MERIDIAN – Father Augustine in the Halloween spirit at his parish’s celebration. (Photo courtesy by St. Patrick)
COLUMBUS – Annunciation students trick or treat through classrooms. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)
By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – Father Odel Medina tugged at heartstrings as he read a letter written by a child pleading for his father’s freedom after being jailed since the federal agent raids on Mississippi last summer.
Missionary Servant Father Medina, pastor of St. Therese Kosciusko and St. Anne Carthage, was among the many people presenting testimonies and stories and expressing concerns during public hearings Nov. 7 in Tougaloo before U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security members.
Committee members attending the hearing included Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Rep. Al Green (D-TX.) Also on hand was Rep. Steven Cohen (D-TN), who heads up the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Looking back. More than 600 federal agents raided chicken processing plants across Mississippi Aug. 7 resulting in the arrests of 680 people. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid was the largest statewide workplace operation in U.S. history with a price tag of $1.3 million so far according to reports.
For the most part, those arrested were not dangerous criminals, but rather workers in many cases outstaying their visas. There were six more serious charges involving domestic violence and two cases of battery that were reported but details were unclear. One recent report indicated that 300 are still living in detention.
In the aftermath of the raids, many are calling the operation inhuman and unnecessary. During hearings, Jere Miles, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security investigation office in New Orleans, was questioned on the project’s costs. Other questions directed at him focused on the timing and execution of operations that took place on the first day of school when children were heading back to classes after the summer break.
According to reports, only county school districts were contacted about the raids. Communications with other schools were lacking and left educational facilities in crisis management at the end of the day when the parents were not there to pick up their children. Reports say that ICE provided 11 phones for the more the 680 detainees to use on that day to get in touch with loved ones and to seek help.
Miles defended his agency saying that his office was incompliance with the law, and as a result of the raid, 400 cases of illegally use of SSN or identity theft were found. When Mississippi Catholic questioned Miles about the outcome of the raids, he said, “After this hearing and each raid, the agency tries to learn how to improve this kind of operation. We are taking all the suggestions, but there are some things we cannot change because we need to take care of our country,” he explained about the administration’s press on immigration and security and enforcement efforts.
Several Catholic communities of the Diocese of Jackson have been facing the consequences of the immigration raids over the past months. In emergency response and social justice efforts, the diocese has been working with parishes to provide assistance to families faced with hardships struggling to pay rent, buy food and pay bills after heads of households lost work due to the raids.
Father Medina is heading up long-term recovery efforts at crisis centers established as part of the diocese’s humanitarian aid efforts in coordination with Catholic Charities and other community organizations joining in the outreach. Help including financial assistance and legal advice is offered as part of outreach to families in the parishes and also residents living within the community-at-large touched by the raids.
Father Mike O’Brien, pastor of Sacred Heart in Canton, and Father Roberto Mena, Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity and pastor of St. Michael Parish in Forest, are also part of the diocese’s humanitarian aid initiatives.
During the Tougaloo hearing, Father Medina gathered with community leaders who one-by-one shared their testimonies and concerns. They included Scott County Sheriff Mike Lee; Lorena Quiroz Lewis of Working Together Mississippi; Canton Mayor William Truly; Clift Johnson, director of MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law and Attorney Constance Slaughter-Harvey, president of the Board of Legacy Education and Empowerment Foundation.
One of the most troubling aspects of the raids on the minds of many speaking at the hearing is the difficult situations of the families, who are struggling to make ends meet. According to records, about 1,000 children are affected by the raids including the minors now without both parents and the ongoing psychological, economic and social effects. The language barrier between Guatemalan detainees, who speak Mam, a Mayan language, is also a concern that calls for special translators.
Monserrat Ramirez and Roberto Tijerina, members of Southerners on New Ground (SONG), broadcasted the hearing on the Facebook page of Mississippi Resiste, a grassroots organization dedicated to helping the immigrant community.
SONG’s activists from Mississippi and other states are uniting forces with South East Immigrant Rights Network. Together, they are creating a network of individuals including lawyers, local authorities and Catholic lay and priests giving time and talents to help families in need of assistance and to get back on their feet.
