PEARL – There was a beautiful and culturally rich celebration of the Sacraments of Matrimony and Baptism at St. Jude parish on Monday, June 7. Three couples from the parishes Micronesian community were married in a triple wedding. Following the wedding Mass, five children were baptized. It was a special day for the community. (Photos by Rhonda Bowden)
By Fran Lavelle
NEW ORLEANS – Father James Martin Nobles, OP formerly known as Adam Nobles was ordained a Dominican priest on June 12 at St. Dominic Catholic Church in New Orleans. He was born in New Orleans and raised in Fernwood, Mississippi. His parents, Dr. Jim and Penny, had five children, Adam being the mold breaker.
I will never forget the first day I met Adam. A ruddy cheeked cherub showed up in the sacristy at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Starkville in the fall of 2008. He was one of the many new Catholic freshmen moving to Starkville that fall. Like his contemporaries he was full of energy, had many hopes and dreams, and was anxious about this new chapter of life. But unlike his contemporaries, Adam had been accepted by the Diocese of Jackson to pursue priestly formation with the caveat that his first two years of undergraduate education would be at one of Mississippi’s public universities. Lucky for me, Adam was sent to Mississippi State.
For those of us lucky enough to work in youth and young adult ministry there are times in our ministry when we just know a particular student is going to test our limits. While this does not sound flattering at all Adam will tell you it is true.
The recent high school graduate that I met in 2008 had it all figured out, or at least he thought so. I am not one to let the misgivings of youth get in the way of my call to serve with love. I am grateful Father Kent Bowlds sent Adam to Mississippi State for those first two years of his formation. I witnessed his maturation and his growing understanding of who and whose he is.
Adam was very involved with our campus ministry program. He served on our leadership team, took mission trips, went on retreats and taught CCD.
I remember one day Adam stopped by to see me and told me about how he got in trouble with the DRE for taking his class to the Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast instead of class one Sunday morning. She was concerned that the children in the other grades would feel left out. Instead of feeling defeated he came to me to help devise a plan to allow the other classes the opportunity to attend the pancake breakfast too.
Of all of the gifts Adam shared with his fellow Catholics at Mississippi State his laughter was, and is, his enduring legacy. He is one of those good souls that God blessed with an extra dose of holy laughter when Adam was born. Anyone who knows anything about holy laughter is that we laugh with, and not at, someone else. It is the kind of laughter that leaves one’s sides hurting for hours if not days. We did a lot of laughing and had our share of tears in those two short years.
In 2010 it was time for Adam to leave us and go to St. Joseph Seminary College to complete his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Theological Studies. In 2012, he entered Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Several of our younger priests in the diocese studied with him there. I am certain the stories of shenanigans they can tell would fill a book.
Throughout his formation Adam was diving deeper into who and whose he is. From this place of deep reflection and introspection he discerned that being a diocesan priest was not what God was calling him to. After months of prayer Adam found consolation in the charism of the Dominican Order. In 2014, Adam began the long journey to priesthood as a Dominican friar. No doubt the synthesis of active and contemplative aspects of the order and the richness of community life spoke to Adam.
Over the past nearly thirteen years I have had the privilege to watch a ruddy cheeked cherub with an attitude grow into a compassionate servant leader and preacher. Over the years he has shared milestones with me. With each phase of his formation and education the easy going, fun loving guy I first met was still present, but I also witnessed the emergence of the deeply grounded caring man he is today. I recall his grand ideas of what he thought priesthood was all about. That too has changed. He is someone who now seeks those on the periphery and understands what it means to serve them. Our phone conversations still include robust outbursts of laughter and always end with “I love you.”
That is one thing I know for sure will not change now that he has been ordained a priest. We are all given opportunities to accompany others in this journey. Finding the sacred in the ordinary and not taking oneself too seriously are critical elements in accompaniment for the long haul. My dear Father James Martin Nobles, you know well how to do both. I pray you always will.
(Fran Lavelle is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson.)
