Beloved priest celebrates milestone, bids farewell for now

By Monica Walton
CANTON – The final chapter as a full-time pastor came to a close where the first chapter began.

On June 20, 2022, on the occasion of his 50th Ordination Anniversary and retirement, Father Mike O’Brien came full circle, celebrating one of his last Masses as pastor in the very same parish where he had his first experience as pastor of any church. He was only 35 years old when he first moved to Sacred Heart in Canton in 1983. How fitting that this be the location of his final assignment in the Magnolia State.

Father Mike O’Brien pictured in Feb. 1976.

“I’ve had a wonderful life,” Father Mike reflected during his homily. “I love being a priest, and I’m very blessed to have these two worlds: Mississippi, I love ya’ll (he drawled)… and Ireland, I love my Ireland.” As he recaptured highlights of the many memories he lived during his childhood and priesthood, he noted that this was the longest sermon he’d given in all his 50 years. But he made certain to proclaim this truth, “I always knew God was with me, especially in the hard times of our Starkville church burning, Hurricane Katrina and the ICE raids.”

The beautiful, little church on Center Street was filled to the brim with the faithful from the many parishes and cities where Father Mike has served. Several who came to honor him had to watch the Mass on monitors in the Parish Center due to lack of seating, but they didn’t mind. They were simply happy to be there to bid farewell to this priest who had touched their lives in such a special way.

The evening was a beautiful blending of cultures — just as the church is meant to be — with the readings, songs, and food representing English, Spanish and, of course, Irish flair. Fifteen members of Father Mike’s family made the trip from Ireland to Mississippi for this incredibly special occasion. Four generations were represented with the youngest of the clan being present, his great niece, Aoivhinn, only 2 1/2 years old. “We just couldn’t miss it,” said Paul Hickey, nephew of Father Mike. “Michael always came for us. He came back to Ireland for holiday, and for our special celebrations.”

Local parishioners as well as members of Father Mike’s family took part in the Mass. The First Reading was proclaimed by the eldest in the family, Sister Margaret O’Brien, a Sister of Mercy and biological sister to Mike. Nieces Roisin O’Brien and Ciara Todd each read a prayer petition.

Father Mike’s younger brother, Tom, who bears strikingly close resemblance, spoke on behalf of the family at his big brother’s ordination reception although he was only a teenager when Father Mike was ordained. Tom once again delivered a reflection for the family at the end of Father Mike’s 50th Anniversary Mass. “When Bishop Brunini visited our home, we were proud, but a bit apprehensive,” Tom said. “Afterall, our brother was going to a place he couldn’t even spell! But our fears and reservations disappeared quickly. Mom and Dad visited Mike in Mississippi first, then all us siblings made trips. We brought our kids, and our kids brought their kids.” Tom closed with these final thoughts on his older brother, “First and foremost, he is a decent man. We are very, very proud of him.” When speaking of how thrilled the family is that he is going home to begin his retirement, Tom added, “But, we take note that he hasn’t sold his car!”

CANTON – Father Mike O’Brien is pictured at a Mass of Thanksgiving for his 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on Monday, June 20.

More than 40 priests from throughout the state of Mississippi were in attendance, along with Bishop Joseph Kopacz. They led a moving, prayerful, a capella singing of “Salve Regina” just before the whole place joined in the recessional hymn, “This Little Light of Mine,” in honor of the light of Christ evident in Father Mike.

It was a night filled with immense joy, a living testimony to the effect Father Mike has had on this community. “I was so humbled and inspired by the awesome celebration,” Father Mike said. “I enjoyed it and appreciated everything so much.”

But how did this Irishman, born in Roscommon and ordained in Kilbegnet, wind up in Jackson, Mississippi? “It was the Holy Spirit,” he says. “I knew I wanted an adventure. I wanted to go away somewhere to be a priest, someplace like China or Sudan. My cousin was going to be a priest in Mississippi. I knew it was a river, but he said, ‘It’s also a state!’ So, I asked him, ‘Do they speak English there?’ He answered, ‘Well, sort of. …’” The church filled with laughter, as happened many times while Father Mike recounted stories of growing up with seven siblings, his deep love of family clearly shown.