During hearings, Father Medina talked about the generous support received from people everywhere after the raids. Donations poured into Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Jackson from 40 different states and several organizations reflecting the compassion and concerns that the people of the United States of America have for the immigrant families of Mississippi now in crisis and seeking social justice, guidance and help.
Father Medina thanked members of the committee for his opportunity to speak on the behalf of people in the diocese’s family of parishes and to read the letter of the child from his own parish family hurting and traumatized in the aftermath of the raids. “I assure you of my prayers. God bless you,” said the priest with a heavy heart, as he closed his talk.
(Linda Reeves contributed to this story.)
December features two significant Marian holidays: The Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8 and Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12. Bishop John Joseph Chanche, first bishop of the Diocese of Jackson had a special devotion to Immaculate Conception and helped bring the devotion to the United States.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is Patroness of the Americas. The feast celebrates Maria’s appearance to San Juan Diego.
The Diocese of Jackson has hosted observance of this feast since 1979, when the Bishops Joseph Brunini and William R. Houck and father Mario Vizacaino of SEPI celebrated the first Spanish Mass. The Guadalupe celebrations will include processions, the Holy Rosary, Mass, a dramatization of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, “Mañanitas” (traditional Mexican birthday song).
Posadas is a Latin tradition to recreate the trip Joseph and Mary undertook seeking refuge. Many communities will organize multi-day Inns as part of the Advent season.
Here is a list of Guadalupe celebrations throughout the diocese. For more details and schedules of Posadas, please contact your parish.
Amory, St. Helen –Thursday, Dec. 12
Canton, Sacred Heart – Sunday Dec. 15, 9:30 am
Carthage, St. Anne – Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m.
Cleveland, Our Lady of Victories – Thursday, Dec. 12, 5:30 p.m.
Corinth, St. James de Less – Saturday, Dec. 14, 6 p.m.
Forest, St. Michael – Thursday, Dec. 12, 6 p.m. and Guadalupana at Krudop Center, Sunday, Dec. 15, 11 a.m.
Greenville, Sacred Heart – Thursday, Dec. 12, 6 p.m.
Greenwood, St. Francis – Thursday, Dec. 12, 6 p.m.
Hazlehurst, St. Martin – Mañanitas, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 7-9 p.m. and Mass, Thursday, Dec 12, 6.30 p.m.
Holly Springs, St. Joseph – Thursday, Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m.
Houston, Immaculate Heart of Mary – Mañanitas, Dec. 12, 5 a.m., and Mass, 7 p.m.
Jackson, St. Peter Cathedral – Sunday, Dec. 8, 11:30 a.m.
Jackson, St Therese – Mañanitas, Thursday, Dec. 12, 8-10 p.m. and Mass, Sunday, Dec. 15, 12:30 p.m.
Kosciusko, St. Therese – Sunday, Dec. 15, 1 p.m.
Meridian, St. Patrick – Sunday, Dec. 8, 2:30 p.m.
New Albany, St. Francis – Sunday, December 15, 6 p.m.
Olive Branch, Queen the Peace – Thursday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m.
Oxford, St. John – Mañanitas and Guadalupana Mass, Thursday, Dec.12, 4:30 a.m.
Pearl, St. Jude – Saturday, Dec.14, 7 p.m.
Pontotoc, St. Christopher – Wednesday, Dec. 11, 6 p.m. Mañanitas, Thursday, Dec. 12, 5:30 a.m.
Ripley, St. Matthew – Bilingual Mass, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m.; Mañanitas at midnight; Mass, Thursday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m.
Senatobia, St. Gregory – Thursday, Dec. 12 at 5:30 pm
Southaven, Christ the King – Mañanitas, Thursday, Dec. 12, 5:30 a.m. and Mass at 7 p.m.
Tupelo, St. James – Sunday, December 15, 11 a.m.
By Dan Stockman
LEXINGTON – It’s a Wednesday, and three teenagers are in Sr. Sheila Conley’s tiny office, learning about finances.
Less than a block away, Sr. Mary Walz, a social worker, is at the Lexington Medical Clinic, running a diabetes education program.
Down the road in Durant, Sr. Madeline Kavanaugh is working on a statewide re-entry program for people being released from the state prison system.
