Abiding presence of the Holy Spirit

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be recreated, and you shall renew the face of the earth.”

Our lives are imbued in the mystery of God’s Holy Spirit whose graced presence is always at work. We can never fully comprehend the gift and the grandeur of God’s manifestation in our lives, an unfathomable mystery, but the Spirit gradually reveals what we need when we remain open in faith.

Of primary importance is our relationship with the Most Holy Trinity because the Holy Spirit enlightens our hearts and minds to know that Jesus is Lord, and God is our Father. (1Corinthians 12) God who is love has poured the gift of self into creation and salvation and in Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, shows us how to live and to love in all circumstances. But like the Blessed Mother and the saints, we must be willing partners.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.

The biblical narrative recounts the primordial and temporal work of the Spirit of God. In the beginning, the Holy Spirit hovered over the original chaos and darkness and created light and order. The Spirit of God spoke through the prophets and created meaning and hope in the nation of Israel preparing the way for the long-awaited Messiah. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” because Mary was alive in faith and in her openness allowed the Holy Spirit to act. (John 1:14) The Spirit of God accompanied the Lord Jesus in every step of his earthly ministry (Luke 10:21) and from the throes of death, raised him to eternal life. (Romans 8:11) At the Ascension the disciples were instructed to remain vigilant waiting to be clothed with “power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) The miracle of Pentecost with the great outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit and the birth of the church fulfilled all their yearnings.

There is a pattern to this lavish generosity of Divine Providence that we see in the outpouring of God’s Spirit in creation, the blood and water that poured forth from the crucified Lord and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. As Jesus declared in the Good Shepherd narrative, “I came so that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Two-thousand years later Pope Francis has invited the church throughout the world in the Synod on Synodality to hear “what the Holy Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:22) in an ever-deepening experience of communion, participation, and mission. The Holy Father’s invitation is anchored in the unflinching belief that the Spirit of God is always at hand to renew the church with Pentecost fervor, evidence of the more abundant life that Jesus promised. In our diocesan Pastoral Reimagining from Pentecost 2023 through Pentecost 2024, building upon the earlier gatherings with Synodality, we have relied on the Holy Spirit to lead us in fruitful prayer and conversations in order to stir into flame the gift of God’s grace that we all received at Baptism.

Of course, during this time of Eucharist Revival the Holy Spirit is summoning the church to a renewed experience of worship as the Body of Christ who offers sacrifice and praise to God. Once gathered it is the Holy Spirit who opens our hearts and minds to hear God’s word with the capacity to put it into practice. It is the invocation of the Holy Spirit, “the power from on high” at the words of institution who transforms the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) who awakens us to the promise of eternal life. In the indwelling of the Holy Spirit consider the seven gifts, the 12 fruits, the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love, and the four cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. In this light we begin to understand the abundance of which Jesus spoke.

Where would we be if not for the abiding presence and action of the Holy Spirit? Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful so that we can worthily celebrate the Solemnities of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Body and Blood of the Lord in the days ahead.

Ascension to Pentecost: Clothed with power from on High

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Before ascending from this world to his God and our God Jesus instructed his disciples to return to the Upper Room to await “to be clothed with power from on High.” (Luke 24: 49) To be outfitted with the Holy Spirit is a wonderful image of our intimacy with God and by wearing it well we remain in style to bear the message of salvation to every corner of the planet till the end of time.

The feast of the Ascension is the bridge between the Resurrection and Pentecost that completes God’s plan of salvation begun specifically in the Incarnation when “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.

Throughout the Gospel of John, it is uppermost in Jesus’ mind that he is to return to God the Father from where he came. “No one has ascended to heaven except the One who descended from heaven.” (John 3:13)

At the outset of the Last Supper before the washing of the disciples’ feet, his divine destiny was set in motion. “Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in this world and loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)

On course, the link between the Cross, the resurrection and the ascension is established. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)

The Lord’s resurrection appearances in the four Gospels are remarkable, and yet shrouded in mystery. These encounters reveal the risen Lord in his glorified body, capable of eating (Luke 24:43) and of being touched (John 20:27) and of conversing in varied settings, on the road, at the beach, in the garden, in barricaded rooms and on mountaintops.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in the first of its four major sections (Can we name the other three sections?) reflects upon the Ascension in the context of the Creed. (CCC 659-667) The transition of the risen Lord in his glorified body after the resurrection to his exalted body with his Ascension to the right hand of the Father forever (CCC 660) clears the way for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in daily life and prepares a place for us in eternity.

