Sacraments

Mississippi Catholic will publish Sacrament pages in upcoming editions.
This means we need First Communion and Confirmation photos.
Due to COVID-19, we understand there may not be group shots,
so individual pictures are accepted.
email to: editor@jacksondiocese.org
Please include, full names, parish, date and name of sacrament celebration and name of photographer, if possible.

CLINTON – Holy Savior, First Communion, Wednesday, June 17. Front row, (l-r): Paige Galloway, Daniel Kieffer and Hunter Verret. Middle row, (l-r): Addie Threadgill and Piper Behan. Back row, (l-r): Nora Melancon, Father Thomas McGing and Dakota Bennett. (Photo by Charlie O’Clair)
MADISON – Chance Pittman celebrated his First Communion at St. Francis of Assisi on Saturday, July 25. (Photo by Steve Pittman)
NATCHEZ – (Above) St. Mary Basilica, Confirmation, Tuesday, July 14. Front row (l-r): Chase Kaiser, Ayden Rojo, Clayton Devening, Liam Blackburn, Mia Romero, Rose Schwager, Ryan Skates, Nathan Gaude and Lesley Martinez.
Back row (l-r): Parochial Vicar Father Mark Shoffner and Pastor Father Scott Thomas. (Photo courtesy of St. Mary Basilica)

Youth news

Youth work camp at Cathedral school

NATCHEZ – On Monday and Tuesday, July 20 and 21, a group of CYO members and adult sponsors worked to beautify the Cathedral School flower beds and playground sites for the approaching opening of school.
Thirty-five youth along with nine adults did a fantastic job sprucing up the property. The youth engaged in multiple jobs throughout the week.

NATCHEZ – Jag Gilfoil and Ryan Carney work on the rose bushes in front of Seton Hall at Cathedral school.
Meredith Lessley trims the bushes near the Cathedral school gym.
CYO students pull weeds on the Cathedral elementary school playground.(Photos by Carrie Golden Lambert)

VBS is a treasure in Madison

On July 13, the first day of home Vacation Bible School, Emerson and Harper Schuhmann dig in to their treasure chests of materials for the week. (Photo by Abbey Schuhmann)
Presleigh and Harlee Kate Nassar are showing their Welcome Holy Spirit door hangers and treasure chest snack crafts on the last day of VBS. (Photo courtesy Nassar family)

P&R: Padre César Sánchez

Antecedentes: Soy de Michoacán, México, soy el mayor de siete hermanos.
Parroquia de origen: San Andrés Apostol
Santos favoritos y por qué?
San Francisco de Asís por su vida sencilla y su humildad, y San Juan Bosco porque estaba muy preocupado por los jóvenes y se esforzó por evangelizarlos y llevarlos a la iglesia.
¿Quién te concedió la ordenación y por qué?
Padre Mike O’Brien. Él es mi mentor, mi amigo. Realmente me enseñó cómo ser un buen sacerdote servidor.
¿En qué parroquias has servido?
Meridiano de San Patricio; San Francisco de Asís Brookhaven; Cristo el rey Jackson; Nuestra Señora de las Victorias Cleveland; Cantón del Sagrado Corazón y San Francisco de Asís Madison.
¿Puedes contarnos un poco sobre tu historia vocacional?
Realmente me gustó asistir a la Misa dominical en mi pueblo, y cuando tenía unos 17 años, me invitaron a un retiro vocacional de fin de semana. Durante las conversaciones y la adoración, sentí la fuerte atracción del llamado de Dios al sacerdocio. Decidí comenzar mi discernimiento vocacional y entré al seminario justo después de ese retiro.
Mientras estudiaba en el seminario en Morelia, México, conocí a los directores vocacionales de la diócesis de Jackson. Me invitaron a servir en esta diócesis, por lo tanto, me mudé a E.U. en 2014 para estudiar inglés y teología. Agradezco todas tus oraciones. Espero con la gracia de Dios hacer un ministerio fructífero en nuestra diócesis
¿Qué consejo tienes para quienes disciernen una vocación?
Si realmente amas a Dios, a tu fe y a la Iglesia y quieres hacer algo al respecto, pon todo en las manos de Dios, Él sabe qué hacer con eso.
¿Cómo te sientes de ser un sacerdote en medio de una pandemia?
Sí, sé que mis compañeros de clase y yo somos los sacerdotes de COVID-19. Creo que mi sacerdocio es traer el amor y la esperanza de Dios precisamente ahora, durante estos tiempos difíciles, cuando nuestros feligreses necesitan la presencia de Dios.
¿Puedes compartir algo sobre ti que la gente no sepa?
Bueno, tal vez, que me encanta tocar la batería.

