Carta del obispo Joseph Kopacz

Dear Friends in Christ,
This week the Diocese of Jackson released the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. It is our hope and prayer that releasing these names will confirm our commitment to transparency in the pursuit of our Promise to Protect and our Pledge to Heal the harm caused by abuse in the church. The list was posted on the diocesan website and is printed inside this Mississippi Catholic on pages 6-7.
We know that this list will cause pain to many individuals and communities and I am truly, deeply sorry for that pain. The crime of abuse of any kind is a sin, but the abuse of children and vulnerable adults is especially egregious. First and foremost, it is a sin against the innocent victims, but also a sin against the Church and our communities. It is a sin that cries out for justice.
The time for trying to keep these cases quiet in the church has come to an end. We now know that this deep wound in the Body of Christ will not heal until we lay bare the sins of the past and work together toward reconciliation. Releasing this list is not the end of a process, it is another step forward in the ongoing effort to reform our church.
In addition to the list, look for additional information about how our Office of Child Protection and Safe Environments is working to screen and educate employees and volunteers as well as educating children and families in self-protection, in hopes of preventing abuse in the future.
The majority of the cases on our list are from the past. This does not make them any less hurtful or significant, but it does indicate that the measures the Church and the Diocese of Jackson have put into place to prevent abuse are having an positive impact.
We know it can still take years for a victim to come forward. We want to hear from those who have been abused by a member of the clergy or an employee of the church. Not only is it our legal duty to report these cases, helping victims find healing and wholeness is our moral imperative. Anyone can contact our Victim’s Assistance Coordinator Valerie McClellan at (601) 326-3728 to seek help.
Again, I apologize from the depths of my heart to those who have been sexually abused by clergy and church personnel, to the families damaged by these crimes and to the Catholic community for the scandal this scourge has brought upon our Church. There is no room for this evil in our society or our churches.
It is my hope that the release of this list during the penitential season of Lent will remind us to pray for all those impacted by abuse and recommit all of us to the Promise to Protect and the Pledge to Heal.
Yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Joseph R. Kopacz
Bishop Diocese of Jackson

Los antiguos santos ofrecen orientación, esperanza durante las pruebas modernas

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
De muchas y variadas formas, invocamos las intercesiones de los santos en nuestra oración, con una devoción singular a través de María, la madre de nuestro Señor Jesucristo.
A principios de esta semana publicamos los nombres de sacerdotes, hermanos religiosos y diáconos que fueron acusados creíblemente de abuso sexual de menores. Al mismo tiempo, tres santos especiales, faros de esperanza para nuestros tiempos difíciles, convergieron en nuestro calendario litúrgico: San Patricio (17 de marzo), San Cirilo de Jerusalén (18 de marzo) y San José (19 de marzo).
San José es el santo patrón de la Iglesia Universal debido a su singular vocación en el plan de salvación de Dios como el esposo de María y el padre adoptivo de Jesús. San Juan Pablo II, hace casi 30 años, el 15 de agosto de 1989, bendijo a la iglesia universal en su Exhortación apostólica, Redemptoris Custos, un documento sobre San José como el Guardián del Redentor.
Elegimos su fiesta, el 19 de marzo, para divulgar los nombres de los clérigos acusados creíblemente del abuso sexual de menores con la intención especial de que este guardián del Redentor y patrón de la Iglesia Universal pueda renovarnos en nuestro cuidado por los miembros de la Iglesia, la familia de Dios, el Cuerpo de Cristo.
En las palabras y pensamiento de san Juan Pablo II leemos. “San José fue llamado por Dios para servir a la persona y la misión de Jesús directamente a través del ejercicio de su paternidad. Es precisamente de esta manera que, como enseña la liturgia de la Iglesia, cooperó en la plenitud del tiempo en el gran misterio de la salvación y es verdaderamente un ‘ministro de la salvación’. Su paternidad se expresa concretamente en haber hecho de su vida un servicio, un sacrificio al misterio de la Encarnación y a la misión redentora relacionada con él”.
Debajo de esta luz, oramos para que todos los ordenados para el servicio en la iglesia puedan dedicar sus vidas como un sacrificio al misterio de la Encarnación, la Palabra hecha carne, el Redentor. San José, ora pro nobis.
El 18 de marzo celebramos la fiesta de San Cirilo de Jerusalén, no muy conocida en la corte celestial canonizada, pero a quien la tradición conoce como un gran evangelizador y catequista. Le confiamos a todos los catecúmenos y candidatos que buscan estar en plena comunión con la Iglesia Católica.
En el primer domingo de Cuaresma en todo el mundo católico, la Iglesia Universal en el Rito de la Elección convocó por nombre a aquellos que se encuentran en este viaje hacia la plena comunión en la Vigilia Pascual.
La alegría y la esperanza resonaron en toda la iglesia de San Francisco de Asís en Madison hace dos semanas cuando se proclamaron los nombres de los elegidos y los candidatos. Por otro lado, a principios de esta semana publicamos los nombres de todos los clérigos acusados de manera creíble que prestaron servicios en la Diócesis de Jackson desde 1924.
Por supuesto, esta lista evoca una serie de sentimientos negativos en su mayor parte. Sin embargo, no exclusivamente, porque muchos experimentan una sensación de alivio y oran para que comience un nuevo día que permitirá a la Iglesia avanzar en la verdad y la esperanza.
Esta no es una acción punitiva por parte de la Iglesia contra aquellos que han ofendido. Más bien, la declaración pública se hace por el bien de la transparencia, el restablecimiento de la confianza y especialmente para la curación de las víctimas, sus familias y la iglesia. San Cirilo de Jerusalén, ora pro nobis.
El 17 de marzo, la Iglesia Universal no pudo celebrar la fiesta de San Patricio porque aterrizó el segundo domingo de Cuaresma. (Sin embargo, para el desfile y los devotos de la fiesta, el sábado 16 estuvo bien.) Todos los alborotos y las festividades, una excelente manera de marcar la transición del invierno a la primavera en el hemisferio norte, pueden eclipsar fácilmente a los asombrosos espirituales y terrenales. Logros vinculados de este gran santo.
No hay suficiente espacio en un periódico, y mucho menos en una columna para registrarlos todos, pero uno en particular es sobresaliente, ya que la Iglesia Católica se esfuerza por reconciliar las heridas y superar el escándalo de los problemas de abuso sexual.
Durante la vida de San Patricio, la era cristiana naciente en Irlanda erradicó el comercio bárbaro de la trata de personas de los celtas paganos. Desarrollaron el mismo sistema de destrucción humana que impulsó el comercio de esclavos de África, que ahora se presenta en el Museo de Derechos Civiles de Mississippi.
La Iglesia, especialmente en las últimas décadas, se ha comprometido a erradicar el flagelo del abuso sexual, y hasta la fecha la marea está cambiando. Con San Patricio como nuestra guía, podemos redoblar nuestros esfuerzos para erradicar el pecado bárbaro del abuso sexual.
San Patricio, ora, pro nobis.
Aunque los lamentos marcan todos los rincones de esta edición del periódico Mississippi Catholic, las semillas de la verdad, la compasión, la justicia y la sanación ya están plantadas y traen una nueva primavera a toda nuestra diócesis.
Que el llamado del Señor para la conversión no caiga en oídos sordos durante este tiempo de Cuaresma, ahora y siempre.