The three sisters are continuing the ministries of Sr. Paula Merrill, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky, and Sr. Margaret Held of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee. Held and Merrill were murdered Aug. 25, 2016, after working in the area for six years and ministering to those kept poor for some 30 years, mostly in Mississippi. They were nurse practitioners and both worked at the Lexington Medical Clinic.
On Nov. 20, 2017, Kavanaugh, Conley and Walz moved into the house Merrill and Held had shared and started their own work in the area. Their arrival “meant a new beginning, a fresh start. It meant that we were going to survive,” says Sam Sample, a parishioner at St. Thomas Church in Lexington and a friend of all five sisters.
Conley’s students have already completed the Career Ready 101 class at the Lexington Multi-Purpose Complex, which consists of 200 hours of learning how to be employable, such as understanding you have to show up to work, on time, every day.
“There’s a great vocational school where they can become an electrician or be certified to drive a forklift,” Conley, a Sister of Charity of Halifax, Nova Scotia, says later. “But they don’t know how to keep a job.”
Today, the subject is credit: credit cards, credit scores, credit card bills. They know there are credit cards and debit cards, but the only difference between them they know about is that a debit card needs a PIN; they don’t know one operates on credit and the other requires money in the bank.
The classes that provide real-world lessons existed before Conley got here, but they were only online, and the students didn’t have much success afterward. Now, they have Conley, a no-nonsense sister with a sharp wit, lots of stories and experience, and a mission to change their lives.
Since so many patients at the Lexington Medical Clinic have some form of diabetes, Walz, a Daughter of Charity, comes in contact with almost all of them.
“It gives you access to people who would never consider talking to a social worker,” Walz says. “There are so many social aspects to diabetes. The doctors say, ‘Lose weight, eat right, blah blah blah,’ and it just overwhelms them. But one-on-one, you can really address the issues, from poverty to transportation to healthy cooking.”
Like many rural areas, Lexington has few grocery stores and little fresh produce. Most people don’t know how to make healthy food choices, she says. They can’t find healthy food to buy and don’t know how to prepare it if they find it.
Walz also helps patients navigate the often-bewildering world of public assistance and nonprofit programs to cover co-pays, find transportation, or get expensive hearing aids.
“The staff told me, ‘They’re calling you the Diabetes Lady,'” Walz said. “I told them, ‘I’ve been called worse.'”
Kavanaugh, a Daughter of Charity, works with Marvin Edwards, a Secular Franciscan, on the prison re-entry program, the Mississippi Association for Returning Citizens (MARC). The program, “Getting Ahead While Getting Out,” is designed to help people get out of poverty.
“They learn a lot of self-evaluation skills — how to evaluate their anger and their personality,” Kavanaugh says. “It’s very strong on studying the financial reality of the country so they can understand how it works and how to get ahead. Before they leave prison, they have to have a plan. Not just a plan for the first 72 hours, but a plan for life.”
Plans often go haywire, and none of the three sisters had ever planned on ministering in rural Mississippi. But it didn’t take long for them to realize they are exactly where God wants them to be.
Though it had been more than a year since Held and Merrill died, the community they served was still reeling when Conley, Kavanaugh and Walz moved in.
“What happened was catastrophic to this town,” says Sample, a real-estate agent who helped the three new sisters rent Held and Merrill’s house.
Held and Merrill had been stabbed to death in their bedrooms in a breaking-and-entering. Rodney Earl Sanders of Kosciusko, a town about 18 miles east of Durant, was convicted of two counts of murder and is serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole plus 30 years for burglary and stealing one of the sisters’ cars.
Sam Sample says he stood dumbfounded in front of the house, which was surrounded by police tape, when he got the news, unable to process it. When he called his wife, Jamie to tell her, she collapsed. She was so distraught, she was unable to drive.
“Our little world just crashed,” he says.
Cardell Wright, city manager for the City of Durant, says he didn’t know Merrill and Held personally, but it is impossible to escape their reputation.
“They exemplified holiness,” Wright says. “Something that tragic — it shook the community. When something like that happens to people of that caliber, it has a big effect on society.”
Today, the work of Conley, Kavanaugh and Walz is having a big effect, as well.
