Community builds beds for children

MERIDIAN – On Nov. 12, the Catholic community of Meridian worked with an organization called Sleep In Heavenly Peace building beds. The organization has a simple mission, “no kid sleeps on the floor in our town.” After several months of fundraising, the community raised the money to build 10 beds. Each bed costs $250 and includes the bed, mattress and bed linens. Most had little to no building experience, but came together on a cold, rainy day and got the project done. The group then helped to deliver four of the beds to children who were sleeping on the floor. We are called to serve, and Sleep In Heavenly Peace can surely help with that. (Photos courtesy of Catholic Community of Meridian)

Mission partners pilgrimage

Twenty-five mission partners made a spiritual pilgrimage to the churches and missions of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity in the Diocese of Jackson from Oct. 20-23. Mission partners are lay and religious faithful who serve as advisors and prayer partners of the Missionary Servants who respond to specific needs and encourage mission outreach on a daily basis. The partners visited and met with the faithful at Holy Child Jesus in Canton where they visited the family home of Sister Thea Bowman, Holy Rosary Native American Mission in Tucker, St. Anne Church in Carthage and Sacred Heart Mission in Camden.

Bishop Joseph Kopacz joined the pilgrimage, presiding and preaching at the closing liturgy for the group on Oct. 23 at Sacred Heart Mission in Camden. The Mass was followed by a reception and meal. It was an evening of thanksgiving to the Lord for the collaborative spirit of the diocese, Missionary Servants and lay missionaries.

The pilgrimage was followed by a week of mission volunteers repairing homes and trailers in the Camden and Carthage communities.

(Photos by Father Guy Wilson, ST)

Thanksgiving food drive

MADISON – Seventh and eighth grade students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison successfully completed a Thanksgiving food drive, filling boxes with enough items to feed 15 families who otherwise may have gone without a family meal for the holiday. On the front row from left are William Kraft, Camp Hlavac, David Steckler, Harper Schuhmann, Noah Ingram and Synia Means. On the second row are Colt Alexander, Landry Erwin, Lily Cate Lumaghini, Maddie Morris and Josh Brown. In the back are Matthew Schenk, Samuel Klar, Susie Steckler and Jaden Taylor. (Photo courtesy of Terry Cassreino)

Calendar of events

FLOWOOD St. Paul, Women’s Ministry Advent Day of Reflection, Saturday, Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Deacon Tony Schmidt will lead the day of reflection to help us in our spiritual journey during Advent. Cost: $10 donation to cover cost of lunch. Details: register at

HERNANDO Holy Spirit, Advent/Christmas Concert, Sunday, Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. The concert will be followed by a parish dinner. Details: church office (662) 429-7851.

NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Season one of “The Chosen” will be shown as an Advent/Christmas study on Mondays beginning Nov. 28, in the Family Life Center at 6 p.m. The study will continue into the Mondays of January 2023. Each episode will include the use of Catholic study and discussion materials developed by the Augustine Institute and FORMED. Details: church office (601) 445-5616.

ABERDEEN St Francis of Assisi, Christmas party after the 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday, Dec. 3. There will be a sign-up sheet posted on the bulletin board in the parish hall for you to sign up for what you would like to bring. We will play “Dirty Santa” following supper. Each person wanting to play needs to bring a $10 gift. Details: church office (662) 813-2295.

COLUMBUS Annunciation, Blood Drive, Monday, Nov. 28. Services Bus will be parked in our parking lot to accept any and all types of blood. Details: church office (662) 328-2927.

JACKSON St. Peter Cathedral, The Vigil Project will provide an evening of music/prayer/inspiration on Friday, Dec. 9. The Vigil Project is a group of musicians and speakers from South Louisiana who host what they call “True Presence Nights” at parishes around the country. The evening consists of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, music and inspirational talks from members of the group. Details: church office (601) 969-3125.

St. Richard, Christmas Candlelight Memorial Service, Thursday, Dec. 8, 6 p.m. at Foley Hall. Details: to RSVP, please contact Nancy McGhee (601) 942-2078 or

MADISON St. Francis, Ring In Your Faith 10k run and 5k run/walk, Saturday, Dec. 31 at 8 a.m. Registration fee guarantees your shirt through Dec. 17 and you will enjoy a mouth-watering New Year’s Day meal with a Southern twist. Ring in 2023 and register here: Details: Joe at

St. Francis, Evening of Worship & Adoration for Advent and Christmas with music by John Finch, on Sunday, Dec. 4, 6:30-8 p.m. in the church. The evening will include a time of worship music, Advent reflection and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Benediction. Open to the public, donations accepted. For more info on John Finish visit Details: email

MADISON St. Joseph School, Christmas Arts and Crafts Camp, Saturday, Dec. 17, St. Joe Fine Arts Building from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1-4 p.m. For grades K through eighth. Cost is $40 per session or $70 for both. Snacks included. Bring lunch if staying for both sessions. Details: email

MERIDIAN St. Patrick, Candy Cane 5k Dash, Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8:30 a.m. Details: to register visit

NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Advent Fair, Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m., Family Life Center, all PreK-4 through fifth graders are invited! Advent and Christmas symbols and their history and meaning will be featured, with stories, crafts and treats. Details: church office (601) 445-5616.

DIOCESE SEARCH Retreat – For Teens, By Teens, Jan. 13-15, 2023 at Camp Wesley Pines in Gallman. Details: email

World Marriage Day, Feb. 12, 2023 at Jackson, St. Peter Cathedral. Details: register to attend with your home parish.

JACKSON St. Richard School, Krewe de Cardinal set for Feb. 10. Call for tickets and sponsorship opportunities. Details: school office (601) 366-1157.

