Diocesan Statement regarding financial investigation

JACKSON – Federal agents served search and seizure warrants on the chancery office and on St. Joseph Parish in Starkville on Wednesday, November 7. Their investigation centers on the financial activities of Father Lenin Vargas. As of this posting, no charges have been filed.
On Saturday, Nov. 10, and Sunday, Nov. 11, Father Jeffrey Waldrep shared the following statement with the parishioners of St. Joseph in Starkville and Corpus Christi Mission in Macon:
Earlier before Thanksgiving the government began an investigation of the financial administration of Saint Joseph in Starkville. Saint Joseph Parish and the Diocese of Jackson are cooperating with the investigation. Pending the resolution of the investigation, Father Lenin Vargas will not engage in any public ministry, and has been removed from all pastoral and financial administration. In the interim, Father Jeffrey Waldrep, the pastor of Annunciation in Columbus, will serve as administrator and Father Rusty Vincent will be responsible for all pastoral ministry at St. Joseph, Starkville and Corpus Christi, Macon. The continued spiritual and financial well being of St. Joseph Parish and Corpus Christi Mission is of the utmost importance, and we will continue to aid you both in sound fiscal management of all of your resources. Let us pray with trust that the Lord Jesus will shepherd us through this difficult time of upheaval and uncertainty.
After receiving complaints, Bishop Joseph Kopacz ordered an internal accounting audit of the Starkville Parish’s finances. After Bishop Kopacz’ staff conducted the audit, the Diocese placed fiscal constraints on Father Vargas’ spending and found that he was violating diocesan policy concerning soliciting charitable donations and demanded that he stop these activities and conduct no further charitable fundraising without first informing the diocese of these planned activities. Federal law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPPA, prohibits our discussion of Father Vargas’ medical condition — not only when we first learned of it, but also throughout the time period mentioned in the affidavit. In fact, HIPPA law continues to bind us today in that we can neither admit nor deny anything related to Father Vargas’ medical condition.
We ask that you pray for everyone involved as we continue to work toward a resolution.

Brunch honors national vocations week

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Members of St. Richard Parish packed Foley Hall Sunday, Nov. 4, after the 10:30 Mass for the Msgr. Glynn Seminarian Brunch. The Knights of Columbus cooked and offered speakers as a way to kick off National Vocations Awareness Week and raise money for seminarian education.
Dominican Sister Kelly Moline spoke about how even though her call to consecrated life came after she finished college and was already working with older adults, she believes her vocation was fostered by her rich family life.

 

Schools benefit from STREAM grant, training

By Stephanie Brown
JACKSON – The Office of Education in the Diocese of Jackson has secured a $20,000 grant in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) -related training for teachers. The training will happen between now and December of 2019. This grant will automatically renew in 2020, providing and additional $20,000 worth of professional development workshops for teachers. The diocese is currently investigating additional funding opportunities for teaching supplies, meals and hotel accommodations for all participants. This work is aimed at removing all financial obstacles for teachers and individual schools, to ensure that they are able to focus solely on planning and executing exceptional lessons for their students.

COLUMBUS – JR Dowdle, Annunciation fifth grader, uses starburst candy to study the changes in rock during the rock cycle Problem Solving Process to complete a STREAM activity. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

