Greenwood Franciscans celebrate their order’s 150th anniversary

By Maureen Smith
GREENWOOD – The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are celebrating 150 years as a religious community. The community is based out of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, but different sisters have served in Greenwood at St. Francis of Assisi Parish and School for 21 years.

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Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity collaborate with the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption of the BVM Province serving as teachers at St. Francis of Assisi School, as well as catechists, spiritual advisor to Secular Franciscans, organist, choir director, visitor to the elderly, and in other supportive parish leadership roles.
On Sunday, Jan. 27, the sisters currently serving in Mississippi – Sister Judith Norwick, Sister Annette Kurey, Sister Kathleen Murphy and Sister Maria Goretti Scandaliato – helped their students serve at Mass to kick off Catholic Schools Week. At the end of Mass, Father Camillus Janas invited the congregation to bless the sisters in prayer. Then they invited the congregation to the convent for an open house.
People were able to pray a house blessing in the sisters’ chapel as well as add a prayer intention to their prayer book. The sisters had historical photos on display of the mother house as well as photo books from the order’s service in Greenwood. Many attendees found themselves and their children in the photos. The parish has been publishing articles about their service in the community in the bulletin.

Epiphany traditions include sweets, blessings

By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – Epiphany is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world and even around the Diocese of Jackson. From processions to door blessings, each tradition helps remind the community that the Christmas Season starts on Christmas and runs through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
In Carthage, the parish hosted a procession to celebrate the feast. In Corinth, parishioners dressed as the three wise men came to Mass to present gifts at the nativity set in the church and then to give candy and goodies to the children after Mass.
According to tradition, the three wise men represent the admiration of the world for the child that brought salvation. All three show the diversity of the world and the phases of the life of the human being that has to be saved by faith. Their gifts also have symbolic meaning. The Magi brought gold, incense and myrrh.

   

Father Nick Giving Thumbs up at Epiphany

Pope Francis kisses a figurine of the baby Jesus as he celebrates Mass marking the feast of the Epiphany in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

On January 6, in Rome, Pope Francis explained in his homily” “Gold, the most precious of metals, reminds us God has to be granted first place; he has to be worshiped,” he said. Frankincense is a symbol of the prayer that each person is called to offer God. And myrrh, the same ointment that would later be used to anoint Jesus’ dead body, is a sign of the gift of “care for bodies racked by suffering, the flesh of the vulnerable, of those left behind, of those who can only receive without being able to give anything material in return.”
Other cultures tell the story that Melchior, the gold-bearer, is an old man representing Europe. Gold represents the royalty of the Child King. Gaspar or Caspar is a young Asian who brought incense, for the divinity of the child. Balthazar is the mature man from Africa who offers myrrh, a product to embalm the dead and reflects the humanity of the Lord.
In Europe, Epiphany is a day to bless the house. At Jackson St. Richard School, Father Nick Adam blessed classrooms and “chalked” the doors. In this practice, a priest uses chalk to write the numbers of the year with crosses and the letters C + M + B in between each number. The letters represent the names of the magi as well as the Latin “Christus mansionem benedicat,” or “may Christ bless this house.”
In other cultures, Christmas presents are not exchanged until Epiphany. Often families eat their first “King cake” on this day. The sweet bread has a coin or small baby representing Christ hidden inside. The person who receives the baby is considered lucky for the year and sometimes has to make or buy the next king cake.

(Maureen Smith contributed to this article.)

Migration week seeks to “build communities of welcome”

By Berta Mexidor and Maureen Smith
TUPELO – For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week as an opportunity to highlight the presence and situation of immigrants, refugees, victims and survivors of human trafficking. The week serves as a time for both prayer and action in support of immigrants and refugees.
The theme for this year’s January 6-12 celebration – “Building Communities of Welcome” – emphasized the responsibility and opportunity for Catholics to engage and welcome newcomers on their arrival and help to ease their transition into a new life here in the United States.
Pastoral leaders in the Diocese of Jackson’s deanery five led by Danna Johnson, the Hispanic ministry coordinator for Pontotoc St. Christopher, partnered with Catholic Charities to organize a week of activities and discussions. Guest speakers included Carlos Horacio Toro, assistant professor at the Southeastern Pastoral Institute (SEPI) as well as Jesuit priests Father Sean Carroll of the Kino Border Initiative and Father Fred Kammer of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans.
Father Carroll spoke Thursday to pastoral leaders in northeast Mississippi about strategies to create welcoming communities. He spoke about successes with students who came to Jesuit schools opposed to or indifferent about immigration. He said offering programs, such as Kino, where the students could meet migrants and refugees and accompany them often changed those students’ lives. He said the initiative then provides the students with tools to take back to their communities to talk to others about their experience and to advocate for just reform and compassion. He considers this work to be about more than just exposure to political or social issues. He sees it as part of the Christian process of conversion.

