Foundation accepting grant applications through Aug. 31

JACKSON – The Catholic Foundation is accepting grant requests through Aug. 31. Each year the Foundation supports projects around the diocese in parishes, schools, Catholic Charities and ministries. The application can be found on the diocese website https://jacksondiocese.org/catholic-foundation-grant-application-form/.
Last year the Foundation funded 23 projects and awarded over $73,500. One of the recipients was St. Paul Early Learning Center. in Flowood The grant helped them to create an outdoor learning space to keep the children engaged in learning even when they are outdoors. Rebecca Harris, executive director stated, “We were excited to fund this grant. Since children at this age learn through play the Foundation grant committee felt like this was a unique opportunity for the Foundation to fund. We look forward to reading through the grant applications this year.”

Meet Andrew Bowden

Andrew Bowden is in his third year of Theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. He entered the seminary after graduating from Brandon High School in 2014.

Andrew Bowden

Home parish: St. Jude, Pearl

Background: I am from Brandon. I have lived in Mississippi my whole life.

What is your vocation story? Who influenced you and why?
I’ve wanted to be a priest for as long as I can remember. Father Martin Ruane, my first pastor, was a big influence.

What draws you to diocesan priesthood? And to the Diocese of Jackson?
The Diocese of Jackson is my home. Prayer and discernment have made it clear the diocesan priesthood is how God wants me to serve him.

What are your hobbies/interests?
I like to listen to music, walk in nature and read. I also play the French horn.

Who is your favorite saint?
The Blessed Mother is easily my favorite saint.

Do you have a favorite devotion?
The Servite rosary is probably my favorite devotion. It reflects on Mary’s seven sorrows.

Who is your favorite sports team? The New Orleans Saints.

What has been the most rewarding part of being a seminarian? And the most challenging?
I’ve enjoyed getting to meet so many people in the diocese. The most challenging part has been being away from the diocese for so long [while I am away at seminary].

What advice do you have for those discerning a vocation?
Seminary formation is difficult and will be a long journey, but it will be worth it in the end.

Where can people send you a personal note?
Andrew Bowden, 2901 South Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118

Father Bill Henry retires after 36 years

By Mary Margaret Edney

JACKSON – While working as a district sales manager for Nissan Motor Corporation, Father Bill Henry lived a successful, comfortable life. But after one particularly powerful weekend prayer retreat, he knew he was being called to move in a different direction. He answered that call, and today, Father Henry is celebrating his retirement after 36 years of service in the priesthood.

Father Bill Henry retired in June 2020. He served the Diocese of Jackson for 36 years at the following parishes: St. Joseph Greenville, St. Therese Jackson, St. Alphonsus McComb, St. Teresa of Avila Chatawa and at St. Joseph High School.

“The Lord just started speaking to me,” Father Henry said of that crucial weekend back in his early adult life. “It wouldn’t quit, like a toothache. I finally said, ‘if this is what You want me to do, I’ll do it.’”

So, Henry set a personal goal for himself — if he was going to quit the car business, he wanted to quit on top. And that’s what he did.
“It was the weirdest thing I’d ever seen in my life,” Father Henry recalled. “On my final day with Nissan, I had 18 dealers in Louisiana, and they broke every sales record. It was just awesome; it was my sendoff. I left there, all I owned was a new car and what was in it, but I felt like a millionaire. I’ll never be able to put my finger on that feeling of freedom and richness, and when I walked in that door of the seminary, there was no doubt that was where I was meant to be.”

Born in Orlando, Florida, Father Henry was raised in Washington state and spent much of his early adult life on the West Coast before moving to Jackson to work for Nissan. He attended Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, and when he finished there, he made his way back to Mississippi.

After being at St. Therese Church, St. Joseph’s High School and the vocations office, all in Jackson, Father Henry became a part-time administrator at St. Anne’s in Carthage before his first pastorship at St. Alphonsus in McComb. He spent 11 years in McComb before going back to St. Therese in Jackson, and finally, his last assignment of eight years at St. Joseph in Greenville.

“A highlight for me was just the ministry as a whole,” Father Henry said of his years as a full-time priest. “It’s been a very interesting journey for me, but it has always been great to see people growing in their faith. That’s what I really enjoy.”

And just as Father Henry kept himself busy as a priest, he plans to stay active in retirement with spiritual direction workshops and events. He has been very involved with the Marian Servants of Divine Providence, a group that serves through retreats and other ministries.

