Monsignor pens new books, vowing to keep busy in 2020

By Joe Lee
MADISON – Already the author of four books, including Saltillo Mission, his tribute to the humanitarian efforts of his friend and mentor, the late Father Patrick Quinn, Msgr. Michael Flannery vowed to do something productive while quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
Instead of simply working on his next manuscript, he completed and published a whopping four new titles through Covenant Books, a Christian publishing house based in South Carolina. All four titles weave fiction with history and matters of faith and spirituality, an approach that plays to Msgr. Flannery’s strengths as a storyteller.
“When I taught religion,” he said, “I felt the best way to do it was to tell stories and bring them to life for the kids. But these books aren’t just for children; they’re for parents and grandparents, too.”
Here’s a look at each:

MADISON – Pictured are books by Msgr. Michael Flannery. He stayed productive while quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

The Chalice of Limerick explores a dark, dangerous period in the history of the Irish people and uses a chalice belonging to Bishop Turlough O’Brien and cared for (after Bishop O’Brien was hanged) by Father James Kelly to represent the lengths the Irish people would go to defend their Catholic faith from persecution, as well as the resilience they showed in surviving the Irish Potato Famine. A story of hope, bravery and loyalty, the book’s message underscores the true value of our beloved Catholic symbols, such as the chalice.
The Holy Grail is allegedly the cup Jesus used the night of The Last Supper. Many books have been written about where the Holy Grail might be, and a major Hollywood film a generation ago, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” included the search for the cup as a significant part of the plot. In a previous book, Padre’s Christian Stories, Msgr. Flannery penned an inspirational story about the Holy Grail, and in One View of the Holy Grail, he takes a new and creative approach to what might have happened to the mythical cup.
In The Emerald, young Adolfo Rodriquez finds a rare and valuable stone in his native San Pedro, Coahuila, Mexico. As Adolfo learns, the emerald is rare and valuable because of the powers and opportunities it affords him — such as being the first from the village of San Pedro to attend college, where he earns a master’s degree in engineering. Adolfo goes on to do great things, including bringing a wind turbine back to the village, which greatly improves the lives of the people there.
A first-person work of fiction, In Search of My Twin is seen through the eyes of William Musgrove. After he and his twin brother, Joseph, survive a deadly car crash that takes the lives of their parents when the boys are only two days old, they become wards of the state and are separated. William is especially intrigued to learn, as he grows up, that he actually has a twin brother, and his generation-long search to find Joseph takes him on a path that mirrors the close relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(All four new releases by Msgr. Flannery are available in paperback and digital formats through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Signed copies are also available for purchase at St. Francis of Assisi in Madison, located at 4000 W. Tidewater Lane, (601) 856-5556)

Youth news

Mississippi history

COLUMBUS – Mrs. Moore’s fourth graders at Annunciation School worked to create a large timeline for Mississippi history events. (Photos by Katie Fenstermacher)

Learning is yummy

CLARKSDALE – Learning is fun (and yummy) in Mrs. Curcio’s first grade math class at St. Elizabeth School. Student Bowen Anderson sorts and graphs using skittles. (Photo by Mary Evelyn Stonestreet)

Southaven silly socks

SOUTHAVEN – Students celebrated the 73rd anniversary of Sacred Heart School with crazy sock and shoe day on Sept. 16. (Photo by Sister Margaret Sue Broker)

Field day fun in Natchez

NATCHEZ – On Sept. 13, St. Mary’s CYO members had some field day fun at Memorial Park behind St. Mary Basilica. (Photo by Carrie Lambert)


FLOWOOD – Mariah Grace Morris St. Paul Catholic Church received the Sacrament of First Communion on Aug. 9. (Photo by Jamie Morris)
GREENWOOD – Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, First Communion, Aug. 16, Left to Right: Orla Barnes with sponsor Jessica Barnes; Lucy Hicks with sponsor Meredith Brown; Michael Martin with sponsor David Grossman; Nate Slater with sponsor Mandy Skelton; Kittrell Smith with sponsor Javier Zapien; Britt Nokes with sponsor Barry Barth; Jack Stuckey with sponsor Daniel Smith; and Louis Brown with sponsor Matthew Hicks. (Photo by Caroline Stuckey)
LELAND – (right) St. James Parish, Confirmation, Sept. 10, Front row (l-r): Ellie Zepponi, Graci Pickell, Madison Henry, Hannah Lloyd and Lane Walker.
Back row: Reeves Polasini, Walker Zepponi, Leland Zepponi, Kaid Polasini and Brett Chustz. (Photo by Deborah Ruggeri)
CORINTH – St. James Parish, Confirmation, Aug. 15, Pictured are Ania Ambrocio, Andrew Ayala, Angela Fuentes, Eulises Cobos, Brisanda Luna, Julia Martinez, Kevin Posadas, Elizabeth Soliz, Luis Zuñiga, Jesus Robles, Oswaldo Mejia, Mateo Molina and Italy Molina.
(Photo by Josefina Preza)
CORINTH – St. James Parish, Laisha Sorcia received her First Communion certificate on Aug. 15 from Father Mario Solorzano. (Photo by Josefina Preza)
VICKSBURG – Jackson Fontenot and Elizabeth Theriot recently received the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Michael parish in Vicksburg. They are pictured with Father Robert Dore.
VICKSBURG – Jameson Piazza is all smiles after receiving his First Holy Communion at St. Michael from Father Robert Dore. (Photos by Caroline Stuckey)
MERIDIAN – Pictured left to right, Manning Miles, Matthew Heggie and Lauren Massey received their First Communion from Father Andrew Nguyen and Father Augustine Palimattam on Saturday, Aug. 1 at St. Patrick Parish. (Photo by John Harwell)
MERIDIAN – Ollie Holcomb received her First Communion at St. Joseph Parish from Father Augustine Palimattam on Sunday, Aug. 16. (Photo by John Harwell)
FLOWOOD – Tennyson Walker receives a certificate for his First Communion at St. Paul parish from Father Gerry Hurley on Sunday, Aug. 9. (Photo by Kimberly Walker)
FOREST – Morton’s Confirmation group at St. Michael Parish, Pictured left to right: Emily Ponce, Hugo Salazar, Diana Carrillo, Father Roberto Mena, ST, Catti Pérez, Iris Pérez and Marvin. (Photo courtesy of Father Roberto Mena, ST)

