Father Masters’ returns for Journey of Hope in Tupelo

By Maureen Smith
TUPELO – Almost 300 people attended a Journey of Hope Luncheon in Tupelo to benefit Catholic Charities Vardaman Service Center on Friday, April 26. The guest speaker was Father Burke Masters, former Mississippi State Baseball standout and chaplain for the Chicago Cubs baseball team.
Father Masters spoke at the Jackson Journey of Hope last year. When Catholic Charities organizers heard he would be back in Starkville for a Hall of Fame event, they took a chance and invited him to travel to Tupelo for another event.
“We can’t thank Father Burke and the people of St. James in Tupelo enough for their generosity and all they did to support Catholic Charities,” said Michael Thomas, development director for Catholic Charities. “We could not have hosted this event without their help,” he added.

Brunini Firm to be honored by Catholic Charities

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – On Saturday, June 15, Catholic Charities will honor the Brunini Law Firm at the annual Bishop’s Ball fund-raiser. The event will start at 6 p.m. at the Jackson Country Club and includes a cocktail hour, silent and live auction, dinner and dancing. Tickets are $85 per person.
The Brunini Law Firm was founded in Vicksburg in the late 1890s. One of the earliest founders, John B. Brunini, was a devout Catholic – the son of Italian immigrants. In the book Brunini, Grantham, Grower and Hewes, detailing the history of the firm, it was said neighbors could set their watch by when John Brunini walked to early Mass at St. Paul Parish every day. His son, Joseph Brunini, became the bishop of the Diocese of the Diocese of Jackson and so the church and the firm have always had a connection.
Today the firm has offices in Biloxi, Columbus, Jackson and Washington, D.C. It represents the diocese in many matters and many of the attorneys there support the church through work with the Catholic Foundation, Catholic Charities and parish and school work. Bishop Joseph Kopacz said he is happy to honor the firm with the award. “Because the world continues to grow more complex the rule of law becomes indispensable in safeguarding and promoting a society that is just and humane,” said the bishop, adding that the diocese is proud to partner with the firm.
“The Brunini team members are wonderful civic leaders in the community. The Good Samaritan Award recognizes organizations and individuals who serve others selflessly. We have worked with Brunini for many years and it is truly an honor to recognize them their contributions to our community through their partnerships and pro bono work,” said John Lunardini, Chief Operating Officer of Catholic Charities of Jackson.
Those who wish to reserve a seat at the ball should contact Julie O’Brien by email at julie.obrien@ccjackson.org, or by phone at either (601) 326-3714 or (601) 326-3758.

Catholic officials pleased with new conscience protection rule

By Carol Zimmermanni
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The announcement of a new conscience protection rule May 2 protecting health care workers who object to abortion procedures on religious grounds was welcome news to U.S. Catholic bishops and the president of the Catholic Health Association.
President Donald Trump announced the rule at the White House Rose Garden during a speech on the National Day of Prayer.
“Just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities,” Trump said.
The rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services and enforced by that department’s Office of Civil Rights, is more than 400 pages long with specific guidelines requiring hospitals, clinics and universities that receive federal funding through Medicare or Medicaid to certify that they comply with laws protecting conscience rights regarding abortion, sterilization and assisted suicide.
Under the rule, medical workers or institutions would not have to provide, participate in or pay for procedures they object to on moral or religious grounds.
“Laws prohibiting government funded discrimination against conscience and religious freedom will be enforced like every other civil rights law,” said Roger Severino, director of the Office of Civil Rights in a May 2 statement.
“This rule ensures that health care entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life. Protecting conscience and religious freedom not only fosters greater diversity in health care, it’s the law,” he said.
Last year, the department of Health and Human Services received more than 1,300 complaints alleging discrimination in a health care setting based on religious beliefs or conscience issues.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, chairman of the bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, issued a joint statement May 2 commending the adoption of these new regulations to ensure existing laws protecting conscience rights in health care are enforced and followed.
The statement said these laws have been policy for years, but “the previous administration did not fully enforce them and now they are increasingly being violated.”
The bishops said health care providers such as nurses and medical trainees “have been coerced into participating in the brutal act of abortion against their core beliefs, while churches and others who oppose abortion are being compelled by states like California to cover elective abortion – including late-term abortion – in their health plans.”
“We are grateful that this administration is taking seriously its duty to enforce these fundamental civil rights laws, and we look forward to swift action by HHS to remedy current violations in several states,” they added.
The bishops also pointed out that “conscience protection should not fluctuate as administrations change” and stressed that Congress should provide “permanent legislative relief through passage of the Conscience Protection Act.”
Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity and president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, said her organization “welcomes efforts to implement and enforce existing federal laws providing conscience protections.”
In a May 2 statement, she said the Catholic Health Association is currently reviewing the final regulation.
She stressed that “Catholic hospitals and long-term care facilities welcome and serve all persons in need of care. Our mission and our ethical standards in health care are rooted in and inseparable from the Catholic Church’s teachings about the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. These are the source of both the work we do and the limits on what we will do,” she said.
“Every individual seeking health care is welcome and will be treated with dignity and respect in our facilities, “ she added.
Critics of the rule have argued that it will limit women’s health care access. The same day the rule was announced, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued the Trump administration, saying the rule sacrificed patients’ health.
The rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

(Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim)

NCEA convention offered financial and leadership tips with teaching ideas

By Joyce Duriga
CHICAGO, Ill (CNS) – Rocio Carballo came all the way from Belize to attend the National Catholic Education Conference April 23-25 at McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago. It was her seventh year attending the convention.
“In my first year, I thought it would be aimed only to teachers, but it’s more than that. I’ve appreciated the focus on leadership skills and financial oversight for people like me,” said Carballo, who is president of Sacred Heart College, a high school and junior high school with 1,550 students and 135 staff.
More than 9,000 educators and leaders from dioceses around the country and beyond, including representatives from the Diocese of Jackson, attended this year’s conference, along with 700 vendors. They took part in hundreds of sessions on topics focused on religion, technology, leadership, curriculum development, trauma, finances and prayer. There are 1.8 million students enrolled in Catholic schools across the country, according to the National Catholic Education Association.
Carballo said she is taking home information about both marketing Catholic schools and effectively using digital media in the classroom.
“I attended sessions that showed us how to retain our students and, most importantly, how to market our Catholic institutions and continue to uphold the institutional excellence,” she said.
The 25-year veteran educator said the convention liturgies were spiritually enriching.
Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich celebrated the opening Mass April 23 with a choir of students from local Catholic schools. Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, apostolic administrator of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and the NCEA’s board chairman, celebrated Mass April 24 and Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Robert G. Casey celebrated the closing Mass.
Jeanine Ranzen, a teacher at Our Lady Queen of Peace School in Madison, Wisconsin, said this year’s convention was one of the best she attended.
“It’s been very uplifting being here and being surrounded by 9,000 people who are on the same mission,” she said.
Ranzen, who grew up in St. Barnabas Parish in Chicago, was also encouraged by seeing so many young teachers in attendance.
“The young teachers have a lot of passion for what they are doing. We want to have good teachers to continue the mission,” she said.
Next year’s conference will take place in Baltimore April 14-16.

(Duriga is editor of Chicago Catholic, archdiocesan newspaper of Chicago.)

In memoriam: Sister who served

Sister of Providence Mary Jo Stewart, age 91, died on April 20 in Lourdes Hall, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was born on Sept. 25, 1927 in Terre Haute, Indiana. In the Diocese of Jackson, she worked at Sacred Heart Southern Missions, Walls from 1986-96 and Catholic Community Outreach in Holly Springs from 1996-98. The wake and Mass of Christian Burial were held at Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 26. Burial was in the cemetery of the Sisters of Providence. Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of Providence, 1 Sisters of Providence, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana 47876.

In memoriam: Sister who served

Sister Janice Richards, age 79, died at Nazareth Home, Louisville, Kentucky on April 28. She was a professed Sister of Charity of Nazareth for 30 years. She was born in Chicago. She served in social services ministry at Sacred Heart Southern Missions in Walls from 1993-2016. A visitation and prayer service was held April 30 at Nazareth Home Chapel. Wake was held at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Nazareth, Kentucky, on April 30. The Funeral Mass was May 1 also held at St. Vincent de Paul Church. Burial was is in Nazareth Cemetery. Memorials may be sent to the SCN Office of Mission Advancement, P.O. Box 9, Nazareth, Kentucky 40048.