Any type of research on current trends in education will lead to the terms “STEM,” “project based learning,” “creative problem solving” and “college and career readiness.” In fact, a recent market research study conducted by Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADIC) and National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), sought to explore what parents considered to be their top priorities when selecting a school for their children. According to the findings, the top three were encouraging individual and critical thinking, preparing children to successfully enter the job market, and preparing children for college. The staff of the Office of Education of the Diocese of Jackson hears this loud and clear, and is earnestly working to address all three of these areas and more.
There is no doubt that the trajectory of education has shifted away from straight rows of desks with pencil and paper to collaborative, noisy classrooms that are student-focused and interactive. Educators are now putting a stronger focus on how they equip our children to seamlessly integrate what they are learning with the world around them. While a number of terms or phrases can be used to describe this new style of teaching and learning, in Catholic education, STREAM, which stands for science, technology, religion, engineering, art, and mathematics is paving the way. This concept essentially takes the traditional model of STEM education and integrates it with the Catholic faith as well as the beauty and creative outlets of the arts.
In many ways, the ideals and objectives of STEM or STREAM initiatives are the same as the mission and goals of Catholic education. Catholic schools and educators recognize the dignity of each individual and value each child’s unique gifts and talents. Catholic educators understand it is their responsibility to help students further develop those gifts in service to God and their community. By utilizing the multi-sensory, hands-on teaching strategies of STREAM, diocesan schools give students a variety of outlets to deepen their knowledge, express themselves and most importantly acknowledge and even encourage the idea that there is not always one correct answer to a problem, especially in the real world for which these schools are preparing them.
While many schools have made strides toward a student-centered STREAM program, the Office of Education is now working to ensure that all schools are equipped with the resources and training they need to utilize this exciting and interactive way of teaching and learning. This effort includes two essential components: professional development and community connections.
Teachers need ongoing professional development to fully understand and implement the best practices that come with a STREAM program. In July 2019, the office of education plans to launch a STREAM Academy for educators from around the diocese. Plans for this programinclude an intensive multi-day summer training academy for a cohort of teachers, quarterly progress monitoring tools for implementing the strategies introduced in the summer and continued professional learning opportunities throughout the year on essential topics such as the engineering design process, project-based learning and many others.
The second component of an exceptional STREAM program is strong community relationships. One of the most essential components of a true STREAM program is the opportunity for students to apply their newly-acquired knowledge to real-life scenarios and make connections from what they are learning to the world around them. The Office of Education is in the process of constructing a small study of STEM professional organizations and companies as well as college and universities in this region to determine what skills they believe are most important for young graduates entering the workforce or the next level of education. Educators are also seeking to establish formal partnerships with STEM or STREAM -related organizations that would be willing to visit schools or host students on field trips to see what they are learning in action. Any company or educational institution interested in exploring the Partners in Education can contact Stephanie Brown at stephanie.brown@jacksondiocese.org.
As Catholic schools move forward in the 21st century, it is important that they remain true to the long-standing values of Catholic education – academic excellence, education of the whole child, and spiritual growth and formation for all-while also embracing new aspects of this ever changing world-the increased role of technology, instant global communication and higher-order thinking to address problems the world doesn’t yet know exist. Research indicates that students and graduates with strong backgrounds in STEM education will be the ones who shape the future and change the world, so why would Catholic schools not ensure that the added value of the R(eligion) and the A(rts) help shape the world for the better?

(Stephanie Brown is the Associate Superintendent for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson.)

Stewardship conference offers missionary inspiration

By Christopher Luke
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than 700 parish, diocese and archdiocesan representatives explored the theme “Missionary Disciples: Stewards of the Gospel,” at the 56th annual International Catholic Stewardship Conference in Nashville, Oct. 28-31. Members of the Diocese of Jackson’s Stewardship and Development team were on hand to learn and to network with representatives from this diocese.
The International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC), which puts on the conference, is a professional organization recognized internationally as a source of educating, networking, and advancing the mission of stewardship in Catholic parishes.
The conference offers practical ways for parishes to understand and learn stewardship. Parish representatives get the opportunity to hear about successful strategies and tactics as well as tap into proven resources. Becoming a member of ICSC connects parishes to a network of churches who can explain their experience of living a life of stewardship.
Father Andrew Kemberling, Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Denver, Colorado, reminded attendees at the start of the gathering, “you don’t know, what you don’t know.” Father Kemberling wanted those present to take advantage of each part of the conference. From the plenary addresses, the conference sessions, the strategic partners and exhibitors, and the opportunity to meet other individuals from other arch/dioceses throughout the conference.
In Session 33, “How Stewardship Helps Busy Families Evangelize,” Brian Niebrugge, Director of Stewardship and Annual Catholic Appeal for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri, said “Stewardship is the form that faith takes when being practiced. Becoming a steward changes the way you act, think, and how you react in everyday moments.” This conference helps individuals explore practical ways to help people recognize their talents, gown in gratitude for they are and will be, and live their lives fruitfully as good stewards.
“As a new school business manager, I found the conference informative and relatable,” said Jessica Skipper of Jackson St. Richard School. “I came out of the conference with the knowledge to make our next steps in a forward direction. It was reassuring to see that our school in cooperation with the diocese and our parish are hitting and exceeding national benchmarks,” she added.
The conference offered a staggering 40 sessions each day on topics from planned giving and how to empower young adult stewards to the benefits of bilingual communications and strategic planning. Attendees could select a track of related sessions that best applied to their particular position or community. Tracks included: Introduction to Christian Stewardship, Stewardship Beyond the Basics, the Evangelizing Parish, Parish Business Managers and Administrators, Wisdom for Parishes, Catholic School Advancement and Fundamental Themes in Diocesan Stewardship and Development.
The next International Catholic Stewardship conference will take place in Chicago October 6 – 9, 2019. For information on the next conference, go to the ICSC website at www.catholicstewardship.com. The Diocese of Jackson’s Office of Stewardship encourages parishes to attend this conference. Contact Christopher Luke in the office to learn more about how the diocese can support parish-level efforts. Luke can be reached by phone at (601)960-8481 or email at christopher.luke@jacksondiocese.org.

