Virtual ceremonies and distance learning

By Laura Grisham
WALLS – Sacred Heart school and Holy Family school students left for spring break not having any idea that they would not physically return to their classrooms this school year. Students and teachers have had to find creative new ways to do their regular activities. Many things have been adapted and shared via Facebook. Masses and prayer services, the May Crowning events, even Sacred Heart’s race day were all virtual experiences this year.
Distance learning has been the order of the day for all the children. Some students were well prepared for the change, having used Google Classroom on a daily basis. For others, the transition had a learning curve.
Sacred Heart school principal Bridget Martin shared that the two math and two history courses that offer Carnegie units for high school were a little more difficult to coordinate. These classes had to be introduced on a Zoom conference so students and teachers could meet daily to complete the work. “Due to Virtus and Protection of Children guidelines, teaching assistants are invited to join in the classes each day for two adults to be present. Classes are also password protected,” she said.
Martin explained that as students join the Zoom session, they are stopped in a virtual waiting room. Teachers grant admission as they are recognized. It was noted that this permission-based action has kept hackers and strangers at bay.

HOLLY SPRINGS – May crownings were virtual experiences for the students at Holy Family school. Above, Dylan Sangster had the honor of crowning Mary this year. (Photo by Laura Grisham)

PreK-3 through second grade students have also had a little more of a challenge. “Children that age are not meant to solely learn online,” Martin said. Students with access to technology have been working through an early childhood platform called “Seesaw.”
Unfortunately, some families do not have computers, tablets or internet access. This was especially a challenge at Holy Family school. Parents have made regular trips to the school in order to pick up and return students’ assignments.
As a result of COVID-19, and predictions of possible flare up again this fall, the Diocese of Jackson has required all schools to complete a distance-learning plan. This will be communicated to parents and students in August. Everyone will be trained in the online programs in the event we are away from the school building again when the 2020-2021 school year begins. This way, schoolwork will be immediately accessible.
As the eighth-grade students prepare to be promoted, administrators face yet another challenge: how to celebrate at a distance. Holy Family will honor students at a “drive-in” ceremony of sorts. Sacred Heart school will wait until the end of the month and also laud the students outside.
Teachers, parents and students have worked together to meet the educational challenges presented by the current health crisis – teaching, learning and connecting in a different way. Although they have been apart physically, in a way they have grown closer. By working apart toward a common goal and adapting to finish the school year successfully, they have shared experiences and learned more than they could ever have imagined when the school year began.

In memorium: Father Howard Johnson

LELAND – Lt. Colonel Howard W. Johnson, USA (Ret.), an Army chaplain and Catholic priest, passed away peacefully on March 20, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 86 years old. He led a life full of service to his country and the Lord.
Father Johnson spent his formative years in Leland, Mississippi and was born in Washington, D.C. in 1933. Father Johnson attended St. Joseph’s High School in Greenville, graduating in 1952. His studies next took him to St. Bernard’s Seminary in Alabama, where he graduated with a degree in Theology. He continued his graduate studies at Notre Dame University, in South Bend, Indiana, studying religious education. His love of learning later led Father Johnson to earn two Master degrees, one from Baylor University, for pastoral psychology, and another from Long Island University (New York), for guidance and counseling.
He was ordained on May 26, 1960 at St. James Church (Diocese of Jackson) in Leland. From 1960 to 1964, he returned to his high school alma mater, where he was the assistant pastor and high school religious education teacher at St. Joseph’s Parish and High School in Greenville.
Father Johnson enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1964, and attended Chaplain’s Officer School at Fort Hamilton, in Brooklyn, New York. As a Chaplain for the U.S. Army for nearly twenty-five years, he provided spiritual and religious coverage at the Battalion, Brigade, Division and Post levels. He served twelve years overseas, including tours in Korea, Panama, Vietnam, and Germany. He also had posts throughout various army bases in the United States, including at the United States Military Academy at West Point. For his service providing spiritual and religious coverage during his overseas tours he received numerous service commendations and awards, including The Bronze Star Medal for his coverage to soldiers in combat in Vietnam.
When he returned to the United States, he provided counseling to veterans as part of his chaplaincy duties. He worked tirelessly with veterans afflicted with drug addiction, not only as a spiritual counsel, but as a friend and advocate. His gentle spirit provided solace to many.
After completing 24 years of distinguished active duty military service, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Johnson retired from the military in 1988. He then served for several years as the director of religious education for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, living in Washington, D.C., until he fell ill. He resided in the D.C. area for the remainder of his life, mostly at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, D.C.
In addition to spending time with family and friends, Father Johnson very much liked reading mystery novels and Washington Redskins football.
Father Howard’s ashes will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia at a time to be determined later.

