Teams vie for the annual Bishop’s Cup

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Twenty-two teams from across the diocese vying for the coveted Bishop’s Cup trophy met at the Lake Caroline Golf Club in Madison on Thursday, Sept. 16 for the 39th annual Bishop’s Cup golf tournament.

After a day of golf, teams gathered for an awards dinner and silent auction at the Mermaid Café. “Though we believe all of our golfers are of first place quality. I was happy to announce that the winning team was sponsored by BankFirst and represented by Annunciation Catholic Church in Columbus,” said Rebecca Harris, executive director of The Catholic Foundation. “We truly appreciate all the silent auction sponsors that also helped raise funds for a wonderful cause and brought some extra competition to the event at the close of the tournament.”

The wonderful cause Harris mentions refers to the Bishop Joseph N. Latino Memorial Trust. This year proceeds from the tournament helped raise funds for the trust, which will help fund grant projects proposed by parishes, schools and organizations around the diocese. “Bishop Latino believed in helping others and he would be excited to know that many projects across the diocese will be supported each year with this grant,” said Harris.

The 39th annual Bishop’s Cup was sponsored by: St. Dominic Health Services, Inc.; Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC; Citizens National Bank; Rusty and Yvonne Haydel; BankFirst; Capital Glass; BankPlus; Homeland Title; Community Bank; Irene Jones; Ken and Maetta Lefoldt; Matthews Cutrer & Lindsay, CPAs; Mike and Diane Pumphrey; Raymond James; Regions Bank; Tico’s Steak House; Trustmark National Bank; Benchmark Construction; Friends of Father Patrick Noonan; Old River Companies; and Chris and Laura Walters.

“On behalf of The Catholic Foundation, I would like to thank all of our golf tournament sponsors for helping to make the day such a huge success. We invite all to join us in 2022 to celebrate the 40th annual Bishop’s Cup,” said Harris.

MADISON – Father Gerry Hurley and the team from St. Paul Flowood compete at the 39th Bishop’s Cup at Lake Caroline. (Photo by Brandi Fournet)

The Power of One – the Sister Anne Brooks story

By Joe Lee
MADISON – A book you may have missed during the pandemic is the excellent biography of Sister Anne Brooks, The Power of One (University Press of Mississippi, 2020). Penned by Sally Palmer Thomason and Jean Carter Fisher, this brief but powerful read dives deep into the culturally transforming work a devoted Catholic nun did for the people of poverty-stricken Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, for over three decades.

This is the book cover of The Power of One: Sister Anne Brooks and the Tutwiler Clinic by Sally Palmer Thomason with Jean Carter Fisher. The book is reviewed by Joe Lee. (Photo courtesy of publisher)

That’s merely part of the story, however. Raised in Maryland by a high-ranking naval officer and an emotionally distant, alcoholic mother, Sister Anne (Kitty, growing up) learned early on that her parents wanted nothing to do with organized religion and even preferred their daughter not associate with neighborhood kids, let alone cultivate friendships.

So how did this young woman, after growing up in such an environment, develop such a deep, abiding faith? What empowered her to thoroughly immerse herself in serving the least among us in places so far from home?

As Sister Anne is still quick to point out, the kindness of people in her formative years can’t be overstated. The family of practicing Catholics across the street in Maryland – with a daughter to whom Kitty discreetly became close – were instrumental in her decision to devote herself to a life of service.

As a young adult, while teaching at a Catholic school and volunteering at a free medical clinic in Clearwater, Florida, Sister Anne was plagued with pain from rheumatoid arthritis. Not surprisingly, she was skeptical upon meeting a doctor who took a holistic approach to medical treatment and insisted he could cure her. But as Sister Anne would come to realize – and apply to her ministry the rest of her life – the holistic approach was very much about building trust.

