Church celebrates holiest week

Palm Sunday

Pearl, St. Jude Parish photos by Rhonda Bowden

Carthage, St. Anne Parish photos by Sister Maria Elena, MGSpS

Chrism Mass

Jackson, St. Peter photos by Tereza Ma ans Maureen Smith


Holy Thursday

Pearl, St. Jude Parish photos by Tereza Ma

Good Friday

Jackson, St. Therese Parish photos by Elsa Baughman

No Catholic Church offers Mass on Good Friday. Instead, they may have stations or veneration of the cross.

Easter Vigil

Jackson, St. Peter photos by Maureen Smith


Holy Week across the Diocese

GREENWOOD – Sixth-grader Daniel Varges (right), shares unleavened bread with Father Joachim “Kim” Studwell, OFM, during a Seder meal at St. Francis of Assisi School on Wednesday, March 28. (Photo by Cherrie Criss)

The Way of the Cross, also known as Stations of the Cross, is a powerful reflection on the passion of Christ. This year, Mississippi Catholic received photos from youth groups and schools all across the diocese who offered their communities a live reenactment of the stations. Not all the photos would fit in the printed version, so more are posted to galleries on the website:
As the Easter season progresses, please remember to send your First Communion and Confirmation photos to for inclusion in the Spring Sacraments issue.

COLUMBUS – Annunciation School eighth-grader Ren Kitko, carries the cross as Jesus during live stations of the cross for the school community. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

NEW ALBANY – Cody Carson depicts Christ as the youth of St. Francis of Assisi Parish lead an outdoor live stations of the cross. They started the tradition in 2012, inviting anyone of any faith to join in this memorial of Christ’s passion.
This year, two-dozen parishioners participated in the event. (Photo by Claudia Murguia)


MERIDIAN – Pilate questions Jesus as St. Patrick School first graders, performed a live Stations of the Cross Wednesday, March 28, for the school. (Photo by Mary Yarger)

  GREENVILLE – Live stations of the Cross are a tradition for middle-schoolers at St. Joseph School. In left photo, Jesus falls the second time. (Photo by Missi Blackstock)

PEARL – St. Jude Parish youth participated in Stations of Cross led by Father Lincoln Dall, the front row is Molly, Katie, Jack, and Charlotte Riordan. The next row back is Craig Millette and John and Mary Beth VanLandingham. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

Full STEM ahead, Catholic schools rack up science, engineering awards

By Kristian Beatty
Full STEM ahead!  March and April have been exciting for several students across the Diocese of Jackson!  Students from Greenville St. Joe, Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School, St. Richard Catholic School, and St. Anthony Catholic school attended and won awards at science fairs held in Jackson and Pearl, MS. Many students started working on their science fair projects in the Fall of 2017 and had to win at their school science fair to move on the next level. Congratulations to all the students who participated at the MAIS Overall Science Fair and the MSEF Region II Science Fair. 

JACKSON – A student from Madison St. Anthony school answers questions for a judge at the MSEF Region II Science Fair on Thursday, March 22, at Jackson State University. Schools from across the diocese brought home honors from similar events around the state in March and April.

Wednesday, April 4: St. Joseph Catholic High School (Greenville) students attended the MAIS Overall Science Fair at the Muse Center in Pearl, MS.

3rd place: Mary Patton Meyer, Dorian Rice, Avery Cole, Kamiya Clark, Carsen Mansour, McKenzie Sandifer

1st place: Eli Williamson, Sarah Tonos, Mikayla Dotson

Best of Fair ($200 prize): Eli Williamson

Thursday, March 22nd: Sr.Thea Bowman Catholic School (Jackson), St. Richard Catholic School (Jackson) and St. Anthony Catholic School (Madison) students attended the MSEF Region II held at Jackson State University in Jackson, MS. The following students placed in their categories out of 482 students according to Kristy Love-Kendrick- JSU Region II Science Fair Director:

Sister Thea Bowmen Catholic School had 14 students participate and 8 of those students won awards.

Organic Chemistry

Malick Yedjou – 1st place


Synia Means – 1st place

Medicine and Health

Alexander Mason – 1st place

Inorganic Chemistry

Charis Ngong – 2nd place

Ashleigh Mason – 3rd place

Physics and Astronomy 

Cobe Williams – 4th place

Computer Science and Math

Jon Burse – 5th place

Special Energy Smart Award sponsored by the MS Development Authority:

Malick Yedjou

St. Richard Catholic School had 17 students participate and 3 of those students won awards.

Behavioral science

Mary Margaret Martin-4th

Carrington Fowler-5th


Turner Brown-2nd

St. Anthony Catholic School had 47 students participate and 27 of those students won awards.

