Celebration of all things German

GLUCKSTADT – St. Joseph parish hosted the 33rd annual GermanFest on Sunday, Sept. 29 on the church grounds. The Gluckstadt community was founded in 1905 by German immigrants. Many of the decendants of the original families still attend St. Joseph.
Much prep work goes into planning this fun-filled festival. Families gather weeks in advance to can sauerkraut using a traditional recipe. In the days leading up to the GermanFest you can find parishioners preparing sausages, bratwurst, desserts and other German delicacies to share with the community.
This year, GermanFest was a hot one with temps in the upper 90s, but festival goers had lots of fun, good food and a variety of beer to sample. Children enjoyed games, like mini golf and won lots of goodies and treats.
This year, festival goers were able to see some featured German vehicles and participate in the second year of the beer stein holding competition.

(Above) What’s cooking? Parishioners have fired up the grills and brats, shish kabobs and sauerkraut are cooking for all to enjoy. No one had an excuse to leave hungry with all of that food! GermanFest boasts some of the best festival food around.

Youth news

Do you hear that?

COLUMBUS – Kindergartner, Samantha Toboada laughs as she gets her hearing checked at Annunciation school. Kindergarten and pre-k classes received hearing screenings on Sept. 25 by audiologists from Otolaryngology Associates, Ltd. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

Flag Football Season

JACKSON – On Oct. 3, second and third graders from St. Richard and St. Anthony gather to play flag football. The first game was won by St. Anthony Madison and the second game was won by home team – St. Richard Jackson. St. Richard’s team receives awesome support from their cheer team. (Photos by Tereza Ma)

Blue Mass at Natchez Cathedral

NATCHEZ – Father Scott Thomas and third grade students present Sheriff Deputy Ashley Bennett with a thank you gift in appreciation for his hard work. (Photo by Becky Jex)

Dominican Sisters visit school mass

JACKSON – Dominican Sisters offer the sign of peace to St. Richard students during Mass on Sept. 25. (Photo by Meredith McCullough)

Grandparents Day at St. Anthony

MADISON – St. Anthony school celebrated Grandparents Day Mass on Sept. 20. Sullivan Hirn explains details of his artwork to his great-grandparents, Bob and Sue Thornton. (Photo by Kati Loyacono)

Guardian Angels Assignment at St. Richard

JACKSON – St. Richard students had a special school Mass on Wednesday, Oct. 2 to assign “Guardian Angels.” Sixth graders serve as “Guardian Angels” to second grade students to help guide them through their First Reconciliation and First Communion sacraments. Each pair will meet with each other for the rest of the school year. (Photos by Tereza Ma)

Southaven gets scaly visitor

SOUTHAVEN – Animal Tales recently visited Holy Family and Sacred Heart Schools with a variety of animals. Students saw animals from around the world, learned how the animals use camouflage for protection and how some animals became extinct. (Photo by Laura Grisham)

Fall festival season in full swing at churches and schools

Fall means festivals and events at our churches and schools across the diocese. Full of food, music, games and culture, these events are fantastic fundraisers that our Catholic community holds, but all are welcome to join the fun.
Although many festivals have already happened, there is more fall fun scheduled around the diocese. Consider checking out the following fall events:
FLOWOOD – St. Paul Trunk or Treat, Friday, Oct. 25 7:30 p.m.
JACKSON – St. Richard Cardinal Fest, Sunday, Oct. 27, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
GRENADA – St. Peter Harvest Fest, Sunday, Oct. 27, 4-7 p.m.
CLEVELAND – Our Lady of Victories Halloween Carnival, Sunday, Oct. 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
MADISON – St. Joseph School, Trunk or Treat, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 5-7 p.m. and St. Anthony Fall Festival and Open House, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2 p.m.