The death of Emmett Till and the subsequent trial of those accused of his murder, which took place while Kitty Brooks was in high school, was a great motivation for her to serve in Tutwiler, Mississippi (just minutes from where the horrific crime occurred) once the opportunity presented itself in 1983. After relocating and seeing for herself the once-prosperous railroad town dying a slow, torturous death while its mostly black, largely uneducated population lived in squalor, she prayed long and hard for guidance.

The answer she received: it was time to go to medical school. At age forty.

Sister Anne Brooks eventually became Dr. Anne Brooks, DO (Doctor of Osteopathy), and spent more than three decades healing and building trust in black citizens who, when she arrived, still wouldn’t look white people in the eye. As she says, treating the whole person – the heart of the holistic medical approach – absolutely requires listening and earning one’s trust.

Now retired and living with her fellow sisters at St. Joseph’s Provincial House in Latham, New York, Sister Anne Brooks has a story that needs to be heard not just by Catholics, but most everyone in these trying times. Highly recommended.

(Joe Lee is the Editor-in-Chief of Dogwood Press, a small but traditional publishing house headquartered in central Mississippi. He is a regular contributor to Mississippi Catholic.)

Sister Anne Brooks, an osteopathic physician, holds a child at the Tutwiler Clinic in Tutwiler, Miss. With help from Catholic Extension she was able to open the facility 20 years ago to provide care to a community that had been lacking a doctor for many years. She is a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. (CNS photo by Troy Catchings for Catholic Extension) (June 6, 2003)

Bishop Gunn chronicled experience during 1918 influenza pandemic and end of world war

From the Archives
By Mary Woodward
JACKSON – Rev. John Edward Gunn, a Marist priest and native of County Tyrone, Ireland, was appointed the sixth Bishop of Natchez by Pope Pius X in 1911. He was ordained a bishop at Sacred Heart Church in Atlanta where he was serving at the time on August 29 of that year.

Bishop Gunn was known as a brilliant orator and for having tremendous energy. He cultivated the diocese’s relationship with Catholic Extension to help in the building of chapels throughout the state. By the time of his death in 1924, almost every Catholic in Mississippi was able to reach one of these chapels for Mass at least once a month. Catholic churches grew from 75 to 149 during his administration, and Catholics grew in number from 17,000 to more than 31,000.

He also helped found St. Augustine Seminary with the Society of the Divine Word in Greenville for the formation of African American clergy in 1923. The seminary later moved to Bay St. Louis.

It is rumored that Bishop Gunn preferred Pass Christian to Natchez and had hoped to move the diocesan offices there.

Bishop Gunn’s 13 years of service to the Diocese were marked by the difficult four years of the first World War and the ravages of Spanish influenza.

ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps are on duty in October 1918 during the influenza epidemic. Mary Woodward reveals an excerpt from Bishop John Edward Gunn’s diary chronicling his travels to St. Louis in November of 1918 during the Spanish flu pandemic. (Photo/Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ds-01290)

Not only was he a gifted orator, but he was a fine chronicler of daily life as is proven in his diary. From his diary we find an interesting entry from Nov. 8-10, 1918, that is very relevant to today’s pandemic atmosphere. It also contains a noteworthy bit of information about the end of the war.

“I left [Nov. 8] for St. Louis to assist at the consecration of the new Bishop of Galveston, Bishop Byrne. When I reached St. Louis, I got into the midst of the flu. Not only were the churches, schools, and public buildings closed but all the stores, soda water fountains and everything.”

“On Saturday night I walked the streets of St. Louis for more than an hour and could not buy a cigar and the question was – how could the consecration take place in St. Louis Cathedral on November 10th when it was forbidden to open a church door?”

“I went ‘round on Saturday night to see Archbishop Glennon and found Bishop Allen with him. The Archbishop seemed to take everything very quietly and said that it was forbidden to open the main door of the Cathedral but there were several other doors that were not officially closed, with the result that the consecration took place on Nov. 10. The crowd was small, the ceremonies were beautiful, the dinner was as heavy as the oratory and there was an atmosphere of unrest everywhere.”