Class 1 Awards

Ella Eatherly- Class 1 Overall Individual Best of Fair

Animal Sciences  

John Harris – 2nd Place

Susannah Harmon- 4th Place

Behavioral & Social Science    

Abby Stringer-1st Place

Madelyn Rodrigue-2nd Place     


Josie Ricotta-5th Place


Samantha Naegele-3rd Place

Earth & Environmental  

Katie Ann Venable-1st Place

Inorganic Chemistry      

Ella Eatherly-1st Place


Miller Franklin-1st Place

Jack Kosek-2nd Place

Organic Chemistry

Emily Loyacono-3rd Place

Ellie Latour-4th Place

Class 2 Awards-

Class 2 School Award: St. Anthony Catholic School

 Animal Sciences  

Stella Williams-1st Place

Carolina deLange-2nd Place


Maria deLange-3rd Place


Isabelle Zevallos-5th Place

Computer Science & Math      

JJ Tice-2nd Place

Earth & Environmental  

Jennings Kimbrell-2nd Place

Inorganic Chemistry      

Iliana Blount-2nd Place

Tyler Stovall-4th Place

Medicine & Health         

1st- Eliza Rowlett-2nd Place



Stella McCarty-1st Place

Annsley Maynor-4th Place

Kate Kosek-5th Place

Organic Chemistry

Emerson Erwin-3rd Place

Sophie Sosa-5th Place

Physics & Astronomy    

Cameron Moody-1st Place

(Kristian Beatty is development director for Madison St. Anthony School.)


Rectory renovation begins with bee removal

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Renovations at the rectory for the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle caused quite the buzz in downtown Jackson during the second week of March. The restoration crew had to call in a beekeeper to remove a five-foot tall hive from one of the columns on the rectory porch. The operation drew news crews and concern from bank employees next door, but was completed smoothly and safely. Rectory staff and reporters even got to take home sections of honey comb.

JACKSON, Miss., Workers from Durable Restoration remove part of a five-foot tall beehive from a column on the porch of the rectory for the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in downtown Jackson on Friday, March 2. The bees have been in the nest about 10 years, but needed renovations forced their removal. Beekeeper Michael Everett, who will relocate them to a Mississippi State University Experiment station in Crystal Springs, estimates the hive had about 50 pounds of honey in it. Cathedral staff hope to auction the honey at a ministry fair later this spring.

Michael Everett, a beekeeper from Magee, Miss., shows a pair of workers from Durable Restoration company how to use a smoker as they prepare to remove a five-foot tall beehive from a column on the porch of the rectory for the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in downtown Jackson on Friday, March 2. The hive had been in the column for about 10 years and contained an estimated 50 pounds of honey. The bees have a new home at a Mississippi State University Experiment Station in Crystal Springs, Miss.

Traci Avalon, office manager for the rectory, said she has known the bees had a hive in the column for a decade, but since they didn’t seem to bother anyone and she knows bees are endangered, she left them alone. When it came time to renovate, she included bee removal in the bid process. “I told them I did not want the bees destroyed. I know some beekeepers and I knew they can be moved,” she said.
Durable Restoration, a sister company to Durable Slate, took on the project. The company worked on the cathedral renovation several years ago and has done a lot of work in churches. Jacob Lammers, a public relations vice president for Durable Restoration, said this is not the first time the company has worked with a beekeeper to remove a hive. While beekeeper Michael Everett from Magee led the effort, Durable Slate employees donned protective bee-suits and did the heavy-lifting.
Workers drilled holes in the column and used a camera to precisely locate the hive. Then, they carefully cut the wood around the hive to remove a whole section from the column, bringing with it 10-years worth of honeycomb, honey and insects. “As bees build a nest, they continue to make it go down every year. They start at the top and as they have space they will go down. The column was about 20 inches inside and the bees have 3/8 of an inch crawl-space so they will suspend the combs and build from there,” Everett captured the queen bee and drew the workers out to her. The whole operation, started in the late afternoon, took about three hours. He guessed there was about 50 pounds of honey in this hive.
“These were Italian bees, a three-banded Italian. They were yellow with little black rings,” Everett explained. He has been a beekeeper for 13-years. He used to work in construction so he uses his knowledge of how structures are built to find creative ways to remove bees. These days he raises his own queen bees and helps with the occasional hive removal. He said as long as the bees are moved more than one mile from their original location, they will not return to their old nest. The cathedral bees will have a new home at the Mississippi State University Agricultural Experiment Station in Crystal Springs where they will pollinate local crops and continue to make honey.
Avalon said she will extract the honey from the comb she got and put it up for auction at the St. Peter Ministry Fair later this spring.