By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – After careful study and consultation with the clergy, Bishop Joseph Kopacz will lift the general dispensation from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass, effective on the Solemnity of the Feast of Corpus Christi beginning with the vigil Mass on Saturday, June 5, 2021.
In a letter released on May 20 by the diocese, Bishop Kopacz states, “The Sunday obligation will be restored on this great feast when we can satisfy our hunger for the Bread of Life, in Word and Sacrament with the reception of Holy Communion.”
Bishop Kopacz also reminds the faithful in his letter to keep in mind that the church always dispenses those confronting serious health concerns. “Therefore, someone can validly make the decision to attend Mass during the week, if able, and to participate in the Mass on the Lord’s Day through live streaming,”
In addition to lifting the general dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation, the diocese modified their protocols during the pandemic. The directives, which represents a combination of previously released protocols, detail how parishes can move forward towards more normal operations, taking a gradual phased approach, with a watchful eye on the developments and guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Mississippi State Department of Health.
For Masses, social distancing will be at 3 feet and parishes may use every pew, deciding how to stagger seating to maintain social distancing.
Also, masks are no longer required at Mass but encouraged for those who are not vaccinated and for children and youth under the age of 16. However, priests and eucharistic ministers are required to wear masks when distributing Holy Communion.
With the changes, some things remain the same. Holy Communion is still encouraged to be received in the hand and hand sanitizer should still be used by parishioners upon entrance to the church.
The updated protocols also include directives on meetings, gatherings, as well as youth activities and Vacation Bible School.
Pastors and their pastoral staff are responsible for the safe and prudent execution of the directives, recognizing that every parish has unique circumstances. The goal is to continue to provide a safe place for worship while maintaining a level of confidence for all the people of God.
On May 13, the CDC eased the mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and most indoor settings. The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
Father Lincoln Dall, vicar general for the diocese, stated at the end of the directives, “We want to thank all of you for your efforts in keeping our parishioners safe during the pandemic. We acknowledge that all of us are very weary of dealing with the pandemic. … However, we acknowledge that this is still is not the time to let our guard down completely. We will continue to monitor the situation and will issue modified guidelines when the reality of the pandemic changes.”
To view the letter from Bishop Kopacz lifting the dispensation and a full list of updated protocols, visit https://jacksondiocese.org/public-health-concerns/.
Por Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Después de un estudio cuidadoso y una consulta con el clero, el obispo Joseph Kopacz levantará la dispensa general de la obligación dominical de asistir a la misa, a partir de la fiesta de Corpus Christi, de la Misa de vigilia el sábado 5 de junio de 2021.
En una carta publicada por la diócesis, el 20 de mayo, el obispo Kopacz declara: “La obligación dominical será restaurada en esta gran fiesta cuando podamos satisfacer nuestra hambre por el Pan de Vida, en la Palabra y Sacramento con la recepción de la Sagrada Comunión.”
El obispo Kopacz recuerda a los fieles en su carta que tengan también en cuenta que la iglesia siempre dispensa a aquellos que enfrentan problemas de salud graves. “Por lo tanto, alguien puede tomar válidamente la decisión de asistir a Misa, si puede, durante la semana y participar en la Misa el día del Señor a través de la transmisión en vivo.”
Además de levantar la dispensa general de la obligación de la Misa dominical, la diócesis modificó sus protocolos durante la pandemia. Las directivas, que representan una combinación de protocolos publicados anteriormente, detallan cómo las parroquias pueden avanzar hacia operaciones más normales, adoptando un enfoque gradual, con una mirada atenta a los desarrollos y la orientación del Centro para el Control de Enfermedades (CDC) y el Departamento de Salud del Estado de Mississippi.
El distanciamiento social será de 3 pies para las Misas y las parroquias pueden usar cada banco para decidir cómo escalonar los asientos para mantener el distanciamiento social.
Además, las máscaras ya no se requieren en la Misa, pero se recomiendan para aquellos que no están vacunados y para niños y jóvenes menores de 16 años. Sin embargo, los sacerdotes y ministros eucarísticos deben usar máscaras al distribuir la Sagrada Comunión.