Ancient Saints offer guidance, hope during modern trials

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
In many and varied ways we call upon the intercessions of the saints in our prayer, with a singular devotion through Mary, the mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Earlier this week we released the names of priests, religious brothers and deacon who have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors. At the same time three special saints, beacons of hope for our troubled times, converged on our liturgical calendar: Saint Patrick (March 17), Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (March 18) and Saint Joseph (March 19).
Saint Joseph is the patron saint of the Universal Church due to his singular vocation in God’s plan of salvation as the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. Saint John Paul II, nearly 30 years ago on August 15, 1989, blessed the universal church with his Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris Custos, a document on Saint Joseph as the Guardian of the Redeemer. We chose his feast day, March 19, to release the names of clerics credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors with the special intention that this guardian of the Redeemer and patron of the Universal Church may renew us in our care for the members of the family of God, the Body of Christ.
In the words and thought of Saint John Paul II we read. “Saint Joseph was called by God to serve the person and mission of Jesus directly through the exercise of his fatherhood. It is precisely in this way that, as the Church’s Liturgy teaches, he cooperated in the fullness of time in the great mystery of salvation and is truly a “minister of salvation.” His fatherhood is expressed concretely in his having made his life a service, a sacrifice to the mystery of the Incarnation and to the redemptive mission connected with it.”
In this light we pray that all ordained for service in the church may dedicate their lives as a sacrifice to the mystery of the Incarnation, the Word made flesh, the Redeemer.
Saint Joseph, ora pro nobis.
On March 18 we celebrated the feast of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, not well known in the canonized celestial cohort, but whom tradition knows as a great evangelizer and catechist. We entrust to him all catechumens and candidates who seek to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.
On the first Sunday in Lent throughout the Catholic world the Universal Church in the Rite of Election called by name those who are on this journey to full communion at the Easter Vigil. Joy and hope resounded throughout Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Madison two weeks ago when the names of the elect and the candidates were proclaimed. On the other hand, earlier this week we posted the names of all credibly accused clerics who served in the Diocese of Jackson going back to 1924.
Of course, this roll call evokes a range of negative feelings for the most part. Yet, not exclusively, because many are experiencing a sense of relief and pray that a new day is dawning that will allow the Church to move forward in truth and hope. This is not a punitive action on the part of the Church against those who have offended. Rather, the public statement is done for the sake of transparency, the restoration of trust and especially for the healing of victims, their families and the church.
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, ora pro nobis.
On March 17, the Universal Church could not celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick because it landed on the second Sunday of Lent. (However, for the parade and party devotees Saturday the 16th was just fine.) All of the hoopla and festivities, a great way to mark the transition from winter to spring in the Northern Hemisphere, can too easily overshadow the astonishing spiritual and earth-bound accomplishments of this great saint. There is not enough space in a newspaper, let alone a column to log them all, but one in particular is outstanding as the Catholic Church labors to reconcile the wounds and overcome the scandal of the sexual abuse troubles.
Within the lifetime of Saint Patrick, the nascent Christian era in Ireland eradicated the barbaric human trafficking trade of the pagan Celtic people. They had developed the same system of human destruction that powered the African slave trade which is now featured in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The Church, in recent decades especially, has committed herself to eradicating the scourge of sexual abuse, and to date the tide is turning. With Saint Patrick as our guide, may we redouble our efforts to eradicate the barbaric sin of sexual abuse.
Saint Patrick, ora, pro nobis.
Although lamentation marks every corner of this edition of the Mississippi Catholic the seeds of truth, compassion, justice and healing are already planted and bringing about a new spring throughout our diocese. May the call of the Lord for conversion not fall upon deaf ears during this Lenten season and always.