TUPELO – En su primera Misa, el domingo 28 de junio, el Padre Cesar (centro) fue acompañado por (i-d) el Diácono Jonathan Pérez, Padre Timothy Murphy, Padre Rubén Villalón y el Padre Adolfo Suárez, quien no aparece en la foto. (Foto cortesía del Padre César)

P&R: Padre Andrew Nguyen

Antecedentes: Nacido en Vietnam, vino a los Estados Unidos en 2013, estudió para la Diócesis de Jackson en el St. Joseph Seminary College en Covington y el Notre Dame Seminary en Nueva Orleans.
Parroquia de origen: San Alfonso McComb
Santos favoritos y por qué?
San Juan Neumann de la República Checa. Emigró a los Estados Unidos y trajo a Dios a los pobres y desatendidos.
¿Quién te concedió la ordenación y por qué?
Padre Peter Hoai Thanh. El es mi padre espiritual.
¿En qué parroquias has servido?
San Patricio y San José en Meridian
¿Puedes contarnos un poco sobre tu historia vocacional?
Recuerdo eso cuando era un niño de unos 11 años. Asistí a una misa de ordenación en mi parroquia, y después de eso, ansiaba ser sacerdote. Entonces, decidí inscribirme en el programa del sacerdocio en mi parroquia. Después de terminar la secundaria, fui al seminario. Una cosa que creo que me atrajo al sacerdocio es que, como cristianos, necesitamos tener una vida espiritual rica y sacrificarnos por los demás. Sin embargo, especialmente, quiero llevar a Jesús a todos porque solo Jesús puede liberarnos de nuestros pecados y brindarnos la verdadera libertad y felicidad.
¿Qué consejo tienes para quienes disciernen una vocación?
Mi consejo será que si quieres ser sacerdote, debes tomar “un riesgo”. Este riesgo significa que debes confiar en Dios, buscarlo y anhelarlo. También ama a María, Madre de Dios. Ella te ayudará a superar todo.
¿Cómo te sientes siendo un sacerdote en medio de una pandemia?
Ser sacerdote en esta situación de pandemia será un desafío porque no habrá muchas personas que pudieran participar en la Misa. Creo que Dios me recompensará dándome una gracia especial y ayudándome a dar buenos frutos en mi ministerio a los demás.

