GLUCKSTADT – St. Joseph parish hosted the 33rd annual GermanFest on Sunday, Sept. 29 on the church grounds. The Gluckstadt community was founded in 1905 by German immigrants. Many of the decendants of the original families still attend St. Joseph. Much prep work goes into planning this fun-filled festival. Families gather weeks in advance to can sauerkraut using a traditional recipe. In the days leading up to the GermanFest you can find parishioners preparing sausages, bratwurst, desserts and other German delicacies to share with the community. This year, GermanFest was a hot one with temps in the upper 90s, but festival goers had lots of fun, good food and a variety of beer to sample. Children enjoyed games, like mini golf and won lots of goodies and treats. This year, festival goers were able to see some featured German vehicles and participate in the second year of the beer stein holding competition.
JACKSON – St. Richard students had a special school Mass on Wednesday, Oct. 2 to assign “Guardian Angels.” Sixth graders serve as “Guardian Angels” to second grade students to help guide them through their First Reconciliation and First Communion sacraments. Each pair will meet with each other for the rest of the school year. (Photos by Tereza Ma)
Fall means festivals and events at our churches and schools across the diocese. Full of food, music, games and culture, these events are fantastic fundraisers that our Catholic community holds, but all are welcome to join the fun. Although many festivals have already happened, there is more fall fun scheduled around the diocese. Consider checking out the following fall events: FLOWOOD – St. Paul Trunk or Treat, Friday, Oct. 25 7:30 p.m. JACKSON – St. Richard Cardinal Fest, Sunday, Oct. 27, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. GRENADA – St. Peter Harvest Fest, Sunday, Oct. 27, 4-7 p.m. CLEVELAND – Our Lady of Victories Halloween Carnival, Sunday, Oct. 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m. MADISON – St. Joseph School, Trunk or Treat, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 5-7 p.m. and St. Anthony Fall Festival and Open House, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2 p.m.
Blessing of the pets ceremonies are part of the celebration for the Feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, in remembrance for his love of all creatures. This time of year, people bring a procession of animals, everything from dogs and cats to snakes, lizards, to churches for a special ceremony. The love we give to pets and receive in return from pets draws us into the circle of life and our relationship to God.
MADISON – St. Francis of Assisi Parish celebrates its patron saint with Taste of St. Francis, held on Sunday, Oct. 6. The festival honors the many nations and cultures present at the parish. Parishioners share dishes from their home country or a dish of their choosing. They are invited to decorate a table with cultural items or offer a dance or music from their homeland. St. Francis parishioners also enjoyed music from Deacon César Sánchez of Mexico. (Photos by Melissa Smalley)
Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
Las Sagradas Escrituras, proclamadas en todas las Misas del fin de semana pasado, fueron textos inspirados a principios de octubre, dedicados a la visión provida de la Iglesia para nuestro mundo. Un mundo convulsionado por la violencia, la destrucción, el abuso y el abandono. El profeta Habacuc lamenta la devastación de la comunidad humana y la de la Jerusalén del antiguo Israel y pide ayuda a Dios.
“Señor, ¿hasta cuándo gritaré pidiendo ayuda sin que tú me escuches?, ¿hasta cuándo clamaré a causa de violencia sin que vengas a librarnos?”
La respuesta de Dios al profeta no puso fin de inmediato a la violencia, ni a la amenaza inminente de devastación de parte de los Caldeos, sino que invitó a Habacuc a aumentar su fe y ensanchar sus horizontes para entender la visión de Dios para Israel. “Escribe en tablas de barro lo que te voy a mostrar, de modo que pueda leerse de corrido. Aún no ha llegado el momento de que esta visión se cumpla, pero no dejara de cumplirse. Tú espera, aunque parezca tardar, pues llegara en el momento preciso. Escribe que los malvados son orgullosos, pero los justos vivirán por su fidelidad a Dios.”
Del Evangelio de Lucas, del fin de semana pasado, escuchamos la súplica de los discípulos al Señor para aumentar su fe. Similar a la respuesta del Dios de Israel en la primera lectura, Jesús respondió: “si ustedes tuvieran fe, aunque solo fuera del tamaño de una semilla de mostaza” del tamaño de una semilla de mostaza”, podrías hacer mucho más. Podrías cambiar el paisaje de este mundo en nombre del Reino de Dios tan virulentamente como el Kudzu (planta trepadora) lo hace a su paso.
Como escuchamos en la segunda lectura de la carta de San Pablo a Timoteo, intercalada entre Habacuc y Lucas, muchos de los primeros discípulos permitieron que el Espíritu Santo aumentara su fe, don y tesoro que moran adentro a través de la fe y el bautismo. San Pablo se dirigió a ellos y a todos nosotros, cuando escribió: “pues Dios no nos ha dado un espíritu de temor, sino un espíritu de poder, de amor y de buen juicio.”
El Espíritu Santo, por supuesto, inspira la visión provida de la Iglesia Católica para nuestra nación y para nuestro mundo. El derecho a la vida de los no nacidos es la base de la totalidad de la postura inquebrantable e intrépida de la Iglesia ante el mundo. La oración firme, la fe viva y la solidaridad con los cristianos y todas las personas de buena voluntad son necesarias para fomentar la conversión, un cambio de corazón y de mente frente a una “cultura desechable,” en palabras del Papa Francisco, que incluye a los no nacidos.
Los comportamientos sexuales que tienen poco respeto por el autocontrol y el amor que perdura, y avivado por los contaminantes de la pornografía generalizada, abarata aún más el don de la sexualidad y la preciosidad de la vida en el útero. Recrear un jardín de vida, justicia y paz es desalentador para cada generación de discípulos, pero es la obra del Señor y tenemos el privilegio de fomentar la visión de Dios para este mundo.
¿Nos presiona la tentación a desanimarse y a sucumbir al cinismo y la indiferencia? ¡Por supuesto!
Volvamos a las palabras finales de Habacuc para permitirle al Señor aumentar nuestra fe y a encontrar el estímulo para soportar nuestra parte de las dificultades que conlleva el Evangelio. “Entonces me llenaré de alegría a causa del Señor mi salvador. Le alabaré, aunque no florezcan las higueras ni den fruto los viñedos y los olivares; aunque los campos no den su cosecha; aunque se acaben los rebaños de ovejas y no haya reses en los establos. Porque el Señor me da fuerzas; da a mis piernas la ligereza del ciervo y me lleva a alturas donde estaré a salvo.”
Dios nunca para de restaurar e inspirar los corazones y las mentes de los que tienen hambre de cultivar el jardín de la vida en este mundo. La visión comienza con la vida en el útero y continúa a través de las etapas de la vida de una persona. La dignidad humana perdura hasta el momento del último suspiro cuando el alma única, el aliento del Dios viviente, nace en la vida eterna.
Esta es nuestra esperanza en Jesucristo. Por lo tanto, conscientes de que nuestra ciudadanía está en el cielo y que la vida en este mundo tiene un valor eterno, podemos volver a comprometernos a trabajar en nombre de la dignidad de la persona humana mientras nosotros mismos tenemos el aliento de vida. Entre el comienzo y el final de la vida en este mundo, hay legiones de discípulos dedicados que dan su vida diariamente en nombre de la vida, la justicia y la paz.
Más adelante, en este mes dedicado a provida, podemos arrojar luz sobre los muchos caminos que conducen a la vida y a construir el Reino de Dios en este mundo que están prosperando en nuestra diócesis y más allá. La red de la vida, que abarca la visión provida, es una intrincada obra maestra que debe nutrirse en su totalidad. Paz para ti y para todos los que aprecian las Buenas Nuevas del amor de Dios en Jesucristo en este mundo.
By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
The Sacred Scripture proclaimed at all Masses last weekend were inspired texts at the outset of the month of October which is devoted to the Church’s pro-life vision for our world. A world convulsed by violence, destruction, abuse and neglect. The prophet Habakkuk laments the devastation to the human community and to the Jerusalem of ancient Israel and pleas to God for relief. “How long, O Lord? I cry for help, but you do not listen! I cry out to you, violence, but you do not intervene.” God’s response to the prophet did not immediately end the violence, nor the impending threat of devastation from the Chaldeans, but rather invited Habakkuk to increase his faith and expand his horizons in order to understand God’s vision for Israel. “Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one because of his faith, shall live.”
From the Gospel of Luke last weekend we hear the disciples’ plea to the Lord to increase their faith. Similar to the response of Israel’s God in the first reading, Jesus replied, “if you had faith the size of a mustard seed” you could do so much more. You could change the landscape of this world on behalf of the Kingdom of God as virulently as does the Kudzu overtake all in its path. As we heard in the second reading from Saint Paul’s letter to Timothy sandwiched between Habakkuk and Luke, many early disciples did allow the Holy Spirit to enlarge their faith, the gift and treasure dwelling within through faith and baptism. Saint Paul addressed them and all of us, when he wrote, “for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power, and love, and self-control.
The Holy Spirit, of course, inspires the pro-life vision of the Catholic Church for our nation and for our world. The right to life of the unborn is the foundation for the totality of the Church’s unyielding and fearless pro-life posture to the world. Steadfast prayer, a living faith and solidarity with Christians and all people of good will are required to foster conversion, a change of heart and mind in the face of a “throw-a-way culture,” in the words of Pope Francis, that includes the unborn. Sexual behaviors that have little regard for self-control and love that endures, and stoked by the pollutants of pervasive pornography, further cheapens the gift of sexuality and the preciousness of life in the womb. To recreate a garden of life, justice and peace is daunting for every generation of disciples, but it is the Lord’s work and we are privileged to foster God’s vision for this world. Does the temptation to lose heart and succumb to cynicism and indifference press upon us? Of course! Let us return to the final words of Habakkuk to allow the Lord to increase our faith and to find encouragement to bear our share of the hardship that the Gospel entails. “For though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit appears on the vine, though the yield of the olive fails and the terraces produce no nourishment, though the flocks disappear from the field and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God. God, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of deer and enables me to tread upon the heights.”
God never stops restoring and inspiring the hearts and minds of those who hunger to cultivate the garden of life in this world. The vision begins with life in the womb and continues across the stages of a person’s life. Human dignity endures to the moment of the final breath when the unique soul, the breath of the living God, is born into eternal life. This is our hope in Jesus Christ. Therefore, aware that our citizenship is in heaven and that life in this world has eternal value we can recommit ourselves to work on behalf of the dignity of the human person while we ourselves have the breath of life. Between the beginning and the end of life in this world there are legions of dedicated disciples who lay down their lives daily on behalf of life, justice and peace. Later in this month dedicated to pro-life, we can shine the light upon the many pathways that lead to life and build up God’s Kingdom in this world that are thriving in our diocese and beyond. The web of life that embraces the pro-life vision is an intricate masterpiece that must be nurtured in its entirety. Peace to you and to all who cherish the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ in this world.
By Galen Holley NEW ALBANY – Members of St. Francis of Assisi parish in New Albany gathered around the Eucharist, then broke out their dancing shoes and fired up the grill as they celebrated 70 years of community on Oct. 6. Some 250 members, a robust mix of Anglo and Latino, sat in lawn chairs, as Fr. Jesuraj Xavier celebrated an outdoor Mass, serenaded by mariachi and ranchero-style music.
During Mass, members read a brief history of the parish, from the first gatherings inside the home of the Kelso family, through the years when the Glenmary Home Missioners staffed the church, to the vibrant, culturally diverse community it has become. “This is really a family, everyone together, sharing food, having a good time and worshiping together,” said Mario Garcia, as he walked the impromptu midway alongside the church, amid the delicious smell of carne asada cooking on an open grill and the squeals and laughter of children. Garcia’s daughter, Rosa, agreed, “This is an example of what community looks like,” she said. As the music shifted gears, Cindy Gonzalez, Ella Zoniga and Monica Vasquez danced the Zenda Nortena, wearing cowboy attire and moving around each other in sprightly ellipses. Around them, parishioners lounged in the shade, eating tacos and tortas and sharing stories. Twelve-year-old Ashley Vasquez took a fearless, championship-quality ride on the mechanical bull. For young Diana Pizarro, the party had deep symbolic meaning. “There is a language difference here, but as you see, we don’t allow it be a barrier,” said the 23-year-old. Parishioners read the remarks of Glenmary priest, Fr. Wil Steinbacher, a former pastor of St. Francis, who spoke of the architecture of the church. Steinbacher noted the comfortable courtyard, nestled between the parish hall on the north and the offices and classrooms on the south. “The design was meant to symbolize two arms, reaching out to the community,” Steinbacher said. April Stanton was delighted to see the children enjoying themselves. “We have such a great mixture of young and old,” said Stanton. “We’ve all enjoyed the beautiful Mass, and food, and music, and fun, it’s just a great day for the church and for its future.”
By Berta Mexidor and Linda Reeves CARTHAGE – Bishop Joseph Kopacz travelled to Carthage and Kosciusko Sept. 29, World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to celebrate Mass and to visit Hispanic families of the two parishes affected by the federal immigration raids this past summer. Mass celebrations were held at both St. Therese in Kosciusko and St. Anne in Carthage bringing families together in faith and as one big Catholic family. “I have been listening to every opinion, in favor and against, but everybody agrees the immigration system needs a change,” said Bishop Kopacz at one point, during Mass at St. Therese, as he talked about the broken immigration system and the call for change by people from across America. Bishop Kopacz informed parishioners that only hours after the raids Aug. 7 on Mississippi food processing plants, people from around the country responded with support and concern for those family members involved. More than 700 workers, many undocumented immigrants, were jailed and separated from loved ones. Donations poured into Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Jackson from 40 different states and several organizations. “The willingness to help reflects a fact,” said Bishop Kopacz. “A lot of people care. That is the heart of the United States of America.” Several Catholic communities of the diocese have been facing the consequences of the immigration raids over the past months. In emergency response, the diocese has been working with parishes to provide assistance. St. Anne Parish, which Bishop Kopacz visited as part of his trip, is a focal point for crisis management in the area with many parish families faced with hardships struggling to pay rent and food bills after heads of households lost jobs due to the raids. Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity Father Odel Medina, St. Anne pastor, is heading up long-term recovery efforts in Carthage as part of the diocese’s humanitarian aid efforts in coordination with Catholic Charities and other community organizations joining in the outreach. Help is also being extended outside of the St. Anne parish family and other affected parishes and into the community-at-large to help families touched by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 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 Sept. 29 Mass at St. Anne, Father Odel highlighted the humanitarian task as a new way to encounter Christ and his mission. “We live in a rich country,” he said. “Each one of us has wealth, …we are called to share and practice the word of God…, each one of us can change our own heart to care for each other.”
Bishop Kopacz recognized Father Odel for his role and service to the Carthage community. He also promised his continued support and help to the congregation. “Everybody knows that Catholics care for people and Catholics take care of the poor and underserved communities,” said Bishop Kopacz totally committed to taking care of and helping his sheep as shepherd of the Diocese of Jackson. At the end of Mass, Bishop Kopacz greeted and talked with people attending the celebration. Community members also had the opportunity to express their concerns and questions to Luis Arango-Petrocchi, a lawyer and program manager of Immigration Legal Services of Catholic Charities Dallas of the Diocese of Dallas, Texas. Catholic Charities Dallas is in collaboration with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Jackson responding to the Mississippi communities most affected by the raids. At this time, both charities are working in Canton, Forest and Carthage providing social services.
Arango-Petrocchi explained that the charity’s Immigration Legal Services program is mainly focused on explaining and educating individuals about immigration rights. The charity is also helping families understand about possible legal outcomes depending on their individual case. Arango-Petrocchi said that the crisis is ongoing explaining that involved legal processes and red tape takes time. “Some families will have to wait many years for the solution of their cases,” he said about the workers, part of parish families here in the diocese and once part of the local economy trying to work and make a better life for their loved ones. They will continue to be impacted for the long term.
By Paige Hanley VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis will highlight the important role of memory and storytelling across generations as a way to bring people together in a world marked by discord and division, the Vatican said. The pope believes that memory – far from being a static, inflexible recollection of the past – has dynamic and transformative power that can influence and foster unity, a Vatican press release said Sept. 29 when it announced the theme of World Communication Day 2020. The Vatican and many dioceses mark World Communication Day on the Sunday before Pentecost; in 2020 that will be May 24. The Vatican publishes the full message Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.
For next year’s message, the pope chose the theme, “So that you can tell your children and grandchildren. Life creates history.” The passage, based on the Book of Exodus, highlights the importance of sharing meaningful memories, stories and experiences, so that they may live on and transform the present, the Vatican statement said. The theme “reminds us that every story is born out of life, from interacting with others,” it said. Stories are valuable resources which offer “great riches” to their listeners, it said. The insight, knowledge and human connection fostered through effective storytelling is an invaluable asset to the audience. “Communications is, therefore, called to connect memory with life through stories,” it said, explaining how Jesus used parables to convey “the vital power of the Kingdom of God, leaving his audience free to welcome these narratives and apply them to themselves.” “These stories are not only alive in the past but continue to guide the lives and beliefs of Catholics today,” it said, adding, “The ability to generate change expresses how powerful a story is.” The Vatican announcement said the message will call for ongoing dialogue with each other and with the past and will ask everyone to make communications be “an instrument to build bridges, to unite and to share the beauty of being brothers and sisters in a moment of history marked by discord and division.”