Companions on the journey – Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady welcome St. Dominic into health system

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – July 1 marked a sponsorship change from the Dominican Sisters for St. Dominic Health Services to the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady. With the completion of the transfer, St. Dominic’s became the seventh regional center served by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS).
Prior to the transfer, St. Dominic Health Services had been sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois, since 1946, when the Sisters purchased the Jackson Infirmary in the center of the city. Following more than 70 years of dedicated support, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield sought to secure the future of the system and its mission, as their numbers dwindled. The partnership with the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, the largest Catholic health care organization in Louisiana, will preserve a bright journey of continued service to the Jackson community.


The sponsorship change was marked with a celebration at the St. Dominic Medical Mall during a “Companions on the journey” ceremony. Throughout the event, speakers talked about continuing the steadfast mission of providing Catholic health care in the area. Emphasis also focused on the unique partnership between the Dominican Sisters of Springfield and the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, truly companions over the years on a journey to provide compassionate care blessing the lives of those in need of physical and spiritual healing.
The celebration began with Claude Harbarger, past president of St. Dominic Health Services, welcoming a large crowd. Among the hundreds of people at the event were members of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield and the Sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady. Harbarger thanked Bishop Joseph Kopacz and retired Bishop Joseph Latino for being on hand and celebrating Mass before the ceremony. He said that Bishop Kopaz provided “a spiritual focus . . . reminding us that the underlying reason for today’s events is to strengthen our collective ability to continue the St. Dominic healing ministry.”
Dr. Richard Vath, president and chief executive officer of FMOLHS, recognized that both parties have had a decades long relationship, as Catholic health care providers have been a close-knit family, united in mission and striving to provide the best care for patients and their families. Dominican Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth and Harbarger worked with FMOLHS serving on the board for many years prior to talks of a change in sponsorship. Lester Diamond, president of St. Dominic Health Services, also served on the board for a short period of time, as the health care systems began discussions to assume sponsorship of St. Dominic.
Vath is delighted in the joining of St. Dominic and FMOLHS and pleased that of Diamond is staying on as president. “We know we do the same work, we know that we have really the same mission, we have similar ministries, we all lead by the Church’s guidance and by Christ’s will. But really to see it come together today is really, really special for us.”
Even though, “FMOLHS itself is taking over operations, we want to make sure we continue the influence, the charism, the word, [and] the mission of the Dominican sisters of Springfield,” said Vath.
Diamond spoke on a positive note saying that St. Dominic has “a partner who will be a guide to even more exciting opportunities.” Optimistic about the changes, he said, “that this is not the end of something great, but … the beginning of something potentially greater.”
Also speaking at the event was Sister Barbara Arcenaux, regional minister of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady. She shared the story of the day St. Francis and St. Dominic met and reflected on the saint’s beautiful words. “St. Dominic said to St. Francis, ‘You are my companion,” she said. “We will work together supporting one another toward the same end and no one will prevail against us.’”
She concluded her talk directing her own powerful words to her sisters in Christ. “Let us always remember we are companions on the journey,” Sister Arcenaux told the Dominican Sisters of Springfield.
As the event neared its close, Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, prioress general of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield let the crowd know that “this call [of Christ’s healing ministry] will remain as our sisters continue to be present and our associates and our co-workers carry this legacy into the future.”
Additionally, to share her deep gratitude to the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, Sister Gemma presented Sister Arcenaux a “gift of grace and remembrance,” a picture of the mosaic in the Dominican motherhouse chapel. The mosaic with small pieces of colored glass, stone and other materials, formed images of Dominican saints, including St. Dominic and St. Catherine with Christ featured at the center. The picture also contained a Dominican blessing.
To close the “Companions on the Journey” ceremony, Sister Gemma reiterated that she and the Dominican sisters had hope in the future. She then offered the Dominican sisters’ blessing. In unison, the sisters sang the blessing. The song was by no means a goodbye song bringing tears of sadness. It was a song of moving forward with the help of God and continuing to closely work together as companions and as healing ministers serving God and his people, a joyful note to the end of a historical day.
St. Dominic Health Services, Inc., which includes St. Dominic Hospital, the Community Health Clinic, St. Dominic Medical Associates (physician network), New Directions for Over 55, The Club at St. Dominic’s, the School Nurse Program, St. Dominic Health Services Foundation, St. Catherine’s Village and Care-A-Van, will join Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady sites across Louisiana, which include Our Lady of the Angels in Bougalusa, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Lafayette, St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales and St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe.

