Decade of faith: Bishop Kopacz celebrates 10-year milestone

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz, surrounded by priests and deacons from the Diocese of Jackson, commemorated his 10th anniversary of ordination to the episcopacy at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson with a special Mass on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Bishop Kopacz was ordained and installed as the 11th Bishop of Jackson on Feb. 6, 2014, but he fondly remembers getting the initial call the day before Thanksgiving – in an unforgettable Italian accent – “Holy Father is directing you to be the bishop of Jackson in Mississippi.” Bishop mused to those gathered at his anniversary Mass, that “it was an offer you can’t refuse.”

JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz lays prostrate during his ordination as Bishop of Jackson on Feb. 6, 2014 at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. He recently celebrated his 10th anniversary at the Bishop for the Diocese of Jackson. (Photo from archives)

“These 10 years later has given me an opportunity to reflect and appreciate the call and the ongoing challenge and blessing of serving as the 11th bishop of the diocese,” said Bishop Kopacz.

He fondly remembered traversing the diocese by airplane days after being installed as Bishop and visiting a few parishes across the diocese, including St. Mary’s Basilica in Natchez, St. Joseph in Greenville, St. James in Tupelo and to St. Joseph in Starkville. “It was great to experience and see what a large swath of land the diocese covers,” said Bishop Kopacz. “So, 10 years later and possibly 300,000 miles later on my car, I think I can say I know a little bit about Mississippi and its geography.”

But more than miles, Bishop Kopacz reflected, are the countless souls who have touched his life along the way through parishes and the variety of missions and ministries that make up the diocese. He continued by celebrating the dedication of the clergy, the resilience of parishioners and the transformative power of God’s grace working through each individual.

In his homily, Bishop Kopacz credits his enthusiasm and energy for the diocese to the Eucharistic prayer at Mass when the clergy pray for him every day. Joking with those clergy present, that they “can’t skip that part … as a lot of grace flows from that on good days and bad. It truly carries me forward.”

Turning 74 later this year, Bishop Kopacz says that he hopes to still be around to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the diocese in 13 years. He expressed how grateful he was for the people of the diocese, all of the priests and religious, coworkers at the Chancery and all the staff at parishes across the diocese who respond to God’s call every day.

“I thank everyone for the kindness and generosity for the 10th anniversary of my consecration and installation as the 11th Bishop of Jackson,” said Bishop Kopacz. “It was a splendid and joyful occasion.”

JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz celebrated his 10th anniversary as the Bishop for the Diocese of Jackson with priests and deacons from around the diocese on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at the Cathedral of St. Peter. Inset, a comemorative photo collage with scenes from the past 10 years. (Photos by Tereza Ma)

Década de Fe del Obispo Joseph Kopacz

Por Joanna Puddister King

JACKSON – El obispo Joseph Kopacz, rodeado de sacerdotes y diáconos de la Diócesis de Jackson, conmemoró su décimo aniversario de ordenación al episcopado en la Catedral de San Pedro Apóstol en Jackson, con una Misa especial el martes 6 de febrero.

JACKSON – En Misa especial el 6 de febrero del 2024, el obispo Joseph Kopacz celebró el décimo aniversario de su nombramiento como el obispo undécimo de la Diócesis de Jackson Mississippi. En la foto se ve al opispo Kopacz, en su entrada a la Catedral de San Pedro, precedido por Mary Woodward, canciller de la Diócesis y el diácono Denzel Lobo. (Foto de Tereza Ma)

El obispo Kopacz fue ordenado e instalado como el undécimo obispo de Jackson el 6 de febrero de 2014, pero recuerda con cariño haber recibido la llamada inicial el día antes del Día de Acción de Gracias, con un acento italiano inolvidable: “El Santo Padre le indica que sea el obispo de Jackson. en Misisipi.”
El obispo Kopacz reflexionó ante los reunidos en su misa de aniversario que “era una oferta que no se puede rechazar”.

“Estos pasados 10 años me han dado la oportunidad de reflexionar y apreciar el llamado y el desafío y la bendición continua de servir como el undécimo obispo de la diócesis”, dijo el obispo Kopacz.

Recordó con cariño haber atravesado la diócesis en avión días después de haber sido instalado como obispo y haber visitado algunas parroquias en toda la diócesis, incluida la Basílica de Santa María en Natchez, San José en Greenville, San James en Tupelo y San José en Starkville.

