Featured photo Parish ladies retreat …

JACKSON – On Saturday, March 6, the ladies of St. Therese Jackson’s Catholic Women’s Association held their 39th annual retreat in the parish hall. Instead of a weekend away, the retreat consisted of one day for a four-hour period. This year the retreat theme was “Born to Build Bridges,” led by Father Alexis Zuniga Velasquez, ST. (Photo by Phyllis Mokry)

Stations of the Cross reenacts Christ’s journey

By Danny McArthur Daily Journal
TUPELO – St. James Catholic Church honored Christ’s journey birth to his death during a 1 p.m. Stations of the Cross service on Good Friday at their Life Center. Dozens of onlookers were in attendance for the bilingual service where church members portrayed 14 key moments in Jesus’ life.
Father Cesar Sanchez presided over the service. Mary Frances Strange and Victor Vazquez alternated reading the reflection in English and Spanish respectively, which tied how Christ’s story mirrors the current life for many migrants. Rodrigo Dominguez played the guitar and sang between each station.
The service lasted over an hour and encouraged attendees to commit themselves to show love to one another regardless of racial, cultural and national backgrounds and differences.

(Reprinted with permission of the Daily Journal – djournal.com)

Featured photos

Preparing Chrism oils …

JACKSON – On March 30, volunteers prepared Holy Oils for priests to take back to their home parishes, in the Community Center at the Cathedral of St. Peter. The oils were blessed by Bishop Joseph Kopacz the day before. This year, no Chrism Mass was held due to holding a Funeral Mass for Father Brian Kaskie. Pictured in front are chancery employees, Vickie Carollo and Fabvienen Taylor. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

Catholic Charities

JACKSON – (Left to right) Pam Hart, Community Relations Manager; Melanie Morgan, Marketing Director; Wanda Thomas, Executive Director; and Michael Crandall, Bank President Canton branch. Thank you to Trustmark National Bank for their generous donation through the Business Children’s Promise Tax Credit. For more information on the Individual Children’s Promise Tax Credit, call 601-326-3714. (Photo by Michael Thomas)

Stations of Cross

PEARL – St. Jude parish meet April 2 for walking the Stations of the Cross. (Photo by Tereza Ma)
JACKSON – St. Richard second graders reenact the Stations of the Cross. (Photo by Chelsea Hamilton)
CLARKSDALE – St. Elizabeth students perform the Stations of the Cross. Pictured left to right: Isabel Walker (Veronica), William Walker (Jesus), Luke Agostinelli (Simon of Cyrene) and Sam Stonestreet (Roman soldier). (Photo by Derrick Faucheux)

St. Joseph Altar

NATCHEZ – At Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary parish displayed their St. Joseph Altar for his feast day on March 19. (Photo by Maureen Irby)

Calendar of events

SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT

NEW ORLEANS Our Lady of the Cenacle Retreat Center, Women’s Retreat, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” April 30 – May 2. Preventing and Resolving Conflicts from our Christian Faith Perspective Jesus preached and lived love, forgiveness, peace and unity. In this retreat we will be offered a deeper understanding of and commitment to Christian peacemaking as well as practical and effective human relationship skills to prevent and resolve conflicts. Presenter: Father Doug Doussan, who is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and is serving as Chaplain of the Archdiocesan Retreat Center. He received a Masters’ Degree in Liturgy from Notre Dame University and special training in Conflict Resolution from Conrad Grebel College in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He has given countless training workshops locally and nationally in inclusive parish organization, lay leadership formation, and consensus decision making. The retreat center’s capacity is limited due to COVID-19 and they are currently accepting registration on a first come first serve basis. A non-refundable deposit is required. Details: to register, contact the retreat office at (504) 267-9604 or www.neworleansretreats.org/retreats.