Con los cambios, algunas cosas seguirán igual. Todavía se anima a recibir la Sagrada Comunión en la mano y los feligreses deben usar desinfectante de manos al entrar a la iglesia.
Los protocolos actualizados también incluyen directivas sobre reuniones, encuentros, así como actividades para jóvenes y la Escuela Bíblica de Vacaciones.
Los párrocos y su personal pastoral son responsables de la ejecución segura y prudente de las directivas, reconociendo que cada parroquia tiene circunstancias únicas. El objetivo es continuar proporcionando un lugar seguro, para la adoración mientras se mantiene un nivel de confianza en todo el pueblo de Dios.
El 13 de mayo, el CDC modificó la guía para el uso de máscaras para las personas completamente vacunadas, lo que les permitió dejar de usar máscaras al aire libre en multitudes y en la mayoría de los entornos interiores. La guía todavía exige el uso de máscaras en entornos interiores abarrotados como autobuses, aviones, hospitales, prisiones y refugios para personas sin hogar.
El padre Lincoln Dall, vicario general de la diócesis, declaró al final de las directrices: “Queremos agradecerles a todos por sus esfuerzos para mantener seguros a nuestros feligreses durante la pandemia. Reconocemos que todos estamos muy cansados de lidiar con la pandemia. … Sin embargo, reconocemos que todavía no es el momento de bajar la guardia por completo. Continuaremos monitoreando la situación y emitiremos lineamientos modificados cuando la realidad de la pandemia cambie.”
Para ver la carta del obispo Kopacz levantando la dispensa y para una lista completa de los protocolos actualizados, visite https://jacksondiocese.org/public-health-concerns/
By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – From an early age, Andrew Bowden had a heart for service. On May 15, he continued that call as he was ordained a transitional deacon at his home parish of St. Jude in Pearl. He will serve as a deacon until ordination to the priesthood next year.
“The first time that I remember him saying anything about wanting to be a priest, he was about kindergarten age,” said his mother, Rhonda Bowden, who coordinates liturgy and pastoral care at St. Jude.
Deacon Bowden recalled attending a Mass around that age, celebrated by Bishop William Houck, that sparked his interest in religious life.
“He had an incredibly powerful voice, and I was impressed by him. So impressed that the next time I saw my pastor, Father [Martin] Ruane, I announced to him that I wanted to be a bishop,” laughed Deacon Bowden.
Father Ruane, who passed in 2015, was a great influence on young Bowden. His sense of humor, humble nature and his joy were attributes that Bowden wanted to emulate. “I don’t remember exactly how he responded to the four-year-old declaring that he wanted to be bishop, but he was able to replace that idea … with the desire to become a priest,” said Deacon Bowden.
Around the same time, Bowden also started talking about wanting to be an altar server. Although Father Ruane’s policy was that alter servers must be in the fourth grade, he graciously did an abbreviated training session just for Bowden in the third grade, shortly before he left St. Jude for a new assignment.
“Altar serving then became a major part of my pre-discernment,” explained Deacon Bowden. “Through altar serving at St. Jude as I grew up, I began to love God, the church and the priesthood in a much deeper way.”
Bowden was also actively engaged in St. Jude’s youth group and enjoyed sharing his faith and teaching the younger altar servers.
His mother, Rhonda couldn’t recall any other possible vocation or career path her son ever mentioned, other than around four years old saying that he wanted to be an architect priest who would build churches and work in the church, imagining as only a child can, to also build underground tunnels to his house so that he could eat lunch with her every day.
By the end of high school, Deacon Bowden strongly felt he was being called to the priesthood. Father Jeffrey Waldrep, who was pastor at St. Jude in Bowden’s high school years inspired his interest in liturgy and was helpful to him as he entered the formal discernment process for priestly formation.
His parents were extremely supportive of his desire and after graduating from Brandon High School in the spring of 2014 he completed his application for the seminary just as Bishop Joseph Kopacz arrived in the diocese.
“We strongly encouraged Andrew to have a ‘backup-plan’ in case the new bishop was not eager to send an 18-year-old to seminary college. [But], he was adamant that God’s will would prevail, and that God would make a way for him. And God did,” said Bowden’s mother.