Catholic Charities Bishop’s Ball goes virtual

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Typically Catholic Charities would be in the middle of final preparations for their annual Bishop’s Ball fundraiser at the Country Club of Jackson, but because of COVID-19 they’ve had to get creative with the way they raise money for the many programs they operate that help so many in need around the state.
So, this year, Catholic Charities is inviting all to support the fifteenth annual Bishop’s Ball fundraiser “at home” on Friday, June 5, 2020 at 6 p.m. through Facebook Live at, where participants can attend regardless of their location and dress up or dress down for the cause.
While the current health crisis has interrupted plans to host the event in person, the need to raise funds for Catholic Charities is as critical as ever. Virtual attendees will be able to participate in an online silent auction and raffle at that includes items such as an autographed Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey, a Joseph’s Studio 10-piece nativity set, a personalized comedy hour for friends and family by a professional stand-up comedian, art by William Dunlap, and a Godfather movie poster autographed by Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire and Francis Ford Coppola. Additionally, the auction and raffle will include lots of local artwork for every collector. People can join the auction beginning May 23 by texting bb20 to 243725 to receive a personalized one-click login for the auction event. Bidding begins on May 30. Raffle winners will be announced during the Facebook Live event on June 5.
The site is open to anyone, anywhere and items that are won can be picked-up the week following the Bishop’s Ball virtual event at Catholic Charities office in Jackson or shipping is available for an additional fee.
Most events are not complete without a cocktail hour and Catholic Charities virtual Bishop’s Ball is no exception. Colton Woodward of Fizz Mobile Bartending will be on hand during the Facebook Live event to demonstrate how to make the event’s signature cocktail. To participate gather vodka, lemon juice, two strawberries, a few fresh basil leaves, some sugar and club soda (for those 21 and older, of course).
Julie O’Brien, development associate at Catholic Charities Jackson, says “we would like to encourage folks to host a small viewing party at their home. We are even offering gift boxes that include cups, napkins, drink ingredients (including alcohol) and snacks.” The boxes have everything needed for the cocktail demonstration for up to 10 people and cost $250. Just call 601-331-1152 or 601-362-3758 by May 29 to place your order.
At the close of the Bishop’s Ball “at home” event the organization will be saluting essential workers in our community. “We want to honor healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store workers, service industry workers and everyone who has kept our community going during this crisis,” says O’Brien.
For additional information, visit or call 601-355-8634.

In memorium: Sisters who served St. Joseph school

Sister Mary Patricia
DETROIT – Sister Mary Patricia, Cecilia Pyszynski, of Detroit, Michigan, completed her life’s journey of 93 years on April 17, 2020 in Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent, Livonia, Michigan. Sister was in religious life for 75 years.
The former Cecilia Pyszynski, was the first of seven children of John and Veronica (Balcerak). At the age of 10 she was afflicted with polio and was unable to walk for a year.Through therapy she gradually regained the use of her limb.

Sister Mary Patricia

She entered the Seminary of the Felician Sisters in Detroit in 1940, and after graduation, June 11, 1944, was admitted to the postulancy on June 29, 1944. During the investiture ceremonies the following year, Cecilia received the name, Sister Mary Patricia. Final profession of vows was in 1952.
Sister Mary Patricia earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Madonna (College) University and a Master of Arts in religious education from Aquinas College. On a journey that spanned 60 years in the ministry of education, 31 years were in teaching and 29 years as Director in religious education.
Sister taught primary grades in nine different schools within the Archdiocese of Detroit. In other dioceses Sister taught at: St. Joseph Jackson; St. Mary Alpena; St. Stanislaus Ludington; St. Cecilia Clare; Holy Spirit and St. Jude Grand Rapids; St. Hyacinth Bay City; and St. Stanislaus Dorr.
Sister Patricia was permanently transferred to St. Joseph Convent in 2007 where she continued to be active in pastoral ministry until 2011. Her health steadily declined, and she was placed in hospice care. Her life peacefully ebbed away and on April 17, 2020, Sister Mary Patricia slipped into the Lord’s embrace and journeyed to eternity.
Internment was in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Southfield, Michigan on April 22, 2020.

