CARTHAGE – With approximately 80 families affect in the parish of St. Anne, the community and those touched by the plight around the country are coming together to face coming challenges brouch on by the ICE raids on Wednesday, Aug. 7. St. Anne Carthage has been collecting food and supplies to distribute to families directly impacted by the raids until the community stabilizes. When visiting for assistance, those affect have been able to meet with attorneys to help guide them through the legal process. Father Odel Medina is worried about how the families will survive and belies it could take up to six months before affected families find work again.
By Joanna Puddister King FOREST – Religious, labor, immigrant rights leaders and supporters joined together for a solidarity prayer vigil to support the workers and local rural immigrant communities on Saturday, Aug. 17 at St. Michael parish. Founding member of Priests for Justice for Immigrants and advisor at Dominican University in Chicago, Father Brendan Curran presided over the event, offering words of love and encouragement, as well as translating immigrant’s stories. On behalf of Sacred Heart Canton, Director of Hispanic Ministry, Blanca Rosa Peralta thanked those present for their support of all the affected parishes. In her native tongue, she told the crowd about a trip to the ICE facility in Louisiana to pick up a detained mother, who had been separated from her children. Quickly, the thought of celebrating her release was dashed, as the mother’s “heart was destroyed” by the thought of all the other mothers still separated from their children. There was “too much of a depth of sorrow,” translated Father Curran. But Peralta insisted that the Catholic “faith community is great” and applauded efforts of those who are working so tirelessly to serve those in need.
Several of those present at the prayer vigil got up and courageously shared their stories of being detained in the ICE raids that struck the community. One young mother, with an ankle bracelet monitoring her location, spoke of both her and her husband being detained and expressed that she “didn’t think going to work was criminal.” One gentleman shared that while he was not affected by the raids, he felt that the immigrant community was torn apart by racism. Out of work since last month after being beat severely and injured to the point he could no longer work; his family has been struggling. Another shared that the raids affected not just those detained, but even those who were in the country legally, as many were laid off by the companies, so that they would not have to deal with the challenges of employing immigrants. Rodger Doolittle and Milton Thompson with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1529 offered their support to those affected by the ICE raids. Doolittle said that he has “never seen a raid this bad. It’s an injury to everyone.” “The Local 1529 stands behind every worker in this community,” stated Doolittle, as he then pledged $45,000 worth of donated food and supplies, such as diapers, bottles and school supplies to aid in all affected communities. Daisey Martínez, parishioner at St. Martin Hazlehurst, shared that the raids brought back so many feelings for her, as her mother had been detained many years ago. Martínez offered her support to those affected and urged others that if you “know people who need help. Do it and give freely.” “God lets light shine and shows us something positive,” said Martínez. “Help is coming from all over the country.”
The 2019-2020 school year brings fresh energy, an environment of faith, hope and love and a few new faces to our Catholic schools. Welcome to our new principals at St. Anthony Madison, Holy Family Holly Springs, St. Elizabeth Claarksdale and St. Aloysius Vicksburg. Anne Cowger – St. Anthony, Madison St. Anthony school welcomes new principal Anne Cowger for the 2019-2020 school year. Cowger has taught at St. Anthony since its opening in 2009. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education and a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction including graduate level coursework in school administration and supervision from the University of New Orleans. During her 27 years of experience in education she taught in various schools in Louisiana and Mississippi. When asked her vision for St. Anthony, Cowger responded, “We want students to know the world in which they live and see the endless possibilities that it offers – seeing that they can do whatever they set their mind to, solving problems with fortitude and endurance.”