Christian sites benefit from visits, local collection

Bishop Joseph Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
For pilgrims who visit the Holy Land, at whatever point on the compass the pilgrimage begins, the goal and culminating experience are the arrival in Jerusalem. This is precisely the path of salvation that the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John describe in their narratives of the Lord Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. His public ministry unfolded in Galilee and flowed southward like the Jordan River in the direction of Jerusalem.
We followed this Gospel corridor on the recent pilgrimage sponsored by the Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulcher. At first, we settled in at the Sea of Tiberius in northern Israel, the location of Nazareth, Capernaum, Cana, the Sermon on the Mount and the Transfiguration, before turning southward toward Jerusalem. Although the region is wracked by hatred, violence and periodic outbreaks of deadly hostilities, a consistent reality is that pilgrims are always welcome. Obviously, this is the pragmatic thing to do, but this is also a sign of the abiding respect and good will that many in Israel and Palestine, Jews and Muslims alike, have for the ancient Christian Churches.
Without a doubt, for the Christians who tragically are diminishing in number across the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the mother Church of all Christianity encompassing Israel, Palestine and Jordan, the presence of the pilgrims is critical for their survival. “The pilgrimages are a form of sustenance for the survival of thousands of families.” (Leonardo Cardinal Sandri: Congregation of the Oriental Churches: Good Friday Appeal Letter) I do not know the total annual financial impact of the pilgrims who come from across the globe, but it is substantial. However, we can quantify the money that is collected each year from the Good Friday Holy Land collection.
Last year Catholics throughout the United States, including the Diocese of Jackson that raised ore than $32,000, contributed more than $20,000,000 to the mission and ministries of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. From this largesse the faithful of the Holy Land were able to renovate and restore the Churches of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Recently, a conflict erupted when the Jewish Jerusalem Municipality, with an impending vote in the Knesset, was about to encode in law oppressive taxation upon the Christian Churches with the possibility of foreclosure and seizure of properties if assessments were not paid. The Christian traditions who oversee the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Orthodox, Armenian, Catholic, responded with the temporary closure of this holiest of sites of the Lord’s crucifixion and burial. (Their statementis posted on with this column.)
This sparked an international response and the Knesset canceled the vote, at least for now. Naturally, Christians would not and should not embark on a Crusade in the classic sense, but spiritual and economic muscle do matter. The generosity, prayers and attention of many Catholics and other Christians on Good Friday and throughout the year make a difference. Why should we be concerned? “The Christian faith had the first impulse from the mother Church in Jerusalem which has a special vocation to live the faith in a multi-religious, political, social and cultural context, nothing less than keeping the memory of our Redemption alive.” (Cardinal Sandri)
Of course, it is not only a matter of preserving the ancient sites, but also of fostering the universal mission of our crucified and risen Lord through the modern day ministries of the Churches fighting to survive and thrive. Cardinal Sandri writes: “Notwithstanding the challenges and insecurities, the parishes continue their pastoral services with a preferential attention for the poor. We hope against hope, that the schools serve as a place of encounter between the Christians and the Muslims, where they prepare a future of mutual respect and collaboration, the hospitals and clinics, the hospices and meeting centers continue to welcome the suffering and those in need, refugees and displaced, persons of all ages and religions, struck by the horror of war. A great number of them schooling-age, who appeal to our generosity to resume their scholastic life and dream of a better future.” In his letter Cardinal Sandri elaborates upon the plight of many Christians throughout the region. “Our attention goes to the small Christian community in the Middle East, which continues to sustain the faith among the displaced persons from Iraq and Syria and among the refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. The Pope’s World Day of Peace was directed to the refugee crisis. ‘In a spirit of compassion let us embrace all those fleeing from war and from hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homeland.’ Most Iraqi Christians and Syrians want to return to their own land where their houses were destroyed, with schools, hospitals and churches devastated. Let us not leave them alone.”
We know that the Lenten journey is not a solitary act, but an itinerary of solidarity by which each one of us is called to pause, and like the Good Samaritan, accompany our brethren who for many reasons find it difficult to stand up and continue their journey. This is clearly the reality in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East and we pray that the Good Friday collection will raise up our Christian sisters and brothers.
We are blessed to be able to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, once in a lifetime perhaps, but once a year during Holy Week we can make a spiritual pilgrimage through prayer and generosity to be in solidarity with many undergoing persecution and hardship. Please be generous.

Churches in Jerusalem close the Holy Sepulcher in protest


Saint Padre Pio relic tour kicks off in Jackson

JACKSON – Thursday, March 1, the relics of St. Padre Pio were on display in the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Bishop Joseph Kopacz wrote about him in this week’s column on page 3. People from across the area came to venerate the relics and participate in a special Mass in his honor that evening. They shared with Mississippi Catholic production manager Tereza Ma what the relics meant to them.
“Being in the presence of St. Padre Pio’s relics was so breathtaking. He has always meant a lot to me ever since I read about him in my religion class and learned about his stigmata. Later, my love for St. Padre Pio grew even more as I learned about his healing ministry, miracles and powers in the confessional. All which proved his great love of God,” said 13-year-old Leah Munoz, a member of Pearl St. Jude Parish. “One of my most prized possessions is a small statue of St. Padre Pio that I keep by my bed, which my grandmother bought me eight years ago. Today, I was able to take it and touch it to Padre Pio’s glove. Now my statue is a genuine third-class relic,” she added.
“I have been following him for quite some time. He is such a great saint. He did so many things. I wish I was able to go to him for confession because to be able to read souls and for him to be able to help people in that way – it would have been wonderful,” said Maureen Murphy.
Luciano Lamonarca is the founder of the St. Padre Pio Foundation. He is leading the tour across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Lamonarca is from the “heel” of Italy’s boot, where St. Pio ministered. Devotion to the saint is pervasive there.
Lamonarca himself called upon the saint for intersession after his wife suffered a series of miscarriages. They are now proud parents to a son.
“Traveling with the relics, you feel a blessing, when there are people who come from around the state or come from other states just to touch the relics for a few days while I have access to them all the time, so how blessed am I? When I travel with the relics I am not afraid. This sense of calm and protection always follows me,” he said.

