Fourth and Glory! St. Joseph continues dynasty with victory over Tri-County in state title game

By David W. Healy/Delta Democrat-Times
JACKSON – It takes more than one player to make a dynasty.

These were the words from St. Joseph Catholic School coach John Baker just minutes after his Fighting Irish defeated Tri-County Academy 26-14 to win the MAIS Class 4A State Championship Thursday at Jackson Academy. It was the Irish’s fourth state championship in school history and fourth in six years.

As they have done in their previous three state championships, the biggest stars on this year’s St. Joseph (11-1) team shined the brightest. But it was not just one star. The night and the glory belonged to the entire St. Joseph team who avenged a loss last season to Tri-County in last year’s state semifinal game.

Senior running back Kye Nelson, who played as a 5-foot-9 wrecking ball the entire game, carried the ball for crucial yardage time after time again. In the second half, Nelson’s determination came to a crescendo when his 34-yard touchdown score put the Irish in the lead for good at 20-14 with 1:56 to play in the third quarter. Nelson finished the night with 144 yards rushing on 16 carries.

“I was just thinking after every carry to keep going and keep fighting,” Nelson said. “This game was revenge for us because Tri-County beat us in the semifinals last season.”

JACKSON – The Fighting Irish of St. Joe Greenville toppled Tri-County Academy for the MAIS Class 4A State Championship on Thursday, Nov. 17 at Jackson Academy. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King)

Said Baker, “Kye and the offensive line, they put the whole team on their backs and they got us in the endzone. We made the decision to run the ball in the second half because we felt like we were more physical team and at halftime we thought if we ran the ball we could win.”

Nelson missed last year’s state semifinal with an injury.

Senior quarterback CJ Moore was another Irish player who helped cement the Irish dynasty Thursday night.

Moore is the brother of the first two Irish quarterbacks, Brice Johnson and Dillon Johnson, who helped lead the Irish to their first three state championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019. During Thursday’s contest, Moore looked much like his older two brothers when they were leading the Irish to state glory. As he had all season, Moore extended offensive plays with his speed and escapability.

After Tri-County opened the scoring when QB Bryce Warriner connected with Ty Milner on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 2:59 left in the first quarter, Moore found a wide-open Christian Foster in the back of the endzone for 24-yard touchdown reception to give St. Joseph a 7-6 lead.

Later in the second quarter, Moore made his biggest play of the game when he raced down the right sideline for a 76-yard touchdown run to put the Irish up 14-6 with 2:57 left in the second quarter. The Irish finished with 264 rushing yards.

“CJ pulls a rabbit out of his hat every time,” Coach Baker said. “He is the best athlete on our team. He doesn’t let things get to him. He threw an early pick, but he came back and reset and ran that long touchdown for us.”

Moore ended the game 14 of 29 with 163 yards passing. He had 114 yards rushing. St. Joseph’s Stank King led the Irish with 55 yards receiving on five catches. Chris Mayfield had 53 yards receiving for the Irish on three catches.

While the St. Joseph offensive players did their part for the victory, the Irish defense also stood tall when it mattered the most, holding the Rebels scoreless in the second half.

On Tri-County’s first offensive possession of the game, defensive end Donnie Smith recovered a Rebel fumble at the Tri-County 38-yard line. In the second quarter, defensive back Stank King made an interception and returned it 15 yards to the Irish 37-yard line.

In the third quarter, St. Joseph defensive lineman Alex Foster helped to end a Rebel drive with a 15-yard sack for a loss.

Later in the third, King deflected a Tri-County pass in the back of the endzone that looked at first like it was a sure touchdown.

The Rebels managed just 49 rushing yards in the game.

Tri-County head coach Phillip Wasson, a Greenville native who once coached at St. Joseph and Washington School, praised the Irish on their state championship.

“St. Joe is a really good team,” Coach Wasson said. “Most of their best players are all back from last year. Coach Baker has done a good job with them. They have only lost one game this year. I am proud of that group because I know a lot of those kids over there at St. Joe.”

(David Healy is sports editor for the Delta Democrat-Times. He can be reached at Re-printed with permission.)

Gathering around the table for Thanksgiving

By Mary Woodward

JACKSON – Once again, we come to the great feast of Thanksgiving throughout our country. Looking back over the years I would like to share some moments at table in the presence of cherished friends, some of whom have gone on to the Lord where they will partake in the feast of Thanksgiving for all eternity.

