Catholic Charities presents evening with Christian actor, producer

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Actor, producer and philanthropist Jim Caviezel knew when he accepted the role of Jesus in the Passion of the Christ, that his career would be impacted by the decision, but he wanted to use his life’s work to honor God. “My talent came from God, not from man,” he told Dave Cooper in an online interview for the show Christus Rex.
Caviezel is bringing his testimony to Jackson for an evening fundraiser for Catholic Charities on Friday, Sept. 7, at Thalia Mara Hall starting at 7:30 p.m.
Caviezel grew up in Washington State in a devout Catholic family. He first pursued a career in baseball until an injury sidelined him. He discovered acting instead.
In 1992 Caviezel landed a small role as an Italian ticket agent in Gus Van Sant’s My Private Idaho which earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award. To further his career Caviezel moved to Los Angeles in the early 1980’s and while making his round of auditions, Caviezel found small roles on popular TV shows Murder She Wrote, The Wonder Years and the CBS miniseries, Children of the Dust. Caviezel geared toward the big screen and accepted a role in Michael Ritchie’s drama Diggstown, followed by Lawrence Kasdan’s action film Wyatt Earp and in the action drama G.I Jane opposite actress Demi Moore.
Caviezel’s breakthrough role came in 1998 when he was casted in Terrence Malick’s Oscar nominated film The Thin Red Line, a dramatic adaption of a popular book about World War II alongside Sean Penn and Adrien Brody. Directors were drawn to Caviezel as he continuously demonstrated his powerful ability to fuse soulful introspection with physicality.
That generated quality and mainstream roles in films such as Ang Lee’s Civil War drama Ride with the Devil, Mimi Leders dramatic romance Pay it Forward and Luis Mandoki’s romantic thriller Angel Eyes. In 2002, Caviezel played the lead in an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo based on the classic novel by Alexander Dumas. His next two roles included High Crimes opposite Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman and in Robert Harmon’s crime thriller in film Highwaymen.
Caviezel was recognized for his intense preparations for film roles and his role as Jesus in Passion of the Christ earned him a Grace Award from the Movie Guide Awards for the Most Inspired Movie Acting. Next, Caviezel played the character of Bobby Jones in the biographical drama Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius. In 2006, Caviezel played opposite Denzel Washington in the sci-fi thriller Déjà vu. Caviezel’s role on the mini TV-series The Prisoner for six episodes allowed him to prepare for his biggest TV role. In 2012, Caviezel appeared in the drama thriller Transit, alongside James Frain and Elisabeth Rohm. Premiering in 2011 Caviezel starred as ex-CIA special operations agent Jon Reese in CBS’s critically lauded drama, Person of Interest for all five seasons.
His second spiritual role was in Paul, Apostle of Christ, which was released earlier this year. When he speaks he challenges his audiences. In the Christus Rex interview he asked the attendees to “set yourselves apart from this corrupt generation my brothers and sisters, you weren’t made to fit in, you were born to stand out,” but he also warned that being a Christian and seeking salvation takes work. “Everyone wants resurrection. No one wants suffering,” said Caviezel.
“For any person, Christian or fan of the Passion or Caviezel’s other films, they are in for a treat. We are even more excited to bring his message to people of all faiths and denominations,” said John Lunardini, COO of Catholic Charities. He said he hopes people of all denominations will attend this inspiring evening.
Sponsors and VIP ticket holders will have access to the pre-show Meet and Greet with Jim Caviezel. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster online and in person at the box office.
Ticket prices range from $100 to $25 and group discounts are available. For more information about tickets and sponsorships contact Julie O’Brien at 601-326-3758, e-mail: or visit

(Julie O’Brien contributed to this story.)

Hundreds of students “Rescued by Jesus” at Vacation Bible School

CLEVELAND – Our Lady of Victories used the “Shipwrecked and Rescued by Jesus” theme for their Vacation Bible School June 24-28 from 6-8 p.m. (Photos by Jenifer Jenkins)

CORINTH – St. James Parish hosted a Vacation Bible School during the last week of June. (Photos by Luis Rosales)


MADISON – Music played a big part in the St. Francis of Assisi Vacation Bible school, also using the “Shipwrecked and Rescued by Jesus” theme June 18-22. Every morning, students sang the theme song, “Never Let Go” to prepare for the parents’ program on the last day. Students got to make their own treasure chests, enjoyed beach-themed snacks and learned about Jesus’ love for them. (Photos by Eileen Dibble)