“Only Christ could have opened this door for the human race, he who wished to go before us as our head so that we as members of his body may live with the burning hope of following him in His Kingdom.” (CCC 661)

St. Paul in his pastoral letter to Timothy elaborates upon our understanding of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from on High. “For the Spirit God gives us is not one of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2Tim 1:7)

Power, directed by loving discipline has the capacity to transform lives and to carry out the Lord’s Great Commission to bear the Gospel to all the nations. This is the power of God that forms the Church as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, that all receive at Baptism, that is invoked upon our numerous young people who have been confirmed, that transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lord, and that we will call down upon Deacon Tristan Stovall and all who will be ordained in sacred orders.

As we heard in last Sunday’s first reading, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his household, the first Gentile converts, truly a second Pentecost, came about through ardent prayer and joyful hope. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is at work in our homes and in our churches.

May we be vigilant in prayer and joyful in hope as we prepare to be clothed with power from on High this Pentecost for the promises of the Lord are fulfilled in every generation.

May we hear the voice of the Lord

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Throughout the Easter season of 50 days there are outstanding manifestations of the Lord from week to week that strengthen our faith in him, and love for him. Divine Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter is the culmination of the Easter Octave reverberating with the loving mercy, peace and power of the resurrection. Good Shepherd Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Easter enfolds us in perhaps the most beloved image of God in the entire Bible revealing the personal relationship that the Lord wants with each of us and all of us together as his flock, his body. Two weeks later we celebrate the great feast of the Ascension, with the assurance that our citizenship is in heaven. From that moment until Pentecost we will maintain vigilance in prayer awaiting to be clothed with power from on high.

Although Good Shepherd Sunday has a much longer tradition in the Catholic Church than Divine Mercy Sunday, it is St. John the Evangelist who has blessed the church until Christ comes again with these beloved manifestations.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.

The beloved disciple, apostle and evangelist embraced the image of the Good Shepherd, beloved to Jew and Christian, and made it the centerpiece of his Gospel at nearly the halfway point in chapter 10. It is an image that is deeply rooted in the Old Testament portraying that God for the Israelites was far more than a lawgiver.

He was a loving presence who renewed their strength, anointed their heads with oil, set a table before them, and led them through dark valleys and rough patches. It is such a powerful image that it easily transcended its origins to become the earliest rendition of the risen Lord in Christian art as discovered in the catacombs.

It continues to capture the imagination of believers even though many of us have never directly experienced this way of life, except for the sheep barn at the County Fair. It endures because it represents God as loving and personal, wedded to his people forever. “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep… I know my own and my own knows me… My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.” (John 10:1ff)

On Good Shepherd Sunday, the church prays for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. As part of the flock of the Good Shepherd all are grafted onto the vine of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, and we pray that all will respond generously to the voice of the Lord to live their vocation.

From the household of God, we pray for vocations to the ordained and consecrated life. We recall Jesus’ words at the Last Supper to his apostles. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” (John:15-16) Ultimately, this is the work of the Lord, but we are to beg the harvest master to send out workers to the vineyard because the harvest is great. (Matthew 9:35-38)

The Eucharistic Revival is intrinsically linked with the priesthood, and all the faithful have a part to play in raising up vocations. In this spirit, the Synod on Synodality is a clarion call for all of the baptized to take their place in the household of God, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart to proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his own marvelous light. (1Peter 2:9)

May we hear the voice of the Lord, crucified and risen, resound in our hearts and minds in order to follow him faithfully.

Bishop gives thanks for Pastoral Reimagining process

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz gathered representatives from Deanery II for the third phase of the diocesan “Pastoral Reimagining” process on Monday, April 8 at St. Mary Basilica for a Mass of Thanksgiving for the process; as well as, time to meet to discuss challenges and the growing edges and diminishing areas of ministry locally within the deanery and within the diocese as a whole.