PARISH AND SCHOOL EVENTS

CLARKSDALE St. Elizabeth School, 21st Annual Draw Down, Friday, April 30 from 7-10 p.m. It will be held at the Norman Brown Building and Courtyard at the Cutrer Mansion, 109 Clark Street. One ticket admits two people to come and have dinner, beverages, and a chance to win $10,000. There will be a silent auction and live music by Gramm Phillips. Indoor and outdoor space for gathering so hopefully everyone will feel comfortable and safe attending. Tickets available from the school or church office or any St. Elizabeth School student. Details: school office (662) 624-4239.
MERIDIAN St. Patrick, Please join Father Augustine on Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center for “A Biblical Walk Through The Mass.” All are welcomed! Details: church office (601) 693-1321.
JACKSON St. Richard, Small Faith Communities Spring Season. Several of our small faith communities are watching “No Greater Love,” the biblical walk through Christ’s Passion, from Ascension Press. There are a few groups that are meeting in person, but this is also something that you can do remotely. Details: If you are interested in joining a group or questions on accessing remotely, contact Debbie Tubertini at (601) 366-2335 ext. 107 or email tubertini@saintrichard.com
St. Richard School, Krewe de Cardinal, Friday, April 30 from 7-11 p.m. at The South Warehouse, 627 East Silas Brown Street. The event will be at 50% of the venue capacity. Details: email development@strichardschool.org to reserve your spot or call the school office (601) 366-1157.
JACKSON Sister Thea Bowman School, 15th Annual Virtual Draw Down, Saturday, April 24 at 3:30 p.m. at the Multi-Purpose Building (will be live streamed). Grand prize: $5,000; Ticket cost: $100; Second chance insurance: $20. Proceeds will be used for instructional materials and operational expenses. Details: Shae Robinson at (601) 352-5441 or http://christthekingjackson.org/draw-down/ for tickets.

YOUTH BRIEFS
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi, “God’s Wonder Lab” Vacation Bible School is scheduled for the week of June 21. Planning committee members and volunteer teachers are needed now so they can begin organized a modified in-person VBS that is enjoyable but safe. Details: Mary Catherine at mc.george@stfrancismadison.org.
MERIDIAN Catholic Community of St. Joseph & St. Patrick, Vacation Bible School, Volunteers are needed. Scheduled dates are July 19-23 from 8-11:30 a.m. Please consider donating time to creating fun, faith-filled memories for our children. Details: If you have any questions, call (601) 917-4566.

SAVE THE DATE
The Center for Pregnancy Choices One Mile Life Walk, Saturday, May 1 at Flowood Nature Park, 4077 Flowood Drive. Walk begins at 9 a.m. with registration from 8-9 a.m. The CPC is a nonprofit medical clinic that is here to encourage and equip those facing pregnancy decisions. Their two clinics serve Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties, offering real choices through their free professional medical services and Christ-centered support. Details: Register at www.cpcmetrofriends.org/LifeWalk or (601) 487-1063.

Father Goodyear nominated for Lumen Christi award

By Joanna Puddister King
PHILADELPHIA – At 72 years old, Father Robert “Bob” Goodyear had much to reflect on for his nomination by the Diocese of Jackson for the Catholic Extension Lumen Christi award, that celebrates Christ’s call to service to his church. Father Goodyear truly demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives – in his case, the Choctaw community.

PHILADELPHIA – Father Bob Goodyear at Holy Rosary Indian Mission in 1982. (Photo from the archives)

When he first arrived on the Choctaw Reservation in 1975 as a newly ordained Missionary Servant priest, Father Goodyear described the “mission” as “having a church workday to cut firewood for the elderly and sick.”

“They were surprised I knew how to use a chainsaw and drive a tractor,” said Father Goodyear – a call back to his very first missionary assignment to Clay county, Kentucky to an Appalachian coal mining town, where he learned to use a chainsaw, dig a foundation by hand and other various construction skills.

In total, Father Goodyear has been assigned to Holy Rosary Indian Mission for 31 years, but not continuously. He served from 1975 to 1990, then was assigned to a mission in Tennessee, then to one in Magee. He returned to the Choctaw Reservation in 2006.

The reservation went through many changes while Father Goodyear was away at other missions. “The dirt roads were paved. There are two casinos that subsidize the tribal programs,” he said.

Roads and casino weren’t the only things that changed. When Father Goodyear first arrived in 1975, Choctaw was the primary language of 98% of the tribe and today that is only true of the elders. Now, most are bilingual.

In his early years at Holy Rosary Indian Mission – a group of three churches consisting of Holy Rosary in Philadelphia, St. Therese Mission in the Pearl River Community and St. Catherine Mission in Conehatta – Father Goodyear read everything he could to learn about the culture of the people he was charged with ministering to.

He eventually gained the trust of the Choctaw community and with the help of three Choctaws he was taught their language.

“As I was first learning Choctaw, I quickly learned there are seven dialects of Choctaw on the reservation and when speaking to someone I needed to know what Choctaw community they came from. Words have different meanings, sometimes very different, in different communities,” said Father Goodyear.

After eight years of studying the Choctaw language, Father Goodyear began translating the Mass into Choctaw with the help of his teachers and an elder, who was the recognized expert on the language. Then with the aid of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, Father Goodyear prepared the translation of the Mass to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and then to the Sacred Liturgy office in Rome.

