Youth retreat invites contemplation

Musicals brighten spring semester at Schools

Left: COLUMBUS – Annuciation middle school students presented the musical Willy Wonka Jr. on April 4 and 5. Below, the entire cast surrounds Delia Lochala who plays Charlie during the finale number. (Photo by Katie Fensteramacher)

Right: MADISON – At left, students from St. Joseph High School present the Wizard of Oz on Saturday, April 13. There were two casts for the play, allowing more students to play the lead roles for the show, which was presented four times. In this cast, Wyatt Davis plays the Lion, Annalise Rome is Dorothy, Hannah Dear is the Scarecrow, Liam Moorehead is the Wizard and Lake Dodson is the Tin Man. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

St. Richard students ‘Make something beautiful’

St. Jude Palm Sunday get together

PEARL – St. Jude’s youth get together for a fun event on Palm Sunday afternoon Aubrey Lee, Ross Lee, Thomas Paczak, Ashley Lowe, and Jessie Millette string colorful beads remind them to pray during Holy week. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

Songs and praise for Sister Thea Bowman

CANTON – Gospel choirs from many churches gathered at Holy Child Jesus Parish on Saturday, March 30 for a musical celebration in honor of Sister Thea Bowman. Sister Thea died on March 30, 1990. Last year the Diocese of Jackson opened a cause for sainthood for the Mississippi native, who became Catholic and later served as a teacher at Holy Child.
Choirs included the Mary Grove Baptist Church men’s choir, Jackson Christ the King and Holy Ghost choirs, the Frazier Riddel Choir, the Jackson Family, Ed Hightower, Landris Jones and the Rembert Washington Chorale.
Participant choirs each offered a couple of songs while Billy Joe Wells, acting as master of ceremonies, kept the crowd upbeat and involved. Organizers hope to make the celebration an annual event.

(Story and photos by Maureen Smith)

Sun shines on Abbey Youth Fest

By Abbey Schuhmann
COVINGTON, Louisiana – On Saturday, March 23, more than 200 youth and adults from around the Diocese of Jackson loaded four charter buses and made their way to St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College for the 2019 Abbey Youth Festival (AYF). Additional parishes made trips on their own to the festival as well; the diocese was well represented with more than 300 youth and adult participants attending the one-day conference in south Louisiana.
After four straight years of rain, mud and even catastrophic flooding in 2016 which cancelled the entire event, the weather was perfect and the skies were blue; it was a sunny, 70 degrees on the AYF field. The theme for the day was “Restored – Let Your Heart Be Filled.” The seminarians at St. Joseph Seminary College play a vital role in the production of AYF including the diocese’s own, Tristan Stovall of Philadelphia Holy Cross. “The Abbey Youth Festival is an apostolic service of Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College.” The mission statement for Abbey Fest declares that “it is designed to provide young people with an opportunity to experience a day of prayer and faith formation with an exposure to the Benedictine traditions. Its focus is evangelization and vocational discernment by means of liturgy, prayer, worship, music and education appropriate for Catholic young people.” The festival has grown over the years; this year’s festival brought in more than 2,500 young people from Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. The festival boasts a packed schedule that includes faith-filled music, prayer, catechesis, fellowship and fun.
A new addition to the program this year was a talent show featuring youth versus seminarian acts including a panel of judges. Richard Smallwood of Flowood St. Paul and Anna Trautman and Hannah Hoang of Amory St. Helen were the selected youth acts to perform on stage. Trautman and Hoang performed a beautiful rendition of Lauren Daigle’s song “You Say” while Smallwood entertained the crowd with a reenactment of the classic campaign speech dance from the movie Napoleon Dynamite.
Other acts from seminarians included fire breathing and a dance-off battle. Smallwood took home the grand prize for his performance. The program featured inspirational keynote presentations from Father Sidney Speaks and Sister Josephine Garrett. Danielle Nicole presented the breakout session for the women while Dom Quaglia led the session for men. The Sarah Kroger Band entertained the crowd with an evening concert and led worship music throughout the day.
All participants had the opportunity to visit different vendor booths including religious orders and communities from all around the country. Many teens and adults also take advantage of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans celebrated the Mass with Bishop Kopacz for the second year in a row. Bishop Kopacz has made several trips to Abbey Youth Fest since his installation as bishop for the diocese. The day concluded with candlelight adoration and praise and worship.
AYF is an excellent opportunity for teens to see the bigger church and enjoy fellowship with other young Catholics from all across the South. This was the ninth year for the diocese to sponsor a trip to the Abbey Youth Festival.
Make plans to participate in the 2020 event scheduled for Saturday, March 21. For more information visit, on Facebook at “Abbey Youth Fest” or contact Abbey Schuhmann in the Office of Youth Ministry – 601-949-6934 or