“This process is about how to we dig deeper; how to we strengthen who we are as local parishes and as a diocese,” said Bishop Kopacz.

“We can grow where it’s possible and we can be stronger.”

Bishop Kopacz also met with Deanery III at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Greenwood and Deanery I at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Madison earlier this month.

He invites those in deaneries that have yet to meet, to come participate in a special Mass of Thanksgiving.
The Masses are as follows: Deanery V in the Golden Triangle area on Monday April 22 at 12 p.m. at Immaculate Conception West Point; Deanery V on Monday, April 22 at 5 p.m. at St. James Tupelo; Deanery VI on Monday, April 29 at 6 p.m. at St. Therese Kosciusko; and Deanery IV on Tuesday, April 30 at 5 p.m. at St. Mary Batesville.

NATCHEZ – Bishop Joseph Kopacz continues listening across the diocese for the Pastoral Reimagining process that has been taking place since Pentecost 2023. On Monday, April 8, he met with stakeholders from parishes making up Deanery II at St. Mary Basilica. (Photo by Joanna Puddister King)

Reimagining process advances toward season of refreshment and renewal

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
“Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you a season of refreshment.” (Acts of the Apostles 3:19-20)

During this Easter season there will be additional opportunities in each of our six deaneries to further the conversations in our undertaking of Pastoral Reimagining process. To apply the phrase from the Scriptures by St. Peter in the passage above, another way of expressing the goal of our process is to advance toward a season of refreshment and renewal under the gaze of One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.

Although the process was organized from the diocesan center, the handiwork has taken place on the local level with conversations for the sake of reimagining of what could be, building upon the diocesan and world-wide undertaking of Synodality in the Catholic Church.

It must be a grassroots process in order for the diocesan center to engage in authentic listening and conversation with all points on the compass. In other words, “whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Acts 3:22) The Lord himself expressed spiritual and pastoral potential “…they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matthew 13:15)

Not surprisingly, healing and greater unity were a repeated theme during our diocesan synodal process, both for our church and society. Another expressed desire was for a more meaningful understanding and application of the Bible, the sacred word of God. All this is seen and heard on Divine Mercy Sunday from the scriptures, in the Eucharist, and in the recitation of the Chaplet.

In the classic resurrection appearance, the Lord was suddenly in the midst of his scattered and fearful apostles and immediately blessed them with peace, in fact, three times over two encounters. He proceeded to breathe upon them the power of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins, theirs and all who would hear the Gospel and come to faith. With God’s grace in abundance, he sent them into the world so that “all may have life in his name.” (John 20:19-31) This is a Gospel account of healing and hope in the aftermath of the trauma of the violent crucifixion, and the division and conflict that come from such events. Many in our society and church are reeling from similar turmoil.

From Divine Mercy Sunday in the tradition of the beloved disciple John we heard in the second reading that this is the power, “that came through water and blood, Jesus Christ. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.” (1John 5:6) Water and the blood, the blue and the red rays from the side of the crucified and resurrected One, Divine Mercy. The good fruit of all of this is heard and imagined from the first reading on Divine Mercy Sunday.

“The community of believers was of one heart and one mind … With great power the apostles bore witness to the power of the resurrection, and there was no needy person among them.” (1Acts 4:33-35)
This is the paradigm Christian community, strong in faith, hope and love, an ideal for sure, but also real on many levels. Although not formally expressed until the year 325 in the Nicene Creed, it is clear that One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic were unfolding at the beginning.

The process of Reimagining in our diocese is a hope that is ever ancient and ever new. “Late have I loved you, O Beauty every ancient, ever new…” (Saint Augustine, Confessions)

We want to see, hear, and understand the power of the Lord’s resurrection, his peace, his mercy, his call and mission for our lives, in our parishes, schools and ministries. Overall, the new life of Eastertide, a season of refreshment, by God’s grace, is producing the good fruit from the efforts of reimagining in our diocese. Let us continue to fight the good fight of faith, “the power that conquers the world.” (1John 5:4)

May the Holy Spirit guide us through Holy Week and beyond

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.

Lent arrives at its final stage with Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. It is an intensive time of accompanying the Lord Jesus in his passion and suffering, through his death, to the glory of the resurrection.