“The papers were filled with the flu conditions of the country; the war conditions were reaching a climax, and everybody was on edge.”

“I left St. Louis on Sunday night [Nov. 10] and on my way home, at Fulton [Missouri], I thought that the world had come to an end. I was in the Pullman compartment when noise broke loose in the form of whistles, bells, bands and every kind of thing that could make a rattle and a screech at the time when ghosts are supposed to appear and graves yawn, etc.”

“It was occasioned by the fake news that had gone over the world that the Germans had signed the armistice. When the real news of the Armistice came nobody believed it.”

“I managed to get to New Orleans on the 11th and the city looked like the morning after Mardi Gras. The people had shouted themselves hoarse over the fake armistice and had no voice for the real one.”

Although WWI was a very complex time for those of Irish heritage due to British rule and treatment of them, the Bishop believed strongly in service to one’s country. “In life and death, I am proud of three things: my Irish birth, my Catholic faith, and my American citizenship,” he said. “I tried to translate my love for all three into service and sacrifice,” he wrote in his will.

NATCHEZ – In this photo from the archives, Bishop Joseph Latino visits the resting place of Bishop John Edward Gunn, on Catholic Hill in the Natchez City Cemetery. Bishop Gunn died in New Orleans on Feb. 19, 1924 and is buried beside his fellow Irishman Bishop Thomas Heslin. (Photo from archives)

Bishop Gunn died at Hospital Hotel Dieu in New Orleans on Feb. 19, 1924, and is buried beside his fellow Irishman Bishop Thomas Heslin on Catholic Hill in the Natchez City Cemetery. His portrait hangs in the dining room of the Cathedral rectory in Jackson. As in any good portrait, Bishop Gunn’s eyes follow you as you move through the room.

In his will the Bishop also wrote, “I believe in God. I believe all He has said because He said it and because His infallible Church heard Him and told me what He said. I love Him with my whole heart and soul and strength and for His sake I love others.”

Bishop Gunn’s diary is so rich that we will share some more gems from it in the future.

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

COVID Protocols

Parishes are faced with different realities as to the size and makeup of parishioners, and the size and layout of their building facilities. The diocese has decided it is still prudent to allow the local parishes to address their reality in making decisions how to address the pandemic through these protocols. These suggestions should be implemented based on the parish’s reality and the local community reality and community regulations that are in place.

– Social distancing of 3 feet is recommended.
– Masks are encouraged for everyone.

For full list of protocols visit


School is back in gear

VICKSBURG – Lizzie McSherry receives communion from Bishop Joseph Kopacz at a special “Back to School” Mass at Vicksburg Catholic School. (Photo by Lindsey Bradley)
SOUTHAVEN – Kindergarten students with their teacher, Amber Hayes, work on “cheer them up” posters to send to the hospital. (Photo by Sister Margaret Sue Broker)
JACKSON – Sister Thea Bowman first grade student, Ja’Kayla Davis, along with her other classmates, work on one of their first class assignments during the first week of school. In the background, teacher, Ashanti Moses works with class member, Caliyah Hopson. (Photo by Shae Robinson)
LELAND – Father Sleeva Mekala blessed backpacks at St. James parish on Sunday, Aug. 22. (Photo by Deborah Ruggeri)
MADISON – At St. Joseph School, Diane Waldon explains a chemistry experiment to sophomore, John Eatherly, on Tuesday, Aug. 10, the first day back to school. (Photo by courtesy of St. Jospeh Catholic School)
NATCHEZ – Seventh grader, Julia Claire Jex strikes the right combination at Cathedral School. (Photo by Cara Moody Serio)
MERIDIAN – St. Patrick School volunteer, Frank Washington, helps fourth grader Halle Smith with her backpack on her first day of school, on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. (Photo courtesy of St. Patrick Catholic School)
COLUMBUS – Third grade student, William Marrett takes his star pre-assessments for math and reading in the computer lab at Annunciation School. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

Walking with the Choctaw people at Holy Rosary Indian Mission

By Catholic Extension
PHILADELPHIA – In 1830 the Choctaw Native Americans signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, which commenced their removal from Mississippi and the treacherous journey to Oklahoma on the infamous Trail of Tears.