“Sometimes we get stuck spiritually, and we don’t move on. We work on the roadblocks and show people how our woundedness, sin and other things keep us from moving on and growing spiritually,” Father Henry said of a workshop scheduled for late September in Greenwood.

But it won’t be all work all the time — Father Henry is looking forward to a little downtime, as well.

“I also plan to do a little fishing and bike riding as part of my everyday exercise,” he said. “I have a lot of good friends in the area, so retirement is a very enriching experience for me right now.”

Springfield Dominican Sisters confirm corporate stance on migration

By Sister Beth Murphy, OP
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Dominican Sisters of Springfield gathered in general assembly Aug. 6-7, 2020, and affirmed a statement in support of migrants that “heralds justice and non-violence” and that “speaks the urgent need for social equality and economic parity, for compassion and for reconciliation” of the world’s peoples on the move.
The full text of the corporate stance reads:
We, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Ill., express solidarity with those individuals and families who find it necessary to leave their homes or homeland in order to secure their safety and future. We commit to welcome, support, and protect all migrants: immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons. We commit to assist in their integration. We advocate for policies that protect their human rights, including family unity.
In her presentation of the statement to the sisters gathered at Sacred Heart Convent and around the Western Hemisphere via teleconference technology, Sister Sharon Zayac answered a rhetorical question about why more words were necessary on this topic. “In a world inundated with words that deny others their rights to life, liberty, and the means to provide for the needs and the future of their families, we need more words,” she said. “We need alternate words, words that herald justice and non-violence, that speak the urgent need for social equality and economic parity, for compassion and for reconciliation.”

(Left) Dominican Sisters of Springfield have been migrant advocates since their founders arrived in Jacksonville, Ill., on Aug. 19, 1873. Pictured: Springfield Dominican Sisters rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) legislation in 2017. Left to right are Sister Judith Hilbing, Veronica Espina (a Dominican associate), Sisters Elyse Marie Ramirez, Ann Clennon and Marcelline Koch. (Photo courtesy of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield)

The process of affirming this new corporate stance, the twelfth since 1994, began earlier this year with a period of communal study by the sisters on issues facing migrants in the U.S. and around the globe.
“When our founding sisters arrived in Jacksonville in 1873, they came to teach the children of the Irish immigrants whose fathers made a living doing back-breaking labor on the railroad,” said Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, the congregation’s prioress general. “Many of our own sisters were also immigrants. This statement affirms our commitment to continued concern for, ministry to, and advocacy on behalf of immigrants so deeply rooted in our own story.”
The sisters work to fulfill Pope Francis’ goal of making the Catholic church a welcoming place for migrants. In a video statement from the pope viewed before their vote on this corporate stance, the sisters heard Pope Francis say “Unfortunately, in many cases people are forced to move by conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty, and inhuman living conditions. Our shared response can be expressed by four action verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote, and to integrate.”
The Springfield Dominican Sisters now work to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants in a multitude of ways. They serve migrants at the Dominican Literacy Centers in Aurora and Melrose Park, Ill. and at Bethany House, a Chicago shelter facility for women and children seeking asylum or awaiting adjudication of their human trafficking cases.
Sisters engaged in parish ministry often serve migrants in those parishes, and migrants attend the congregation’s three sponsored high schools. Migrants are served by Springfield Dominican Sisters at counseling centers in Illinois and are among those cared for in health care facilities where our sisters work.
In many instances, Springfield Dominican Sisters volunteer time in service of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, and can often be found advocating for more just immigration policies in the seats of government. In Springfield, many sisters are engaged with the work of the Springfield Immigrant Advocacy Network (SIAN), an all-volunteer non-profit that provides service and advocacy for immigrants in central Illinois.
To learn more about how you can join the Dominican Sisters’ work in support of migrants contact Sister Marcelline Koch at 217-787-0481.

Mississippi high school baseball coaching legend D.M. Howie dies at 90

By Rashad Milligan The Clarion-Ledger
JACKSON – David “D.M.” Howie dedicated his life to baseball.
“He lived baseball. He didn’t have any hobbies really,” said his son, Chris. “He didn’t fish, he didn’t golf. He liked to work on the field. He loved baseball practices. A lot of coaches didn’t like that, but he loved it because then he could teach.”

