Bless the Kelly’s of Potato Hill

From the Archives
By Mary Woodward
JACKSON – As we begin the new calendar year, let’s visit another interesting stop in Bishop John Gunn’s diary. This time we are on the road in northeast Mississippi in June of 1912.
On this trip, Bishop Gunn visits Tupelo and Plantersville among other places. He conferred the sacrament of confirmation and spoke to large gatherings of Catholics and non-Catholics in each location.
On June 12 he arrived in Tupelo and here is what he had to say about his visit: “Tupelo is a boom town of new growth with plenty of activity, and a promise that it may become something. The town hall was secured, much free advertisement was given, and I said Mass on the stage, confirmed a few Catholics there and found the big event of the visit was to be a mass meeting in the theatre to hear the Bishop talk of Catholic claims.”
“I spoke about an hour in Tupelo on that night and was congratulated for nearly another hour afterwards with such vigorous handshaking that I was afraid of arm dislocation.”

Similar to the Kelly cabin in Plantersville, this house from our diocesan archives photo collection in Hickory Flats could have been a visiting place for our early bishops, such as Bishops Elder and Gunn.

From Tupelo, Bishop Gunn headed the next day to Plantersville – called Potato Hill by locals. There he encountered an elderly Mrs. Kelly, who was overcome with tears of joy to meet the Bishop. Bishop Gunn’s diary account gives the reason for her outpouring.
“There was one family of the name Kelly – the oldest settler in that section – and after walking, riding and climbing for a number of hours we reached the little log cabin on a hill where Mrs. Kelly was rocking herself in expectation.”
“She was old and very religious and as soon as she heard that there was actually a Bishop on her porch she commenced to weep and to talk about John. ‘Do you think, Bishop, he will ever be forgiven, or what part of hell is he in, or can you get him out?’ Or other questions equally hard to answer.”
“I thought that John probably had misconducted himself in years gone by – he was now eleven years dead – and his wife had not completely forgiven him. I tried to make the man’s excuse as well as I could, but she would talk of John and finally I let her tell the whole story.”
“John and I came from Ireland to Mobile and we got married there and struck out to find a quiet place to spend our honeymoon. We got tired just here and we camped and thought it would be a good place to remain.”
“The Indians were everywhere but they didn’t bother us. John – who was a carpenter – cut down the logs and I was strong enough to drag the logs up here. John and I built this log house, and we were the happiest people in the world for some thirty or forty years. The Indians roundabout didn’t bother us, but the Protestants wanted me and John to go to their meeting houses, or they wanted us to pray with them.”
“This made John mad and every time he saw anything like a preacher he commenced to curse and swear, and I had great trouble in keeping John from attacking the preacher. This kept on for years and finally the great trouble came to John one evening when two men came up the side of the hill on horseback. John and I were on the porch looking at them coming.”
“John whispered to me ‘here are two more preachers’ and it was not long until one of them came up and said, ‘Aren’t you John Kelly?’ He said ‘Yes, what do you want?’ “Well, John, I heard you are a Catholic.’”
“Then John got mad, and he asked the preacher what in —- did it matter to him, and the preacher smiled, and that made John madder and madder. He told the preacher to go to the bad place. This made the man get off his horse and John got ready to thrash him when the preacher said to him: ‘Why, John Kelly, I am Bishop Elder, the Bishop of Natchez, and that is the way you receive me and treat me.’”

“Poor John was dumbfounded that he couldn’t speak but fainted. To send his Bishop, who had come 28 miles on horseback to see him – to welcome him in such a way. And Mrs. Kelly’s whole trouble was to find out if poor John, who had received the last Bishop who had visited them, was still suffering from the reception given.”
“The Kelly’s had been visited 28 years before by Bishop Elder and poor Mrs. Kelly was glad to see another Bishop who promised all kinds of excuses for her old man, John.”
“She had a number of grown-up children and their families. They were all at supper in the log cabin at Potato Hill. I got the best room and enjoyed it as the trip was long and tiresome.”
This is a great account of life on the road in our diocese. We take for granted being able to travel most places in the diocese in one day. Here we have the accounts of bishops travelling to some outlying areas to find their sheep – even sheep who greet them in a not so pleasant way. God bless the Kelly’s of Potato Hill – salt of the earth.