Tunia Sangster – Holy Family, Holly Springs Holy Family School welcomes Tunia Sangster as their new principal this year. Sangster has worked within the Catholic school system in Memphis for over ten years, both in teaching and administration. She is currently working on her second master’s degree in educational leadership. Sangster’s vision for Holy Family is “to grow student enrollment by challenging them academically and to develop creative thinking processes that will enable our students to be forward thinkers and create an even stronger Holly Springs community.” Sarah Cauthen – St. Elizabeth, Clarksdale St. Elizabeth School welcomes Sarah Cauthen as principal for the 2019-2020 school year. Cauthen is a 2004 graduate of Millsaps College in elementary education. After teaching several years in the Clarksdale Municipal School District, Cauthen converted to Catholicism and began working for St. Elizabeth Church in 2016. She is delighted to be returning to the vibrant atmosphere of a school. Her vision for Saint Elizabeth School is “to make sure that St. Elizabeth continues to be the influence, the pillar that is in this community, creating leaders, creating a future in Clarksdale.” Karla McHan – St. Aloysius, Vicksburg As announced in 2018, Karla McHan would assume the role of principal of Vicksburg Catholic-St. Aloysius in the 2019-2020 school year. McHan has a bachelor of arts degree in secondary education from Mississippi College and a master’s degree in educational leadership from William Carey University. “I am a Catholic and I really love my faith and my church, and I have a great passion for education, so this was a really good way to combine those two,” McHan stated. She continues the great tradition of excellence in academics and service to the Vicksburg community. The Diocese of Jackson wishes all of our new principals great success in the coming school year.
Catholic education shows importance of faith, hope and love
By Karla Luke
JACKSON – The following quote is often seen displayed in many of our schools across the diocese: “Let it be known to all who enter here that Jesus Christ is the reason for this school, the unseen but ever-present teacher in all its classes, the model of its faculty, and the inspiration for its students.”
Our Catholic Identity is the foundation of everything that happens in our Catholic schools. We strive to be schools who live the two great commandments: love God with our all our heart, soul and mind and love our neighbor as ourselves. We seek to accomplish this through daily prayer, mass, retreats and service to others. It is our goal to help our faculty and students grow in faith through these activities. Additionally, we provide units of study on various themes of Catholic faith for our faculty and staff. We believe that by providing faculty and staff with education and support about our Catholic faith that it will benefit our students by underscoring the importance of our baptismal duty to evangelize by word and action.
During the 2018-2019 school year, we studied the Beatitudes from the Gospel of Matthew. In our study, we explored the Beatitudes as an invitation to live as Christ did as a contradiction to the norms of society. As a basis for our study, we used the writings of Pope Francis, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Blessings for Leaders: Leadership Wisdom from the Beatitudes by Dan Ebener. These foundation documents were the major source of information for our diocesan-wide study.
To successfully monitor how well we grow, internalize and practice our faith, two assessments were administered in the schools. During the 2018-2019 school year, the adult faculty and staff took the Information for Growth Survey for Adults (IFG) and the Assessment of Child/Youth Religious Education (ACRE) was given to students in grades five and eight. The results of these assessments directed us to a deeper study of the theological virtues: faith, hope, and love.
Each year we choose a theme on which to focus our attention on enlivening the faith for our students, faculties, and the school community-at-large. This year our theme “The Virtues are REAL,” will show the importance of faith, hope and love in our relationship with God and each other here on earth.
As we move forward in the essential responsibility of educating our students for this life and life in heaven with our Creator, we ask your continued prayers and support.
Data drives curriculum and instruction update
By Stephanie Brown
JACKSON – In the Fall of 2018, teachers from around the diocese met to revise the curriculum standards used by teachers in our schools. Teachers reviewed state and national standards as well as college and career readiness standards and expectations. After reviewing all of the information, clear and concise curriculum standards for English language arts, math, social studies and science were developed.
In addition to completing the revision and publication of our Diocesan Curriculum Standards, the Diocese of Jackson also implemented the use of the Effective Learning Environment Observation Tool (ELEOT). This is an observation tool used by administrators and lead teachers that focuses on student engagement in the classroom. The tool evaluates seven different “environments,” each of which have three or four indicators that support the environment. The use of this tool has allowed for principals to gain deeper insight into the instruction happening in the classroom each day and the results have allowed the Office of Education to frame professional development priorities for the next school year.