File photo of Coach D.M. Howie. (Photo courtesy of St. Joseph High School)

Howie died on Monday, July 20. He was 90 years old.
Howie began coaching high school baseball in 1967 at St. Joseph. At St. Joseph, he built his first baseball field, the Bobby Jacquith Field. The venue, constructed by the help of parents and Howie’s friends, was one of the first fields in the Jackson-area to have lights.
In 1982, he became the first baseball coach in Northwest Rankin’s history. At Northwest Rankin, he also built the program’s first baseball field – the original Wesley Scarborough Field.
Howie also coached at Madison Ridgeland, before it consolidated into Madison Central, Tougaloo and had a second stint at St. Joseph. The current field at St. Joseph, is named in his honor. He had a career record of 495-231.
He was the first coach in the Mississippi High School All-Star Baseball Game in 1975. The all-star exhibition is now named after him. In 2011, the Mississippi Association of Coaches inducted Howie into its Coaches Hall of Fame.
“He was a well-respected baseball coach,” Johnny Mims, MAC executive director, said. “He was just a great person, and a big baseball fan. He loved baseball, that was his life.”
In retirement, he volunteered his services being an assistant coach and umpire. In 2016, Howie released his autobiography Rock & Fire: The Autobiography of the Coach Who Made a Difference in Mississippi High School Baseball.
“It was a life well lived,” Chris Howie said. “He was 90 years old. He worked two-thirds of those years. He took it seriously.”
No funeral service is planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 22, 2020 in The Clarion-Ledger and is reprinted with permission.)

In memorium: Bessie Wilburn

JACKSON – Bessie Wilburn was a native of Greenwood, Mississippi, graduating from Broad Street High School. She began coming to the St. Francis Center, meeting members of the Pax Christi Franciscans and the Franciscan Friars. She came to know and respect the work done by this Catholic community under the direction of Father Nathaniel Machesky, OFM and Kate Jordan.
She attended Xavier University in New Orleans, transferred to and graduated from Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, Iowa. She obtained her master’s degree from Delta State College in Cleveland. While a member of the Delta State concert choir, she traveled to England where the choir performed numerous concerts.
In 1957, inspired by the Pax Christi Franciscan community, Wilburn began her process of formation as a member of this group of dedicated women, known in Canon Law as a Pious Union. People who belong to such groups commit themselves to following Christ in a radical way, by living a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. In 1960, Bessie made her first profession as a member of the Pax Christi Franciscans making her a consecrated member of this group.
She spent her years at St. Francis Center serving the people in that area. For many years, she taught at St. Francis school, also teaching music and directing musical plays for the entire school.
Wilburn was the director of St. Francis Center for many years. Her favorite task at the center was offering parties and programs for the senior citizens of Greenwood.
She was a true Franciscan, loving and caring for many stray animals who found their way to her.
Wilburn left this earth and joined the choir of angels on Aug. 4, 2020.
A private Mass was celebrated on Saturday, Aug. 8 at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Greenwood.
Memorial donations may be sent to the Pax Christi Franciscans, 2108 Alta Woods Blvd., Jackson, MS 39204.

Calendar of events

SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT

VIRTUAL First Homegrown Harvest Fundraiser, Friday, Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. to raise awareness and funds for the seminarian trust. This will be a live online event. You can go to https://one.bidpal.net/homegrownharvest2020 to be a part. You will hear from the six men who are studying for the priesthood, as well as hear a talk from Father Jim Wehner, the President/Rector of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and throughout the evening you will hear from Father Nick Adam, our seminarians and more. Details: Father Nick Adam, Vocation Director (601) 969-4020 or nick.adam@jacksondiocese.org.
VIRTUAL Dominican Sisters of Peace presents “Listening to God’s Call with Open Hearts,” a virtual discernment retreat for single women ages 18-45, Sept. 11-13. This retreat will give single Catholic women an opportunity to meet and talk with Sisters and women in formation, as well as other women who are discerning their own call to religious life. Details: Sister Bea Tiboldi, OP, (614) 400-1255 or BTiboldi@oppeace.org.
JACKSON Catholic Charities’ Journey of Hope postponed. Out of an abundance of caution, Catholic Charities has postponed its Journey of Hope for this year and has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 at 12 p.m. There will be a meet and greet the night before, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021 from 6-8 p.m. The luncheon speaker will be Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted in 2002 as a 14-year old from her family’s home and was one of the most followed cases of our time. She was rescued nine months later. Through her traumatic experience, Smart has become an advocate for change relation to child abduction, recovery programs and legislation. She will appear to share her story of perseverance and hope. This inspirational event will raise money for the vital programs of Catholic Charities. Details: Catholic Charities (601) 355-8634.
JACKSON 40 Days for Life kickoff rally, 2903 North State Street, Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 12 p.m. Join in prayer and fasting as they go to the abortion facility to be a public witness for God. There will be no speaker this year, but they are asking that you pray and sing. Details: plm@prolifemississippi.org.
MAGNOLIA St. James Mission, you are invited to embark on a journey towards faith and racial healing sometime in the first week of Sept. via Zoom meetings. It is an opportunity to further and deepen our desire to follow the way of Jesus. This program is not specifically Catholic. It is universal. All are welcome. The program is not about religion; it is about human dignity and respect. If you are interested, please call or email. Details: Chris Ingrassia (301) 266-0433, gracie_eddie@yahoo.com. Website: https://justfaith.org/faith-and-racial-healing/.