Fe durante la pandemia: Tupelo Hispanic ministry provides strength to families struggling through the pandemic

By Danny McArthur (Daily Journal)
TUPELO – For María Pérez, a member of the Hispanic Ministry at St. James Catholic Church in Tupelo, the ongoing pandemic has had a profound emotional toll.
Perez, who considers herself a very affectionate person, said being unable to interact physically with people has been incredibly difficult. For her, friends are family, and not being able to hug and talk to others has been a struggle. And the pandemic has made her husband, Salvador, incredibly anxious.

TUPELO – Members of St. James Catholic Church in Tupelo attend Spanish-language Mass. The Church has increased the number of services to accommodate social distancing. (Photo by Adam Robison, Daily Journal)

Faith, she said, is pulling them through.
“My faith has been the strongest, knowing that nothing is bigger than the Lord,” she said in Spanish. “Everything will pass except the love and compassion the Lord has for us.”
Faith guides the members of the St. James Hispanic ministry in nearly all aspects of their lives. It’s something the pandemic hasn’t changed.
Impact in the church
When the pandemic began, the church had to close its doors to in-person services. St. James Hispanic Community Coordinator Raquel Thompson said they began focusing on access. Services were recorded and posted on Facebook so families could participate from home.
“It affected a lot of the people spiritually to not be able to be in the church. I think it had a big impact,” Thompson said.
For associate pastor Father César Sánchez, who started at St. James on July 1, the church wants to show their congregation that they are never truly closed. As a priest, it was harder to celebrate and preach to a camera, but Sánchez saw it as an opportunity to take advantage of social media to reach more people than before.
“In these two months, July and August, from our point of view as a church, we never closed the church,” Sánchez said. “I told people; ‘the gospel is not closed. Even though you cannot come to the church, the church comes to you in your house by online and Facebook Masses’.”
Even once St. James reopened, it was important to keep everyone safe. Thompson has more than 250 registered families in her ministry and said the church overall ministers to over 400 families. There are also many families that do not register.
Services look different these days. Rather than having 300 to 400 people at Spanish Mass, attendance is limited to 150. There are also more Mass services on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to cover spiritual needs. Aside from limiting the number of people inside at a time, they also began requiring masks and social distancing. Sanitation occurs between each Mass.
Socially distanced
Several church members cited feeling socially affected by COVID-19. For Oralio Martínez of Tupelo, the pandemic has affected her family mentally. She said she is grateful to God that her family has not suffered financially, although their lives have definitely changed.
“We have to be home, we can’t go anywhere,” she said in Spanish. “We’re scared to go out because there are so many people or where there’s a lot of gatherings. We’ve been very limited.”
Marco López said the change brought on by the pandemic has been drastic and difficult for a family accustomed to spending time together going to Mass, attending his grandson’s baseball games, or doing activities.
But the pandemic has also taught López the importance of spending time with his family. An employee of BancorpSouth, López said working at home during the pandemic has allowed him to spend more time with his wife, Verónica Salgado.
“We used to have gatherings, especially on Sundays after Mass with some of our friends, so not having that was an impact. For social distancing, we couldn’t do that … but what we couldn’t do with other families, we did with ours,” López said.
The family takes turns having Sunday Mass at home at either his home or with his daughter who lives in Shannon, and they have lunch at home together instead of going to a restaurant.
Role of faith
The church represents a bit of normalcy in strange and difficult times. Martínez recently sent her son back to school, saying it was important he have something familiar. She thinks it is more beneficial for him to return to school with his peers.
Sánchez said faith plays an important role in the Hispanic community and is the reason they have seen more people return to in-person services.
“They really need to pray and want to come to the church and pray because they know during this time, we need to increase our faith, our prayer,” Sánchez said.
López said what is getting his family through this time is prayer. Salgado began praying with the Divine Mercy Chaplet on Facebook Live with friends in March, and López said he believes it has brought them together and strengthened them.
“We overcame the situation of being at home and quarantining through prayer. We keep doing that … We’re almost six months into it and we fall in love more with that prayer,” López said.
For María Pérez, faith is the reason she sent her children back to school rather than distance learning. She admitted to feeling some initial anxiety about sending her kids back to school. But then, she thought about how returning to society, even a changed one, holds lessons for her children to learn.
The way through the pandemic, she said, is through caring for each other.
“I want my children to know that you cannot live in fear. No matter what happens, you must confront the situation,” Pérez said.
And have a little faith.
“Remember, centuries back, we’ve had epidemics and things like this, and people come out of them,” she said. “Have confidence in the Lord that this is permitted for a reason and to keep living your life and try to live your life as gracefully as you can.”