Father Carroll also led a spirited discussion about challenges and potential solutions for pastoral leaders here who are leading parishes where the Hispanic population is growing. “I want present to people this sense that we all have this opportunity to be renewed in the work that we are doing in the sense of engaging in this ongoing process of conversion and stay rooted in the experience of the people we are serving and really see in deeper ways their reality and through our encounter with Christ to continue on this path of service,” he said.
Sister Pat Hinton, OSF Aston, said gatherings like this give her energy to continue to minister. “If you keep feeding yourself you are better able to come forth and maybe a word or two you say will help someone else. You never know when you are going to say something – what I call coming in the back door. We have a long way to go in Mississippi in terms of education and awareness (of this issue),” she said.
The program continued on Friday, January 11, with a Mass for young people, celebrated by Bishop Kopacz followed by a conversation with Father Kammer.
Confirmation candidates and their parents, from different parishes of the Deanery Five participated. Bishop Kopacz, in his bilingual homily, explained to the youth the biblical foundation of welcoming the foreigner. Bishop compared the Holy Family with today’s immigrants.
At the conference, Father Kammer explained that, for Christians, the issue of migration should be analyzed based on the scriptures.
In modern times “we should not forget biblical concepts that are the foundation of faith: anawin, jubilee, pilgrimage” Kammer said.
Anawin is from the old testament describing the “poor ones” who remain faithful in troubled time because their only possession is God. These are people who need compassion and protection.
The concept of jubilee reflects the right to restoration of the dignity of the individual through forgiveness, amnesty and the common good. In this biblical concept, people work to build societies with respect, social welfare and peace that include the right of nations to control their borders as well as the right to migrate to protect and support families.
Pilgrimage is in the Bible on multiple occasions. In this sense, Father Kammer explained millions of human beings migrate today inside and outside their own country, for many reasons. That is why the word “they” loses meaning. When talking about migration, Father Kammer said “we are all brothers in Christ.”
Paco Aguilar, Danelly Blanco and Ulises López are cousins and Mexican descendants. They joined Bristy Whitenton, Morgan Floyd and Lillian Briston, all originally from Tupelo, in agreeing with the priest’s explanation of “them” and “we.” The six young people affirmed being impacted by these terms, saying the use of “them” separates and “us” suggests the understanding of the suffering of others.
On Saturday, January 12, the celebration concluded.
The closing remarks came from Toro, assistant professor of SEPI. His lecture, “Celebrating the Culture of the Encounter,” summarized Pope Francis’ idea that the culture of the encounter must be nurtured so that it can become a moral value in the individual and therefore in society.

Feature photo … Meridian teacher honored

MERIDIAN – St. Patrick School kindergarten teacher Lauren Walker, right, accepts the Golden Apple Award for January from Susan Ross, general manager and sales manager for the Meridian Family of Stations, and Michael Harvey, manager of Mississippi Power Company’s Northern Division, during a ceremony on Wednesday, January 15. Walker will receive a laptop and desktop computer as well as a Teacher of the Month Certificate, $300 cash award, a $1,000 continuing education voucher for MSU-Meridian and $1,250 in school supplies. The Golden Apple Award honors outstanding educators in East Mississippi and West Alabama. (Photo by Celeste Saucier)

Parish calendar

SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT

BROOKSVILLE The Dwelling Place, Beloved Disciples retreat, February 22-23, begins with 6:30 dinner. Life is not about finding ourselves. We are not lost. It is about discovering who God created us to be. We are all beloved of God and if we allow Him control of our lives, He can love each one of us into being that beloved disciple that God describes in his Gospel. During this overnight there will be time to listen, pray and share. Presenter: Kathleen Grusek, Certified Spiritual Director and author of four books on spirituality. Donation: $100. Details: (662) 738-5348 or email dwellpl@gmail.com for more information.
COLLIERVILLE Tenn, Women’s Morning of Spirituality, Saturday, February 23, 8:15 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Catholic Church of the Incarnation, 360 Bray Station Road. Keynote speaker: Johnnette Benkovic Williams; Witness speaker: Sister Rita Marie Kampa, O.P. Love offerings accepted. Details: Mary Beth (901) 853-1819 or wmosmemphis@gmail.com. Register at womensmorning.com.
GREENWOOD Locus Benedictus Retreat Center, “Mary’s Life in the Holy Spirit – A Model for Us” Women’s Retreat hosted by The Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus, Council #5267, Saturday, February 9 from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. concluding with a Vigil Mass. Presenter: Catholic evangelist, Andi Oney. Cost: $35 and includes lunch. The retreat is open to all women 18 years and older. Details: www.locusbenedictus.org or (662) 299-1232.
JACKSON Catholic Day at the Capitol will be held on Wednesday, February 27, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle and wraps up with networking at 3 p.m. The topic is reform aimed at restorative justice – especially in the criminal justice system. Details: Sue Allen at sue.allen@ccjackson.org or 601-383-3849.
World Marriage Day 2019 celebration will be held Sunday, February 24, at 3 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. There will be a Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, with a reception immediately following. The Mass honors all married couples, but invites those celebrating their 25th, 50th and 60th anniversaries, or any significant anniversary. Details: Contact Charlene Bearden, at (601) 960-8487, or via email: charlene.bearden@jacksondiocese.org.

