By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – The Diocese of Jackson’s Catholic High Schools awarded 169 diplomas during the week of May 21-26. These communities of faith, knowledge and service demonstrate their mission in each of their graduating classes.
The Catholic schools class of 2018 will claim $6,371,932 in scholarship money at colleges and universities across the nation including the Citadel, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Rice University in Texas, Rhodes, Spring Hill College and, of course, all three Mississippi universities.
Catholic schools earned state championship wins in football, tennis, swimming, cheer and baseball this year. The senior class logged a combined 11,320 hours of service participating in unique projects.
When students and administrators at Cathedral heard that the shelves were bare at Stewpot in Natchez, they got creative with the “Hem in the Headmaster Food Drive.”
“They were in major need of large canned goods. Cathedral Headmaster Norman Yvon encouraged students PreK 3 – 12th grade to bring canned goods and challenged them to “hem” in his office with as many canned goods as possible – and they did,” wrote counselor Jana Slay in an email to Mississippi Catholic. Cathedral students delivered three truckloads of canned goods to the Stewpot which overflowed the shelves.
Madison St. Joseph Students took a stand for children in need of medical care with their BruinThon, a fundraiser for Batson Children’s Hospital. “We stand for eight hours at the event in order to ‘stand for those who can’t,’ reminding ourselves of the blessing of our quality of life and reminding the children of the hospital that they are not forgotten,” said organizer Kathryn Sckiets. The effort raised more than $12,000 in one night.
The entire graduating class from Vicksburg Catholic’s St. Aloysius School volunteered together at the Good Shepherd Center.
Greenville St. Joseph students helped one of their own throughout the year. Aries Cotton, a St. Joseph eighth-grader and brother of senior Reggie Cotton, was diagnosed with Leukemia in October 2017. His classmates have supported his family throughout his diagnosis and treatment with different events, culminating with the “Color me Cured” 5-K color run. Seniors, Carsen Mansour Olivia DeAngelo, Sarah Hayek, Brice Johnson, Sarah Tonos, Erica Keller, Rebecca Jones and JoQuez Sanders came together to help plan the event, held May 31. All proceeds went to the Cotton family.
This edition is dedicated to the top students from the class of 2018, including students from all Catholic schools and one Catholic student from Indianola Academy.
For Valedictorian and Salutatorian profile click here: GRAD PAPER 2018
By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Father Nick Adam and Father Aaron Williams were ordained to the priesthood on the Feast of the Visitation, Thursday, May 31, at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Both are local vocations. Father Williams grew up at the Cathedral and graduated from Jackson St. Richard and Madison St. Joseph schools. While Father Adam grew up out of state, he first felt the call to the priesthood while working in Meridian so he calls St. Patrick and St. Joseph his home parishes.
At the ordination Bishop Joseph Kopacz announced that Father Adam has been assigned as parochial vicar at Jackson St. Richard Parish and Father Williams has been assigned as parochial vicar at Greenville St. Joseph Parish. Father Williams will also teach at St. Joseph School.
Both men also celebrated their first Masses of Thanksgiving the following day. Father Williams celebrated a votive Mass of the Sacred Heart at 12:05 Friday at the Cathedral while Father Adam celebrated his Mass at 6 p.m. at St. Richard Parish.
Mark Shoffner is set to be ordained a transitional deacon on the day this paper is delivered to homes, Friday, June 9, at his home parish of Greenville St. Joseph. Deacon Adolfo Suarez Pasillas was ordained in Mexico earlier this year. Deacon Shoffner will serve his transitional year at Gluckstadt St. Joseph Parish while Deacon Pasillas will serve at Jackson St. Therese Parish.
Full coverage of all four of this year’s ordinations will appear in the next edition of Mississippi Catholic, set to publish Friday, June 29.
In Bishop column you can read the bishop’s ordination homily or click here.
FORT SMITH, Ark, St. Scholastica Monastery, July 19 – 22, Standing in the Presence: The Benedictine Way for Everyone. Presenter: Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB. The focus will be Benedictine Spirituality as a pathway for spiritual growth. Cost: $300 Lodging and meals are included. Deadline for registration is July 5. Details: email@example.com or www.stscho.org/retreats or (479) 783-1135.
GREENWOOD Locus Benedictus Spirituality Center, Empowered by Love Growth in the Spirit Retreat, Friday, June 15, 6 p.m. to Saturday, June 16. Ending with Mass at 4 p.m. Cost: $50. Details: (662) 299-1232 or www.locusbenedictus.org.