The uniqueness of the Palm Sunday Mass is found in the entrance rite with palm in hand, the procession, and the proclamation of the passion narrative. This year, the passion from the Gospel of Mark will resound throughout the Catholic world, and in a profoundly stark cry of forsakenness the Lord speaks for all of humanity. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” (Mark 15:34) Between Palm Sunday and the Easter Vigil, the great majority of the faithful will be gathered at the outset of Holy Week to allow the Lord’s final hours and words to wash over them in the blood and water flowing from his side.

Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare Movement expresses the great mystery of our forsaken Lord in this manner: “We contemplated in him the height of his love because it was the height of his suffering. What more could a God give us, that it seems that he forgets that he is God … Jesus converted the world with his words, with his example, with his preaching, but he transformed it when he provided the proof of his love, the Cross.”

Lubich and all who see the Lord with the eyes of faith are building upon the unshakeable foundation of St. Paul on the power of the Cross. “Indeed, the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God … Jews demand signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified. This is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God … For I resolved that while I was with you, I would know nothing except Jesus Christ, and him crucified … so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” (1Corinthians 1:18, 22-24; 2:2-5)

With his blood and with his cry, Jesus crucified and forsaken opened up all possibilities for this life including forgiveness, unity, justice, and peace, and eternal life to follow. It is true that all of humanity is in exile, but there are those whose forsakenness is extreme. During these most sacred days of faith, we are mindful of those in the Holy Land especially, but not exclusively, who are crucified and forsaken in war, destruction, death and displacement. These abandoned are more closely configured to our crucified Lord in their suffering.

Lubich offers this vision and hope: “Jesus forsaken is the most greatly pruned, whom neither heaven nor earth seemed to want … Because he had been uprooted from both earth and heaven, he brought into unity those who were cut off, those who were uprooted from God.”

Therefore, he and he alone is the way to reach beyond the barriers of hatred and violence toward the unity for which he prayed at the Last Supper, “that all may be one.” (John 17:22)

Again, from the wisdom of Lubich and the Focolare Movement we read: “This is everything, to love as he loved us, to the extent of his experiencing for our sake the sensation of being forsaken by his Father. Through Jesus, in fact, we gain by losing, we live by dying. The grain of wheat has to die in order to produce the ear of grain; we need to be pruned in order to bear good fruit. This is Jesus’ law, his paradox. The Holy Spirit is making us understand that in order to bring about Jesus’ prayer ‘may they all be one’ it is necessary to welcome Jesus forsaken in our disunity. Jesus forsaken is the road, the key, the secret.”

These are words of wisdom for us during Holy Week in the line of St. Paul. The Holy Spirit has inspired many in the Synodal and Reimagining processes in our diocese to address the need for greater healing and unity in our communities of faith.

The Holy Spirit is guiding us during Holy Week to look to Christ crucified and forsaken as the power and wisdom of God in whom all things are possible. The Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and who dwells within us through faith and baptism, will inspire to proclaim Alleluia on Easter Sunday because he is risen. But before we arrive at the empty tomb let the crucified and forsaken Lord wash us clean in his blood.

Que el Espíritu Santo nos guíe durante Semana Santa y más allá

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.

La Cuaresma llega a su etapa final con el Domingo de Ramos y el inicio de la Semana Santa. Es un tiempo intensivo para acompañar al Señor Jesús en su pasión y sufrimiento, a través de su muerte, para la gloria de la resurrección.

La singularidad de la Misa del Domingo de Ramos se encuentra en el rito de entrada con las palmas en la mano, la procesión y la proclamación del relato de la pasión. Este año, la pasión del Evangelio de Marcos resonará en todo el mundo católico, y en un grito de abandono profundamente descarnado, el Señor habla por toda la humanidad. “Dios mío, Dios mío, ¿por qué me has abandonado?” (Marcos 15:34) Entre el Domingo de Ramos y la Vigilia Pascual, la gran mayoría de los fieles se reunirán al comienzo de la Semana Santa para permitir que las últimas horas y palabras del Señor los bañen con la sangre y el agua que fluye de su costado.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Chiara Lubich, fundadora del Movimiento de los Focolares, expresa así el gran misterio de nuestro Señor abandonado: “Contemplamos en Él la cumbre de su amor porque fue la cumbre de su sufrimiento. Qué más nos podría dar un Dios, que pareciera que se olvida que es Dios … Jesús convirtió al mundo con sus palabras, con su ejemplo, con su predica, pero lo transformó cuando brindó la prueba de su amor: la Cruz.”