Sister Mary Alice Ann

Sister Mary Alice Ann
BAY CITY, Mich. – Sister Mary Alice Ann, Alice Gradowski, of Bay City, Michigan, entered eternal life April 25, 2020 while in St. Mary Mercy Hospital, Livonia, Michigan. Sister was 73 years old and was in religious life for 55 years.
Born on May 5, 1946 Alice was the fifth of five children born to Stanley and Alphonsa (Andrzejewski): Virgil, Ernest and Robert; and one sister – Maxine Kolat. Alice was baptized and confirmed at St. Hedwig Church in Bay City, Michigan where she also attended the parish grade school.
Following graduation 1960, she attended Felician Academy in Detroit, Michigan. In June 1964, Alice was accepted as a postulant to the Felician Congregation, and the following year, at the Investiture Ceremony, she received the name of Sister Mary Fernanda, later changed to Sister Mary Alice Ann. Final vows were professed in 1973.
Sister Alice Ann earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Madonna University in Livonia and a Master of Arts from Eastern Michigan University in preparation for a ministry of education that spanned thirty-six years. For the first 13 years, Sister mainly taught primary grades at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Wyandotte; St. Valentine, Kawkawlin; and St. Christine, Detroit. For the next 23 years Sister was assigned as principal at St. Dunstan, Garden City; St. Joseph, Jackson; St. Hyacinth, Bay City; and St. Thecla, Clinton Township.
As principal, Sister was involved in many extracurricular activities: Eucharistic minister, parish council, teaching in the R.C.I.A. program, conducting Share-the Word discussion groups and participating in week-end renewals. Attendance at basketball and soccer games, school dances and parish raffles were also an important part of her life as principal.
Sister Alice Ann served as local minister of several of the convents for a total of 14 of years. When the Presentation Central Convent held elections in the year 2000, Sister Alice Ann was elected to the Livonia Provincial Administration as Third Councilor and director of education until 2006.
Following a short residence St. Francis Home in Saginaw and a final assignment at St. Stanislaus Convent, Bay City, Michigan, Sister retired to Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent, Livonia. Assigned to dining room assistant and the ministry of prayer, sister performed her duties joyfully for 12 years. One of the first sisters in chapel in the early hours of morning, sister could be seen scurrying down the corridors in her wheelchair to visit the Blessed Sacrament and join in community prayer.
In early April her health began to decline, and Sister was taken to St. Mary Mercy Hospital. On April 25, 2020, during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sister Alice Ann left this earth for her final journey to the God whom she served with joy for 55 years in religious life.
Interment was in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery on April 29.

Catholic Charities offers help with Hope Haven

By Carol Warfield
JACKSON – Kevin, a 16-year-old, was displaying a nonchalant attitude, short attention span, depression and feelings of hopelessness. When his mother saw a social media post stating “My end is near” she knew his feelings had turned to possible suicidal tendencies and called Catholic Charities Hope Haven for help. Kevin met with a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with mixed anxiety disorder.
Catholic Charities Hope Haven program provides home-based counseling and service coordination to families with children ages 3 to 18 in crisis in the Hinds, Madison and Rankin county areas. Support is provided in both school and community environments. Services are available to families whose children have a mental health diagnosis or would be eligible for care upon evaluation by a psychiatrist or psychologist. Counseling services are designed to assist the family in resolving a crisis and keeping the youth at home. Services are typically provided for a three to six-month period.
Hope Haven utilizes wraparound Mississippi Youth Programs Around the Clock (MYPAC), a family driven process that utilizes the strengths of a child and family, as well as, their support system to create an individualized plan to meet their needs and reach desired outcomes. Wraparound revolutionizes the way in which Catholic Charities works with families, communities and service providers.

JACKSON – Pictured left to right are Hope Haven staff members, Andrew Campbell, Melissa Ivory, Betty Funches, Carol Warfield, Zuleania Travis, Edgar Lewis, Taylor West, and Kim Neal. (Photo by Michael Thomas)

For Kevin, the Catholic Charities Hope Haven wraparound facilitator met with his family to explore his feelings and worked with them to develop better communication methods. Kevin learned new coping skills to deal with his emotions and the facilitator helped Kevin expand his activities at church and school by creating a community of support.
In addition, Hope Haven offers a crisis line which is available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. Crisis services include telephone and mobile response, as well as outreach services. Mobile crisis services involve on-site intervention of a crisis and telephone services involve phone support and/or referral information to community resources.
It is Hope Haven’s belief that families and youth deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, at no time more so than when they are facing a crisis. When a youth has a serious emotional disturbance, the youth and each family member face many challenges and they deserve compassion and support as they face them. Catholic Charities recognizes the importance of family and community and works diligently to help families resolve crises without disrupting the family unit. Home and neighborhood-based interventions and collaborating with families’ informal and formal support systems are key program components.
With help from Hope Haven, Kevin’s social skills improved, along with positive self-esteem and self-worth. He learned to openly communicate his feelings and now seems to be very happy and upbeat. Today he is in a better place emotionally and mentally. Kevin has improved his grades and has a healthy social life. He has a bright future ahead!
Hope Haven staff is always guided by what is in the best interest of the youth and families. Services are specifically tailored to youth and family’s needs, to create hope and opportunity in those situations which have traditionally been viewed as difficult. For more information on Hope Haven call: 601-376-0500 or visit