After reviewing our diocesan reports, it is clear that digital learning should be an area of focus for the coming school year. It was also decided that based on our ELEOT ratings, as well as survey results from teachers and students, that differentiated instruction is another area that provides opportunities for growth and improvement. To truly begin differentiation for all students, training on the use of student performance data to determine individual needs is needed for all teachers and principals. The Office of Education is currently working with the School Leadership Center of Greater New Orleans to schedule training on data driven instruction.
Surveys indicate increase in satisfaction
By Stephanie Brown JACKSON – Starting in the Spring of 2018, the Diocese of Jackson’s Office of Catholic Education began conducting surveys among parents, teachers and students to gain better insight into the strengths of our schools and to identify areas for future development. While individual schools had conducted surveys in the past, this effort was done from the system level to both provide feedback to individual schools as well as identify system-wide trends that the Office of Catholic Education could begin to address. In the Spring of 2018 general surveys were sent to teachers, students and parents to gather baseline statistics of how stakeholders believed our schools were performing across different areas of school life. In the Fall we began more targeted surveys of teachers and students to gain a better understanding of how teachers are teaching and students are learning in the classroom each day. Following a successful Catholic Schools Week, Catholic Identity Surveys were sent to parents to assess how our schools are fulfilling their missions as institution of faith-based learning. In April of 2019, fifteen questions were selected from the 2018 parent survey and were resent. The revisited questions were looking for any improvements made in the areas focused on throughout the year. Questions were asked regarding student support services, overall school environment and students’ application and understanding of the content they are being taught. While many indicators showed similar results to the 2018 surveys, two indicators demonstrated a 4% increase in parent satisfaction. These indicators were “My students sees a connection between what they are learning and real life;” as well as, “All of my child’s teachers meet his/her learning needs by individualizing instruction.” Both of these indicators were areas of focus of our classroom observation program in the 2018-2019 school year.
By Joanna Puddister King CANTON – On Aug. 11, just days after many children of immigrants felt the ultimate fear of never seeing their parents again, the children of Sacred Heart parish rallied and prayed for change on the historic Canton courthouse square after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on Wed., Aug. 7 rocked six Mississippi communities. Signs carried by the children as they marched included messages of fear and reform. Two young girls carried a sign that read, “I will not sit in silence while my parents are taken away.” Another young boy’s sign read, “Immigration should not be only for the rich! We need change,” a message that resonated with 18-year-old Dulce Basurto-Arce, who spoke on the courthouse steps. “It is very difficult to come to the United States legally,” said Basurto-Arce. “Most of the families who come here can’t afford the process to come in legal(ly). In today’s society becoming legal is only for the rich. . . . We are all humans. We all deserve the same opportunity. It should not be a crime to work for a better life, a better future for their kids. Something they didn’t have back in their country.” The event lasting about one hour included laps around the courthouse with pauses for prayer, refection, song and unity. The crowd of about 100 were out to show their support and love, some having signs of their own – “Migration is an act of courage.” For the final lap, Mary Hicks, a young adult who organized the event, called for those present to march for change and hold hands with some of the children who were now missing a parent. In closing, Hicks thanked the crowd for their support and then spoke directly to the kids. “I want y’all to look out at all of these people that don’t have any idea how you are feeling, but they are out here to support you in this hot sun, in this heat. They are out here because they love you and they care about you.” Through tears, Hicks continued, “And I know that there is a lot of hate out there in the world, but these people care about you. And there are a lot more that care about you, so know that you are not alone.”
By Joanna Puddister King JACKSON – From winning the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, to playing football with the Pittsburg Steelers and winning four Super Bowl rings, Rocky Bleier is the true definition of success.
He played college football at the University of Notre Dame and graduated in 1968 with a degree in business management. While there he led the Fighting Irish to a National Championship in 1966 and served as team captain in 1967.
After college, Bleier experienced two drafts. The first was by the NFL to the Pittsburg Steelers. He saw little action in his first year but did not know a second draft awaited him in December of 1968 into the U.S. Army, as his rookie year ended.