When we gather around the table with friends and family, we are sharing in communion with one another. I like to think all of our ancestors and dear ones, who made contributions to our lives great and small, are gathered there with us forming a communion of saints.

The Thanksgiving holiday offers a time for us to reflect on those ancestors and dear ones – to enjoy those present physically and those who are there transcending the moment in our memories. It is a time to be thankful for the moments we have shared and continue to share with those who love us and those whom we love.

Pictured are gatherings around tables around the diocese over the years. The word Eucharist means “thanksgiving,” so gathering around the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist is the most profound gathering of all gatherings. (Photos courtesy of archives)

And of course, the ultimate table for us to gather around is the altar where we share in the heavenly banquet with the entire communion of saints. The word Eucharist means thanksgiving, so gathering around the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist is the most profound gathering of all gatherings.
This Thanksgiving I hope we all are able to ponder the many blessings we have in our lives even if they are small. Take the time to let your friends and family know exactly how much they mean to you and what a blessing they are in your life.

Spend time in prayer for those who do not have family and friends available to them or are in strained family situations. Do not miss an opportunity to heal a rift and mend a heart by showing kindness, patience and love. You do not want to have regrets when that person is gone.

Most of all, give thanks to God for bestowing the grace, mercy and peace upon you that can only come from encountering and surrendering to God’s infinite heart. Take care of one another.

(Mary Woodward is Chancellor and Archivist for the Diocese of Jackson.)

Thanksgiving food drive

MADISON – Seventh and eighth grade students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison successfully completed a Thanksgiving food drive, filling boxes with enough items to feed 15 families who otherwise may have gone without a family meal for the holiday. On the front row from left are William Kraft, Camp Hlavac, David Steckler, Harper Schuhmann, Noah Ingram and Synia Means. On the second row are Colt Alexander, Landry Erwin, Lily Cate Lumaghini, Maddie Morris and Josh Brown. In the back are Matthew Schenk, Samuel Klar, Susie Steckler and Jaden Taylor. (Photo courtesy of Terry Cassreino)

St. Andrew the Protokletos – the first called

By Julia Williams

JACKSON – St. Andrew the Apostle is known as the “Protokletos,” or “The First Called’ to be an apostle of Jesus.

Artwork: The Calling of Saint John and Saint Andrew, James Tissot, c. 1886-1894, Public Domain.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and saw Andrew and Simon Peter fishing. Jesus asked the two to become disciples and “fishers of men.” The Gospel of John states that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, and when Jesus walked by one day, John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” It is then that Andrew, and another, made the decision to follow Jesus. In both stories, Saint Andrew answered the call to follow Jesus.

As members of the church, Jesus also calls us to be disciples to a new way of life, the Christian way of life, of which stewardship is a part. But Jesus does not call us as nameless people in a faceless crowd. He calls us individually, by name.

God intends each one of us to play a unique role in carrying out the divine plan. The challenge is to understand our role, and to respond generously to this call from God.

Christian stewardship is recognizing that “Everything we have and everything we are” is a gift from God and we are to be grateful and generous with those gifts.

The Spirit is calling and can show us the way. Stewardship is a part of that journey. Are you listening to the call?

St. Andrew was sentenced to a death of crucifixion by the Romans in Greece. He asked to be crucified on a diagonal cross as he felt he wasn’t worthy to die on the same shape of cross as Jesus. His feast day is Nov. 30, the date of his death.


Feature photo…seminarian John Le continues formation…

HALES CORNERS, Wis. – Three seminarians participated in the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders during Mass at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners on Nov. 9, 2022. This rite is an important step during a seminarian’s formation journey. Called forward by President-Rector Father Raúl-Gómez-Ruiz, each seminarian publicly declared his intention to advance towards ordination, offering himself to God and a life of ministry. The three seminarians (from left to right) are Esteban Hernández from the Diocese of Dodge City, John Le from the Diocese of Jackson and Diego Osvaldo Acosta Chávez from the Diocese of Lexington. All three are seminarians at Sacred Heart. (Photo by Monica Misey)

Calendar of events

FLOWOOD St. Paul, Women’s Ministry Advent Day of Reflection, Saturday, Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Deacon Tony Schmidt will lead the day of reflection to help us in our spiritual journey during Advent. Cost: $10 donation to cover cost of lunch. Details: register at

HERNANDO Holy Spirit, Advent/Christmas Concert, Sunday, Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. The concert will be followed by a parish dinner. Details: church office (662) 429-7851.

NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Season one of “The Chosen” will be shown as an Advent/Christmas study on Mondays beginning Nov. 28, in the Family Life Center at 6 p.m. The study will continue into the Mondays of January 2023. Each episode will include the use of Catholic study and discussion materials developed by the Augustine Institute and FORMED. Details: church office (601) 445-5616.

ABERDEEN St Francis of Assisi, Christmas party after the 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday, Dec. 3. There will be a sign-up sheet posted on the bulletin board in the parish hall for you to sign up for what you would like to bring. We will play “Dirty Santa” following supper. Each person wanting to play needs to bring a $10 gift. Details: church office (662) 813-2295.

COLUMBUS Annunciation, Blood Drive, Monday, Nov. 28. Services Bus will be parked in our parking lot to accept any and all types of blood. Details: church office (662) 328-2927.

JACKSON St. Peter Cathedral, The Vigil Project will provide an evening of music/prayer/inspiration on Friday, Dec. 9. The Vigil Project is a group of musicians and speakers from South Louisiana who host what they call “True Presence Nights” at parishes around the country. The evening consists of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, music and inspirational talks from members of the group. Details: church office (601) 969-3125.

St. Richard, Christmas Candlelight Memorial Service, Thursday, Dec. 8, 6 p.m. at Foley Hall. Details: to RSVP, please contact Nancy McGhee (601) 942-2078 or

MADISON St. Francis, Ring In Your Faith 10k run and 5k run/walk, Saturday, Dec. 31 at 8 a.m. Registration fee guarantees your shirt through Dec. 17 and you will enjoy a mouth-watering New Year’s Day meal with a Southern twist. Ring in 2023 and register here: Details: Joe at

St. Francis, Evening of Worship & Adoration for Advent and Christmas with music by John Finch, on Sunday, Dec. 4, 6:30-8 p.m. in the church. The evening will include a time of worship music, Advent reflection and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Benediction. Open to the public, donations accepted. For more info on John Finish visit Details: email

MADISON St. Joseph School, Christmas Arts and Crafts Camp, Saturday, Dec. 17, St. Joe Fine Arts Building from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1-4 p.m. For grades K through eighth. Cost is $40 per session or $70 for both. Snacks included. Bring lunch if staying for both sessions. Details: email

MERIDIAN St. Patrick, Candy Cane 5k Dash, Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8:30 a.m. Details: to register visit

NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Advent Fair, Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m., Family Life Center, all PreK-4 through fifth graders are invited! Advent and Christmas symbols and their history and meaning will be featured, with stories, crafts and treats. Details: church office (601) 445-5616.

DIOCESE SEARCH Retreat – For Teens, By Teens, Jan. 13-15, 2023 at Camp Wesley Pines in Gallman. Details: email

World Marriage Day, Feb. 12, 2023 at Jackson, St. Peter Cathedral. Details: register to attend with your home parish.

JACKSON St. Richard School, Krewe de Cardinal set for Feb. 10. Call for tickets and sponsorship opportunities. Details: school office (601) 366-1157.

MADISON St. Anthony School, Starry Night Gala, Friday, Dec. 9. Details: school office (601) 607-7054.

BILOXI Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church, The Role of Beauty in the Spiritual Life: understanding and praying with the Church’s Sacred Music, Jan. 26, 2023 at 7 p.m. Event is a talk by Dr. Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka. Details: visit

Our Lady of the Gulf, Sacred Music Workshop for cantors, choir members, music directors and clergy, Jan. 27-28, 2023. Cost is $40 with registration deadline of Jan. 13. Details: Registration and more information at Email with questions.

iGiveCatholic on Giving Tuesday Nov. 28. Join Catholics in this nation-wide day of giving. Visit to donate today!

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‘Harvest’ event continues to grow

By Joanna Puddister King

MADISON – The Jackson Seminarian Homegrown Harvest began with a vision of an event to celebrate the Catholic faith and the future priests of the Diocese of Jackson. It has grown from its humble beginning, in 2020 during COVID, as a online only, livestream event where Father Nick Adam and Bishop Joseph Kopacz talked about vocations to viewers.

This year approximately 200 guests were in attendance for the event at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Madison. And the event looks to continue to grow.

Through the first part of October, seminarian Deacon Carlisle Beggerly served his internship at St. Francis of Assisi Madison.