KENNER, La, The Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans (CCRNO) will sponsor its annual Day of Refreshment for Women on Saturday, June 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Kenner, in the school gym. The theme is “We Walk by Faith, Not by Sight.” Cost is $30 and includes lunch. Details: (504) 828-1368 or register online at www.ccrno.org by Wednesday, June 20, noon to order lunch.
PARISH, SCHOOL AND FAMILY EVENTS
CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories, Gospel of Mark four-week Bible study, beginning Monday, June 25, at 5:30 p.m. Presenter: Jim Tomek. Details: Jim Tomek at (662) 846-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
JACKSON St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Save the Date, Level II Training for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Classes are: August 11, September 8, October 6, November 2-3, December 1, January 4-5, February 1-2, March 2, April 6 and May 4. Cost: $675, which includes course materials, lunch, snacks and certification by the National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, USA. A non-refundable deposit of $100 is due by August 1. Details: Rachel Misenar, email@example.com or 601-573-3689
St. Peter Cathedral, Bethlehem Nativity Olive Wood carvings and religious item sale, June 30-July 1. Purchases will help the Catholic Community in Palestine. Details: (601) 969-3125.
St. Richard Bereavement Support Group, Tursday, June 14, at 6:30 p.m. Sister Pat Clemen speaks on the difference between mourning and grief and the “Tear Soup” recipe for healing grief. Details: Nancy McGhee 601-942-2078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
LELAND St. James is interested in starting CCD classes. Volunteers are needed to teach, starting in September. Details: Call the rectory at (662) 686-7352.
NATCHEZ Compassion Care Hospice, Suite A, 113 Jefferson Davis Blvd, Grief and Loss Support Group, Monday, June 11 (2nd Monday of the month). Details: (609) 518-6814 or St. Mary Basilica (601) 445-5616.
Grace United Methodist Church, 2 Fatherland Road, Miss Lou Support Group for those grieving loss due to suicide. Meets on Thursdays, June 7 and June 21 at 6:30 p.m. Details: Jana and Pete Mills, (601) 431-4818.
CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories, Takeout smoked chicken dinner, Friday, June 29. The Knights of Columbus are pre-selling tickets to raise money for the annual Relay for Life. Details: Michael Lott, Grand Knight (662) 588-6163.
VICKSBURG St. Paul, KAIROS Men’s Weekend at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, September 27-30. Team members meet once a week for seven weeks in preparation for the weekend. The first team meeting is Thursday, August 9. Details: Any man interested in participating, contact Frank Vollor at (601) 638-8686.
COLUMBUS Annunciation, CYO activities, Saturday, June 23, Movie Night at Malco Theaters, Disney’s Incredibles 2, time TBD. Cost: $10. Also, Saturday, July 14, Bowling at GT Lanes. time TBD. Cost: $8 per person and Laser Tag $8 per person per game. For updates on these events, follow on Instagram@annuciationcyoteens. Details: email@example.com or church office (662) 328-2927.
MADISON, St. Francis of Assisi, Castaway Creative Arts Camp for fifth and sixth graders, June 18-22, 9 a.m. – noon. An assistant camp director is needed. Details: (601) 856-5556.
Jr. Bruin Baseball Camp on June 19-21 for boys in Pre-K through rising seventh grades at D.M. Howie Field from 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $100.00 per camper. The Bruin coaching staff and players will be on hand to teach the fundamentals of baseball. This camp is for beginners, as well as the most experienced players. Walk-ups will be welcome. Details: Coach Gerard McCall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Summer Choir Camp, July 16-20, 9-11:30 a.m. Let your child learn the joy of song in the context of children’s choir. Students also will complete a visual arts project and serve as music ministers for the 5 p.m. Vigil Mass on Saturday, July 21. Cost: $25 per child. Details: Register online at www.stmarybasilica.org or email Musicdirector@cableone.net. church office (601) 939-3181
By Maureen Smith
FLOWOOD – More than two dozen people attended the Getting Ahead Workshop at Flowood St. Paul Parish on Saturday, May 19. The Getting Ahead program is meant to help people leaving prison reintegrate into society and start a new way of life.