Bishop schedule

Sunday, March 10, 2 p.m. – Rite of Election, Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish.
Tuesday, March 19, 10 a.m. – School visit and lunch, Jackson Sister Thea Bowman School
Thursday, March 21, 8:15 a.m. – School Mass, Clarksdale St. Elizabeth School.
Saturday, March 23 – Abbey Youth Fest, Covington, Louisiana.
Sunday, March 24, 11 a.m. – Admission to candidacy for Andrew Bowden, Pearl St. Jude Parish.
Monday, April 1, 6:55 a.m. – Men’s Prayer Breakfast, Jackson St. Richard Parish.
Tuesday, April 2, 9 a.m. – Founder’s Day School Mass, Madison St. Anthony School.
Tuesday, April 2, 6 p.m. – Confirmation Mass, Greenwood St. Francis of Assisi (will include candidates from Immaculate Heart of Mary)
Wednesday, April 3, 9 a.m. – School Mass, Greenwood St. Francis of Assisi.
Thursday, April 4, 8:30 a.m. – School Mass, Meridian St. Patrick School.
Saturday, April 6, 5 p.m. – Community celebration honoring Bishop Kopacz and community leaders, St. Gabriel Mercy Center, Mound Bayou.

Only public events are listed on this schedule and all events are subject to change.
Please check with the local parish for further details

Conversion: all things possible with God

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
The demand for conversion resounds throughout the Catholic Church this Lent as we dig even deeper to uproot the evil of child sexual abuse and its accompanying demon of abuse of power by Church leadership. Although conversion or metanoia can be painfully slow whether in the life of an individual or in an institution, truth and the demand for justice and mercy compel us in this historical moment to know that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1,37). The Good News of Jesus Christ cannot be a beacon of hope for the world unless the light of the Gospel transforms the Church.
During this Lent and always I give thanks to all who have a deep love for the Church, the Body of Christ, and who want to see a season of refreshment, but who understand that this is not a matter of cheap grace, in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Saint Peter in the proclamation of the Kerygma on that first Pentecost points out the way for every generation. “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment” (Acts 3,19). May we never grow weary of accompanying those who carry the unjust burden of sexual abuse experienced in our Church communities especially, but also encouraging hope and healing to those have are suffering from this scourge wherever its source.
On Ash Wednesday we were signed with the ashes of repentance, the path of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These three pillars, set in the soil of the Word of God and the Eucharist, the body and blood of the Lord poured out for us, are the lamps for our feet during the sacred season of Lent, but truly, for every season of every year as a way of life. It is easy to compartmentalize these fundamentals of our faith, with a light meal on Friday, a quick prayer in the morning or a painless check made out on a Sunday. Let us thank God for those breakthrough moments in our lives that bring us to our knees, that create deep hungers, and force us to rely on the generosity of others.
When I traveled in India recently for two weeks, there were obvious signs of poverty and desperation, as you might imagine, as well as the selfless Gospel dedication of ordained, professed and lay disciples. In southern India one of the priests was recalling the immediate aftermath of the severe flooding last year. Rich and poor were washed out their homes and forced to find temporary housing, together. Some of the wealthy were ashamed of this sudden deprivation and hid behind the screens in the daily distribution of the bread hoping to go unnoticed. Gradually, they came out of isolation and today are some of the largest benefactors toward the ministry of serving the abandoned. Often, it takes a crisis to unshackle a deeper experience of our common humanity which the veneer of social strata too easily obscure.
Each of us have our favorite scripture passages that can keep us on the path for the spiritual marathon ahead. Two verses in particular speak to my heart as well as to the heart of the Church in our day. Saint Paul encourages us in our Lenten discipline as he encouraged Timothy. “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord.” (2Timothy 1,7-8). Each of us as individuals and families can apply the three pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving at work in Saint Paul’s words.
Also, as a Church, with Saint Paul, we know that we are at the service of God’s Kingdom in this world. “So do not let your good be reviled. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by others. Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another.” (Romans 14, 16-19) In this spirit we can rebuild the household of God, the Church, in the midst of crisis, and for all godly reasons in order to remove the blindness of sin. I end with the words of Pope Francis from his 2017 Lenten message.
“Dear friends, Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the 40 days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.”