“During the diaconate internship we try to place our men in parishes that will given them a wide range of experiences,” said Father Nick told event attendees.

“He is really reaching the end of his process. From wondering about being a priest, feeling that tug in his heart to do so and being supported by the diocese.”

To much applause, Father Nick announced to the crowd that Deacon Carlisle will be ordained a priest for the diocese on June 10, 2023.

MADISON – Above supporters from around the diocese attended the third annual Jackson Seminarian Homegrown Harvest event held at St. Francis parish this year. Inset: Seminarian, Deacon Carlisle Beggerly speaks to the crowd. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King)

A convert from Protestantism, Deacon Carlisle encountered St. Augustine’s Confessions, that ultimately led him on a journey to Catholicism and on to the priesthood. In college, he began to feel a “quiet whisper” to a vocation.

Speaking on his diaconate internship at the event, he said that he was indebted to the parishioners at St. Francis for their assistance in forming his ministry and to Father Albeen Vatti, pastor of the parish.
Deacon Carlisle said he is confident he is on the right path now. “I truly believe God is calling me to … use my talents for the greater glory of God.”

Father Nick Adam completes a “measure-off” to see who is the tallest seminarian – EJ Martin or Grayson Foley.

The diocese now has nine seminarians – Deacon Carlisle Beggerly, Ryan Stoer, Tristan Stovall, John Le, Will Foggo, Grayson Foley, Tripp Bond, EJ Martin and Straton Garrard – and their education and formation costs are close to $50,000 per student annually.

Their education cost are covered by a variety of cources including the diocese, second collections, and fundraising events like the Homegrown Harvest. At this year’s event, attendees were able to give extra support through a silent auction and raffles using “Beggerly Bucks.”

“It looks like we landed right at about $145,000 in proceeds from the Homegrown Harvest this year,” said Father Nick. “That’s a 71% increase from last year. This is in huge thanks to all of our sponsors, too.”

A 2011 graduate of St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison and of Springhill College to working professionally in Austin, Texas for a few years, new seminarian EJ Martin took an opportunity to talk to those gathered about his experience during his first few months this year at seminary.

At 30 years old, Martin is grateful to the people of the diocese for being able to spend his time immersed in formation at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.

“I could not imagine doing this with a full-time job,” said Martin. “It’s absolutely incredible to step away from where I was and to really immerse myself into the formation process of what it is to be a man of God.”

(To learn more about vocations, contact Father Nick Adam at

Boy Scouts honor Dominican sisters with citizenship award

By Joanna Puddister King

JACKSON – On Thursday, Oct. 27, the Andrew Jackson Council of the Boy Scouts of America honored the Dominican Sisters of St. Dominic with this year’s Distinguished Citizen Award at a luncheon held at the Jackson Country Club.

Tony Haines has served as the chief executive officer for the Andrew Jackson Council of the scouts for twelve years and is described by some as a “huge fan” of the Dominican sisters and their work providing quality, compassionate care to the community.

The sisters of St. Dominic “save the lives of the individuals of this community … they save the community at times from itself, they impact the quality of lives in our area, and I would probably say outside of our area. They do a lot of good,” said Haines.

He also believes joy comes from their service to others.

“They pass along that joy to God. … They are leading lives that are very dedicated to Christ and dedicated to the community.”

Kay McRee says what makes St. Dominic so special is the Dominican sisters.

As the executive director of St. Dominic Health Services Foundation, McRee talked to those gathered at the luncheon about the history of the Dominican sisters beginning with the Jackson Infirmary in the center of the city in 1946.

Also, at the event celebrating the Dominican sisters of St. Dominic was Bishop Joseph Kopacz. Growing up in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, he was a part of “Troop 66” at his local parish starting with Cub Scouts and eventually becoming an Eagle Scout.

Bishop Kopacz also talked to the group gathered about merit badges, how special they are and how “blessed” he was during his eight years of scouting.

“There are very special merit badges in scouting – I believe they may still require merit badges like ‘Citizenship in the Community, in the Nation and in the World,’” said Bishop Kopacz.

“One of the connecting streams that hits me today, as we celebrate the sisters, here over 75 years here in the city of Jackson, the state of Mississippi, and the Diocese of Jackson, is that the commitment to community … is very strong.”

Speaking on the sisters and the team at St. Dominic, Bishop Kopacz touched on being admitted to St. Dominic Hospital for two days near the end of August for a kidney infection. He joked that he was “undercover Bishop,” as he served on the board for St. Dominic Health Services.