Ordenación de nuevos sacerdotes, Padres Andrew y César

Por Berta Mexidor and Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – El obispo Joseph Kopacz ordenó al sacerdocio a César Sánchez Fermín y Andrew Nguyen en la Catedral de San Pedro en Jackson, el sábado 27 de junio.
Aunque la pandemia de COVID-19 retrasó la ceremonia, programada originalmente para mayo, esto no pudo detener la celebración de los dos hombres que se unieron al sacerdocio.
El evento se hizo diferente debido a las normas de seguridad vigentes. Todos los asientos fueron bloqueados para permitir el distanciamiento social y se alentó a los parroquianos de la diócesis a seguir la transmision en vivo de la Misa de Ordenación a través de Facebook en lugar de asistir en persona. Los sacerdotes diocesanos, seminaristas y algunos invitados especiales seleccionados por los ordenados, todos, llevaban máscaras durante todo el servicio.
“El Señor ha bendecido nuestra diócesis con hombres santos de todos los rincones de la tierra. ¡Bienvenidos, padre Andrew y padre Cesar!,” comentó Mark Beyea, de Clinton, en Facebook. Esta vez, el espíritu de gratitud y felicidad de la ocasión no pudo ser robado por la pandemia.
La Misa de Ordenación también celebró la diversidad cultural de la diócesis, la herencia vietnamita del ahora padre Andrew y la herencia hispana del ahora padre Cesar, que proviene de Michoacán, México.
Al comenzar su homilía, el Obispo Kopacz mencionó la iglesia universal y cómo todos “se reunieron alrededor de la Palabra de Dios cuando esta se proclamó tan hermosa y profundamente en español, vietnamita e inglés” durante esta Misa de Ordenación. El Obispo reconoció también el alcance que tuvo la transmisión en vivo del evento, haciendo que llegara hasta los familiares y amigos del Padre Sánchez, en Michoacán, México, del Padre Nguyen en la ciudad de Ho Chi Minh, provincia de Ninh Thuân en Vietnam.
La Misa de ordenación incluyó muchos momentos emocionantes, especialmente cuando los hombres se postraron, en un acto de humilde oración y rendición, ante el altar cuando se invocaba la letanía de todos los Santos, cantada por el Padre Aaron Williams y los seminaristas Andrew Bowden y Tristan Stovall.
Después de la imposición de manos y la oración de ordenación, se procedió a la investidura de la estola y la casulla de los dos nuevos sacerdotes. El padre Nguyen fue investido por el padre Peter Hoai en Thanh y el padre Sánchez fue investido por el padre Mike O’Brien del Sagrado Corazón en Cantón.
Los padres Andrew y César están siguiendo las Buena Nueva de las Escrituras, y con su ordenación, ambos prometieron al Obispo Kopacz, propagarla para continuar salvando almas.
La felicidad de la ocasión fue compartida en Facebook, con emojis y comentarios de los espectadores:
Jim McCraw, de Jackson, escribió: “¡Felicitaciones, padre Andrew! Amo tu espíritu tranquilo y confiado. ¡Marcarás la diferencia! Tu afecto por Meridian es difícil de ocultar.”
Cony Solano, reaccionó, “Dios es bueno y nos regala nuevos Sacerdotes.”
“Oraciones de acción de gracias por estos dos jóvenes por responder al llamado al sacerdocio. Que el Señor los bendiga en su servicio,” escribió Mary P. Robinson de Madison.
Izamar Mazy, de la Catedral de San Pedro escribió, “Que bendicion, lo tendremos en nuestras oraciones, Gracias por darle el SI al Señor!!”
Después de la celebración de la Eucaristía, el obispo Kopacz invitó al padre Cesar y al padre Andrew a hablar, desde la distancia, con sus familiares que no pudieron estar presentes en el evento debido a la pandemia.
En sus lenguas maternas e inglés, el padre César cerró diciendo que ha tenido un maravilloso sistema de apoyo de todos aquellos en la Diócesis de Jackson y que “siempre se ha sentido como en casa, …Y sabes que el hogar es donde está tu corazón, así que realmente siento eso. Ahora, la diócesis de Jackson es mi segundo hogar,” concluyo el padre César y a su vez el padre Andrew habló en vietnamita con los miembros de su familia, presentes y lejanos, agradeciendo a todos por sus oraciones y apoyo. En sus comentarios finales, el Obispo Kopacz les pidió a todos el “continuar orando por los sacerdotes … y continuar juntos como el pueblo del Señor”.
Al final de la Misa ambos sacerdotes bendijeron a algunos de los presentes. Por la tarde de este día, el padre César bendijo además a los parroquianos del Sagrado Corazón en Cantón, quienes viajaron en caravana alrededor de la iglesia, para recibir la misma desde sus autos.
El padre César es nombrado vicario parroquial en St. James Tupelo y St. Christopher Pontotoc, donde celebró su primera Misa el Domingo 28
El padre Andrew es nombrado vicario parroquial en las parroquias de San Patricio y San José en Meridian. Celebró su primera Misa en la parroquia Asunción de Maria, en Luisiana, el 28 de junio.