At a time when President Nixon was coming into office, Bleier found himself serving on the battle fields of Vietnam. After his platoon was ambushed, he was seriously injured, losing part of his foot in a grenade blast and was told by doctors he would never play professional football again.
After such harrowing, heart-wrenching news, where did Bleier find the strength and courage to go on to win four Super Bowl rings?
Bleier will tell his story on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at the Jackson Convention Complex for Catholic Charities Journey of Hope fundraiser luncheon at 12 p.m. A sponsorship meet and greet event will be held Monday, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m., where guest will have the opportunity to meet and take pictures with Bleier.
Julie O’Brien, development associate at Catholic Charities, feels that Bleier is the perfect fit for their Journey of Hope event. “[He] has a tremendous message of encouragement, hope and helping those who have been less fortunate in life. His support of veterans and their families coincides with our Supportive Services for Veteran families program and the other programs at Catholic Charities,” said O’Brien.
For over 50 years, Catholic Charities has strived to provide help and create hope for residents of the 65 counties of the Diocese of Jackson. With a breadth of services that include adoption, mental health counseling, refugee and immigrant services, domestic violence shelters and counseling, housing for low-income families and elderly, emergency assistance and veteran support, among many others, Catholic Charities is here to serve all of God’s children.
Being a veteran himself, Bleier appreciates how Catholic Charities works to provide housing stability among low-income veteran families and the outreach and case management services the organization provides to them. “I have seen the difficulty that some of our veterans have in making the transition from military to civilian life. I believe that home ownership is one of the foundations for that transition and veterans are a proud group of people who at times find it difficult to ask for help,” says Bleier.
For the Journey of Hope event, Catholic Charities needs table leader volunteers. Information on the event and volunteering can be found at www.catholiccharitiesjackson.org or by contacting Julie O’Brien at 601-326-3758, email Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – The School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province (SSND) are involved in a multi-year Integrated Implementation Process to evaluate province needs to fulfill the SSND mission, including a process of identifying options for the ongoing residential and health care needs of sisters and possible divesture of large properties. “Through a process of communal discernment, consultation and study, it has become clear that we are now called to move forward in a concrete way with the relocation of our sisters at St. Mary of the Pines in Chatawa, Mississippi, who are in need of independent, skilled, assisted and memory care services,” said Sister Debra Sciano, provincial leader.
“To that end, we have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with St. Anthony’s Gardens in Covington, Louisiana, a senior living ministry of the Archdiocese of New Orleans,” said Sister Debra. “Moving sisters to St. Anthony’s Gardens will be a significant change, but it meets important criteria for us, including that it is a Catholic facility with a neighboring parish, Most Holy Trinity. We believe this option will be supportive of religious life and community. All of our sisters requiring assisted living and memory care will be in the same facility along with our sisters who are independent with services. The sisters requiring skilled care will move to the Trinity Trace Skilled Care, currently under construction next to St. Anthony’s Garden, when it is completed. Our sisters will be able to visit and be present with sisters in skilled care.” The first School Sisters of Notre Dame will move to St. Anthony’s Gardens in mid-August; it is projected sisters needing skilled care will move to Trinity Trace Skilled Care in February 2020. The provincial council has also been in discussions about St. Mary of the Pines Retreat Center. No final decisions have been made at this time. Finally, the Saint Mary of the Pines property, other than the cemetery, will be placed for sale. “Mission is at the heart of all we are and do, and it is central to the Integrated Implementation Process.” said Sister Debra. “Change has always been embraced as a part of the SSND mission to meet the ever-changing needs of the times. Change is always constant, even when difficult. These changes will ensure continued good stewardship of resources so the SSND charism, mission and ministries are sustainable into the future.”