JACKSON – Boy Scout Troop 30 from Jackson St. Richard Parish presented flag at St. Dominic Hospital on Flag Day, Thursday, June 14. The troop also led a flad retirement ceremony at the St. Richard Fourth of July Celebration on Sunday, July 1, accepting flags from the community that needed to be disposed of respectfully. (Photo by Melisa Munoz)

St Richard Boy Scouts present flag at St. Dominic June 14

Bishop’s Ball honors St. Dominic leaders, offers dining, dancing, bidding

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – More than 300 Supporters of Catholic Charities of Jackson gathered at the Jackson Country Club on Saturday, June 9 for the Bishop’s Ball, a gala fund-raising event. In addition to a silent and live auction, attendees are treated to dinner, dancing and live music.
Catholic Charities uses the gathering to honor those who have made a lasting impact on the organization. This year, Claude Harbarger and Lester Diamond were recognized with the Good Samaritan Award. Harbarger is president of St. Dominic’s Health Services while Diamond is president of St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital Both men have been very supportive of the work and mission of Catholic Charities since they began working at the Catholic hospital, a ministry of the Dominican Sisters.
In another month, Catholic Charities will welcome film producer, actor and philanthropist Jim Caviezel to Thala Mara Hall in Jackson. Tickets available here.

Mississippi Knights of Columbus dedicate summer weekends to Carmelites

By Brett Kenyon
JACKSON – On Saturday, June 9, several dozen men of varying ages, backgrounds, skill levels, and from multiple Mississippi parishes gathered in South Jackson. Armed with chain saws, hammers and paint brushes the local representatives of the Knights of Columbus began tackling a mammoth project — restoring the South Jackson Carmelite Monastery to help the cloistered nuns in their mission.
The inspiration for the project began at Easter, when Father Lincoln Dall of Pearl St. Jude led a retreat for the sisters. “While I was out here, they told me there was a lot of help that they needed,” Father Lincoln explained. “They showed me a gazebo and a prayer hermitage that had been damaged maybe 10-12 years ago, and had just been abandoned. They told me how much they would like to have those up and running again.”

JACKSON – Members of several different Knights of Columbus Councils repair the gazebo on the property of the Carmelite monastery as part of a restoration project. (photos by Brett Kenyon)

That was the moment the Knights of Columbus entered the picture. As an organization originally founded to help widows and children, the project was a perfect fit for the Mississippi Knights, and the men quickly began putting together a plan under the organization of Knight Victor (Vic) Gray-Lewis of Jackson Saint Richard’s council.
“We’re just a group of Catholic men who love our Catholic faith,” Gray-Lewis said. “We’re just worker bees. We’re worker bees and that’s what we’re here doing today.”
The first weekend of work tackled two primary goals — restoring the grounds by removing years of overgrowth from the monastery walls and paths, and restoring the sisters’ gazebo to a safer, sturdier state. The purpose of the work goes well beyond aesthetics, however, as well-maintained grounds are a vital part of the sisters’ mission.
“The Carmelites are a cloistered order of nuns,” explains Father Lincoln, “their primary charism is to pray; to pray for the area and be a presence of God in a special way to the city of Jackson. They run a gift shop to earn a living and to cover expenses, but their primary purpose is to be contemplative and to pray.”
The thick trees and brush covering the monastery walls and encroaching on the sisters’ walking path has been all but removed. The shingles and broken screens have been removed from the gazebo and fresh paint and tar paper have been applied. There’s still plenty of work left to do. The Knights have returned twice now since the initial June 9 project, and they plan to keep coming back.
“The hope is, we’d like to take this project and make it a monthly effort,” Gray-Lewis explained. “If each council could take a month to work on maintenance, something minor just to help out the sisters here. We could do a monthly rotation or maybe even a bi-monthly rotation.”
To volunteer, email Father Lincoln Dall at or Victor Gray-Lewis at
(Brett Kenyon is a member of Jacskon St Richard Parish and serves as the Creative Services Director for 16 WAPT in Jackson.).