Father Nguyen, Father Sánchez ordained for the diocese

By Berta Mexidor and Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz ordained César Sánchez Fermín and Andrew Nguyen to the priesthood at the Cathedral of St. Peter Jackson on Saturday, June 27.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the celebration originally scheduled in May, it could not stop the celebration of the two men joining the priesthood, but the event looked slightly different due to safety regulations in place. Every other pew was blocked off to allow for social distancing and members of the diocese were encouraged to watch via Facebook live rather than attend in person. Diocesan priests, seminarians, and a few selected special guests of the men to be ordained wore masks throughout the service.
“The Lord has blessed our diocese with holy men from every corner of the earth. Welcome Father Andrew and Father Cesar!” commented Mark Beyea of Clinton, on Facebook. The spirit of gratitude and happiness could not be stolen from the occasion by the pandemic.
The ordination Mass also celebrated the cultural diversity of the diocese , the Vietnamese heritage of now Father Nguyen and the Spanish heritage of now Father Sanchez, who hails from Michoacán, Mexico.
Beginning his homily, Bishop Kopacz mentioned the universal church and how that all “gathered around the Word of God as proclaimed so beautifully and profoundly in Spanish, Vietnamese and in English” for the ordination Mass. He also acknowledged the reach of livestreaming the event, which reached family and friends of now Father Sanchez in Michoacán, Mexico and now Father Nguyen in Ninh Thuân province and Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam.
The ordination Mass included many powerful moments, especially when the men lay prostrate in an act of humble prayer and surrender before the altar invoking the prayers of the saints sung in chant by Father Aaron Williams and seminarians Andrew Bowden and Tristan Stovall.
After the laying on of hands and prayer of ordination, the ordination of the two new priests proceeded to their investiture of the stole and chasuble. Father Nguyen was vested by Father Peter Hoai Thanh and Father Sánchez was vested by Father Mike O’Brien of Sacred Heart Canton.
Fathers Andrew and César are following the Good News of the scriptures, and with their ordination, both promised to Bishop Kopacz, to propagate it to continue saving souls.
The happiness of the occasion was shared by all the emojis and comments from the viewers:
Jim McCraw of Jackson wrote “Congratulations Father Andrew! Love your quiet and confident spirit. You will make a difference! Your affection for Meridian is hard to hide.”
“Prayers of thanksgiving for these two young men for answering the call to the priesthood. May the Lord bless them in their service,” wrote Mary P. Robinson of Madison.
After the celebration of the Eucharist, Bishop Kopacz invited Father Sánchez and Father Nguyen to speak to their families who were not able to be present at the joyous event due to the pandemic through the livestream broadcast.
In his native language, Father Sánchez spoke to his family. He closed in English saying that he has had a wonderful support system from those in the Diocese of Jackson and that he has “always felt at home.”
“And you know that home is where your heart is, so I really feel that. Now, Jackson diocese is my second home,” said Father Sánchez.
Father Nguyen spoke to his family members present and afar in Vietnamese and then thanked all for their prayers and support.
In his closing remarks, Bishop Kopacz asked all to “continue to pray for priests … and continue forward together as the Lord’s people.”
Father Sánchez is appointed parochial vicar at St. James Tupelo and St. Christopher Pontotoc.
Father Nguyen is appointed parochial vicar at St. Patrick and St. Joseph parishes in Meridian.