(Carol Warfield is the program director of Hope Haven at Catholic Charities Jackson)

Fe para cargar la Cruz

Por Roberto Mena, ST
FOREST – Hay una parábola que habla de un pastor y su rebaño. El pastor es Cristo y la oveja extraviada es cada uno de nosotros. En la vida, ¡qué fácil es vivir con la sensación de estar perdidos! Tarde o temprano el desencanto, la decepción, pueden invadir nuestro corazón. A veces pensamos que fuera del redil vamos a encontrar la verdadera felicidad, mejor comida, mejor techo, mejores condiciones, y nos olvidamos que sólo en el redil estaremos seguros. Cristo, el pastor, guarda las noventa y nueve ovejas buenas y va a buscar a su oveja perdida. Lo hace a través de sus sacerdotes.
El Cardenal Alvaro Ramazzini vino para estar cerca de guatemaltecos en medio de la difícil situación que enfrentan. Una visita de un cardenal de nuestro país es muy importante para ellos, … vino para dar esperanza y fortalecerlos; decirles que Dios no los abandona; muchos de ellos están confundidos.
Están tristes. Están enojados con la situación, porque no saben exactamente qué les va a pasar a ellos y a sus familias. Además, la muestra de que Dios siempre es providente es que una red de organizaciones, incluidas Caridades Católicas, ha estado ayudando a proporcionar alimentos, alquileres y servicios públicos a las familias que perdieron sus ingresos durante las redadas en las que más de 600 personas fueron detenidas, de las cuales más de 200 personas continúan en los centros de detención de ICE.
Celebrando la Eucaristía dio animo a los fieles a seguir dando testimonio de su fe y mantener sus tradiciones religiosas aquí en Estados Unidos. La actitud del Cardenal contrasta con la del presidente Jimmy Morales, quien recientemente se reunió con su homólogo de Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, quien ha proferido comentarios refiriéndose a los migrantes como criminales.

JACKSON– El Padre Roberto Mena, ST. recibió a su coterraneo, el Cardenal Ramazzini y durante su visita lo acompañó en varios lugares del periplo. El Padre Roberto aprovechó la oportunidad para agraderle por su visita, exponerle los retos futuros para la comunidad Guatemalteca en Mississippi y presentarle además toda la ayuda recibida de parte de la comunidad católica a nivel nacional. (Foto por Berta Mexidor)

En la sala de mi casa había un cuadro que representaba la orilla de una playa. Estaban dibujadas cuatro huellas de pies sucesivamente y luego las dos huellas de la izquierda iban desapareciendo. Estaba escrita una oración que decía: “Señor cuando yo era pequeño tú estabas a mi lado para que cargarme, pero a medida que fui creciendo tú te fuiste alejando”. Pero Cristo respondía: “Cuando tú eras pequeño yo te llevaba de la mano, pero ahora que has crecido yo te llevo en mis brazos, las huellas que ves son las mías, no las tuyas”.
No tengamos miedo de cargar con nuestra cruz porque Cristo la cargó primero. “No tengáis miedo”, nos repetía el papa Juan Pablo II. No huyamos de los problemas. Hay que cargar con la cruz porque Cristo está en ella. Detrás de una gran obra hay caminos duros y trabajos fatigosos. Seguir a Cristo no va a ser cómodo y dulce. Su cruz será una fuente de paz y serenidad, de alegría y entusiasmo. Hermanos, los invito a cargar con amor nuestra cruz de cada día. Jesús va a nuestro lado, cargando también la suya para salvar al mundo entero. !Que así sea!.

Parish calendar


NEW ORLEANS, La. Notre Dame Visit, Pre-discernment trip, Jan. 31 – Feb. 2. While on campus, the men will hear talks about discernment from Father Jim Wehner, rector, take part in a Bible Marathon campus, enjoy community life and witness a beautiful liturgy on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Details: Father Nick Adam or (601) 366-2335.