Lenten rites pave way to Easter conversion

By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON/ MADISON – Lent begins with the penitential sign of ashes on Ash Wednesday, but does include some joyful moments for the faithful.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz, celebrated Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral, blessing ashes to mark the forheads of those in the church.
The Sunday, March 10, Bishop Kopacz, assisted by Deacon Mc Gregor celebrated the Rite of Election and call to continuing conversion for 43 catechumens and 10 candidates for confirmation during Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Parish. Pastor Father Albeenreddy Vatti and Father Frank Cosgrove were also on hand.
Mary Woodward, chancellor, presented a book with their names to the bishop before all the catechumens and candidates received a blessing and a Pastoral Priorities prayer card from Bishop Kopacz.
The group represented all age groups and included members of parishes around the diocese. The Rite of Election and call to continuing conversion mark the final preparations for Easter, when the catechumens will receive first communion and candidates will be confirmed.
Lauren Roberts, a catechumen from Jackson St. Richard, explained that she was baptized into the church years ago, but her fiancé, family and friends helped her to decide to take this step toward full, active membership in the church. Maria Vera is sponsoring Alberto and Alexis Jiménez. She said she wants to show them the road to Christ.

Ash Wednesday

JACKSON – Mary Woodward places ashes on the forhead of a member of the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle on Ash Wednesday. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

Above, Mr. Wesley Lindsay marks a woman's forehead. The ashes are a reminder to turn from sin during Lent and prepare for Easter.

Rite of Election

Freezing fun on Fat Tuesday

CLARKSDALE – Cold temperatures didn’t stop the students from St. Elizabeth School from celebrating Mardi Gras with a parade around campus. Older students threw the traditional beads and prizes from convertables to their younger classmates. Mardi Gras, literally Fat Tuesday, was a day to eat all the sweets and meat a family might have to prepare for fasting and abstience during the season of Lent. (Photos by Dawn Spinks)

Couples share their love, commitment at World Marriage Day

By Berta Mexidor and Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Eighty-two couples marked World Marriage Day by celebrating more than 3,500 years of marriage on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. The number of couples attending doubled from last year. The majority of those are celebrating either 50 or 25 years of marriage. Ten couples honored are celebrating 60 years of marriage.
Charlene Bearden, coordinator for the Office of Family Ministry, organizes the celebration of World Marriage Day for the Diocese of Jackson. Each couple celebrating a significant anniversary receives a certificate and a blessing from Bishop Joseph Kopacz. “I think it shows that faith out there is solid – it’s strong and people want to celebrate that,” said Bearden.
World Marriage day is a global event to honor the sacrament of marriage and recognize those who are called to the vocation. In the homily Bishop Kopacz talked about the reading of loving your enemies. He remarked, teasingly, that it was not intentional for the occasion, but it is a good lesson about the magnitude of love. Bishop Kopacz blessed the commitment and example of the couples and asked them to renew their vows with a kiss. After the Mass and blessing, all the couples were invited to the cathedral center for a reception.

