 2020.

GREENVILLE – Volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul got right back to work sorting clothing for families in need, after Bishop Joseph Kopacz blessed their renovated building on Tuesday, Nov. 29. (Photo by Joanna Puddister King)

Speaking on improvements to the St. Joseph parish hall, Jim Lipscomb, president of the parish pastoral council, started by thanking the diocese for all of the support given to the parish, even in tough times. “They’ve stuck with St. Joe School and St. Joe parish for many years,” said Lipscomb.

For the parish hall, Lipscomb said the renovation will expand the size with improvements like new LED lighting, HVAC system, sound system, projectors for presentations, furniture and more. Renovations also include a new kitchen with a cafeteria style serving line and top-of-the-line appliances and work stations.

“This new space will be a show-place for church meetings, sacrament classes, youth retreats, parish assemblies, wedding receptions and luncheons,” said Lipscomb.

Construction on the parish hall project has already commenced and should be completed early in 2023.

“I want to thank Salvador Sarullo for your generosity that has allowed us to create all of these different projects,” said Lipscomb.

One of the most significant ministries of St. Joseph parish is St. Joseph Catholic School said Britt Virden, emceeing the event. The gift from Sarullo will also provide a major expansion to the existing facility.

Athletic director, John Butler introduced the expansion project that includes the gym and athletic facilities. “We’ve established a standard of excellence in education and athletics,” said Butler. “We have set the bar for athletics and we want to continue to grow and to get better.”

Plans include building onto the back of the gym with new expanded locker rooms for boys and girls basketball, soccer, baseball and softball teams. The addition will feature a separate training and recovery room for athletes and school trainers, new bathrooms and ticket counter.

The gym entrance will also showcase past and current championships with more trophy cases for the Fighting Irish championship teams, said Butler. The newest being the MAIS 4A State Football Championship trophy the team claimed in mid-November.

The new athletic facilities will allow the school to host tournaments and generate revenue, said Butler. “We want folks to come see our school and what we do here.”

Virden said with the gift from Sarullo, St. Joseph School is also looking to grow. He shared that the school is starting an initial committee looking at an Early Learning Center for the community. “We are always looking to grow and expand our offerings, not only because it is important for our community – it’s important to the church, important for our faith,” said Virden.

“It’s important to have a place for parents to have their children come and transfer over into our schools.”

Speaking more on the project was Bart Outzen, who said the goal was to have a program that would sustain the student population and “prepare an intellectual, academically and spiritually prepared student all the way through to St. Joseph.” The center would be located adjacent to the existing school, and it would have a curriculum based upon national standards for early learning centers across the U.S., said Outzen.

Virden said with the Sarullo gift, they want to be good stewards have the gift continue to provide for improvements for “the next 125 years of more” by setting up trusts for St. Joseph School and St. Joseph Church with the Catholic Foundation, headed by Rebecca Harris.

Over 49 years ago, leaders across the diocese decided to establish the Catholic Foundation with the goal to encourage legacy giving through endowed funds and major gifts.

“Salvador Sarullo loved his Catholic faith and it was very near and dear to him,” said Harris. “He was extremely generous with his time, his talent and his treasure through the years.”

For the Catholic Foundation, the St. Joseph Catholic Parish trust is the largest parish trust; and the St. Joseph Catholic School trust is the largest trust to date thanks to Sarullo’s gift, said Harris.

“Each year Salvador’s legacy will continue to live on through the annual distributions provided to the parish school. Future generations will be blessed by his generosity.”

Another ministry that benefited from Sarullo’s legacy is the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Greenville. Thanks to his gift, they were able to completely restore and remodel their buildings.

“Our clients don’t only come to St. Vincent to receive food and clothes they also get a hug, a smile and we pray with them,” said volunteer, Julice Curry. “Mr. Sarullo knew that the poor, the underprivileged in our community need a ministry like St. Vincent de Paul.”

Curry shared that in 2000, Sarullo bought the four buildings the organization is housed in now and with his most recent gift they restored them. St. Vincent was able to restore the roof, repair windows and walls and create a more convenient entrance for clients, among other vital projects. The kitchen also received an upgrade to accommodate more food items for the hundreds of low-income clients served each week.