“It turned out to be a great experience with 28 participants including prison chaplains of various denominations, prison volunteers, two local pastors, parents of formerly incarcerated, members of the Diocesan Faith in Action Team, representatives from Department of Corrections and social service providers,” said Sister Madeline Kavanagh, DC, one of the organizers.
Twenty one attendees volunteered to work directly with prisoners and parolees as facilitators while others have committed to provide supportive service to returning citizens. Some of the training focused on the difference between being a facilitator and a teacher. Facilitators will let the prisoner take charge of his or her life and make decisions. They will listen and not assume they know the answers the parolee is looking for. Each person will have a workbook so they will do their own work instead of having a teacher show them what to do at each step. In the words of the handout, “Facilitating offers you the opportunity to help empower others by establishing, then nurturing, an environment where people find and use their own voice.”
After release, Getting Ahead community supporters will help with the challenges of everyday life, perhaps helping to find housing or recruiting companies willing to hire those recently released.
Sister Madeline and Marvin Edwards, coordinator for prison ministry for the diocese, introduced the program earlier this year and hope to have it up and running by fall of 2019. Those interested in the program can call Marvin Edwards at (601)594-8254 or Sister Madeline Kavanagh at (213)215-6103.
By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – On Wednesday, May 23, community advocates, government agencies, religious leaders, legislative leaders and people who struggle every day with mental illness got together to talk about what Mississippi needs to do a better job of mental health care. The event was the delayed Catholic Day at the Capitol held at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Bad weather in January forced the event into May.
About a hundred people attended the event to hear what has changed in mental health care, what some of the challenges are and where the state still has weaknesses in this area. Angela Ladner, executive director of the Mississippi Psychiatric Association kicked off the day by talking about the many facets of this complex issue. In her view, every member of the community has to be willing to join the conversation. “There are medical issues, genetic issues. We should not stigmatize that,” said Ladner.
Ladner is a proponent of community-based intervention and care. From the perspective of the psychiatric community, she believes that fast intervention in a crisis, followed by reintegration into the community with supportive services, is the best approach. In her perfect model for addressing people who have not gotten the preventive care they need, “if I go into crisis, somewhere from zero to 72 hours I can go to a single point of entry in my community.”
Those first three days are critical to a full recovery. “Medically, data shows after 72 hours your brain is damaged from that crisis. You are worse off than before,” she explained. If the patient can be stabilized at the crisis center within 72 hours he or she does not need to be committed. They can, in a perfect world, go back to their community and get follow-up care where they live to prevent a future crisis and address any ongoing mental health issues.
After Ladner’s presentation a panel of mental health workers and advocates gave their own presentations. James “Bo” Chastain, CEO of the Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield gave a very detailed power point of the work the Department of Health has done to improve services, especially in light of a Department of Justice suit filed in August of 2016 claiming the state was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The suit claims the state is “failing to provide adults with mental illness with necessary integrated, community-based mental health services.” The DOJ said many people are forced into institutions instead of getting the help they need at home.
Chastain outlined expansions in community services including additional crisis stabilization units in all parts of the state, adding crisis therapists and adding mobile crisis response teams. Jake Hutchins, a bureau director for community mental health services in the state, said those units answered 20,000 calls in a year.
Beyond crisis care, Ladner, Chastain and Hutchins spoke about other community issues, such as finding stable housing sources and supportive employment for those with mental illness. The state has expanded services in both those areas, providing rental assistance and job placement and support as part of its three-year strategic plan to address Department of Justice concerns.
Perhaps the most emotional presentation came from Ramona Russum, a parent who has had to navigate the system on behalf of two children. “Living with someone with a mental illness or disorder is a challenge. Living with a child with a mental disorder is literally running from place to place putting out fires,” she said.
She said she has seen improvements in community-based care. When a child can be treated in his or her community, they can stay close to home and see their families instead of going to an institution far away. Russum credits community-based care with a huge improvement in her family situation in the past year.
Marvin Edwards is the prison ministry coordinator for the Diocese of Jackson. He spoke about how many inmates come to prison with mental illness and only get worse and worse while incarcerated. He said there is one psychiatrist for 19,000 inmates so the need for reform is pressing. Edwards believes many crimes could be prevented if young people could get help before they make a terrible decision.
Henry Moore from Families as Allies, an advocacy group for families with mental illness issues, said his organization is in the process of gathering data to show what treatments and styles of treatment work and what do not. “We are speaking to the families themselves. These are authentic voices,” he said.