RIPLEY – A celebration of culture, the St. Matthew parish festival was held on Saturday, Sept. 21. Father Jesuraj Xavier and Deacon Francisco Martínez join in to experience a traditionhal dance. The festival is held after a procession and Mass at the church and includes traditional Mexican and Filipino food, as well as a dancing horse show. (Photo by Madeleine Hale)
NATCHEZ – Erica Smith, mother of PreK-3 student Piper Smith, works to sell paddles at Natchez Cathedral’s Adult Night as a part of the school’s annual fall festival. Paddles chances are sold for $5 to $25 a chance depending on the package value. Packages included a trip to Disney World, a New Orleans Saints game weekend and a $1000 cash prize.
Children and adults walk in anticipation of winning a tasty dessert on the traditional cake walk at the Cathedral school fall festival. The annual event was held Sept. 28 and 29 and featured midway games, adult night festivities, a petting zoo, silent auction, raffles and more. It draws many current Cathedral school families and St. Mary Basilica parishioners, but also many alumni come in from out of town to support their alma mater. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King)
CLARKSDALE – (Above) Kids contemplate what game to play next. Young or old, all ages had something to enjoy at the St. Elizabeth parish fair on Tuesday, Sept. 17. This parish celebration was started in 1937 and has grown to include prize drawings, a spaghetti dinner, a sweet shop, casserole booth, fish booth, silent auction, pony rides and tons of fun carnival games. (Photo by Dawn Spinks)

Youth news

Making art for a cause

COLUMBUS – Annunciation 8th graders, Patrick Doumit and Jules Gallo assist special guest, Kathryn Davis who specializes in stained glass, make their class art project for our upcoming Art Auction fundraiser on Nov. 8. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

High fives

GREENVILLE – Father Aaron Williams and second grader Charles Beckham celebrate with high fives after the Mass of our Lady of Sorrow at St. Joseph school on Sept. 16. (Photo by Nikki Thompson)

Exploring space

VICKSBURG – Fifth grade students Caroline Ponder and Tyler Roberts were able to explore the solar system in the XR (Extended Reality) Lab. With the addition of the new lab, students are able to go on field trips to the most inaccessible corners of the universe. Vicksburg Catholic School is the “Campus of the Future.” (Photo by Lindsey Bradley)

Patriot Day in Southaven

SOUTHAVEN – Mona Giannini, grandmother of a Sacred Heart graduate and of two current students, spoke to first grade students, Jillian Encarnacion and Kamilla Enriquez Giron about the work of EMTs as the school celebrated 9/11 Day, now known as Patriot’s Day. Students could wear red, white and blue as a way of showing pride in our country on this day of remembrance. Father Greg Schill also talked of our faith in God on good days as well as bad ones. At the end of his homily he talked about the strength it sometimes takes to “Step up to the Plate.” After Mass, Principal Bridget Martin talked to children about practical ways to step up to the plate in our everyday school lives. (Photo by Sister Margaret Sue Broker)

Fiesta at Columbus

COLUMBUS – Annunciation school, celebrated the end of a thematic unit on Mexico with a Fiesta which included authentic food, dances and games. (Photos by Katie Fenstermacher)

What is a Blue Mass?

A Blue Mass is a Mass celebrated annually in the church for those employed in the field of public safety, which includes police officers, firefighters, corrections officers and paramedics.
In the United States, the Blue Mass tradition began in September 1934, when Father Thomas Dade of the Archdiocese of Baltimore formed the Catholic Police and Fireman’s Society. That year, the first Blue Mass was celebrated for police officers and firefighters. The name comes from the traditional uniform color associated with law enforcement.
The church also celebrates special occasion Masses known as Red Masses and White Masses. A White Mass is for those in the health care profession, while a Red Mass is for those who seek justice (judges, attorneys, law professors, law students and officials in the legislative and executive branches). The Masses get their names from the traditional colors worn by each respective group. The color white for lab coats worn by doctors and nurses, while the Red Mass gets its name from the English tradition of red as the academic robe or hood color for those with law degrees.

