February 7 and 21, 2020 issues
March 6 and 27, 2020 issues
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Por Roberto Mena, ST
FOREST – Hay una parábola que habla de un pastor y su rebaño. El pastor es Cristo y la oveja extraviada es cada uno de nosotros. En la vida, ¡qué fácil es vivir con la sensación de estar perdidos! Tarde o temprano el desencanto, la decepción, pueden invadir nuestro corazón. A veces pensamos que fuera del redil vamos a encontrar la verdadera felicidad, mejor comida, mejor techo, mejores condiciones, y nos olvidamos que sólo en el redil estaremos seguros. Cristo, el pastor, guarda las noventa y nueve ovejas buenas y va a buscar a su oveja perdida. Lo hace a través de sus sacerdotes.
El Cardenal Alvaro Ramazzini vino para estar cerca de guatemaltecos en medio de la difícil situación que enfrentan. Una visita de un cardenal de nuestro país es muy importante para ellos, … vino para dar esperanza y fortalecerlos; decirles que Dios no los abandona; muchos de ellos están confundidos.
Están tristes. Están enojados con la situación, porque no saben exactamente qué les va a pasar a ellos y a sus familias. Además, la muestra de que Dios siempre es providente es que una red de organizaciones, incluidas Caridades Católicas, ha estado ayudando a proporcionar alimentos, alquileres y servicios públicos a las familias que perdieron sus ingresos durante las redadas en las que más de 600 personas fueron detenidas, de las cuales más de 200 personas continúan en los centros de detención de ICE.
Celebrando la Eucaristía dio animo a los fieles a seguir dando testimonio de su fe y mantener sus tradiciones religiosas aquí en Estados Unidos. La actitud del Cardenal contrasta con la del presidente Jimmy Morales, quien recientemente se reunió con su homólogo de Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, quien ha proferido comentarios refiriéndose a los migrantes como criminales.
En la sala de mi casa había un cuadro que representaba la orilla de una playa. Estaban dibujadas cuatro huellas de pies sucesivamente y luego las dos huellas de la izquierda iban desapareciendo. Estaba escrita una oración que decía: “Señor cuando yo era pequeño tú estabas a mi lado para que cargarme, pero a medida que fui creciendo tú te fuiste alejando”. Pero Cristo respondía: “Cuando tú eras pequeño yo te llevaba de la mano, pero ahora que has crecido yo te llevo en mis brazos, las huellas que ves son las mías, no las tuyas”.
No tengamos miedo de cargar con nuestra cruz porque Cristo la cargó primero. “No tengáis miedo”, nos repetía el papa Juan Pablo II. No huyamos de los problemas. Hay que cargar con la cruz porque Cristo está en ella. Detrás de una gran obra hay caminos duros y trabajos fatigosos. Seguir a Cristo no va a ser cómodo y dulce. Su cruz será una fuente de paz y serenidad, de alegría y entusiasmo. Hermanos, los invito a cargar con amor nuestra cruz de cada día. Jesús va a nuestro lado, cargando también la suya para salvar al mundo entero. !Que así sea!.
NEW ORLEANS, La. Notre Dame Visit, Pre-discernment trip, Jan. 31 – Feb. 2. While on campus, the men will hear talks about discernment from Father Jim Wehner, rector, take part in a Bible Marathon campus, enjoy community life and witness a beautiful liturgy on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Details: Father Nick Adam firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 366-2335.
PARISH, SCHOOL AND FAMILY EVENTS
AMORY St. Helen, Spirit of Mississippi Women’s Retreat, Feb. 14-16 at Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Ala. This retreat is for the women of the parish. The cost is $200 for a double room and scholarships are available. A deposit of $50 is due by Feb. 1 to Carlos, Ann or Chris. Details: church office (662) 256-8392.
CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories, Knights of Columbus Spaghetti Dinner, Thursday, Feb. 13 from 4-6:30 p.m. at the KC Hall on Highway 8 West. Eat in, take out or drive through. Details: church office (662) 846-6273.