50 years anniversary

Evonne and Randell Arender, 50 years from St. Joseph, Gluckstadt

Linda and Tom Bailey 50 years from St. Mary Basilica, Natchez

Rebecca and Thomas Corkern 50 years from St. Francis of Assisi, Brookhaven

Mary Nell and Billy Davenport, 50 years from Sacred Heart, Canton

Caroline and Don Frazier, 50 years from Holy Savior, Clinton

Kathleen and David Gruseck, 50 years from Annunciation, Columbus

Margaret and Ken Hicks, 50 years from St. Michael, Vicksburg

Miriam and Buddy Honeycutt, 50 years from St. Peter, Grenada

Katie and Doug Hornback, 50 years from St. francis of Assisi, Madison

Lynn and Ken Hynes, 50 years from St. Paul, Flowood

Kathy and Harvey Johnson, 50 years from Holy Family, Jackson

Janet and Robert Kalka, 50 years from St. Stephan, Magee

Ruth and Bob McWilliams, 50 years from St. Mary Basilica, Natchez

Marilyn and Robert Scott, 50 years from St. therese, Kosciusko

Betty and William Vaughan, 50 years from Sacred Heart, Canton

Carolyn and Donald Verucchi, 50 years from Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Natchez

Georgeann and daniel Leavell, 50 years from St. Michaele, Vicksburg

25 years anniversary

Becky and Eddie Adkins, 25 years from St. Joseph, Gluckstadt

Rosa and Dan Buzzarde, 25 years from St. Peter, grenada

Kristi and Scott Garrad, 25 years from St. Richard, Jackson

Nina and Shane Hoang, 25 years from St. Alphonsus, McComb

Denise and Stephen Martinolich, 25 years from Holy Savior, Clinton

Kay and Mark McKenna, 25 years from St. Patrick, Meridian

Martha and Timothy Lee Prater, 25 years from St. Francis of Assisi, Madison

Irma and Ernesto Sanchez, 25 years from Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, Jackson

Carmen and Isidro Vieyra, 25 years from St. Terese, Jackson

Special anniversary

Katheryn and Leo Duguay, 65 years from St. Paul, Flowood

Cassandra and Tracy Hansbrough, 30 years from St. Francis of Assisi, Greenwood

Dianne and Robert Jones, 46 years from St. Francis of Assisi, Greenwood

Mary and Chris Manning, 41 years from St. francis of Assisi, Madison

Margaret and John McAleese, 65 years from St. Paul, Flowood

Conception and Miguel Solano, 41 years from Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, Jackson

Darleen and William Smith, 61 years from St. Francis of Assisi, Madison

Irene and Lane Tucker, 65 years from St. Peter, Grenada

Tammy and Scott Waller, 39 yearts from St. John Crystal Springs

Yvonne and Robert Tanner, 35 years from St. Francis of Assisi, Greenwood

Derrik and Mary Faucheux, 1 day

Debra and Tunney Vandevender, 30 years from St. Francis of Assisi, Madison

Margaret and John McAllese of Flowood St. Paul Parish are celebrating 65 years of marriage with their two children and three grandchildren. “Always get rid of the problem you had before you go to bed. No fighting going to bed – get rid of it,” said John. He and his wife also like to laugh together.
Rosa and Dan Buzzarde came down from Grenada to be honored for their 25-years of marriage. It may seem like a long time, but Dan feels differently. “I looked up one day from my job and lightning slapped me in the face and it was her and I haven’t gotten over it yet,” he said. Rosa said she would tell young couples that marriage takes “lots of patience, lots of love and lots of understanding.”
Carmen and Isidro Vieyra from Jackson St. Therese celebrated 25 years of marriage. They believe that God is always helping them on the trip. Carmen said “God gives patience and love to understand.” Their daughter, Cyntia Vieyra and her fiance Gustavo García, after six years of dating, will follow their parents’ example and take the vows next May.They want to have “all the children with whom God blesses them” both said at the same time.
30-year couple Cassandra and Tracy Hansbrough from Greenwood St. Francis urge young people to put work into a relationship before marriage. “They should weigh their options and get to know one another before they get married and realize that marriage is a partnership and compromise is very important,” Cassandra explained.
Forgiveness and mercy play a role in Yvonne and Robert Tanner’s 35-year marriage. “You need to still love every day. Every day is a new beginning and when you approach it that way then those days start adding to years and more,” said Robert. His wife added, “Keep God first in prayer and I think everything else will work out.”