(This article was published by the Daily Journal of Tupelo on Sept. 6, 2020. Follow the author at; Twitter: @Danny_McArthur_. Ana Acosta, Raquel Thompson and Berta Mexidor provided translations for this story.)

Parishes postpone and cancel events due to COVID-19

By Joe Lee
MADISON – Parishioners at St. James Parish of Leland were greeted in a recent church bulletin with this sobering news regarding their annual parish fair:
“The council felt that it was in the best interest of the community to postpone the upcoming fair. Without it, we will have substantial loss of income. Discussion was held regarding ways to offset this loss. Any contributions will be greatly appreciated. Please mark your contributions ‘Parish Fair.’”
A tiny Mississippi Delta town with a population of less than 4,000, Leland is in an economically-depressed area to begin with, and this month’s cancellation of St. James’ biggest annual fundraiser — which debuted in 1933 — was not an easy decision to make. While health and safety concerns came first, the loss of the event puts the parish in a significant financial hole.
“We (usually) serve about 800 spaghetti plates with meatballs, all homemade by the ladies of the church from a very old recipe,” said Debbie Ruggeri, St. James Parish secretary. “They’re served in the parish hall, where we also have a silent auction. The outside booths — a ribeye booth, a ham booth, a bingo booth, and teddy bear and fishing booths for children — usually handle about 1,000 people. Everything is donated.”
Raffle tickets are also sold, and those who purchase the highest-priced $100 tickets are competing for a $10,000 grand prize. Not only are the loyal parishioners of St. James missing the badly-needed fellowship opportunities amid the pandemic, the gaps in the parish budget will be felt for some time.
St. James is not alone. At St. Joseph of Gluckstadt, Germanfest has been a September staple since the 1980s and draws crowds of 10,000. Attendees drive in from neighboring states as well as all corners of Mississippi.
“The family-oriented festival is best known for its delicious German food, including bratwurst, shish kabobs, and homemade sauerkraut,” said Pam Minninger, St. Joseph lay ecclesial minister. “Visitors also look forward to participating in the beer stein-holding contest and authentic German Folk music and dancing.
“A significant amount of the proceeds is donated to local charities. Hopefully we will be able to absorb the shortfall and still be able to support some of these charities this year.”
With no way of knowing what the pandemic restrictions on large groups will be from month to month, St. James has postponed their parish fair until early 2021 and are having initial discussions about possibly having a modified event. Likewise, talks are underway at St. Joseph about cooking up a small-scale Germanfest.
“We are anticipating, at some point after the first of the year, possibly having some type of take-out bratwurst meal that folks can come by and pick up,” Minninger said. “That way they can get their ‘German food fix.’”
Cajun Fest at nearby St. Francis of Assisi in Madison is that parish’s largest fundraiser and features mouthwatering Cajun delicacies and lots of family-friendly fun. With an extensive facilities overhaul and building campaign underway, the cancellation of this year’s event (already delayed from May until October) will leave a deep shortfall in parish fundraising. St. Francis will go virtual, however, in an effort to make back at least some of the losses.
“We will host live the drawing of our annual raffle associated with Cajun Fest at 2 p.m. on October 4,” said Father Albeenreddy Vatti, St. Francis of Assisi pastor. “We chose this date because it is Feast Day for St. Francis, our patron saint. Annually, we celebrate this day with an event, A Taste of St. Francis. It is a time we can gather and celebrate the many cultures that make up our parish with great food and music.”
One of the more disheartening cancellations is the seventy-fifth anniversary celebration at Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksdale. Because of pandemic concerns, the small parish hasn’t yet reopened for services and, without the anniversary event, must find other ways to raise money to fund facility upgrades and insurance payments on the church building.
“It has been customary that a fun gathering with a cookout or soul food dinner is planned during the week of the anniversary,” said Father Raju Macharla, Immaculate Conception pastor. “In January the members met to plan a jubilant celebration, and plans were made for a Mass with a reception planned for Sept. 5 to coincide with Bishop Joseph Kopacz’s trip to Mound Bayou that evening.
“One of the highlights would have been to visit with former teachers, students, sisters, priests, and parishioners. We had already started reminding them to save the date and have received regrets and disappointments since the pandemic has occurred.”
Catholic Charities also lost their annual Journey of Hope fundraising luncheon to COVID-19, but the organization — thanks in part to the flexibility of keynote speaker Elizabeth Smart — is back on the calendar for early 2021.
“We’re still at the Jackson Convention Complex and set for February 25,” said Michael Thomas, Catholic Charities development director. “We would have seated ten to a table and will now seat six, but we will have more available tables. Everyone will wear masks to enter and exit unless the mask order has been lifted by then.
“At the meet-and-greet the evening before, we’ll have a book signing with Elizabeth, a paid event at 6 p.m. at a location that has yet to be determined. Her story covers so much of what we do at Catholic Charities in our counseling: kidnapping, rape, domestic violence, and abuse. She is wonderful to work with and has such a strong faith in God.”
Thomas said that a Peer to Peer social media campaign will launch Sept. 15 to begin recouping the loss of funding from this month’s Journey of Hope cancellation. Football coach Lou Holtz drew nearly 1,000 attendees in 2016, and hopes are high that Smart, who was abducted from her Utah family home in 2002 at the age of fourteen before being rescued nine months later, will pack the convention complex in February.
Ultimately, while some events can’t be recreated — Immaculate Conception will never have another seventy-fifth anniversary — many parishes and organizations are thinking creatively and trying to find silver linings in preparing for the future.
“We normally have our Bishop’s Ball each year, and this year we had a virtual event,” Thomas said. “It was a great success and touched more people than the usual ones. We had the live auction online a week before, and everything sold — we were shocked. Wanda Thomas is our new executive director and hosted the hour-long event on Facebook. We were faced with either no Bishop’s Ball or thinking of another way.”