CLARKSDALE – St. Elisabeth students give high-fives to Coahoma county first responders following the school’s Blue Mass and reception.
CLARKSDALE – St. Elisabeth school Pre-2 teacher, Katelyn Willis and student, Carson Smith visit with a first responder on Thursday, Sept. 12. (Photos by Mary Evelyn Stonestreet)
SOUTHAVEN – Students and staff at Sacred Heart school wore red, white and blue for Patriots Day on Sept. 11. The day began with Mass, celebrated by Father Greg Schill, SCJ. His homily focused on encouraging students to step up when they see an injustice and to help others. (Photo by Laura Grisham)
JACKSON – St. Richard school hosted a Patriot Day Blue Mass, honoring all policemen, firemen and paramedics on Wednesday, Sept. 11. The service began with singing “This Little Light of Mine” and ended by singing “God Bless America” as a congregation. First responders received a special blessing by Father Nick Adam during Mass and then were treated to a special breakfast where they were given pocket crosses, prayer cards and a pocket St. Michael to carry with them while on duty. Pictured – Leighton Webb looks up at his dad, Stephen Webb. The second gentlemen is a Ridgeland Police Officer. Standing next to him, is St. Richard parishioner Justin Lancaster. (Photo by Meredith McCullough)

Yard sale brings much needed repairs

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Bargain hunters descended on the Carmelite Monastery off Terry road on Saturday, Sept. 7 to find treasures and deals donated by those in the greater Jackson area, who support the close-knit community of Carmelite nuns.
The sale, usually conducted once per year, was extended into a second Saturday on Sept. 14 due to the generosity of donations that poured in. “There was an amazing influx of donations, clothing, books, shoes, toys, kitchen ware, furniture and more,” said Sister Mary Jane Patricia of the Resurrection.

“We really appreciate the generosity of all who donated. And for all the volunteers who came and helped us during the sale.”
Funds raised from the yard sale are going to much needed house repairs for the Carmelite community. Sister Mary Jane said the funds raised only partially covered the cost of repairs needed.
The Monastery has been a quiet hermitage for the Carmelite nuns since 1951 and the home dates back to 1820. The nuns pray for the intentions of the people of the diocese and raise funds through their gift shop located on the property. To learn more about the community, visit www.jacksoncarmel.com.

Youth news

Back to school Masses

GREENWOOD – St. Francis of Assisi School celebrated the feast of the Assumption of the Bless Virgin Mary and the beginning of a new school year at Mass on Aug. 15. Father Cam Janas, OFM presided at the liturgy and delivered the homily with a play, in which the fifth and sixth graders took part. The question asked was “what was it like when Mary entered heaven?” (Photos courtesy of Cherrie Criss)

NATCHEZ – Cathedral school first grader Annie Maxwell and senior Olivia Waycaster walking in to the traditional Opening School Mass at St. Mary Basilica (Photos by Cara Moody Serio)

GREENVILLE – Father Tom Mullaly during the Mass of the Holy Spirit with Bishop Kopacz at St. Joseph school. (Photos by Nikki Thompson )

MADISON – St. Joseph school during the Mass of the Holy Spirit on Thursday, Aug. 29. (Photos by Terry Cassreino)

Students dash into new school year

VICKSBURG – (Above) Fifth grade students are ready to R U N at Vicksburg Catholic School’s third annual Flash Dash! (Photo by Lindsey Bradley)

Welcome freshman

NATCHEZ – On Aug. 18, 10-12 graders gathered at 6 a.m. in front of the St. Mary Basilica Family Life Center for the annual “Freshman Welcome” or “Initiation” of freshman members into the Youth group. Members load up in a bus to travel to the homes of the new freshmen to surprise them and pick them up for a special pancake breakfast prepared by parents at the Family Life Center. The seniors tie-dye special shirts for the new youth group members to wear to the breakfast after being “kidnapped.”After breakfast, students head over to 10 a.m. Mass at St. Mary Basilica. This year over 40 students participated in the event. (Photo by Carrie Lambert)

Grandparents mass

Mass was full not just grandparents, but also parents and friends. (Photos by tereza ma)