More pictures coming soon!

Chanche Medal honorees: serve, embrace, inspire

JACKSON – When Bishop John Joseph Chanche arrived in the newly formed Diocese of Natchez in May of 1841, there were no Catholic Churches, only a couple of missionary priests, and his flock was far flung. He rose to the challenge and laid the foundation for the Diocese of Jackson. The diocese honors his legacy and thanks those who continue to build on his foundation with the Bishop Chanche medal for service.
This year, Bishop Joseph Kopacz gave 19 adults and nine young people their awards on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. During the Mass, he used Bishop Chanche’s crozier, at right, and spoke of the man who braved wilderness and scarcity to build up the kingdom of God. The brief descriptions on these pages come from the Bishop Chanche nomination forms and offer a glimpse into the men and women who serve the Church today.

Adult winners with their medals.

Ella Deffner – Clinton Holy Savior
Eucharistic minister to shut-ins, liturgical volunteer.
“Ella lives out her personal devotion to Eucharist in her own life as a faithful Eucharistic Minister visiting and bringing Eucharist to shut-ins weekly. She prepares our altar for Mass daily and Sunday and cares for altar linens, vestments and votive candle.” – Father Tom McGing

Kathleen Edwards – Pearl St. Jude
Certified Catechist, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, hospitality coordinator, liturgical volunteer, RCIA volunteer.
“Kathleen’s ministries have touched many lives. I have seen the impact she has on children, as they respond very enthusiastically to her presence. I have seen her give special attention to children with special needs and they respond very positively to her. She is the face of Christ to many in our parish. She is always serving and taking care of our parishioners, making sure they feel welcome.” – Father Lincoln Dall

Mavis and Lando Fratesi – Leland St. James
Liturgical volunteers, social volunteers, Knights of Columbus
“This couple has been committed to their Catholic faith for past 63 years and they participate in all the ministries of the parish. Lando volunteers for any work in the parish. Young people and children look up to them as role models of parents and grandparents.” – Father Alphonse Arulanandu

Roma Golden – Natchez Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Liturgical volunteer, visited sick and home-bound, inspiring caregiver to disabled son, member Secular Order of Disclaced Carmelites
“For many years, Roma dedicated one day each week to visiting and praying with the sick and home bound and being a Eucharistic Minister to Catholic members. This has been of great service since Assumption Parish did not have a full-time priest. She has been an outstanding witness by her caring for her disabled son.” – Father David O’Connor

Deborah Hopf – Gloster, Holy Family Parish
Volunteer organist
“Ms. Debbie Hopf is a devoted organist at Holy Family Church in Gloster, as well as for St. Joseph Church in Woodville, as a substitute whenever required. She recently retired from Amite County School System as a Board Supervisor and as an English teacher at Centreville Academy, and has been most faithful to her weekend music ministry at Holy Family Church.” – Father Scott Dugas

Carolyn Koenig – Amory St. Helen
Coordinates parish Christmas charity effort, visits elderly and alzheimers patients, participates in civic charity events.
“Each year more than 80 children and families have some sort of Christmas because of her hard work and dedication. She has a loving heart and her generosity is well known in the parish. There have been times when she was hospitalized but continued with doing what she could from her bed and home. Carolyn is a loving woman who has raised two Catholic daughters who continue to participate in the Church along with her two grandchildren. Her witness of Faith is quietly evident in all she does.” – Sister Lael Niblick

Mary and John Kraft – Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish
Office and liturgy volunteers
For Mary and John, their service to the Church is priority. They see the work that they do for the Church and for the Lord as their path of living out their holiness. So many sacrifices have been made to accomplish the good work the Lord has inspired them to carry out.” – nominating committee

Mike Logan – Woodville St. Joseph
Hospitality volunteer, usher, assists needs veterans.
“Mike Logan has continued a dedicated ministry of Minister of Hospitality and Usher at St. Joseph Church in Woodville for more than 10 years. This goes back to a family tradition started with St. Mary Basilica and Assumption Churches in Natchez.” – Father Scott Dugas

Vivian and Patrick McKinney – Chatawa St. Teresa of Avila
Parish council volunteers, donated construction time, talent and treasure, social gathering volunteers, associates of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
(In addition to preparing meals for parish events), “Pat constructed the concrete foundation for the bell tower at St. Teresa of Avila Church, as well as the concrete ramp to St. James Mission Church, Magnolia.” Vivian serves on several committees and arranges parish picnic annually. They are “a faithful family — totally dedicated to their church in various ways. They are always available to take up any responsibility.” – Father Suresh Reddy Thirumalareddy

Roxian and Daniel Miller – Natchez St. Mary Basilica
Liturgical volunteers, parish event volunteers, social service volunteers, member Knights of Columbus.
“Both of these nominees are outstanding witnesses and examples in St. Mary Basilica parish. They are leaders in the “Respect Life” activities of the parish and in the functions of the Knights of Columbus. Both can be found in the Family Life Center kitchen helping to prepare and serve the weekly parish dinners and do the clean up afterwards. Both are very dedicated to praying the rosary, often making rosaries to give to those who need one and leading many rosary services throughout the year, especially during the month of October.” – Father David O’Connor

Rosalinda and Joel Montoy – Jackson St. Therese
Hispanic ministry, catechesis, parish and finance council volunteers, donors of construction time, talent and treasure,
“Most recently Joel helped recruit and coordinated volunteers who are donating $115,000 worth of labor for construction of the new parish offices and religious education classrooms.” Rosalinda has also been an example of one who gives her time, talents and leadership to the parish. She serves on the pastoral council and on the liturgy committee. For three years Rosalinda has been the director of the Parish School of Religion for Hispanics. Like a good leader, she prepared someone to take her place this year, and Rosalinda has returned to teaching one of the classes.” – Msgr. Elvin Sunds

Evelyn Villanueva Riveros – Vicksburg St. Michael
Hispanic ministry coordinator, sacramental preparation volunteer, social service volunteer
“Evelyn is a native Puerto Rican and her home country was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Being barely able to communicate with family and friends made this time very difficult for Evelyn but she threw her heart into doing whatever she could for her fellow Puerto Ricans. She took her love of Hispanic Ministry and her love of country to the global scale. Almost single handedly she arranged for the St. Michael Parish Hall to be used as the Warren County drop off location for relief items going to Puerto Rico.” – Father Robert Dore

Derek Singleton – Jackson Christ the King
Liturgical volunteer, parish council member, school supporter, physical plant volunteer, catechist Knights of Peter Claver.
“Derek is a true example of who a Catholic is. His deeds are not not done because he was asked to sign up for something. He does things because he feels as a Catholic it is something that he should do. It is in his persona to go out of his way to serve.” – Deacon Denzil Lobo

Barbara and Donnie Tynes – Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle
RCIA coordinators, liturgical volunteers, Habitat for Humanity volunteers, prison ministry, parish council
“Since their registration as parishioners 14 years ago, Barbara and Donnie are the smiling faces that inquirers and visitors see at the Cathedral They are always ready with a smile or hug or both to help those in need feel special.” – Father Anthony Quyet

Doug Prosen – Philadephia Holy Cross Parish
Food pantry ministry, Knights of Columbus
“He is a vibrant person who spends his time serving the poor and runs this ministry free of charge.” – Father Darnis Selvanayakam

Britt Virden – Greenville, St. Joseph Parish
School and parish volunteer and donor. “Britt exemplifies what it means to believe in a mission and put every ounce of talent and energy into mission. He believes in it and he lives it. He has also made financial sacrifices in order to support our school and parish. No matter what the need was, Britt would see to it that we got it.” – Father Bill Henry.