Joy Hogge wrapped up the mental health portion of the day. She is the president of Families as Allies. She said while things are improving, there is still much work to be done to help the people in this state. “It is important to ask people with mental illness what they want,” she explained. Sometimes community leaders make decisions without seeking input from those directly affected. “It is good that we now have mobile response teams, but now we need to ask people how they worked for them,” said Hogge.
The day was organized by Catholic Charities’ office of parish social ministry and the Faith in Action Team.
By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON – Everything gets ranked these days, from burger joints to colleges. States are no different.
But the state of some states is quite different from their counterparts.
An area called the “Gulf South” – the five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico – rank at or near the bottom of the JustSouth Index issued by the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans. Those states are Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
The index, which debuted last year, looks at poverty, racial disparity and immigrant exclusion – areas that the study’s originators saw as important from the viewpoint of Catholic social teaching. The index looked at three aspects of each area before arriving at its rankings.
“Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas earned spots in the bottom six rankings” overall, said the study, which was unveiled May 2 at the Capitol. This is an improvement over the first year of the rankings, when they were in the bottom four.
Florida, which had been 41st in the first index, moved up six spots to 35th. But the Sunshine State shouldn’t pat itself on the back quite yet; it finished dead last in poverty.
Louisiana finished 50th in racial disparity and 47th in immigrant exclusion; while Mississippi finished ahead of only Florida in poverty, and Texas wound up 50th in immigrant exclusion and 48th in poverty.
Jesuit Father Fred Kammer, director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute, said: “Sadly, the Gulf South states continue to lag far behind many others in promoting integral human development for their residents, even though there are some marginal changes in one indicator or another.”
Progress, though, need not be incremental or Sisyphus-like. From last year’s index to this year’s, big leaps were not impossible. Wyoming soared from 24th to second, while Alaska moved from 28th to seventh, and Wisconsin leapt from 33rd to 16th. Likewise, Connecticut dropped from fifth to 20th, Utah slid from 17th to 33rd, and South Dakota slumped from 15th to 43rd.
The three indicators for the poverty ranking were the average income of poor households, health insurance coverage for the poor and housing affordability. For racial disparity, the indicators were public school integration, white-minority wage equity and white-minority employment equity. The immigrant exclusion indicators were immigrant youth outcomes, immigrants’ English proficiency and health insurance coverage of immigrants.
“The Gulf South has an unmistakable legacy of discrimination and marginalization toward people of color. The disproportionate advantages for white Americans in relation to persons of color in virtually every sphere of life illustrate the deep divisions that exist despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the election of the first African-American president,” the study said.
Father Kammer said May 2 the region’s legacy of slavery and racial discrimination contributes to unequal outcomes for whites and nonwhites.
Lane Windham, associate director of Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, added the region “has the lowest union density” in the country. “People with union jobs make better wages,” she declared, noting the history of employers who have moved production to the nonunion South to avoid unions and to pay workers less.
Poverty remains a grinding, draining issue in the region. “In 1996, 68 of every 100 poor families received TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) benefits and in 2014, just 23 of every 100 poor families were receiving benefits,” the report said. “The maximum TANF monthly benefit for a single-parent family of three in Mississippi is $170 compared to $653 in Wisconsin and $789 in New York.”
The region also has fared poorly in adapting to growing numbers of immigrants.
“States in the Gulf South have experienced a significant influx of immigrants into their workforces in recent years and have not yet made adequate adjustments to their social, economic and political systems in order to promote justice and dignity for immigrant residents,” the report said. “In addition, the Gulf South’s treatment of immigrants is colored by a history of discrimination against Hispanics and African-Americans.”
Immigrants face other forms of discrimination as well, according to the report. “In Texas, schools districts that have experienced an influx of students with limited English proficiency have had difficulty providing effective services to students because the school finance system does not take into consideration the true costs of providing quality language services to immigrant children,” it said.
“Some businesses will attempt to reduce costs by classifying immigrants as contract, temporary, or part-time workers to avoid offering benefits,” it continued. “Not only are these practices harmful to immigrant workers and families but also are not in the long-term interest of the employer, because workers who have health insurance are more present, productive and committed to their jobs.”
On another score, “public school segregation contributes to second-class schools where quality is low and resources are scarce. Additionally, gaps in employment and earnings stemming from racial and ethnic differences embody discriminatory practices and limit the economic opportunities of people of color to the benefit of their white neighbors,” the report said, noting that after federal supervision of public-school districts was eased, more minority students were educated in schools that were predominantly minority-majority.