Bendiciones abundan en la visita a la India

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
L Al volar de Mumbai a Delhi, y el posterior viaje al Taj Mahal, nos permitió reflexionar sobre 10 días increíbles en la India.
El padre Albeen Vatti, pastor de la parroquia Saint Francis en Madison y sacerdote de Warangal, y yo llegamos a las 2:30 a.m. del viernes 8 de febrero. Inmediatamente las imágenes, sonidos, sabores y olores se activaron y, a veces, abrumaron mis sentidos y las categorías familiares de la realidad física. Pero, superando con creces, el gran volumen de la humanidad, fueron las bendiciones de la hospitalidad india en cada curva del camino.
Nuestra primera parada en esta peregrinación pastoral fue la casa del obispo de Warangal, Udumala Bala donde él y su personal nos dieron una cálida bienvenida a la que se convirtió en nuestra base de operaciones para los próximos cinco días.
Aunque estábamos arrastrando los efectos del jet lag, después de 31 horas de viaje, nos lanzamos al flujo de la vida india con algunas visitas a las aldeas. Allí conocí a las familias de los padres Pradeep Thirumalreddy de Saint Mary en Batesville y Raju Macherla, capellán del Hospital Saint Dominic, Jackson. Estos fueron encuentros alegres con oportunidades para orar por la sanación del padre del sacerdote Pradeep, quien lucha contra el cáncer, y por bendiciones para la hermana del Padre Raju, que está a punto de casarse.
En una de nuestras salidas pastorales visitamos al padre Basani Channappareddy, ex pastor de Inmaculada Concepción en West Point, a quien le está yendo bien en su nueva asignación.
Las visitas requirieron varias horas de viaje de ida y vuelta, e inmediatamente la densidad, el ritmo y el remolino del tráfico y vehículos de transporte en la India atrajeron mi atención. Automóviles, motor -triciclo (rickshaws), motocicletas, bicicletas, personas y animales (cabras, búfalos, perros, ovejas, vacas, etc.), todos con corneta y / o destinados a una posición ventajosa en la implacable ráfaga de un caos organizado.
A menudo, nos acercábamos a pulgadas de vehículos o personas adyacentes sin incidentes hasta que chocamos a dos cabras en el campo. Una gran multitud de pobladores vinieron a pelear por su compensación por las cabras, pero sostengo que fue un incidente sin culpa ya que las cabras comían hojas felizmente mientras todos discutían.
Dentro de la segunda nación más poblada de la tierra, la Iglesia Católica, pequeña en número, pero con raíces que se remontan a Santo Tomás Apóstol y San Francisco Javier en la era moderna, lleva la Buena Nueva de Jesucristo al centro de la sociedad india.
El compromiso con la educación católica en toda la Diócesis de Warangal es asombroso, donde aproximadamente 50 mil niños hasta el grado 10 están matriculados en escuelas católicas.
Para ponerlo en contexto, 15 millones de personas residen en el territorio de la diócesis, pero solo hay 70 mil católicos. Al obispo Bala le gusta decir que dondequiera que la Iglesia asume la comisión del Señor para hacer discípulos de todas las naciones, la educación casi siempre está en el centro de la misión. “Donde hay una Iglesia, hay una escuela”.
La mayoría de los estudiantes en las escuelas católicas altamente respetadas, en áreas urbanas y rurales, son hindúes seguidos en número por musulmanes y católicos. Las escuelas proclaman la Buena Nueva de Jesucristo y la tradición católica de manera fiel y creativa, y en el centro de esta tradición intelectual está la elevación de la dignidad de la persona de todas las tradiciones y culturas de fe. La formación en sabiduría, conocimiento y gracia educa a toda la persona hecha a imagen y semejanza de Dios
Del mismo modo, con una población de mil 400 millones, hay innumerables personas sumidas en la indigencia y el abandono y, como Santa Madre Teresa, la Iglesia está allí para servir.