Gracie Wilson – Gluckstadt St. Joseph
Liturgical volunteer, hospitality volunteer for parish and diocesan events, Hispanic ministry, social service, Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxillary
“Gracie is invaluable to me, personally, and to our community. She leads when called to leadership, she is on the team when needed, and she serves in the background when that service is necessary. She is always there, helping, supporting, and praying for our parish family.” – Pam Minninger

Youth honorees

JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz congratulates youth winners of the Bishop Chanche service award during the Mass on Saturday, Feb. 24. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

Olivia Artigues – Starkville St. Joseph
Youth ministry and catechetical volunteer, liturgical volunteer, community service volunteer.
“When she speaks about or lives out her faith, it is a pure and well intended example for the others to follow. And it is done in such as way, as John the Baptist, pointing to someone much greater than herself.” – Deacon Jeff Artigues

Raphael Barner – Jackson Holy Ghost
Liturgical volunteer, musician (Sonic Boom of the South member), role model.
“At our church and at school, Raphael is known for his leadership and his willingness to assist and prayerfulness. The youth at our church look up to Raphael because is always available for the young males to talk to school and sometimes about music. Raphael has no problem praying with his friends and sharing his religious beliefs. For a young man who have so much going on in his life, he is a jewel.” – Father Alfred Ayem, pastor

Catherine Cook – Jackson St. Richard
Youth ministry leader, retreat leader, liturgical volunteer, community service volunteer
“Catherine has a deep faith in God and a strong personal relationship with Christ. Her relationship with Christ is evident in everything she does. Catherine truly loves the Lord and this becomes very apparent in the way she lives her life. You don’t have to spend much time with Catherine before her love of Christ becomes apparent. She just can’t help sharing his love with others. “ – Amelia Rizor, youth minister

Margaret Elizabeth Gordon – Gluckstadt St. Joseph
Liturgical volunteer, catechist volunteer, community service
“Meg has an enthusiasm for her participation and faith that inspires not only her leaders but our younger members as well. She is always willing to guide the younger teens when needed.” – Patti Greene, youth minister

Cassandra Klutz – Meridian St. Patrick
Liturgical ministry, particularly music ministry, Vacation Bible school and summer service camp volunteer.
“She is the most empathetic young person I have ever been around, she has a knack for sensing what someone may need, whether it be a kind word, a smile, or a helping hand and then providing it without fanfare. She is very creative in the arts with the ability to vision an idea and then follow through to its completion. Her kindness extends throughout our youth, she will take the time to teach younger kids arts, crafts, music and anything that she has had experience with previously. Finally, her integrity might be her strongest suit. She has been taught a strong moral foundation by her parents and she has built upon that herself.” – John Harwell, youth minister

Dominic Lopez – Pearl St. Jude
Youth ministry volunteer, liturgical volunteer, volunteer for Carmelite monastery, parish leadership council, hospital volunteer
“He is a strong leader in our community and in our youth program. He has a strong devotion to the Eucharist and the Mass and to many of the devotions of our Catholic faith. He tries to get other youth involved in our parish and is always encouraging to them. Many of the other youth look to him for leadership and as an example. He promotes the traditions and devotions of the Filipino community in our parish.” – Father Lincoln Dall

Ryne Hamilton McCallum – Vicksburg St. Michael
Peer catechist, youth leader
“It is really hard to narrow down to three words Ryne’s character. Loyal, hardworking and faith-filled easily come to mind. However, the one word that really stands out is inquisitive. Ryne has been attending our Parish School of Religion since second grade and in those eleven years there have only been a handful of times that he has missed. He is still attending this year as a Confirmed high school senior.” – Helene Bension, Director of religious education.

John Paul Moorman – Madison St. Francis of Assisi
Youth ministry volunteer, Vacation Bible School volunteer
“John Paul’s service has done a lot to help build a culture of outstanding young Christian men and women in our parish community. By working with young men and women almost every Sunday and serving as he is needed he is helping others see an example of a youth who takes his faith seriously and lives it out. We are very thankful for John Paul and everything about this outstanding young man. He consistently attends youth activities, participates in worship activities and extends himself beyond what is required by volunteering this year with the EDGE core team.” – nominating committee