Movie Review: The Two Popes

By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) – In “The Two Popes” (Netflix), their glossy but highly speculative account of supposedly real events, screenwriter Anthony McCarten and director Fernando Meirelles ill-advisedly try to extol Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) by trashing retired Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins).
They even go so far as to give brief screen time to two people who label the pontiff emeritus a Nazi.
We know what we’re in for early on as, in the wake of the death of St. John Paul II, then-Cardinal Ratzinger swans around the conclave practically begging his peers to elect him. In fact, it’s pretty well established that he would have much preferred to be left in peace to read his books and play Mozart on the piano.

Anthony Hopkins portrays retired Pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce portrays Pope Francis in a scene from the movie “The Two Popes.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.(CNS photo/Peter Mountain, courtesy NETFLIX)

Flash forward to the main encounter with which the film is concerned, a visit to the Vatican by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio shortly before his predecessor’s 2013 resignation. By now, the portrayal of Benedict is that of a doddering old buffer so out of touch with the realities of modern life that he has only a vague conception of who the Beatles are. (An earlier scene has hipster Bergoglio, by contrast, whistling Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”)
The filmmakers somewhat counterbalance their hatchet job on Benedict by an extended sequence of flashbacks showing Jesuit Father Bergoglio’s quasi-collaborationist approach to the brutal military regime that came to power in Argentina following a 1976 coup d’etat. They seem to imagine that they have acquired a clarity and certainty about the details of the situation in question that has evaded many others.
Be that as it may, when it comes to the two pontificates, their bias is more than apparent.
Informed Catholic moviegoers will wince at a series of distortions, some of which are downright weird. The future Francis says, for instance, that there was no mention of angels in the church until the fifth century. That will certainly come as a surprise to anyone conversant with the New Testament. The dialogue also has Cardinal Bergoglio informing Pope Benedict that God changes, an obviously heretical statement.
The gravest misrepresentation, however, comes when the script implies that Benedict covered up for the now-notorious founder of the Legion of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel. That monstrous hypocrite may have successfully duped St. John Paul, but Cardinal Ratzinger was a leading force in the revelation of his wrongdoing and, as pope, ordered him to relinquish all ministry and lead a life of penitence and prayer.
Fine performances by the leads and high production values do not compensate adequately for a fast and loose version of recent – or ancient – church history.
Still, “The Two Popes” is not without its charming moments. The concluding scenes, in particular, which find Francis and Benedict watching the World Cup soccer championship together, are touching as well as humorous. But much of the preceding material remains problematic.
The film contains themes requiring mature discernment, scenes of violence, a few sexual references, one mild profanity and a single crass term. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

(Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.)

Our Lady of Guadalupe

By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – Millions of pilgrims gathered on the evening of Dec. 11 in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, to greet the Patroness of the Americas, with an environment of love, faith and praise.
With the same spirit, millions more Mexicans and fervent Guadalupans around the world celebrated the mestizo queen. In the southern central United States, Mexicans have brought the following traditions, that have been embraced by the diversity of the Diocese of Jackson:
Mañanitas: Some parishes celebrate the tradition of singing Happy Birthday to the Virgin Mary.