(Christopher Luke is the coordinator for Stewardship for the Diocese of Jackson.)

Giving Tuesday gets faith-based makeover with #iGiveCatholic

By Christopher Luke
JACKSON – For the third year in a row, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson is joining several dioceses around the country to host #iGiveCatholic on #GivingTuesday, the week after Thanksgiving. Participating parishes, schools, and Catholic non-profit organizations will have the opportunity to raise funds online for their own local needs. The Catholic Foundation has funded this program again this year by paying fees so local participants can concentrate on creative ways to appeal to donors.
#iGiveCatholic is a 24-hour online crowdfunding effort that is celebrated annually on Tuesday following Thanksgiving. The day was originally meant to counter the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and was called a global day to make a difference. This day is known as Giving Tuesday around the nation. This program has been declared “the most successful Catholic crowdfunding event to date” by the National Catholic Register. This year, on November 27, more than two dozen dioceses will join together for the day. #iGiveCatholic isn’t just a fundraiser. It is also an opportunity for the Catholic community to affirm their faith as disciples of Jesus Christ and showcase all the good work the church and its parishes, schools and institutions does for the community at large.
In 2017, the campaign raised more than $3.6 million for the more than 600 participating parishes, schools, and nonprofits representing 17 dioceses across the country. At the close of the 24-hour giving period, the number of online contributions totaled more than 13,000 gifts from 29 states and six countries, including Afghanistan, Great Britain, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Honduras and Canada.
The goal last year was $3.5 million in gifts. A total of 37 Jackson Diocese organizations participated last year. The 14 churches, seven organizations, and 14 schools raised $91,999 dollars online from 651 donors during the 24-hour giving period. A total of $14,173 offline gifs was raised by 83 donors. Overall, the diocese raised $106,172 dollars.
This project allows Catholics to collectively help parishes, schools, and organizations achieve their goals, reach new donors, and have fun during the 24-hour giving period. Each participant identifies a specific project to which they will direct the money. Parishioners or students can make videos, share photos or do any crazy thing they want to tell their story and inspire donors.
Projects have ranged from repairs to church windows, repaving parking lots and building outdoor classrooms to longer-term projects that needed a boost. Many organizations post encouraging videos and graphics on their websites and social media pages in the days before the event to get out the message about the big day.
This year, #iGiveCatholic is partnering with the International Catholic Stewardship Council and Our Sunday Visitor to bring the campaign nationwide. “Also new this year, #iGiveCatholic is on a new platform, GiveGab, which offers improved customer service and an abundance of resources for organizations to be successful on giving day,” said Laurie Bariola, development director at Greenville St. Joseph School. Donors will now have the option to cover credit card and platform processing fees at the time they make their gifts. Donors can also offer gifts in advance of the campaign day from November 12 through 26.
In 2018, many newdioceses have signed up to join #iGiveCatholic including Boise, Idaho; Cincinatti, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Juneau, Alaska; Marquette, Michigan; Salina, Kansas; San Diego, California; San Angelo, Texas; Sante Fe, New Mexico and the Archdiocese of Military Services. Returning from last year, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Houma-Thibodaux, in Louisiana, both Mississippi dioceses; Austin and Lubbock Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; Kansas City, Kansas; Mobile, Alabama; Helena, Montana; Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee; Lexington, Kentucky and Paterson, New Jersey.
#iGiveCatholic works through an online platform at www.IGiveCatholic.org. From November 12-26, donors can schedule gifts to their favorite ministry via an advanced giving day option. If a donor wants to participate in the race on the day of the event, they can wait and visit the site on Nov. 27. They can also contact their charity of choice and make an offline donation, but should indicate that they want it counted in the #iGiveCatholic total.
Donors can find their charity by searching the #iGIveCatholic.org site. Each participant has its own page on the site. Donors can track how their parish, school, or ministry is doing throughout the giving day via the website leaderboards. The minimum donation is $25.00 and there is no maximum donation.
Let’s Give Catholic on November 27th.