“Fue fantástico experimentar y ver la gran extensión de terreno que cubre la diócesis”, dijo el obispo Kopacz. “En aquel entonces y 10 años después, con posiblemente 300.000 millas en mi auto, creo que puedo decir que sé un poco sobre Mississippi y su geografía.”

Pero más que millas, reflexionó el obispo Kopacz, son las innumerables almas que han tocado su vida a lo largo del camino a través de las parroquias y la variedad de misiones y ministerios que conforman la diócesis.

JACKSON – En fotos, momentos de la Misa especial el 6 de febrero de 2024 celebrada el obispo Joseph Kopacz al arribar el décimo aniversario de su nombramiento como pastor del Pueblo de Dios en la Diócesis de Jackson Mississippi un 6 de febrero de 2014 . (Fotos de Tereza Ma)

Continuó celebrando la dedicación del clero, la resiliencia de los feligreses y el poder transformador de la gracia de Dios trabajando a través de cada individuo.
En su homilía, el obispo Kopacz atribuye su entusiasmo y energía por la diócesis a la oración eucarística en la Misa cuando el clero reza por él todos los días. Bromeando con los clérigos presentes, diciéndoles que “no pueden saltarse esa parte… ya que de ella fluye mucha gracia en los días buenos y malos. Realmente me hace avanzar”.
El obispo Kopacz, quien cumplirá 74 años a finales de este año, dice que espera seguir presente para celebrar el 200 aniversario de la diócesis dentro de 13 años.
Expresó lo agradecido que estaba por la gente de la diócesis, todos los sacerdotes y religiosos, los compañeros de trabajo de la Cancillería y todo el personal de las parroquias y escuelas de toda la diócesis que responden al llamado de Dios todos los días.
“Agradezco a todos por la amabilidad y generosidad por el décimo aniversario de mi consagración e instalación como undécimo obispo de Jackson,” dijo el obispo Kopacz. “Fue una ocasión espléndida y alegre, concluyó.”

Diocese launches ‘Hope Rising’ appeal for vital ministries

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – As the Diocese of Jackson kicks off the 2024 Catholic Service Appeal (CSA), director of Stewardship and Development, Rebecca Harris shared her enthusiasm for the ministries that the appeal supports across the diocese.

“The appeal sustains essential ministries that play a pivotal role in nurturing and advancing our Catholic faith,” said Harris.

Under the theme “Hope Rising,” the diocese is inviting all to become beacons of hope to 14 ministries through support and prayers for the appeal.

Harris says that the Catholic community can become that hope to those served by these ministries: Seminarian Education, Catholic Schools, Retired Priests, Clergy Healthcare Assistance, Permanent Diaconate Ministry, Prison Ministry, Catholic Charities, Campus Ministry, Formation Ministry and Religious Education, Intercultural Ministry, Evangelization and Communication, Family Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, Youth Ministry and grants for Parishes and Schools.

Each year in January Bishop Joseph Kopacz sends letters to all parishioners in the diocese asking for support of those ministries. In this year’s letter, he asks that parishioners recognize the timelessness of a piece of St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews – “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.” (Hebrews 13:16)

Bishop Kopacz reminds parishioners that “we are gently being summoned to be good stewards of the blessings that we have received and are being called to share our blessings.”

“When you make a gift you become the ‘Hope Rising’ to those served by the appeal,” Harris says.
She says that supporters will also find in-depth information on each of the 14 ministries supported through the appeal at by clicking on the “Ministries Supported” button. She invites all to “explore the profound impact your donations make on our faith community.”

Bishop Kopacz and Harris both express gratitude for the continued trust and support of the Catholic community. “We assure you that we have been diligent stewards of the funds entrusted to us.”

To provide transparency and accountability, the graphics in the Catholic Service Appeal insert in Mississippi Catholic and on the website offer a detailed breakdown of how every dollar from the 2023 CSA was allocated, said Harris. “This visual representation underscores our commitment to responsible financial management and demonstrates how your contributions actively promote our Catholic faith.”

There are several ways to give to the 2024 Catholic Service Appeal. Pledge cards can be mailed to PO Box 22723, Jackson, MS 39225; and supporters can visit to donate online. Additionally, giving is also open through text by texting “GiveCSA” to (601) 202-5979.

Gifts of stocks, donor advised funds and Qualified Charitable Distribution through your IRA can also be made to support the Catholic Service Appeal. For more information on the CSA, contact Rebecca Harris at (601) 960-8477.