La Diócesis de Warangal atiende a personas vulnerables a través de servicios residenciales y de salud para personas sin hogar, enfermos mentales, infectados o afectados por el VIH / SIDA, escuelas para personas problemas del habla, sordos y ancianos.
Hermanos y hermanas religiosos, viviendo en comunidad, dedican sus vidas a estos huéspedes.
Dado que muchos en la India hablan inglés, pude celebrar misa regularmente, tanto en la catedral como en las celebraciones parroquiales en toda la diócesis. En cada reunión de adoración, los colores vibrantes del sari, el atuendo tradicional de las mujeres indias, y las abundantes flores crearon un ambiente festivo para la oración.
Lo más destacado de la experiencia de Warangal fue la visita a la granja del Padre Albeen, donde su familia y toda la aldea colocaron una alfombra de bienvenida. Bajé por la calle principal en un carro tirado por bueyes con dos niños señalando el camino. Los padres del padre Albeen, que celebraron 60 años de matrimonio en mayo pasado, estaban radiantes por dar la bienvenida a casa a su hijo y al obispo de Mississippi.
Después de cinco días en Warangal, fuimos a Hyderabad para permanecer dos noches en el seminario donde muchos sacerdotes de Warangal recibieron su formación. Los padres y la hermana del padre Suresh Thirumalareddy, el pastor de Saint James en Magnolia y el capellán de la Escuela Hermanas de Notre Dame en Chatawa viajaron desde lejos para poder saludarme en el seminario y ofrecer de regalo flores y el tradicional pañuelo indio.
Después de disfrutar la hospitalidad de la hermana y la familia del padre Albeen, María, Vincent y su hija Teju, volamos a Cochin, en el estado de Kerala, en el suroeste de la India. El padre Sajii Sebastian, Provincial de los Heraldos de la Buena Nueva, de la Provincia de Saint Paul nos acompañó durante la visita de dos días. En ruta a la Casa Provincial, visitamos a las familias de los padres Agustín Palimattam, de Saint Patrick y Saint Joseph en Meridian, y Antony Chakkalakkal pastor de Saint Francis en Aberdeen y ministro sacramental de Saint Helen en Amory, ambos sacerdotes, Heraldos de los Buena Nueva sirviendo en Jackson. Como he señalado, la hospitalidad india es una bendición a la vista y experimentarla es aún más alegre cuando es en el hogar familiar de un sacerdote que sirve como misionero.
Los Heraldos de los Buena Nueva es una comunidad religiosa recientemente establecida (1984) de más de 90 sacerdotes. Su lema, Amor en Acción es evidente en ministerios cruciales. Celebramos misa y visitamos a los residentes de un hogar adyacente a la Casa Provincial. También nos abrimos paso por la ladera de una montaña donde almorzamos en una casa para enfermos mentales, que domina una cadena montañosa que supera los 2.400 metros.
A continuación, en el peregrinaje pastoral, fue un vuelo a Mumbai, el centro económico de la India con una población de 25 millones de habitantes, de los cuales 8 a 10 millones viven en los barrios marginales. Pasamos un día en el Priorato de Saint Norbet donde el Padre Xavier Amirtham, pastor de la Sagrada Familia de Jackson, fue el Prior durante ocho años.
Después de celebrar la misa dominical en su parroquia de San José Obrero, visitamos el barrio bajo donde viven muchos de los niños de su escuela parroquial. De este ambiente increíblemente empobrecido, cada día, personas jóvenes y mayores, emergen con gran dignidad para estudiar y trabajar.
Mumbai es una ciudad de la costa oeste de la India en el mar Arábigo y la brisa constante del agua atempera el intenso calor de la región. Mientras nos dirigimos hacia el Taj Mahal, doy gracias al Señor por las muchas bendiciones de esta peregrinación pastoral.
En India lo notable es la forma de expresar múltiples culturas e idiomas donde la Iglesia Católica es un sacramento vivo de la presencia de Dios.

