Edict opens Sister Thea Bowman’s cause

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz read the edict to open the cause for canonization for Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA, Servant of God, at a Sunday, Nov. 18, Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. The church was packed with people who loved Sister Thea and can’t wait to see her become a saint.
Days before the Mass, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops unanimously voted in support of the cause moving forward during their general assembly in Baltimore. Sister Bowman, a Mississippi native and the only African-American member of her order, the Wisconsin-based Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, was a widely known speaker, evangelizer and singer until she died of cancer in 1990 at age 52. She even made a presentation at the U.S. bishops’ spring meeting in 1989, moving some prelates to tears.

Some of the songs she sang at that bishop’s meeting took center stage at the Mass. Phyllis Lewis-Hale, a professor from Jackson State University sang “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” as a prelude to the Mass and brought the congregation to its feet with “We Shall Overcome” after communion. Everyone in the church spontaneously joined hands and swayed as they sang with Lewis-Hale – much like the bishops did in 1989.
Lewis-Hale teaches opera and traditional voice classes, but also teaches classes in Negro Spirituals. “Those spirituals go across denominations – they are cultural so I have known these songs all my life,” she said. She believes people can find comfort and support during these times if they “go back to the soothing comforting words of spirituals,” she added. She said she was honored to be a part of the celebration. “I am glad Sister Thea has been given this recognition and this honor and I hope this can come to fulfillment.”
Members of the choir from Sister Thea’s home parish of Canton Holy Child Jesus offered “Be Encouraged” during communion. Bernadette Otto-Russell, one of the singers, first sang in Sister Thea’s choir when she was in the third grade. “This was awesome. This is an enjoyable and memorable moment – I’m getting full just thinking about it. I think the people that know Sister Thea – they know who she is and they will always cherish her and also her memories. She will never die,” said Otto-Russell, adding that it was a joy and an honor to sing for her childhood teacher.
Carolyn Brooks and her mother Jean Brooks came from out of town to attend the Mass. When the younger Brooks attended Christ the King School she met Sister Thea. Brooks called her an inspiration both in her childhood and today. Jean Brooks called the Mass “inspirational,” adding that “we need the spirit from this service in this day and age.”
The postulator, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi and his assistant, Nina Bartulica, sat in the front pew with representatives from Sister Thea’s religious community, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Sister Eileen McKenzie, president; Sister Marla Lang and Sister Helen Elsbernd, both classmates of Sister Thea and Sister Dorothy Kundinger, Sister Thea’s assistant during her illness.
“She was my sister and my friend,” said Sister Kundinger, who was all smiles after the Mass, greeting friends and enjoying the moment.
A delegation of students from Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School in Jackson handed out prayer cards after Mass. The students were thrilled to be a part of this historic moment for their school’s namesake. Sixth-grader Alexander Mason said he and his fellow students know the story of her life and have learned many lessons from Sister Thea’s mantra that she wanted to live until she died. “She taught me to always have perseverance and that I should never give up – even if I am close to death, I should keep on pushing myself to try,” said Mason.
In his homily Bishop Kopacz quoted the old testament reading for the day from the Book of Daniel “The wise shall shine like the splendor of the firmament. Those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” He spoke of Sister Thea’s wisdom and joy and holiness, saying that today “her holiness shines upon us.”

(The Diocese of Jackson has launched a website detailing Sister Thea’s life and the cause for canonization, sistertheabowman.com.)

Knights fight cool weather with chili

PEARL – St. Jude parishioners gathered on Saturday, November 1 to pit their chili-cooking skills against one another for a family-oriented competition organized by the Knights of Columbus. The winners are: Third place Melissa O’Brien, team Women of Faith; second place Victoria and April McDonald and Matthew Meadows, 1st place. Shannon Roe Torregano team Roe-Tel it on the Mountain. Pastor Father Lincoln Dall selected Dan and Danny Nelson’s chili for the “father’s choice award.”

Pear, St. Jude parish, photos by Tereza Ma

The family of Dennise Riordan and Jamison Taylor sharing thoughts about the chili during the Knights of Columbus Chili Cook-off.

Parishioners Nina Couey and Sandra Walker examine the chili very well before they pick their winning choice.

Mr. Walker

Brodey and Farren Clark

Jose and JJ Arellano

Dori, Beth, Jo and Thomas Paczak participated in judging the chili.

Aniston Pitts

Rory Clark

All kids from St. Jude having good time to get together

Shannon Roe Torregano from team Roe-Tel it on the Mountain.

The winner Shannon Roe Torregano from team Roe-Tel it on the Mountain.

Shannon Roe Torregano

Shannon Roe Torregano

Second place Victoria McDonald, Matthew Meadows and April McDonald.