PHILADELPHIA – Father Bob Goodyear stands in front of Holy Rosary Indian Mission. He is a finalist for the Catholic Extension 2021 Lumen Christi Award. For a combined 31 years, Father Goodyear has been helping the Choctaw community grow closer to God. (Photos courtesy of Catholic Extension)

Many Choctaw, however, refused to leave their ancestral land. Those who chose to stay had to become invisible to survive, hiding in swamps and working as sharecroppers. In 1884 a Catholic priest was sent to see what could be done to minister to the Choctaw, and Holy Rosary Indian Mission was established.

Catholic Extension has supported Holy Rosary Indian Mission since 1926. This includes helping build and repair two of its three mission churches: Holy Rosary in Tucker in 1969 and St. Therese in Philadelphia in 1972. Between Holy Rosary, St. Therese and St. Catherine in Conehatta, this faith community in the Diocese of Jackson spans 87 miles.

For a combined 31 years, a missionary priest has been helping the Choctaw grow closer to God in a place where He is ever so present. Father Bob Goodyear, S.T., who was attracted as a high school freshman to the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, has truly answered the religious congregation’s charism to work for the “preservation of the faith among the poor and abandoned” in his ministry.

PHILADELPHIA – Father Bob Goodyear visited many vendors at the annual Choctaw Indian Fair in July. He has been recognized as a finalists for Catholic Extension’s Lumen Christi Award for his work with the Choctaw community. (Photo courtesy of Catholic Extension)

“Father Bob Goodyear is so successful in his ministry because he walks with the people every step of the way,” said Diocese of Jackson Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz. “Father Bob has remained stalwart in his love for the people and in his commitment to foster their Catholic faith in our loving God.”

Language is the doorway to the soul
In his seminary formation, Father Goodyear never imagined serving a Native American community. After arriving at Holy Rosary Indian Mission in 1975, he spent his first years learning everything he could about Choctaw culture.

This included the Choctaw language — despite being told not to bother because non-natives had never been successful doing so.

“That’s the wrong thing to say to me,” said Father Goodyear. “Because now I’m going to try.”

With the help of three Choctaw, he was able to learn the language. After eight years of study, his education reached its culmination: translating the Catholic Mass into the Choctaw language. On May 1, 1983, Father Goodyear celebrated his first Mass in Choctaw at St. Catherine, with a Vatican-approved text.

During the homily, he delivered this inspiring message:
“Language is more than words and how you put them together. Language tells you your history. It tells you your dreams.”

Along with learning the Choctaw language, Father Goodyear has had his hands in several of what he calls “non-traditional” ministries. He established the Choctaw Suicide Council and its corresponding “Suicide Counseling Manual.” Additionally, he opened a youth recreation center.

Father Goodyear served Holy Rosary Indian Mission from 1975 to 1990. After two assignments away from the reservation, he returned in 2006. Upon returning to the Mississippi Choctaw, the tribal chief told him, “I am very worried about the spiritual life of my people.”

Forming Choctaw Catholic leaders for the future
In Father Goodyear’s time away, the Catholic Church lost some of its footing among the Choctaw. His focus in his last 15 years of ministry and counting has been on developing lay leadership at the three mission churches. These lay leaders will help teach and pass on the faith to future generations.

“My most exciting moment is confirmation,” Father Goodyear said. “I’m the catechist for confirmation because I want them to get everything they need. Kids that have been confirmed have gone on to be eucharistic ministers.”

Father Goodyear, 72, has eucharistic ministers playing a vital role at Holy Rosary Indian Mission. He developed a training manual that teaches eucharistic ministers not only how to serve during Mass, but also how to lead Communion services in the absence of a priest and how to deliver the Eucharist to the sick and shut-ins. The manual is used throughout the Diocese of Jackson and at parishes in other states.