Blessings abound on visit to India

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
Flying from Mumbai to Delhi, and the subsequent drive to the Taj mahal, afforded the time to reflect upon an amazing 10 of 14 days in India. Father Albeen Vatti, the pastor of Madison Saint Francis Parish, and a priest of Warangal, and I arrived at 2:30 a.m. on Friday, February 8, and immediately the sights, sounds, tastes and smells engaged and, at times, overwhelmed my senses and familiar categories of physical reality. But far surpassing the sheer volume of humanity, were the blessings of Indian hospitality around every bend in the road.

MUMBAI, India – Bishop Joseph Kopacz, guided by Father Albeenreddy Vatti, visits the slums of Mumbai while on a pastoal visit to of parts of India. Almost a dozen priests from India serve in the Diocese of Jackson. (Photos courtesy of Father Albeenreddy Vatti)

Our first stop on this pastoral pilgrimage was the bishop’s house in Warangal where Bishop Udumala Bala and staff warmly welcomed us to what became our base of operations for the next five days. Although we were dragging from the effects of jet lag after 31 hours of travel, we jumped into the flow of Indian life with a few visits out to the villages where I met the families of Father Pradeep Thirumalreddy, the pastor of Batesville Saint Mary, and Father Raju Macherla, the chaplain of Saint Dominic Hospital, Jackson. These were joyful encounters with opportunities for prayers for healing for Father Pradeep’s father, struggling with cancer, and for blessings for the sister of Father Raju, who is about to be married.
On one of our pastoral outings we visited with Father Basani Channappareddy, the former pastor of West Point Immaculate Conception, who is doing well in his new assignment. The visits required several hours of driving out and back, and immediately the density, pace and swirl of traffic in India riveted my attention. Cars, auto-rickshaws, transport vehicles, motorcycles and motor bikes, bicycles, people and animals (goats, buffalos, dogs, sheep, cows, etc.) all honked and/or aimed for an advantageous position in the unrelenting flurry of organized chaos. Often, we came within inches of adjacent vehicles or people without incident until we hit two goats out in the countryside.
A large throng of townspeople came to quarrel for their position and compensation for the goats, but I maintain it was a no fault incident since the goats were happily munching leaves as everyone argued.
Within the second most populous nation on earth, the Catholic Church, small in number, but with roots going back to Saint Thomas the Apostle and to Saint Francis Xavier in the modern era, brings the Good News of Jesus Christ into the center of Indian society. The commitment to Catholic education throughout the Diocese of Warangal is astounding where approximately 50,000 children up to grade 10 are enrolled in Catholic Schools. To put it in context, 15 million people reside within the territory of the diocese, but there are only 70,000 Catholics.
Bishop Bala is fond of saying that wherever the Church takes up the Lord’s commission to make disciples of all the nations, education nearly always is at the heart of the mission. “Where there is a Church, there is a school.”
Most of the students in the highly-respected Catholic schools in urban and rural areas are Hindu, followed in number by Muslims and Catholics. The schools proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and the Catholic tradition in faithful and creative ways, and at the core of this intellectual tradition is the upliftment of the dignity of the person from all faith traditions and cultures. Formation in wisdom, knowledge and grace educates the whole person made in the image and likeness of God.
Likewise, with a population of 1.4 billion people there are countless people mired in destitution and abandonment, and like Saint Mother Theresa, the Church is there to serve. The Diocese of Warangal serves the vulnerable through health care and residential facilities for the homeless, mentally ill, the infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, schools for the deaf and speech impaired, and the elderly, to name those we visited. Religious brothers and sisters, living in community, dedicate their lives to their guests.
Since many in India speak English, I was able to celebrate Mass regularly, both at the Cathedral and for parish celebrations throughout the diocese. In every gathering for worship, the vibrant colors of the Saree, the traditional attire of the Indian women, and abundant flowers created a festive environment for prayer. A highlight of the Warangal experience was a visit to the homestead of Father Albeen where the whole village, along with Father Albeen’s family, put out the welcome mat. I rode down main street on an oxen-pulled cart with two children pointing the way. Father Albeen’s parents, who celebrated 60 years of marriage last May, were beaming to welcome home their son and the bishop from Mississippi.
After five days in Warangal, we drove to Hyderabad to stay two nights at the seminary where many priests from Warangal received their formation. The parents and sister of Father Suresh Thirumalareddy, the pastor of Magnolia Saint James and chaplain to School Sisters of Notre Dame in Chatawa, drove no small distance to greeting me at the seminary to offer gifts of flowers and the traditional Indian scarf.
After enjoying the hospitality of Father Albeen’s sister and family, Maria, Vincent and their daughter, Teju, we flew to Cochin, in the state of Kerala in Southwest India. Father Sajii Sebastian, the Provincial of the Healds of the Good News of the Saint Paul Province, greeted us and accompanied us for the two-day visit.
In route to the Provincial House we visited the families of Father Augustine Palimattam, the Pastor of Meridian Saint Patrick and Saint Joseph, and Father Antony Chakkalakkal, the pastor of Aberdeen Saint Francis, and the sacramental minister of Amory Saint Helen, who are the Heralds of the Good News Priests serving in Jackson.
As noted, Indian hospitality is a blessing to behold and to experience, and it is even more joyful when the dwelling is the family home of a priest serving as missionaries. The Heralds of the Good News is a recently established (1984) religious community of more than 90 priests but their motto Love in Action is evident in crucial ministries. A home for the abandoned stands adjacent to the Provincial House where we celebrated Mass and visited with the residents. We also snaked our way up a mountain side where we lunched at their home for the mentally ill which overlooks a mountain range exceeding 2,400 meters.
Next on the pastoral pilgrimage was a flight to Mumbai, the economic hub of India with a population of 25 million people, 8 to 10 million of whom live in the slums. We spent a day at Saint Norbet Priory where Father Xavier Amirtham, pastor of Jackson Holy Family, was the Prior for eight years. After celebrating Sunday Mass at their parish of Saint Joseph the Worker, we visited the nearby slum where many of the children in their parish school live.
Out of this incredibly impoverished environment each day people, young and older, emerge with great dignity to study and work. Mumbai is a west coast city of India on the Arabian sea and the steady breeze off the water tempers the otherwise intense heat of the region. As we motor on toward the Taj mahal I give thanks to the Lord for the many blessings of this pastoral pilgrimage. India the remarkable is one way of expressing this nation of multiple cultures and languages where the Catholic Church is a living sacrament of God’s presence.