Mississippi priest, Army chaplain, music lover, bishop laid to rest

ALEXANDRIA, La – Bishop Emeritus Ronald Paul Herzog of the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana, and a priest of the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson, died on Friday, April 12, at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital. He was born on April 22, 1942, in Akron, Ohio to Paul Herzog and Kathryn Donahue.
His father, who was Lutheran, worked for Firestone in Akron for 24 years. His mother was Catholic. As a young boy, he attended various parochial and public schools through the eighth grade. The Herzog family moved to Natchez, Mississippi in 1953, and in 1956, while Herzog was in high school, his parents moved to St. Benedict, Louisiana, where he entered St. Joseph Seminary.
After graduating from the junior college of St. Joseph Seminary, Bishop Herzog began his major seminary years at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, where he earned a bachelor degree in Philosophy, followed by four more years of Theology culminating in a Bachelor of Sacred Theology, granted in association with Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. On June 1, 1968, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson by Archbishop Luigi Raimondi, Apostolic Delegate to the United States.
His first assignment was as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Church in D’Ilberville, Mississippi. Through the encouragement of the pastor of the adjoining parish who had returned to the diocese after serving as an Army chaplain, Bishop Herzog requested permission to become a chaplain in the Mississippi Army National Guard, and Bishop Joseph Brunini allowed him to join. During his nearly 30 years as a military chaplain, Chaplain Herzog served in different units in the Mississippi Army National Guard. His only active tour of duty was at Camp Shelby during Desert Shield/Desert Storm from November 1990 – January 1991. At that time he was the only Catholic chaplain in the Mississippi Guard. He retired from the Mississippi National Guard on April 21, 2002, with the state rank of Brigadier General.
Besides the National Guard, another love of Bishop Herzog’s was music. Throughout college and theology, he participated in choirs and served as head cantor. In addition to serving as a chorus member and soloist for the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus, he directed church choirs in several parishes as well as the diocesan choir. He served as a member or the chairman of several boards of directors for community chorus groups and performing arts groups. At the time, he was one of only three Mississippians accepted through national audition as a member of the American Choral Directors Association National Community Honor Choir for the national convention in San Diego, California in March, 1977.
But his true passion was his role as a priest. He was named Domestic Prelate (Monsignor) on November 20, 1987, by Pope John Paul II. As a priest, Bishop Herzog was an associate pastor of Sacred Heart Church in D’Ilberville and associate pastor and pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Hattiesburg, and pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Joseph Church, St. Paul Church, St. Bernadette Church, Trinity Church, and Immaculate Conception Church, all in Mississippi.
In addition to his pastoral duties, Bishop Herzog was assigned many diocesan responsibilities some of which included Diocesan Director of the Office for Worship, Diocesan Tribunal Defender of the Bond, Past Chair of the Presbyteral Council, Former Dean of the Northern and Western Deaneries, College of Consulters, and Secretary-Treasurer/President Elect of the Association of Priests for the Dioceses of Biloxi and Jackson.
After spending all of his 36 years as a priest in the church parishes of Mississippi, he was named 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria on October 27, 2004, and ordained a bishop in St. Francis Xavier Cathedral on January 5, 2005, by Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans.
Bishop Herzog focused much of his episcopacy on seminarian education and communications.
He is survived by members of his extended family, Bette Jean Lyons, Mary Elaine Lange, Marianne Bertsch, and Rev. Dr. Bill Lyons. A Mass of Christian Burial was held Monday, April 22, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Alexandria, with Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, presiding. Fourth degree Knights of Columbus and priests of the Diocese of Alexandria served as pallbearers. Donations in memory of Bishop Herzog may be made to the Diocese of Alexandria Seminary Burse or the Priests’ Retirement Fund.