Finally, after eight years with the mission, Father Goodyear was able to celebrate his first Mass in the Choctaw language on May 1, 1983 at St. Catherine Mission in Conehatta.

“The Choctaw language and culture are critical elements in Choctaw self-identity,” said Father Goodyear. “The role of the church here is to believe in the Choctaws, their giftedness, their beauty, their talents, their hopes, so they will believe in themselves as much as God believes in them.”

While his first assignment to Holy Rosary Indian Mission was characterized by “non-traditional” ministries, Father Goodyear learned and did the usual things an associate pastor would do – working with youth, faith education, marriage preparation and the like. When the sisters moved to their new convent building, he remodeled the old convent building and turned it into a recreation center for the youth.

With the Choctaws, he worked with the tribe every chance he could. He worked on a suicide counseling manual, a self-image study, the Choctaw Human Services Council, the Choctaw Most In Need Indian Children and Youth federal demonstration project, and with the Choctaw grant writing office to not only preserve their faith, but the culture and language of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

When he returned to the Holy Rosary Mission in 2006, Father Goodyear’s primary focus has been the preservation of the faith and the development of lay leadership in his three churches.

He developed a training manual for Eucharistic ministers that trains them not only to assist in Mass, but also how to lead a Sunday celebration in the absence of a priest and how to take the Eucharist to the sick and shut-ins – a resource used not only on the reservations, but also in other parishes around the diocese and even in parishes in other states.

As a staff of one, what Father Goodyear has accomplished is nothing less than remarkable. Not to mention, rising to the challenge of ministering during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reports have the percentage of Choctaws affected by the virus at about 18%. For a time, Father Goodyear was tending to two to four funerals per week. He has spent a great deal of his time on the phone, writing letters and messaging on Facebook to give his support to those who are grieving. “It is important to know that they are not forgotten and are prayed for,” says Father Goodyear.

He has also spent much time reaching out to those who have been afraid to come to church because of the virus and has worked along side the tribe encouraging Choctaws to take the vaccine.

As COVID restrictions begin to loosen, Father Goodyear is looking to recruit catechist and reaching out to the children and youth again. This Easter, he will baptize nine children at St. Catherine’s in Conehatta and has 15 young people and five adults in RCIC and RCIA. “While attendance is down in my other two churches, the Holy Spirit has been working overtime in Conehatta,” says Father Goodyear.

He says that his focus now is preparing the reservation to assume more responsibility for the future of their churches. “It is unusual for a priest to be in a place for so long. It was not my “plan,” but it has been a blessing I never expected. In spite of the demands of being a staff of one for three churches, I have never been happier as a priest or feel more blessed personally than I am today.”

(Each Lumen Christi Award nominee receives $1,000 in support of his or her ministry, and the award recipient is given a $50,000 grant, with the honoree and nominating diocese each receiving $25,000 of the grant money to enhance their community and ministry. The winner will be announced later in the year.)

Father Myladiyil installed as pastor at Sacred Heart Greenville

GREENVILLE – Father Sebastian Myladiyil, SVD (center) bows his head as Bishop Joseph Kopacz and parishioners of Sacred Heart Church confer a blessing on him. Father Myladiyil was installed as pastor on Sunday, March 14 after being assigned as pastor to Sacred Heart parish in January by Bishop Kopacz. He takes the reins from Father Tom Mullally, SVD, who retired after 50 years of service. (Photo courtesy of Maurice Mosley)

Calendar of events

SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT

NEW ORLEANS Our Lady of the Cenacle Retreat Center, Women’s Retreat, “Rise to New Life!” An Easter Retreat, April 16-18. Easter faith is the foundation of Christian life. During this time, we experience the new spring of life, a rejuvenating freshness that compels us to share our experience with the world around us. Retreatants will reflect on the implications of faith in Jesus’ resurrection for their lives and will be inspired to participate in the Spirit’s mission to recreate the face of the earth. Presenter: Father Glenn LeCompte holds a Master of Divinity Degree from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology with a focus in Sacred Scripture from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Father LeCompte now serves the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux as Director of the Office of Worship. In his retreats, Father LeCompte combines his rich background in Sacred Scripture with prayerful music. Their capacity is limited due to COVID-19 and they are currently accepting registration on a first come first serve basis. A non-refundable deposit is required. Details: to register, contact the retreat office at (504) 267-9604 or www.neworleansretreats.org/retreats.
Women’s Retreat, “Making All Things New: Becoming a New Creation” April 23-25. Presenter: Father Joseph Nassal, CPPS. “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” This retreat will explore what it means to become a new creation and to serve with a renewed sense of purpose and passion for life. Father Nassal is the author of many books including: Moments of Truth, The Conspiracy of Compassion, and Premeditated Mercy. A former director of a contemplative house of prayer, for more than a decade, Father Nassal has been in retreat and renewal ministry. He served on the leadership team of the Kansas City Province and lives in Berkeley, California where he is involved in setting up a house of prayer for those on the margins. Their capacity is limited due to COVID-19 and they are currently accepting registration on a first come first serve basis. A non-refundable deposit is required. Details: to register, contact the retreat office at (504) 267-9604 or www.neworleansretreats.org/retreats