Lubich y todos los que ven al Señor con los ojos de la fe están construyendo sobre el fundamento inquebrantable de San Pablo sobre el poder de la Cruz. “El mensaje de la muerte de Cristo en la cruz parece una tontería a los que van a la perdición; pero este mensaje es poder de Dios para los que vamos a la salvación. … Los judíos quieren ver señales milagrosas, y los griegos buscan sabiduría; pero nosotros anunciamos a un Mesías crucificado. Esto les resulta ofensivo a los judíos, y a los no judíos les parece una tontería, pero para los que Dios ha llamado, sean judíos o griegos, este Mesías es el poder y la sabiduría de Dios. … Y, estando entre ustedes, no quise saber de otra cosa sino de Jesucristo y, más estrictamente, de Jesucristo crucificado. … para que la fe de ustedes dependiera del poder de Dios y no de la sabiduría de los hombres.” (1 Corintios 1:18, 22-24; 2:2-5)

Con su sangre y con su grito, Jesús crucificado y abandonado abrió todas las posibilidades para esta vida, incluido el perdón, la unidad, la justicia y la paz, y la vida eterna por venir. Es cierto que toda la humanidad está en el exilio, pero hay quienes cuyo abandono es extremo. Durante estos días tan sagrados de fe, somos conscientes de aquellos en Tierra Santa, especialmente, pero no exclusivamente, que son crucificados y abandonados en la guerra, la destrucción, la muerte y el desplazamiento. Estos abandonados se configuran más estrechamente con nuestro Señor crucificado en su sufrimiento.

Lubich ofrece esta visión y esperanza: “Jesús abandonado es el más podado, a quien ni el cielo ni la tierra parecían querer… Porque había sido desarraigado, tanto de la tierra como del cielo, unió a los desarraigados de Dios.”

Por lo tanto, Él y sólo Él es el camino para llegar más allá de las barreras del odio y la violencia hacia la unidad por la que oró en la Última Cena, “para que todos sean uno.” (Juan 17:22)

Nuevamente, de la sabiduría de Lubich y del Movimiento de los Focolares leemos: “Esto es todo, amar como él nos amó, hasta el punto de experimentar por nosotros la sensación de estar abandonado por su Padre. Por Jesús, de hecho, ganamos perdiendo, vivimos muriendo. El grano de trigo tiene que morir para producir la espiga; necesitamos ser podados para poder dar buenos frutos. Ésta es la ley de Jesús, su paradoja. El Espíritu Santo nos está haciendo comprender que para realizar la oración de Jesús ‘que todos sean uno’ es necesario acoger a Jesús abandonado en nuestra desunión. Jesús abandonado es el camino, la llave, el secreto.”

Estas son palabras de sabiduría para nosotros durante la Semana Santa en la línea de San Pablo. El Espíritu Santo ha inspirado a muchos en los procesos sinodales y de reinvención en nuestra diócesis para abordar la necesidad de una mayor sanación y unidad en nuestras comunidades de fe.

El Espíritu Santo nos guía durante la Semana Santa a mirar a Cristo crucificado y abandonado como el poder y la sabiduría de Dios en quien todo es posible. El Espíritu Santo que resucitó a Jesús de entre los muertos y que habita en nosotros por la fe y el bautismo, nos inspirará a proclamar el ¡Aleluya! el Domingo de Pascua porque ha resucitado. Pero antes de llegar a la tumba vacía, que el Señor crucificado y abandonado nos lave en su sangre.


By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
The American Catholic experience has been blessed far and wide from the outset by the sacrifice and dedication of religious women and men who arrived with their immigrant communities or came soon after to live and serve among them. At times, God had to raise up these dedicated servants from within to respond to the glaring needs of marginalized and persecuted populations in our country.

In our southern and western regions Sister Katherine Drexel, a native-born Philadelphian, (PA) and the sisters of the Blessed Sacrament come to mind who served Black and Indigenous Americans since their founding in 1891. Our own Sister Amelia Breton who serves as the coordinator of Intercultural Ministry, is a member of this religious community.