After the dedication ceremony, Bishop Kopacz traveled over to St. Vincent de Paul to view the improvements and bless the building.

“Certainly, it is with great joy that as we hear the words at the culmination of St. Matthew’s Gospel at the final judgement, that the work he talks about, and certainly demands, is being done here at St. Vincent de Paul – welcoming the stranger as we heard. Praying with them, feeding, clothing, giving drink – that’s just something woven into this ministry that is such a blessing,” said Bishop Kopacz.

The repairs to the buildings at St. Vincent de Paul were completed in August 2022. The board is planning on an open house soon and invites everyone to attend to see the improvements made possible by Sarullo’s generous bequest.

“Mr. Sarullo was amazing,” said Curry. “He was a very simple man. If you ever had the pleasure of meeting him, you know that he lived a very simple life but he loved big. He loved his church, he loved this school and he loved, loved St. Vincent de Paul.”

Fourth and Glory! St. Joseph continues dynasty with victory over Tri-County in state title game

By David W. Healy/Delta Democrat-Times
JACKSON – It takes more than one player to make a dynasty.

These were the words from St. Joseph Catholic School coach John Baker just minutes after his Fighting Irish defeated Tri-County Academy 26-14 to win the MAIS Class 4A State Championship Thursday at Jackson Academy. It was the Irish’s fourth state championship in school history and fourth in six years.

As they have done in their previous three state championships, the biggest stars on this year’s St. Joseph (11-1) team shined the brightest. But it was not just one star. The night and the glory belonged to the entire St. Joseph team who avenged a loss last season to Tri-County in last year’s state semifinal game.

Senior running back Kye Nelson, who played as a 5-foot-9 wrecking ball the entire game, carried the ball for crucial yardage time after time again. In the second half, Nelson’s determination came to a crescendo when his 34-yard touchdown score put the Irish in the lead for good at 20-14 with 1:56 to play in the third quarter. Nelson finished the night with 144 yards rushing on 16 carries.

“I was just thinking after every carry to keep going and keep fighting,” Nelson said. “This game was revenge for us because Tri-County beat us in the semifinals last season.”

JACKSON – The Fighting Irish of St. Joe Greenville toppled Tri-County Academy for the MAIS Class 4A State Championship on Thursday, Nov. 17 at Jackson Academy. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King)

Said Baker, “Kye and the offensive line, they put the whole team on their backs and they got us in the endzone. We made the decision to run the ball in the second half because we felt like we were more physical team and at halftime we thought if we ran the ball we could win.”

Nelson missed last year’s state semifinal with an injury.

Senior quarterback CJ Moore was another Irish player who helped cement the Irish dynasty Thursday night.

Moore is the brother of the first two Irish quarterbacks, Brice Johnson and Dillon Johnson, who helped lead the Irish to their first three state championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019. During Thursday’s contest, Moore looked much like his older two brothers when they were leading the Irish to state glory. As he had all season, Moore extended offensive plays with his speed and escapability.

After Tri-County opened the scoring when QB Bryce Warriner connected with Ty Milner on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 2:59 left in the first quarter, Moore found a wide-open Christian Foster in the back of the endzone for 24-yard touchdown reception to give St. Joseph a 7-6 lead.

Later in the second quarter, Moore made his biggest play of the game when he raced down the right sideline for a 76-yard touchdown run to put the Irish up 14-6 with 2:57 left in the second quarter. The Irish finished with 264 rushing yards.

“CJ pulls a rabbit out of his hat every time,” Coach Baker said. “He is the best athlete on our team. He doesn’t let things get to him. He threw an early pick, but he came back and reset and ran that long touchdown for us.”

Moore ended the game 14 of 29 with 163 yards passing. He had 114 yards rushing. St. Joseph’s Stank King led the Irish with 55 yards receiving on five catches. Chris Mayfield had 53 yards receiving for the Irish on three catches.

While the St. Joseph offensive players did their part for the victory, the Irish defense also stood tall when it mattered the most, holding the Rebels scoreless in the second half.