PARISH AND SCHOOL EVENTS

MAGNOLIA St. James, “Faith and Racial Equity” is a nine-session online experience from the Just Faith Program. It will be held every other Thursday, beginning April 8 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. via Zoom. It introduces a framework for understanding and recognizing racial disparities and takes a deeper dive into specific issues related to power and privilege. There are three primary goals for Faith and Racial Equity: 1) Develop awareness of the ways that racial privilege impacts our communities and ourselves; 2) Through a deep dive into the Gospel of Luke, learn how Jesus’s teachings guide us in seeking racial justice in today’s world; 3) Learn practical tools for becoming anti-racist, and for effecting change in our communities. Cost: approximately $25 plus cost of the three books required for this course. We look forward to YOU joining our group. Details: Call Chris at (301) 266-0433 or send an email if interested to gracie_eddie@yahoo.com.
MERIDIAN St. Patrick, Please join Father Augustine on Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center for “A Biblical Walk Through The Mass.” All are welcomed! Details: church office (601) 693-1321.

YOUTH BRIEFS

JACKSON St. Richard School, 8th Annual Krewe de Cardinal, Friday, April 30 in St. Richard Church Courtyard. They will carry on the event safely at 50% capacity. Details: To become a sponsor or to donate an item, email cmarble@strichardschool.com
MADISON St. Francis, Bible Break has changed days, time and location for now. They now meet Sundays from 4-5 p.m. in the Family Life Center lounge to break open the Sunday Scripture. All seniors are welcome. Details: church office (601) 856-5556.
St. Joseph School, 14th Annual St. Joe Bruin Golf Scramble (4 person teams), Thursday, April 8 at 1 p.m. (lunch and drinks provided) at Annandale Golf Club, Madison. Team and Hole Sponsorships Available. Details: Contact Dana Caskey at (601) 942-3870 or danacaskey15@gmail.com.
MERIDIAN St. Patrick School, Save the Date, Annual St. Patrick School Countdown, Friday, April 16. Tickets are now available from any School Advisory Member or at the School Office or Parish Office during regular business hours. Details: school office (601) 482 6044.
NATIONAL Catholic Life Insurance is commemorating the 244th anniversary of the American flag with their 24th Annual Poster Design Contest (for grades Kindergarten – 5th grade) and first annual Video Contest (for grades 6th – 12th grades). Judges score each poster submission based on the following criteria: originality, eye appeal, and them. Participants do not have to be Catholic Life members or of the Catholic faith to qualify. It is an opportunity for all children to express their creativity and originality while honoring a sacred American symbol. Entry forms and complete contest rules can be downloaded from www.cliu.com under “Giving Back.” Deadline to submit entries is May 10. Winning posters and videos are published in the Catholic Life quarterly magazine. Details: contact the Communications Department at (800) 262-2548 or (210) 828-9921 or email branch@cliu.com.

Turn back time: visit St. John the Baptist Mission, revisited

From the Archives
By Mary Woodward
JACKSON – This article originally ran in Mississippi Catholic in Nov. 2016 when the mission church in Cranfield, St. John the Baptist, was celebrating its centennial. I am rerunning it to give a different flavor to this series from the archives. The story is connected to the eventual founding of Holy Family Church in Natchez and St. Francis School that we mentioned last article. After this lovely sidebar, we will return to the developing church in our state and race.
On Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016 a beautiful, fresh autumn day, more than 100 people gathered with Bishop Joseph Kopacz to mark the centennial of St. John the Baptist Mission at an early afternoon Mass. The small wood-framed church holds roughly 50 people. The overflow congregation was sheltered in a tent outside under the trees.
Shortly before the Mass was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., a communicant arrived on a four-wheeler, reflecting the mission’s location to nearby hunting camps where many Louisiana Catholics come during hunting season. She zipped in and parked opposite the tents and took her place among the congregation.