(Mary Woodward is Chancellor and Archivist for the Diocese of Jackson)


From the heart

HOLLY SPRINGS – PreK and Kindergarten classes at Holy Family worshiped ‘body and soul’ with Brother Diego Diaz, SCJ. After listening to the lives of the saints, the children sang and danced to the song “Te Amo (I love)” by Israel and New Breed.
HOLLY SPRINGS – (Above) Delivering hot Thanksgiving meals to senior living facility across from the school in Holly Springs is a Holy Family tradition.

Mass – Motion – Friction

COLUMBUS – Annunciation fifth graders, Amy Cancellare, Josalyn Lee and Jack Clemons, work to finish their unit on forces and motion. They did a lab to test how the mass of an object affects its motion. They started by forming hypotheses, measuring the mass of four different balls, completing a test of rolling each ball down a slide and timing its motion. They finalized the lab results by creating graphs and forming conclusions. Turns out, mass does affect motion, but friction can change your results! (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

109 and counting

CLARKSDALE – This year St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Clarksdale stepped it up a notch to celebrate their parish feast day. Father Raju Macherla invited Bishop Joseph Kopacz to join in on the celebration with Mass on Friday, Nov. 12. Reconciliation was held on Saturday, then a closing Mass with a thanksgiving meal was provided on Sunday, Nov. 14. Many families came to the event to reflect on the 109th anniversary of the parish. Pictured is Luke Agostinelli assisting Father Raju Macherla. (Photos by Derrick Faucheux)

Merry Christmas

MADISON – St. Francis of Assisi Nativity scene. (Photo by Sallie Ann Inman)
JACKSON – Holy Child Jesus Nativity scene. (Photo by Maria Jackson)

Mississippi Catholic

December 17

17 de diciembre

December 3

November 19

19 de noviembre

November 5

October 22

22 de octubre

October 8, 2021

September 24

24 de septembre

September 10

August 20

Back 2 school

20 de agosto

Bishop Joseph N. Latino in memoriam

July 16, 2021

16 de julio de 2021

June 18, 2021

18 de junio de 2021

May 28, 2021

28 de mayo de 2021

May 14, 2021

April 30, 2021

30 de abril de 2021

April 16, 2021

March 26, 2021

26 de marzo, 2021

March 12, 2021

February 26, 2021

26 de febrero de 2021

February 12, 2021

January 29, 2021

29 de enero de 2021

January 15, 2021

December 24, 2020

24 de diciembre de 2020

December 11, 2020

November 20, 2020

20 de noviembre de 2020

November 6, 2020

October 23, 2020

Espanol 23 de octubre de 2020

October 9, 2020

September 25, 2020

25 de septiembre de 2020

September 11, 2020

August 28, 2020

August 14, 2020


School sports

MERIDIAN – Fourth grader, Ayden Rush takes aim in the Knights of Columbus Annual Soccer Challenge. (Photo by Emily Thompson)
JACKSON – St. Richard fifth and sixth grader girls worked on their basketball skills on Saturday, Nov. 13 in the school gym. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

Feast time at St. Patrick parish

MERIDIAN – St. Patrick and St. Joseph parishes had a Thanksgiving feast on Sunday, Nov. 21. Mrs. Teresa LaBiche makes dessert recommendations to Anariah Rue and Scarlett Cayer. (Photos by Tereza Ma)
MERIDIAN – Molly Corbitt Miles has a great conversation with Bishop Joseph Kopacz during the Thanksgiving feast at St. Patrick parish on Nov. 21.

Don’t drop the chili!

GREENVILLE – Thomas Jones has a little fun while packing boxes for the annual food drive for St. Vincent de Paul. (Photo by Nikki Thompson)

Go forth and set the world on fire


Field trip fun

Let us give thanks

By Tereza Ma
MERIDIAN – Sunday, Nov. 21 was a special day for the parishes of St. Patrick and St. Joseph in Meridian. After two years the parishes were able to celebrate with their annual Thanksgiving feast and were joined by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, also celebrating the feast of Christ the King at Mass with Father Augustine Palimattam.

Parishioners were thankful for many things. Here are a few of their responses:
– Valeria Rangel is thankful for the Spanish and English speaking parishioners to get together as community. “Even though we have different Mass times, speak in different languages and have different cultures, it is wonderful to come together.”