His sister, Assumpta, said their Mom was worried about Mike going so far away because he was so young and didn’t even know not to wear white socks. “It was difficult in the beginning, but then as we heard about the wonderful local people, Mom knew he had a family here.” Assumpta recalled a few memories of her first visit to Mississippi. “We were thrilled with so many new things. I remember Mike had a waffle maker, and we had never seen one before!”

Sacred Heart parish was filled to the brim with the faithful from the many parishes and cities where Father Mike O’Brien served over his 50 years as a priest. (Photos by Berta Mexidor)

Father Mike credited Father Sam Messina with naming the reality that priests have three families – their birth family, their parish family and their family of brother priests. That is why the decision to return to Ireland upon retirement was not an easy one to make. Father Mike left his family and home at the young age of 24 to serve and has lived in Mississippi for 50 years. Father Mike said he has had mixed emotions about leaving, going back and forth over where to spend his retirement years. He had finally decided to stay in Mississippi when his sister, Marie, called with a creative proposition. “Marie said, ‘Why not come (back to Ireland) for just one year?’ and I thought that was a good idea.” said Father Mike.

Assumpta said their parents would be so thrilled that he is returning home to Ireland. “He will be a center for us all,” she said. That seems to be the effect he has on everyone in his midst. “Father Mike has been a great priests’ priest, as well as a great servant to the people,” said his close friend, Father Gerry Hurley, who also hails from Ireland. “Fellow priests could always look to Mike for encouragement, direction and assistance. He is a classic representation of all the good things of Ireland, and the hopes of the seminary that sent him.”

Ten days after the joyous 50th Anniversary celebration in the packed house of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Father Mike O’Brien celebrated his final Mass there as pastor. He bid a bittersweet “slán agat” (goodbye) to his Beloved Mississippi, but with the assurance that he will be back! “I am open,” he said. “I’m not saying that I’m going to Ireland forever.”

This faithful, humble priest with a most gentle heart and endearing smile will be greatly missed. Go with our sincere prayers, love, and blessings, Father Mike!

Calendar of events

HOMEWOOD, Ala. Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference, July 29-30 in the Family Life Center at Our Lady of Sorrows Church at 1728 Oxmoor Road held by the Diocese of Birmingham. Conference theme is “Thy Will Be Done” and will feature Andi Oney, an international Catholic evangelist. Registration fee is $25 for individuals and $65 for a family of three or more. All are welcome! Details: Sally Smith at (205) 983-4150 or
CHATAWA Our Lady of Hope Retreat Center, Quo Vadis? Young Men’s Discernment Retreat, July 26-29. Age range for retreat is 15-25. Come pray, eat, have fun and build fraternity. To register visit: Details: email Father Nick at
CLARKSDALE St. Elizabeth, “Life in the Spirit” retreat, Saturday, Aug. 27 at 9 a.m. and ends with closing Mass at 4 p.m. Details: church office (662) 624-4301.
CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories, Men’s weekly devotional group. Will start on Wednesday, Aug. 3 from 6-6:30 a.m. with coffee and donuts and a brief time for reflecting on scripture, faith and how it applies to our lives. Details: call Darrin at (662) 588-2596.
MADISON St. Francis, Diocese Fall Faith Formation Day, Saturday, Aug. 20, 10 a.m to 3 p.m. for formation leaders and volunteers. Theme is “Behold, I make all things new.” Keynote presenter is Stephanie Clouatre Davis, with breakout session topics including Total Youth Ministry: the Lifeteen experience; Cultivating vocations; Tips and tricks on facilitating small groups; Fruits of the Synod and more! Registration deadline is Aug. 15. Cost is $10 per person. Details: register at – email with questions.
PEARL St. Jude, The Marian Servants of Jesus the Lamb of God invite all to join them for fellowship, healing prayer, charismatic praise and worship, teaching faith sharing and the Rosary on Tuesdays from 1-3 p.m. in the Mary room. Details: call (601) 278-0423 or email