Third place Melissa Obrien team Women of faith.

The Nelson team

Father's pick winner Danny Nelson

Danny Nelson with Nora and Father Lincoln

Danny Nelson with Nora and Father Lincoln

Line to pick the samples was pretty long

Father Lincoln Dall collects his chili samples from Pat McBride.

Father Lincoln with ladies from Philippines Riza Caskey, Myra Woodward and Ellen Bruno

Catholic school sports champions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vicksburg Catholic Sports

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

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

Holy Ghost calls alumni home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Formal opening set for Sister Thea’s cause

The Faithful of the Diocese of Jackson are cordially invited to hear Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz
read the edict opening the investigation into the life of Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA, servant of God.
Sunday, Nov. 18, 10:30 a.m.
Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle

Mass will follow the reading. Special hotel rates available: https://bit.ly/2D5ab2b

Students stage FinnFest

MADISON – St. Richard students get snowcones at FinnFest on Wednesday, Oct. 10. Students at St. Joseph School organized FinnFest to raise money for Finn Blaylock, a six-year-old who is fighting cancer. Finn is a student at St. Richard School while his siblings attend St. Joseph. The Fest included a teacher dunking booth, games, food and a blood drive for Finn. (Photos courtesy of Bruin Journalism class)

In His Image: 2018 Middle School Retreat

By Abbey Schuhmann
MACON – Middle school youth from all across the diocese gathered at Lake Forest Ranch in Macon on October 13-14 for the 2018 Diocesan Middle School Fall Retreat. The retreat was led by NET Ministries (National Evangelization Team), a Catholic ministry program out of St. Paul, Minnesota.
NET Ministries was established about 35 years ago with the mission to spread the Gospel message of Jesus Christ through prayer, sacraments, fellowship and service. NET Team #10 led the diocesan retreat along with a middle school retreat at Southaven Sacred Heart School. Each NET Team is made of 8-12 young adults usually ages 18-24 years old. The leaders commit to a year of missionary retreat ministry by traveling around the country hosting retreats for parishes and schools.
The theme of this retreat was “In His Image” and teens had the chance to reflect on what it means to be sons and daughters of Christ. Their identity is found in God as all are made in his image and likeness. The overnight gathering provided the youth with a high-energy, faith-filled program. The youth were able to hear powerful witness talks from members of the NET Team, engaged in several small group discussions, experienced a powerful prayer ministry with the team. Father Augustine Palimattam of Meridian St. Patrick and St. Joseph celebrated Mass with the group Saturday night and the evening ended with a bonfire by the lake. The NET team also performed funny and serious skits throughout the weekend.

Father Augustine Palimattam celebrated Mass for the diocesan middle school retreat. (Photos by Abbey Schuhmann)

The teens had the chance for some fun and fellowship on Sunday afternoon by participating in some friendly competition including games of ping-pong, basketball, and the latest craze – gaga ball. The adult youth leaders had the opportunity to meet one another and discuss the youth ministry programs at their respective parishes.
The next big event for the Office of Youth Ministry is the Diocese of Jackson Catholic Youth Conference (DCYC) set for Feb. 1-2, 2019, in Vicksburg. This year’s theme – faith, hope and love. The keynote speaker is Brian Butler along with worship leaders Greg and Lizzy. For more information regarding DCYC or any other diocesan youth activities contact Abbey Schuhmann, Coordinator for the Office of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Jackson by email at abbey.schuhmann@jacksondiocese.org.