Regional Encuentro advances process of identifying ministry priorities

By Tom Tracy
MIAMI (CNS) – The head of Catholic Relief Services told several hundred Hispanic leaders from the U.S. Southeast recently that they are a vital part of the church’s future “global voice” and missionary discipleship.
“The statement you see on signs all the time now is ‘when you see something, say something,’ and to be a missionary disciple it is ‘when you see something, do something,'” said Sean Callahan, president and CEO of CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church’s overseas relief and development agency.
“We need to be seen as the doers, and there is a great opportunity right now for the Catholic Church to come together and be more of a force for right and for justice in a country of people who want justice,” he said.
Callahan, a 28-year veteran of CRS in his second year of leadership at the Baltimore-based agency, spoke Feb. 23 to more than 340 mostly Hispanic leaders gathered from among some 30 dioceses that are part of the Southeastern Regional Encuentro comprising church’s episcopal regions V and XIV.
A delegation from the Diocese of Jackson attended, taking with them the results of parish-level and diocesan gatherings identifying the priorities of the Diocese of Jackson. One of the delegates, Danna Johnson from Pontotoc St. Christopher Parish, said faith formation remains critical.
“In the area of ‘leadership development and pastoral training,’ the strategy that was identified as a region is to increase programs of pastoral formation for Latinos in both languages (English and Spanish) or more, depending on the needs of each parish,” said Johnson. “The online theological education program in Spanish CAMINO and in English STEP from the University of Notre Dame is one of the most successful pastoral programs in the region. Dioceses from South Carolina and Lexington, Kentucky, have implemented these programs and are getting great results. I am excited that this regional strategy is connected with one of the priorities of Pastoral Plan of our Diocese of Jackson, which is ‘the life-long formation of intentional disciples,'” Johnson added.
Groups from all across region five met in Miami February 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish’s sprawling complex just west of Miami International Airport.
Since 2015, CRS has been one of four major sponsors of the encuentro, which is described as the most important and comprehensive initiative in Hispanic ministry ever undertaken by the Catholic Church in the United States. The initiative involves an estimated 1 million pastoral leaders, 175 dioceses and numerous church organizations, parishes and lay ecclesial movements.
Now that parish- and diocesan-level encuentros have taken place, regional encuentros will be going on around the country through June. What has been an overall four-year process of reflection and action will culminate with the U.S. Catholic Church’s Fifth National Encuentro, or “V Encuentro,” to be held Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas.
The U.S. church’s First National Encuentro was in 1972. For the upcoming V Encuentro, 163 dioceses and archdioceses and more than 2,500 parishes across the country are involved.
Callahan told the Florida Catholic, Miami’s archdiocesan newspaper, that the gathering in South Florida represented a significant moment of encounter for CRS and U.S. Hispanic Catholic leadership, and that CRS is interested in listening as the encuentro participants discuss and define their future role as Hispanic Catholics in America.
“This is the first encuentro we have been so involved with this intimately,” he said. “As we have seen the U.S. becoming more and more Hispanic, we thought it would be important for us to understand what people feel the direction of the church should be, and then how can we be a part of it,” he said.
“And one of the strengths (of this partnership) is bringing the voice of the American people overseas to people in difficult situations and letting people know that they are not alone and that people here care about them and share that solidity,” he said of the work of CRS. “We want to see where that part of the church comes out in this encuentro process.”
“In many cases, people are being forced out from where they are, and our job is to allow people to stay where they want to stay with safety and security for their family with the right to employment,” he said. “The Northern Triangle is one area that we really want to intervene and reduce violence and give people other opportunities,” Callahan said of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Venezuela, he added, is a key country where there is a lot of turmoil, the inflation has gone up, the people are in a dire situation, “and so we work with Caritas International and Caritas Venezuela as a lead organization so we can provide greater assistance to the people of Venezuela,” he said.
CRS now works in some 110 countries and assists 137 million people annually, he noted, adding that large scale migration trends from Africa into Europe will continue to be a source of humanitarian challenges in the coming decades.

(Tracy writes for the Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Miami.)

Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, speaks Feb. 23 during the Southeast Regional Encuentro for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV. Held in Miami Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish complex, it drew 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

Eva Gonzalez, Hispanic ministry director from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., speaks Feb. 23 with Susana Becerrie of Jackson, Miss., at the Southeast Regional Encuentro. Held for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV, the gathering took place Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church's parish complex. On hand were 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

Piarist Father Rafael Capo, director of the Miami-based Southeastern Pastoral Institute, talks with Eva Gonzalez, Hispanic ministry director from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., Feb. 23 during the Southeast Regional Encuentro for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV. Held in Miami Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish complex, it drew 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

MIAMI – Participants in the regional Encuentro pray the Way of the Cross for Life during the Feb. 22-23 gathering. (Photo courtesy SEPI)

Chanche medals, awards recall founding bishop

Youth and adults recipients

JACKSON – Nineteen adults and nine young people received the Bishop John Joseph Chanche Award for service on Saturday, Feb. 24, in the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Bishop Joseph Kopacz distributed the awards during a special Mass. The Chanche medals, named for the first bishop of the diocese, honor those who give of themselves to their parish or faith community. The awards are presented on the weekend closest to the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the patronal feast for the Diocese of Jackson.