Saltillo mission 50th anniversary

JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Bishop Louis Kihneman are traveling to the Diocese of Saltillo to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Jackson and the Diocese of Biloxi’s relationship with the missions, July 11 – 15.
Bishop Kopacz and Bishop Kihneman are visiting San Miguel, Ranchos Notillas, San Jose, Garambullo, Rancho La Brecha, Rancho La Ventura and Rancho Rocamotes (they will bless Father Quinn Hall in the village). The bishops will concelebrate Masses at Divine Mercy, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Garambullo. They will concelebrate a Mass of Dedication of a new church in La Brecha and concelebrate Confirmation Masses at San Miguel and San Jose Church in La Brecha.
Others on the anniversary celebration trip to Saltillo include Msgr. Michael Flannery, Dr. Charles Caskey (Jackson St. Richard), Msgr. Michael Thornton and Father Sergio Balderas of the Diocese of Biloxi, as well as, Terry Dickson and Juliana Skelton with the office of communications for the Diocese of Biloxi.

Make gift and receive income

By Rebecca Harris
JACKSON – Are you interested in a charitable gift that provides you income? It is not often that a person can give a gift to a charitable organization and receive income in return. However, the Catholic Foundation can work with an individual on a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA). Some people are scared by the idea, but the staff at the Catholic Foundation can walk anyone through the process. Simply put, a CGA is a simple contract where a donor makes a gift and in return receives fixed payments for life. The remaining balance of the gift benefits a designated parish, school or Catholic organization in the Diocese of Jackson.
A CGA is a contract between an individual and The Catholic Foundation where, in return for a gift, the Foundation agrees to pay the individual a fixed amount of money annually for the donor’s lifetime. After the individual’s lifetime, the balance in the annuity account is given to the Foundation to support a ministry, parish or school in our diocese. The Foundation will work with a donor to determine what is meaningful to them.
The Foundation follows the rates set by the American Council on CGA’s, an independent nonprofit organization that recommends charitable gift annuity rates for use by charities nationwide. Life expectancy is one factor used in determining the rates. Therefore, older donors qualify for higher annuity rates compared to younger donors. Gift annuity payments are a general obligation of the Foundation. Even if an individual gift annuity account is exhausted, the Foundation will still make annual payments for life to the annuitant.
There are tax benefits associated with a charitable gift annuity. In the year that a donor establishes a gift annuity, he or she is eligible to claim a charitable contribution income tax deduction for that tax year. The deduction amount is equal to the present value of the gift amount. If the donor cannot use the entire deduction amount in the first tax year (because the deduction exceeds the amount of income that may be offset), the deduction may be carried forward for up to five years. Donors should always consult their own tax advisers before making a gift. Each payment is partially tax-free for several years, a period measured by the donor’s life expectancy. After that period, the entire payment will be treated as ordinary income to the donor. If the donor funds the gift annuity with appreciated securities (whose market value exceeds the cost basis) that have been owned for more than one year, a portion of the capital gains tax (that would be due if the donor sold the stock) is avoided. The rest of the capital gains tax is paid ratably (proportionally) over the donor’s life expectancy period.
The process to set up a CGA is simple. All the staff needs to get started is the donor’s name, date of birth including the month, day and year, address and the amount with which he or she wishes to fund the CGA. If a donor is going to include a spouse, the foundation will need their information as well.
Once the CGA is established, the donor will receive a monthly payment. Donors can even defer payments. In fact, the longer someone waits to receive payments, the higher the percentage will be, thus the higher the income will be. Seed funds for CGAs can come from cash, stock and securities. Donors can use an IRA or retirement account; however, the IRS will not allow an investor to simply roll those over into a CGA without paying taxes on those monies since the donor will be receiving the tax deduction for the CGA. Once the CGA is established the donor may not withdraw funds. The IRS sees this to be a charitable gift that is irrevocable.
For more information, please contact Rebecca Harris at (601) 960-8477 or Rebecca.harris@jacksondiocese.org. A staff member is a phone call away. He or she will provide you with a detailed illustration showing a personalized payment rate, income tax deduction for the year and capital gains savings before the donor makes the gift.