Pilgrimage, Procession and Fiesta: Not only in the Mexican capital is the Virgin of Guadalupe celebrated exuberantly in San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato, Mexico, with a twelve day of pilgrimage full of dance and thanksgiving. In the Diocese of Jackson, each parish adapts its fiesta, so that all parishioners can pay their respects.
Children: On this day parents often dress their childrenup like the Virgin Mary or Juan Diego; or wear the image of Guadalupe or as Aztec warriors.
Aztec, Concheros, Dance of the Conquest or Matachines Dance: These dances recall with music, drama and song the moment of the battles against the conquerors and the moment in which the conquest ends with the acceptance of Christianity and the recognition of Jesus as savior.
Representation of the Apparition: The story of Juan Diego, the appearance of the Virgin Mary and the miracle is represented. The new generations listen to it, participate and with the passing of the years continue the tradition. This is one of the most reproduced Catholic stories, told and known by millions of Catholics and non-believers.

Folk dances: Celebrations for the Virgin Mary always include traditions. Where there is no Aztec dance or Matachines, the Guadalupanos dance to Mexican folklore songs, wearing beautiful costumes typical of the country.
For 40 years, the same love for the Mother God is spread in Mississippi and shared by millions of Marians around the world.

Parish calendar of events

BROOKSVILLE The Dwelling Place, Transitions and Transformation, Oct. 11–13, begins with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Am I in transition in retirement, in my workplace, my family, my residence, my relationship or health? The weekend will explore these issues. Facilitators: Dr. Francis Baird, LPC, who has a private counseling practice in Columbus and Starkville and Clare Van Lent, MA CSp., Dwelling Place Director. Donation: $180. Details: (662) 738-5348 or email
HOLLY SPRINGS Hands–ON + Hearts–IN is a program is to assist women who are discerning a call to consecrated life through hands-on service to the needy throughout north Mississippi. Monday – Thursday, Oct. 21–24. This program, coordinated by the Sisters of the Living Word, is a collaborative effort between the Chicago Archdiocesan Vocation Association (CAVA) members and Sacred Heart Southern Missions (SHSM). The hospitality team will be the Sisters of the Living Word. They previously will be offering the meals and a comfortable home base for the prayer and discernment aspects of the experience. Details: contact Sister Sharon Glumb, SLW at or (847) 577-5972 Ext# 233.
METAIRIE, La. Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans (CCRNO), Torrent of Grace, An Evening of Worship, Sunday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Benilde cafeteria, 1901 Division Street. The evening features “Overshadow Me” with Sean Tobin, composer and worship leader from Los Angeles. The sole purpose of this gathering is to seek God, to worship and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit. Everyone is invited who desires to spend an evening with prophetic, spirit–filled music and praise. There is no charge, but a love offering will be received. Details:; or (504) 828-1368.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. National Catholic Singles Conference, Oct. 25–27. Join hundreds of single Catholics from across the country at the Diocese of Nashville Catholic Pastoral Center. The weekend includes talks by dynamic speakers (Sr. Helena Burns, Dr. Kerry Cronin, Damon Owens and David Clayton) as well as music, social events, prayer, food, fellowship and more. Space is limited. Enter promo code NASH19 for a $20 discount. Details: For more information and to register visit or call Mirjana Northrop at (512) 766–5798 or email
PEARL St. Jude – The Marian Servants of Jesus, the Lamb of God, invites you to a “Come and See” open house, Tuesday, Oct. 8, from 6:30–8:30 p.m. An opportunity for you to learn about the Marian Servant Community. Details: Contact Teresa Preuss (601) 906–1338,, or Maureen Roberts (601) 278–0423
STANTON, Tenn, Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend, Oct. 25–27 at Our Lady Queen of Peace Retreat Center. Details: Norman and Barbara Sobota at (901) 373-7030 or email