Bowden spent four years at St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana and moved on to Notre Dame Seminary, where he just completed his third year before being ordained a transitional deacon on May 15.
“During the diaconate internship we try to place our men in parishes that will give them a wide range of experiences,” said Father Nick Adam, director of vocations, who first met Bowden in high school, while he was in seminary school.
“This will be the first time a seminarian baptizes a baby, witnesses a wedding or presides at a funeral, and we want to make sure they have plenty of opportunities to dive into parish life and walk with families in this way.”
Those in the transitional diaconate are also tried to be place at a parish with a school so they can be a part of the day-to-day life of the kids and faculty. A great place for that is at St. Mary Basilica and Cathedral School in Natchez, and Bowden is looking forward to his service to the community.
“During seminary, I have greatly missed the local expression of the church that is the Diocese of Jackson. I am greatly looking forward to spending the next few months in Natchez with Father [Scott] Thomas and Father [Mark] Shoffner. … It will be so good to get to know people there and learn how I can serve them best,” said Deacon Bowden.
During his diaconate ordination, Bowden’s mother cried ‘happy tears.’ “Seeing my son so happy and knowing that he was responding to God’s call made my heart sing with joy.”
By Mary Margaret Halford Edney
VICKSBURG – In 1860, the Sisters of Mercy made their way to Vicksburg, a place with no access to formal education at that time. Within a week, the sisters had opened the town’s very first school. On May 14, more than 160 years later, the legacy of those charitable women was honored at a building dedication for the town’s newest educational facility — the Sisters of Mercy Early Learning Center at Vicksburg Catholic School (VCS).
“By dedicating this building today, we’re opening the door to share that spirit of service, beginning at the very earliest ages,” said Riley Nelson, former VCS advisory council president. “We pray that each child who enrolls here will grow up equipped with the values that were so important to the Sisters of Mercy — spirituality, community and putting others above yourself.”
The ceremony began with an opening from the center’s director, Katie Emfinger, followed by an invocation from Bishop Joseph Kopacz. St. Aloysius High School student body president Natalie Burke welcomed the crowd, and advisory council president Marion Roberson introduced city leadership in attendance.
“We cannot grow, and we will not grow without thinking toward the future,” City of Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs told the crowd gathered in front of the new building. “This Early Learning Center is fulfilling a need in our community for more quality childcare options. To those who donated to make this possible, you couldn’t have made a better investment than you did in this facility.”
Mary Margaret Edney, a VCS advisory council member and chair of the school’s catholic identity committee, spoke about the Sisters of Mercy legacy, which will be honored and carried on through the Early Learning Center.
“When we talk about catholic identity at Vicksburg Catholic School, what we’re talking about is an environment where respect and kindness are just as important as reading and writing, where community service is taught alongside chemistry and geometry,” Edney said. “And as it turns out, those ideals have been a part of our story since the very beginning, when the Sisters of Mercy first got to Vicksburg more than 160 years ago.”
And for Sherry Scott, the sisters’ lesson of charity was one that lasted a lifetime. Because of the impact they made on her while she was a student at St. Francis Xavier Academy, she felt compelled to make a generous donation to the project.
“The Sisters of Mercy made a huge impression on me,” said Scott, the namesake of the center’s Sherry J. Scott Building. “When the opportunity came to do something in their name, my husband, Sam, graciously let me do it. They’ve been a wonderful inspiration to a lot of people, but especially to my family and me.”
“Early on, we decided to call this capital campaign ‘Continuing the Legacy,’” explained Kristi Smith, VCS development director and chair of the capital campaign to construct the new facility. “But continuing the legacy is so much more than just a name, it’s an honor and a duty. It is our responsibility to honor the Sisters of Mercy and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart with our words and actions each day. It is our duty to make sure that we instill the same values they bestowed upon us in the generations that follow.”
The 8,300-square-foot facility, which features 10 classrooms, will open June 1 for infants to three-year-olds.