(Rebecca Harris is the Director of Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Jackson.)

Deacon John McGregor hired as Director of Operations

Deacon John McGregor

Deacon John McGregor, having forty years of experience in management and organizational systems, has been named the Director of Operations for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson. 
In the newly created role, Deacon McGregor will be responsible for overseeing and organizing daily operations of the diocese. He will oversee and coordinate the priorities, systems, services and inter-departmental relations of the department directors and other administrative staff consistent with the bishop’s priorities and vision.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz is delighted that Deacon McGregor is joining the diocesan chancery staff. “[He] will guide us to close the gaps that hamper our capacity to serve diocesan ministries more effectively as faithful stewards of diocesan resources, while building upon the strengths that are already at work,” said Bishop Kopacz. “Truly, he is engaging in a ministry of service that is the heart of the diaconate in order to strengthen the Lord’s body in the Diocese of Jackson.”
Deacon McGregor was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Jackson in June 2016. He currently serves as a deacon in Pearl, Mississippi, where he and his wife, Kelly, minister together to the people of St. Jude. He is also the Director of the Permanent Diaconate for the diocese.
Passion to look for new and creative ways to help adult Catholics share and deepen their faith, motivated Deacon McGregor to study theology at the graduate level, earning a master’s degree in biblical studies, a certificate of spiritual direction (Ignatian), as well as, a doctor of ministry degree, with an emphasis in spiritual formation in the local community.
He will begin his duties as Director of Operations, initially by focusing on three questions: Where are we now? Where do we wish we were? How are we going to close the gap?
In his new position, Deacon McGregor is “looking forward to being a member of the diocesan team, forging new ways to serve the parishes and their missions as they work to carry out the mission of the diocese, which is ‘to proclaim Jesus as Savior by living the Gospel, so that all may experience the crucified and risen Lord.’”
John McGregor is married to his high school sweetheart, Kelly Myers. They have three grown children and six grandchildren.

In memoriam

Joseph Patrick Murphy, Jr

MADISON – Joseph Patrick Murphy, Jr., 97, of Madison died at St. Catherine’s Village on July 1, 2019.
Murphy was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, on November 20, 1921, to Joseph and Louise (Stubblefield) Murphy, Sr. He graduated from St. Clara’s Academy in Yazoo City, Mississippi and attended Millsaps College. He worked as a ticket agent for the Illinois Central Railroad in Jackson, Mississippi and retired after many years of dedicated service. Following his retirement, he volunteered for Catholic Charities of Jackson and eventually became employed due to his loyalty and hard work. He later worked for the Diocese of Jackson where he assisted with editing the Mississippi Catholic newspaper and served as a receptionist. He loved his many years working in the chancery where he created many wonderful, lifetime friendships.
Murphy was a longtime, active parishioner of St. Peter Cathedral in Jackson where he was a member of the Knights of Columbus and also served on the Pastoral Council. He was beloved by all who knew him. His gentle mannerisms and dry sense of humor were a delight.
Murphy knew everyone and had a unique insight on everything. He was a founding member of the JMJ supper club.
Murphy is survived by his sister, Louise Murphy Andy; his brother, John Marlin Murphy; his nieces and nephews: Maria Andy Scarbrough (Richard), Orlando Andy, Jr. (Hope), Patrick Andy, Jack Andy (Crystal), Paul Andy (Krista), Cathy Murphy Davis (Glenn), Maureen Murphy, Patricia Murphy Bennett (Larry) and Marlin John Murphy; and many great nieces, great nephews and friends. He was predeceased by his parents and his sister Mary Eliza Murphy Lanning.