(Christopher Luke is the Coordinator for Stewardship for the Diocese of Jackson.)

Charities, family ministry to offer grief workshops

Through a partnership between Catholic Charities’ Parish Health Care Ministry and the Catholic Diocese of Jackson’s Office of Family Ministry, Bob Willis, artist, author, sculptor and grief specialist from Oklahoma City will present a series of half day workshops and discussions on grief and how to adapt to loss. Willis has offered these workshops to many different groups including healthcare professionals, caretakers as well as grief support groups at churches, hospitals and commuity centers.
The workshops are open to all throughout the Diocese who would like to participate. Three continuing education (CE) contact hours are available for nurses and social workers who attend the workshops. This is a wonderful opportunity for parishes, other churches, and organizations to come together and receive the proper training to help start a grief support group.
Workshops will be offered at the following locations/times:
Hernando Holy Spirit Parish, Wednesday, November 28, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Indianola Immaculate Conception Parish, Wednesday, November 28, 5:30-9 p.m.
Starkville St. Joseph Parish, Thursday, November 29, 12:30 – 5 p.m.
Gluckstadt St. Joseph Parish, Friday, November 30, 12 – 4 p.m..

To register, and for more details, please contact: Sister Pat Clemen, Coordinator of Parish Health Ministry at 601-213-6378, or via email: sisterpat.clemen@ccjackson.org, or Charlene Bearden, Coordinator of Family Ministry at 601-960-8487, or via email: charlene.bearden@jacksondiocese.org.

Renowned for her preaching, she took her message across the nation

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON – The U.S. bishops will consider endorsing the sainthood cause of Sister Thea Bowman, the great-granddaughter of slaves and the only African-American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, who transcended racism to leave a lasting mark on Catholic life in the United States in the late 20th century.
The request from Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson – where Sister Bowman grew up and also where she ministered in her last years while taking care of her aging parents while subsequently fighting cancer herself – will be considered during the bishops’ Nov. 12-14 fall general meeting in Baltimore.
In ecclesiological terms, Bishop Kopacz is asking whether it is advisable to initiate the sainthood cause at the local level, which is required by a 2007 instruction from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Sister Bowman has been declared a “servant of God.”