By Joe Lee
MADISON – Already the author of four books, including Saltillo Mission, his tribute to the humanitarian efforts of his friend and mentor, the late Father Patrick Quinn, Msgr. Michael Flannery vowed to do something productive while quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
Instead of simply working on his next manuscript, he completed and published a whopping four new titles through Covenant Books, a Christian publishing house based in South Carolina. All four titles weave fiction with history and matters of faith and spirituality, an approach that plays to Msgr. Flannery’s strengths as a storyteller.
“When I taught religion,” he said, “I felt the best way to do it was to tell stories and bring them to life for the kids. But these books aren’t just for children; they’re for parents and grandparents, too.”
Here’s a look at each:
The Chalice of Limerick explores a dark, dangerous period in the history of the Irish people and uses a chalice belonging to Bishop Turlough O’Brien and cared for (after Bishop O’Brien was hanged) by Father James Kelly to represent the lengths the Irish people would go to defend their Catholic faith from persecution, as well as the resilience they showed in surviving the Irish Potato Famine. A story of hope, bravery and loyalty, the book’s message underscores the true value of our beloved Catholic symbols, such as the chalice.
The Holy Grail is allegedly the cup Jesus used the night of The Last Supper. Many books have been written about where the Holy Grail might be, and a major Hollywood film a generation ago, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” included the search for the cup as a significant part of the plot. In a previous book, Padre’s Christian Stories, Msgr. Flannery penned an inspirational story about the Holy Grail, and in One View of the Holy Grail, he takes a new and creative approach to what might have happened to the mythical cup.
In The Emerald, young Adolfo Rodriquez finds a rare and valuable stone in his native San Pedro, Coahuila, Mexico. As Adolfo learns, the emerald is rare and valuable because of the powers and opportunities it affords him — such as being the first from the village of San Pedro to attend college, where he earns a master’s degree in engineering. Adolfo goes on to do great things, including bringing a wind turbine back to the village, which greatly improves the lives of the people there.
A first-person work of fiction, In Search of My Twin is seen through the eyes of William Musgrove. After he and his twin brother, Joseph, survive a deadly car crash that takes the lives of their parents when the boys are only two days old, they become wards of the state and are separated. William is especially intrigued to learn, as he grows up, that he actually has a twin brother, and his generation-long search to find Joseph takes him on a path that mirrors the close relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
(All four new releases by Msgr. Flannery are available in paperback and digital formats through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and www.covenantbooks.com. Signed copies are also available for purchase at St. Francis of Assisi in Madison, located at 4000 W. Tidewater Lane, (601) 856-5556)
NEW ORLEANS Our Lady of the Cenacle Retreat Center, Women’s Retreat, “Finding Peace in Uncertainty” on July 9-11. Know that by depending on God in trying times, you are putting your faith into action. When we get caught up in the trauma of our trials, God calls us to depend on His power to persevere. We wait in faith, prayer and grace. Presenter: Father Paul Hart, who is director of retreats at St. Joseph Abbey and director of the preaching ministry office of the Mid-America Province of the Capuchin Order. He conducts retreats, parish development programs, and religious education workshops. He also serves as chaplain at Brother Martin High School. 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, FAMILY AND SCHOOL EVENTS
GREENVILLE St. Joseph, Society of St. Vincent de Paul volunteers are needed on Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Please come to 711 Washington Avenue if you can help. Details: church office (662) 335-5251.
JACKSON – Catholic Charities, Bishop’s Ball, Friday, June 18, 6:30 p.m. cocktails; 7:30 p.m. dinner at the Country Club of Jackson. Live auction and live entertainment. Dress is cocktail attire. Cost: $85 per person or reserve table at $1,000 for eight people. Online auction and raffles begin on June 10 at www.bidpal.net/bb21. Details: Charities office at (601) 331-1152 or purchase tickets at www.bidpal.net/bb21.
OLIVE BRANCH Queen of Peace, Blood Drive will be Sunday, June 20 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. at the Father John Young Center. Walk-ins are welcome. Details: church office (662) 895-5007.