– For Ken Woodward the dinner was a renewal of the community. “It leads us to Christ because we are the body of Christ. On this day as we honor him as King of Kings, what better way to do it than enjoying community with our brothers and sisters and enjoy a meal together.”

– Lucila Vargas, originally from Columbia, has been a member of St. Patrick for 46 years. She has enjoyed the tradition of the parish gathering to give thanks and enjoy a meal, as in her home country “they normally just go to church and give thanks to the Lord.”

– Dorethea Cole of St. Joseph parish loves the way that both parishes “get together as one Catholic community.”

– Tina Nadeau traveled 1,450 miles from South Dakota by motorcycle for the event to spend her mom’s birthday with her and enjoy Thanksgiving together with her mother and stepdad, who cooked for the parish feast. “It is so special to be here and give thanks.”

MERIDIAN – Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Father Augustine Palimattam celebrate Mass on Nov. 21 for Feast of Christ the King, prior to the huge Thanksgiving celebration for the St. Patrick and St. Joseph Catholic community. (Photos by Tereza Ma)
Father Augustine and Bishop Kopacz visit with parishioners before taking stroll to the parish center to enjoy the annual Thanksgiving meal.
Gerry Cober who prepared many delicious items on the menu, visits with parishioners to see how they are enjoying the meal. He had family come visit from South Dakota for the event and Thanksgiving.
Father Aaron Williams shared a laugh with parishioners during the feast.
Valeria Rantel with her mom and two siblings head into the community center to share thanks and a meal.

Trinity Missions celebrate centennial in Camden

By Berta Mexidor

CAMDEN – “There is no truer proof of a great love of God than a great love of our neighbor.” Father Thomas Judge, Founder of Trinity Missions

Hundreds of parishioners from four parishes gathered at Sacred Heart Camden to celebrate 100 years of Trinitarian Missions with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz and concelebrated by the Trinitarian priests, Fathers Mike Barth, general custodian of Trinity Missions, Odel Medina, Guy Wilson, Gustavo Amell, Raul Ventura, Alexis Zuniga Velasquez, Robert “Bob” Goodyear; in addition to Father Mike O’Brien of Sacred Heart Canton.

Bishop Kopacz recognized the Trinitarian’s servants’ deeds serving four Bishops before him, Bishops Gerow, Brunini, Houck and Latino, and thousands of Catholic Mississippians for more than 77 years. “We have the spirit of awe, for all what God has done for us … The Holy Spirit is flying above this assembly … because we are children of God. We have a spirit of hope and gratitude,” Bishop Kopacz said in his homily.

CAMDEN – On Nov. 13, the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity celebrated 100 years of their founding. The Trinitarian Missions have been a part of Mississippi history for 77 years. Pictured left to right: Father Guy Wilson, Father Mike Barth, Father Bob Goodyear, Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Father Odel Medina, Father Alexis Zuniga Velasques, Father Mike O’Brien and Father Gustavo Amell. (Photos by Berta Mexidor)

The apostolic Spirit, that Father Judge envisioned 100 years ago makes “missionary disciples offer the fire of God to all. This celebration is the first day of 100 more years,” Bishop Kopacz concluded.

At the end of the Mass, Father Mike Barth gave recognition plaques for their contribution to the Trinitarian Missions to representatives of Sacred Heart Camden, Holy Child Jesus Canton, St. Therese Kosciusko, St. Anne Carthage, Holy Rosary Indian Mission, Sister Mary Anne Poeschl, RSM and Bishop Kopacz. Father Barth also blessed the renovated cross in front of the Sacred Heart Camden Church; and Father Guy Wilson, ST created a ceramic necklace in memory of the centennial celebration for each attendee.

Foundation of the Trinitarians
It only takes a tiny spark from the Holy Spirit to ignite a fire that grows into something magnificent. And for the Trinitarians that spark grew into an institution that has helped millions of people over a 100-year period.

In this case, the Holy spark came in 1909 from six female volunteers in Brooklyn, who met with Father Thomas Judge to discuss their interest in assisting Catholic immigrants. They began an outreach program to visit homes and offer what help they could. This was the beginning of the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate (lay missionaries).

Father Judge, a son of Irish immigrants, arrived in Opelika, Alabama, an area with very few Catholics, in 1920. He then began forming lay groups or “cenacles.”

Due to their hard work and zeal for the salvation of souls, the Cenacle was then formally recognized by Bishop of Mobile, Edward Patrick Allen, in 1921.