“When you see them, you know what they stand for. You know what they embody,” Wright says. “They’ve changed my own mentality of what I thought sisters were. I thought they were isolated and stayed off by themselves. The sisters here are invested in our community, and especially our young people. They’ve been very instrumental and one of our biggest donors and supporters.”
For example, Walz helped Wright organize a project for the Mayor’s Youth Council. The teens collected hundreds of pounds of plastic bottle caps, and Walz put them in touch with Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Indiana, which makes benches out of the material. She then arranged for Wright to stay with the Daughters of Charity in Evansville so he could deliver the plastic and pick up the completed benches.
“We collected 950 pounds of plastic, and the Daughters of Charity donated another 300 pounds to us. They had sisters around the nation sending them in,” Wright says. “They’re unstoppable.”
The project resulted in several benches now installed around Durant, but more importantly, Wright says, it showed the teens how to follow through on a project and accomplish something.
Even more meaningful, though, was when students held a protest against gun violence after the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting, and Wright spotted the sisters joining the march.
“Just to see their involvement — they support us,” he says. “It made my day to see one of the sisters come out and march with us. They were right there, talking about protecting our kids.”
Wright marvels at the sisters’ creativity and resourcefulness.
“It’s the connections. It’s about uplifting one another,” he says. “They want the community to progress.”
Though none of the three sisters had lived in Mississippi before, when the Sisters of Charity Federation asked for sisters to consider serving in Durant, they each answered.
Conley, who works with the youth programs in Lexington, had a career in education. Kavanaugh, who works on the re-entry program, spent 17 years serving in Bolivia, four years in the Cook Islands and three years as the pastoral administrator of a parish in tiny Georgetown, South Carolina. Walz, now at the Lexington Medical Clinic, had a career that included 25 years in social work and three years developing health and social service centers for people who live in poverty. She worked for 14 years in rural Gould, Arkansas.
Holmes County, though, is a challenge: 41% of the population lives in poverty, and the median income is $20,330 a year, less than half the median income for Mississippi and the second-lowest in the nation. The national median income is $57,652. The unemployment rate is 12.2%, more than triple the national unemployment rate of 3.7%. Twenty-five percent of those over 25 do not have a high school diploma.
“It’s generational poverty. You have children having children, and it’s the third or fourth generation of that,” Kavanaugh says. “Now, we’re hearing about job opportunities, but people don’t have the skills to get them or keep them.”
There’s a new plastics factory opening soon — a big deal in a county of 17,622 where businesses only employ 1,981 people — but there is no public transportation. Holmes County Central High School ranks 228th out of 233 high schools in Mississippi. Wages in the area are low, so even those with jobs often struggle.
Conley says people living in poverty don’t have stable lives, so they often lose Social Security cards and birth certificates, the documents needed to apply for jobs, job training or almost anything else.
“There’s a lot of discouragement,” Walz says. “There’s so many parts of their lives that are out of their control, whether it’s financial or transportation or housing.”
Walz says the sisters know they won’t change Holmes County overnight, but it’s important they make an effort, and their ministry makes an important statement about the church and women religious.
“It’s our little attempt to be present. The county was traumatized by [the murders]. Durant was traumatized by this event,” she says. “It’s that sense that sisters haven’t given up on them because of this tragedy.”
Walz says people often ask if she is afraid to live in the home where two sisters were killed.
“Not for one second,” she says. “It’s like holy ground.”
(Reprinted with permission by Global Sisters Report, visit GlobalSistersReport.org).
By Terry Dickson
BILOXI – Bishop Roger P. Morin, the third bishop of Biloxi, died Oct. 31 at age 78. He was returning to Biloxi after vacationing with his family in Massachusetts and died during his flight from Boston to Atlanta.
“This is a sad day for our diocese. I was shocked to hear the news,” Biloxi Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III said in a statement.
“Bishop Morin was a kind and gentle man who truly embodied his episcopal motto as one who walked humbly and acted justly,” he said. “When I was named bishop of Biloxi in 2016, Bishop Morin was most gracious and accommodating. I am forever grateful for his support, wise counsel and, most of all, his friendship. He will be sorely missed.”
Bishop Morin was named to head the Diocese of Biloxi by Pope Benedict XVI March 2, 2009, and was installed in April at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the late Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, and Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama.