On Tri-County’s first offensive possession of the game, defensive end Donnie Smith recovered a Rebel fumble at the Tri-County 38-yard line. In the second quarter, defensive back Stank King made an interception and returned it 15 yards to the Irish 37-yard line.

In the third quarter, St. Joseph defensive lineman Alex Foster helped to end a Rebel drive with a 15-yard sack for a loss.

Later in the third, King deflected a Tri-County pass in the back of the endzone that looked at first like it was a sure touchdown.

The Rebels managed just 49 rushing yards in the game.

Tri-County head coach Phillip Wasson, a Greenville native who once coached at St. Joseph and Washington School, praised the Irish on their state championship.

“St. Joe is a really good team,” Coach Wasson said. “Most of their best players are all back from last year. Coach Baker has done a good job with them. They have only lost one game this year. I am proud of that group because I know a lot of those kids over there at St. Joe.”

(David Healy is sports editor for the Delta Democrat-Times. He can be reached at dhealy@ddtonline.com. Re-printed with permission.)

‘Harvest’ event continues to grow

By Joanna Puddister King

MADISON – The Jackson Seminarian Homegrown Harvest began with a vision of an event to celebrate the Catholic faith and the future priests of the Diocese of Jackson. It has grown from its humble beginning, in 2020 during COVID, as a online only, livestream event where Father Nick Adam and Bishop Joseph Kopacz talked about vocations to viewers.

This year approximately 200 guests were in attendance for the event at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Madison. And the event looks to continue to grow.

Through the first part of October, seminarian Deacon Carlisle Beggerly served his internship at St. Francis of Assisi Madison.

“During the diaconate internship we try to place our men in parishes that will given them a wide range of experiences,” said Father Nick told event attendees.

“He is really reaching the end of his process. From wondering about being a priest, feeling that tug in his heart to do so and being supported by the diocese.”

To much applause, Father Nick announced to the crowd that Deacon Carlisle will be ordained a priest for the diocese on June 10, 2023.

MADISON – Above supporters from around the diocese attended the third annual Jackson Seminarian Homegrown Harvest event held at St. Francis parish this year. Inset: Seminarian, Deacon Carlisle Beggerly speaks to the crowd. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King)

A convert from Protestantism, Deacon Carlisle encountered St. Augustine’s Confessions, that ultimately led him on a journey to Catholicism and on to the priesthood. In college, he began to feel a “quiet whisper” to a vocation.

Speaking on his diaconate internship at the event, he said that he was indebted to the parishioners at St. Francis for their assistance in forming his ministry and to Father Albeen Vatti, pastor of the parish.
Deacon Carlisle said he is confident he is on the right path now. “I truly believe God is calling me to … use my talents for the greater glory of God.”

Father Nick Adam completes a “measure-off” to see who is the tallest seminarian – EJ Martin or Grayson Foley.

The diocese now has nine seminarians – Deacon Carlisle Beggerly, Ryan Stoer, Tristan Stovall, John Le, Will Foggo, Grayson Foley, Tripp Bond, EJ Martin and Straton Garrard – and their education and formation costs are close to $50,000 per student annually.

Their education cost are covered by a variety of cources including the diocese, second collections, and fundraising events like the Homegrown Harvest. At this year’s event, attendees were able to give extra support through a silent auction and raffles using “Beggerly Bucks.”

“It looks like we landed right at about $145,000 in proceeds from the Homegrown Harvest this year,” said Father Nick. “That’s a 71% increase from last year. This is in huge thanks to all of our sponsors, too.”

A 2011 graduate of St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison and of Springhill College to working professionally in Austin, Texas for a few years, new seminarian EJ Martin took an opportunity to talk to those gathered about his experience during his first few months this year at seminary.

At 30 years old, Martin is grateful to the people of the diocese for being able to spend his time immersed in formation at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.

“I could not imagine doing this with a full-time job,” said Martin. “It’s absolutely incredible to step away from where I was and to really immerse myself into the formation process of what it is to be a man of God.”

(To learn more about vocations, contact Father Nick Adam at nick.adam@jacksondiocese.org.)