Chanche Medal honorees: serve, embrace, inspire

Adult honorees

Eddie Adkins – Gluckstadt St. Joseph
Finance Council President, RCIA team member, Knights of Columbus, member of envisioning team for Pastoral Priorities.
“Eddie is a talented businessman, but unlike most he looks at business through the eyes of service. In our council deliberations, he speaks of justice and mercy and ‘right’ before even looking at the practical business side of things.” Pam Minninger, Lay Ecclesial Minister

Joyce Brasfield Adams – Jackson Holy Family
Director of faith formation, member of Liturgy committee, liturgical minister, Ladies’ Guild member, member of strategic planning team.
“Mrs. Adams has been influential in reforming and structuring all aspects of faith formation in the parish since 1989. She is as much a leader as she is a follower. She has participated in parish, diocesan and statewide committees and is sought-after to do so.” Father Xavier Amirtham, pastor

Virginia Brown – Pearl St. Jude
Director of Religious Education, retired; founder of Why Catholic small faith group, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd advocate, coordinator of ministry to sick and shut-ins, Cursillista.
“Ginger is very joyful about living her faith. She is definitely seen as a leader in our community, who by word and action gives testimony to our faith. She has touched many lives, especially the adults, youth and children who have known her through the faith formation programs here at the parish, as well as the many families she has touched through her visits to the sick and shut-ins.” Father Lincoln Dall, pastor

Earl Joseph Gooden – Clarksdale Immaculate Conception
Finance Council, former Catholic School teacher and member of Education Board for Catholic Schools, collection counter.
“His service has continually helped to keep Immaculate Conception alive in the community. Whether it was his time as a teacher or now contributing to the life of the parish, Earl is a key reason why African Americans have had access to adequate schooling in Clarksdale, as well as access to Jesus in the Eucharist. … He is a spiritual role model who has dedicated his life to the teachings of the church, the Blessed Mother Mary and praying the Rosary.” Father Scott Thomas, pastor

Mariland and Brian Hendley – Madison St. Francis of Assisi
Catechists, RCIA team members, ChristLife team leaders, parish religious education committee, liturgical ministers, parish sports volunteers.
“Brian and Mariland love their faith, they love their family and they love their parish. They strive to live out the church’s call to a holiness of life and though they do not brag about it, nor do they seek accolades, others can certainly see their willingness to help and their love for their family and their faith.” Father Abbeenreddy Vatti, pastor

Nancy Hoang – Amory St. Helen
Religious education coordinator, ecumenical Vacation Bible school coordinator, CYO volunteer, food pantry volunteer.
“She is deeply committed to her faith and family. She works with all ages, races and religions. I see her as a true example of a Catholic woman in the Church today. Without her giving, our Church and young people would not be the same. She is creative, loving and yet knows how to handle children and youth with a mother’s strength and love.” Sister Lael Niblick, CSA, Lay Ecclesial Minister

Maureen Irby– Natchez Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Administrative assistant at both Assumption and Woodville St. Joseph Parishes, coordinator for parish Stewpot volunteers, coordinator for direct assistance, liturgical minister.
“Approximately four years ago, Maureen Irby agreed to serve in a secretarial role for St. Joseph Parish in Woodville when no suitable person could be found. She is a self-starter and carries out her work without requiring a large amount of my time. The work at St. Joseph in Woodville would not be done without her. She has been most valuable to the pastor there. She has enabled both parishes to function and have meaningful liturgies and weekly bulletins.” Father David O’Connor, pastor

Hilton Kalusche – Vicksburg St. Michael
Parish manager, former RCIA team member, liturgical minister, pastoral council member.
“It is hard to imagine where St. Michael Parish would be without Hilton Kalusche. He could easily be called the backbone of our parish. There is rarely a day that he is not involved in some activity that will benefit our parish community. Not being one to call attention to himself, Hilton works and leads by quiet example.” Helene Benson, director of religious education

Phil Lieb – Jackson St. Richard
Finance council member, parish grounds and maintenance supervisor, parish project manager.
“On a daily basis, Mr. Lieb is a constant presence here at the parish, carefully inspecting our property, documenting issues and arranging to have those issues resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner. There is no telling how much money Mr. Lieb has saved the parish and how many conflicts he has helped us avoid with his careful oversight.” Father John Bohn, pastor

Wesley Lindsay – Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle
Liturgical minister, altar server trainer, volunteers for maintenance work, oversees logistics for events.
“Wesley is a living example of a Christian. He never meets a stranger, he always has a kind greeting for everyone. He is always willing to help on any committee, event or ministry. His life is truly a “standard” for our young adult servers, they learn respect and reverence for the Eucharistic Celebration.” Father Anthony Quyet, pastor

Geraldine Matthews – Greenwood
Immaculate Heart of Mary
Parish council member, RCIA team member, liturgical minister, sacristan, prayer leader.
“Geraldine (Gerry) Matthews is and has been a faithful Catholic laywoman all of her 92 years and a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish for over eighty years. She has been devoted to the practice of her Catholic faith, demonstrating effective leadership and motivating her fellow parishioners in the practice of their faith through prayer, her own good example of service and through catechesis. She is an excellent role model for women of faith and continues, as an elder of the parish community, to find ways of service by her presence and her good works.” Father Joachim Studwell, OFM, pastor

Mary Jean Pendleton – Shelby St. Mary
Pastoral council member, chair of liturgy committee, hospitality committee member, communication committee member, fundraising chairperson, bereavement committee chairperson.
“Mary Pendleton is the linchpin of St. Mary, Shelby pastoral team. She is the most able, unselfish, joyful, energetic, caring, faith-filled, kind, humble person I have ever met. She is willing to tackle any job, volunteering her time and resources with a smile. With a heart of gold, she cares for family, friends and others with a great sense of generosity, asking nothing in return.” Jane Letchworth, parish volunteer