BATESVILLE St. Mary, Parish Rummage Sale, Friday, Aug. 5 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 6 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Parish Center. Details: church office (662) 563-2273.
CLARKSDALE St. Elizabeth, Save the Date: St. Elizabeth Feast Day on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 10:30 a.m. Mass. Details: church office (662) 624-4301.
DIOCESE Catholic schools in Clarksdale, Columbus, Greenville, Holly Springs, Jackson, Madison, Meridian, Natchez, Southaven and Vicksburg are now enrolling. Contact your local school for a tour today! Visit for contact information.
FLOWOOD St. Paul Early Learning Center Golf Tournament, Friday, Sept. 16 at Bay Pointe Golf Club.Details: contact
GLUCKSTADT St. Joseph, Save the date: Germanfest 2022, Sunday, Sept. 25 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers needed for kraut packing on Wednesday, July 20 at 4 p.m. No experience needed. Will be working outside to dress accordingly. Details: church office (601) 856-2054.
GREENVILLE St. Joseph, Catholic Inquiry Series begins Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Do you want to learn about what Catholics believe? Are you searching for a church home? Were you baptized Catholic but rarely attend church? Want to learn about our 2000 year history? If you answered yes, this series is for you! Details: call (662) 335-5251 to register.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, Save the Date: Annual Bazaar, Saturday Sept. 10. Lots of help and items needed: prizes for kids games, silent auction items, vendors for craft booths, homemade goods for the Country Kitchen. Details: contact Julie Stefanik at or call the church office at (662) 429-7851.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Inaugural Choral Festival, July 29-31. Details: church office: (601) 445-5616.
JACKSON Catholic Charities School Supply Giveaway, Friday, Aug. 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. COVID vaccines will be available. Giveaway located at Charities offices at 850 E. River Place, Jackson. Details: call (601 326-3703.
PEARL St. Jude, Trip to Yazoo City to tour historic Glenwood cemetery for parishioners on Saturday, July 30. Visit the final resting place for the Witch of Yazoo city, Mississippi author Willie Morris and Catholic priests and nuns who served in Yazoo City. Tour led by Charlie Carlyle, historian and official cemetery guide. Tour concludes with Mass at St. Mary Yazoo City, a tour of downtown and lunch. Group will leave from St. Jude at 8 a.m. and travel in cars. Details: church office (601) 939-3181.
St. Jude, Back to School Pancake Breakfast and Blessing of Backpacks on Sunday July 31. Breakfast served from 9:15-10:30 a.m. Backpack blessing at 10 a.m. Donations for breakfast accepted to benefit parish school of religion. Details: church office (601) 939-3181.
SOUTHAVEN Christ the King, Knights of Columbus Spaghetti Dinner, Saturday, July 23 from 5-7 p.m. Sit down or take out in the PRE building. Details: church office (662) 342-1073.

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS Catholic schools across the diocese have a variety of positions open. Please visit for an opportunity near you.
DIOCESE The Department of Faith Formation in the Diocese of Jackson is looking for a full-time Coordinator of the Office of Young Adults and Campus Ministry. The coordinator supervises and participates in the diocesan efforts for ministry to and with young adults, college students, youth and the various staff and volunteers who assist with these ministries from the parishes. Please send a cover letter and resume to to apply.

Padre Mike se jubila después de 50 años

Por Mónica Walton

JACKSON – El pasado 20 de junio, con motivo de su 50 aniversario de ordenación y jubilación, el padre Mike O’Brien cerró el círculo y celebró su última Misa como párroco en la misma parroquia donde comenzó.

Tenía solo 35 años cuando se mudó por primera vez a Sacred Heart en Canton en 1983. Qué apropiado que ésta sea la ubicación de su asignación final en Magnolia State.