“Consideration of the opportuneness of advancing the cause on the local level is an important expression of episcopal collegiality, and a helpful indicator of the servant of God’s ‘fama sanctitatis,'” or “odor of sanctity,” said a letter by Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, chairman of the U.S. bishops” Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance.
The Jackson Diocese plans to celebrate a special Mass Nov. 18 at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, during which the edict that opens the investigation into her life will be read.
Sister Bowman was a trailblazer in almost every role: first African-American religious sister from Canton, Mississippi, first to head an office of intercultural awareness, and the first African-American woman to address the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bertha Bowman was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the daughter of a doctor and a teacher. She attended Canton Holy Child Jesus School, and at age eight decided she wanted to become a Catholic. She knew by her early teenage years that she was called to consecrated life.
She studied at Viterbo College in La Crosse, Wisconsin, while preparing to enter the convent. She went on to study at The Catholic University of America in Washington. She returned to Canton to teach and inspire the people in her community.
Sister Bowman led the Jackson Diocese’s Office of Intercultural Awareness, taught at several Catholic high schools and colleges, and was a faculty member of the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans.
Renowned for her preaching, she took her message across the nation, speaking at church gatherings and conventions, making hundreds of speaking engagements a year until spreading cancer slowed her. Music was especially important to her. She would gather or bring a choir with her and often burst into song during her presentations.
In addition to her writings, her music also resulted in two recordings, “Sister Thea: Songs of My People” and “Round the Glory Manger: Christmas Songs and Spirituals.”
When Sister Bowman spoke at the U.S. bishops’ meeting in June 1989, less than a year before her death from bone cancer and confined to a wheelchair, she was blunt. She told the bishops that people had told her black expressions of music and worship were “un-Catholic.”
Sister Bowman challenged that notion, pointing out that the church universal included people of all races and cultures and she challenged the bishops to find ways to consult those of other cultures when making decisions. She told them they were obligated to better understand and integrate not just black Catholics, but people of all cultural backgrounds.
Catholic News Service reported that her remarks “brought tears to the eyes of many bishops and observers.” She also sang to them and, at the end, had them all link hands and join her in singing “We Shall Overcome.”
That fall, the Thea Bowman Foundation was founded to support black Catholic education at all levels. In its first year, the foundation gave scholarships to 46 black students at U.S. Catholic colleges and universities. It also established an annual award for outstanding contributions to black Catholic education.
Less than a week before her death at age 52 in March 1990, she was announced as the winner of the Laetare Medal, awarded by the University of Notre Dame. Other honors included the American Cancer Society’s Courage Award, given at the White House in 1988, and U.S. Catholic magazine’s U.S. Catholic Award in 1989 for contributions to the advancement of women in church and society.
At her funeral Mass in Jackson, Father John Ford, a member of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity and a longtime friend of the nun who served as homilist, told the 1,000 mourners who packed the church: “We must find ways to imitate this woman. No other one is coming. We need to find ways to imitate Thea.”
In what was likely her last writing – a posthumously published column in Mississippi Today, the Jackson diocesan newspaper – she asked readers to observe Holy Week “see the Son of Man riding on an ass’ colt, to feel the press of the crowd, to be caught up in the ‘Hosannas,'” and then as Holy Week goes on, to “watch as Jesus is sentenced by Pilate to Calvary, to see him rejected, mocked, spat upon, beaten and forced to carry a heavy cross, to hear the echo of the hammer, to feel the agony of torn flesh and strained muscles, to know Mary’s anguish.”
By the mid-1990s, Catholic schools in Gary, Indiana, East St. Louis, Illinois, and Port Arthur, Texas opened bearing her name.
She also was the focus of several books, including 1993’s “Thea Bowman: Shooting Star – Selected Writings and Speeches,” 2008’s “This Little Light: Lessons in Living From Sister Thea Bowman,” and 2010’s “Thea’s Song: The Life of Thea Bowman.”
Redemptorist Father Maurice Nutt, observing the 20th anniversary of Sister Bowman’s death in 2010, said he believes the late nun is a saint. Though not officially canonized, “Sister Thea is canonized in the hearts of all who knew and loved her,” he said.

(Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison)

Bishops to consider endorsing sainthood cause of Sister Thea Bowman

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON – The U.S. bishops will consider endorsing the sainthood cause of Sister Thea Bowman, the great-granddaughter of slaves and the only African-American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, who transcended racism to leave a lasting mark on Catholic life in the United States in the late 20th century.
The request from Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson – where Sister Bowman grew up and also where she ministered in her last years while taking care of her aging parents while subsequently fighting cancer herself – will be considered during the bishops’ Nov. 12-14 fall general meeting in Baltimore.


