Songs and praise for Sister Thea Bowman

CANTON – Gospel choirs from many churches gathered at Holy Child Jesus Parish on Saturday, March 30 for a musical celebration in honor of Sister Thea Bowman. Sister Thea died on March 30, 1990. Last year the Diocese of Jackson opened a cause for sainthood for the Mississippi native, who became Catholic and later served as a teacher at Holy Child.
Choirs included the Mary Grove Baptist Church men’s choir, Jackson Christ the King and Holy Ghost choirs, the Frazier Riddel Choir, the Jackson Family, Ed Hightower, Landris Jones and the Rembert Washington Chorale.
Participant choirs each offered a couple of songs while Billy Joe Wells, acting as master of ceremonies, kept the crowd upbeat and involved. Organizers hope to make the celebration an annual event.

(Story and photos by Maureen Smith)

Sun shines on Abbey Youth Fest

By Abbey Schuhmann
COVINGTON, Louisiana – On Saturday, March 23, more than 200 youth and adults from around the Diocese of Jackson loaded four charter buses and made their way to St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College for the 2019 Abbey Youth Festival (AYF). Additional parishes made trips on their own to the festival as well; the diocese was well represented with more than 300 youth and adult participants attending the one-day conference in south Louisiana.
After four straight years of rain, mud and even catastrophic flooding in 2016 which cancelled the entire event, the weather was perfect and the skies were blue; it was a sunny, 70 degrees on the AYF field. The theme for the day was “Restored – Let Your Heart Be Filled.” The seminarians at St. Joseph Seminary College play a vital role in the production of AYF including the diocese’s own, Tristan Stovall of Philadelphia Holy Cross. “The Abbey Youth Festival is an apostolic service of Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College.” The mission statement for Abbey Fest declares that “it is designed to provide young people with an opportunity to experience a day of prayer and faith formation with an exposure to the Benedictine traditions. Its focus is evangelization and vocational discernment by means of liturgy, prayer, worship, music and education appropriate for Catholic young people.” The festival has grown over the years; this year’s festival brought in more than 2,500 young people from Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. The festival boasts a packed schedule that includes faith-filled music, prayer, catechesis, fellowship and fun.
A new addition to the program this year was a talent show featuring youth versus seminarian acts including a panel of judges. Richard Smallwood of Flowood St. Paul and Anna Trautman and Hannah Hoang of Amory St. Helen were the selected youth acts to perform on stage. Trautman and Hoang performed a beautiful rendition of Lauren Daigle’s song “You Say” while Smallwood entertained the crowd with a reenactment of the classic campaign speech dance from the movie Napoleon Dynamite.
Other acts from seminarians included fire breathing and a dance-off battle. Smallwood took home the grand prize for his performance. The program featured inspirational keynote presentations from Father Sidney Speaks and Sister Josephine Garrett. Danielle Nicole presented the breakout session for the women while Dom Quaglia led the session for men. The Sarah Kroger Band entertained the crowd with an evening concert and led worship music throughout the day.
All participants had the opportunity to visit different vendor booths including religious orders and communities from all around the country. Many teens and adults also take advantage of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans celebrated the Mass with Bishop Kopacz for the second year in a row. Bishop Kopacz has made several trips to Abbey Youth Fest since his installation as bishop for the diocese. The day concluded with candlelight adoration and praise and worship.
AYF is an excellent opportunity for teens to see the bigger church and enjoy fellowship with other young Catholics from all across the South. This was the ninth year for the diocese to sponsor a trip to the Abbey Youth Festival.
Make plans to participate in the 2020 event scheduled for Saturday, March 21. For more information visit www.abbeyyouthfest.com, on Facebook at “Abbey Youth Fest” or contact Abbey Schuhmann in the Office of Youth Ministry – 601-949-6934 or Abbey.Schuhmann@jacksondiocese.org

Grenada Parish celebrates St. Joseph’s Day

GRENADA – Members of St. Peter Parish sing during the blessing of their St. Joseph Altar on Tuesday, March 19. The parish celebrated the feast of St. Joseph in true Italian style with a traditional altar loaded with bread and other goodies. Pastor Father Arokia Savio concelebrated Mass at 8 a.m. with Father Manohar Thanugundla of Brookhaven St. Francis. Those gathered then went to the parish hall to pray a rosary, bless their St. Joseph Altar and enjoy an Italian Meal. (Photo by Michael Liberto)