New priest to U.S. installed as pastor in diocese

By Joanna Puddister King
PORT GIBSON – On Aug. 25, a sunny summer Sunday, a new priest was installed at St. Joseph parish in Port Gibson.
Bathed in a calming blue hue from the cobalt-stained windows this unique Gothic Revival style parish was filled with a diverse group of faithful to welcome Father Anthony Claret Onyeocha.
Originally from Nigeria, Father Anthony was ordained in 2010 for the Archdiocese of Owerri in Imo State, Nigeria. By the end of his seminary training, Father Anthony received a bachelor of arts in philosophy and a degree in theology, as well.
In 2018, Father Anthony came to the U.S. to tour Mississippi and travel around the diocese. “After spending some time in Mississippi, I felt like serving the local church in the diocese,” said Father Anthony.
Upon returning to Nigeria from his time in Mississippi, he visited Archbishop Anthony John Valentine Obinna, who has served as archbishop of Owerri since March 1994, and asked to be sent on a mission to serve the Church in the Diocese of Jackson.
Subsequently, Father Anthony was approved by Bishop Jospeh Kopacz to serve the diocese and was placed at St. Joseph.
During the Rite of Installation ceremony conducted by Bishop Kopacz, Father Anthony was presented with scriptures, blessed oil, a basket, baptismal shell and Roman Missal from parishioners to officially welcome him to the parish.
At the close of Mass, parishioners celebrated Father Anthony and introduced him to some traditional southern fare: fried and baked chicken, potato salad, bacon baked beans, along with a host of casseroles and homemade desserts.
Father Anthony says, “I feel happy being the pastor of St. Joseph. … The parishioners are great, welcoming and dedicated. As their pastor, I am willing to serve spiritually, morally and pastorally.”

Christ is alive in faith leaders

By Joanna Puddister King
MADISON – More than 100 catechist and pastoral leaders from across the diocese gathered for Fall Faith Formation Day hosted at St. Francis parish on Saturday, Aug. 24. The day of information, fellowship and encouragement was centered around the theme of “Christ, Alive!” and opened with a keynote by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, who led attendants on a discussion of the foundation, framework and focus of Pope Francis’ Christus Vivit, an apostolic exhortation to young people and “the entire People of God.”
Bishop Kopacz spoke to attendants about each chapter, reviewing the rich text of Pope Francis and focusing on reaching a deeper level with youth – the heart, mind and spirit of a young person – hope. He touched on subjects raised in the document such as, joy, “God is love,” relationships with God and with others, migrants, digital environments, divisions in society and more.
Focusing on building a foundation, Bishop Kopacz said, “the love of God and seeds of the divine are planted in the young people.”
Those in attendance received a copy of Christus Vivit and Director of Faith Formation, Fran Lavelle encouraged all to “spend time with the document, … Every time we break it open there is something new that is revealed.”
“Read. Explore. Think outside the box,” encouraged Lavelle.
After the introduction to Christus Vivit, attendees could select from a number of breakout sessions dealing with catechetical issues which included, catechist certification, rethinking confirmation, intentional youth ministry, forming multicultural communities, how to talk to youth about vocations, and exploring St. Paul’s encounter with the Risen Christ.
Session leader Father Roberto Mena led a discussion entitled “Out of Many – ONE: Forming Multicultural Communities.” Father Mena gave a brief history of immigration and U.S. Catholicism and spoke about the challenges found in multicultural parishes. He told faith leaders in attendance that “Catholics need to work together to form parish communities where every person, regardless of race, ethnicity or culture, has a place at the eucharistic table.
Next year, Fall Faith Formation Day will be held on Aug. 22, 2020. The Keynote speaker will be Dr. Tim Hogan, the co-author of How to Find the Help You Need, a guide to psychotherapy and spiritual direction.