CRANFIELD – Pictured is the St. John the Baptist Mission Church. Cranfield is an unincorporated community in Adams County, located on the former Mississippi Central Railroad, in between Natchez and Roxie.

The windows of the church were wide open, and the breeze of the day kept the natural flow of creation present as those gathered entered into the Divine Liturgy. The setting of the day brought us back to 100 years ago when Bishop John Gunn, SM, preached an eloquent sermon on the parable of the Good Samaritan likening the Cranfield mission to the protagonist who cared for the one in need.
The history of the mission is a prime example of a dedicated shepherd who traversed fields and valleys, climbed hills and braved thicket to find his flock. In his time Father Morrissey became known as the “Father of Missions” in the southwest corner of the diocese.
The Natchez ministry of Father Morrissey began in 1901 when he arrived at Holy Family Church. The parish was established in 1890 to serve African American Catholics in the Natchez area. Having been invited by Bishop Thomas Heslin, the Josephites have staffed Holy Family since 1895.
Under Father Morrissey, Holy Family soon became the mother church of four missions – Cranfield, Harriston, Laurel Park, and Springfield. On Monday mornings after his weekend duties at Holy Family, Father Morrissey would head out into the county in search of any Catholics and also those who were not church-going.
During his circuit, he often came upon Catholics who were not able to get into Natchez very often to receive the sacraments. This is where the story of Cranfield has its roots.

St. John the Baptist Mission in Cranfield, built by sons of one of the founders, still stands over 100 years later. Members gathered by car, truck and all-terrain vehicle for the 100 year anniversary celebration in November 2016. (Photos courtesy of archives)

According to a history of the mission written in 1945 by Father Arthur Flanagan, SSJ, and pastor of Holy Family at the time, Father Morrissey came upon the Irish Catholic family of John Gordon Fleming. Fleming told Father Morrissey the family originally came from County Mayo, Ireland in the late 1870s. Fleming’s relative, Holiday Fleming, was the oldest son of the immigrants and brought with him his wife and children. The family would go to Mass in Natchez at St. Mary on Easter and Christmas – weather permitting. The children were all baptized and received sacraments from St. Mary.
The next half of the story told by Fleming holds a true Mississippi cultural twist and a wonderful image of the people of God. Apparently, Holiday Fleming had been “true to his name, [and] went holidaying with the result that he was blessed” with a growing African American family. Father Morrissey saw the children and recognized they belonged to Holiday. Father Morrissey made sure these children were brought to Holy Family for sacraments and given their father’s name. Many Flemings can be found in the Holy Family sacramental registers.
Soon after meeting the Flemings, Father Morrissey laid plans to build a church in Cranfield. After a few years of saving pennies and nickels from various appeals, there was finally enough in hand to build the church on the land donated by Mrs. Boggart, a Catholic. The mission priest, along with the older African American Fleming children, built the church. As great artists often sign their masterpieces, Linda Floyd, granddaughter of Geraldine Fleming, a descendant of the original Fleming family, relayed that the young men who worked on the church inscribed their names in the steeple.
Initially, religious education taught by Rosie Washington was held in the church as there was no other building on the site. In 1938, a bus from Natchez came to bring the children to St. Francis School at Holy Family. On the weekend Mass was not celebrated in the mission, the bus was used to bring people to Mass at Holy Family.
As the years passed, the other three missions closed. Today Cranfield is the last of the four built by Father Morrissey. His missionary zeal reflects the true spirit of our diocese as a rural mission territory.
It was 100 years ago on Sept. 3, 1916, when Bishop John Gunn, SM, dedicated the mission church built by Father Matthew Morrissey, SSJ, and the Fleming family. Since then, many striking autumn days have filled the hearts and minds of the people of this unique mission. For those who live in larger parishes, a trip to Cranfield St. John the Baptist would be good for the Catholic soul.

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

Some parishes, schools still recovering from rare winter storm

By Joe Lee
JACKSON – As the week of Feb. 15 unfolded, students all over the Diocese of Jackson jumped for joy at the possibility of a snow day or two as well as having the Presidents’ Day holiday off. But in parish offices, priests and staff had to make urgent decisions as a once-in-a-generation winter storm turned the Deep South into a rare deep freeze and left a trail of damage in its wake.
In addition to a loss of power at St. Michael of Vicksburg and a solid sheet of ice in the parish parking lot, a window in the cry room was broken. St. Mary Basilica of Natchez was hit especially hard, creating the need for a noon Mass on Sunday, February 21, after harm to the sanctuary.