PARISH, SCHOOL AND FAMILY EVENTS

HERNANDO Holy Spirit, Weight loss support group meets Tuesdays at 9 a.m. All are welcome to come each week to become healthier and happier. Details: Liz Brown (901) 331-3419.
JACKSON St. Richard, Save the Date, Special Kids Golf Tournament, Thursday, Oct. 8 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Deerfield Golf Club, Canton. Sponsorships and donation opportunities are available. Details: church office (601) 366-2335 or www.saintrichard.com.
MERIDIAN, Catholic Community of St. Joseph and St. Patrick, Father Augustine leads a novena to the Lady of Our Perpetual Help on the parish’s Facebook page Saturdays at 11 a.m. Details: church office (601) 693-1321.
VICKSBURG St. Mary, Knights of Columbus Drawdown, Sunday, Oct. 11. This event will be a “virtual” drawdown with takeout food. Cost: tickets are $75 each. Details: church office (601) 636-0115.

COVID-19 REMINDER

In person Masses are now open at many parishes within the Diocese of Jackson. Check with your local parish for details and follow guidelines in place for attendance. All over the age of two are required to wear a mask.
The obligation to attend Mass continues to be dispensed by Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, so if you do not feel safe attending, or have an underlying health condition, or feel sick, please stay home. Be safe and stay vigilant!

Bishop’s Cup golf scramble set for Sept. 1

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – The Catholic Foundation’s 38th annual Bishop’s Cup Golf Scramble is slated for September 1, 2020 at the Lake Caroline golf course in Madison.
Due to COVID-19, the Catholic Foundation has been closely following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Mississippi Department of Health, as well as working with the Lake Caroline Golf Club to ensure a safe environment for golfers and staff during the Bishop’s Cup golf scramble. New protocols will be followed for this year’s event to avoid large gatherings and improve the safety of everyone involved.
Tee times will be determined to assure safety restrictions are upheld.
Rebecca Harris, executive director of the Catholic Foundation says, “We hope that our golfers return and come enjoy a day out on the course. We hope the day brings back some normalcy to their lives.”

New this year is the Bishop’s Cup website where golfers can sign up to sponsor the event, register each golfer, and purchase mulligans.
Mulligans have always been a bonus part of the tournament. “It is a chance for a golfer to have a ‘do-over’ when they hit a bad shot,” says Harris. For the Bishop’s Cup, mulligans are $10 each with a limit of four.
The Bishop’s Cup website can be found at https://one.bidpal.net/bishopscup2020/welcome.
The site will also include an online virtual auction that should prove to be quite fun. Bidding on items will begin a week before the tournament and will end the night of the event. Winners of the tournament, as well as auction items, will be posted to the website.
Harris says that this year the auction will be paired down from its normal size. “We appreciate all of the businesses around the diocese who have helped make our auction such a success through the years. However, we knew that COVID-19 has affected many of those businesses, so we decided to have a small auction.”
The proceeds from this year’s tournament will benefit the Catholic Foundation Grant Trust. The Foundation manages 378 trusts for the Diocese of Jackson, which help Catholic parishes, Catholic schools, and other Catholic organizations under the auspices of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson. The goal this year is to raise $35,000 through the golf scramble.
For more information, please contact Rebecca Harris, executive director of the Catholic Foundation, at 601-960-8477. Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased online or contact Julia Williams, assistant development director at 601-960-8481 for assistance.

On year later those affected by ICE raid still struggle

By Berta Mexidor and Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – On Aug. 7, 2019 at least four Catholic parishes were shaken after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided chicken processing plants across the state, arresting 680 undocumented workers. The day left many children in fear and pain on their first day of school, as they were left with no place to go with their families taken from them.
As some were released from ICE custody to care for their children, a new reality set in. The loss of income, along with an unforeseeable future and questions on how their families may survive without loved ones in ICE custody.