“But truly the care and compassion and the healing ministry is something special,” said Bishop Kopacz.
“We thank you and give praise to God for the gift of your presence here,” Bishop Kopacz told the sisters present.

Speaking at the event on behalf of the Dominican sisters was Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, who first arrived at St. Dominic Hospital in 1963. Leaving in 1983, she returned in 1995 to become president and chairman of the board of St. Dominic Health Services. She retired from that position in 2011 and took on a new role as associate executive director of St. Dominic Health Services Foundation, a position she still serves in today.

“We are here to serve and not to be served,” said Sister Dorothea. “So, this is a privilege for us to be honored here today.”

“Thank you for your support of our community for these 75 plus years and its been a great privilege for all of us.”

Diocese hosts event as part of National Eucharistic Revival

By Joanna Puddister King
GLUCKSTADT – For much of the evening and morning of Oct. 28 and 29 at St. Joseph Church in Gluckstadt, the sanctuary was relatively silent with the occasional sound of movement or a cough.

Upon entering some had their heads bowed in prayer and others with their eyes fixed on the consecrated Eucharist host placed in the center of the altar. The host was contained in a monstrance from the Bishop R.O. Gerow collection and modeled off the one used for the 1932 Eucharistic Congress in New Orleans, a fitting receptacle for the Eucharistic Revival moment help by the Diocese of Jackson.

The event was held as a part of the National Eucharistic Revival, developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the diocesan “Year of the Eucharist.”

GLUCKSTADT – Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Father Ajani Gibson administer Communion during the Eucharistic Revival moment held at St. Joseph parish in Gluckstadt. The two day event was a part of the National Eucharistic Revival featuring adoration, vespers, spiritual talks on the Eucharist, opportunities for reconciliation and Mass. (Photo by Joanna Puddister King)

The national revival comes at a time when many Catholics don’t believe the church’s teaching that the consecrated bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus. Pew research reported in 2019, that 69% of self-described Catholics say they personally believe the bread and wine are just “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”

The diocesan Eucharistic event held at St. Joseph included adoration, vespers, spiritual talks on the Eucharist, opportunities for reconciliation and Mass with Bishop Joseph Kopacz.

Selected as the featured speaker for the event was Father Ajani Gibson of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. A relatively new priest, only being ordained about a year and a half, Father Ajani’s passion and love for the Eucharist was evident as he focused event attendees on internalizing and externalizing the Eucharist.

In his first spiritual talk, he touched on how much COVID-19 affected us as a Body of Christ, with many not returning to Mass or continuing to view Mass virtually. Of Mass, Father Ajani said that “we come to be reminded of the beauty and the gift that is the Eucharist.”

This moment of Eucharistic Revival, says Father Ajani, is about renewing our relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. He asked in his first talk for everyone to contemplate the simple question – “Do I believe in Jesus Christ?”

“The Lord in the moment of Eucharistic renewal is drawing us to be in communion and unity with Him,” Father Ajani told those gathered at the event.

“Isn’t this what it is all ultimately about, to be drawn into eternal union with our God?”

Weaving in personal stories, on Saturday of the event Father Ajani shared about his love of grapes. Always raiding his grandmother’s refrigerator for those round globes of sweetness as a child, Father Ajani laughed about his grandmother always telling him he was going to turn into a grape.

He asked when thinking about the Eucharist to ponder the saying “we become what we eat.”

“Externalizing the Eucharist is being a part of Christ … out in the world. Is that not what the Mass prepares us for,” Father Ajani asked.

Mary Woodward, chancellor for the Diocese of Jackson, organized the event and says she hopes to organize more around the diocese as the National Eucharistic Revival continues into the next few years.
As those gathered left the event, many thanked Bishop Kopacz, Father Ajani and Woodward for their efforts in bring this to the people of the diocese.

Jo Dillon of St. Joseph parish told Father Ajani as they were leaving the event that she wanted to jump up and shout when he asked participants to internalize the question “Do I believe in Jesus Christ?”
“I wanted to jump up and shout yes, I believe!”

GLUCKSTADT – Clockwise from top: Jesse Carkhuff speaks to Bishop Kopacz after the event; Seminarians Will Foggo and Ryan Stoer lead the procession after Mass; and Father Ajani Gibson delievers a riveting homily. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King)