Masked, distanced priests take part in postponed chrism Mass

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – This year’s chrism Mass in the Diocese of Jackson did not take place during Holy Week as usual and instead was celebrated on June 17 with a crowd of socially distanced, masked priests from around the diocese.
The special Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter Jackson was rescheduled due to churches being closed to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a restriction that continued up until Pentecost on May 31.
“The chrism Mass is a ‘manifestation of the priests’ communion with their Bishop,’ so it is very important for clergy to participate in that Mass even if a congregation of any size may not be able to gather,” explained chancellor, Mary Woodward. “Though not technically close to Easter as we would have wanted, the Mass nonetheless had a great fraternal spirit with the clergy gathering albeit six feet apart in masks. Much care was given to keep the clergy safe and to maintain the integrity of the liturgy.”
Bishop Joseph Kopacz welcomed all clergy present and those watching the live stream presentation on Facebook under the “unusual circumstances of worship.”
The masked and socially distanced Diocesan priests, who joined Bishop Kopacz for the Mass renewed their priestly promises. Bishop Kopacz blessed them and blessed the holy oils to be used in the administration of the sacraments throughout the diocese for the year.
The oil of the sick is blessed to bring the strengthening and healing power of Christ in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. The oil of catechumens is used at Baptism to purify candidates before baptizing with water. The sacred chrism is used to anoint individuals after baptism, seal those who are to be confirmed with the Holy Spirit, and in holy orders for priests on the hands and bishops on the head. It is also used to anoint altars and churches during their dedication.
During his homily, Bishop Kopacz reflected on the pandemic and how different congregations look now with “people looking back with masks on. Just seeing the eyes.” Even with masks, few congregants and being socially distanced, Bishop Kopacz said that, “it is our way of coming together in spite of all of the obstacles to say that we are the body of Christ.”
The faithful throughout the diocese were invited to take part in the livestreamed Chrism Mass through Facebook Live. After the Mass, priests received their oils and brought back to their parishes.

Meet Tristan Stovall

In preparation for our Homegrown Harvest Gala in the fall, which will benefit the Diocese of Jackson Office of Vocations, over the next several weeks we will feature a Q&A with one of our seminarians. This week, meet Tristan Stovall who is entering his first year of formation.

Tristan Stovall

Home parish: Holy Cross Philadelphia

Background: I was born and raised in the red clay hills of Neshoba county.

What is your vocation story? I was raised a Baptist. My first memory of Catholicism is seeing the funeral of Pope St. John Paul II on television. At the time I was awestruck by all the proceedings. I had so many questions about what was happening and who this man was for whom the whole world was coming to a halt. I became more and more interested as I grew up. When I was 15, I went to Mass for the first time at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. I knew then that I had to become a Catholic. At the Easter Vigil in 2014 I was received into full communion with the church.
I have always had a deep desire to dedicate my life entirely to God. This desire was present for as long as I can remember. Entering into the sacramental life of the church changed my life. I began attending daily Mass and frequenting the sacrament of penance.
The example of the saints was very influential in my pursuing a vocation to the priesthood. St. Catherine of Siena has always exercised an influence over me. Seeing her example of total dedication has constantly inspired me to give myself entirely to the service of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the church. I hope one day to receive the call to Holy Orders and to be entirely dedicated to the service of the church.
What draws you to diocesan priesthood?
The care of souls is what draws me to the diocesan priesthood. The care of souls means that the primary responsibility of the diocesan priest is to work for the salvation of those souls who are entrusted to his care. I believe that this is the specific ministry to which the Lord is calling me. This ministry is specific to the diocesan priest. I discerned the religious life for a while, but ultimately came to see that that was not what the Lord was asking me to do.

What are your hobbies/interests? I enjoy playing the piano. I also very much enjoy reading and traveling.

Who is your favorite saint and why?
My favorite saint is Catherine of Siena. I love her because she has been a friend to me in my discernment. She is a “no-nonsense” sort of person. She was at once extremely joyful and serious. I think St. Catherine represents the divine humor which we so often miss in our faith. This 20-something-year-old, illiterate Italian girl was not afraid to confront the world’s most powerful people in order to carry out Christ’s work. Her life was profoundly ecclesial, she was focused on being faithful and ensuring the unity of the church, for which Christ prayed.

Do you have a favorite devotion?
My favorite devotion is lectio divina, which is the prayerful reading of the Word of God. I am drawn to this devotion because it brings me to a deeper knowledge of Christ.

What is something people might be surprised to learn about you? I was once part of a Southern rock band.

Who is your favorite sports team?
If my answer to this question was not “the LSU Tigers” my family would disown me.

What has been the most rewarding part of being a seminarian? And the most challenging?
The most rewarding part of being a seminarian has been coming to a deeper knowledge of the faith. To know God is to love Him. I have experienced this concretely in my life throughout my years of seminary formation.

What advice do you have for those discerning a vocation?
Don’t be afraid to give it a try. You have nothing to lose. You can’t discover whether or not you have a vocation until you try it out.