Today, there are over 145 Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity in missions around the world, most within the United States.

Trinitarian history reaches back 77 years in Mississippi
History books recall that Trinitarians first came to Mississippi in 1944, represented by Father Andrew Lawrence, ST, taking responsibility of Immaculate Conception, and at that moment, its missions: Sacred Heart on Sulphur Springs Road near Camden and St. Anne in Carthage.

CAMDEN – Father Odel Medina stands among those gathering for Mass to celebrate the centennial of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity. (Photo by Berta Mexidor)

With the direction of Bishop R. O. Gerow, Father Lawrence started looking for a place to first build a church, then schools to follow, to improve the lives of local African Americans – this led to a place named Sulpher Springs.

According to Cleta Ellington’s 1989 book, Christ: The Living Water, Sulphur Springs was an extension of land that no one knew where it started, nor where it ended. But there was a Catholic church there, its roof collapsing under snow in 1923, and then rebuilt in Camden with the name of Immaculate Conception of Sulphur Springs around 1927, which then became the first church where Father Lawrence and the Trinitarians began their missions in Mississippi in 1944.

After the church, Father Lawrence and the Trinitarians founded the Sacred Heart Agricultural School in Sulphur Springs for African American youths. The school enrolled over 140 students at one point and was highly praised by the Mississippi Department of Education. Then sadly, the school was destroyed by fire and burned down in 1954.

In her book, Ellington also highlighted the struggles of the Trinitarians creating the Holy Child Jesus’ school in Canton, and how a little, non-Catholic Black girl named Bertha Bowman came to enroll in this school. Of course, this little girl grew up and became the first black Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration – Servant of God, Sister Thea Bowman.
In another amazing turn of the history of Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity in Mississippi, the small spark from the Holy Spirit back in 1909 ended up touching the Choctaw Reservation in Philadelphia beginning back in 1944.

From 1975 to 1990 and again from 2006 to the present, Father Robert “Bob” Goodyear, ST has served at the Holy Rosary Indian Mission in Philadelphia. Each Sunday he drives nearly 90 miles to three parishes to celebrate Mass for the Choctaw community. Recently, the work of Father Goodyear was highlighted nationwide when he was recognized as a finalist for the Catholic Extension Lumen Christi award.

In 2019, two Trinitarian priests were at the center of the aftermath of a massive raid against immigrants in Mississippi, Father Odel Medina, of St. Anne Carthage, was one of them. The support they received from volunteers and the whole community, along with their leadership hit the standards set by Fathers Judge and Lawrence years ago.

After almost 10 years in Mississippi, Father Odel has witnessed the growth of the Hispanic community in the state. He views the growth as fruits of the legacy of the Trinitarian founders, ”preserving the faith among immigrants.”

“Father Judge started with mainly the Italian immigrants, here in Mississippi. Hispanic immigrants [are] a new phenomenon and numbers are increasing … The future is going to a pluricultural church,” he said.

“This centenary is a jubilee,” said Father Odel. “I have been walking with all my parishioners, in good and bad times, but mainly with the most vulnerable, it has been a blessing for me.”

In one hundred years, the Trinitarians have accomplished more than just building schools and church buildings, they have touched millions of people from all different backgrounds, races and creeds.

(Joanna Puddister King contributed to this article.)

More than 4,200 allegations of clergy abuse reported, annual audit shows

Anyone who has been a victim of abuse or exploitation by clergy, religious or lay church personnel and has not yet reported it is encouraged to do so.

Our victim assistance coordinator, Erika Rojas, a licensed social worker, is available to assist in making a report. Please contact her at (601) 326-3760.
To report an allegation of abuse or mishandling of allegations of sexual abuse by a bishop, please visit

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON – More than 4,200 allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and others were reported during the year ending June 30, 2020, a slight decline from the previous auditing period, according to a report on diocesan and eparchial compliance wit the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

Released late Nov. 9, the 18th annual report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection stated that 3,924 child sexual abuse survivors filed 4,228 allegations.

In the 2019 report, covering the 2018-2019 audit period, 4,220 adults filed 4,434 allegations.

The charter was adopted in 2002 by the U.S. bishops following widespread reports of clergy abuse and has been revised several times since to adapt to changing situations surrounding the question of clergy sexual abuse of minors.

Conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester, New York, the new report covers the year from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

While the number of allegations remained high during the audit period, the report said only 22 allegations involve current cases of abuse.

The report said the number of allegations remained high in part because of changes in statutes of limitations on reporting abuse in several states. “It should be noted that the vast majority of these reports were historical in nature,” the report said.

The report attributed about 66% of allegations to lawsuits, compensation programs established by dioceses and other entities and bankruptcies. In addition, 1% of allegations emerged after a review of clergy personnel files, according to the report.

Of the 22 allegations for the current year, six were found to be substantiated. The report said they originated from five dioceses.

Of the remaining reported allegations, seven continued to be investigated, two were unsubstantiated, three were determined to be “unable to be proven,” and four were classified as “other.”

The report said nine of the allegations involved the use of child pornography. Seven of those cases remained under investigation, one was substantiated and one was referred to a provincial or a religious order.

The allegations involved 2,458 priests, 31 deacons and 282 unknown clerics, statistics in the report show.

The report indicated that 195 of 197 dioceses and eparchies participated in the audit. Auditors conducted 61 onsite visits with 10 in person before the pandemic erupted in early 2020. The other 51 were conducted online. Data also was collected from 135 other dioceses and eparchies.

The Syro-Malankara Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace of the United States and Canada and the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle of San Diego did not participate in the audit.

Of the 61 entities undergoing onsite audits, two dioceses and two eparchies were determined to be in noncompliance.
The dioceses of Fort Worth, Texas, and Helena, Montana, were noncompliant with charter’s requirement for not having their respective Diocesan Review Board meet during the audit period. Subsequent to the audit, the boards in each diocese were convened, making them compliant with the charter, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago and the Syriac Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance, which covers the United States and is based New Jersey, were found noncompliant with charter provisions that require background screening and training of adults working with minors.

The report also acknowledged the continuing work of church entities to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. The USCCB said that expenditures on protective services rose 15% in 2020 with more than 2.5 million background checks of adults and training in safety measures for 3.1 million children.

Suzanne Healy, who chairs the National Review Board, said that as the charter enters its third decade of implementation it becomes important to continue evaluating incidents of abuse as well as understand trends of abuse and why they change.

In a letter to Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB president, that accompanied the report, Healy said a board committee is examining the safe environment education programs for adults and children in dioceses throughout the country.

“The research is an attempt to determine which elements or combination of elements of these training programs is most effective in mitigating the occurrence of child abuse and ensuring that any suspicion of abuse is reported to authorities,” Healy wrote.

She also said the board recommended two procedures be added to the audit process and welcomed their edition for the 2020-2021 audit cycle. The first is “a three-year look-back window, which will eliminate any gaps that existed regarding the reporting of case resolution,” Healy said.

The second relates to onsite visits by StoneBridge that finds auditors meeting with all or most diocesan review board members rather than one or two individuals.

“The ministries of safe environments and victim assistance are here to stay. The protocols and procedures for letters of suitability, background checks, and safe environment training are the norm,” said Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

“By the grace of God, the church is working toward being accessible, accountable, and safe. We continue to rely on the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Our Mother to guide our efforts as we promise to protect and pledge to heal,” he wrote in a letter addressed to Archbishop Gomez and Healy that was included in the report.

In his preface to the report, Archbishop Gomez said: “As we know, one allegation of abuse is too many. But my brother bishops and I remain firmly committed to maintain our vigilance in protecting children and vulnerable adults and providing compassion and outreach to victim-survivors of abuse.”

Speaking for himself and the body of bishops, the archbishop expressed their “sorrow and apologies to every person who has suffered at the hands of someone in the church.”

“While we cannot give you back what has been taken from you,” Archbishop Gomez said, “we do commit ourselves to doing everything in our power to help you to heal and to fight the scourge of abuse in the church and in the wider society.”