Father Goodyear had been pleased with the progress made in developing lay leaders. That progress, however, was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having performed three to four funerals a week at the height of the pandemic — the average number for a single month in previous years — he has shifted his ministry in these unprecedented times toward helping the Choctaw grieve.

“Their beliefs about death are very special,” Father Goodyear said. “They have a close relationship with the spirits who have died.”

Now, as the Choctaw hopefully emerge from the pandemic, Father Goodyear aims to renew the church on the reservation by continuing to develop lay leaders and by helping the Choctaw believe in themselves.

“I preach that you can’t really believe in God if you don’t believe in yourself, because you’re made in His image,” Father Goodyear said. “God not only created you, He believes in you.”

Father Bob Goodyear stopped for a photo op with members of the Choctaw community at the 71st annual Choctaw Indian Fair in July. He is one of seven finalists for a Lumen Christi Award. The award is Catholic Extension’s highest honor given to people who radiate and reveal the light of Christ present in the communities where they serve.

Diocese and New Group Media shoot documentary commemorating Sister Thea Bowman

By Joanna Puddister King
CANTON – New Group Media out of South Bend, Indiana is working to tell the story of Sister Thea Bowman. Filming is taking place in many locations where Sister Thea Bowman lived and worked, requiring in-depth work for both crew and community members.

CANTON – Actors portray the Bowman family taking a stroll to Sunday Mass near Holy Child Jesus parish. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King)

Writer and producer, Sister Judy Zielinski, OSF said that she wanted to touch base and operate out of the spaces that Sister Thea lived in and used. “She was a brilliant, charismatic, prophetic, outspoken woman,” said Sister Judy during an interview. “And she is a force of nature.” Spaces chosen for filming include sites in Canton, Jackson, Memphis, New Orleans and in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

The film will explore Sister Thea’s life and path to sainthood through interviews and commentary from her family, sisters in community, colleagues, friends and former students. While filming in Mississippi, the crew filmed interviews with Bishop Joseph Kopacz, and those that knew Sister Thea personally, including Sister Dorothy Kundinger, FSPA; former students, Myrtle Otto and Cornelia Johnson; and childhood friends, Mamie Chinn and Flonzie Brown-Wright.

The crew began scouting sites in April 2021 and at the end of May, they filmed in Canton, Jackson and at Sister Thea’s grave site in Memphis at Elmwood Cemetery. In addition to interviews, scenes were filmed depicting young Bertha Bowman’s life before entering the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

On hand for most of the production in Canton, Flonzie Brown-Wright, a self-described “non-crier,” was moved to tears during depictions of herself, young Bertha Bowman and friend Mamie Chinn.

(Left) A sign sits outside of the old Bowman family home on Hill Street in Canton.

“She was so special to me. This morning, … when I saw the little girls sitting on the porch, I just lost it. I just lost it because it was just so reminiscent of what actually happened during those days,” said Brown-Wright.

The crew filmed re-enactments at the Bowman family home on Hill Street in Canton, complete with a 1936 Grand Master roadster car parked out front. Scenes with Thea, Brown-Wright and Chinn eating cookies on the front steps, playing with dolls and socializing were filmed with local talent.

Eleven-year-old, Madison Ware of Canton was chosen to play young Bertha. “I was really excited to do the part of Thea,” said Ware.

In addition to scenes at Holy Child Jesus Canton and playing outside the Bowman family home, Ware also re-enacted young Bertha’s hunger strike after her parents forbade her to go off to Wisconsin to become a nun. Ware sat at the dining room table in the Bowman home with determination stating as young Bertha would – “I’m not hungry.”

Other scenes depicted in Canton include portrayals of young Thea, Brown-Wright and Chinn walking to school and playing dress up as nuns.

In Jackson, the crew sat down with Bishop Kopacz at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle to talk about the cause for Sister Thea and spoke about what he called “her first miracle,” when she addressed the U.S. Bishops Conference in June 1989 and led them to join arms and sing “We Shall Overcome.”