Sister Judith Norwick

MANITOWOC, WISCONSIN – Sister Judith Norwick, age 79, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, died Tuesday, June 25 at Holy Family Convent.
The former Judith Ann Norwick was born April 26, 1940 in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, daughter of the late John and Dorothy (Schneider) Norwick. She entered the convent in 1956 and professed her vows in 1959. Sister Judith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Holy Family College, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Sister Judith ministered as an elementary teacher at St. Joseph, Oneida; St. Joseph, Sturgeon Bay; and St. John, Antigo, all in Wisconsin and at St. Francis de Sales, Manistique, Michigan. Sister Judith was also involved in parish ministry at Sacred Heart, Point Pleasant, West Virginia and St. Louis Catholic Church, Gallipolis, Ohio. She was the Mission Effectiveness Coordinator at St. Paul Home, Kaukauna, Wisconsin and was a staff member at St. Joseph Retirement Community, West Point, Nebraska. Sister Judith spent time at St. Francis of Assisi, Greenwood, Mississippi, helping in the school and parish. She also ministered to the Sisters at Holy Family Convent, particularly to the Sisters in St. Rita Health Center, assisting with various tasks.
Survivors include the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and her siblings: J. Thomas Norwick, Mary Jean (James) Nussbaum, Karen (Steven) Blatz, Stephen (Marge) Norwick, and Patrice (Michael) Pajerski. Nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends also survive. She was preceded in death by her parents: John and Dorothy (Schneider) Norwick and one brother: David.

Parish calendar of events

SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT

BROOKSVILLE The Dwelling Place, “Come to the Quiet” directed retreat, July 23-28, beginning with 6 p.m. dinner. Come, get away, be still and sort out your life under the Holy Spirit’s guidance. It is a time of quiet and prayerful reflection primarily using scripture. You may choose 2, 3 or more days. Cost: $90 per day. Director: Clare Van Lent, MA CSp, Director of the Dwelling Place. Details: (662) 738-5348 or email dwellpl@gmail.com.
CHATAWA St. Mary of the Pines Retreat Center, Theology of the Body, a Retreat Focusing on Women, Thursday, September 26, supper until Sunday, September 29, lunch. It was written by St. Pope John Paul II and is an in-depth study of the human person. Focuses on the meaning of being women, ways of relating to men. Presenters: Becky Clements and Paula Hunter are from Southwest Louisiana. They are both experienced, certified retreat directors and leaders of groups in their Catholic Church communities. Suggested donation: $250 (private room) or $200 (shared room) Details: Sister Sue Von Bank (601) 783-0801 or retreatcenter@ssndcp.org.
CULLMAN, Ala., Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center, Five-Day Directed Retreat, August 12-16. Offers an opportunity for on-going faith development under the personal guidance of an experienced director. Enjoy silence, scheduled consultations with a spiritual director and time for personal reflection and prayer. Retreat Directors: Sister Mary McGehee, OSB and Sister Treva Heinberg, O.S.B. Cost: $470. Details: (256) 734-8302, retreats@shmon.org or www.shmon.org.
PEARL St. Jude, Life in the Spirit and Healing Prayer Seminar, Saturday, August 17, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the parish hall. Do you desire a deeper experience of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you interested in an opportunity to receive new gifts of the Holy Spirit and a greater outpouring of God’s healing and love? Come for a day of preaching, prayer, and praise sponsored by the Marian Servants of Jesus the Lamb of God. Guest speakers include; Father Bill Henry, Pastor of Greenville St. Joseph; Retreat Master and Spiritual Director, Celeste Zepponi; painter/singer/songwriter, retreat presenter and Spiritual Director, Mark Davis, formerly Ordained Assemblies of God pastor currently serving on St. Dominic’s Hospital Pastoral Care Team and Ethics Committee and is an active member of Clinton Holy Savior. Free admission, $10 suggested donation for lunch. Details: Contact Maureen Roberts (601) 278-0423 or mmjroberts@gmail.com.