GREENWOOD St. Francis, 34th Annual Mardi Gras Ball, Saturday, Feb. 1 at Jackson State University E-Conference Center, 1230 Raymond Rd., Jackson at 8 p.m. Cost: Tickets are $30. Details: contact any member of the Knights of Peter Claver, Ladies Auxiliary Court #199 or email email@example.com or the church office (662) 453-0623.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, 2nd annual Spaghetti Dinner, Friday, Feb. 7 from 4-8 p.m. Cost: adult plate $10 and kids 12 and under $5 per plate. Details: church office (662) 429-7851.
MERIDIAN Catholic Community of St. Joseph & St. Patrick, Mary: Unveiling Scripture and Tradition, Thursdays, Feb. 6 through March 26 from 6:15-7:30 p.m. Ken Woodward facilitates the Augustine Institutes new Lectio program. Details: Mary Billups to register and reserve study guide at (601) 693-1321 ext. 8.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, ChristLife Part 2: Following Christ, Sunday evenings beginning Feb. 16 until April 5, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 7:15 p.m. meeting for eight weeks. It is for any Catholic Christian. Those who are at the beginning of their spiritual journey will learn the tools to grow in faith and grace. Those who are further along the path to Christ will have the opportunity to share their experiences and practices to encourage others. Details: participants can register at firstname.lastname@example.org by sending in name and phone number.
OLIVE BRANCH Queen of Peace, Calling all men, Saturday, Feb. 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Just bring yourself to relax with the Lord Jesus Christ. Details: church office (662) 895-5007.
SOUTHAVEN Christ the King, Calling all women, Morning of Spirituality, “How do we call others to holiness?” Saturday, Feb. 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Details: church office (662) 342-1073.
COLUMBUS Annunciation School, Parade to honor our Military, Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 9:30 a.m. Details: Katie Fenstermacher at (552) 328-4479 or email@example.com.
JACKSON St. Richard School, Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship, Saturday, Feb. 8 at 10:30 a.m. in the gym. The contest is open to both boys and girls ages 9 to 14. They do not have to be a student at St. Richard School. There is no charge to sign up and entry forms are available in the church office. Refreshments will be provided. Every participant will receive a certificate and the winners receive plaques. Details: Rusty Haydel at (601) 953-9711.
St. Richard School, 7th annual Krewe de Cardinal, Friday, Feb. 21 from 7-11 p.m. at the South Warehouse in Downtown Jackson. Cost: General admission tickets are $50. Proceeds go towards playground upgrades for the upper elementary students. Details: school office (601) 366-1157 or www.strichardschool.org.
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi, Youth Retreat “Anchored in Hope,” Saturday, Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for 7th – 12th graders from around the diocese. It will be led by the National Evangelization Team and will include witness talks by team members, games and fun activities, small group sharing, Mass and more. Details: church office (601) 856-5556.
St. Joseph Catholic School, Bruin Break Tour Day, Tuesday, Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are known for their incredible faith-infused art, academics, theater, music and athletics. Details: Tricia Harris, Advancement Director at (601) 898-4803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MERIDAN St. Patrick School, Countdown 2020, the school’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center. It will include Dinner, 50/50 drawings, silent auction, wine pull and live music. Wine and spirits will be available. Cost: Tickets are $100 each and may be split. Details: Tickets are available from any St. Patrick school advisory council member or the school office at (601) 482-6044.
NATCHEZ Cathedral School, Open Enrollment for the 2020-21 school year. Applications are available at www.cathedralgreenwave.com or at the schools. Details: school office (601) 442-2531.
St. Mary Basilica, Save the Date, Mother-Son Mardi Gras MOMbeau, Friday, Feb. 7 from 6-8 p.m. at the O’Connor Family Life Center. Cost: Advanced tickets are $20 (by Feb. 1) or at the door for $30. Proceeds benefit St. Mary youth programs Pre-K3-8th grades. Details: Carrie Lambert at email@example.com or the church office (601) 445-5616.
PEARL St. Jude, Alive in You – Catholic Conference and Service Camp, July 14-19. Youth currently in grades 7-12 enrolled and participating in Sunday School at St. Jude can attend. Total cost: $340 (includes meals and lodging). If your child would like to participate, but finances are an issue, please contact Stacy. Details: Stacy Wolf, DRE or Mara Villa or Elizabeth Walter, Youth Ministers at the church office (601) 939-3181 or www.aliveinyou.com.