Quinto Aniversario

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
El 6 de febrero, a principios de esta semana, recapitulé silenciosamente el quinto aniversario de mi ordenación e instalación como el onceavo Obispo de la Diócesis de Jackson.
Como sabemos, algunos días no tienen fin, pero una década puede pasar en un abrir y cerrar de ojos, (1Cor 15). Para mí, los últimos cinco años son oficialmente historia, por haberse movido a la velocidad de una lanzadera de telar, (Job 7,6). Muchos eventos y memorias se destacan vívidamente; algunos deben recuperarse revisando el calendario de un i-Phone; otros resurgen cuando vuelvo a visitar escuelas y parroquias, y otros cuando alguien, en una conversación, me recuerda un evento o encuentro.
Digo todo esto para indicar que el Señor me ha bendecido abundantemente a través del ministerio episcopal que tan generosamente me fue otorgado hace cinco años.
Incluso, los problemas actuales no suprimen la belleza, la verdad y la bondad que han surgido de nuestra renovadas Misión y Visión. Cada día tenemos la oportunidad de proclamar el Evangelio por la forma en que vivimos nuestras vidas para que todos puedan experimentar al Señor crucificado y resucitado.
El atractivo diseño de nuestra Visión diocesana me recuerda, dondequiera que esté en la diócesis, acerca de nuestras prioridades de inspirar a los discípulos, servir a los demás y abrazar la diversidad, así como se mostró en nuestra recién Conferencia Diocesana para Jóvenes. La Visión se ha adoptado y aplicado de manera creativa en toda la diócesis a través de la aplicación de nuestras prioridades pastorales, especialmente para invitar y reconciliar a las comunidades y para enseñar nuestra fe católica, de muchas y variadas formas, al ser buenos escribas en el Reino de los Cielos.
Recordamos las palabras de Jesús en el Evangelio de Mateo: “Cuando un maestro de la ley se instruye acerca del reino de los cielos, se parece al dueño de una casa, que de lo que tiene guardado sabe sacar cosas nuevas y cosas viejas”. (Mt 13,52) Podemos pensar en todos los canales de comunicación y evangelización al alcance de la mano, lo que es nuevo, así como las ya probadas formas de testificar, encontrar y acompañar.
Nuestra primera prioridad pastoral de invitar y reconciliar a las comunidades reconoce el llamado fundamental del Señor a arrepentirse y reconstruir la vida y la Iglesia acorde a las demandas del Evangelio. Esta llamada es siempre antigua y siempre nueva, y debe aplicarse vigorosamente al sufrimiento por la crisis de abuso sexual y al definido trastorno financiero en nuestra diócesis.
Crucificados con el Señor podemos resucitar con Él a una nueva vida.
El 6 de febrero, mi aniversario (que por cierto también es el cumpleaños de mi padre), tomé el largo vuelo a la India para mi primera visita pastoral a la tierra que nos está bendiciendo con sacerdotes dedicados y discípulos misioneros.
Ir cada año a Saltillo, México a nuestra misión de 50 años puede ser un reto, pero el subcontinente de la India será para mí navegar aguas desconocidas. Voy con mi guía de confianza, el Padre Albeen Vatti, pastor de San Francisco en Madison, de la Diócesis de Warangal, donde pasaremos un tiempo con el Obispo Bala, visitando entornos pastorales, así como con algunas familias de los sacerdotes que están sirviendo actualmente en la Diócesis de Jackson.
Desde allí, viajaremos a otros estados de la India para cumplir con visitas pastorales y a lo largo del camino, ver innumerables puntos de interés. La cultura y el modo de vida de esta nación densamente poblada me ofrecerán una experiencia cercana y personal en cada curva del camino. Espero con interés esta oportunidad para visitar la tierra donde el Apóstol Santo Tomás plantó las semillas del Evangelio.
Al hacer una breve pausa para reflexionar sobre este hito de 5 años en mi vida, aunque habrán 18 horas de vuelo a la India para hacer una reflexión considerable, estoy profundamente agradecido a tantos colegas de trabajo en la viña del Señor que sirven en toda la Diócesis, incluyendo ordenados, religiosos y religiosas y laicos, hombres y mujeres, que han respondido como discípulos a las demandas del Evangelio.
Por ejemplo, más de 500 personas asistieron al Día de Desarrollo Diocesano para Profesionales el pasado lunes, dirigido por Monica Applewhite, una líder en el campo de la prevención del abuso.
La cantidad suena como un número bíblico de discípulos a quienes el Señor ha parecido reunir en un solo lugar. (1Cor 15,6). Este evento es simplemente una muestra de los innumerables compañeros de trabajo que en nuestra diócesis están ocupados con los diseños del Señor y la mera mención de todos ellos superaría con creces el espacio disponible en esta edición del periódico Mississippi Catholic.
La belleza de la oración es que se extiende desde un extremo de la tierra hasta el otro y perfora los cielos.
Durante las dos semanas que estaré en la India recordaré, cada día en el altar, a todos ustedes y especialmente a las necesidades de nuestra Diócesis.
Sé que su oración también se extenderá a lo largo de kilómetros pidiendo las bendiciones del Señor en esta extraordinaria visita pastoral mientras los represento ante el pueblo de la India.