(Editor’s note: See the special Catholic Service Appeal insert in this edition of Mississippi Catholic to learn more about all the ministries supported by this appeal.)

Five great Lenten reads

(OSV News) — The season of Lent is an ideal time to grow in the spiritual life. Here are five great reads to help you on your way.

  • “Salvifici Doloris” by Pope St. John Paul II

Written in the wake of his assassination attempt and published as an apostolic letter in 1984, “Salvifici Doloris” is a treatise on the redemptive value of suffering, one of the hidden gems of St. John Paul II’s bibliography. It explains that all suffering finds its meaning and is transformed by Jesus Christ, sheds light on the centrality of the cross in the Christian’s life, and ties together themes of suffering from Scripture to present a robust spirituality on suffering. With Lent’s focus on purification and the need to cling to Christ crucified, this letter is most fitting for the season.

  • “Finding God in Suffering” by Father Christopher M. Mahar (Pauline Books & Media US, 2023)

Drawing richly from the teachings on suffering by Pope St. John Paul II, “Finding God in Suffering” tackles the age-old questions related to the topic, such as “what does suffering mean? Why does God allow it? How can it have a purpose? With Lent’s focus on Christ’s passion and death, this book can help others come to see their own connection to the Suffering Christ.

Drawing from decades of experience in pastoral counseling, author Father Christopher Mahar articulates the church’s teachings very clearly and with great empathy and hope. Each chapter is accompanied by reflection questions and prayer prompts, making the book a perfect tool to engage mind, heart and strength in the midst of suffering.

  • “With God in Russia” by Father Walter Ciszek, S.J. (Ignatius Press, 1997)

An inspiring and challenging memoir of the American Jesuit priest’s imprisonment in a Soviet gulag, falsely accused of espionage and subversion. Much of Father Ciszek’s suffering was endured in hard labor camps in Siberia. While there, he embraced the horror of his situation as a means to carry on his priestly work, even celebrating the sacraments secretly. But, moreover, the brutality he faced was a proving ground for great virtue and holiness. Given the importance placed on interior renewal and holiness imposed by the significance of Lent, this book has much to ponder.

These are the covers of “Finding God in Suffering” by Father Christopher M. Mahar, and “Legacy of Mercy” by Gretchen R. Crowe. (OSV News illustration)
  • “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis (Noll Library, OSV, 2018)

“The Imitation of Christ” is a handbook for spiritual life. The 15th-century text is divided into four books: “Helpful Counsels of the Spiritual Life,” “Directives for the Interior Life,” “On Interior Consolation” and “On the Blessed Sacrament.” It was written at a time when many recognized the need for reform in the church by holier living of its members. It focuses on the interior life and withdrawal from the world. It places emphasis on the devotion to the Eucharist as a key element of spiritual life. It can be a sure daily companion during Lenten prayer time.

  • “Legacy of Mercy” by Gretchen R. Crowe (OSV, 2022)

Legacy of Mercy is an odyssey into the heart of forgiveness, making it a perfect book to pray with during the season of Lent.

Written by OSV News’ editor-in-chief, the book tells the story of raising and losing a son; the story of forgiving his murderers; and the story of a mother responding to her son’s death not with vengeance or self-pity, but with love and a desire to serve others in need.

On May 31, 1999, Rachel Muha experienced a mother’s worst nightmare. Her youngest son, Brian, and his friend Aaron Land were taken by force on a journey of about 20 miles, spanning three states, that ended in torture and death. They were roommates and students at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and the murders shocked the campus and the wider community.

Even before her son’s body was found, Rachel publicly forgave her son’s killers. It was a life-changing moment, not just for her but for everyone who heard her powerful act of forgiveness and love. Rachel has continued to choose mercy and forgiveness every day since then, now leading a ministry that serves inner-city children in the hope that they won’t choose the same life that Brian’s murderers did.

This list originally appeared at Simply Catholic, an online ministry of Our Sunday Visitor.

Local Catholics give back for #iGiveCatholic campaign

By Joanna Puddister King

JACKSON – Nine 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 2023 #iGiveCatholic campaign had a great impact, with growth in dollars given and donors, raising over $20.1 million for Catholic entities this year.

The Diocese of Jackson joined the #iGiveCatholic campaign in 2016, making this year the eighth year of participation in the nationwide campaign, and generating nearly $193,000 in gifts to a total of 27 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 Carmelite Monastery in Jackson; Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton; and St. Richard Catholic School 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 several 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.