Wilson Patrick Roy – Batesville St. Mary
Sacristan, liturgical minister, prayer leader, Knights of Columbus member.
“Pat Roy is one of the liturgical backbones of our parish. He is a dedicated and devoted daily Mass attendee – both at St. Mary in Batesville and the mission church St. John in Sardis. His faith runs very deep. His wealth of knowledge of the Catholic Church is immense. He is the true definition of a person who knows and lives the fact that Jesus is the best and most valuable friend a person can visit with. Pat makes daily visits with our Lord in the church outside of Mass time.” Father Pradeep Thirumalareddy, pastor

Allen and Maureen Scott – Clinton Holy Savior
Parish and finance council leadership, liturgical ministers, Habitat for Humanity volunteers.
“Allen has chaired the international Pentecost gathering recognizing the ‘many nations and peoples’ in our parish and Maureen has shared her abilities as a CPA to develop and monitor the parish budget as well as participating in programs for the diocese to plan for a new payroll system.” Father Tom McGing, pastor.

Stephen and Edine Seal – Woodville St. Joseph
Liturgical ministers, ecumenical bereavement support team members, social event coordinators.
“Both Stephen and Edine have inspired fellow parishioners with their personal faith and active presence in parish activities. These have included their sacrificial presence at bereavement ministerial outreaches to the families of deceased families of the Woodville community, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Also, they have been most faithful, despite numerous health appointments, in coordinating parish social functions such as the annual St. Joseph Spiritual Homecoming, both in fellowship and worship, the past ten years.” Father Scott Dugas, pastor
(Editor’s note: Stephen Seal died the weekend prior to the awards ceremony, but was granted the medal posthumously.)

Richard Warren – Natchez St. Mary Basilica
Liturgical minister, Boy Scouts of America scout master, pastoral council member, Knights of Columbus member.
“Ricky Warren is a man of vision and action. He energizes and inspires others to serve as the need arises. He is currently bringing our Family Life Commission back to life. He is pleasant to all, making many feel welcome to become a part of the parish or the organization on which he serves. His gentle, kind manner exemplify what our church is.” Father David O’Connor, pastor

Youth honorees

Dayane Arvizu, senior – Kosciusko St. Therese
Bilingual interpreter, liturgical minister, regular volunteer.
“Dayane serves as a role model for the younger children. She lectors at both Spanish and English Masses whenever needed.. She encourages her peers to participate at Mass. Dayane brings a positive attitude to our newly formed youth group.” Father Odel Medina, ST, pastor

Madelyn Olivia Bennett, senior – Gluckstadt St. Joseph
Tutor, retreat leader, confirmation sponsor, service work volunteer, youth group leader.
“In our community, Maddie has worked to keep the excitement in our Youth Ministry program alive. She encourages others who may not yet “feel it” to find joy and fun in being a Catholic teen, as well as inspires them to learn more and dig deeper in their own faith lives.” Patti Greene, youth minister

Connor Clark, senior – Vicksburg St. Michael
Altar server, CYO member, service work volunteer, counselor at special-needs camp, retreat leader.
“Connor truly takes the gospel message to heart and strives to make the world a better place by his actions and his words. We have seen Connor put others before himself many times. In today’s self-centered, me-first world, this is a very special quality for a young man.” Helene Benson, director of religious education

Cristina Marie Craig, freshman – Brookhaven St. Francis of Assisi
Religious education volunteer teacher, service work volunteer, rosary leader, liturgical minister.
“Cristina is a loving, concerned, faithful young lady. She shows concern for her friends, enemies, and strangers alike. She cares about their well-being physically as well as spiritually. She is faithful to her church and its missions and services to others … Without Cristina many of our other youth would have drifted away. She is a rock and Christ-like example to all in our parish and community.” Ange’le Bartholomew, youth minister

Haley Fisackerly, senior – Columbus Annunciation
CYO volunteer, prayer leader, parish volunteer.
“Haley lives a very Catholic life, full of prayer, service, kindness, and humility. Her involvement in the parish has always extended beyond CYO. She leads the other teens by example, I suspect sometimes without realizing she’s leading by example. She encourages her peers, is always positive, and is always outgoing and warm. She’s faithful to Sunday Mass. She’s not shy about saying she’s Catholic at a school that is not friendly to Catholics. Lastly, she is knowledgeable about her faith, and clearly has it in her heart to have a strong relationship with her Creator.” Leslie Jones, youth minister

Trey McMullan, senior – Jackson St. Richard
Tutor, youth group leader, volunteer for religious education, service work volunteer, liturgical minister, usher, retreat leader.
“Trey’s impact on our youth group does not go unnoticed. The younger teens look to him as a role model, someone they aspire to be like. Trey’s willingness to lead small group discussions, crowd breakers, games and to jump in and play with the youth when needed is an invaluable help. Trey senses where he is needed most then quietly goes and leads by example.” Amelia Rizor, youth minister

Matthew Prater, senior – Madison St. Francis of Assisi
Youth group leader, leadership council member, retreat leader, service work volunteer, liturgical minister, Eagle Scout.
“Matt has served in so many ways over the past years, it would be almost impossible to list them all. He has assisted with children’s activities such as VBS and the Advent Fair, service projects such as the adopted family project and nursing home visits. Most importantly, Matt is always aware of those who need assistance and offers to help in many small ways, such as setting up, cleaning up, opening doors, and carrying things for others, and is not afraid of hard work or physical labor. Matt seeks out ways to serve but does not seek attention. He never expects any acknowledgement or reward for his service; and it is very clear he does so because of his love for God, for others, and for the Church.” Father Jason Johnston, associate pastor