ABERDEEN St. Francis, Adult Bible Study, Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Studying the Gospel of John. Details: church office (662) 813-2295.
BATESVILLE St. John, Knights of Columbus are holding a Rummage Sale, Friday, Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 2 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please donate any clean, unbroken, gently used items that you no longer need. Details: church office (662) 563-2273.
BROOKHAVEN St. Francis, 153rd Francis Fest (formerly known as Parish Picnic), Sunday, Oct. 6, Mass at 10 a.m., Lunch, bingo, games and jumpers for the kids. Details: church office (601) 833-1799.
OLIVE BRANCH, Queen of Peace, Prayer and Worship Course taught by Sister Emily, Thursdays, Oct. 3 until Nov. 21 at 6:45 pm. The focus of the classes will be a better understanding of the liturgy and of various prayer forms. The texts that will be used are Introduction to Christian Worship, third edition and We Worship: A Guide to the Catholic Mass. Details: or the church office (601) 895–5007.
JACKSON St. Richard, Evening with Mary, Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. in Foley Hall. KC Williams, local artist, and Suzan Cox will team up to show the different ways people picture our Blessed Mother. The evening is a time for women to listen to speakers and share a dessert and conversation. There is no cost. Deadline to register is Oct. 4. Social begins at 6 p.m. with speakers starting at 6:30 p.m. Details: Suzan Cox at (601) 366-2335 or
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi, Father Nick Adam, Parochial Vicar at Jackson St. Richard, will be discussing “The Power of Silence,” Monday, Sept. 30 and Tuesday, Oct. 1. In our society, our access to silence is pretty much zero. We are constantly bombarded by noise of one kind or another. But in order to encounter the Lord Jesus Christ, we have to make room for silent prayer so we can hear the Lord’s call above all the noise. These nights will include Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, along with a meal. Details: church office (601) 856–5556.
MERIDIAN Catholic Community of St. Joseph and St. Patrick, October Festival 2019, Saturday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Includes health fair, hispanic cultural dishes, fun games for children, escape room for teens, country store and white elephant store (7 a.m. to 12 p.m.). Fish and rib plates $10; Rib slabs $20. Details: (601) 938–1337 or (601) 227-1199 to make donations (no clothing please).
VICKSBURG St. Paul will host a six-week adult catechesis program, The Mass, where Father Rusty Vincent will outline each part of the Mass, its Scriptural foundation and the reasoning behind responses and gestures. It will start Wednesday, Sept. 25th at Farrell Hall. Meals are served for $5. If you would like to attend, please email Rebecca Weatherford at or church office (601) 636-0140.

JACKSON Sister Thea Bowman School, registration is underway for the 2019–20 school year. If you are looking for a solid academic education rooted in Gospel values serving grades PreK3 – 6th grades. Details: Shae Goodman-Robinson, principal at (601) 506-8998 for more information.
MADISON St. Anthony, Open House and Fall Festival, Saturday, Nov. 2 from 2-5 p.m. There will be games, carnival food and hayrides. Details: school office (601) 607-7054.
RIDGELAND St. Francis of Assisi, Senior Bible Break, Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m. at M7 Coffee House, 111 North Wheatley Street in Ridgeland, for all 12th graders for scripture sharing and fellowship. Bring a Bible and friends are welcome. Details: church office (601) 856-5556.

Long-time resident of Vicksburg, Sister Mary Fatima Starks, died Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Mobile, Alabama. A Sister of Mercy for 72 years, she was 90 years old.
Sister Fatima ministered in education, as a teacher and principal at schools in Mississippi, Louisiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Of her 60 years in active ministry, all but 3 years were spent serving the people of Mississippi. She gave over 30 years of service to Vicksburg Catholic school. Most recently, before moving in 2016 to the Convent of Mercy in Mobile, she served as a volunteer at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
A funeral Mass was celebrated Monday, Sept. 23 at Corpus Christi church in Mobile. Sister Fatima’s burial took place at Cedar Hill cemetery in Vicksburg, Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Movies reviewed

The Lion King

By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) – Advances in moviemaking technology allow a story that could only previously be told as a cartoon to be enacted, so to speak, by animals. And so we get “The Lion King” (Disney).

The characters Nala, voiced by Beyonce Knowles-Carter, and Simba, voiced by Donald Glover, appear in the movie “The Lion King.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS photo/Disney)

Director Jon Favreau’s remake of the 1994 animated musical – also the basis for the Broadway hit that opened three years later and is still running – uses a blend of live-action techniques and computer-generated imagery to retell a tale so familiar it represents a touchstone of contemporary culture.
As we know, however, just because a thing can be done doesn’t mean it should be. Thus diehard fans of the original may find Favreau’s whole project redundant. The reaction of other viewers will largely depend on how comfortable they feel seeing nonhuman characters mouth dialogue and interact in the manner of homo sapiens.
This is, of course, the fictional biography of Simba (voice of Donald Glover), a lovable young lion with a royal destiny. As opening scenes show us, Simba’s birth is greeted with joy by most of the creatures over whom his parents, King Mufasa (voice of James Earl Jones) and Queen Sarabi (voice of Alfre Woodard), benevolently rule.
The rejoicing, though, is not universal: Simba’s evil Uncle Scar (voice of Chiwetel Ejiofor) broods over the fact that the new arrival has displaced him as heir to the throne. Biding his time, Scar schemes against his growing nephew and, after enlisting the help of a pack of malignant hyenas, led by Shenzi (voice of Florence Kasumba), he succeeds in sending the emotionally vulnerable lad into self-imposed exile.
Two friends with whom Simba takes up during his absence, meerkat Timon (voice of Billy Eichner) and warthog Pumbaa (voice of Seth Rogen), urge him to pursue a carefree existence. But Nala (voice of Beyonce Knowles-Carter), Simba’s best pal from childhood – with whom he ultimately shares a deeper bond – remains resolute that he should fulfill his weighty responsibilities.
The two opposing outlooks on life presented in Jeff Nathanson’s script – and encapsulated in a duo of songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, the interconnectedness-themed “Circle of Life” and the worry-eschewing ditty “Hakuna Matata” – are strictly secular. Yet it is at least the more ethically respectable worldview that prevails.
The struggle to achieve a happy ending, though, involves animal combat that would likely prove upsetting to small kids. And some parents may not care much for the momentary gastrointestinal humor in which Nathanson dabbles.
There’s also a bit of extra-biblical mysticism on display via the activities of simian shaman Rafiki (voice of John Kani). But this aspect of the narrative is too fleeting and undeveloped to pose much of a spiritual threat.
Is this iteration of the blockbuster franchise really necessary? Probably not. Still, while it’s unlikely to make a lasting impression, “The Lion King” does offer a pleasant enough pastime for all but the most sensitive tykes.
The film contains considerable stylized violence among animals, characters in peril, nonscriptural rituals and fleeting scatological humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.


What Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” did for sharks, director Alexandre Aja’s deliberately claustrophobic chiller “Crawl” (Paramount) sets out to do for alligators. The result involves some undeniably frightening moments but also an amount of bloodletting the casual moviegoer will find excessive.
With a major hurricane bearing down on her home region of Florida, college student Haley (Kaya Scodelario) becomes concerned when her divorced and semi-estranged father, Dave (Barry Pepper), fails to return her calls. So she sets off first to the condo where he’s been living since the breakup of his marriage, then to the family home he’s been forced to put up for sale, but to which he remains emotionally attached.

Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario star in a scene from the movie “Crawl.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.(CNS photo/Paramount)

There she finds him unconscious with gaping wounds to his shoulder and leg. The cause of his injuries becomes apparent even before he regains consciousness as Haley has her own close encounter with the first of the many man-eaters with which she and Dad will eventually have to do battle.
To make matters worse, the basement crawl space where the gators have the duo pinned down is rapidly flooding. Fortunately, as early scenes have established, Haley is a gifted competitive swimmer (Dave was her coach in childhood). Even so, the odds remain uncomfortably long.
Those not put off by watching the main characters be gnawed on and the extras devoured will discern the glimmers of a family-solidarity theme faintly gleaming through the murky waters of this gory horror flick. Dave also encourages Haley to believe that she has the resourcefulness and will power to prevail. Still, the desperate proceedings will strike most as more torturous than entertaining.
The film contains much explicit bloody violence, numerous gruesome sights, a vague sexual reference, occasional rough language and some crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is L – limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

(Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.)

Child’s Play

By Joseph McAleer
NEW YORK (CNS) – The nicest thing that can be said about the reimagined horror film “Child’s Play” (Orion), it that is just 88 minutes long. Any longer and it could be designated a method of torture.
Perhaps most disturbing about this remake of the 1988 film about a toy doll run amok (which spawned six sequels of its own) is its tone. Director Lars Klevberg, working from a screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith, frames this as a black comedy. The audience is expected to cheer along as “Chucky” (voice of Mark Hamill, straying far, far away from his heroic “Star Wars” persona) goes on a murderous rampage, starting with the family cat.
Awash in sadistic violence and gore, “Child’s Play” is anything but, and should be approached by adult viewers only with caution.
Single mother Karen (Aubrey Plaza) is concerned that her young son, Andy (Gabriel Bateman), is depressed. They recently moved to a new neighborhood and Andy is having trouble making new friends.
At the toy store where Karen works, a customer returns a defective “Buddi” doll. Karen decides to steal it and give it to her son as a companion.
“Welcome to your new best friend,” says Henry Kaslan (Tim Matheson), creator of the chatty artificial-intelligence plaything. Once synched to a cellphone, Buddi bonds with its owner and connects to all devices, effectively controlling the entire home environment.

Chucky and Gabriel Bateman appear in the movie “Child’s Play.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Orion Pictures)

Unbeknownst to Karen, Andy’s Buddi has been sabotaged by a disgruntled worker in the sweatshop factory in Vietnam. All of his safety protocols have been disabled and this particular doll responds to negative energy. The first warning sign? Its name is Chucky, not Buddi.
It’s not hard to predict what happens next. Chucky’s evil nature emerges whenever Andy is upset or threatened, such as when the cat scratches him, or his mom’s sleazy boyfriend Shane (David Lewis) overstays his welcome.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from the ensuing carnage, it’s the addiction to technology which limits healthy human interaction. For wholesome child’s play, power down and unplug.
The film contains gratuitous bloody violence and gore, sexual banter, partial nudity, frequent crude and profane language, and one obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is O – morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

(McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.)