Diocese welcomes two priests, two deacons

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – The Diocese of Jackson ordained four men this spring, two as transitional deacons and two as priests.
People were standing in every available nook and cranny of the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle on the Feast of the Visitation, Thursday, May 31, to witness the ordination of Nick Adam and Aaron Williams to the priesthood.
The men come from very different backgrounds, but both answered yes to the call to serve their church. Father Adam’s family moved around. He is the youngest of eight and had already started a career in broadcasting when he first even considered the priesthood. Father Williams has one brother, has lived in Jackson his whole life and started serving at the altar at age five in hopes to get where he is today.
Family, however, played a huge role in the lives of both men. At the end of his first Mass, Father Williams invited his nieces, Ava and Hadley to place a bouquet of flowers at the feet of the statue of Mary. He then presented his mother with the cloth he had used the night before to clean the oil of Chrism off his hands, explaining to the congregation a tradition that calls for Julia Williams to keep the cloth so she can be buried with it wrapped around her own hands — a symbol of thanksgiving for the gift of her son to the church. In fact, Father Williams had a scripture verse embroidered onto it before his ordination so he could present it as a personal gift.
Nicki Michaud taught Father Williams when he was a boy at the cathedral. “It’s just amazing. He was such an awesome little boy and he questioned everything. He was a bit rowdy from time to time, but he would come and visit me even when I wasn’t his teacher anymore.” She spoke of his great love for music and the organ.
In addition to his theology studies, Father Williams is pursuing a degree in liturgy. “I think a lot of people are searching for the sacred and I think you can draw people into that sacred moment visually and through hearing and participating in the liturgy – (Father) Aaron has a great gift for that,” said diocesan Chancellor and friend Mary Woodward
Father Adam’s seven siblings and nine of their twelve children filled several pews in the cathedral for ordination and then at St. Richard for Father Adam’s first Mass. Infants, toddlers and big kids beamed as they watched their uncle profess his solemn vows.
Some of the students and families from St. Richard School, where Father Adam served his diaconate year and where he will serve as parochial vicar, attended the ordination as well.
Cy Steven, who will move up from St. Richard to Madison St. Joseph School this fall, attended the ordination with his family. He and his sister Ava Kathryn were altar servers for Father Adam’s first Mass.
“Father Nick is always laughing and smiling and I love to talk to him. He asked me to altar serve at his first Mass. I was excited that he was about to become a priest and I had a birthday on May 30th so I asked my mom if she would take me to the ordination for my birthday. It was really long but it was really worth it”
(Editor’s note: See personality profiles of the new priests on pages 10-11.)

Q&A: Father Aaron Williams

Top left, Father Aaron Williams waits to be called by name at his ordination Mass. At right, Father Williams with his neices, Hadley and Eva Williams. At bottom left, Father Williams celebrates his first Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. (Photos by Maureen Smith and Tereza Ma)

Father Aaron Williams is a Jackson native who knew from his earliest memories that he wanted to be a priest. Chancellor Mary Woodward, who watched Father Williams grow up, allowed him to serve at a very young age. His family jokes that this was a way to make him sit still during Mass. He has one older brother, Matthew, and sister-in-law Marie, who have two girls, Ava and Hadley.
In addition to loving the liturgy, Father Williams is a life-long learner. “I attended St. Therese Catholic School for a few years and finished at St. Richard Catholic School. I did middle and high school at St. Joseph in Madison. After graduating from high school, I entered St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, Louisiana, where I earned a B.A. in Philosophy. From there I entered Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, where I earned an Masters in Divinity. I will complete the course requirements this summer to also earn a M.A. in Liturgical Studies from the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein, Illinois,” he said.
Father Williams will share his love of learning with the students at Greenville St. Joseph School, where he will teach fifth and sixth grade this fall as well as serving as parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish.
Father Williams’ mother, Julia is a long-time employee of the diocese, having worked at Madison St. Joseph School, the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle and now as the Human Resources coordinator for the Diocese of Jackson.

Home parish: The Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle
Favorite Saints and why?
Saint Philip Neri. He is a model of priestly zeal and joy. He was known both for his deep devotion to the Lord, but also the levity by which he handled himself. He was fiercely devoted to his friends, and sought to grow in love with the Lord by forming communities of other devoted persons around him who could work together in fraternity to spread the gospel message and offer fitting worship to God.
Do you have a favorite devotion, religious image or prayer and why?
I have a great love for the Divine Office. There are certain texts which pop up each year that I look forward to hearing again and again. My favorite prayer is the Suscipe of Saint Ignatius of Loyola — it entrusts the whole will to the Lord, confident that He will take care of us, and requests His grace as our only benefit. 

Who vested you at ordination and why?
Father Jeffrey Waldrep. He was my pastor when I entered seminary and provided me great help and encouragement in making that step.

Do you have any hobbies?
I am an organist and composer. I also enjoy reading theology and research, though I occasionally read or listen to a fictional book. Apart from that, I am a cyclist when time permits it and enjoy going out to see new movies.
In what parishes have you served?
St. Francis in Brookhaven, St. Mary’s in Yazoo and All Saints in Belzoni, St. Jude in Pearl, and St. Patrick and St. Joseph in Meridian.
Can you tell me a little about your vocation story ?
I’ve always wanted to be a priest. I began serving at the Cathedral when I was very young and began to love the Mass. This love was encouraged by my parents, pastors, members of the Cathedral, and my school teachers. Eventually I applied to the seminary in my senior year of high school.
Can you share something about yourself people may not know?
My first year at Notre Dame Seminary I published a volume containing English adaptations of the Gregorian Chants used for Vespers (Evening Prayer) on Sundays and Feasts during the academic year. It is the only book of it’s kind currently in existence. I have received multiple requests from religious communities and houses to finish the text to include the full liturgical year, but I have been unable to make time to respond to these requests.
What advice do you have for those discerning a vocation?
My generation has a tendency to see discernment (or all life decisions) as a sort of all-or-nothing consideration—one choice necessitates the closing of all other pathways. But, a true discernment is not a negative choice. We choose a certain path out of love for that life, and ultimately out of love for the Lord. Certainly there will be difficulties along the way, but love is powerful enough to drive us on despite the apparent sacrifices which will need to be made. But, we need not immediately consider all those sacrifices—they will come in time. Discernment in the present moment means to follow the movements of the heart, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. He will guide us into all truth, and we have no need to fear following Him wherever He leads.

Is there one part of priesthood in particular you are looking forward to?
I am looking forward to celebrating the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and hearing confessions.
What are you looking forward to about your first parish assignment?
I have a great love of teaching and sharing the faith. My assignment in Greenville will have me directly teaching in the elementary school and continually present in the high school.

Q&A: Father Nick Adam

Far Left, Father Nick Adam thanks those who attended his first Mass at Jackson St. Richard. Center, Father Adam with nine of his 12 neices and nephews after Mass. At right, Father Adam blesses Cy Steven, who was an altar server for the first Mass. (Photos by Maureen Smith and Julie Bordes)

“I am the youngest of eight children, so certainly attending lots of weddings and welcoming many in-laws has been a staple of the Adam family. So has welcoming a lot of nieces and nephews. I am so lucky to have 12 happy nieces and nephews running around,” he said.
His family moved to Elberta, Ala., along the Gulf Coast, when he was 10.
“I was a student at St. Benedict School (4th-8th grade). My mother was my principal during this time. Since we lived so close to the state line the closest Catholic high school was in Pensacola, Florida, so I attended Pensacola Catholic High School. After high school I was sure I wanted to be a sports broadcaster, so I enrolled at the University of Alabama and studied broadcast journalism. I graduated in 2008 and moved to Meridian to work at WTOK – TV.”
While he was in Meridian he began to discern a call to the priesthood. He got support while he discerned from then pastor Father Frank Cosgrove.
Nick’s siblings filled several pews at both his ordination and first Mass, a Mass he celebrated for his mother. “My mother, Claudia, died in 2014 after a long bout with cancer. I remain filled with gratitude for the support that was given to my family by the Church of Jackson during that time. Especially significant was when St. Patrick and St. Joseph in Meridian sent a bus down to Alabama full of parishioners to pray for my mother at the funeral. I learned a ton from my mother, and I believe that this is the culmination of a really awesome plan that God had for me that my mom helped me to see.”

Home parish:
St. Patrick/St. Joseph (Meridian) 

Favorite Saints and why?
St. Peter is always a go-to because of his courageous imperfection. He is so willing to put himself out there, and yet we also have so many examples of his own mistakes. I also love St. Paul for his untiring boldness. He gets knocked down again and again and again and just goes back to preach the truth no matter the cost. 

Do you have a favorite devotion, religious image or prayer and why?
Having been formed at a seminary called Notre Dame, it is hard to go with any devotion other than one to Our Lady. For the last four years we have ended community prayer with the Marian hymn tota pulchra es (you are all beautiful, Mary). This has become a source of great love and devotion for me.

Who vested you at ordination and why?
Father Frank Cosgrove will vest me at my ordination. He is not only the first person to talk to me about priesthood, but he has also become a very trusted friend and reliable support for me during my discernment and will continue to be a great friend and support as I enter priestly life.

Do you have any hobbies?
I love to play basketball, I am trying to love to golf. I love to talk about sports, to listen to people talk about sports, and to watch sports and then talk about them. I also love any movie that is clever, and can entertain you and make you think about something deeper without resorting to cheap effects or immoral shock value. I love a good book, though it takes me a while to get rolling on them! 

In what parishes have you served?
I have served at St. Jude (Pearl), St. Alphonsus (McComb), St. Dominic Hospital (Jackson), and St. Richard (Jackson).
Can you tell me a little about your vocation story?
So yes, about the call and all that! Ok so I had stopped going to Mass while I was in college, and didn’t go to Mass for a while after moving to Mississippi. In 2009 I finally darkened the doorstep of St. Patrick in Meridian. At that Mass I felt an unmistakeable call to something greater, or perhaps more accurately, deeper. I “felt” God calling me, but I didn’t know what he was calling me to. Father Frank Cosgrove helped me immensely during this time to discern the desire that I was experiencing. Eventually it became clear that I needed to check out the seminary, but this took a while to figure out since I had never heard of a seminary before!
My time in seminary has been a gift. I began my formation at St. Joseph Seminary College near Covington, Louisiana where I was educated by the Benedictine monks in philosophy and much much more. Then I moved to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans for four years of theological studies. The best thing about the seminary is the fraternity. I was able to learn and live with men who loved God and who wanted to live a life of virtue. Some of those men left formation before being ordained, many are being ordained this summer along with men, and all of us have been made better by the experience.
Along with Father Frank, I am grateful to all the priests who serve on the faculties of both seminaries, as well as the lay professors. I learned so much about living a life of holiness just by witnessing their example. I am especially grateful to Father Jim Wehner, Rector of Notre Dame, whose tireless leadership and spiritual fatherhood was an incredible source of life to me during my time in New Orleans.
Can you share something about yourself people may not know?
I was behind the camera of a viral video that gets shared on YouTube every football season. I interviewed a student at the University of Alabama for a story I was working on about the rivalry between Alabama and Tennessee. This guy really didn’t like Tennessee, like, really. He goes on for about two minutes about all the things that are wrong with the UT football team, and all the Alabama fans love to watch it every year. actually tracked us both down a year ago to do a “where are they now,” and it was funny because I was in my collar! Ha!
What advice do you have for those discerning a vocation?
Spend time in prayer, and spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and when the Lord is really working on you, speak to someone you trust about the way God is working in your life.

Is there one part of priesthood in particular you are looking forward to?
Hearing confessions intimidates me, humbles me, but is also something that I looking forward to. The Sacrament of Penance has been such a source of life to me that I am excited about celebrating that sacrament for others.
What are you looking forward to about your first parish assignment?
The first full day. Yes, I am looking forward to my ordination, my first Mass, etc., but I really am excited about the first full day in the office, starting with celebrating Mass, then responding to whatever is happening on that day. I have realized that life is not about one moment, but it is about constantly coming closer to the Lord through each and every choice you make each and every day, and so I am looking forward to the first full day in the office, the first full day of living as a priest in the parish.

Graduating students

MERIDIAN –The Catholic ommunities of St. Patrick and St. Joseph honored 14 graduates at the annual Baccalaureate Mass on Sunday, May 6. Each graduate received a Catholic Bible, a personal note and they along with their families were treated to lunch afterwards in the St. Patrick Family Life Center. (Photo by John Harwell)

COLUMBUS - Annunication staff join the rest of the student body to wave good-bye to the eighth graders as they leave campus on the last day of school, Thursday, May 24th. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

JACKSON – At left, Deacon Nick Adam shakes Gracie Hamilton’s hand at the St. Richard sixth grade recognition Mass on Friday, May 25. Teacher Sarah Sistrunk looks on. (Photo by Dave Vowell)

NATCHEZ – Holy Family Kindergarten graduate Robert Terrell leading the graduates in the pledge of Allegiance before their ceremony. (Photo by Valencia Hall)

MADISON – Graduating St. Anthony sixth-grader JJ Tice receives congratulations from principal James Bell at the St. Anthony Mass to honor outgoing students held at St. Francis of Assisi Church. (Photo by Dave Vowell)

NATCHEZ – Cathedral Principal Norm Yvon sings to seniors before they walk the halls in their caps and gowns. During this tradition, students from pre-k through high school line the halls to cheer for the graduating students. (Photo by Cara Serio)