Drone operator and grip, Matthew Nemeth, Bishop Joseph Kopacz and producer/writer, Sister Judy Zielinski, OSF review drone footage taken during filming of the Sister Thea Bowman Documentary on Saturday, May 29.

At Sister Thea’s grave site at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, the crew arranged for a beautiful white spray filled with gardenias, roses and magnolias to sit at her plot. Re-enactment at the grave site included prayer and a hymn led by Myrtle Otto – “I’ll Be Singing Up There.”

The final day of filming in Canton concluded at Holy Child Jesus with Mass, a performance by the church choir and solo of “On Zion’s Hill” by Wright-Brown.

CANTON – Flonzie Brown-Wright dressed in a dashiki and sang “On Zion’s Hill,” honoring her childhood friend, Thea Bowman. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King)

Life-long friends, Brown-Wright kept in contact with Sister Thea up until her passing from cancer in 1990 traveling from her home, at the time, in Ohio just two weeks before her death. She said Sister Thea told her “what I want you to do when I’m gone … [is] to come back to play and sing the song “On Zion’s Hill.” The same song Sister Thea sang at both her father and mother’s funerals.

With Wright-Brown in an African dashiki and headdress singing there was hardly a dry-eye between the crew present, as Sister Thea’s presence was felt in the moment.

(Above) Madison Ware re-enacts young Bertha Bowman’s hunger strike to get her parents to allow her to travel to LaCrosse, Wisconsin to become a nun.

Between June 20-23, the crew filmed in LaCrosse, Wisconsin at St. Rose Convent and Viterbo University, shooting re-enactments of Sister Thea at the FSPA motherhouse. Director Chris Salvador described plans to capture Sister Thea arriving at the convent in a white pinafore dress and then using a machine to morph her. “So, it goes in 360° and she changes from her first outfit, and she eventually comes out in her African dashiki,” said Salvador.

Brown-Wright reminisced during filming in Canton about one trip to LaCrosse to visit her friend. When she got there, Brown-Wright expected to see her friend dressed in a habit, but instead found her in “a dashiki, sandals and a natural.”

“I asked her what happened, and she said, ‘Girl, those petticoats were just too hot,” laughed Brown-Wright. “What she was doing was preparing a culture for a yearning to understand our culture. That was her transformation from coming out of the habits … to her natural dress because that’s who she was,” said Brown Wright.

The crew sets up a scene at the old Bowman family home, from the upcoming documentary on Sister Thea Bowman to air in the fall of 2022.

“She taught the world how to be a Black Catholic sister.”

In New Orleans the film crew will conduct more interviews and film at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University, where Sister Thea offered courses in African American literature and preaching.

The working title of the film is “Going Home Like a Shooting Star – Sister Thea Bowman’s Journey to Sainthood.” It is drawn from a quote attributed to Sojourner Truth. When Sister Thea was asked what she wanted said at her funeral, she answered,” Just say what Sojourner Truth said: ‘I’m not going to die, honey, I’m going home like a shooting star.’”

Production of the documentary was delayed about a year due to COVID. The film makers, with Bishop Kopacz as executive producer, hope to air the documentary nationwide in the fall of 2022 on ABC.

MaHalia Calvert, playing young Flonzie Brown-Wright, and Madison Ware prepare for a scene outside Holy Child Jesus parish where the girls play dress up at sisters. The scene brought back many memories for Wright-Brown, who was on-site for filming and reminisced about her experiences with her friend Sister Thea Bowman.

Peaceful, prayerful, effective 40 Days for Life campaign coming to Jackson “on site gives insight”

JACKSON – “40 Days for Life, the nation’s most innovative, peaceful prayer outreach, is coming to Jackson,” said Laura Duran, who is coordinating the local campaign. “We are eager to join together with people of faith and conscience from over 600 cities from coast to coast, and beyond, to pray for an end to abortion.” 40 Days for Life begins Sept. 22 to Oct. 31. “Abortion takes a tremendous toll in our city,” said Laura Duran, “but many people aren’t even aware of it. We will share the facts with as many people as possible during the 40-day campaign,” she said.