ALEXANDRIA – Priests of the Diocese of Alexandria carry the coffin containing the body of Bishop Ronald Herzog, Eleventh Bishop of Alexandria, Louisiana, out of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral following an April 22 Mass of Christian Burial. Bishop Herzog was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson on June 1, 1968. He served in Diocese of Biloxi from its establishment until his appointment as Bishop of Alexandria on October 27, 2004. Bishop Herzog’s funeral fell on his 77th birthday.

(Reprinted with permission from Church Today, the newspaper for the Diocese of Alexandria.)

Video game may have role in Notre Dame Cathedral’s reconstruction

By Adele Chapline Smith
NEW YORK (CNS) – When Paris’ Cathedral of Notre Dame caught fire, the world held its collective breath. The spire fell, and the wooden roof was reduced to ash, but the holy relics were saved, and the interior preserved from the worst ravages of fire. Now more than $1 billion has been raised to restore Notre Dame, and a video game may prove to be the structure’s saving grace.
Ironically, the franchise to which this particular title belongs, “Assassin’s Creed,” is traditionally known for its anti-Christian sentiment.
The saga of “Assassin’s Creed” charts a centuries-long struggle between two rival organizations, the Templars and the Assassins. The Templars seek to bring peace to the world through absolute control. The Assassins, with whom gamers are meant to sympathize, believe, by contrast, that “nothing is true, everything is permitted.”
That’s obviously a credo wholly incompatible with Catholic theology. So it’s no surprise that the Assassins are often depicted in conflict with the church.
In 2014, Ubisoft released “Assassin’s Creed: Unity,” which sees the two factions struggling for power during the French Revolution. From the start, “Unity” received immense praise for its accuracy in depicting 1700s Paris — and especially, the detail in its depiction of the renowned cathedral.
Publishing giant Ubisoft is headquartered in Paris and has generously donated over $500,000 and pledged its virtual rendition of Notre Dame and its research from “Assassin’s Creed: Unity” to the restoration team. In addition, it made the game free to PC players for a week.
Assistant art director at Ubisoft Montreal, Caroline Miousse, spent two years working on the modeling of the cathedral. In 2014, Miousse told Destructoid that “you really need to be sure that you’re recreating (Notre Dame) as accurately as possible because it’s so well known.”
The video game is not completely faithful to the Notre Dame of the period, however. Some of the cathedral’s art is protected under copyright, and so could not be shown. At the request of players, moreover, Miousse added the familiar spire to the game, despite the fact that this was an anachronism.
In reality, the original spire was removed in 1786, three years before the outbreak of the Revolution. The replacement that collapsed in the conflagration was of 19th-century vintage.
“Assassin’s Creed: Unity” is a breathtaking work of art and the years spent on Notre Dame are visible as gamers scale the great building. Production coordinator Maxime Durand aptly said in an interview with Fast Company that “history in our games is not just a setting or empty buildings on a Hollywood back lot.”
Academic advisers were also brought in as consultants, including University of Quebec professor Laurent Turcot, to assist with both the game’s events and its environment. While historical incidents are subject to interpretation, the layout of the city itself is not.
Turcot sought out ways to recreate 18th-century Paris — no easy task since many neighborhoods of the city were radically altered in the mid-19th century at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III and under the supervision of Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann. Turcot made use of architectural archives, paintings and engravings. All this was done in the name of historical authenticity.
That insistence on adhering to reality will be immensely beneficial as restoration plans for the cathedral move forward. Notre Dame helped shape “Assassin’s Creed: Unity,” and now the game will get to return the favor – both to cathedral and to Paris as a whole.

(Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.)