JACKSON St. Richard, Fourth of July Family Picnic is back! Sunday, July 4 after 5 p.m. Mass. Details: church office (601) 366-2335.
CLARKSDALE St. Catholic Community of St. Elizabeth and Immaculate Conception, Cornhole Tournament, Wednesday, June 2 at 5 p.m. in front of McKenna Hall. All youth entering 7-12 grades are welcome to attend and invite their friends. Wingstop will be served. Details: church office (662) 624-4301.
GREENVILLE St. Joseph, Vacation Bible School, June 21-24, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the parish hall. Details: Contact Mary Ann Barker (662) 335-5251 for more information or to sign up to help.
MADISON St. Joseph School, Annual Bruin Burn Color Run 5K Run/Walk and Fun Run, Saturday, July 24. All proceeds support the St. Joe Athletic Program for the benefit of all St. Joe Athletes. Details: Beth Vanderloo at (601) 906-9501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MERIDIAN Catholic Community of Meridian, Youth Gathering, Sunday, June 13 at 4 p.m. in the Family Life Center. Youth sixth grade through seniors are welcomed. Details: for more information, please contact Angela Dove at the Parish Office (601) 436-6025 or by email Angela@catholicmeridian.org.
Summer Parish Battle: How well do you know your Catholic Faith? Parish versus parish for a battle of the wits, Saturday, June 19 beginning with lunch/registration at 11 a.m. and ending with 5 p.m. Mass. All parish youth groups are invited to form teams to compete in trivia competitions and physical challenges and end the day with reconciliation, rosary and Mass. Teams can consist of youth (grades 6-12) and adults. Team with the most points at the end of the day wins trophy and bragging rights for a year! Registration is due by June 4 and there is no cost. Details: Angela Dove at email@example.com or (601) 693-1321 or (601) 436-6025.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Regnum Dei – Finding God in All Things, June 14-18 (Week 1) and June 21-25 (Week 2). All parish youth groups (grades 9-12) are invited to their summer camp program. You can choose to attend one day, a few days or a whole week and join the youth for their summer service camp and lot of fun. Cost is $50 for the week or less depending on the number of days you plan to attend plus the hotel costs. There will be hotel blocks for any groups wishing to stay overnight. Registration is due by June 4. Details: Carrie Lambert at the church office (601) 445-5616 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PEARL St. Jude, Join Vacation Bible School – family style (for youth in kindergarten to sixth grade), Wednesday evenings June 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Bring your picnic blankets or lawn chairs. The theme is Summer Games, centering on the life of Daniel. VBS will be celebrating a different Olympic continent (and saint from that continent) each week as students learn to train, compete and reach the goal through the story of Daniel. Registration is required. Families must register for each day and it will end 24 hours before the event. Details: Register at https://signup.com/group/444217444062 or call Stacy Wolf at 601-939-3181.
VICKSBURG (All parishes) Vacation Bible School “Camping in God’s Creation,” July 19-23 from 9-11:30 a.m. for kindergarten through sixth grades in the Vicksburg Catholic School gym and cafeteria. Details: Contact Lindsey Bradley at email@example.com for more information.
Newman Connect App Please encourage your Class of 2021 grads to sign-up with the Newman Connection through the new Newman Connect App. This is completely free and it helps connect our young people to the Catholic Campus Ministry programs at the colleges and universities they plan to attend in the fall. Details: http://www.newmanministry.com for more information.
By Joanna Puddister King
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 award for service.
This year, Bishop Joseph Kopacz and the Office of Youth Ministry awarded 11 young people the Bishop Chanche award. Due to COVID, awards were given at individual parishes. The brief descriptions on these pages come from the Bishop Chanche nomination forms and offer a glimpse into the young men and women who serve the church today.
Carolina Acosta – St. James, Tupelo
Character: Humble, committed and hardworking
Activities: Altar server, lector, Christian fellowship leader at school
School: Tupelo High School, senior
Acosta was nominated by Mary Frances Strange, director of youth ministry, who said that Acosta lives out her Catholic faith by being brave. “She is one of those people that is hard to describe, because there are few like her. This past year I offered the opportunity for the newly confirmed juniors to help as leaders their senior year. I had eight that were interested. She was one of these,” said Strange.