AMORY St. Helen, Spirit of Mississippi Women’s Retreat, Feb. 14-16 at Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Ala. This retreat is for the women of the parish. The cost is $200 for a double room and scholarships are available. A deposit of $50 is due by Feb. 1 to Carlos, Ann or Chris. Details: church office (662) 256-8392.
CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories, Knights of Columbus Spaghetti Dinner, Thursday, Feb. 13 from 4-6:30 p.m. at the KC Hall on Highway 8 West. Eat in, take out or drive through. Details: church office (662) 846-6273.
GREENWOOD St. Francis, 34th Annual Mardi Gras Ball, Saturday, Feb. 1 at Jackson State University E-Conference Center, 1230 Raymond Rd., Jackson at 8 p.m. Cost: Tickets are $30. Details: contact any member of the Knights of Peter Claver, Ladies Auxiliary Court #199 or email or the church office (662) 453-0623.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, 2nd annual Spaghetti Dinner, Friday, Feb. 7 from 4-8 p.m. Cost: adult plate $10 and kids 12 and under $5 per plate. Details: church office (662) 429-7851.
MERIDIAN Catholic Community of St. Joseph & St. Patrick, Mary: Unveiling Scripture and Tradition, Thursdays, Feb. 6 through March 26 from 6:15-7:30 p.m. Ken Woodward facilitates the Augustine Institutes new Lectio program. Details: Mary Billups to register and reserve study guide at (601) 693-1321 ext. 8.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, ChristLife Part 2: Following Christ, Sunday evenings beginning Feb. 16 until April 5, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 7:15 p.m. meeting for eight weeks. It is for any Catholic Christian. Those who are at the beginning of their spiritual journey will learn the tools to grow in faith and grace. Those who are further along the path to Christ will have the opportunity to share their experiences and practices to encourage others. Details: participants can register at by sending in name and phone number.
OLIVE BRANCH Queen of Peace, Calling all men, Saturday, Feb. 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Just bring yourself to relax with the Lord Jesus Christ. Details: church office (662) 895-5007.
SOUTHAVEN Christ the King, Calling all women, Morning of Spirituality, “How do we call others to holiness?” Saturday, Feb. 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Details: church office (662) 342-1073.


COLUMBUS Annunciation School, Parade to honor our Military, Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 9:30 a.m. Details: Katie Fenstermacher at (552) 328-4479 or
JACKSON St. Richard School, Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship, Saturday, Feb. 8 at 10:30 a.m. in the gym. The contest is open to both boys and girls ages 9 to 14. They do not have to be a student at St. Richard School. There is no charge to sign up and entry forms are available in the church office. Refreshments will be provided. Every participant will receive a certificate and the winners receive plaques. Details: Rusty Haydel at (601) 953-9711.
St. Richard School, 7th annual Krewe de Cardinal, Friday, Feb. 21 from 7-11 p.m. at the South Warehouse in Downtown Jackson. Cost: General admission tickets are $50. Proceeds go towards playground upgrades for the upper elementary students. Details: school office (601) 366-1157 or
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi, Youth Retreat “Anchored in Hope,” Saturday, Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for 7th – 12th graders from around the diocese. It will be led by the National Evangelization Team and will include witness talks by team members, games and fun activities, small group sharing, Mass and more. Details: church office (601) 856-5556.
St. Joseph Catholic School, Bruin Break Tour Day, Tuesday, Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are known for their incredible faith-infused art, academics, theater, music and athletics. Details: Tricia Harris, Advancement Director at (601) 898-4803 or
MERIDAN St. Patrick School, Countdown 2020, the school’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center. It will include Dinner, 50/50 drawings, silent auction, wine pull and live music. Wine and spirits will be available. Cost: Tickets are $100 each and may be split. Details: Tickets are available from any St. Patrick school advisory council member or the school office at (601) 482-6044.
NATCHEZ Cathedral School, Open Enrollment for the 2020-21 school year. Applications are available at or at the schools. Details: school office (601) 442-2531.
St. Mary Basilica, Save the Date, Mother-Son Mardi Gras MOMbeau, Friday, Feb. 7 from 6-8 p.m. at the O’Connor Family Life Center. Cost: Advanced tickets are $20 (by Feb. 1) or at the door for $30. Proceeds benefit St. Mary youth programs Pre-K3-8th grades. Details: Carrie Lambert at or the church office (601) 445-5616.
PEARL St. Jude, Alive in You – Catholic Conference and Service Camp, July 14-19. Youth currently in grades 7-12 enrolled and participating in Sunday School at St. Jude can attend. Total cost: $340 (includes meals and lodging). If your child would like to participate, but finances are an issue, please contact Stacy. Details: Stacy Wolf, DRE or Mara Villa or Elizabeth Walter, Youth Ministers at the church office (601) 939-3181 or