WHO guidelines on kids’ screen time provide more ammo for parents

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Parents must feel at times it’s a losing battle keeping screens out of their children’s hands, much less away from their eyes.
Seemingly out of the blue, however, the U.N.’s World Health Organization issued guidelines April 24 on screen time for young children. The upshot: No screen time for babies under a year old, and no more than one hour a day for children under age 5.
The guidelines may come as a relief for parents. They echo recommendations issued by a group no less prestigious than the WHO, but not as influential: the American Academy of Pediatrics. For children under 18 months of age, the only screen time the organization approves of is video chats. For children under 2, only “high-quality programming” should be watched — and with a parent, so children can understand what they’re seeing.
The WHO guidelines were not issued in a vacuum. For babies, WHO recommend they spend at least 30 minutes a day on their stomachs, and for the under-5 set, the WHO guidelines call for three hours daily of physical activity. This combats sedentary habits that all too easily lead to obesity.
“Early childhood is a period of rapid development and a time when family lifestyle patterns can be adapted to boost health gains,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, in an April 24 statement.
“Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and well-being, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life,” said Dr. Fiona Bull, WHO program manager for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases, in her own April 24 statement.
It’s still one thing for experts to advise something, and another for people to heed it.
“Sometimes, I think the public health community is a little tentative about putting out advice that might be hard for parents to swallow,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, in an April 29 telephone interview with Catholic News Service from Boston, adding that he thought the WHO guidelines were “fantastic.”
“We need to deliver some tough medicine to parents, even if it’s not what they want to hear,” Golin said.
He acknowledged, though, that it’s not entirely parents’ fault. “We live in a culture that makes it very, very hard for parents to limit screen time. Screens are falsely marketed as being educational,” Golin said. In effect, he added, they become “short-term babysitters.”
Just because the WHO guidelines extend only to age 5 “doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of work to be done on 6-and-overs,” Golin said. “The more kids use screens early, the more they’ll use them in later life,” which then cuts down on their capacity to “play creatively, to work through their own boredom. They just can’t always say, ‘Mom or Dad, I’m bored,’ or they’ll never develop those inner resources.”
There are enough reasons to cut down on screen usage. “Media multitasking is exacerbating ADHD,” Rogers told CNS. There are also plenty of ways to find alternatives to being continuously connected. The website https://www.screenfree.org/resources/ has far more than a week’s worth of ideas in English, Spanish and, now, French to stay screen-free.
“Faith leaders are not necessarily saying much or aware of the screen time issues that are pulling children apart,” Rogers said. However, the Children’s Screen Time Action Network is planning an interdenominational webinar for late summer called “An Interfaith Conversation About Screen Time.”

(Pattison is media editor for Catholic News Service.)

Holy week in picture

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Faithful throughout the Diocese of Jackson celebrated Holy Week in unity, but with their own cultural flavors. From an extraordinary form Mass to a modern reenactment of the Passion of Christ. Every parish started a new fire on Easter Sunday. Every Catholic was invited to renew his or her baptismal vows and every person on earth was invited to share in the joy of the resurrection.
Here are a sampling of photos of the journey from Palm Sunday to Easter from across the Diocese of Jackson. Bishop Joseph Kopacz and the entire chancery staff wish you a joyful and fruitful Easter Season.

FOREST – Father Roberto Mena, ST, of St. Michael Parish, and Sister Obdulia Olivar, MGSpS open Holy Week with the blessing of the palms, Sunday, April 14. (Photo by Sr. María Elena Méndez, MGSpS)
PEARL– Above, (l-r) Seminarian Andrew Bowden, Father Aaron Williams and Deacon Mark Shoffner celebrated Palm Sunday with a procession and Mass in the extraordinary form at St. Jude Parish.
JACKSON – Above, Bishop Joseph Kopacz and all the priests of the diocese celebrated chrism Mass on Tuesday, April 16, to bless and consecrate the oils used throughout the year. At this Mass, the priests renew their vows and spend some valuable time together.

Above, a team of volunteers pours the oils into smaller containers between the blessing and the end of Mass for distribution to parishes.
HOLLY SPRINGS – Holy Family School Principal Clara Isom washes the feet of student Shaleigh Faulkner on Holy Thursday, following the example of Jesus from scripture.

SOUTHAVEN – Sacred Heart School students George Espinoza, Ethan Towell and Jacob Bland act out the crucifiction during a live stations of the cross. (Photo by Laura Grisham)
JACKSON – Members of St. Therese Parish light candles for their homes from the Paschal candle. (Photo by Sr. María Elena Méndez, MGSpS)

JACKSON – The Cathedral slowly fills with light during the Easter Vigil as people share their flames as they process into the church.
JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz, assisted by Mary Woodward, chancellor and Father Anthony Quyet, rector of the cathedral, inserts the incense nails into the Paschal candle at the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. (Photo by Maureen Smith)