“I am always amazed at the generosity of the Catholic community in our diocese,” said Rebecca Harris, director of Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Jackson. “It is such a blessing to see that same generosity across the country as Catholics generously give to so many ministries.”

In a year when overall donations were down for #GivingTuesday, #iGiveCatholic did not experience that trend, with the giving day raising 8.7% more than in 2022 and a total of 11% more donors.

Harris said, “A big thank you goes out to all those who participated in our diocese and a big thank you to all of the donors who supported so many great projects.”

“What a joy it is to be a part of so many Catholics joyfully sharing their blessings.”

Families gather for 180th celebration of St. Michael Paulding

By Tereza Ma and Joanna Puddister King

PAULDING – On Dec. 2, the faithful gathered at St. Michael in Paulding to celebrate at milestone 180th anniversary with Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Father Adolfo Suarez Pasillas. Established in 1843, the parish is the second oldest Catholic Church in the state of Mississippi, behind St. Mary Natchez.

Paulding was a bustling town with a thriving trade center before the Civil War. At that time, it was known as “the Queen City of the East.” However, by the 1890s as railways became crucial for trade the town turned down a proposed line that would run through town. The commercial importance of the town drastically dropped but the parish continued to thrive and was a “cradle of vocations,” according to Christ: The Living Water by Cleta Ellington.

PAULDING – Judy and Ricky McDevitt present the gifts to Bishop Joseph Kopacz during a Mass celebrating 180 years of St. Michael in Paulding on Saturday, Dec. 2. The McDevitt’s aid with maintenance of the parish in preparation for Masses and special events. (Photos by Tereza Ma)

Over 20 religious came from the parish and included many Sisters of Mercy, Daughters of Charity and Brothers of the Sacred Heart. A plaque honors many of them in the back of the church building.

Therese Bergin Grant remembers when the original church was destroyed by a fire in July 1942 when she was only about four years old. The church was struck by lightning, with only a few items able to be salvaged. “I will never forget those flames,” said Grant. Until a new church was built, Mass was held in a nearby school building.

Bishop Kopacz blesses the feast following Mass in celebration of 180 years of St. Michael parish. Pictured on the far left is William Harrington, one of the decendants of Michael and Rebecca Harrington, who were one of the original families at the founding of the church in 1843.

Grant also fondly remembered her childhood at the church, walking over three miles to celebrate Mass as a child, with the occasional ride from her first cousin on his shoulders.
“It was fun,” said Grant. “It’s been quite a journey through life, but I always come back to St. Michael’s.”

St. Michael also is home to a Catholic cemetery dating back to the 1860s that contains burial sites for many of the founding families of the parish. Several families present at the 180th anniversary Mass had ancestors buried in the cemetery dating back to the founding of the parish – including the Harrington, Bergin and Finnegan families.

Donnie Bergin was baptized in the church in the 1950s and remembers his pastor at the time – Father Gabriel – pointing you out if you made too much noise in church. He said that around that time about one-third of the church was full of Bergin’s – many of whom are buried in the cemetery today.

Also present at the celebration was Paula Finnegan Phillips. She said that 99% of her family members are buried in the St. Michael cemetery. She was so touched by the Mass celebrated with Bishop Kopacz and so many families present that have been apart of the parish for generations.

“It’s just very spiritual when you come to this church. It’s like you can see those who have past at Mass with you. God talks. Jesus talks. The Holy Spirit talks – when you come here. And I heard it today,” said Phillips.
At present, Father Adolfo celebrates Mass at the historic St. Michael Church on the first and third Saturday of each month. Though many of the families present at the 180th celebration are members of other parishes within the Diocese of Biloxi, that borders close by, they all seem to come back to St. Michael; and feel as Therese Bergin Grant – “It’s home.”

Full pews and hearts abound at St. Michael Paulding, the second oldest Catholic Church in the state of Mississippi.

Advent Reconciliation/Penance Services

BATESVILLE – St. Mary, Advent Penance Service, Thursday, Dec. 14, after 5:30 Mass.

CLEVELAND – Our Lady of Victories, Confessions, Monday, Dec. 11 from 4:30-6 p.m.

CLINTON – Holy Savior, Penance Service, Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.

COLUMBUS – Annunciation, Advent Reconciliation Service, Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m.