Editor’s Note: The full annual report on compliance with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops can be found online at


Dinosaur takeover

COLUMBUS – Annunciation kindergarten students wrap up their unit on dinosaurs with a dinosaur parade up and down the school hallways. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

Garden delight

Red Ribbon Week

MERIDIAN – Fifth graders Jackson Spitzkeit and Helena Rutledge have their picture made by their teacher Lindi Palmer. This dress up day was a part of Red Ribbon Week – “Dress as your favorite book character – Good Character Counts!”(Photo by Emily Thompson)

Art: of Mass and of pumpkins

SOUTHAVEN – Izzy, Eli and Maddie with Bishop Joseph Kopacz during the recessional of Mass at Sacred Heart School on Monday, Oct. 18. (Photo by Sister Margaret Sue Broker)
MADISON – For St. Anthony’s annual pumpkin contest, third grader Madison McCullough put together Father Albeen Vatti and Kindergartener, Morgan McCullough made Msgr. Mike Flannery. (Photo by Amanda McCullough)

Exploring science

MERIDIAN – Fourth grader Jeremiah Mari presents his contraption to the judges of the Knights of Columbus Creative Contraptions Competition at St. Patrick School. Pictured left to right: Mark Hampton, Mouise Richards, Bob Leo, Jeremiah Mari and Tom Zettler. (Photo by courtesy of St. Patrick School)
COLUMBUS – Annunciation seventh grade student, Hollis Fenstermacher, participates in a “Melting Ice Lab” which is an inquiry-based activity that lets students explore the effects that melting ice has on the temperature of its surroundings. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

Year of the Eucharist invites harmony and solidarity

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Later this month on the Feast of Christ the King, the Diocese of Jackson will begin a Year of the Eucharist that is more than timely as we continue steadily to welcome back to Mass our Catholic faithful to take up their rightful place as members of the Body of Christ. We are not quite back to pre-pandemic numbers and vigor, but we have made significant strides. For active Catholics the sacrifice of the Mass is always the cornerstone for our faith in the crucified and risen Lord, and also at times the fertile ground for controversy in the modern era.

The first document of the Second Vatican council to be passed and presented to the Catholic world was Sacrosanctum Concilium by the near unanimous vote of 2174 to 4. This was Dec. 4, 1963, and in this document on the Sacred Liturgy that had priority of place among the eventual 16 documents of the Council, we read that the Council Fathers desired to “impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful and to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ.”

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

It’s not surprising that they and we look to the celebration of the Eucharist, the sacrifice of the Mass, to strengthen the bonds of unity that should always be a labor of love among the children of God, perhaps especially in our generation. Furthermore, the council fathers stated that “the liturgy, through which the work of our redemption is accomplished, most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true church.”

One of the well-known quotes of the Vatican Council came from this document. “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows.”

This power of God’s undying love first flowed in the water and blood from the broken body and pierced side of Jesus on the Cross. These were the headwaters of the sacramental life of the church, specifically Baptism and the Eucharist, that have become a mighty river flowing through time.

The one priesthood of Jesus Christ begun on the Cross, is given birth at every baptism, and made manifest in the gathering of the People of God at Mass in Word and in Sacrament. Through Baptism and Holy Orders, the two forms of the priesthood, laity and ordained, become one as the Body of Christ gathering around the tables of Word and Sacrament, the Body and Blood of the Lord. The eyes of faith give us the privilege of seeing and celebrating this unbreakable bond between heaven and earth, the most exalted unity that is possible in this world. We become one with the ascended Lord Jesus to give praise to God the Father, in order to better fulfill our mission of salvation, and to build up God’s Kingdom on Earth, a kingdom of life, justice and peace. Indeed, this is the font from which our power flows.

Is this upcoming “Year of the Eucharist” a good fit with the recently proclaimed world-wide process of the Synod on Synodality? We respond with an unqualified yes, knowing that the theme for the Synod is “Communion, Participation and Mission,” which is solidly Eucharistic in purpose and process. As in the Liturgy, we want the voices of our Catholic faithful to be raised in dialogue throughout the Synod process.

The following quotations from Sacrosanctum Concilium illuminate a clear path for us for the Synod to sow the seeds that will provide an abundant harvest. “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.” Likewise, we pray to approach the Synod as disciples of the Lord through fully conscious and active participation as a redeemed people seeking that unity for which Jesus ardently prays, allowing the Holy Spirit to bless and surprise us.

Finally, let us allow the dialogue and silence that are essential for our liturgical prayer as stated in the final quote from Sacrosanctum Concilium, resonate in our hearts and minds as we approach the Synod on Synodality.

“To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.”

Through voices raised in dialogue, attitudes shaped by prayer, and silence cultivated out of respect for one another, we will experience a deeper sense of communion, participation and mission. Perhaps, we will achieve a harmony and solidarity under the guidance of the Holy Spirit at the level of 2174 to 4.