Cristiana Dell’Anna stars in a scene from the movie “Cabrini.” The OSV News classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (OSV News photo/Angel Studios)

At the beginning of the 19th century Elizabeth Ann Seton founded the Sisters of Charity in 1809, the first American Religious Sisters congregation. She was deeply committed to education and is recognized as the foundress of Catholic school education in the United States. Members of her community came to Natchez in 1847 at the behest of Bishop John Joseph Chanche, S.S. to begin the legacy of Catholic education in our diocese. This religious community maintained a presence in Natchez until the early 2000s. Furthermore, God raised up our own Sister Thea Bowman from among the African American population in Canton to become a prophetic messenger of hope for Black Catholics and for all who are marginalized. Her cause for canonization is underway.

In theaters on March 8 across our nation, “Cabrini” is scheduled for release. It is the story of Frances Xavier Cabrini who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Italy in the second half of the 19th century. The name of her community and her chosen middle name in honor of St. Francis Xavier, co-patron of the Missions, declare the purpose of her life and the charism of her community to bring the Gospel in its fulness to the nations. It is a compelling production, exceptional in its content and acting.

In one of the decisive scenes, Mother Cabrini and Pope Leo XIII are having tea and discussing possibilities. She is trying to convince him to give her order permission to venture east to China as she explains, “my mission is bigger than this world.” He calmly and clearly responds: “In that case it doesn’t matter where you begin.” He directed her to go west to New York to serve among the Italian immigrants who came in large numbers to the east coast between 1850 and 1910. The movie proceeds to realistically portray the harsh conditions for immigrants in the church and in society in the late 19th and early 20th century in New York.

On a personal note, it was around 1910 that my maternal grandparents who were from southern Italy passed through Ellis Island and began a new life with the clothes on their backs and a dream in their hearts. The movie is a gem that illustrates the plight, the vulnerability and determination of the immigrant population in ways that are true from one generation to the next. Against all odds Mother Cabrini succeeded in gaining a foothold in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, and from there fulfilled her mission around the globe, a mission that was “bigger than this world.”

The movie never missed a beat in capturing her heroic virtue and perseverance. This story of religious life that passed from the margins of church and society to the mainstream of both, will be a catechetical and evangelizing tool for generations to come. Kudos to all who had a hand in its development and production.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.

Moreover, the story of Mother Cabrini can challenge our Catholic communities and all people of good will to respond to the challenges, and at times crises, of immigration through the lens of the Gospel imperative to “welcome the stranger” and the ideals that are forever inscribed on the Statue of Liberty in the poem The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus. The following is from the second of two stanzas: “Give me your tired your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, send these the homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

In our times, many religious are serving the immigrant population at our borders and in many corners of our nation. Often, they are as heroic as Mother Cabrini because some are pressuring to shut them down, and extremists are even advocating that they be shot. The current reality of immigration with its blessings and its burdens challenges us to go beyond the political posturing and invective that too often dominate the public narrative. In the time ahead we will add our voice to the public domain.

Diócesis entra en Tercera Fase de Pastoral Reimaginada

Por Joanna Puddister King

JACKSON – La Diócesis de Jackson comenzó un proceso de reinvención pastoral de un año de duración en Pentecostés de 2023 y espera concluir en Pentecostés de este año.

Este proceso diocesano se inició como resultado del Sínodo sobre Sinodalidad en 2021.

Durante el proceso del Sínodo se articularon tres prioridades en toda la diócesis que incluyeron todos los datos demográficos (edad, género, raza, etc.). Estas prioridades eran un llamado a la sanación y la unidad; una mayor catequesis en todos los niveles; y una comprensión más profunda de las Escrituras.

El proceso de reinvención se extiende a lo largo de cinco fases principales. La primera fase se desarrolló desde Pentecostés hasta principios de septiembre de 2023, en la que cada pastor o ministro eclesial laico (LEM) estableció un comité de reinvención pastoral y hizo que el comité viera cuatro sesiones de videos de eclesiología y respondiera una serie de preguntas diseñadas para guiar la conversación sobre quiénes somos. como iglesia.