Challenges of multicultural parishes

By Father Roberto Mena, ST
MADISON – U.S. Catholicism has always included substantial cultural diversity, but more than a half century ago, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described Sunday morning as “the most segregated hour” of the week, Catholic parishes also operated as separate (but unequal) communities.
By the 1980s, however, in the so-called “gateway cities” where immigrants began their journey in the United States, many Catholics had begun to worship in parishes with multiple cultural groups, often known as “shared parishes.” By the 1990s, as new immigrants from Latin American and Asia settled across the nation, such parishes proliferated everywhere.
According to a 2018 study of Catholic parishes with Hispanic ministry across the United States, 43 percent of parishioners in parishes with Hispanic ministry are actually Anglo Catholics. In places like Los Angeles and Miami, up to three-fourths of parishes in a diocese hold Mass in more than one language; in Midwestern and Southern dioceses, often one-fifth to one-half of parishes do.
After decades of cultural, ethnic and racial groups sharing parishes, we might ask how things are going.
On the one hand, the number of ministries for underserved groups and the number of Catholic parishes serving multicultural congregations has steadily increased. On the other hand, research shows that most of the nation’s parishes still primarily serve white and English-speaking Catholics; a smaller percentage do the “multicultural heavy lifting.”
On the one hand, for many U.S. Catholics, journeying alongside other cultural groups has begun to feel normal. On the other hand, many nonimmigrant Catholics complain vociferously about the signs of cultural diversity in their midst, about Masses in Spanish or Vietnamese, about Day of the Dead “ofrendas” or the smell of unfamiliar food in the parish kitchen.
Political polarization and noisier forms of opposition to the presence of undocumented immigrants (most of whom are Catholic) has exacerbated these tendencies in our time. Sensitive to such divisions, church authorities sometimes downplay the overwhelming reality of demographic change, so much so that many Catholics have unrealistic ideas about the size or influence of groups other than their own.

Even where parishes have embraced the diversity of their communities, parishioners routinely avoid one another. In one parish, parishioners would park on the street just to avoid negotiating the parking lot between the English and Spanish Masses. Eventually, however, groups must negotiate the details of parish life — sharing meeting rooms, planning multicultural liturgies, even navigating the parking lot between Masses.
Societal tensions and inequalities intrude on these negotiations. People come to church carrying hurt from discrimination. They assume that difficulties, for example, in securing a job or a favorable home loan will translate into difficulties in obtaining meeting space for their ministries.
Recent immigrants often feel intimidated and powerless trying to negotiate parish life with longtime residents. Aging ethnic or racial communities, including many white Catholics, feel outnumbered and therefore aggrieved, leading them to hold on to privileges within their parishes.
Even so, not a small number of communities have found relative success in sharing parish life. Among those who do, there appear to be four factors that make a difference.
First, such parishes learn to balance the need for “safe space” for the different groups with opportunities to experience parish life together. They do not insist on quick assimilation (which is not possible anyway). Parishioners regularly pray and minister according to their own language and culture, but they also work together selling tamales or hamburgers at the parish festival.
Second, successful shared parishes work to be fair and just in the relationships between communities. In one parish, a white Knight of Columbus was the one who noted that the Christmas decorations, as beautiful as they were, were arranged by an all-Anglo committee according to Euro-American Christmas traditions; that had to change.
Third, successful shared parishes make room for people’s grief over demographic and other changes, but they do not resist change.
Finally, research on shared parishes shows that the vision and authority of the parish’s pastor makes a real difference. In one parish, for instance, the pastor worked hard to confuse people as to which group he favored. He never missed an opportunity to talk about the parish as a community of communities, and he (or his staff) would intervene when a group tried to dominate or needed more attention.
While the pastor’s role matters, research suggests that Catholics should be wary of placing too much on pastors and their authority to adjudicate multicultural tensions. Many priests are already overburdened, and Pope Francis reminds us that all the baptized have a responsibility for parish life.Especially in these more contentious times, Catholics need to work together to form parish communities where every person, regardless of race, ethnicity or culture, has a place at the eucharistic table.

(Father Roberto Mena, ST is Sacramental Minister in St. Michael, Forest and In Residence at St. Anne, Carthage.)

Back to school pictures

Columbus – Annunciation school, photos by Katie Fenstermacher

Natchez – Cathedral school, photos by Cara Moody Serio

Jackson – Sister Thea Bowman, photos courtesy of Shea Goodman-Robinson

Southaven – Sacred Heart school, photos by Laura Grisham and Sister Margaret Sue Booker

Madison – St. Joseph school, photos by Terry Cassreino

Madison – St. Anthony school, photos by Paige Loyacono

Clarksdale – St. Elisabeth school, photo courtesy of school.

Vicksburg – St. Francis Xavier and St. Aloysius schools, photos by Lindsey Bradley

Meridian – St. Patrick school, photo by Celeste Saucier

Jackson – St. Richard school, photos by tereza ma