Mary Swinney – Kosciusko St. Therese
Youth ministry leader, civic volunteer, community service volunteer
“Well organized and dependable with tasks large and small. This year she helped organize and worked at four fundraisers to pay for the nine youth and two chaperones to attend the Youth Conference in Vicksburg. Mary is very humble and is not one to call attention to herself and is willing to help where ever there is a need.” – nominating committee

Julianna Vaughn – Tupelo St. James
Youth leader, liturgical volunteer, Vacation Bible school volunteer, community service volunteer.
“She is a leader in every way. She is the captain of her cheer squad, captain of the soccer team, Vice President of her senior class, Vice President of high school student government, President of the BETA club, Contributing write to the Quill and Scroll high school paper, volunteers for the Nettleton peewee football league. She is also pursuing a career in service to her country. “ – Mary Frances Strange, youth minister

Christopher James Walton – Flowood St. Paul
Youth leader, liturgical volunteer, Eagle Scout
“In referring again to his genuine nature, he participates in our program because he knows it is the right thing to do and really enjoys it. He is the type of student that the adult volunteers have come to know they can count on to help inspire other students. All of his current and past youth volunteers have nothing but great things to say about him.” – Corey Head, youth minister

Parish builds New Life Building

By Elsa Baughman
JACKSON – Sunday, Feb. 24, was a sunny and cool day, perfect for the dedication of St. Therese Parish New Life Building. After several days of rain, the weather cleared and Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Msgr. Elvin Sunds, pastor, Deacon Adolfo Suarez and parishioners stood outside the new building after the 12:30 bilingual Mass for the blessing and dedication.
The construction of this building, which will be used for parish offices and religious education classes, began in February 2018 and was finished on Saturday, Feb. 23. The cost of the construction was $1.5 million, Msgr. Sunds said, adding that most of money from the sale of St. Therese school, about $500,000, and a little from the sale of Jackson St. Mary Church’s building in 2015, were the seed money to start the project.
“We also had very generous donations from parishioners and friends in the community,” he said. Msgr. Sunds noted the parish had two large donations, one for $100,000 from a Catholic Mississippian and $70,000 from a non-Catholic.
“A big help also came from members of the Hispanic community of St. Therese Parish who provided labor for free in the amount of $115,000. Joel Montoya, a contractor who recently received the Bishop Chance Award, coordinated the Hispanic volunteers who donated their labor. “We also had some volunteers from Jackson St. Peter Parish and from other area Catholic parishes who came to the site and asked how they could help,” he said. “I didn’t know them but if they wanted to help I directed them to the areas where they could work.” Montoya said about 45 Hispanic volunteers and a few Americans did about 40 percent of the labor including sheet-rocking, framing, insulating, painting,, brick laying and other tasks.
He said that few who had committed to help but at the last minute couldn’t do it, paid others to do it for them. “That shows how serious they were about being part of this project,” he said. Msgr. Sunds and Montoya feel very blessed for all the help and donations the parish received for the construction of the New Life Building and the day of the blessing they wanted to have a photo with all the volunteers as a memory for the future.

A loan was taken for the rest of the money, about $600,000, which will be paid in 17 years. Msgr. Sunds said Bishop Kopacz is very committed to making sure that St. Therese Parish is an anchor for the South Jackson community and a large anchor for the Hispanic community. “That is why he extended the loan a little further than normal so we were able to go ahead with the project. It was a project that was really necessary for the parish but it is also a statement about St. Therese Parish saying ‘we are here to stay.’”
The parish is very multicultural, including Hispanics, non-Hispanics, African Americans, and others from Vietnam, Africa, Nigeria, and the Philippines.
Msgr. Sunds said they tried to utilize as many of the sacred objects as they could from St. Mary Parish. Some were old or in disrepair and had to either be buried or burned. “We felt it was appropriate to bury them under the foundation of the new building as saying that we are continuing the life of St. Mary here at St. Therese,” he added. The Stations of the Cross at St. Therese are part of St. Mary Parish too.
Volunteers also helped with moving furniture and items from storage and from the current offices to the new building. After the blessing and dedication of the building parishioners gathered to enjoy a reception and cook out.