PARISH, SCHOOL AND FAMILY EVENTS

CLARKSDALE Catholic Community of St. Elizabeth, Bible study on the Gospel of St Luke meets every Wednesday at noon in the St. Elizabeth Rectory. Details: Libby Antici or church office (662) 624-4301.
GREENWOOD Mardi Gras Ball to benefit St. Francis School, Saturday, February 16, from 7 p.m. – midnight. Leflore County Civic Center. Dinner at 8 p.m. DJ Traxx will provide the music. There will be the traditional coronation of the King and Queen of the Ball, as well as other prizes for participants, along with a 50-50 raffle. Cost: $35 per person. All proceeds benefit St. Francis School. Details: school office (662) 453-9511.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser, Friday, February 22, 4-8 p.m., Family Life Center. Cost: $10 adults; $5 children 12 and younger. Details: church office (662) 429-7851.
JACKSON St. Peter Cathedral, a Catholic look at advance care planning, Sunday, February 10, at 9:15 a.m. in the Cathedral Center. Presenter: Sister S. Karina Dickey, O.P., Ph.D. Details: church office (601) 969-3125.
St. Richard, “The Letters of Saint Paul” classes, Tuesdays, February 5, 12, 19 and 26 from 9:30 – 11 a.m. in the Chichester Room. Presenter: Mary Louise Jones. All are welcome to attend. Details: church office (601) 366-2335.
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi, Save the Date, Cajun Fest, Sunday, March 5. Includes lots of Cajun food and games for the children. More details will follow. Details: church office (601) 856-5556.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, World Day of the Sick Mass, Monday, February 11, at 11 a.m. The Mass will be followed by a soup and sandwich lunch in St. Therese Hall. Details: church office (601) 445-5616.
PEARL St. Jude, Knights of Columbus is selling chicken plates. Pickup date is Super Bowl Sunday, February 3, 1-2 p.m. All proceeds will benefit future Knights of Columbus projects. Details: church office (601) 939-3181.
VICKSBURG St. Aloysius High School, library dedication ceremony and reception honoring Father Tom Lalor, Thursday, January 31, in the library immediately following Mass at 9:10 a.m. Details: Kristi Smith at (601) 636-2256.

YOUTH BRIEFS

SAVE THE DATE Diocesan High School Confirmation Retreat, March 30-31, 1 p.m. Saturday – 1p.m. Sunday, Lake Forest Ranch, Macon. Cost is $50 per person. Youth must register through their parish. Registration is due by March 11. Details: Fran Lavelle, (601) 960-8473 or fran.lavelle@jacksondiocese.org
COLUMBUS Annunciation School, Open House, Saturday, February 2, 10 a.m. – noon, Details: Katie Fenstermacher at marketing@annunciationcatholicschool.org or school office (662) 328-4479.
MERIDIAN St. Patrick School, Irish Fest, Sunday, March 3, noon – 4 p.m. Details: school office (601) 482-6044.
SOUTHAVEN Sacred Heart School, Open House, Sunday, February 10 from 2-4 p.m. Recognized by Today’s Catholic Teacher as one of three most innovative Catholic Identity Schools in the U.S. Now accepting applications for the 2019-20 school year. Details: school office (662) 349-0900 or bmartin@shsm.org.

Students offer gifts to nursing home

JACKSON – St. Richard Catholic School’s annual service project, Manhattan Mall, is one of the yearly endeavors that speaks to the Catholic Social Teaching of the school’s option for the poor and vulnerable, and to the works of mercy that are at the root of our Mercy Sisters’ heritage. Manhattan Nursing and Rehabilitation Center sits across the street from the school. Many of the residents are not able to leave the nursing home and shop for Christmas presents for their children, grandchildren or even fellow residents and staff, so the sixth grade brings the stores to them. The stores, which are supervised by the sixth graders, are divided into different sections and each resident will receive Manhattan Mall “money” to shop for five gifts each. Once the residents have purchased their items, they have the option of having them gift-wrapped for their loved ones. The hope is for the residents to be able to personally buy gifts for their family and friends, which allows them to feel independent.