Brooke Lee Thompson, sophomore – Jackson Christ the King
Altar server trainer, leader and volunteer, active in youth ministry and religious education.
“Brooke is a person who is strong in her faith. Even though her classmates are not Catholic she is able to be a good witness of her Catholic faith. When faced with questions about her faith, rather than give a false answer, she will take the trouble to go find the correct answer. She does not miss coming to Mass and is an active participant during the Liturgy.” Deacon Denzil Lobo, ecclesial minister

Mary Rose Wolf, junior – Pearl St. Jude
Choir member, parish leadership team member, religious education volunteer, service work volunteer
“Mary Rose serves on our parish leadership team representing the youth (this takes the place of the parish council at St. Jude). She also serves in the choir and is a very loyal member. Mary Rose is in attendance at every youth event and volunteers for all of the service activities … I would say that she stands out because she so willingly serves in a variety of activities here in our parish and does so very joyfully and willingly, drawing others into those activities.” Father Lincoln Dall, pastor

Adie Adkins

Joyce Brasfield Adams

Virginia Brown

Earl Joseph Gooden

Mariland and Brian Hendley

Nancy Hoang

Maureen Irby

Hilton Kalusche

Philip Enochs Lieb

Wesley Lindsay

Gelardine Matthews

Mary Jean Pendleton

Wilson Patrick Roy

Allen and Maureen Scott

Richard Warrern

Dayane Arvizu

Madelyn Olivia Bennett

Connor Clark

Trey Thompson McMullan

Matthew Prater

Mary Rose Wolf

Brooke Lee Thompson

Cristina Marie Craig

Haley Fisackerly

(Photos by Maureen Smith and Tereza Ma)


Five years a pope: Francis’ focus has been on outreach

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope just a few days after telling the College of Cardinals that the Catholic Church faced a clear choice between being a church that “goes out” or a church focused on its internal affairs.
After the cardinal from Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected March 13, 2013, and chose the name Francis, he made “go out,” “periphery” and “throwaway culture” standard phrases in the papal vocabulary.
Catholics have a wide variety of opinions about how Pope Francis is exercising the papal ministry, and many of his comments – both in informal news conferences and in formal documents – have stirred controversy. But, as he wrote in “Evangelii Gaudium,” the apostolic exhortation laying out the vision for his pontificate: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”
But there are two areas of internal church affairs that he recognized needed immediate attention: the reform of the Roman Curia and the full protection of children and vulnerable adults from clerical sexual abuse.
The organizational reform of the Curia has been taking place in stages, but Pope Francis has insisted that the real reform is a matter of changing hearts and embracing service.
On the issue of abuse, nine months into his pontificate, Pope Francis established the Pontifical Commission for Child Protection to advise him on better ways to prevent clerical sexual abuse and to ensure pastoral care for the survivors.
While Pope Francis has emphatically proclaimed “zero tolerance” for abusers and recently said covering up abuse “is itself an abuse,” as his fifth anniversary approached serious questions arose about how he handled accusations that Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, who was a priest at the time, covered up allegations of abuse against his mentor.
The new scandal threatened to undermine the widespread popularity of Pope Francis and his efforts to set the Catholic Church on a new course.
For Pope Francis, that new course involves evangelization first of all.
“Evangelizing presupposes a desire in the church to come out of herself,” he had told the cardinals just days before the conclave that elected him. “The church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents and of all misery.”

Pope Francis greets an elderly woman as he meets with people of the Banado Norte neighborhood in Asuncion, Paraguay, in this July 12, 2015, file photo. The pope has shown special concern for the aged, the sick and those with disabilities. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-FIFTH-ANNIVERSARY Feb. 13, 2018.