His episcopal motto was “Walk Humbly and Act Justly.” He retired in 2016 at age 75.
A native of Dracut, Massachusetts, he was born March 7, 1941, the son of Germain J. and Lillian E. Morin. He has one brother, Paul, and three sisters, Lillian “Pat” Johnson, Elaine (Ray) Joncas and Susan Spellissy.
After high school and college studies, he earned a bachelor’s in philosophy in 1966 from St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts and continued theology studies at St. John’s for two years of graduate school. In 1967 he went to New Orleans to work in its new summer Witness program, conducted by the archdiocesan Social Apostolate.
When he returned to New Orleans in 1968, he became director of The Center, a neighborhood social service organization run by the Social Apostolate. He enrolled at Notre Dame Seminary, studying in the evenings and on Saturdays in addition to his full-time position at The Center. He earned a master’s of divinity degree in theology at the seminary.
He was ordained to the priesthood by New Orleans Archbishop Philip M. Hannan April 15, 1971, in his home parish of St. Therese in Dracut. His first parish assignment was at St. Henry Parish in New Orleans. In 1973, he was appointed associate director of the Social Apostolate and in 1975 became the director, responsible for the operation of nine year-round social service centers sponsored by the archdiocese.
Bishop Morin had a master of science degree in urban studies from Tulane University and in 1974 completed a program as a community economic developer. Bishop Morin was the founding president of Second Harvest Food Bank.
In 1978, he was a volunteer member of Mayor Ernest “Dutch” Morial’s transition team dealing with federal programs and then accepted a $1 a year position as deputy special assistant to the mayor for federal programs and projects.
Then-Father Morin served the city of New Orleans until 1981, when he was appointed New Orleans archdiocesan vicar for community affairs, with responsibility over nine agencies: Catholic Charities, Social Apostolate, human relations, alcoholics’ ministry, Apostleship of the Sea, cemeteries, disaster relief, hospitals and prisons. He was named a monsignor by St. John Paul II in 1985.
He was in residence at Incarnate Word Parish beginning in 1981 and served as pastor there from 1988 through April 2002.
One of the highlights of his priesthood came in 1987 when he directed the New Orleans Archdiocese’s preparations for St. John Paul’s historic visit to New Orleans. The visit involved thousands of community volunteers and coordination among national, state and local religious and political leaders.
He also coordinated the events of the bicentennial of the archdiocese in 1993. In 1995, Bishop Morin received the Weiss Brotherhood Award presented by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for his service in the field of human relations.
St. John Paul named him an auxiliary bishop of New Orleans Feb. 11, 2003; his episcopal ordination was April 22 of that year. He was vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese 2001-2009.
Bishop Morin was a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development 2005-2013, and served as chairman 2008-2010. During that time, he also was a member of the Domestic Justice and Human Development and the National Collections committees.
Bishop Morin’s funeral Mass was held at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral on Thursday, Nov. 7 in Biloxi.
In ordinary and extraordinary periods, by God’s grace, we are to persevere in loving all that is holy, good and worthy of praise, to do justice and to walk humbly with our God.
By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
The Word of God at our Saturday evening and Sunday celebrations in late autumn and early winter challenges us with a spirit of urgency to consider our daily choices and the impact they have on our relationships with God, others and ourselves. The Lord Jesus, in last Sunday’s Gospel addressed the trauma of natural disasters and the inevitable persecutions and martyrdom that will crash in upon many of his faithful disciples. Are these the telltale signs of the end times? Not really, Jesus responds, but be assured that the Holy Spirit, the pledge of eternal life, dwells within you and “by perseverance you will save your lives.” The prophet Malachi boldly pronounces that “for those who fear the name of the Lord, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” Our sung or spoken response followed, “The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.” Indeed! Meanwhile, Saint Paul, in harmony with the Lord’s Gospel teaching on perseverance, instructed his beloved brothers and sisters in Thessalonica, living in anticipation of the second coming, that daily life has a righteous pattern right up to the moment when the Lord comes again, or comes to take each one of you. “In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat … We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.” In ordinary and extraordinary periods, by God’s grace, we are to persevere in loving all that is holy, good and worthy of praise, to do justice and to walk humbly with our God.