NATCHEZ – El obispo Joseph Kopacz habla sobre el proceso de reimaginación pastoral a sacerdotes, diáconos y LEM de toda la diócesis el martes 20 de febrero en un evento de convocatoria en el Centro de Vida Familiar de la Basílica de Santa María. (Foto de Joanna King)

El obispo Kopacz dijo que la primera fase “prepara la mesa para recordarnos lo que significa ser una iglesia y lo que nuestra identidad como católicos requiere de nosotros en el mundo. Nuestro deseo era crear un entendimiento común a partir del cual desarrollar una visión para la Diócesis de Jackson”.

“En otras palabras, fomentar un sentido de unidad subrayado por las cuatro marcas de la iglesia”.

A las parroquias se les dio hasta finales de enero de este año para completar la fase dos, y cada parroquia realizó una evaluación parroquial que incluyó la situación actual en la parroquia local: los bordes en crecimiento; las áreas que están disminuyendo; y las oportunidades de colaboración con otras parroquias de la zona y otras realidades locales.

El obispo Kopacz declaró anteriormente que en la fase dos, “reimaginaremos las responsabilidades de cada parroquia y misión para fomentar un sentido de unidad, subrayado por las cuatro marcas de la iglesia y basado en datos”, dijo el obispo Kopacz.

Esta fase también incluyó un informe detallado sobre la demografía diocesana elaborado por el Centro de Investigación Aplicada en el Apostolado (CARA) de la Universidad de Georgetown. El informe resume la demografía general de la diócesis, así como un perfil de la población católica que vive en los límites de la diócesis.

“Después de analizar los datos demográficos, a las parroquias se les dio la oportunidad de consultar el informe en busca de áreas de crecimiento; evaluar los ministerios y evaluar los desafíos que podrían abordarse”, dijo Fran Lavelle, director de formación en la fe de la diócesis y miembro del equipo central que trabaja en el proceso de reinvención.

NATCHEZ – El Padre Tim Murphy y Fran Lavelle comparten información con uno de los participantes en el proceso de reimaginación pastoral a sacerdotes, diáconos y LEM de toda la diócesis el martes 20 de febrero en un evento de convocatoria en el Centro de Vida Familiar de la Basílica de Santa María. (Foto de Joanna King)

En una convocatoria para sacerdotes, diáconos y LEM celebrada en Natchez durante febrero, el obispo Kopacz y Lavelle cubrieron los hallazgos de la fase dos del informe CARA y dieron una descripción general a los reunidos en la fase tres del proceso de reinvención.

El informe indicó que durante COVID, como se esperaba, hubo una disminución del 50% en todos los sacramentos dentro de la diócesis, con la excepción de los bautismos y confirmaciones infantiles, que experimentaron cada uno una disminución del 39%.

El obispo Kopacz informó en la convocatoria que la investigación de CARA indica que la asistencia a misa a nivel nacional ahora está solo un 2% por debajo de los niveles anteriores a COVID.

Parte del informe CARA destacó el Estudio del panorama religioso de Pew de 2014, en el que el 4% de los adultos encuestados que viven dentro de la Diócesis de Jackson se identificaron como católicos. Con una población actual reportada de 2.138.154 dentro de la diócesis, las estimaciones basadas en encuestas asumirían que hay 85.513 católicos dentro de la diócesis, informó el obispo Kopacz.

En 2021, los católicos registrados en las parroquias ascendieron a 42.850. “Por lo tanto, se puede suponer que hay aproximadamente 42.663 católicos autoidentificados en la diócesis que no asisten a misa ni están activos en una parroquia de ninguna otra manera”, dijo el obispo Kopacz a los reunidos en la convocatoria.

“Entonces, hay muchos que podrían ser bienvenidos y evangelizados”.

Si las tendencias actuales continúan, se espera que la población católica de la diócesis crezca a casi 54.000 para 2030; y a casi 56.000 para 2040.

El obispo Kopacz también destacó la creciente población hispana y planteó la pregunta a considerar: ¿cómo les servimos fiel y eficazmente?