In ecclesiological terms, Bishop Kopacz is asking whether it is advisable to initiate the sainthood cause at the local level, which is required by a 2007 instruction from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Sister Bowman has been declared a “servant of God.”
“Consideration of the opportuneness of advancing the cause on the local level is an important expression of episcopal collegiality, and a helpful indicator of the servant of God’s ‘fama sanctitatis,'” or “odor of sanctity,” said a letter by Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, chairman of the U.S. bishops” Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance.
The Jackson Diocese plans to celebrate a special Mass Nov. 18 at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, during which the edict that opens the investigation into her life will be read.
Sister Bowman was a trailblazer in almost every role: first African-American religious sister from Canton, Mississippi, first to head an office of intercultural awareness, and the first African-American woman to address the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bertha Bowman was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the daughter of a doctor and a teacher. She attended Canton Holy Child Jesus School, and at age eight decided she wanted to become a Catholic. She knew by her early teenage years that she was called to consecrated life.
She studied at Viterbo College in La Crosse, Wisconsin, while preparing to enter the convent. She went on to study at The Catholic University of America in Washington. She returned to Canton to teach and inspire the people in her community.
Sister Bowman led the Jackson Diocese’s Office of Intercultural Awareness, taught at several Catholic high schools and colleges, and was a faculty member of the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans.
Renowned for her preaching, she took her message across the nation, speaking at church gatherings and conventions, making hundreds of speaking engagements a year until spreading cancer slowed her. Music was especially important to her. She would gather or bring a choir with her and often burst into song during her presentations.
In addition to her writings, her music also resulted in two recordings, “Sister Thea: Songs of My People” and “Round the Glory Manger: Christmas Songs and Spirituals.”
When Sister Bowman spoke at the U.S. bishops’ meeting in June 1989, less than a year before her death from bone cancer and confined to a wheelchair, she was blunt. She told the bishops that people had told her black expressions of music and worship were “un-Catholic.”
Sister Bowman challenged that notion, pointing out that the church universal included people of all races and cultures and she challenged the bishops to find ways to consult those of other cultures when making decisions. She told them they were obligated to better understand and integrate not just black Catholics, but people of all cultural backgrounds.
Catholic News Service reported that her remarks “brought tears to the eyes of many bishops and observers.” She also sang to them and, at the end, had them all link hands and join her in singing “We Shall Overcome.”
That fall, the Thea Bowman Foundation was founded to support black Catholic education at all levels. In its first year, the foundation gave scholarships to 46 black students at U.S. Catholic colleges and universities. It also established an annual award for outstanding contributions to black Catholic education.
Less than a week before her death at age 52 in March 1990, she was announced as the winner of the Laetare Medal, awarded by the University of Notre Dame. Other honors included the American Cancer Society’s Courage Award, given at the White House in 1988, and U.S. Catholic magazine’s U.S. Catholic Award in 1989 for contributions to the advancement of women in church and society.
At her funeral Mass in Jackson, Father John Ford, a member of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity and a longtime friend of the nun who served as homilist, told the 1,000 mourners who packed the church: “We must find ways to imitate this woman. No other one is coming. We need to find ways to imitate Thea.”
In what was likely her last writing – a posthumously published column in Mississippi Today, the Jackson diocesan newspaper – she asked readers to observe Holy Week “see the Son of Man riding on an ass’ colt, to feel the press of the crowd, to be caught up in the ‘Hosannas,'” and then as Holy Week goes on, to “watch as Jesus is sentenced by Pilate to Calvary, to see him rejected, mocked, spat upon, beaten and forced to carry a heavy cross, to hear the echo of the hammer, to feel the agony of torn flesh and strained muscles, to know Mary’s anguish.”
By the mid-1990s, Catholic schools in Gary, Indiana, East St. Louis, Illinois, and Port Arthur, Texas opened bearing her name.
She also was the focus of several books, including 1993’s “Thea Bowman: Shooting Star – Selected Writings and Speeches,” 2008’s “This Little Light: Lessons in Living From Sister Thea Bowman,” and 2010’s “Thea’s Song: The Life of Thea Bowman.”
Redemptorist Father Maurice Nutt, observing the 20th anniversary of Sister Bowman’s death in 2010, said he believes the late nun is a saint. Though not officially canonized, “Sister Thea is canonized in the hearts of all who knew and loved her,” he said.

(Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison)

Catholic school sports champions

In addition to spiritual formation and academic excellence, the four Catholic High Schools in the Diocese of Jackson have been garnering some sports championships as well. Here is a roundup of spring and fall sports championships held by Catholic Schools across the state.