By Berta Mexidor
VARDAMAN/TUPELO – Each January, the Vardaman Catholic Charities office conducts activities for National Migration Week in coordination with pastoral leaders of deanery V in the diocese. This year’s theme was “Promoting a Church and World for All” and included a keynote speaker known for her humanitarian service to immigrants along the Texas border – Sister Norma Pimentel.
As the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande in Brownsville, Texas, Sister Pimentel helped start the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas as a response to the surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States. She was named as Catholic of the Year in 2015 by Our Sunday Visitor, has been seen on 20/20 and received the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame University, the highest and oldest award given to U.S. Catholics.
During the National Migration Week, Sister Pimentel delivered lectures in Vardaman and Tupelo and impressed many with her quiet strength.
Retired professor, Robert Stewart, chairman of the board of advisors of Catholic Charities in Vardaman was impressed by the extent and magnitude of Sister Pimentel’s work.
“I was impressed with her concern both for those weary and frightened people seeking asylum in the United States, as well as, the various government officials including agents of ICE and the Border Patrol. She understands that all involved pay an emotional toll. No less impressive is her concern for the dignity of all concerned,” said Stewart.
Danna Johnson, coordinator of Catholic Charities Vardaman and the Hispanic ministry at St. Christopher Pontotoc, who helped organize events that included a Mass celebrated with Bishop Joseph Kopacz, said that part of the reason for the events are an “effort to call all Catholics and people of goodwill to have a better understanding and appreciation of this important issue that affects us all.”
By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Father Anthony Quyet celebrated his last Mass at as the official pastor for Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, Jackson on Sunday, Jan. 12, before his retirement.
Ordained on June 18, 1983 at St. Patrick Meridian by Bishop Joseph Brunini, Father Quyet was quoted then saying that he was “pretty nervous and wanted everything to go well.”
After 37 years as a priest, serving the parishes of St. Patrick Meridian, St. Therese Jackson, St. Michael Forest, Immaculate Conception Indianola, St. Benedict Indianola, Christ the King Jackson, St. Mary Jackson and Cathedral of St. Peter Jackson, in addition to serving various roles through the years such as part-time vocation director, Father Quyet was at ease for his retirement celebration after all of his prior experience.
Originally from Bui Chu, Vietnam, Father Quyet attended seminary school in Missouri. Bishop Joseph Kopacz spoke at the celebration Mass about the story of how Father Quyet ended up in Mississippi. He told the packed pews that a chance meeting between Cardinal Bernard Law and Father Quyet sparked the decision to consider a move to Mississippi, as the temperatures were more complimentary to Vietnam than those in northern states.
“I was impressed by Father Anthony because he not only had to learn to speak English when he came, he had to learn to speak Mississippian,” joked Bishop Emeritus Joseph Latino.
“How he ended up in Mississippi, God only knows.”
During his time in Mississippi, Father Quyet got to serve in ten different parishes and communities.
“[I served] those big and small. I served black, white, Hispanic and Vietnamese,” said Father Quyet.
He began celebrating Mass in Spanish at St. Michael Forest in April 1991, a tradition that continues today to the large Hispanic population in the area.
In part to Father Quyet, Bishop Kopacz said he could “see the face of the universal church in many ways in our diocese and our priests. We are very blessed in that way.”
Father Quyet closed the Mass with his final remarks, so thankful to be surrounded by all of the people he touched over the years from many different parishes in attendance at his final Mass before retirement.
“I am grateful to God for His grace that enabled me to serve God and people as a priest for the last 37 years,” said Father Quyet.
“I am grateful to you for your love and support and generosity that helped my ministry grow.”
Instead of simply growing, Bishop Latino said of Father Quyet, “he surely bloomed where he was planted.”
(Berta Mexidor contributed to this story.)
By Berta Mexidor and Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – “God does not abandon you” was the message of Cardinal Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri during his visit to the Diocese of Jackson between Dec. 19-21, 2019. This message was received by hundreds, mostly immigrants, who attended his talks in the communities of Carthage, Canton and Forest that were affected following the immigration raids in August 2019 that resulted in more than 700 detentions, many of whom are of Guatemalan decent.