En la reunión estuvieron presentes sacerdotes que sirven a las poblaciones Afroamericanas e Hispanas. (i-d) Jesuraj Xavier, quien administra St Francis Assisi New Albany y St. Matthew Ripley y Alexis Zúñiga, ST, Misionero Trinitario que sirve en Sacred Heart Candem, Holy Child Jesus Canton y St. Anne Carthage, además de ser asesor espiritual del Movimiento Familiar Católico Cristianos, delegación Jackson- Alabama

“Estoy agradecido con varias de nuestras parroquias que se han abierto para invitar a la población hispana a través de misa y liturgia. Es simplemente asombroso ver el crecimiento”.

El obispo Kopacz informó que algunas parroquias, como el Sagrado Corazón en Cantón, están considerando agregar segundas misas en español para acomodar el número de asistentes, ya que a veces solo queda espacio disponible para estar de pie.

La síntesis de los informes parroquiales de la fase dos del proceso de reimaginación mostró áreas de oportunidades, como la creciente población hispana, el alcance a diferentes grupos étnicos dentro de la diócesis y el desarrollo económico en varias áreas de la diócesis. La creciente población hispana también fue señalada como uno de los tres desafíos dentro de la Diócesis de Jackson, específicamente en cómo evangelizar a la población. Los otros dos desafíos incluyen el envejecimiento de la población y la migración de adultos jóvenes fuera del estado.

En el evento de convocatoria, cada sacerdote dentro de sus respectivos decanatos recibió los informes que cada uno completó en la fase dos con el análisis de datos que completaron, al ingresar a la fase tres del proceso de reinvención. “Cada parroquia ha identificado su realidad y lo que es importante… como explorar oportunidades de crecimiento en general, como llegar a la creciente población hispana”, dijo el obispo Kopacz.

También les recordó a cada uno que recordara el tema del sínodo para alcanzar un nivel más profundo de “Comunión, Participación y Misión” cuando se reúnan para examinar sus respectivos decanatos y parroquias.

Este mes, la tercera fase del proceso de reinvención consistirá en sesiones guiadas y facilitadas para que cada uno de los seis decanatos de la Diócesis de Jackson trabaje en los desafíos, tanto en las áreas crecientes como en las áreas decrecientes del ministerio a nivel local y dentro del decanato.

“El objetivo de la fase tres es obtener una perspectiva realista de la salud y el bienestar del decanato dentro del entorno de cada parroquia individual; y analizar áreas de redundancia y áreas potenciales para compartir recursos”, compartió Lavelle.

En cuanto a los informes compilados de casi todas las parroquias, Lavelle dijo que el material “es muy poderoso y que se ha realizado un trabajo realmente bueno y reflexivo a nivel parroquial para analizar los desafíos, las ventajas crecientes y saber qué es lo que está sucediendo”. Necesitamos seguir haciendo crecer nuestras parroquias”.

Lavelle también señaló que no se trata sólo de que los sacerdotes o religiosos hagan cambios en sus respectivas parroquias. “Tenemos que empezar a pensar en quiénes ocupan nuestros bancos los fines de semana e involucrarlos y empoderarlos para que hagan el trabajo con nosotros”.

En abril, el obispo Kopacz visitará cada decanato para celebrar una Misa de Acción de Gracias y reunirse con las personas clave que trabajaron en la reinvención pastoral de cada parroquia.

El Papa Francisco, a través del proceso del sínodo, pidió a los obispos que involucraran más a sus respectivas diócesis. El obispo Kopacz dijo que a través de las visitas al decanato y de participar en “una conversación eucarística de Acción de Gracias”, la diócesis está haciendo precisamente eso a través del proceso de reimaginación a través del diálogo fructífero, el discernimiento y la apertura al Espíritu Santo.

La cuarta fase del proceso de reinvención incluirá un período de discernimiento sobre los informes de los seis decanatos de la diócesis y una carta pastoral del obispo Kopacz, que describirá el hallazgo en cada decanato y establecerá parámetros para la implementación de una visión diocesana general.

“Creo que fiel al espíritu de sinodalidad y a todo lo que puede surgir de ello a través del poder del Espíritu Santo… este es un buen proceso que dará frutos en el futuro”, dijo el obispo Kopacz.

Decade of faith: Bishop Kopacz celebrates 10-year milestone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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