PARISH, SCHOOL AND FAMILY EVENTS

AMORY St. Helen, Scripture Sharing meets Sundays at 10 a.m. at the parish hall. All are invited to this reflection on the Sunday Liturgy readings. Details: church office (662) 256-8392.
JACKSON St. Richard, An Evening with Our Stars, Saturday, August 24, 5-9 p.m. in Foley Hall. This is a fundraiser to benefit the Special Kids Ministry. Cost: $50 per ticket. Details: church office (601) 366-2335.
St. Richard, Knights of Columbus 2nd Annual Team Bass Challenge, Saturday, September 28 at Lake Lincoln State Park, 2573 Sunset Road North East, Wesson. Door prizes to be given out at the weigh-in. Cost: $200 per 2-man team and $50/Boat Lunker Pot. Details: Tommy Lamas at the church office (601) 366-2335 or email lamas@saintrichard.com.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Parish Blood Drive, Wednesday, July 31 from 1-6 p.m. at the Family Life Center at 613 Main Street. Details: Go to www.vitalant.org to make an appointment online or call Regina at the church office (601) 445-5616.
PEARL St. Jude, in conjunction with several other local churches, is providing a Level I Training Course for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Location: St. James Episcopal Church, 3921 Oak Ridge Drive, Jackson, consists of 10 Saturdays and 2 Friday evenings. Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays: 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Begins August 23 and 24. Cost: $600 per person. A non-refundable deposit of $100 to secure your place is encouraged by August 1. Beginning August 23 & 24, meeting monthly. Formation Leader: Mary Nell, Director of Children and Family Ministry at St. James Episcopal Church and has led courses throughout the south. At the completion of the course, participants should have an understanding of the history, philosophy, and theology of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the developmental characteristics and religious nature and capacities of the 3-6 year old child, the role of the adult in Catechesis, and the ability to plan and prepare an environment with materials to serve the children and assist in the development of their relationship with God. Details: For more information, please contact Course Coordinator Stacy Wolf, DRE, St. Jude Church at ccd@stjudepearl.org or (601) 966-9601.

YOUTH BRIEFS

JACKSON St. Richard, Fun in the Son 2019 for rising 8-10th graders, Tuesday, July 16, Bowling with Father John at Fannin Lanes, 12 noon – 2 p.m. Cost: $10 for two games of bowling and shoes. Sunday, July 28, Progressive Dinner at 6-8:30 p.m. Leave from St. Richard’s youth center and travel to four houses enjoying a different course of food at each stop. Wednesday, July 31, Star Wars Movie Marathon and Game Room Fun Day, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Cost: $5 for lunch and snacks (rescheduled from July 3). Details: church office (601) 366-2335.
PEARL St. Jude, Canoeing/Kayaking the Okatoma, Sunday, July 28. More information on price and time of departure to come. Chaperones and drivers are needed. Details: contact Mrs. Betsy or Mrs. Mara at the church office (601) 939-3181.

Priests retirement

By Mary Margaret Halford
VICKSBURG – Three pastors in the Diocese of Jackson announced their retirements this year. Mississippi Catholic honors each of these men for their commitment to the people of God and their Church, which they have been dedicated.

Father Tom Lalor


Father Tom Lalor
Father Tom Lalor, who grew up in a large Catholic family, credits his devote parents and his two uncles and older brother, who are now priests, for playing an important role in his priestly vocation.
“I just thought they were great,” said Father Lalor about his religious family back in Kilbeggan, Ireland, who were role models and taught him about the faith. “I knew I wanted to be like them.”
Feeling called to the religious life, Father Lalor entered the seminary, and while studying and in formation at Carlow College in Ireland, he was approached by the college president, who asked if he would be interested in leaving the country after his ordination.
“Mississippi was considered to be mission territory. There were not enough priests here at the time,” Father Lalor said. “So, I changed my course; he really encouraged me and wanted me here. If I had to do it again, I would.”
After being ordained in 1966, Father Lalor packed his bags for Mississippi leaving his family behind and anxious to begin his priesthood and ministry. His first assignment – Nativity Church in Biloxi, where he met yet another great teacher, Mercy Sister Paulinus Oakes, who inspired him to be open to any opportunities that might come along as he traveled his new priestly path.
“She told me that if I got a chance to teach, I should go ahead and do it,” Father Lalor said.
From there, Father Lalor began teaching in the classrooms, as well as from the pulpit. In Biloxi, he began teaching at Sacred Heart School as part of his ministry. “The hardest part was on the weekend when I’d say Masses and preach, then correct papers and prepare classes,” he said. “The amount of work involved in teaching is huge.”
After serving in Biloxi, Father Lalor found himself in Jackson where he served St. Mary’s parish and school, and then from there, St. Joseph Greenville, St. Mary and Cathedral school in Natchez, Cleveland, Tupelo, and finally, St. Paul’s in Vicksburg.
“The Catholic schools are very important to me,” he said, noting that he was a classroom teacher in all the diocese’s Catholic schools, except for Saint Aloysius High School in Vicksburg. “But I showed up there just about every day,” he said with a laugh.
When asked about his best memories as a priest, he focuses more on the lessons he learned than the ones he taught.
“So many people have inspired me,” he said. “I’ve seen people work through marriages, raise their families, and do the best they can. It makes me realize how fortunate I am.”
Since retiring in January, Father Lalor has lived at St. Catherine’s Village in Madison, where he helps fill in for priests across the area. “I’m here to serve God’s people,” said Father Lalor, a priest for more than 50 years. “And when people ask how I’m doing, I say ‘I’ve got it made in the shade.’”