Returning from the annual Bishops Conference in Baltimore, I mulled over the range of urgent matters that were addressed in the course of four days. My three year term on the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People is now complete and I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve with laity, priests and bishops from around the country who are committed to the promise to protect and the pledge to heal all who have experienced the crime and suffer through the trauma of sexual abuse as minors. Likewise, I am proud of the dedication throughout our diocese for all who embrace this just cause and remain vigilant, as our recently completed audit confirmed.
During the Conference, Bishop Robert Barron offered a clear-cut path for evangelization in our post-modern culture, an urgent matter, especially in light of the heavy attrition away from religious faith among the younger generations. What is the urgent response? His research attests that works of justice, the beauty of our liturgies and church architecture, music and art, the depth and height and breath of our intellectual tradition, and the wise and savvy engagement of social media are, individually and collectively, avenues to invite those on the margins of religious faith to encounter the crucified and risen Lord. The ultimate good, beauty and truth, after-all, is a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and a life in service of God’s Kingdom. It is a way of life marked by purpose and promise, but it also invites rejection, hostility and persecution.
Bishop Barron offered this reflection through the lens of last Sunday’s Gospel from Saint Luke. “Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus describes the world’s violent resistance to the establishment of God’s kingdom. From the earliest days until the present, the community of Jesus Christ has been the focus of the world’s violence. The old principle of “killing the messenger” applies here. The Church will announce until the end of time, that the old order is passing away, that a new world of love, nonviolence and life is emerging. This announcement always infuriates the world of sin — always. The twentieth century proved this by being the bloodiest on record and the century with the most martyrs.”
Therefore, in ordinary time we witness, through service, worship, teaching and by employing the latest in communications. In extraordinary times, we die for the faith, knowing that the blood of the martyrs, more than all other efforts of evangelization combined, will guarantee that the Church, the Body of Christ, will endure to the end of time. In the vast landscape in which the church lives and moves and has its being, both in longevity and in our manifold mission, there is potentially a home for many at the banquet of life. A personal faith that sees the urgency of a life well lived in the Lord can manifest itself in his mandate to make disciples through Word, Worship, Service and Social Justice, from the foundation of life in the womb until eternity dawns through the door of death. Along with Bishop Barron, Bishop Nauman, the Chair of the Committee on Pro-Life spoke eloquently about the commitment to create a culture of life where every unborn child can find a home. Likewise, Bishop Mark Sis and Bishop Shelton Fabre addressed the urgent necessity for just immigration reform and a nation free of the scourge of racism.
There are many forces that work to undermine perseverance in the faith, but there are many paths that lead to life. The greatest assurance for the believer is the promised Holy Spirit whose loving power endures forever. May the crucified and risen Lord grant us a season of refreshment and hope, individually, in our families, and in all of our communities of faith, a spirit of perseverance that will enable us to save our lives.
Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
La Palabra de Dios en nuestras celebraciones de sábado por la tarde y domingo a fines del otoño y principios del invierno nos retan con un espíritu de urgencia a considerar nuestras elecciones diarias y el impacto que tienen en nuestras relacione con Dios, los demás y nosotros mismos. El Señor Jesús, en el Evangelio del domingo pasado, abordó el trauma de los desastres naturales y las inevitables persecuciones y martirios que golpearían a muchos de sus fieles discípulos.
¿Son estos los signos reveladores de los últimos tiempos? En realidad, no, Jesús responde, pero tenga la seguridad de que el Espíritu Santo, la promesa de la vida eterna, habita dentro de usted y “con perseverancia salvará sus vidas”. El profeta Malaquías pronuncia audazmente que “para aquellos que temen el nombre del Señor,” surgirá el sol de la justicia con sus rayos curativos “. Nuestra respuesta cantada o hablada siguió:” El Señor viene a gobernar la tierra con justicia.“ ¡Por supuesto!