CARTHAGE – Days after the ICE raids on Aug. 7, 2019, several women stand in a group wearing electronic bracelets. (Photo courtesy of Apoyo Latino MS)

About seven months later, between court appearances, possible deportation, and legal incertitude, pain for these communities came again, now in the form of an illness affecting everyone without discrimination of legal status. But for the families of affected families in Canton, Forest, Morton, and Carthage, the fear of COVID-19 was less than the fear for immigration officials.
Hundreds have gotten sick, and friends and family members have died due to COVID-19. Many undocumented immigrants are avoiding tests and hospitals regardless of the authorities’ promises of not to check legal status during medical tests due to the immense fear the ICE raids caused.
The situation is not localized only to Mississippi, but around the country too. Several of the families affected by the raids migrated to other states due to fear of another raid. The church’s membership was reduced by this migration as well.
Right after the raids last August, the church became a humanitarian hub for food, goods and financial resources to pay rent and utilities. At that moment, the immigrants noted that God was sending several helping hands, even a Cardinal from Guatemala.
On Nov. 7, 2019, Rep. Bennie Thompson held a congressional hearing at Tougaloo College in Jackson. He was accompanied by two more representatives; as well as, state, community and religious leaders, including Father Odel Medina, ST of St. Anne Carthage, to question Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Jere Miles about the mishandling of the massive ICE raid months earlier.
During the hearing, Father Medina took the opportunity to read a letter from a child in his parish, who was hurting and traumatized in the aftermath of the raids.

Shortly before Christmas, Cardinal Álvaro Ramazzini Imeri of Guatemala, visited the affected parish communities with a message that “God never abandons you.” He consoled families affected by the raid with words of the Gospel and accompanied them during three days of the advent season, participating in “Las Posadas” – a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s attempt to find lodging before the birth of Jesus.
While in Mississippi, Cardinal Ramazzini spoke with media, advocating for a “migration policy with a human face” and spoke of the economic conditions that force many to leave their home country and asked for the elimination of the custom where immigrants are treated as criminals, without having a criminal record.

During the same visit, Catholic Extension, which sponsored Cardinal Ramazzini’s visit, announced their Holy Family Fund, a relief program that assists families in the United States who are financially dependent on a parent that has been detained or deported for immigration reasons. Through the fund, Catholic Extension has been instrumental in ensuring the flow of aid to support delivery of basic resources to the churches serving the humanitarian and spiritual needs of the families in Mississippi affected by the ICE raids.
The help from Catholic Extension, Catholic Charities and many within the Catholic community has helped affected families in the parishes of Canton, Carthage and Forest-Morton communities.
In Forest and Morton, close to 120 families were affected, and now 20 of those families have been affected by COVID-19. Father Roberto Mena, ST sacramental minister of St. Michael Forest says that ”the loss of jobs and an uncertain school year for the children” is a huge challenge right now for his community.
Blanca Peralta coordinates the activities of the Hispanic community, under the leadership of Father Mike O’Brien, pastor of Sacred Heart Canton. Both began offering aid even as the raids were still being conducted. Father Mike and Peralta, along with a network of volunteers including Patti Greene, Jerry Perez and John Scanlan, have been helping 120-150 affected families since the raids. They have been providing food, payments for rent and utilities, and pastoral care.
The team from Sacred Heart Canton, along with constituents from Grace Episcopal Church, were recently announced as nominees for the Lumen Christi award from Catholic Extension for their work after the ICE raids.
For Father Mike, the decision to close his church doors for a period of time after COVID-19 hit earlier this year was very painful. His main concern was how to continue the labor of helping those affected by the raids.
Peralta navigated the struggle due to the virus, but Sacred Heart never stopped helping. They continued assisting by phone, by mail and by accompanying immigrants to the hospital and court appointments. Additionally, every Wednesday since June, they have distributed 300 boxes of food, fruits and vegetables, provided by Partners of Mississippi.
She says that families deeply felt the closure of the church. “They understand perfectly why, but the church ground is the only place where they feel that they belong. In church they can meet, share, hug, be happy and enjoy a moment of protection from the Almighty Father,” Peralta said.
Since Aug. 9, Sacred Heart has opened two services for Mass in Spanish, with space for only 40 people. The challenge now is communicating the importance of social distancing and sanitary measures, as well as, calming the fears immigrants manifest in going to the hospital for tests, says Peralta.
Father Odel, of St. Anne Carthage, has also been an advocate for families affected by the raids. He has also been distributing humanitarian aid and coordinating volunteers from around the country to those affected by the raids in his community since last August. Additionally, he fought COVID-19 in April and has been sharing his story with migrants, so they will not be afraid to seek the help they need if they contract the virus. He says that in some instances, entire families have been infected with COVID-19 in his community.
In total, Father Odel says approximately 80 families at his parish were affected by the raids and now COVID-19. The challenge for the whole undocumented community is ”… to break the stereotype propagated by some political outlets, of not being hard working individuals. They get arrested while working, and during the pandemic, when most people were home, they were working,” said Father Odel. “The chicken plants are considered essential industries; therefore, immigrants were needed, regardless of legal status.”
Father Odel says the biggest challenge for his community now is “the consequences of family separation, now worsened by COVID’s restrictions.”
After a year, the undocumented population has mixed feelings of pain and faith. Due to their lack of documentation, they lost jobs and some their freedom last August. Now, due to COVID-19, many in chicken factories and agricultural harvesting are considered essential workers. Many hope that this situation can soften the laws toward immigrants looking for an honest way of living.
Still, the community has faith even after the trauma suffered one year ago lingers on.