Father David O’Connor


Father David O’Connor
Since his ordination 55 years ago, Father David O’Connor can’t remember a single day when he’s woken up and wished he didn’t have to do any of his priestly duties.
“I’ve been extremely happy on the job,” he said. “It’s been an incredible trip.”
A native of Limerick, Ireland, Father O’Connor was one of many Irish priests who came to Mississippi in the 1960s, a time when the state was the epicenter of civil rights activity. Father O’Connor’s first assignment was at Meridian St. Patrick, just south of Neshoba County, where three civil rights workers were murdered.
“I was there for the arrest of the people involved with that,” Father O’Connor said. “It was a very new experience for me.”
Father O’Connor also spent time back in Ireland, recruiting for seminarians to come to Mississippi before moving to Oxford and serving as the pastor at St. John’s and the campus minister for Ole Miss. It was during that time that he did graduate work in community counseling.
With that experience under his belt, Father O’Connor moved to Jackson, where he worked to train committees and councils and served as a resource for liturgical questions.
“If you ask anyone in the Diocese to pinpoint what my central focus has been, it would be developing lay leadership,” he said, adding that he has done pastoral planning for more than 300 parishes across the South. “That has been a blessing for me.”
Father O’Connor also found himself as a pastor in Greenwood, a director of development for St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison and the pastor of St. Mary’s in Natchez.
“I always end up becoming part of the people, and that’s where the fun is,” he said. “I’d like to think the people who came to know me would say ‘he was there for his people and showed up when there was a crisis, and when there were birthday parties.’ I think I’ve become a part of every parish I’ve served.”
Father O’Connor was recognized for just that recently when he was given the 2019 Seton Award for his service to Natchez Cathedral School.
“People are offering congratulations, but that’s not what I feel like,” Father O’Connor said of his retirement. “I feel like I’m walking away from extended family.”
But his retirement should be a fulfilling one, as Father O’Connor plans to lead a few groups to England and Scotland this summer and potentially continue his work training leadership and working with faith formation.
“I feel there are fun and exciting things out there ahead to come,” Father O’Connor said. “And so far it’s been a great, great experience.”

Monsignor Elvin Sunds


Monsignor Elvin Sunds
When Msgr. Elvin Sunds was a senior in high school back home in Nebraska, he had not spent too much time thinking about what his future would look like, but he knew it was something different than most of his classmates.
“I thought there was something else the Lord was calling me to,” he said. “I felt like it was the priesthood.”
So, Msgr. Sunds studied at Immaculate Conception in Missouri for two years of college, then made his way to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans before he was ordained for the Diocese of Jackson in 1973.
After his first assignment as associate pastor at Sacred Heart in North Biloxi, Msgr. Sunds landed at Catholic Charities, where he served for 19 years.
“The years as an associate are fun years, right after you’re ordained, those are important,” he said. “And my time at Catholic Charities was a challenge, but an exciting time to create new programs and serve needs in Mississippi that had not been met before.”
At Catholic Charities, Msgr. Sunds was instrumental in expanding the counseling program and building up therapeutic foster care, the women’s shelter, crisis center, and other programs. On weekends, he also served at Jackson Holy Family and Flowood St. Paul. After that, he went to Meridian, where he served at St. Patrick and St. Joseph for 11 years before being tapped as the vicar general for the Diocese of Jackson. Since 2005, he’s been the pastor of Jackson St. Therese.
“I have so many special memories, every place I’ve served has been unique and a blessing and each has been a little different,” Msgr. Sunds said. “I’ve lived in wonderful communities, bringing together different cultures, African-American, Caucasian, and Hispanic parishes who really see themselves as one Catholic community with wonderful diversity.”
And though Msgr. Sunds might not have been able to predict where his path would lead at 18 years old, he’s loved every part of the journey.
“It’s been an exciting adventure to be a Catholic priest in Mississippi,” he said. “The Diocese of Jackson is a unique diocese with a lot of gifts and challenges and I’ve very much enjoyed being here.”
To celebrate his retirement after 46 years of priesthood, Msgr. Sunds is going on a different kind of adventure — exploring the United States from a travel trailer and pickup truck.
“I’m going to see how many national parks I can visit in the next two months,” he said. “We’ve got a beautiful country that I’m just waiting to see.”