Mientras tanto, San Pablo, en armonía con las enseñanzas del Evangelio del Señor sobre la perseverancia, instruyó a sus amados hermanos y hermanas en Tesalónica, viviendo en previsión de la segunda venida, que la vida diaria tiene un patrón justo hasta el momento en que el Señor vuelva a llevarse a cada uno de ustedes. “De hecho, cuando estuvimos con usted, le indicamos que, si alguien no estaba dispuesto a trabajar, tampoco debería comer … Oímos que algunos se están comportando entre ustedes de manera desordenada, al no mantenerse ocupados sino ocuparse del negocio de otros.” En períodos ordinarios y extraordinarios, por la gracia de Dios, debemos perseverar en amar todo lo que es santo, bueno y digno de alabanza, hacer justicia y caminar humildemente con nuestro Dios.
Al regresar de la Conferencia Anual de los Obispos en Baltimore, reflexioné sobre la variedad de asuntos urgentes que se abordaron en el transcurso de cuatro días. Mi período de tres años en el Comité para la Protección de Niños y Jóvenes ha finalizado y estoy agradecido por haber tenido la oportunidad de servir con laicos, sacerdotes y obispos de todo el país que están comprometidos con la promesa de proteger y la promesa. para sanar a todos los que han experimentado el crimen y sufren el trauma del abuso sexual como menores. Del mismo modo, estoy orgulloso de la dedicación en toda nuestra diócesis para todos los que abrazan esta causa justa y permanecen atentos, como lo confirmó nuestra auditoría recientemente completada.
Durante la Conferencia, el Obispo Robert Barron ofreció un camino claro para la evangelización en nuestra cultura posmoderna, un asunto urgente, especialmente a la luz del fuerte desgaste de la fe religiosa entre las generaciones más jóvenes. ¿Cuál es la respuesta urgente? Su investigación atestigua que las obras de justicia, la belleza de nuestras liturgias, la arquitectura de la iglesia, la música y el arte, la profundidad, altura y aliento de nuestra tradición intelectual, y el compromiso sabio e inteligente de las redes sociales son, individual y colectivamente, caminos para invitar, a aquellos al margen de la fe religiosa para encontrar al Señor crucificado y resucitado. El bien, la belleza y la verdad fundamentales, después de todo, es una relación personal con el Señor Jesús, el Camino, la Verdad y la Vida, y una vida al servicio del Reino de Dios. Es una forma de vida marcada por el propósito y la promesa, pero también invita al rechazo, la hostilidad y la persecución.
El obispo Barron ofreció esta reflexión a través del lente del Evangelio del domingo pasado de San Lucas. “Amigos, en el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús describe la resistencia violenta del mundo al establecimiento del reino de Dios. Desde los primeros días hasta el presente, la comunidad de Jesucristo ha sido el foco de la violencia del mundo. El viejo principio de ‘matar al mensajero’ se aplica aquí. La Iglesia anunciará hasta el fin de los tiempos, que el viejo orden está desapareciendo, que está surgiendo un nuevo mundo de amor, no violencia y vida. Este anuncio siempre enfurece al mundo del pecado, siempre. El siglo XX lo demostró siendo el más sangriento de la historia y el siglo con más mártires.“
Por lo tanto, en el tiempo ordinario somos testigos, a través del servicio, la adoración, la enseñanza y empleando lo último en comunicaciones. En tiempos extraordinarios, morimos por la fe, sabiendo que la sangre de los mártires, más que todos los demás esfuerzos de evangelización combinados, garantizará que la Iglesia, el Cuerpo de Cristo, perdure hasta el fin de los tiempos. En el vasto paisaje en el que la iglesia vive, se mueve y tiene su ser, tanto en la longevidad como en nuestra misión múltiple, hay potencialmente un hogar para muchos en el banquete de la vida. Una fe personal que ve la urgencia de una vida bien vivida en el Señor puede manifestarse en su mandato de hacer discípulos a través de la Palabra, la Adoración, el Servicio y la Justicia Social, desde la fundación de la vida en el útero hasta que la eternidad amanezca a través de la puerta de muerte.
Junto con el Obispo Barron, el Obispo Nauman, el presidente del Comité de Pro-Vida habló elocuentemente sobre el compromiso de crear una cultura de vida donde cada niño no nacido pueda encontrar un hogar. Asimismo, el obispo Mark Sis y el obispo Shelton Fabre abordaron la urgente necesidad de una reforma migratoria justa y una nación libre del flagelo del racismo.