FLOWOOD – St. Paul, Reconciliation Service, Monday, Dec. 18 at 6 p.m.

HERNANDO – Holy Spirit, Advent Penance Service, Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.

JACKSON – Cathedral of St. Peter, Confession, Wednesday, Dec. 6 from 4:30-6 p.m.

JACKSON – St. Richard, Advent Confessions, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. until Christmas.

MADISON – St. Francis, Reconciliation Service, Thursday, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.

MERIDIAN – St. Patrick, Advent Penance Service, Monday, Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m.

OLIVE BRANCH – Advent Penance Service, Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.

PEARL – St. Jude, Reconciliation Service, Monday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m.

SOUTHAVEN – Christ the King, Advent Penance Service, Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.

VICKSBURG – St. Michael, Advent Penance Service, Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.

VICKSBURG – St. Paul, Penance Service, Thursday, Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m.

YAZOO CITY – St. Mary, Reconciliation Service, Monday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.

Walton’s “Advent Reflections for this Day” offers unique path to deeper Advent experience

By Joanna Puddister King

JACKSON – Parishioner of St. Paul Flowood, Monica Walton, didn’t envision her 2022 Advent Reflection booklet she made and shared with friends and family would lead to the publishing of her first book, but it did.

Earlier this year, Sunrise Press rose out of Dogwood Press, a small but traditional publishing house headed by Joe Lee, parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Madison. Walton said even though Lee’s publishing house was focused on mystery and suspense fiction, he was Catholic and thought she would get his perspective even though she was hesitant to do so. As chance would have it, Lee was “sufficiently intrigued” with Walton’s pitch and he ended up creating Sunrise Press, a subsidiary of Dogwood Press that considers faith-based works of fiction and nonfiction for publication.

The 2023 edition of “Advent Reflections for this Day” – the very first book published by Sunrise Press – is a unique and thoughtfully crafted resource for individuals seeking a more profound connection to the Sacred Word during the busy Christmas season. Walton’s book offers a weekly focus on the Sunday Gospels, allowing readers to dive deeper into the spiritual meaning of Advent without the pressure of daily readings. One of the standout features of this book is the inclusion of “Modern-Day Parables,” original stories created by Walton that draw parallels between the Gospel passages and contemporary situations. Walton says that the parables provide fresh perspectives on the Scripture, making it even more relevant to our daily lives.

The decision to create a weekly Advent reflection, as opposed to a daily one, lies in Walton’s experience with the face-paced nature of the Advent season, often causing people to lose sight of its true significance. She explained, “Sometimes it feels like you can’t catch up if you get behind a few days. I wrote the book with myself and other busy people in mind.”

“Advent Reflections for this Day” contains four Sunday Gospels, followed by Walton’s unique contemporary parables, three thought-provoking questions to consider how the reader might respond in similar situations, and three suggestions on how to live out the Gospel’s message during that particular week. The emphasis is on personal reflection, with no right or wrong answers. As Walton puts it, “It’s about thinking, ‘how can I be the best I want to be.’”

Bishop Joseph Kopacz enjoyed Walton’s Advent reflections, sharing news of the book’s release with pastors across the diocese, saying that the book is “strongly recommended for parishes as well as individuals who look to further their walk with God, and to prepare for the coming of the Lord.”

While the book is suitable for people of any Christian denomination, it is predominantly Catholic, specifically focusing on Year B of the Catholic Liturgical Calendar. Walton plans for editions covering Year A and B if her publisher agrees. She has a wealth of her “Modern-Day Parables” to draw from for future offerings, having written over 100 of them with no shortage of inspiration.

Walton encourages readers to start the book the week of Nov. 27, as the first Sunday of Advent falls on Dec. 3. This year, the Advent season is a bit shorter, with the fourth week ending on Christmas Eve, explained Walton.

“Advent Reflections for this Day” is available for purchase at various local bookstores, including Lemuria (Jackson), Lorelei Books (Vicksburg), Book Mart and Café (Starkville), Impression Books (Flowood) and Pass Christian Books (Pass Christian and Gulfport). For those who prefer online shopping, the book can also be ordered at at a cost of $8.95.

Unlocking philanthropy: Catholic Foundation offers Charitable Gift Annuities to support your faith and financial future

By Joanna Puddister King

JACKSON – So many of us have large philanthropic hearts, but our wallets and budgets don’t allow us to make that large gift that is in our heart. The Catholic Foundation offers donors an opportunity to give a gift and receive income back called a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA).