“He tenido una vida maravillosa”, reflexionó el padre Mike durante su homilía. “Me encanta ser sacerdote y estoy muy bendecido de tener estos dos mundos: Mississippi e Irlanda.” Mientras recapturó los aspectos más destacados de los muchos recuerdos que vivió durante su infancia y sacerdocio, señaló que este fue el sermón más largo que había dado en todos sus 50 años. Pero se aseguró de proclamar esta verdad: “Siempre supe que Dios estaba conmigo, especialmente en los tiempos difíciles, desde el incendio de nuestra iglesia en Starkville, el huracán Katrina y las redadas de ICE”.

Pero, ¿cómo este irlandés, nacido en Roscommon y ordenado en Kilbegnet, terminó en Jackson, Mississippi? “Fue el Espíritu Santo”, dice. “Sabía que quería una aventura. Mi primo iba a ser sacerdote en Mississippi. Sabía que era un río, pero él dijo: ‘¡También es un estado!’ Entonces, le pregunté: ‘¿Hablan inglés allí?’. Él respondió: ‘Bueno, algo así…'”

CANTON – La Misa de retiro del Padre Mike O’Brien fue celebrada el lunes 20 de junio, concelebrada por el Padre Gerry Hurley párroco de St. Paul Flowood y asistidos por el diácono John Mc Gregor, en la que estuvo acompañado por el obispo Joseph Kopacz, miembros de su familia provenientes de Irlanda y un centenar de parroquianos en celebración multicultural, quienes llegaron a dar muestras de gracias y despedida (Fotos de Berta Mexidor)

La pequeña iglesia se llenó de risas, repleta de fieles de las muchas parroquias y ciudades donde el Padre Mike ha servido. Varios de los que vinieron a honrarlo tuvieron que ver la Misa en monitores en el Centro Parroquial por falta de asientos, pero no les importó. Estaban felices de estar allí para despedir a este sacerdote que había tocado sus vidas de una manera tan especial.

La velada fue una hermosa mezcla de culturas, tal como debe ser la iglesia, con lecturas, canciones y comida que representaban el estilo inglés, español y, por supuesto, irlandés. Quince miembros de la familia del padre Mike viajaron de Irlanda a Mississippi para esta ocasión tan especial. “El padre Mike ha sido un gran sacerdote de sacerdotes, así como un gran servidor para la gente”, dijo su amigo cercano, el padre Gerry Hurley, quien también es oriundo de Irlanda. “Los compañeros sacerdotes siempre pueden buscar a Mike en busca de aliento, dirección y asistencia. Es una representación clásica de todas las cosas buenas de Irlanda y las esperanzas del seminario que lo envió”.

El padre Mike O’Brien dedicó un agridulce “slán agat” (adiós) a su Amado Mississippi, ¡pero con la seguridad de que volverá! Echaremos mucho de menos a este sacerdote fiel y humilde con un corazón muy tierno y una sonrisa entrañable. ¡Vaya con nuestras oraciones sinceras, amor y bendiciones, Padre Mike!

(Mónica Walton nació y se crio en Luisiana, ama su herencia cajún y sus LSU Tigers. Tiene una licenciatura en Periodismo/LSU. Ha trabajado en medios impresos, televisión & radio en Luisiana, Georgia y Mississippi. Mónica vive en Brandon desde 1993 y tiene cuatro hijos.)

Feature Photo: Blessing of McGing Hall

CLINTON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Father Thomas McGing bless the newly built McGing Hall at Holy Savior parish. Prior to the blessing, a Mass of Thanksgiving was held in honor of Father McGing, who is retiring after 51 years of service. (Photo by Joanna Puddister King)

Calendar of Events

Our Lady of Hope Retreat Center, 15th annual “Speak Lord I’m Listening” Retreat for men and women, using the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Friday, July 22 from 7 p.m. till Sunday, July 24 at 12 p.m. Retreat is directed by Father Bill Henry. Come learn techniques to pray and meditate on the scriptures to deepen your relationship with the Lord. Cost is $250 per person and includes housing and meals; cost for commuters is $150. Registration deadline July 11. Details: Charlene Brown (601) 276-5954 or Marion Amedee (601) 684-3098.