Mercy is the first thing the Catholic Church is called to bring to those peripheries, he says.
Although in 2013 he told reporters he would not be traveling as much as his predecessors, Pope Francis has continued their practice of literally “going out,” making 22 trips outside of Italy and visiting 32 nations.
But he also regularly visits the peripheries of Rome, both its poor suburbs and its hospitals, rehabilitation centers, prisons and facilities for migrants and refugees.
His desire to reach out has inspired innovations that were noteworthy at the beginning of the papacy, but now seem to be a natural part of a pope’s day. For example, after beginning with Vatican gardeners and garbage collectors, the pope continues to invite a small group of Catholics to join him most weekday mornings for Mass in the chapel of his residence.
The residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, is a guesthouse built by St. John Paul II with the intention of providing decent housing for cardinals when they would enter a conclave to elect a new pope. Pope Francis decided after the 2013 conclave to stay there and not move into the more isolated papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace.
On Holy Thursday each year, he has celebrated Mass at a prison, care facility or refugee center and washed the feet of patients, inmates or immigrants, both men and women, Catholics and members of other faiths. He also ordered the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments to clarify that the feet of both women and men can be washed at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
During the 2015-16 Year of Mercy, he made a visit one Friday a month to people in particular need, including those at a school for the blind, a neonatal intensive care unit, a community of recovering alcoholics, a children’s group home and a community for women rescued from traffickers who forced them into prostitution. Once the Year of Mercy ended, the pope continued the visits, although not always every month.
In September 2015 as waves of migrants and refugees were struggling and dying to reach Europe, Pope Francis asked every parish and religious community in Europe to consider offering hospitality to one family. The Vatican offered apartments and support to a family from Syria and a family from Eritrea. Then, seven months later, Pope Francis visited a refugee center on the island of Lesbos, Greece, and brought 12 refugees back to Rome on the plane with him.
In the first three years of his papacy, he published three major documents: “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel); “Laudato Si, on Care for Our Common Home,” on the environment; and “‘Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love), on Love in the Family,” his reflections on the discussions of the Synod of Bishops in 2014 and 2015.
People skeptical about the scientific proof that human activity is contributing to climate change objected to parts of “Laudato Si’,” but the criticism was muted compared to reactions to Pope Francis’ document on the family, especially regarding ministry to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and the possibility that, under some conditions, some of those Catholics could return to the sacraments.
The strongest criticism came from U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke and three other cardinals, who sent to the pope and then publicly released in November 2016 a formal, critical set of questions, known as “dubia,” insisting that allowing those Catholics to receive the sacraments amounted to changing fundamental church teaching about marriage, sexuality and the nature of the sacraments.
Pope Francis has not responded to the cardinals, two of whom have since died. But in December, the Vatican posted on its website the guidelines for interpreting “Amoris Laetitia” developed by a group of Argentine bishops, as well as Pope Francis’ letter to them describing the guidelines as “authentic magisterium.”
The guidelines by bishops in the Buenos Aires region said the path of discernment proposed by Pope Francis for divorced and civilly remarried couples “does not necessarily end in the sacraments” but, in some situations, after a thorough process of discernment, the pope’s exhortation “opens the possibility” to reception of the sacraments.
In the document and throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has emphasized God’s mercy and the power of the sacraments to spur conversion and nourish Christians as they try to progress in holiness.
Like all popes, Pope Francis frequently urges Catholics to go to confession, telling them it is not a “torture chamber.” And he repeatedly gives priests blunt advice about being welcoming and merciful to those who approach the confessional.
Like St. John Paul did each Lent, Pope Francis hears confessions in St. Peter’s Basilica. But, he surprised even his closest aides beginning in 2014 when, instead of going to the confessional to welcome the first penitent, he turned and went to confession himself.
He also has surprised people by being completely honest about his age. In April 2017, when he was still 80 years old, he told Italian young people that while they are preparing for the future, “at my age we are preparing to go.” The young people present objected loudly. “No?” the pope responded, “Who can guarantee life? No one.” From the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has expressed love and admiration for retired Pope Benedict XVI. Returning from South Korea in 2014, he said Pope Benedict’s honest, “yet also humble and courageous” gesture of resigning cleared a path for later popes to do the same.
“You can ask me: ‘What if one day you don’t feel prepared to go on?'” he told the reporters traveling with him. “I would do the same, I would do the same! I will pray hard over it, but I would do the same thing. He (Pope Benedict) opened a door which is institutional, not exceptional.”
Follow Cindy Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

Couples honored for dedication to marriage, family

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – More than 40 couples from across the Diocese of Jackson came to he Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle on Saturday, Feb. 4, to celebrate significant wedding anniversaries and honor World Marriage Day. Bishop Joseph Kopacz presented each couple with a certificate and congratulated them on their commitment to family life. The Office of Family Ministry organizes the annual celebration.
Barbara and Charles LeBlanc of Clinton Holy Savior Parish represented the most years at 65, followed closely by Margaret and John McAleese of Flowood St. Paul, who celebrate their 64th anniversary this year.
Eight couples were marking 60-year anniversaries while 19 claimed golden 50 jubilees. An additional 9 couples came to celebrate their 25th anniversaries. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls World Marriage day “an opportunity to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family.”
After the Mass, the couples and their families were treated to a reception at the cathedral center. See more photos at

Barbara and Charles LeBlanc_65 years

Margaret and John McAleese_64 years

Maria and Hollis Felts_61 years

Virgie and Joe Azar_60 years

Rita and Billy Martinson _60 years

Pat and Edgar E. Nalker_60 years

Margaret and Roland Farmer_60 years

Mamie and Robert C. O. Chinn_60 years

Geraldine and Richard Anderson_60 years

Geraldine and Abbie Dupont_60 years

Darlene and William G. Smith_60 years

Vicki and Wayne Pittman_50 years

Teresa and Maurice Preuss_50 years

Sandra and Richard T. Clark

Patty and John Watts_50 years

Patsy and Johnny Prewitt_50 years

Marilyn and Robert Croft_50 years

Marge and James Kovach_50 years

Jo Beth and James McGilbra_50 years

Jane and Rodney Hipp_50 years

Helen and Amnuey Chiemprabha_50 years

Eileen and John Lawson_50 years

Diane and Edward Cwiklik_50 years

Cindy and Charles Calias_50 years

Beverly and Mac Durastani_50 years

Anne and Robert McElvaine_50 years

Adella and David Hicks_50 years

Deborah and Lee Martin_40 years

Lina and Jose Lopez_30 years

Traci and Tommy Avalon_25 years

Susan and Joselito Espiridion_25 years

Sue and Owen Junkin_25 years

Rosa and Dan Buzzarde_25 years

Paula and Henry Morgan_25 years

Linda and Max Polk_25 years

Leticia and Jose Medina_25 years

Beth and Charles R. Herron_25 years

Beth and Charles R. Herron_25 years