Raised to the rank of cardinal in October by Pope Francis, Cardinal Ramazzini is from Huehuetenango, Guatemala and is known for his aid and human rights advocacy for the poor of Central America. During his tour of love and hope, Cardinal Ramazzini talked to many about of the economic situation in Guatemala, which causes many to leave to seek a better life and encouraged those affected in faith, while many face the legal process of deportation from the United States.
“Being a Cardinal opens more windows of communication with more people … to serve better in the last stage of my life and especially the service to the most marginalized people in the world,” said Cardinal Ramazzini.
At a news conference at the Chancery office in Jackson with Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Joe Boland, vice president of mission for Catholic Extension and Father Roberto Mena, ST of St. Michael Forest on Dec. 20, Cardinal Ramazzini explained his position with regard to the U.S. government and thanked those around the country for their show of solidarity and all of the humanitarian assistance received from Catholics and non-Catholics alike to those affected by the raids.
At the conference, Cardinal Ramazzini said he advocates for a “migration policy with a human face,” to solve the economic conditions that force many to leave their home country and to stop the custom where immigrants are treated as criminals, without having a criminal record.
Cardinal Ramazzini stated that immigration laws in the U.S. are from many previous administrations and he evaluated with the same weight the governments of Barack Obama and Donald Trump when applying immigration laws with “legality and little justice.” Additionally, he denounced the inhumane treatment of immigrants when they have been handcuffed in their workplaces in front of colleagues and families.
At the same time, Cardinal Ramazzini strongly criticized the Guatemalan government for their poor economic model that leaves natives on the verge of despair. During his advocacy work over the years, he has expressed to Guatemalans the danger of putting themselves and their children in the hands of “polleros” or “coyotes,” otherwise known as smugglers.
Following the news conference, Cardinal Ramanizzi met with parishioners at St. Anne Carthage, Sacred Heart Canton and St. Michael Forest. At each of the gatherings he thanked the priests tending to their flocks – Father Odel Medina, ST, Father Michael O’Brien and Father Roberto Mena, ST. The priests also thanked him for his visit and explained their work ahead with parishioners and their families affected by the raids, which includes much financial support since many are unable to work, in addition to consoling parishioners through the trauma experienced due to the raids.
During his conversation with the communities, some affected families shared what they suffered in the moment of detention, the shame and uncertainty and the moment of facing federal court; yet also their hope for the future. Also many communicated to Cardinal Ramanizzi their gratitude for the work of the priests, religious, volunteers and Catholic Charities, who have made this time a little less difficult and, for which, they have not lacked food, aid and financial payments to keep a house and utility services on for their families.
Cardinal Ramazzini mentioned that the many people who have helped the affected families, is the proof that God does not leave people alone. “In the moments of trial, the solidarity and help of others, tested greater that God does not abandon us,” he said on his visit.
During his talks with each of the parishes as a whole, Cardinal Ramanizzi compared the situation of immigrants arrested in the raids with Job, who lost everything until he was left ill and alone.
“This book of Job, can help us all when we go through difficult times. And Job asks God why he is suffering. And the answer from God was and is ‘I have not abandoned you, I just wanted to see if you were faithful.’ … When everything is going well, we forget God. It shouldn’t be that way, but we are human beings.”
“We must be sure that God does not abandon us, but it is very easy to say that when everything is fine, but after being in jail, or seeing a family member being caught and passing difficult moments, people always ask themselves in a situation like that. ‘God, if you are love, why do you allow things like this to happen?’ The temptation of despair, of the lack of trust in God, is very great, … I ask the Lord to not let you fall into that temptation because, despite the difficult time, God does not abandon us,” Cardinal Ramazzini emphasized.
In addition to the talks, Cardinal Ramazzini took part with parishioners asking for Posada (Inn) at St. Anne Carthage and St. Michael Forest, a tradition before Christmas that represents the Holy Family in search of shelter, when they looked for an inn until they found a place in a stable. It was there that the son of God was born, “to teach us that surrender to others makes us happy,” said Cardinal Ramazzini.
He added that being Christian is being consistent with the faith and helping each other “… if [you] believe that God is love, there is the way forward.”
Continued support for impacted families
While on his visit to Mississippi, Cardinal Ramazzini received continued commitment of members of Catholic Charities Jackson, Mississippi Center for Justice, the Jesuit Social Research Institute, Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) and other community groups, who have mobilized volunteers to distribute aid, assist families with transportation to visit their detained relatives and translation services for the courts.