JACKSON – Leah Clark, a senior at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison, helps unload cases of bottled water on Thursday, March 4, for the Carmelite nuns in Jackson. The Carmelite Monastery in South Jackson has been without water since the ice storm that hit Mississippi last month. When St. Joe students learned Tuesday, March 2, about the need for water at the monastery, leaders of the St. Joe chapter of Quill & Scroll International Honor Society for High School Journalists sponsored a bottled water drive. In the span of one day, the drive collected and delivered to the monastery 26 gallon jugs of water and more than 40 cases of various sizes of bottled water. (Photo courtesy of Terry Cassreino)

“We have removed a lot of ceiling tiles in St. Therese Hall as well as sections of flooring on both levels,” said Father Scott Thomas on the St. Mary Facebook page late that week. “The extra Mass time is because an entire aisle will be blocked off, making every pew section on that aisle unavailable. Additionally, the elevator does not work due to water damage. It will be out of commission for a while as it is being repaired.”
Father Scott added in the social media post that nothing of historical value at St. Mary was lost, but water damage – or loss of water – swiftly became a serious problem in Jackson.
“We had no structural damage and no water pipes that burst, but we were out of school for four days,” said Jennifer David, principal of St. Richard Catholic School. “One positive from COVID is that we went right to our virtual plan and won’t have to make up any days.
“The water is less than ideal, but we are making it work. We have two amazing maintenance men who have kept our facilities running. We have sink water but don’t have good pressure in the toilets. Our first day back in classrooms for traditional learning was Feb. 26.”

In addition to parents donating bottled water and hand sanitizer, the school purchased sixty-five cases of bottled water. St. Richard was also helped immeasurably by Adcamp, Inc., a Flowood company that donated two 1,000-gallon water trucks.
“That’s been a lifesaver,” David said. “Without that, we couldn’t have kept the school running like we did.”
Another group hit especially hard in Jackson was Carmelite Monastery, where Carmelite nuns have lived for seven decades. Without water at their Terry Road location, the nuns resorted to boiling melted snow for water and – once the snow was gone – collecting rainwater. The journalism department at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison is one of many groups who have answered a call to help the sisters.
As arctic air plunged into the region and brought accompany bands of snow, sleet, and freezing rain, Msgr. Michael Flannery found himself celebrating Ash Wednesday Mass in front of exactly of one parishioner that morning – even the parishioner that livestreamed the service did so from home. And that was before the power went off in the neighborhood where St. Francis of Assisi is located.
“The neighborhood was without electricity for sixteen hours,” Msgr. Flannery said. “A utility pole split, and power wires were on the ground. Because of the driving conditions and weather, we cancelled the evening Ash Wednesday Mass and gave ashes to parishioners at that weekend’s Masses.”
Though there was extreme cold in the northernmost reaches of the Diocese – with record-breaking single-digit temperatures and below-zero wind chill readings – most of the precipitation came in the form of snow.
“Desoto County’s 911 system was down for a large part of a day due to a power outage,” said Laura Grisham, communications director for Sacred Heart Southern Missions, which serves six parishes and two schools in Desoto, Tate, Tunica, Marshall, and Benton counties. “Most areas in Desoto, including Walls, Horn Lake, Southaven, and Olive Branch, cumulatively had around ten inches of sleet and snow.”
Several Masses and all but one Ash Wednesday service, Grisham added, were cancelled during the week of Presidents’ Day. Both Sacred Heart and Holy Family Schools went immediately to virtual learning for the week. The monthly Mobile Food Pantry at Landers Center in Southaven was also cancelled.

Not surprisingly, temperatures around the Magnolia State (and all over the Southeast) roared back into the 60s and 70s, melting all traces of ice and snow and sending students back to their classrooms for the final weeks before spring break. Repair work is underway at parishes which sustained damages and, as usual, the people of Mississippi are displaying their inherent generosity toward those less fortunate.
“Our morning announcements serve as a reminder that we need to think about all the people in Jackson who don’t have water in their homes,” David said. “We’ve been praying for them and the people in Texas.”

(Editor’s note: As of press time on Tuesday, March 9, the Carmelite Sisters now have running water. The pressure is low but they can now at least flush toilets. Sister Jane Agonoy still welcomes donations of drinking water, since the city of Jackson is still under a boil water notice. She can be reached at (601) 373-1460.)