Joanna King hired as Communications Director

Joanna King

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Joanna King joined the chancery staff as Director of Communications on Monday, June 24. She is a member of Flowood St. Paul Parish and a graduate of Natchez Cathedral School. King previously worked in law and as the Communications Director for the Good Samaritan Center. She has also been on the executive board for Leadership Greater Jackson for four years, serving as secretary for two of those years.
King said she was looking for a more active way to share her faith so she felt called to apply for the position at the diocese. “I have been working on being more mindful of the Holy Spirit in my everyday life. If you listen, you will hear and feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit every day. One evening I sat down to read my Mississippi Catholic paper. Before opening it, I silently asked, ‘God, is there something you need me to hear?’ I randomly opened the paper and the first thing my eyes laid on was the position opening for the Director of Communications. So, you can say that the Holy Spirit definitely called me to apply and I listened,” she said. She participated in the Christ Life program and will begin working with the Alpha program at her parish this fall.
“I feel blessed that the position will afford me the opportunity to share and celebrate my Catholic faith, in addition to continuing my love of service,” King explained. “For the last 12 and-a-half years I have worked at a social service agency that allowed me to do Jesus’ work to help clothe and feed the hungry. I feel so blessed to have served in that capacity. It truly has helped my understanding of the Church’s love for all people,” she added.
She graduated from Mississippi State University and went on to law school at Mississippi College. She brings a variety of experience to her new role. As Director of Communications, she will be the editor for Mississippi Catholic newspaper, maintain the diocesan website and act as the spokesperson for the Diocese of Jackson.
“I look forward to building relationships with new people and strengthening relationships with those I do know. I also look forward to continuing my life-long love of learning. I love that this position affords me the opportunity to learn and grow in my Catholic faith,” said King.
The Department of Communications worked with a search committee to seek a new director. “Joanna’s enthusiasm and love for the church were obvious from the moment we met. This is such an important position in our diocese, and Joanna is genuine in her excitement and willingness to get the job done,” said committee member Mary Margaret Halford, a member of Vicksburg St. Paul Parish.
Corinne Anderson from Jackson Holy Family was also on the committee. “During the interview, I was particularly interested in Joanna’s ability to manage and work with staff and respond to various constituencies. Her past work record document skills that are requisite for the job of editor. I was sold by her candidness and apparent cognizance of the fact that she will need to work with key diocesan personnel to enhance her current skills and ensure that diocesan policies and basic Catholic doctrine guide her work as editor and manager,” she said.
King replaces Maureen Smith, who has been with the diocese for seven years and has been director for four of those. Smith is moving back to her hometown of Atlanta, Ga., to be closer to family.
King lives in Brandon with her husband and son.

TOME NOTA

Vírgenes y Santos. Celebraciones

Santo Tomas. Miércoles 3 de julio
Dia de la Independencia. Jueves, 4 de Julio.
San Benito. Jueves 11
Virgen del Carmen. Martes 16 de Julio
San Joaquín y Santa Ana. Viernes 26 de julio.
Santa Marta. Lunes 29 de julio

Concierto Católico.
El Grupo Emaus invita a disfrutar al grupo musical “Alto Mando es el Señor”. Domingo 18 de agosto, en el Centro Comunitario de Richland. Entrada $20.00 Para información llame al
601-667-9779

Convocatoria
Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen
Con Rito de profesión solemne y velo. de la hermana Geraldine, del Cuerpo y la Sangre de Cristo, OCD
Monasterio Carmelita, 2155 Terry Road
Julio 16 a las 11 a.m.

¡Dignísima Reina del Carmelo, Señora de todos los Santos, Rogad por nosotros!