The campaign will feature a peaceful 40-day prayer vigil in the public right-of-way outside Jackson Women’s Health Organization at 2903 North State Street, in Jackson. All prayer vigil participants are asked to sign a statement of peace, pledging to conduct themselves in a Christ-like manner at all times. 40 Days for Life is a peaceful, highly-focused, non-denominational initiative that focuses on 40 days of prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil at abortion facilities, and grassroots educational outreach. The 40-day time frame is drawn from examples throughout Biblical history.

“40 Days for Life has consistently generated proven life-saving results,” said Shawn Carney, 40 Days for Life’s president. “During 26 internationally coordinated campaigns, over 8,000 communities have taken part. The efforts of over 1,000,000 people of faith helped have made a tremendous difference.”

Carney said numerous cities reported a significant drop in abortions. “Over 110 abortion facilities have closed following 40 Days for Life efforts,” he said. “Churches across denominational lines have worked together to work for an end to abortion in their cities. Many post-abortive women begin programs to heal from the pain caused by previous abortion experiences. And more than 18,000 babies – and their mothers – have been spared from the tragedy of abortion.”

“We’ve seen what 40 Days for Life has accomplished elsewhere,” said Laura Duran. “We can’t wait to begin. It is our prayer that this campaign will help mark the end of abortion in Jackson.”

For information about 40 Days for Life in Jackson, visit: For assistance or for more information, please contact Laura Duran at or 601-956-8636 ext. 1.

JACKSON – Participants gather and pray at “40 Days for Life” outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2017. This year, the event will take place from Sept. 22 to Oct. 31. (Photo from archives)

Sisters celebrate Jubilees

Sister Angela Susalla, OP – 70 years
ADRIAN, Mich. – The Adrian Dominican Congregation celebrates the dedication and commitment of 44 Sisters who in 2021 mark their Jubilees, their milestone years of service and dedication to the church and the congregation. The 2021 Jubilee class includes one sister celebrating 80 years, 11 sisters celebrating 75 years; 14 sisters celebrating 70 years; 17 sisters celebrating 60 years; and one sister celebrating 25 years.

One Jubilarian, Sister Angela Susalla, OP, has connections to the Diocese of Jackson. Formerly known as Sister David Mary, she is celebrating 70 years of religious life.

A native of Detroit, Sister Angela served for more than 30 years at Catholic Social Services in Tunica, an agency of the Sacred Heart Southern Missions. She graduated from Rochester High School in Rochester, Michigan, in 1951 and entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation on June 24 of that year. She professed her first vows on December 27, 1952 and her perpetual vows on December 27, 1957.

Sister Angela earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1963 and a master’s degree in mixed science in 1970, both from Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian.

After teaching in Detroit and Aiken, South Carolina, Sister Angela taught second grade at St. Mary in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, from 1961 to 1963 and eighth and ninth grade at Blessed Sacrament in Tallahassee from 1964 to 1965. From there, she moved on to teach in Grafton, West Virginia and West Palm Beach, Florida, until 1976.
That year, Sister Angela switched gears to pastoral ministry, serving as a pastoral worker and catechist at a parish in Eleuthera, Bahamas, for one year and as a pastoral worker for the Diocese of Memphis for five years.

After studying at Regis College in Toronto, Sister Angela began her long-time service in Catholic Social Services in Tunica, Mississippi, an agency of the Sacred Heart Southern Missions. As a pastoral minister at Catholic Social Services, she particularly remembers visiting an elderly man who was living alone in a dilapidated house. When, at her request, she read Psalm 51 to him, she remembers that both of them were in tears. “I will never forget praying with him and feeling the presence of God,” she said. “He died the next day. I’m sure God welcomed him.”