Reconciling love of God breaks through on Holy Week

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
As Holy Week commences, we relive the biblical divine drama each year when the light shines in the darkness and the passion, death and resurrection of the Son of God scatters the darkness of sin and death and all its shadows. The Gospel of Luke set the stage on the First Sunday of Lent when the tempter, the enemy, waged an all-out campaign against God’s beloved, he whose identity was revealed at his Baptism, who endured hunger and solitude for 40 days, and who confirmed his full humanity and divinity in the face of potentially ruinous temptations.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

In that moment, Saint Luke alerts us to remain vigilant, because although vanquished, the tempter lurks and awaits another opportunity. The enemy returns in the encounter we know as the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane when the full force of the impending crucifixion assails Jesus. Fully human and fully divine, an inexhaustible mystery, Jesus of Nazareth sweats drops of blood and is tempted to seek another way, but in the fullness of his communion with the Father, he accepted the divine will.
From the blood splattered ground Jesus arose to walk purposely into the passion which he foretold on several occasions during his pubic ministry. He moved with the same resolve, impelled by the same Holy Spirit who drove him into his public ministry following the desert combat. For Catholics and for many Christians the divine action of salvation is compressed into the proclamation of the passion on Palm Sunday weekend. Most do not partake of the Triduum during Holy Week, but the faith-filled commemoration of the passion and death of the Lord prepares the faithful to celebrate his resurrection on Easter, and to renew the promises of Baptism.
This weekend ahead, when the passion narrative from Luke’s Gospel takes root and remains alive in our hearts and minds, and when the palm is prominent in the home as a blessed reminder of whom we adore, then Jesus Christ will be alive wherever we are.
The world needs to hear the compassionate and reconciling words of the Lord from the Cross from Luke’s passion account, poured out with his precious blood. To those who crucified Jesus we hear, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Likewise, with the repentant thief we are remembered by God, now and forever. “From this day forward, you are with me in paradise.” At the moment of death, Jesus seals his sacrifice on the Cross with these words to his beloved Father. “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” Ultimate faith and hope in eternal life and renewal in forgiveness, are the way forward in Holy Week and the royal road for a lifetime.
In the Church and in society the Lord wants to pour out his reconciling love upon, the violent, the hardened of heart, the repentant, and those approaching death. This eternal love of God is evident during the passion and from the Cross, and in all of the resurrection appearances. “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high breaks upon to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet in the way of peace.” (Luke 1,78-79)
It is only the crucified love of the Lord that can scatter the darkness in the Church from the scandal of sexual abuse, the lust for religious power, the suffering of the victims, and the brokenness in families and Church communities. Just like the apostles huddled in fear in the Gospel of John in the vacuum between the crucifixion and resurrection, the Lord appears to us to show us his wounds, to forgive our sins, to grant us peace, to breathe into us the Holy Spirit of God, and to renew us in our mission to make disciples of all the nations.
Many are scattered in our time because of the scandals, as were the apostles of the Lord after the scandal of the Cross, mired in fear, anger, doubt, shame and grief, but the crucified and risen Lord is with us always to rebuild and restore his Church for her sacred mission so that even the gates of hell will not prevail before the divine presence. The seeds of healing and hope are already growing and flowering, and the oils of salvation are will be flowing at the Easter Vigil and throughout the year. May the precious blood and life-giving words of the Lord from the Cross, followed by his Holy Spirit, raise us up, grant us peace, and make us busy about the Lord’s work in our families, communities of faith, and in our society.
“Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the Highest!”

Semana Santa: Fe. Esperanza. Perdon

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
Cuando comienza la Semana Santa, revivimos cada año el drama bíblico divino de la luz brillando en la oscuridad y donde la pasión, muerte y resurrección del Hijo de Dios dispersan la oscuridad del pecado, la muerte y todas sus sombras.
El Evangelio de Lucas, el primer domingo de Cuaresma, preparó el escenario cuando el tentador, el enemigo, emprendió una campaña total contra el amado de Dios, cuya identidad fue revelada en su Bautismo; en contra de aquel que soportó el hambre y la soledad durante 40 días, y quien confirmó su plena humanidad y divinidad frente a las tentaciones potencialmente ruinosas.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz


En ese momento, San Lucas nos alerta a permanecer vigilantes porque, aún vencido, el tentador se esconde y espera otra oportunidad. El enemigo regresa al encuentro con toda fuerza, en lo que conocemos como la Agonía en el Jardín de Getsemaní, para impedir la inminente crucifixión y asalta a Jesús.
Completamente humano y completamente divino, un misterio inagotable, Jesús de Nazaret suda gotas de sangre y es tentado a buscar otro camino, pero en la totalidad de su comunión con el Padre, Jesús aceptó la voluntad divina.
Sobre el terreno salpicado de sangre, se levantó Jesús, para caminar deliberadamente hacia la pasión que había predicho en varias ocasiones durante todo su ministerio púbico. Se movió con la misma resolución, impulsado por el mismo Espíritu Santo que lo llevó a su ministerio público después del combate en el desierto.
Para los católicos y para muchos cristianos, la acción divina de la salvación se resume en la proclamación de la pasión hecha el fin de semana del Domingo de Ramos.
La mayoría no participa del Triduo durante la Semana Santa, pero la conmemoración de la pasión y muerte del Señor, llena de fe, prepara a los fieles a celebrar su resurrección en la Pascua y a renovar las promesas del Bautismo.
Este fin de semana se acerca, y es cuando la narración de la pasión del Evangelio de Lucas echa raíces para que permanezca viva en nuestros corazones y mentes; es cuando la palma ocupa un lugar importante en el hogar, como un recordatorio bendito de aquel a quién adoramos; y es cuando Jesucristo estará vivo dondequiera que estemos.
El mundo necesita escuchar las palabras compasivas y reconciliadoras del Señor desde la Cruz, en la historia de la pasión narrada por Lucas, palabras dichas a los que crucificaron a Jesús, derramadas como su sangre preciosa, y donde escuchamos: “Padre, perdónalos, porque no saben lo que hacen”.
Asimismo, como el ladrón arrepentido, somos recordados por Dios, ahora y por siempre. “Te aseguro, que hoy estarás conmigo en el paraíso”. En el momento de la muerte, Jesús sella su sacrificio en la Cruz con estas palabras a su amado Padre. “En tus manos encomiendo mi espíritu”.
La fe y la esperanza supremas en la vida eterna y la renovación por el perdón son el camino a seguir en la Semana Santa y el camino real para toda la vida.
En la Iglesia y en la sociedad, el Señor quiere derramar su amor reconciliador al violento, al del corazón endurecido, al arrepentido y a los que se acercan a la muerte.
Este amor eterno de Dios es evidente durante la pasión y desde la Cruz, y en todas las apariciones después de la resurrección. “Porque nuestro Dios, en su gran misericordia, nos trae de lo alto el sol de un nuevo día, para dar luz a los que viven en la más profunda oscuridad, y dirigir nuestros pasos por el camino de la paz”. (Luke 1,78-79)
Es solo el amor crucificado del Señor que puede dispersar la oscuridad en la Iglesia, por el escándalo del abuso sexual, la lujuria por el poder religioso, el sufrimiento de las víctimas y el quebrantamiento de las familias y las comunidades de la Iglesia.

Así como los apóstoles se recogieron temerosos, según el Evangelio de Juan, en el vacío entre la crucifixión y la resurrección, el Señor se nos aparece para mostrarnos sus heridas, para perdonar nuestros pecados, para darnos paz, para exhalar en nosotros el Espíritu Santo de Dios, y para renovarnos en nuestra misión de hacer discípulos en todas las naciones.
Muchos, en nuestro tiempo, están dispersos a causa de los escándalos, así como lo estuvieron los apóstoles del Señor después del escándalo de la Cruz, sumidos en el miedo, la ira, la duda, la vergüenza y el dolor, pero el Señor crucificado y resucitado está siempre con nosotros para reconstruir y restaurar a su Iglesia para su misión sagrada, para que incluso las puertas del infierno no prevalezcan ante la presencia divina.
Las semillas de la sanación y la esperanza ya están creciendo y floreciendo, y los aceites de la salvación fluirán en la Vigilia Pascual y durante todo el año.
Que la sangre preciosa y las palabras de vida del Señor desde la Cruz, acompañadas por su Espíritu Santo, nos levanten, nos concedan paz y nos hagan realizar la obra del Señor en nuestras familias, comunidades de fe y en nuestra sociedad.
“¡Hosanna en las alturas!
¡Bienaventurado el que viene en nombre del Señor!,
¡Hosanna en las alturas!