Hay muchas fuerzas que trabajan para socavar la perseverancia en la fe, pero hay muchos caminos que conducen a la vida. La mayor seguridad para el creyente es el Espíritu Santo prometido, cuyo poder amoroso perdura para siempre. Que el Señor crucificado y resucitado nos conceda una temporada de refrigerio y esperanza, individualmente, en nuestras familias y en todas nuestras comunidades de fe, un espíritu de perseverancia que nos permitirá salvar nuestras vidas.
By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Liturgical musicians have the unique calling to interpret God’s will and love through song and praise, Pope Francis said.
“Every Christian, in fact, is an interpreter of the will of God in his or her own life, and by his or her life sings a joyful hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God,” the pope said Nov. 9 during a meeting with participants at a Vatican conference on interpreting sacred music.
The conference, titled “Church, Music, Interpreters: A Necessary Dialogue,” was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music and the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm.
Reflecting on the conference theme, the pope said most people think of interpreters as a kind of translator who conveys what “he or she has received in such a way that another person can understand it.”
Although good interpreters in the field of music essentially “translate” what a composer has written, they also should feel “great humility before a work of art that is not their property,” and to “bring out the beauty of the music.”
Within the context of the liturgy, he added, music is a way for Christians “to serve others through the works they perform.”
“Every interpreter is called to develop a distinctive sensibility and genius in the service of art which refreshes the human spirit and in service to the community,” the pope said. “This is especially the case if the interpreter carries out a liturgical ministry.”
Pope Francis thanked the participants for their commitment and – citing the words of his predecessor St. Paul VI – said that music ministers have the great task of “grasping treasures from the heavenly realm of the spirit and clothing them in words, colors and forms, thus making them accessible.”
“The artist, the interpreter and – in the case of music – the listener, all have the same desire,” the pope said: “To understand what beauty, music and art allow us to know of God’s grandeur. Now perhaps more than ever, men and women have need of this. Interpreting that reality is essential for today’s world.”
(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)
It is intimidating to promote vocations. It is difficult to encourage groups of young men and women to think about something that perhaps they’ve never thought about before, or even considered. It is easy to get discouraged and become timid. In prayer the other day I was reassured that even the saints had their doubts. As the Lord is asking Moses to go back to Egypt and free the Israelites from bondage, Moses exclaims “O my Lord, please send someone else!” (Ex. 4:13b) This feeling of fear must be acknowledged and then fought. It is based on a false notion of what we are on this earth to do.
We are not called to be comfortable all the time or to never put ourselves out there in vulnerability. By our baptism and confirmation, we are called to “go, make disciples.” (Mt. 28:19) Calling forth young men and women and encouraging them to consider religious life is a vital part of that mandate and it is one that will bear fruit if we are stubbornly, doggedly and courageously persistent.
The first week in November was Vocation Awareness Week. I had a wonderful time with our Springfield Dominicans who hosted a social for vocations at their house at St. Dominic. I played dodgeball with sixth graders at St. Richard School. I spoke to the youth group at St. Jude Pearl. I attended and assisted at a “Come and See” retreat at St. Joseph Seminary College. I don’t know which of those young people that I interacted with has a call within his or her heart to dedicate themselves to the Lord in Holy Orders or consecrated life, but all I have to know is that my call is to ask and encourage and accompany. I ask for your prayers in this effort. I ask you to encourage young men and women in your parishes and schools and tell them to contact me if they have any questions or just want to talk about vocations. Again, we have a brand new website www.jacksonpriests.com with tons of information and opportunities for discernment. For me, it is not Vocations Awareness Week, it is Vocations Awareness Life! May it be the same for all priests and religious in our diocese, that we fearlessly promote a life that reminds the world that God is real and that literally brings His grace into the world.
Friday, Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2020 – Annual Notre Dame Pre-Discernment trip. Open to men of any age who are open to a call to priesthood, we will spend three days on the campus of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.
Friday, Feb. 7-9, 2020 – Nashville Dominicans’ Jesu Caritas Retreat. Retreat is open to single, Catholic women, ages 17-30. These weekend retreats explore different topics, offering spiritual insight for those who love the Church. There are opportunities to speak with the sisters and to meet others who have an earnest desire for God.
Contact the Office of Vocations if interested in attending any of these events.