Meet Ryan Stoer

In preparation for our Homegrown Harvest Gala in the fall, which will benefit the Diocese of Jackson Office of Vocations, over the next several weeks we will feature a Q&A with one of our seminarians. This week, meet Ryan Stoer who is entering his fourth year of formation.

What is your home parish?
St. Richard, Jackson

Ryan Stoer

What is your background? (Where are you from, how did you end up in Mississippi, etc.)
I was born In San Diego, and I have lived in Ohio and New Mexico. I graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from New Mexico Tech. I had a few job offers after I graduated, but I ended up taking a job which required a security clearance. My parents had moved to Mississippi while I was in college, so I stayed with them as I waited for my clearance. During this time of waiting, I was told that I should consider the priesthood.

What is your vocation story? Who influenced you and why?
My vocation story is relatively simple. All it took was a single question. But, before I get to that question, I will give you a little of my background.
For much of my life, I considered success the highest goal. I did well at almost everything I tried. In high school I graduated as the salutatorian and I did well at swimming. I practiced and strived for perfection in academics, sports, and in everything where anyone had any expectation from me. I was at the top of my class at college, had everything paid for by scholarships, and had three job offers when I graduated. Two of those jobs would have started the day after I graduated, but I chose the one which required a clearance, so that I could come back to Mississippi, and help my Mom who had cancer at the time.
The clearance should have taken six months, but as new politicians and other civil servants were given clearance after the 2016 election, it took longer. I started applying to other engineering jobs, yet did not hear back from any of them.
Finally, one day, I was fed up, and went to confession. I told the priest everything I had done, he gave me absolution, and then he told me that God loves me and then asked me a question. He asked, “Have you ever considered being a priest?”
In response, I told him, “No, I want to have a normal life. I want to have a wife and kids, and I want a normal job.” Then I left. But what he said had stuck with me.
Afterwards, I talked to a Deacon at St. Richard Jackson and told him of my experience, and he helped me pray and discern what I should do. After a few months, I decided to enter the seminary.
A week after I entered, I received a phone call that said “Your clearance has come through, we expect you to report to work next week.” They told me all my benefits, my salary, and where I would live. I never thought that I would tell them no, and that I had started a new path towards the priesthood, but that is what I did.
That priest was Father Frank Cosgrove. For my entire life, everyone had looked up to me for what I did, and how well I did it. I was praised for my good grades and other successes, but no one, had ever looked at me, knowing only my sins, and told me that I was loved, simply because I am me. No one had called me out to think beyond success toward God. I think it was the first time I had felt the gaze of God and thought about something other than my own desires, and it became the foundation for my discernment.

What draws you to diocesan priesthood? And to the Diocese of Jackson?
What Father Frank did for me, I want to do for others. I want to enter into people’s lives: their joys and sorrows, their trials and triumphs, and show them that God loves them. I desire to bring God to them in the sacraments. I want to embody Christ and bring him into the practical matters of everyday life. I want to show that God enters into the suffering and evil, not simply to get rid of it, but to truly redeem it and bring out an even greater good. I would like to be a priest so that I can encourage others to develop their relationship with God, so that they can find lasting peace and fulfillment in the love that only God can give. I would like to do this in the Diocese of Jackson, because that is where I experienced God’s abundant love for me.

What are your hobbies/interests?
I like to swim, play tennis, go to the gym, read, watch movies, and hike.

Who is your favorite saint and why?
My favorite saint is St. Lawrence. He was my confirmation saint. I picked him because he was funny. He was martyred by being roasted on a grid iron. As he was being roasted, he said “I am well done on this side. Turn me over!” As a teenage boy, I thought it was great that he could come up with a funny remark, even as he was being tortured. But as I grow older, I find the remark that caused him to be killed much more inspiring. The prefect of Rome told Deacon Lawrence to bring the wealth of the Church to him within three days. Lawrence, took the treasures of the Church, gave it to the poor, and brought the poor, lame, and widowed with him as he told the prefect, “These are the treasure of the Church.” I admire St. Lawrence for his courage, humility, and humor, and he inspires me to remember what is truly important.