Acosta helps lead a small group at the parish and comes to all service projects. This year, she even assisted Strange with the Confirmation retreat. “I was so blown away by her, she was the most efficient and productive help I have ever had as a youth minister.”
Anna Elise Crout – St. Joseph,
Character: Dedicated, enthusiastic about her faith and desire for growth
Activities: Youth Lead Team, parish and school cantor and pianist, school band, volunteer at Hope Hollow Ministires and MadCAAP
School: St. Joseph Catholic School, junior
Crout was nominated by Pam Minninger, the LEM for St. Joseph Gluckstadt, who said that she reliably serves her parish and Catholic school not only by being a dedicated and enthusiastic participant, but also serves in music ministry as a talented piano player and cantor. She promotes involvement in youth events such as DCYC to her peers and serves as a youth leader on the Youth Ministry Leadership team, which involves being an example of leadership as well as conducting (adult supervised) activities for younger teens and children in St. Joseph’s parish ministries.
“We can always count on Anna to not only participate and share her talents, but to also take a lead in her role as a Youth Lead Team member and also with a genuine enthusiasm for her faith and a desire to share her love of faith with peers,” said Minninger.
Emma Rose Dickerson – St. Alphonsus,
Character: Responsible, honest and compassionate
Activities: Vacation bible school volunteer, gift bearer, Jag2jag mentoring program, Life Teen, St. Alphonsus social committee, Volunteer at many school events and at WINGS and St. Andrew’s mission
School: North Pike High School, senior
Dickerson was nominated by William Jarvis, youth minister at St. Alphonsus McComb, who described her as having a sensitive heart to those who suffer.
“Emma’s level of commitment is something that we can rely on. We know that if we need someone trustworthy and reliable, that Emma can be called upon,” said Jarvis.
Maria Garcia – St. Therese, Kosciusko
Character: Dedicated, loyal, dependable
Activities: Altar server, bilingual lector, Rosary leader, CYO president, Beta club, Spanish club, book club, member of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and volunteer at Shepard’s Touch Clinic
School: Kosciusko High School, senior
Garcia was nominated by Father Odel Medina, ST, pastor of St. Therese Kosciusko. “Maria deserves the Bishop Chanche award for youth because she is dedicated to help bridge the language gap between our Spanish and English-speaking congregational members. She is loyal to her duties and is dependable in all that is asked of her. She is a roll model for her family, church and community,” said Father Medina.
Garcia makes herself available to translate either verbally or written from English to Spanish or vice versa. She has a servants heart.
Father Medina also said that Garcia has encouraged and taught the younger children of the parish how to serve and participate in Mass. “She has taught several other children of the church how to serve as an altar server, say the rosary and participate in Stations of the Cross. Her positive outlook on life is infectious and others want to be around her and like her,” said Father Medina.
Kirstie Graves – St. Joseph, Meridian
Character: Integrity, honesty and selfless
Activities: Lector, choir, Panther Reads, Beta club, member of HOSA, soccer team, softball team, volunteer at Love’s Kitchen
School: Quitman High School, senior
Graves was nominated by John Harwell, office manager of St. Joseph Meridian. Harwell describes Graves as one of the most active youth at the parish and said that she helped rebuild the youth program at the parish. “She made is a priority in her life and she would always be here for the youth Mass and as many activities, programs that she was able to make. … When she starts a task, she does not stop until it is finished.”
“Kirstie is going to go on to do outstanding things as an adult but more importantly she will do her life’s work as a backdrop to her Catholic faith. I am proud to nominate her for the Bishop Chanche Youth Award,” said Harwell.
Anna Marie Lamanilao – St. Michael,
Character: Kind, generous, and faith-filled
Activities: Violinist in choir, altar server, band, retreat team, key club, Mu Alpha Theta, mentoring team, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, camp counselor at Camp Silver Cloud
School: St. Aloysius Catholic School, senior
Lamanilao was nominated by Father Robert Dore of St. Michael Vicksburg, who describes her as a wonderful example of how today’s Catholic teenager should live her life. “She is proud to say she has faith in God and is aware of His infinite love and mercy and the blessings he has bestowed upon her,” said Father Dore.