WASHINGTON, D.C.— On July 18, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) issued a press release after Fr. Columba’s nomination saying “Father Columba Stewart, OSB, Benedictine monk, scholar of early religions and executive director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, will deliver the 2019 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities.” The NEH has this lecture as the “highest honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. The NEH, a federal agency created in 1965, selects the lecturer through a formal review process that includes nominations from the general public. Stewart will deliver the lecture, titled “Cultural Heritage Present and Future: A Benedictine Monk’s Long View,” on Monday, October 7, at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., at 7:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public and will stream online at neh.gov.
‘‘A ‘Monument Man’ of our time, Father Columba Stewart has dauntlessly rescued centuries’ worth of irreplaceable cultural heritage under threat from around the world,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. Stating that he was ‘deeply humbled” by his selection, Stewart replied, “It is an extraordinary moment in our nation’s intellectual life and one in which a keener sense of the wisdom and experience of the past, critically interpreted, has much to offer.’ Dubbed ‘the monk who saves manuscripts from ISIS,’ by Atlantic magazine, Stewart has spent 15 years working with international religious leaders, government authorities and archivists to photograph and digitize ancient to early-modern religious manuscripts, especially those at risk due to war, strife or economic uncertainty. Stewart has traveled to the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and South Asia to partner with local communities to photograph historic handwritten books and documents in their original context. His work has taken him to some of the world’s most volatile regions. Since becoming executive director of HMML in 2003, Stewart has striven to make these documents available to a wide public, aided in part by grants from the NEH. In 2015 HMML launched an online reading room to give visitors access to the library’s growing digitized collection of more than 250,000 handwritten books and 50 million handwritten pages, the world’s largest digital collection of ancient manuscripts. Stewart professed vows as a monk at Saint John’s Abbey in 1982 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990. Much of his work in preserving ancient religious texts is informed by Benedictine tradition. A scholar of early Christian monasticism, Stewart holds a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from Harvard University, a master’s in religious studies from Yale University, and a D.Phil. in theology from Oxford University. Stewart has published extensively on ancient Christianity, monasticism, and manuscript culture, including Working the Earth of the Heart: the Messalian Controversy in History, Texts and Language to 431, Cassian the Monk, Prayer and Community: the Benedictine Tradition, a wide range of essays and articles and is working on his current book, Between Earth and Heaven. The Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities is the NEH agency’s signature annual public event. Past Jefferson Lecturers include Rita Charon, Martha C. Nussbaum, Ken Burns, Walter Isaacson, Wendell Berry, Drew Gilpin Faust, John Updike, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Toni Morrison, Barbara Tuchman, and Robert Penn Warren. The lectureship carries a $10,000 honorarium, set by statute.” You can find the complete text of the Press Release on NEH’s website and can follow it on social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @NEHgov | #jefflec19
By Sister alies terese HOUSTON – It’s hard to believe that Father Bob Dalton, the last of the Glenmary Fathers, will be leaving the Diocese of Jackson near the end of August. The rest of his order left the state in 2012. The Glenmary Home Missioners were founded in 1939 with a purpose to establish a Catholic presence in rural areas and small towns of the United States.
The Glenmary Missioners have served in Mississippi since 1965, beginning with Aberdeen and New Albany and then over the years in Fulton, Ripley, Amory, Ackerman, Eupora, Bruce and Houston, where Father Dalton is currently serving. According to Father Dalton, the Glenmary Missioners are leaving the diocese due to “our community retrenchment, so as to centralize Glenmary personnel.” That has now taken the form of missions in Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Georgia. “I’m a great fan of Church history and I see what will rebuild the Church: We must let go, so something new can be built. There have been five big ‘deaths and new beginnings’, I think. Benedict, Francis, Ignatius, the Missionaries and now…what? We might be too close to see. But, in each of these cases something needed to die before a new and living thing could be born. I’m not sure what it will look like, but…we need discernment to discover new life…not a false hope,” says Father Dalton. Maybe more than Church history, though, is how he feels about going. “I am sad, sad…I love the people and I’m gonna miss ‘um!”
(Sister alies terese is a vowed Catholic solitary who lives an eremitical life. Her days are formed around prayer, art and writing. She lives and writes in Mississippi.)