Chicago-based non-profit Catholic Extension, which sponsored Cardinal Ramazzini’s pastoral visit, announced their new mental health initiative through Extension’s Holy Family Fund to provide counseling and other services for families affect by the raids at the press conference held at the Chancery office on Dec. 20.
The initiative is a partnership between Southeast Pastoral Institute (SEPI) of Miami and Catholic Extension’s Holy Family Fund, a relief program that assists families in the United States who are financially dependent on a parent that has been detained or deported for immigration reasons. Through the fund, Catholic Extension has been instrumental in ensuring the flow of aid to support delivery of basic resources to the churches serving the humanitarian and spiritual needs of the families in Mississippi affected by the crisis caused by the ICE raids.
“Raids like the one we saw in Mississippi cause massive chaos for these families,” said Joe Boland, vice president of mission for Catholic Extension. “We need to continue to ensure that they are getting the resources and services they need to address the long-term suffering caused by a system where parents are forcibly removed from their children, and that is what we are aiming to do.”
The mental health initiative is set up to ease the lingering trauma and anxiety created for children separated from a parent due to detention or deportation. This endeavor will include counseling, pastoral care, mental health aid and other services to address the psychological consequences suffered by families who have been separated.
During the news conference, Boland described receiving a letter from an 8-year-old boy from Morton after the raids. The boy’s mother had been detained for two months before being released. The child wrote, “Thank you for remembering us, for not abandoning us. … Going forward don’t forget about us because it’s the children who suffer the most.”
Donations to the Holy Family Fund to help launch and sustain this new mental health program can be made at catholicextension.org/family.
By Richard Roberson
JACKSON – When the Affordable Care Act was passed nearly a decade ago, one of the primary ways that Congress increased health care coverage for those without insurance was by creating a new category of Medicaid eligibility for low income non-disabled, non-elderly adults. Commonly referred to as “Medicaid Expansion,” this program is funded at no less than 90% by the federal government. Approximately 200,000 Mississippians without health care coverage are eligible for this program. Citing differences in political philosophy and concerns about how the state can fund its small share of the costs, Mississippi leadership has refused to allow hundreds of thousands of its citizens to receive health care coverage through Medicaid expansion.
The impact of this decision is manifested by Mississippi ranking among the worst states for health care conditions, for medical debt, for the percent of its population without health insurance, for unemployment rates and for poverty. In addition, six Mississippi hospitals have closed and four have filed bankruptcy over the last several years. According to a Navigant study released in February 2019, Mississippi has the highest percentage of its rural hospitals in financial risk than any other state. A significant reason for the peril that these and other Mississippi hospitals find themselves in is the $600 million in uncompensated care costs associated with treating patients who have no means to pay for the services they receive.
The Mississippi Hospital Association has proposed a simple plan for Mississippi to extend Medicaid eligibility to low income non-disabled non-elderly adults. This plan is called MississippiCares. Under MississippiCares, eligible low-income Mississippians would pay $20 per month with modest copayments for health care coverage administered by a health plan offered by Mississippi hospitals and authorized by the Mississippi Legislature in 2015. Far from a free ride, MississippiCares ensures that plan members have skin in the game to be prudent consumers of health care services and to avoid unnecessary emergency department visits. An additional tax paid by Mississippi hospitals and payments from the federal government would fund the remaining cost.
MississippiCares is a winning proposal across the board. Low-income working Mississippians would have affordable health coverage and access to preventive care including telemedicine services; hospitals would receive payment for their services, thereby reducing uncompensated care costs by hundreds of millions of dollars; and, the economic benefit of over 9,000 new jobs would produce over $100 million in much needed new revenue for the state’s coffers. MississippiCares would preserve access to care for rural areas by keeping the doors open at rural hospitals and provide those hospitals with sustainable funding to launch new transformative services and to recruit physicians. MississippiCares literally provides a lifeline to Mississippians and their communities and it allows hospitals to help themselves by putting up their own money in order for the state to receive full federal funding.