Reflecting on five years as bishop

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
On February 6, I quietly marked the fifth anniversary of my ordination and installation as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Jackson. As we know some days never end, but a decade can pass in the twinkling of an eye. (1Cor 15) For me the past five years are officially history, having moved at the speed of a weaver’s shuttle, (Job 7,6).
Many events and memories stand out vividly; some have to be recalled by scrolling through my i-Phone calendar; others surface when I revisit schools and parishes and, still others when someone recalls an event or encounter in conversation.
All of it is to say that the Lord has blessed me abundantly through the episcopal ministry he so graciously bestowed upon me five years ago.
Even the current troubles do not suppress the beauty, truth and goodness that have flowed from our Mission and renewed Vision. Each day we have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel by the way we live our lives so that all can experience the crucified and risen Lord.
The engaging design of our diocesan Vision reminds me wherever I am in the diocese about our priorities of inspiring disciples, serving others and embracing diversity, as was on display at our just completed diocesan youth conference. (See page 7 for photos)
The Vision has been embraced and applied in creative ways throughout the diocese through the application of our Pastoral Priorities, especially to be inviting and reconciling communities and to teach our Catholic faith by being good scribes in the Kingdom of Heaven in many and varied ways. We recall the words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel: “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old,, (13,52).
We can think of all of the channels for communication and evangelization at our fingertips, that which is new, as well as the proven time tested ways of witnessing, encountering and accompanying.
Our first Pastoral Priority to be inviting and reconciling communities recognizes the fundamental call of the Lord to repent and rebuild one’s life and Church on the demands of the Gospel. This call is ever ancient and ever new, and must be vigorously applied to the suffering of the sexual abuse crisis, and the targeted financial upheaval in our diocese.
Crucified with the Lord we can rise with him to new life.
On February 6, my anniversary (which by the way also happens to be my father’s birthday), I am set to take the long flight to India for my first pastoral visit to the land that is blessing us with dedicated priests and missionary disciples. Going to Saltillo, Mexico, each year to our mission of 50 years can be a stretch, but the Indian subcontinent will be unchartered waters for me.
I will be going with my trusty guide, Father Albeen Vatti, pastor of Saint Francis in Madison, of the Diocese of Warangal where we will spend time with Bishop Bala, visiting many pastoral settings as well as some of the families of the priests who are serving currently in the Diocese of Jackson. From there we will travel to other Indian States for pastoral visits, as well as for seeing countless points of interests along the way. The culture and way of life of this densely-populated nation will make for an up close and personal experience at every bend in the road. I am looking forward to this opportunity to visit the land where Saint Thomas the Apostle planted the seeds of the Gospel.
As I briefly pause to reflect upon this five year milestone in my life, although there will be 18 hours of flying time to India to do considerable reflection, I am deeply grateful to so many coworkers in the vineyard of the Lord who serve throughout the diocese. These are the ordained, religious and lay women and men who have responded as disciples to the demands of the Gospel.
For example, more than 500 were on hand for the Diocesan Professional Development Day this past Monday led by Monica Applewhite, a leading practitioner in the field of abuse prevention. It sounds like a biblical number of disciples to whom the Lord has appeared gathered in one place, (1Cor 15,6).
This event is merely a sampling of the countless coworkers in our diocese busy about the Lord’s designs that the mere mentioning of them would far exceed the available space in this edition of the Mississippi Catholic.
The beauty of prayer is that it reaches from one end of the earth to the other and pierces the heavens. During the two weeks that I will be in India I will remember all y’all and the needs of our diocese especially at the altar each day.
I know that your prayer will also reach across the miles asking the Lord’s blessings on this extraordinary pastoral visit as I represent you to the people of India.

Bishop Kopacz Schedule

Monday, Jan. 28, 9:15 a.m. Catholic School’s Week (CSW) Mass, Greenville St. Joseph School.
Tuesday, Jan. 29, 8:15 a.m. CSW Mass, Madison St. Anthony School.
1 p.m. CSW Mass, Madison St. Joseph School.
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 8:15 a.m. CSW Mass, Jackson St. Richard School.
1 p.m. CSW Mass, Jackson Sr. Thea Bowman School.
Thursday, Jan. 31, 9:10 a.m. CSW Mass, Vicksburg Catholic School, followed by library dedications.
3:30 p.m. CSW Rally at the Capitol for all Catholic Schools.
Friday, Feb. 1, 8 a.m. CSW Mass, Natchez Cathedral School.
7 p.m. Opening remarks, Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference, Vicksburg Convention Center.
Sunday, Feb. 3, 10:30 a.m. Closing Mass, Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference, Vicksburg Convention Center.

Only public events are listed on this schedule and all events are subject to change.
Please check with the local parish for further details