By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON/NATCHEZ – A renewal of evangelization efforts has been underway for some time in the Catholic Church, ChristLife being one of those endeavors. The goal of ChristLife is to increase active participation in parishes and to call church members to a closer, more meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ.
Designed for Catholics, the three-part program consists of three courses of seven weeks each. The first course, Discovering Christ, invites people of all backgrounds to open the door to encountering Jesus and be a part of the Church. Following Christ, the second course, covers Catholic discipleship, including daily personal prayer, hearing God in Scripture, the power of the sacraments, forgiving one another and spiritual warfare, among others. The final component of the program, Sharing Christ, equips Catholics with the practical skills to proclaim the Gospel and invite others into a personal relationship with Jesus. All of these elements combine to enrich community members and build up spirits that will last long beyond the course dates.
The ChristLife program has been run at several parishes within the diocese with much success. Nancy McGhee, parishioner at Jackson St. Richard, attended the program at Flowood St. Paul several years ago, the first parish to offer the ChristLife program in the diocese.
“I personally experience renewal and spiritual growth from the ChristLife program. I am totally interested in evangelization of adults and being a part of helping others experience the power of the Holy Spirit and a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” said McGhee.
Having been involved in charismatic renewal, the Cursillo movement, Renew, developing the small church communities and a “Go Make Disciples” class at Jackson St. Richard, McGhee feels that ChristLife has some of the best parts of all those programs.
“I think people who really go through the whole ChristLife program with a sincere desire to gain a deeper faith relationship with Jesus and to be renewed in the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit do receive that,” says McGhee. “This in turn, makes all that we do as The Church more meaningful . . . the sacraments, getting involved in church activities, furthering religious education, helping the poor, wanting to be a part of a small faith community, feeling more a part of the parish in general and most importantly gain an excitement about lay discipleship . . . sharing your faith and the love of Christ with others in ordinary everyday ways, inviting people in, reaching out to people that our pastor would never see or know, doing our part in growing the Kingdom with the love of God shining through us in our imperfect beings.”
Natchez St. Mary Basilica will be using the ChristLife program for the first time this Fall. Out of a series of book studies, the Parish Council and a group of parishioners developed an action plan for moving the parish forward in a number of areas, including deepening the Christ-focus of both individual parishioners and of the parish as a whole. The first step was to find and implement a parish-wide program with this focus.
Ruth Powers, program coordinator at St. Mary Basilica, said, “After talking with parishioners from St. Jude in Pearl, who had taken part in the Discovering Christ program and seeing how excited they were about ChristLife, that is the one we chose. We have been working with a Christlife consultant since March on getting the necessary teams formed to implement the program.”
Powers “hope(s) that by the end of the program parishioners whose relationship with Christ is not a major focus in their lives will be moved toward Christ as a focus; that parishioners who have a relationship with Christ will have that relationship deepened and that those with a deep relationship will be on fire to share that relationship with others. We have found that Catholics in general do not seem to be comfortable with sharing Christ with others for a number of reasons. Our hope is that this experience will begin to break down those barriers, because God knows our communities and our world need Christ right now.”
Both Jackson St. Richard and Natchez St. Mary Basilica plan to offer the three-part series of ChristLife. There is no fee to participate and the program includes meals and childcare is offered if needed. All are welcome to register and attend.
Jackson St. Richard will be offering a daytime Discovering Christ program beginning on Thursday, August 29 in Foley Hall. Classes will meet Thursdays at 10 a.m. with a Saturday retreat scheduled for September 28. To register visit saintrichard.com/christlife or call Nancy McGhee at 601-942-2078.
Natchez St. Mary will begin their inaugural offering of the ChristLife series on Sunday, October 6 at the O’Conner Family Life Center. Classes will meet Sundays at 5:30 p.m. with a Saturday retreat scheduled for October 27. For more information or to volunteer contact Ruth Powers at 601-445-5616.