Greenville St. Joe – Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) AA
2017-2018 Boys Basketball District Champions
2017-2018 Football MAIS 2AA State Champions
2018-2019 Football 2AA District Champions. Playoffs are underway. Junior Trey Benson broke the school record for most touchdowns in a single game with 8 touchdowns vs Greenville Christian School.

Madison St. Joe. – Mississippi High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) 2A
2018-2019 Boys Swim State Champions. They were second-place in state for 2017-2018.
2017-2018 Girls Swim State Champions. Girls swim we second place in the state for 2018-2019.
2017-2018 Boys Soccer State Champions
2017-2018 Baseball State Champions
2017-2018 Baseball District Champions
2017-2018 Boys Basketball District Champions
2017-2018 Boys and Girls Tennis District Champions
2018-2019 Boy and Girls Swim North State Champions

Madison St. Joseph’s baseball team celebrates after winning the state tournament in the spring of 2018. (Photos courtesy of Tricia Harris)

Madison St. Joseph’s boys swim team won the state title. The girls team was second in the state.

Natchez Cathedral – MAIS AAA
2018-2109 Cross Country, Varsity and JV State Champions. This is the third year the varsity has won the title.
2017-2018 Girls Golf State Champions
2017-2018 Boys Golf Individual State Championship.

NATCHEZ – As the bus load of Cross Country runners left Cathedral for the state meet, PreK 4 students with teacher Caroline Ferguson Nobile, assistants Betty Cusic and Jessica Byrne cheered them off campus. (Photo by Cara Serio)

Vicksburg Catholic. – MAIS AAA
2018-2019 Dance Competition State Champions in Jazz and Pom
2017-2018 Girl’s Soccer State Champions in Division III
2018 Girl’s Tennis second in State
2017-2018 Boy’s Soccer State Champions

Vicksburg Catholic Sports

St. Aloysius’ Wyatt Teague kicks Central Hinds’ Nick Lauderdale as they both go for the ball during Wednesday’s MAIS Class AAA semifinal in Raymond. St. Al won, 2-1, to snap Central Hinds’ 71-game winning streak. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

Vicksburg’s girls soccer team brought home a championship this spring. (Photo by YAS Photography)

Holy Ghost calls alumni home

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Holy Ghost Catholic School educated generations of students before it closed in 1969 and the graduates continue to have an impact on their communities. On the weekend of Oct. 12-14 the parish hosted an all-class reunion.
The gathering marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the high school at Holy Ghost, the first high school for African-Americans in the city of Jackson. The weekend included a Friday evening fish fry, a photo session for all classes on Saturday, a gala Saturday night and Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz on Sunday.
Mary Udoh, the last principal at the school, headed up organizing the events.
She even invited Sister Marie Angela Risi, a member of the Missionary Servants of the Holy Spirit, to return to the parish where she served so long ago. Sister Risi spoke of the enduring love the Sisters have for the people of Jackson.
At the end of Mass, Derek Singleton, a Holy Ghost alumnus, spoke of the tremendous impact Catholic education had on all who attended Holy Ghost and invited everyone in attendance to support the nearest Catholic School, Sister Thea Bowman School, located at nearby Christ the King Parish.

Zachary Taylor, class of 1942, lines up for the class photo, assisted by his daughter, Fabvienen Taylor, who attended the school with her brothers until it closed in 1969. (Photo by Laci Smith)

During Mass Sunday morning, Bishop Joseph Kopacz spoke to a packed church about attending his own school reunion recently and about the importance of education as one legacy of the Catholic Church.

(l-r) Nina McKinney Cook; Mary Udoh, the last principal at Holy Ghost School, and her daughter Okononwan Udoh brought up the gifts during Mass. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

Sister Marie Angela Risi, SSpS, came from Illinois for the reunion. She spoke at the closing Mass of the Sisters' love for their students.

Parish ministers process out with Bishop Kopacz at the end of Mass.

A Friday night Fish Fry gave classmates a chance to catch up at a casual meal while the Saturday gala was a more formal event. More than 120 alumni attended events throughout the weekend. Organizers hope to host a reunion every-other-year. (Photo by Laci Smith)