While the index pointed out flaws in states’ practices, it also offered policy prescriptions.
States and school districts, it said, “should increase the share of resources allocated to schools serving a large percentage of minority students. Additional funding would allow those schools to attract and retain high-quality teachers, and provide critical support services for at-risk students.”
It added, “States can create incentive housing zones in which developers could request a project-based subsidy from the state for a specified number of affordable rental units developed within the zone.”
Another relatively easy fix: expanding Medicaid.
“The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provided an option for state leaders to expand the Medicaid program, largely funded with federal dollars, to provide coverage to the poorest persons in the state,” the report said. “Nineteen states, including four in the Gulf South region, have chosen not to do so.”
(Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison)
By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Abbot emeritus Thomas DeWane, OPraem grew up “surrounded by Norbertines” in Green Bay Wisconsin. His family, five siblings and his parents, attended a parish staffed by Norbertines. The order also ran the schools he attended, so it was natural for him to enter the order as soon as he graduated from high school.
This summer, the abbot will celebrate his 60th anniversary of ordination. His family will gather at their old parish in Green Bay for Mass and then a meal at a local restaurant on Sunday, June 3. The Norbertines always celebrate their significant jubilees on the Feast of St. Norbert, Wednesday, June 6. A classmate of Abbot DeWane will join the celebration along with two priests celebrating 50th and two more celebrating 25th anniversaries this year.
“I always wanted to be a priest, I used to play at being a priest when I was a boy,” said Abbot DeWane. He remembers the Norbertine Sisters encouraging him to pursue the vocation. He spent most of his career in education management, as a principal, director of education and dean of student affairs, all around the Green Bay area. When it came time to retire, he decided he wanted to stay in ministry and maybe even try something new.
“I saw our priory in Mississippi and thought I would come help them,” he said. He enjoys helping out with works of mercy. “I have been involved in prison ministry in Yazoo and Washington. I am the chaplain at the VA hospital so I minister to the sick and parish work, I am the sacramental minister for Magee (St. Stephen parish),” he explained.
The abbot said his vocation has brought him great joy. “I am happy, I have never regretted any of it.”
Father Alphonse Arulanandu dreamed of being a priest from the time he was a child. In May of this year, he gave thanks for 25 years of priesthood at the First Friday healing Mass at Leland St. James parish, where he is pastor.
“I came from a farmer’s family in a rural area so we only had a priest come a few times a year. It was a privilege to be able to go to Mass every Sunday,” he said. The youngest of four, Father Alphonse said his family prayed all the time. When he left to become a priest, he served 2,000 miles from home so the idea of coming to Mississippi was not that far-fetched.
“I just wanted to go and explore more places the way the missionaries who came before did,” he explained. He heard about the missionary Diocese of Jackson while he was serving in Louisiana and decided to apply. He has been here for six years, serving at Brookhaven St. Francis before going to Leland, and said he is enjoying the people in the diocese.
Early in his career, Fr. Alphonse did social work in institutions such as hospitals and Catholic Charities. He is glad that he can now serve in a parish. “My goal in life is to spend more time with the people in my parish, praying with them when they are sick, visiting with them, things like that,” he said. “I like this place and I like the diocese and the people here.”
(Editor’s note: Mea Culpa. When I produced the previous issue of Mississippi Catholic, I inadvertently omitted these two jubilarians. I offer my deepest apologies. -Maureen Smith)
Father Augustine Palimattam is appointed pastor of Meridian St. Patrick and St. Joseph Parishes effective Thursday, July 5.
Father Darnis Selvanayakam is appointed pastor of Philadelphia Holy Cross Parish effective Thursday, July 5.
Father Binh Nguyen is appointed pastor West Point Immaculate Conception Parish effective Thursday, July 5.
Father José de Jesús Sánchez is appointed pastor of Greenwood Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish effective Wednesday, August 1.
Father Joseph Le is appointed parochial vicar of Tupelo St. James Parish effective Monday, August 20.
Father Raju Macherla is appointed chaplain for St. Dominic’s Health Services effective Monday, August 20.
Joel Schultz is appointed Lay Ecclesial Minister of Booneville St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Iuka St. Mary Mission effective Sunday, July 1.