Charitable Gift Annuities (CGA) are gaining popularity due to the rising payout rates. “Now is a great time to consider establishing a CGA,” said Rebecca Harris, executive director of the Catholic Foundation. “A CGA is a simple arrangement where assets are given and in return the donor will receive fixed lifetime payments.”

Harris can help walk anyone interested in CGAs through the process. This is a way for a donor to give a gift now, receive income, and help their parish, school, or favorite Catholic ministry. The Catholic Foundation and the Diocese of Jackson are partnering with Catholic Extension to work with donors on establishing a CGA.

“Many donors shy away from these types of donations because they feel they are too complicated for them. Our goal is to walk you through the process to determine if this is the right type of gift for you,” says Harris.

A CGA is a simple contract guaranteeing it will pay the donor a fixed lifetime income based on a donor’s age and gift size that can be for one or two annuitants, and the payouts can be deferred. This is often a preferred strategy for retirees who want to put their charitable dollars to work and not have to worry about giving away a large sum of your retirement at once. “Simply, it is a way to support your Catholic faith and retain your cash flow,” says Harris.

The primary benefit of a CGA is that the donor receives a fixed payment for life, no matter how long he or she may live. A portion of the payments are tax-free for a specified time. Further, because the donor is making a gift, a portion of the amount paid for the annuity is an immediate deductible charitable gift for income tax purposes, as allowable by IRS rules.

Harris says, funding a CGA can be done with cash, IRA required minimum distribution, and stocks and securities.

“If you are looking for a way to decrease your income tax obligation after retirement and support your Catholic faith, a CGA may be what you are looking for,” says Harris.

To receive a free illustration of your gift contact Rebecca Harris at (601) 960-8477. With a few details her office can provide you with a gift illustration. Included in the illustration is your potential charitable income tax deduction and your yearly payments for life as well as an estimated amount that will go to your beneficiary.

Catholic Charities aims to combat drug addiction in Leflore County

By Joanna Puddister King
GREENWOOD – On Friday, Sept. 22, a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked a significant milestone for Healing Hearts Family Counseling, a drug prevention program aimed at adolescents in Leflore County. The event was celebrated with enthusiasm as the program opened its doors in the former St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School.

When Wanda Thomas arrived as executive director of Catholic Charities of Jackson in 2019, she recalled receiving numerous calls from communities across the state, seeking assistance in filing gaps in services. To address those short-falls, Catholic Charities conducted a comprehensive assessment, looking at areas that needed support, while considering available resources, said Thomas.

The Delta region emerged as an area in critical need of assistance, backed by years of data and statistics. In 2022, an opportunity presented itself to Catholic Charities in the form of a grant designed to prevent substance abuse within the adolescent population. Recognizing the connection between substance abuse drug addiction, mental illness and an elevated risk of suicide, Catholic Charities seized the opportunity to provide these essential services.

GREENWOOD – Participants get ready for the official ribbon-cutting for Catholic Charities of Jackson’s Healing Hearts Family Counseling on Friday, Sept. 22. (Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities of Jackson)

The establishment of Healing Hearts Family Counseling and the unwavering support for Catholic Charities of Jackson highlight the community’s collective efforts to combat substance abuse and make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of adolescents and their families in Leflore County.

Jackie Lewis, program director of Healing Hearts shared a unique feature of the program with The Greenwood Commonwealth, stating that interactions through the program can occur at the program’s office, the family’s home, or in any other suitable location.

The program is also actively reaching out to adolescents and their families to provide crucial support and education on the dangers of drug abuse through engagement with local schools. The Greenwood Commonwealth reported that Healing Hearts completed a 12-week program at Delta Streets Academy and has plans to initiate similar programs at other schools within the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District.

Expressing gratitude for the support they receive, Thomas praised Catholic Charities supporters and volunteers. She remarked, “We are thankful for our supporters and volunteers who do not hesitate to reach out and roll up their sleeves to walk this journey alongside us and serve God’s people.”
Lewis says of the program, “at the end of the day, it’s not about what you have accomplished personally.”
“It’s about whose life you have made better.”

For those interested in reaching out to Healing Hearts Family Counseling, the program is located at 2615 US 82 East in Greenwood and can be reached at (601) 355-8634 for more information. With its commitment to the well-being of adolescents and families in Leflore County, Healing Hearts represents a vital addition to the region’s efforts to combat drug abuse and promote healthier communities.