Retired since 2014, Sister Angela resides at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian and is involved in the ministry of prayer and presence.

“During my 70 years, I believe I have grown both professionally and spiritually because of being an Adrian Dominican Sister,” Sister Angela said. “The decision I made as a senior in high school was a blessing then and continues to be a blessing for me every day as I can still pray and serve our Sisters whenever I can.”

Sister Helen Strohman (M. Maurice) – 70 Years
DAVENPORT, Iowa – A native of Keswick, Iowa, Sister Helen Strohman was born in 1932, entered the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in 1951 and made her first vows in 1954.

Sister Helen received a BA in elementary education from Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa. She also attended St. Ambrose University in Davenport and Drake University in Des Moines.

Sister Helen’s ministry of teaching found her in Iowa at St. Alphonsus in in Davenport, St. Mary in Marshalltown, St. Mary and St. Patrick in Ottumwa, St. Donatus in St. Donatus, Assumption Grade School in Granger, Christ the King, St. Anthony and Holy Trinity in Des Moines. She also taught at St. Austin in Minneapolis and Sacred Heart in Camden, Mississippi. She was the director of the YES Program in Canton, Mississippi (1990) and a pastoral minister at St. Joseph Church in North English, Iowa. She was teacher and then director of the Rainbow Literacy Center (1994-2002) and worked for the MadCAAP educational program (2002-03) in Canton. Sister Helen taught in the Madison County Jail in Mississippi and helped create the volunteer program Seeds of Hope in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sister Helen currently lives in Canton and is on call for a storage facility. Her parish, Sacred Heart, is the home of two retired Irish priests where they celebrate the Eucharist together each day.

Sister Lael Niblick – 50 years
A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Sister Lael Niblick first professed vows in 1971 for the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, a community that promotes justice and builds community.

Sister Lael received a BS in education with minors in theology and science from Marian College in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She also attended St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, receiving a Masters degree in religious education and youth ministry, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

In addition to her degrees, Sister Lael has received over 20 certifications. These include certifications and workshops in religious education, advanced scripture, alcohol and drug intervention for teens, prevention of child sexual abuse, satanic cult awareness, parish management, racism, prison reality, fundraising and even clown ministry.

Additionally, she spent time in Boliva on a Spanish immersion trip with the Maryknoll Institute in 1992; as well as spending time completing various spiritual and educational workshops in Honduras from 1993-1995 and Nicaragua from 1995-2009.

Sister Lael has served many ministries since 1967, including those in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Bensenville, Illinois; La Ceiba, Honduras; and Bluefields, Nicaragua before serving in the Diocese of Jackson as a Lay Ecclesial Minister for St. Helen parish in Amory, Mississippi.

What affirms Sister Lael’s lifelong commitment as a vowed religious is living life as a journey. “Sometimes it is rocky, sometimes filled with wonder. Walking with others sharing the Gospel affirms my own call,” said Sister Lael. “Each day presents a new story and recommitment.”

She approaches each person with the gifts she has to share and believes the mission of Jesus is living the Gospel. “Sharing means both giving and receiving,” says Sister Lael. “Be open to the richness of diversity and build the Kingdom of God with the whole world and creation.”

In memorium: Sister Betty Tranell

NORTHFIELD, Ill. – Sister Betty, Elizabeth R. Tranel, SSpS; Sept. 27, 1926 – Aug. 19, 2021.

Sister Betty, from East Dubuque was a Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters for 74 years and an educator. For 25 years she ministered in the Diocese of Jackson, and for 20 years in Sacred Heart Parish (Winnetka, Illinois) and St. Elizabeth Parish, Chicago. She was a zealous missionary ready to learn in order to communicate God’s redemptive love.

She was preceded in death by her parents and seven of her siblings. Condolences to her three brothers (Richard, Roger and Bert), her two sisters (Marge and Sister Jean, OP) and her many nieces and nephews. Services were held at Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit.