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MADISON – St. Anthony kindergarten students prayerfully gather around the advent wreath during morning Prayer and Pledge. Pictured from left: Mae McDaniel, Ellison Cole, Emma Kassinger, Seth D’Mello, Caroline Hammett, Kaitlyn Rottman, Lucy Sanders and Olivia Howell. (Photo by Keri Dare)
(First pic) Second grade St. Anthony students created volcanos in conjunction with their classroom lessons. Addy Griffin is filled with excitement as her volcano erupts. (Photo by Kati Loyacono)
By Joanna Puddister King
PEARL – During the COVID-19 crisis, parishes have had to get creative to keep doing the things they did pre-COVID and St. Jude parish in Pearl is no exception.
Tucked in the city of Pearl Pine Park subdivision, St. Jude parish has found great success holding drive-in Mass on Saturdays and Sundays.
“The idea for a drive-in Mass was thrown around by staff as a joke in the early spring as we discussed plans to resume the celebration of public Mass,” said Rhonda Bowden, director of liturgy and pastoral care at St. Jude. But the parish quickly figured out that they would not be able to accommodate the number of parishioners they normally expected at Mass.
“With a drive-in Mass, we could increase the number of congregants by 50% over in-church Mass. We felt like we had to give it a try,” said Bowden.
As for a drive-in set up, that is where things got interesting. A few years ago, a parishioner donated an old mobile home to the parish to refurbish into a Mardi Gras float. “The exterior was painted Mardi Gras green. It rolled through downtown Brandon this past February on its inaugural parade route,” said Bowden.
After trying to conduct drive-in Mass from the porch of the rectory the parish decided to try the float with the Mardi Gras decorations removed, of course, and it worked so well that it became the platform for Mass.
“One parishioner with telecommunication experience setup mics, a mixer and a transmitter that didn’t require FCC licensing. Another parishioner added an awning over the midsection of the trailer for protection from the sun and rain,” said Bowden.
The help didn’t end there. Another parishioner built steps and a handrail and a portable sacristy was set up with altar linens, sacred vessels, the Roman Missal and other items normally used at Mass.
“Through the experience of the past six months we have added a few other items to our portable sacristy that you won’t find in a church sacristy such as wasp spray, extra masks, traffic control flags and safety vests,” Bowden elaborated.
Having Mass outdoors also brings comedic challenges, parishioner Cathy Haden shared. “One Sunday … as [Father Lincoln Dall] was giving his homily, his cat … wanted his attention.”
After meowing loudly up on the outdoor platform and being removed a few times, the cat jumped in Father Lincoln’s lap, Haden recalled fondly.
It definitely takes more time and effort to pull everything together for a drive-in Mass but parishioners, like Hayden have grown to appreciate the change.
At first, she was resistant to even try drive-in Mass, but through the encouragement of other friends who “loved it,” Haden gave it a try.
“The first couple of times I went, I admit I wasn’t crazy about it. But … I grew to love it as much as my friends did.”
Hayden said that the changes the church has had to make to allow parishioners to attend Mass more safely “have been stressful … but I have found our own attitude has a lot to do with what we get out of it.”
Over the summer, faith formation coordinator Stacy Wolf utilized the parish drive-in setup for Vacation Bible School.
“I took the ideas for an in-person Sunday School series about King David and adapted them to fit a drive-in format,” said Wolf.
“It brought so much joy to look out and see the families singing … in their cars. My husband, Michael took great pride in coming up with voices for the Bible stories. … My son, Owen, was a huge help with passing out our bags filled with snacks and at home activities for the week,” said Wolf. “It was a lot of work, but something I don’t think I will ever forget. Such special and sweet memories.”
Attending drive-in Mass at St. Jude is simple. Congregants stop at the check-in station at the entrance of the parking lot. There they receive the bulletin and any handouts. They are then directed to a parking spot by the ushers. Once settled, they tune their radio to FM 101.1 to hear and participate in Mass. At communion time, congregants are asked to put on a facemask and sanitize their hands. They are directed to get out of their cars if they can. The ministers of communion come to each car to distribute the Precious Body of Christ. After receiving communion, attendees get back in their vehicles. When Mass is over, the ushers direct traffic out of the parking lot quickly and smoothly.
Bowden says, “The drive-in Mass format has been well accepted here at St. Jude. While I certainly miss the liturgical beauty of Mass in the church, it is sacrifice that I’m willing to make so that others can attend Mass. We have a great number of our older parishioners and those with underlying illnesses that come to the drive-in Masses that could not come to Mass indoors. It is also a good option for families with small children and those people that have a difficult time wearing a face mask for long periods of time. We have had quite a few regular visitors from other parishes that state they do not feel comfortable inside with others for more than a few minutes. Certainly, being surrounded by God’s own creations of nature adds beauty to the drive-in Mass, too.”
As an added bonus to the seasons, the St. Jude staff also try to decorate the trailer for the liturgical and calendar seasons. For Pentecost, the green sidewalls were covered with red tablecloths. During the fall, they put bales of hay, pumpkins, gourds and potted fall flowers. Recently, the trailer got a coat of purple paint for Advent and an Advent wreath.
Right now, with the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases, all of the weekend Masses at St. Jude are conducted in drive-in fashion. Bowden invites anyone that is interested in coming to a drive-in Mass at St. Jude to join them at 4 p.m. on Saturdays, 8 a.m., 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. (Spanish) on Sundays. Just be sure to register by going to this link: https://signup.com/go/vyZbHGK.
(Photos by Rhonda Bowden, Tereza Ma contributed to this story.)
By William Moore Daily Journal
VARDAMAN – Catholic Charities provided around 100 Thanksgiving dinners Thursday evening to migrant workers in Calhoun County.
For organizer Danna Johnson, it was much more than just giving away food.
“The beauty of this is how we can integrate a multicultural community through food,” Johnson said. “We wanted to make sure it was a traditional Southern meal – no beans, no tortillas.
“For many of the workers, it might be the first time they have ever eaten turkey.”
The event started last year when the group served meals to around 40 workers at the downtown Vardaman location and sent out another 15 meals. It was a way for several cultures to come together. A migrant worker said grace before the meal. A board member shared the story of Thanksgiving and the reasons behind the traditions of turkey and dressing.
Officials hoped the second year would be even bigger, but then the pandemic hit and forced this year’s event to become carry-out only.
To make sure as many of the workers as possible knew about the event, Johnson enlisted the help of Paola Diaz to get the word out. Diaz works for a company that brings the migrant workers in from Mexico, processes the immigration paperwork and allocates the workers to the various farms around the area.
“I work in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, and I love this place,” Diaz said.
Since she deals directly with the workers, Diaz was an integral part of getting the word out. She not only knew the rural county roads where the workers live, she was the ticket in the door.
“These people don’t go out much and avoid a lot of new places and new people,” Johnson said. “They are not used to coming to places they don’t know. If I went to the door by myself, they wouldn’t answer the door. When I showed up with Paola, we were welcomed in.”
So, the two women spent the last couple of weeks riding around county roads, letting the workers know that a special meal would be waiting for them, if they wanted it.
“The goal was to show them hospitality and many of the workers were actually working until noon today,” Diaz said.
Heidi Stephens, a retired teacher who helps with the Catholic Charities after school tutoring program, said they worked for several weeks to organize the event. Two local churches prepared the food.
“Last year, St. Christopher in Pontotoc did the food,” Stephens said. “This year, St. Christopher and St. James in Tupelo took care of the food.”
Some of the items were purchased while three different groups at the Tupelo church did the bulk of the cooking, including three men from the Knights of Columbus who cooked the turkeys.
While the meal is prepared by Catholic Services and most of the migrant workers are Catholic, the meal is not a religious event or church service.
“They don’t have time to go (to regular church services),” Johnson said. “They work every day when the crop is coming in, even Sundays and holidays.”
The event does help to introduce the workers to the church, but officials wanted to make it more about hospitality, with thanks to God present, but in the background.
“It’s a ministry of presence, we are not looking for recruits,” Stephens said. “It is good for the community to see an ecumenical project take off.”
(This story was reprinted with permission of the Daily Journal. Follow the author on Twitter @WilliamMoore_DJ, photos by Thomas Wells)
By Julia Williams
JACKSON – The Catholic Diocese of Jackson is once again partnering with #iGiveCatholic, kicking off the charitable season by bringing together the Catholic community to ‘give thanks and give back.’
iGiveCatholic provides a unique opportunity to support the organizations that shape our souls and make a positive impact … our parishes, schools and nonprofit ministries. In 2019, the #iGiveCatholic campaign raised more than $7.4 million from over 29,530 donors. Since its inception in 2015, almost $20 million has been raised through #iGiveCatholic.
Declared “the most successful Catholic crowdfunding event to date” by the National Catholic Register, #iGiveCatholic was originally meant to counter the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The ‘Annual Day of Giving’ is known as #GivingTuesday and is a ‘global’ day of giving back. This year’s initiative will include organizations under the umbrella of 40 Catholic Dioceses across the nation.
iGiveCatholic’s #GivingTuesday will run from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 1, with the Advance Giving Day phase beginning on Nov. 16 through Nov. 30th.
Visit www.igivecatholic.org to participate in #iGiveCatholic by making a secure online donation (minimum gift of $25) to your favorite organization or cause on #GivingTuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. Offline gifts in any amount are welcome and appreciated and may be sent directly to the participating organizations.
Mark your calendar and Save the Date! Your gift makes a difference.
Join Catholics around the World … ‘Give Thanks, Give Back and Give Catholic!’
Editor’s note: On July 24, 1990, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States designated November as Black Catholic History Month to celebrate the long history and proud heritage of Black Catholics. In this edition, find articles and columns highlighting the rich history of the African presense in the church and a racial justice report from the diocese department of faith formation. Additionally, we will be beginning a series “From the archives” that will highlight Black History in our diocese, among other intriquing subjects. Black Catholic History is truly a gift.
By Richard Lane
DETROIT – Transference of something from one place to another, or the movement of one thing to another. That is the medical definition of the word ‘gift’; an “action” or redirection of someone or something. A “gift” is also a relocation of a tendon due to a trauma or suffering, from one area to an infected area, for healing or strengthening of the weakened or affected muscle.
Imagine waking up one morning as a 7-year-old child. You are happy and carefree, excited to learn more about the wonderful world you have been blessed to be born into. Your loving family cares about you and protects you unconditionally. Out of nowhere, though, someone comes and not only takes you away, but sells you into slavery at least seven times. You were given a name whose meaning is “favored/blessed/lucky.” You were forced to walk barefoot for more than 600 miles. Your innocence is stolen from you; your safety taken from you; your dignity taken from you; your childhood, your womanhood, your life stolen — and you have no idea why or how this happened. Yet your life and those after you would have a deleterious effect forever, yet you are considered to be a gift, a blessing, you are considered favored by God, but how do you understand as a mere child?
You later understand that your trauma is due to the color of your skin, which others have maimed, mutilated and tortured for reasons beyond your adolescent comprehension. Taken to a foreign land to people you have never seen, given foods you have never eaten and assigned a life you never knew existed, you are a “gift” or “blessing” to others. This is the story of one Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese Catholic saint of our church. Amid her suffering and pain, Bakhita (which means “blessing/lucky/favor” in her native tongue) saw the gift that was meant for her. She saw and encountered a transference from pain to power; from brutality to blessing; from slavery to salvation. She encountered Jesus within the Catholic Church. I ask you: Do you know the gift?
In 1854, a child was born into slavery in Missouri. He was baptized and raised Catholic and at an early age encountered the “gift” that was before him in his Catholic faith. He desired not only to follow this gift but to become a “gift” to God by giving his life to the sacrament of holy orders as a priest, but he was not allowed to enter the seminary because of the color of his skin. Imagine the disappointment, hurt and pain of not being able to give your life to God totally just because of your race.
Eventually sent to seminary in Rome and ordained a priest, he thought he would be sent as a missionary priest to Africa (due to the color of his skin), but was sent back to pastor a Black Catholic congregation in Quincy, Ill., where he would be known in derogatory terms using the n-word. Father Augustus Tolton became the first “gift” to the Black Catholic Church by being the first African American (Black) priest ordained for (not in) the United States. Father Tolton saw and encountered a transference from failure to freedom; from denial to destiny; from slavery to spirituality. Do you know the gift?
In the fourth century AD, a man was terminated from his job as an official within the Egyptian government for being a thief and murderer. He gathered a group of 75 men who pillaged, plundered, robbed and raped throughout the Egyptian desert. This man was the biggest and baddest, the most imposing, figure of the time.
Upon coming to a monastery in the desert, he was approached by the abbot and later converted to Christianity. It took time for this marauder to come to grips with his true gift. He was able to convert the 75 criminals to join the monastery and they also became monks, yet he was not satisfied with his personal efforts. He was conflicted by his past and his present, not understanding why he was chosen, why he was considered a gift. Early one morning, a man named Isidore took him to a mountain and they sat and watched the sunrise. Isidore told him “just as it takes time for the rays of the light to break through the darkness, slowly does it take time for you to understand perfection in contemplation.” St. Moses the Black saw and encountered a transference from rape to repentance; from crime to contemplation; from murder to mystagogia. Do you know the gift?
There has been a long, deep and rich history of African and African American influence in the Catholic Church. A Black presence in the Bible has been hidden and stolen from Christianity and it has only been since the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council that the church has not only identified this great gift but encouraged its celebration. From Ham, to Hagar, Cyprian to the Ethiopian eunuch, Pope Victor I to Pope Melchiades, Pope Gelasius (three Black popes) to Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, the Black heritage in the Catholic Church has been concealed. This kept Blacks, especially slaves, from knowing their history, their lineage, and their importance within the Eurocentric Catholic Christian tradition.
From not allowing Blacks education, learning to read or even being considered as humans, this nation and our church were complicit in the abomination of slavery. Catholic slave owners were given permission by bishops to own slaves; in some cases, even local ordinaries owned slaves, to build their churches, forced labor for economic gains within certain dioceses. Catholic slave owners were mandated, if they owned slaves, to take them to church and allow them to “witness” Mass, but, in some instances, baptized Catholic Black slaves were denied the Eucharist due to the pigment of their skin.
In 1990, the Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States saw a need for a new encounter and transference of the gift of Blacks for the church as a whole, and thus began the annual celebration of Black Catholic History Month. This month is set aside to specifically celebrate and teach the rich, deep history and contributions Blacks, those persons “of color,” and their allies have made to significantly impact the church as a whole: St. Katharine Drexel, St. Peter Claver, St. Martin de Porres, St. Maurice, St. Benedict the Moor, Sister Thea Bowman and Daniel Rudd, to name just a few.
In his address given to the Black Catholic Leadership in the United States at the Superdome in New Orleans, La., in 1987, Pope St. John Paul II spoke of the “rich cultural gifts” brought to the Catholic Church in the United States by almost 3 million Black Catholics:
“Dear brothers and sisters: your black cultural heritage enriches the church and makes her witness of universality more complete. In a real way the church needs you, just as you need the church, for you are part of the church and the church is part of you. As you continue to place this heritage at the service of the whole church for the spread of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit himself will continue through you his work of evangelization.”
The Black culture brings the richness of her movement, music, sounds and smells, shouts and screams, preaching and praise. It is the 150th Psalm exegetically and hermeneutically brought to life within the sacred liturgy; praising God in His Sanctuary; Praise for His acts of power and surpassing greatness; praising with sounds of musical instruments and liturgical dance. We see the ebbs and flows of an oppressed and enslaved peoples, brought free from bondages and slavery; free to worship; free to celebrate its liberation and deliverance from a systemic tyranny and oppression.
The muscle of once proud and rich peoples, weakened and traumatically ripped away from their homes, lives, culture and almost their own existence, encounter a transference, a great gift … a gift by the Living God, who when encountered, provides not only a transference but a rich culture of the faith of a people, bound together by the sinews of their hopes and faith in the Promise of a God that assures His Gift of eternal salvation. Do you know the Gift?
(Richard Lane is an international Catholic speaker and founder of Richard Lane Ministries. His article appeared in the November 2020 issue of CatholicTV Monthly (Vol. 16, No. 1) and was reprinted with permission. Visit www.catholictv.org.)
Editor’s note: National Vocation Awareness Week, celebrated Nov. 1-7, 2020 is an annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations. This edition is dedicated to those “hearing the call.” Please read about all of our seminarians on pages 8 and 9; and keep them in your prayers.
By Joe Lee
MADISON – Father Nick Adam, who moved into the role of Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Jackson in early 2020, offers an interesting take on how he viewed studying for the priesthood before beginning his seminarian journey over a decade ago.
“I always thought seminary training looked like something from a movie: a bunch of sad-looking men marching in formation or falling to their knees constantly,” Father Adam said. “Really, it is a vibrant community of believers who are seeking to live their faith in a way that is joyful and life-giving.”
Recently a parish priest at St. Richard of Jackson, Father Adam’s sole focus is now on cultivating more vocations among Catholics in Mississippi. The Homegrown Harvest Gala and Fundraiser took place for the first time in October and, with the help of a $25,000 matching grant from the Catholic Extension Society, brought in $100,000 to support seminarian tuition costs.
“The live-streamed event featured videos I produced while visiting our seminarians and included a keynote presentation from Rev. James Wehner, rector of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans,” Father Adam said. “Priests from India, Ireland (and many other countries) have served us so well, and I believe the best way to thank them is to produce an abundance of ‘homegrown’ vocations.”
At present, six seminarians are studying to be priests for the Diocese of Jackson. Their hometowns include the Mississippi cities of West Point, Brandon, and Philadelphia, and Father Adam says he’s ‘in the thick’ of the recruiting season – though he’s hardly knocking on doors asking for donations.
“With this large fundraiser in the books, I am moving toward more personal interaction with men who are wrestling with the Lord’s plan for them,” Father Adam said. “I am taking small groups of these ‘discerners’ to the seminary so they can see what studying for the priesthood really looks like. These personal tours are my best way to encourage men to ‘be not afraid’ and to courageously discern the priesthood.”
“Father Nick had a great seminarian experience and has a great love for formation,” said Bishop Joseph Kopacz. “He wants to stir the flame in those who aspire to the priesthood. His is an integrated position: vocations director, and director of seminarians. He is unleashed in vocation ministry, a ministry that needs someone like him, and I saw the love he had for it.”
“He talks with the seminarians regularly – right now they’re Zooming – and will accompany them on their journey. I’m excited about him serving full-time in this ministry. When folks are interested in marriage, he won’t take it personally and will go on planting seeds. Ninety percent of his energy is in relationships and those he encounters in vocation.”
Rhonda Bowden, director of liturgy and pastoral care at St. Jude parish in Pearl, worked alongside Father Adam on the Homegrown Harvest campaign and has watched him mentor her son, Andrew, a student at Notre Dame Seminary of New Orleans who will be ordained a priest in spring 2022 (see accompanying story).
She feels strongly about the need to grow priests within the Diocese of Jackson as well as parents being open to their children entering religious life. That sentiment is shared by Msgr. Michael Flannery, who believes the secret to vocations lies not in creative fundraising but in the home.
“That is where the seeds are sown and fostered by family prayer. It is not a question of money – if we had vocations we would find the money to sponsor them,” Flannery said. “I believe Father Nick is a tremendous choice as a vocation director. He is charismatic and relates very well to the youth ministry. He is doing everything he can (to bring in new seminarians).”
Adam, now in a wonderful position to mentor those who will follow in his footsteps, remains grateful to Father Frank Cosgrove, his priest at St. Patrick of Meridian when Adam worked full-time in television.
“I had stopped attending Mass while in college (at the University of Alabama) because I thought I knew everything, as college kids tend to think,” Adam said. “I went to Mass at St. Patrick about a year and a half after moving to Meridian. The feeling I had while sitting in the pew was like returning home after a long trip.”
“I just felt peace and contentment, and from that point forward I think the seed was planted for the priesthood. That really became solidified in me once I started speaking with Father Frank, who gave me a wonderful example of priesthood and always encouraged me to be open to the call.”
“Father Nick is a servant priest and exudes being a regular guy,” Father Cosgrove said. “He runs. He plays basketball. He puts on jeans and helps builds Habitat houses. He’s living a prayerful life – God works through that. He will make a great vocations director because of the joy of his own priesthood.”