MississippiCares is the single biggest thing that Mississippi leadership could do for our state. Based on outcomes in other states, Mississippi’s health care will improve, new jobs will be created and access to health care in rural areas will be preserved. Unlike other states, MississippiCares offers a funding solution that doesn’t require the state to foot the bill. It offers working adults a hand up, not a handout. Rather than ignoring the health care crisis that exists in our state, Mississippi would do well to implement this reform minded approach to expanding Medicaid coverage. For more information, go to www.mississippicares.org.
(Editors note: Healthcare and prison reform are the two issues at the forefront of Catholic Day at the Capitol on March 4, 2020.)
By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – This year two parishes had a special inn or Posada, with the presence of Cardinal Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri of Guatemala, who became a pilgrim asking for an inn for the birth of the Savior. In the parishes of St. Anne Carthage and St. Michael Forest, cardinal Ramazzini was accompanied by the priests of the parishes, Odel Medina, ST and Roberto Mena, ST, respectively, and was followed by dozens of pilgrims, including numerous children dressed as Mary and Joseph.
As is tradition, during the walking tour, several songs were sung, the Holy Rosary was prayed and the pilgrims carried candles. At the end of the road, a few blocks walking, the pilgrims reach the house of one of the parishioners who open the door, after the well-known Christmas carol, where the pilgrims, headed by Joseph, explain to the owner of the house, that Mary being pregnant of the Word made flesh, Jesus, needs a place to rest.
In Carthage and Forest, the cardinal accompanied the pilgrims asking for Posada, a tradition before Christmas that represents the Holy Family in search of refuge. History tells that they looked for an inn until, at the end, they found a place in a stable.
In the parish of St. Anne Carthage, cardinal Ramazzini sang “Silent Night” with parishioners, a song that reminds that Christmas Eve is a night of peace and an announcement of the gift that Jesus gives – peace and love.
Cardinal Ramazzini blessed the house and everyone present. At the end of the Inn, as is common, there was music, prayers and Guatemalan food, accompanied by a hot punch to remedy the cold outside.
At St Michael Forest, after the Posada, a Mass was celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Cardinal Ramazzini was the homilist and Father Roberto Mena, St the concelebrant. In the end, the parishioners enjoyed traditional Guatemalan dances and food in the spirit of Christmas.
Cardinal Ramazzini arrived to Mississippi to give words of encouragement to families affected by immigration raids, coinciding with the time of Advent. The cardinal explained, in his visits in both parishes, that the tribulation of the Holy Family seeking refuge and the humility of the place of Jesus’ birth demonstrates Jesus gave himself to serve humanity. The Holy Family only found a place where shepherds kept animals and tools, in a very humble place “… and it was there that the son of God was born, the one who has power over humanity,” said Cardinal Ramazzini. He came “to teach us that giving ourselves to others makes us happy.”
He added that “to be Christian is to be consistent with your faith and help each other, … if [you] believe that God is love, that is the way forward.”
By Monsignor Michael Flannery
SALTILLO – The good work begun by Father Patrick Quinn continues south of the border in Mexico.
Bishop Joseph Brunini, adopted a mission in Saltillo, Mexico in response to an appeal from Pope Paul VI to all the bishops of the world to send priests to Latin America. The ratio of priests to congregants was one priest for every 10,000 people. The ideal is one priest per 1,000.
Father Patrick Quinn was chosen to be the first pastor and he was presented to Bishop Luis Guizar y Barragan for assignment and appointed as pastor of Perpetual Help Church, within the city of Saltillo July 1, 1969.
Prior to that date Father Quinn had resided at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Saltillo for six months while learning Spanish. At the time of his appointment, the population of Saltillo was 200,000. The city has quadrupled in size and is now over 800,000 population.
Initially, Perpetual Help parish had 33 mountain villages and three colonies within the city of Saltillo, giving a total population of 30,000. The people in the mountain villages had not had the services of a priest in over 10 years. Father Quinn was joined by Father Patrick Murray to serve the parish in July 1969.
A rectory was built adjacent to the church to accommodate the priests. Every village or rancho would now have the services of a priest at least once a month. Perpetual Help Church would have two daily Masses and the three colonies would have Mass every Sunday.
The main thrust of the ministry of the priests would be to the mountain villages. The city of Saltillo is 5,000 above sea level and the mountain villages range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.