Next Encuentro phase: action by parishes, dioceses on ideas, priorities

By Norma Montenegro Flynn
WASHINGTON (CNS) – A Nearly 3,000 Hispanic ministry leaders, like Dominican Sister Judith Maldonado, have gone back to their parishes and dioceses to share the ideas and fruits of the conversations that took place at the Fifth National Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas.
And as that phase of the multiyear process reached completion, the next phase is aimed at putting into practice the lessons learned and bear fruits.
“This has been like a retreat, the message that we were given at the end is like you have the Holy Spirit, you have to take it with you and you have to be saints, produce fruits of love,” said Sister Maldonado, a member of the Dominican Sisters of the Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. Her order is involved with family ministry serving parishes in Maryland and Texas.
In the next few months, the leadership team of the Fifth National Encuentro, or V Encuentro, will distribute a concluding document listing the main priorities and problems identified across 28 ministry areas; the document will assist dioceses, parishes and national structures in drafting their own pastoral plans according to their own realities and priorities.
The Encuentro’s team of accompaniment, or ENAVE, plans to continue providing support and tracking progress.
“We have achieved things that in some ways we never would have imagined would be possible,” Ken Johnson-Mondragon, V Encuentro’s director of research, told Catholic News Service. “Walls have come down, people have experienced really the joy that Pope Francis talks about.”
The V Encuentro process that began about four years ago has helped thousands of Hispanic ministry leaders engage in faith-filled dialogues among themselves and reach out to those on peripheries. Encuentro has also promoted collaborations within and across dioceses, which is known as ‘pastoral en conjunto,’ and has helped remove the “fear to speak up,” bringing the participants closer to their pastors and bishops, added Johnson-Mondragon.
The V Encuentro also identified and prepared at least 25,000 new Hispanic ministry leaders across the country, and about a third of the leaders engaged were youth and young adults. An estimated 100,000 individuals participated in the process and about 150,000 others were reached on the peripheries.
Another important gain is that the V Encuentro has captured the attention and support of the bishops nationwide. At the gathering, about 125 bishops — Hispanic and non-Hispanic — walked side by side with their diocesan delegations, and about 160 out of 178 Roman Catholic dioceses and archdioceses in the country were represented.
“The Hispanic church is asking for formation, they’re asking for support, they’re asking for direction, so it will be on the part of the bishops and pastors to provide that,” Bishop Oscar Cantu told CNS. Formerly head of the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico, he is now coadjutor bishop of San Jose, California.

What mostly surprised and pleased Bishop Cantu was the size of the gathering — with over 3,000 participants — and like many others, he was energized by the optimism and drive of the attendees.
The top three recommendations that rose up in the Encuentro process are: the need to develop pastoral plans for Hispanic ministry tailored according to the needs of each parish and diocese; the need of the parish community to help strengthen families; and to hire more Hispanic young adults in paid positions of leadership.
The 28 ministry areas addressed by the V Encuentro include those that reach out to youth, young adult, college campuses, immigrants, families, people with disabilities, and the incarcerated, as well as ministries in vocations, pro-life, faith formation and catechesis, justice and peace, and even care for the environment among others.
As a word of advice from Mercy Sister Ana Maria Pineda, who has witnessed all the Encuentros, it is important to connect the previous Encuentros to the current one, while staying focused on the work at hand amid the challenges it might present. “We’re being called to a very special moment in time and we need to step up to the plate to make sure that we are on the side of the poor, on the side of those who can’t protect themselves.” Sister Pineda said.

Hispanic ministry teams exchange pastoral visits

By Berta Mexidor
Sister María Elena Méndez, MGSpS, a coordinator for Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Jackson visited her colleagues in the Diocese of Fresno, California’s, Migrant Ministry program on September 17-19.
This was the second half of an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) office of Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers (PCMRT). Members of the UCSSB committee make annual visits to dioceses who work with a large population of immigrant and temporary workers. In 2015 Bishop John Manz led a PCMRT visit to the Jackson Diocese. The local Hispanic ministry team took him on a tour of farms and work sites in the Delta so he could experience the reality of life in the rural South.
This year the committee invited Sister Mendez to accompany them to California. Bishop Armando Ochoa and Benito Medrano, coordinator of Hispanic Ministry of the Fresno diocese welcomed the visitors.

Representatives from the University of Detroit Mercy, the UDM Jesuit Community and the Catholic Migrant Farmworker Network also attended.
The guests learned about the work of Fresno diocesan team; went to an Easton, California, vineyard and a dairy in Rosa to visit farmworkers and their families. They also witnessed the efforts of both the Immaculate Mary Eucharistic Missionary sisters (MEMI Sisters) and a community organization called Faith in the Valley. Sister Mendez said she was impressed by how well these organizations collaborated. “Each of the … communities represent a significant strength. Because they collaborate in the office as well as the field they have bonds of friendship and trust that becomes a house built on a foundation of rock.”
During the meetings they had time for a presentation about a basic formation methodology. Father Tom Florek, SJ., from University of Detroit Mercy was the presenter. During those days the visitors talked with adults cathechists and community leaders, joined Mass and enjoyed community gatherings. “We met Christ in the men, women and children we met in the grape fields. The good news was palpable in the hospitality, testimonies, prayers and blessings,” he wrote in a report he prepared about the visit.
Sister Mendez compared the migrant and farmworkers’ situation in Mississippi and California, concluding all of them have much in common “I thanked them for putting food on everyone’s table.” Getting to meet them, she said, affirms the work she does every day “…they called us as a church to encounter people on the periferies and to find ways to educate and evangelize.”
The farmworkers reminded her of these verses from Carlos Rosas’ song, “You are the peasant God who works from sunrise to sunset. I have seen you surrendered, and sweat runs on your face. You are the peasant God who works in the labor.”
“It is my hope that the various participating communities can benefit from what we have learned and further a dialogue that results in greater good for the lives of the farmworkers and their families,” said Sister.