Parish calendar of events

BROOKSVILLE The Dwelling Place, Life Lines: Finding the Pearl of Great Price, May 3-5. Life Lines is a writing experience in which the narrative technique of storytelling to focus on different life experiences is used. Facilitator: Raymond Komar, Ph.D. Begins with dinner at 6:30. Donation: $180. Details: (662) 738-5348 or email for more information.
CULLMAN, Ala., Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center, Common Wisdom: Parallels in Benedictine And Twelve-Step Spiritualities, Saturday, May 4, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. This reflection day will focus on the core principles of Twelve-Step spirituality and the gift of spiritual freedom that is experienced when these principles are put into practice. Retreat Director: Sister Therese Haydel, O.S.B. Cost: $30, includes lunch. Details: (256) 734-8302, or
MOBILE Ala, Spring Hill College, Silent Ignatian Directed Retreats, June 7-15 following the the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Participants may register for either three, five or eight full days of retreat. The eight-day retreat begins with a short orientation on Friday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m. and ends after lunch on Saturday, June 15. Five and three-day retreats may be taken for any five or three consecutive days during this time period. Details: Father Christopher Viscardi, S.J. at (251) 380-4662, and for registration information.

BROOKSVILLE The Dwelling Place, Life Lines: Finding the Pearl of Great Price, May 3-5. Life Lines is a writing experience in which the narrative technique of storytelling to focus on different life experiences is used. Facilitator: Raymond Komar, Ph.D. Begins with dinner at 6:30. Donation: $180. Details: (662) 738-5348 or email for more information.
CULLMAN, Ala., Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center, Common Wisdom: Parallels in Benedictine And Twelve-Step Spiritualities, Saturday, May 4, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. This reflection day will focus on the core principles of Twelve-Step spirituality and the gift of spiritual freedom that is experienced when these principles are put into practice. Retreat Director: Sister Therese Haydel, O.S.B. Cost: $30, includes lunch. Details: (256) 734-8302, or
MOBILE Ala, Spring Hill College, Silent Ignatian Directed Retreats, June 7-15 following the the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Participants may register for either three, five or eight full days of retreat. The eight-day retreat begins with a short orientation on Friday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m. and ends after lunch on Saturday, June 15. Five and three-day retreats may be taken for any five or three consecutive days during this time period. Details: Father Christopher Viscardi, S.J. at (251) 380-4662, and for registration information.

BRANDON Bay Point Golf Course, 2019 Knights of Columbus State Convention Golf Tournament, Friday, April 26, 8:30 a.m. Cost is $65 per player includes refreshments and lunch. Hole sponsorships available for $85. Proceeds will support the Retired Priest Fund. Details: visit
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi Cajun Fest, Sunday, May 5 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Dropoff location for donations is the Social Concerns Office by Saturday, April 27. Details: church office (601) 856-5556.
NATCHEZ Holy Family, “A Southern Road to Freedom” a choral presentation, Monday April 15, and Tuesday, April 16, 8 p.m. The Natchez saga of African-Americans from slavery to modern times. Details: church office (601) 445-5700.
St. Mary Basilica, Adult Sunday School, DVD series from Saint Benedict Press, “Queen of Heaven: Mary’s Battle for Souls,” Sundays at 8:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center. Details: Karen Verucchi, (601) 870-5388
Assumption of BVM, Line Dancing, Mondays 10-11 a.m. Details: church office (601) 442-7250.
SOUTHAVEN Christ the King, calling all women, Rejoice and be Glad, Saturday, April 27, 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Gather with us to come aside and rest a while and reflect on the words of Pope Francis. Lunch will be provided; no childcare. Details: (662) 342-1073.

GLUCKSTADT St. Joseph, Easter Egg Hunt, Easter Sunday, April 21, at 9:20 a.m. for children up to age nine. Details: church office (601) 856-2054.
Save the date, Vacation Bible School “Savior Stadium,” June 10-12. adult volunteers needed. Sign up for attendees and youth helpers will begin in May. Details: contact Karen Worrell at or (601) 672-5817.
JACKSON Sr. Thea Bowman School, 13th Annual Draw Down, Saturday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Building. Good food, entertainment, silent auction and door prizes. Grand prize: $5,000. Tickets are $100 and Second Chance Insurance is $20. Details: Shae Robinson at the school office (601) 352-5441 or
MERIDIAN Catholic Community of St. Joseph and St. Patrick, Baccalaureate Mass, Sunday, May 5, at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick in honor of graduating high school students. Details: contact John if you plan to attend at (601) 693-1321, ext. 9 or
NATCHEZ Cathedral School, 35th Annual Cathedral Crawfish Countdown, Friday, April 26, 6-10 p.m. at Cathedral School Cafeteria. Details: school office (601) 442-1988.
OLIVE BRANCH Queen of Peace, Divine Mercy Holy Hour, Sunday, April 28, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Reception to follow. Details: Contact Mary Jerkins for more information at (662) 895-5844.
PEARL St. Jude, Save the Date, Vacation Bible School, “Surf’s Up – Chill Out with the Beatitudes,” June 17-21, 9 a.m. – noon, ages 3 years and up. Details: church office (601) 939-3181.

NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Fridays at 12:05 and 5:15 p.m.
Assumption, Fridays at 5:30 p.m.
PEARL St. Jude, Fridays following 10 a.m. Mass and Stations of the Cross ending with Benediction at 6 p.m. Following the 6 p.m. Stations, the Knights of Columbus will be preparing catfish dinners.
WOODVILLE St. Joseph, Monday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m.