A member of St. Michael parish since birth, she has been involved in the parish in many ways, including Bible school, youth volunteer, CYO, choir, altar server and more.
Nate Leary – St. John the Evangelist,
Character: Compassion, enthusiasm and self-discipline
Activities: Eagle scout, tennis, altar server, volunteer at Lovepacks and veterans home
School: Lafayette High School, senior
Leary was nominated by Camille Bianco of St. John Oxford and she describes him as a natural leader. “He is always willing to volunteer to help others, willing to be a ‘speaker’ for the prayer service, and willing to ask and answer questions at youth group. His enthusiasm for all he does, especially his faith, is easy to denote. The years it took him to obtain his Eagle Scout award shows that he is persistent and has self-discipline. He is fun-loving, yet serious about his faith. This combination makes him unique and he will be much-missed next year at youth group,” said Bianco.
Alida Perez – St. Joseph, Starkville
Character: Faithful, leadership and pious
Activities: Youth group, altar server, church choir, school choir, food pantry volunteer
School: Starkville High School, senior
Perez was nominated by Deacon Jeff Artigues at St. Joseph Starkville, who says that she lives her Catholic faith through her active participation in the parish’s youth group. “She’s involved … because she wants to strengthen her bond with God and her Catholic peers,” said Deacon Artigues.
Katheryn Prater – St. Francis, Madison
Character: Genuine, generous, leader
Activities: Vacation bible school team member, hospitality minister, Life Teen, cantor, music team member, Beta club, National Honor Society, volunteer at Our Daily Bread and Why Not Now
School: Madison Central High School, senior
Prater was nominated by Mary Catherine George, director of religious education at St. Francis Madison, who says it has been a privilege to work with Prater at the parish and witness her growth as a strong Christian. “She is a dependable, generous and service-oriented young lady. From my perception of her, she has shown leadership and moral character in all areas of her life,” said George.
In 2020, Prater spent countless hours preparing supplies and take-home kits for the parish’s Vacation Bible School “At-Home” program and even worked on a craft demonstration video with the program.
“Her assistance in our children’s events and youth program has been beyond helpful to me, to our staff, and to the volunteer ministers she has worked with. She makes time to serve in various ways and expects nothing in return,” said George.
Christopher Tonos – St. Joseph,
Character: Honest, dependable and committed to his call to serve as a disciple
Activities: MC at Mass, Youth group, St. Vincent de Paul volunteer, tennis
School: St. Joseph Catholic School, senior
Tonos was nominated by Father Aaron Williams and Alyssa Ingram, director of youth ministry. Ingram explained that the parish has a Confirmation class outside of the youth program, so those candidates do not generally return to the program after Confirmation but Tonos did. “He comes back every week and meetings between regular scheduled events as well, [He] does more than ‘show up,’ he steps up. The example and honest heart that he has poured out and into the youth this year has been better than I deserve,” said Ingram.
“His authentic heart for Jesus pours out of him and into whatever he is doing.”
Chase Walter – St. Jude, Pearl
Character: Steadfast in faith, humble and leader
Activities: Altar server, usher, Vacation Bible School volunteer, Youth Alpha, Richland Mayor’s Youth Council, Mu Alpha Theta, baseball
School: Richland High School, senior
Walter was nominated by Stacy Wolf, DRE for St. Jude Pearl. Wolf describes Walter as a young man with the heart of St. Joseph. “Chase stands out not because he draws attention to himself, but because of his quiet, steady faith and dependability. He sets an example for his peers and our younger children, not by his words, but by his deeds and actions. He leads by example with strength and courage,” says Wolf.
Even during the pandemic, Walter has continued to serve the parish with grace. In addition to serving as an usher and alter server on Sundays, Wolf said that he has also continued to take part in Zoom Sunday School and youth activities, despite having a very busy senior year.