At first, Fathers Quinn and Murray celebrated Mass in the open air. Then an effort was made to build a place of worship in every rancho or village. A wooden altar was provided. Benches were used instead of pews. These chapels served as community centers, funeral parlors and places where a wedding could be celebrated and village meetings could be held.
Not with-standing the fact, that these people did not have the services of a priest, the faith was still very strong and mostly centered in the home. Every home had a sacred space where there was at least a picture of the Sacred Heart or Our Lady of Guadalupe. The people were elated with the services provided by the priests and responded graciously to them. The priests now had the trust of the people.
Within two years of establishing the mission, the Saltillo Summer program was born, where the youth of Mississippi were invited to come and spend a week at the mission. Over time more than 20,000 of the youth of Mississippi participated in the Saltillo Summer program.
Accommodations were added at Perpetual Help which could house 100 people. For the most part, these facilities were in a dormitory-style. For all the participants who joined the Saltillo Summer program, it was a game-changer in their young lives. For the first time in their lives, they came face to face with real poverty and met people who did not know where the next meal was coming from. When they came back to Mississippi, they appreciated the basic amenities of life, such as: when you turned a switch, a light came on, when you turned faucet water came out. On their return to Mississippi, some of the youth chose professions such as medicine, social ministry, all of which were ministries to other people.
A great program at the mission was called “Bean Monday.” On the first Monday of every month, two kilos of beans were distributed to every family that came to Perpetual Help for assistance.
Word spread throughout the whole of Saltillo. Two kilos of beans would feed a family of six for a week. On any given year 100 tons of beans would be distributed to the poor.
The villages ranged from a 45-minute drive from Saltillo to a six-hour drive to the most remote villages.
Over time, the number of the villages grew to 62 and the number of churches within the city of Saltillo being served grew to ten.
Another program at the mission was the building of cinder block homes for the poor. Again, Father Quinn built 2,340 homes for the poor. The building of these homes was a cooperative venture. The petitioner had to own the land on which the home would be constructed. Father Quinn provided the raw material such as cement and sand for the footings and the cinder blocks for the walls. The owner had to provide the labor to build. After the basic structure was near completion and after an inspection, a steel door and windows were provided as well as material for the roof. These homes certainly made a difference in the lives of the people and were greatly appreciated.
The mission was blessed from the beginning by the generosity of the good people of Mississippi who not only supported the mission financially but also with their time. When medical doctors, nurses and dentists came to visit the mission, they would also often serve the poor of the mountain villages.
Usually, the priest was the interpreter and translated the symptoms which the patient indicated to the doctor, nurse or dentist. Little or no medical help was provided to the rancheros except for the visits of the medical doctors, dentists and nurses from Mississippi.
For over 30 years, Dr. Kuluz, a pediatrician from Pascagoula, went to the mission and donated his services for at least a week every year. He convinced his colleagues to join him and not only to donate their time but also, their sample medicines to the mission. Many a life was saved through the medical services provided.
There is no question that Father Patrick Quinn was the inspiration behind the mission and its success. He gave his life to the mission and was called to the Lord on Jan. 9, 1997, after suffering a heart attack. He served the mission for 28 years and is buried in an alcove of Perpetual Help Church.
His death marked a time of transition and change at the mission. Bishop William Houck of Jackson, asked Bishop Francisco Villalobos (Bishop of Saltillo) for three months to find a priest who would be familiar with Mexican culture and speak Spanish to replace Father Quinn. Msgr. Michael Thornton from the Diocese of Biloxi was chosen for the task.
Msgr. Thornton was first assigned to Saltillo in Sept. 1973 and served the mission until Aug. 1977. He was familiar with the mission, spoke fluent Spanish and had acquired a knowledge of Mexican culture and customs.
In 1998, Bishop Villalobos created San Miguel as a parish and named Msgr. Thornton as pastor. This new location is still within the city of Saltillo and surrounded by a beautiful colony named Vista Hermosa (The Beautiful View).
Presently at San Miguel there are two priests: Father David Martínez Rubio, administrator, Father Evelio Casarubias Rodríguez, his assistant.
The present number of villages being served by San Miguel is 24. The number of churches within the city of Saltillo, served by the priests of San Miguel number eight. Every mountain village is served at least once a month and every church within the city at least weekly. In total, the priests are covering 32 different locations.