Our Lady of Hope Retreat Center, Quo Vadis? Young Men’s Discernment Retreat, July 26-29. Age range for retreat is 15-25. Come pray, eat, have fun and build fraternity. To register visit: Details: email Father Nick at

JACKSON The Carmelite Monestery invites you to join them for Mass in their Monastery Chapel each evening during their annual Novena of Masses to honor Our Lady of Mount Carmel and to ask her intercession. Masses will be daily at 5:30 p.m., July 7 – July 16 and will be preceded by praying the Rosary at 5 p.m. There will be no morning Masses. Details: email

St. Francis of Assisi, Parish Cook-out Party, July 2 after 5 p.m. Mass. Sign-up sheet posted in parish hall for sides and other things to bring. Details: parish hall (601) 813-2295.

CANTON Sacred Heart, Chair stretch and contemplative prayer, Mondays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. in the parish center. Details: Tereza Speer (769) 233-1989.

CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories, Ladies Fellowship Lunch, Friday, June 24 at 11:30 a.m. at The Warehouse. Just show up! Details: Mary Foust at (662) 902-9903.

JACKSON St. Richard, 4th of July Family Picnic, Sunday, July 3 after 5 p.m. Mass. Food, fun, treats and more! Bring your favorite dessert to share. Details: church office (601) 366-2335.

St. Richard Boy Scout Troop Flag Retirement Ceremony, Boy Scout Troop #30 will hold their annual Flag Retirement Ceremony at the 4th of July Family Picnic on July 3. Please bring your worn out and torn flags to the church office by Friday, July 1 to participate.

MERIDIAN St. Patrick and St. Joseph, Prison Ministry volunteers needed to spread the Good News. Details: call (601) 527-3497 John Maloney or (601) 513-9907 Ken Woodward.

NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Thursday Nights at the Movies at 6:30 p.m. in the youth wing of the Family Life Center. Classic Catholic movies suitable for older children through adults will be shown. Snacks and drinks available for purchase. Donations accepted with proceeds going to new Miss-Lou Pregnancy Resource Center. June 30 – The 13th Day (2009); July 7 – Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972); July 21 – The Way (2010). Details: church office (601) 445-5616.

St. Francis, VBS, July 11-13 from 5:30-8 p.m. for preschool through age 11. Sign up sheets are in the vestibule. Details: church office (601) 833-1799.

CLINTON Holy Savior, Totally Catholic Rocky Railway VBS, July 11-15 from 6-8 p.m. for children going into PreK-3 through sixth grade. Registration open. Cost is $10 per child. Details: Trish Ballard (601) 924-6344.

NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, VBS, July 11-15 at the Family Life Center. Begins at 5:15 p.m. and a light, kid-friendly supper will be provided. For children entering PreK-4 through exiting fifth grade. Theme is Jerusalem Marketplace. Pre-registration is required and ends on July 1. Register at Details: church office (601) 445-5616.

MERIDIAN St. Patrick, Vacation Bible School, July 18-22. Theme is Food Truck Party … On a Roll with God! Registration now open at the parish office or online at Children must be registered individually. Cost is $10 per child (no child will be turned away if the family is unable to pay the fee). Open for children Kindergarten through fifth grade. Details: church office (601) 693-1321.

Catholic schools across the diocese have a variety of positions open from principals to substitutes. Please visit for an opportunity near you.

BIKING FOR BABIES, Renewing the culture of life in America, one pedal stroke and one pregnancy resource center at a time. They are riding through the state Monday, July 11, starting at St. Mary Basilica, Natchez and their first stop will be Tuesday, July 12 at 7 p.m. at Dayspring Community Church (1100 Clinton Business Park Drive, Clinton). They ask people to attend and support them as they raise funds for Pregnancy Resource Centers across the country. Details:

Father Adolfo installed as pastor in tri-lingual celebration

By Berta Mexidor
MORTON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz officially installed Father Adolfo Suarez-Pasillas as pastor of St. Michael Forest, its mission, St. Anne Newton, St. Michael Paulding and administrator of Centro Católico in Morton on Friday, June 3 with a tri-lingual celebration. Between COVID outbreaks, illnesses and scheduling issues, the installation was delayed almost a year, but the celebration was no less joyous.

The missions in Forest, Newton, Paulding and Morton serve many immigrants, not only of Hispanic descent but also Vietnamese among other nationalities, with a history that dates back to 1996 when the Catholic Center opened in Morton with a spiritual retreat led by Father Jorge Julio Mejia of Bogota, Colombia, who was visiting Mississippi and has continuously offered Sunday Mass and social services to the growing Hispanic community residing in and around Morton.

Father Adolfo was ordained on May 11, 2019, and had his first Mass of Thanksgiving, on June 7 of the same year, in the parish of Jesus of Nazareth, in his hometown Jesús Maria, of Aguascalientes in Mexico. Since childhood, around the age of six, Father Adolfo remembers wanting to be a priest and look at the images of his grandmother’s Bible, when he could not read. His grandmother and aunts taught him the world of faith and prayer.

“The first time I remember, the priesthood came to mind was when I was about six years old. It was Sunday, I was walking with my cousin and I remember telling her I wanted to be a priest. She asked me why, then I told her, because all priests go to heaven,” Father Adolfo recalled in an interview with Mississippi Catholic.

With his longing to serve and desire to follow God, Father Adolfo draws on the example of the many saints who inspire him, St. Augustine, St. John Bosco, St. Francis de Sales, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. John Mary Vianney, St. Francis of Assisi and St. John Paul II, along with his devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe to serve the People of God.

Obispo de San Diego dice estar ‘asombrado’ al ser nombrado Cardenal

Por Catholic News Service
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – El cardenal designado Robert W. McElroy dijo a periodistas el 31 de mayo que rezó “una gran oración” cuando se enteró de que se encuentra entre los 21 nuevos cardenales que el papa francisco creará el 27 de agosto.

“Dije varias oraciones porque estaba asombrado y en shock” tras el anuncio, dijo el prelado de 68 años que dirige la diócesis de San Diego. Es el único estadounidense en el grupo que el papa anunció el 29 de mayo.

Monseñor Robert W. McElroy de San Diego conversa con participantes en una sesión de clausura del sínodo sobre jóvenes adultos de la Diócesis de San Diego en la Misión San Diego de Alcalá el 9 de noviembre de 2019. El obispo McElroy estuvo entre los 21 nuevos cardenales nombrados por el papa Francisco el 29 de mayo de 2022 (Foto CNS/David Maung, Diócesis de San Diego)

“Fue una oración en agradecimiento por mi familia y las muchas personas que me han ayudado a formarme a lo largo de los años y una acción de gracias a Dios por todos (su ayuda) en mi vida”, dijo durante una conferencia de prensa de 25 minutos fuera del centro pastoral diocesano.

Después del consistorio, estará entre los 132 cardenales menores de 80 años, que podrán votar en un cónclave. El número de los mayores de 80 años será de 97, elevando el número total de cardenales a 229.

Monseñor McElroy, originario de San Francisco, es el sexto obispo de San Diego. Fue instalado el 15 de abril de 2015. Fue ordenado sacerdote para la Arquidiócesis de San Francisco el 12 de abril de 1980, fue obispo auxiliar de la arquidiócesis desde septiembre de 2010 hasta que fue nombrado para encabezar la Diócesis de San Diego en 2015. El obispo de San Diego dijo a los periodistas que no sabía antes del anuncio del papa que sería nombrado cardenal. Se despertó esa mañana con una avalancha de llamadas, mensajes de texto y correos electrónicos felicitándolo. “Pensé ‘¿Felicidades por qué?'”, dijo.

El cardenal designado McElroy dijo que está profundamente honrado de ser nombrado miembro del Colegio Cardenalicio y también está feliz de saber que se quedará en San Diego. “Eso me encanta”, dijo.
“Había el deseo de tener un cardenal en la costa oeste, así que eso tuvo algo que ver”. Pero dijo que otra razón por la que el papa lo eligió podría ser que San Diego es una diócesis fronteriza con ministerios que reflejan la prioridad que el pontífice otorga a la iglesia y la sociedad que recibe a los inmigrantes y refugiados incondicionalmente.

Papa Francisco tiene una serie de iniciativas que él está tratando de traer a la vida de la iglesia”, dijo el cardenal designado McElroy a los periodistas el 31 de mayo. “Y he tratado de tomar esas iniciativas y sembrarlas aquí”.

Padre Adolfo queda instalado en nuevo Pueblo de Dios

Por Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – El obispo Joseph Kopacz en Misa de Instalación celebrada en Morton, en la tarde del viernes 3, dio el nombramiento oficial al Padre Adolfo Suárez-Pasillas, nombrado párroco de la parroquia Forest St. Michael y su misión, St. Anne en Newton; parroquia de Paulding St. Michael y administrador del Centro Católico en Morton.

La Misa de instalación fue concelebrada por el Padre Cesar Sanchez con muestras de mucha alegría por parte de los parroquianos que ya conocen el servicio del Padre Adolfo, ya que el mismo ha dirigido su misión por casi un año, desde su asignación el pasado 25 de agosto de 2021, trayendo consigo la experiencia después de servir en St. James Tupelo y St. Richard Madison.

Las misiones en Forest, Newton, Paulding y Morton sirven a muchos inmigrantes, no solo de descendencia Hispana sino también Vietnamitas entre otras nacionalidades, con una historia que viene desde 1996 cuando se inauguró el Centro Católico en Morton con un retiro espiritual dirigido por el padre Jorge Julio Mejía de Bogotá, Colombia, quien estaba de visita en Mississippi y ha ofrecido continuamente Misa dominical y servicios sociales a la creciente comunidad de hispanos residenciados en Morton y sus alrededores.

El padre Adolfo fue ordenado el 11 de mayo de 2019 y tuvo su primera Misa, el día 7 de junio del mismo año, en la parroquia Jesús de Nazaret, en su pueblo natal Jesús Maria, de Aguascalientes en México. Desde pequeño, alrededor de los seis años, el padre Adolfo recuerda querer ser sacerdote y mirar las imágenes de la Biblia de su abuela, cuando no sabía leer. Su abuela y sus tías le enseñaron el mundo de la fe y la oración.

“La primera vez que recuerdo que el sacerdocio me vino a la mente fue cuando tenía alrededor de 6 años. Era domingo, caminaba con mi prima y recuerdo haberle dicho que quería ser sacerdote, recordaba el Padre Adolfo en entrevista con Mississippi Catholic.

Todos esos anhelos de servir, de seguir a Dios y el ejemplo de muchos santos que lo inspiran, San Agustín, San Juan Bosco, San Francisco de Sales, Santa Teresa de Calcuta, San Juan María Vianney, San Francisco de Asís y San Juan Pablo II, “… por la gente, su cercanía con el pueblo de Dios y que con su cuidado causaron un gran impacto en mi vida” y con la ayuda de su devoción a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe acompañaran al Padre Adolfo en esta y nuevas asignaciones de servir al Pueblo de Dios.

Mississippi summers provided bishop with many challenges

From the Archives
By Mary Woodward
JACKSON – As we begin our journey into the lovely days of summer filled with that heat and humidity we treasure so much, I thought I would share some more experiences of Bishop John Gunn’s adventures. These few entries detail his battles with travelling in July on the Gulf Coast, which was once part of our diocese until the Diocese of Biloxi was established in 1977.

The 17 counties that make up the Diocese of Biloxi would have been Deanery VII of this Diocese in Bishop Gunn’s time. It stretches up to Laurel and over to Tylertown. Bishop Gunn enjoyed being on the Gulf and spent a lot of time in Pass Christian. He attributed it to the easier access to rail and road travel from the Coast than Natchez had.

DeLISLE – The interior of Our Lady of Good Hope parish is pictured in Christmas of 1920. Bishop John Gunn takes readers on summer adventure at the parish when he visited in July of 1912. Established in 1872, the church was first destroyed by fire in 1905 and rebuilt by Father René Sorin and ultimately destroyed beyond repair by Hurricane Camille in August 1969. (Photos courtesy of archives)

The week of July 23, 1912, Bishop Gunn, who was only a few months into his tenure as bishop, spent a couple of days visiting DeLisle and its missions. Once again, the entries reflect Bishop Gunn’s dry wit and matter-of-fact demeanor. As a disclaimer, the reader needs to remember this is 110 years ago and conditions would have been different in the state of communities and parishes.

“July 23 – DeLisle and Missions: Big reception at the church – dinner in St. Joseph’s Hall. DeLisle has a long history and is connected with big men. The present Bishop of Oklahoma [Théophile Meerschaert] commenced his missionary career at DeLisle. Father [Alphonse] Ketels, now in Biloxi, followed him and Father [René] Sorin has spent nearly 20 years in the most abject poverty and isolation that it is possible to imagine a priest can have.”

“July 24 – Gave Confirmation after Mass in DeLisle. Gave a lecture at Cuevas at eight o’clock on Wednesday night and got the scare of my life in the house to which I was assigned to sleep after the lecture. It was a little bungalow, and I got the best room in the house and I think I got the concentrated heat of the entire coast.”

“I was wet and tired, and I fell asleep as soon as I could. … In the middle of the night I thought my last hour had come as something got into the bed with me and fought me like a tiger. I had nothing but a sheet covering me and in my surprise, to get the bed all to myself I rolled the sheet round the visitor and we had an unequal tussle.”

“It seems a big Scotch Collie had been accustomed to sleep in the bed and had not been notified of the change of occupants. I rolled the sheet ‘round the collie who objected to the familiarity and frightened me thoroughly before I let him loose.”

“July 25 – I gave Confirmation in Cuevas or Pineville. After the Mass and Confirmation and a sermon, I felt as if I had been pulled out of the ocean and it was then I was told that I had to see all the people.”

“I was wet – the church itself was the reception room. The Protestant idea of using the church for everything obtains unfortunately in Mississippi when actual service is not going on. For a little while, I endured the handshaking and the heat, but I begged the priest to get me somewhere where I could get rid of my wet clothes and effect a change at least in parts.”

DeLISLE – Our Lady of Good Hope parish was served by Father René Sorin, from 1896 until his death on Feb. 6, 1955.

“There was no available spot in the church nor in the sacristy, nor behind the altar – nor anywhere and I found my wet clothes now growing cold. Finally, the priest asked me if I would use a kind of closet that was in the sacristy. The closet was about three feet square and contained a barrel in which all the things the ladies of the Altar Society did not want the Bishop to see – old flowers, old candles, broken vases, etc., but I was glad to get even there to get out of my wet clothes.”

“I was progressing rapidly and quickly, when I looked at a slit in the closet and there to my horror, I saw a snake looking right into my eyes. About four or five inches of him stuck to the wall and the rest of him hissed at me.”

“I did not take long to beat a retreat and I never thought I could be such a coward. Irishmen and snakes don’t agree.”

So, I sit here in my air-conditioned office, thinking of those mid-summer days growing up without this luxury and how we managed to endure it. Then I imagine the most likely wool-suited Bishop Gunn perspiring in buckets in his missions throughout the diocese – fending off creatures in the night and slithering snakes in closets – to be shepherd to his sheep. God bless him.

As we make the slide into the heat and humidity of Mississippi’s summer through the traditional doorway of Memorial Day weekend, let us remember to offer prayers and thanks for all who have served our country and paid the ultimate price on the battlefields of the world. Bishop Gunn, who loved three things – his Catholic faith, his Irish heritage, and his American citizenship – would expect that of us. Amen.

(Mary Woodward is Chancellor and Archivist for the Diocese of Jackson)