Diocese maintains hotline to report potential fraud

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – In January 2020, the Diocese of Jackson established a hotline system for individuals to report potential fraud, compliance issues, ethics violations and human resource issues.

The use of a hotline has been discussed for several years at the National Diocesan Fiscal Managers’ Conference, that members of the diocese attend. A hotline is considered a ‘best practice,’ as having an independent hotline can help alert companies to and reduce the possibility of inappropriate or illegal actions.

Carolyn Callahan

Carolyn Callahan began researching hotline platforms after presentations at the conference, even before she entered her current role as director of temporal affairs at the diocese in May of 2019. Previously she acted as controller, internal auditor, and coordinator of special projects for the diocese, director of finance for St. Joseph School in Madison, and as an accounting support person for all Catholic Schools.

“Although we have always had procedures in place to handle complaints, events of the past few years helped us see past any potential misuse of the hotline, so our parishioners and employees have a confidential and effective way to report issues,” says Callahan.

The diocese hotline system is operated by Lighthouse Services. For the past 15 years, Lighthouse Services has maintained ethics, safety, and fraud hotlines and now services over 4,100 organizations between the U.S. and abroad.

Any concerns relative to financial misconduct, fraud, compliance issues or human resources issues within the diocese may be reported anonymously by calling the hotline’s toll-free number or filed online. Lighthouse Services will field and process the information reported.

Immediately upon receipt of a complaint, Lighthouse Services will email three designated recipients.

“Two recipients are chancery employees and one is a diocesan priest who does not work for the chancery office,” says Callahan.

“If one of the three recipients are named in the complaint, that person does not receive the email notification and cannot access the report.”
After receipt, the three designated recipients access the complaint through the secure Lighthouse Services web portal. If the reporter files anonymously, the designees only see a PIN number, but never a name. Communication occurs between the reporter and designees via the Lighthouse online portal. Files and other documentation can be uploaded for review.

“Discussion ensues and a plan is created for investigating the claim either internally or using an outside investigator,” says Callahan.

“Depending on the results of the initial investigation the diocesan attorney and/or law enforcement are notified.”

Callahan’s hope is that anybody concerned about fraud, compliance issues, ethics violations and human resources issues will feel comfortable knowing they have an objective and confidential platform to file a claim that will be investigated immediately.

“Questions asked within the filing process are meant to only identify the complaint and allow the reporter to give as much or as little detail as desired. Use of the hotline gives us the ability to know about and respond to complaints in a timely and effective manner,” says Callahan.

To make a report individuals can visit www.lighthouse-services.com/jacksondiocese or call toll-free 888-830-0004 (English) or 800-216-1288 (Spanish).

Vicar general, Father Lincoln Dall, who works closely with Callahan, says “The Lighthouse hotline is part of our overall strategy of strengthening our control procedures and oversight of the assets and gifts that God and his people have entrusted to our diocese, our parishes and schools. We have been improving upon such policies, procedures and controls within the past two years and continue to do so through the current agreement we have with the federal government.”

The hotline information is published regularly in Mississippi Catholic and at least quarterly in parish bulletins. It can also be found at www.jacksondiocese.org.