MADISON St. Anthony School, Starry Night Gala, Friday, Dec. 9. Details: school office (601) 607-7054.

BILOXI Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church, The Role of Beauty in the Spiritual Life: understanding and praying with the Church’s Sacred Music, Jan. 26, 2023 at 7 p.m. Event is a talk by Dr. Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka. Details: visit

Our Lady of the Gulf, Sacred Music Workshop for cantors, choir members, music directors and clergy, Jan. 27-28, 2023. Cost is $40 with registration deadline of Jan. 13. Details: Registration and more information at Email with questions.

iGiveCatholic on Giving Tuesday Nov. 28. Join Catholics in this nation-wide day of giving. Visit to donate today!

Saltillo mission, upcoming jubilee, part II

(Editor’s note: This reflection is part two of a two-part series from Msgr. Michael Flannery on his trip to the Saltillo Mission this fall. Part one ran in the Oct. 28 digital edition of Mississippi Catholic.)

By Msgr. Michael Flannery
SALTILLO, Mex. – During my visit to the Saltillo Mission at the end of September, I had the pleasure of celebrating Mass at St. William Church. There was a lady there that something told me I knew her from some place.

We started a conversation and I asked her where she was from originally. She said Santa Rosa. I asked her when she was born, and she said in 1972. I asked her where she was baptized, and she said in Santa Rosa.
I happened to be the priest that baptized her. I had not seen her in 50 years. It was like a reunion to get to know her again after all this time.

A new phenomenon in Saltillo is the building of columbaria at parish churches for the reception of the ashes of deceased parishioners. That has come in response to the growing practice of cremation in Mexico. Prices vary from $600 to $1,000. It has become very popular.

A big thrust in the ministry of the Saltillo Mission is the service to the mountain villages. I accompanied Father David the last Saturday of my visit to the mountain villages. Our first stop was Gomez Nueva where we had a wedding and five First Holy Communions. After a reception we moved on to La Brecha (the gap), which is a church that was dedicated three years ago by Bishop Raul Vera Lopez, Bishop Emeritus of Saltillo, in the presence of Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Bishop Louis Kihneman.

In La Brecha we had a quince años, (the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday). During the celebration of the Mass, the 15-year-old girl renews her baptismal promises and recommits herself to serving the Lord.

From there we journeyed on to another village, El Rancho Pequeño, for another quince años celebration. Then we returned to Saltillo where Father David had a baptism. One thing is for sure, the pastor is never short of work at San Miguel.

On left, a First Communion celebration at Gomez Nueva. On right, a quince años at La Brecha. “Padre” Flannery made a trip to visit the Saltillo Mission and the end of September. (Photos courtesy of Msgr. Michael Flannery)

The following prayer will be recited at all Masses in San Miguel for the whole jubilee year.
We bless the Most Holy Trinity in your Holy Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Rafael. You have selected and called this portion of God’s people, of the Diocese of Saltillo, to form the Parish of San Miguel. We give you thanks for this jubilee year, coming together these 25 years.

You have given us an esteemed and faithful ministry in our bishops and priests, who with their lives and testimony guide your flock in the pastoral presence of Father Quinn and in all the generous priests committed in the pastoral ministry and in a laity committed to the synodal project. We ask that your Son Jesus Christ be for us, a road to journey toward you, the Truth which illuminates our hearts to the gate through which we are admitted to your kingdom.

Our God, who has given us San Miguel as our patron, give us the strength and the character to walk, being the light in the darkness of a culture of death, and in the company of Our Mother and Queen, the Most Holy Virgin, Mary of Guadalupe. Preserve us with strength as true disciples of Christ the Redeemer who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit forever and ever, Amen.

Father David Martinez gave a homily on the Feast of San Miguel, on Sept. 29, 2022, touching on the jubilee year and the aid given by the Diocese of Jackson:

“In this Eucharist on Sept. 29 we give thanks to God because he has permitted our Bishop Hilario Gonzalez Garcia, to proclaim a jubilee year to celebrate the twenty-five years since the erection of the parish of San Miguel.

“Today, full of joy, we have present with us, Msgr. Michael Flannery, who 25 years ago was an essential witness to the transaction of the separation of San Miguel from the parish of Perpetual Help and it is now a parish in its own right and the center of the ranchos which were once a part of the mission of Father Quinn.

“Bishop Francisco Villalobos of happy memory, was the one who named the community of San Miguel as a parish. Present at the Mass were Bishop Francisco Villalobos, Bishop of Saltillo, Bishop William Houck, Bishop of Jackson, Frs. Raul Ramos, Carlos Davila Fuentes, VG., Lazaro Hernandez, Placido Castro Zamora, Msgr. Michael Flannery, Vicar General of the Diocese of Jackson, and Msgr. Michael Thornton who was named the first pastor of San Miguel.

“In this celebration today, on the solemnity of San Miguel, offering to God as we progress throughout the year, that on the 29th of each month, we will come together as brothers and sisters with other parishes, living different historic semblances of our experiences, in all of the rural communities, such as the chapels attached to the parish.

“By celebrating the Eucharist and the accompanying Holy Hour, we have received from our Bishop a partial indulgence. We have the privilege of offering to God, the pastoral experience of Deacon Adam Frey, who was sent here by his Bishop Louis Kihneman of the Diocese of Biloxi, to experience and share in the mission of Father Quinn. It is our desire that sharing this experience as a legate of his diocese, that it will be part of the history of our parish and its 25 years. …

“Remembering the words of Jesus: ‘You will see much greater things than the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’ Because in these things is found the cross and the priest of Christ continues to ascend and descend the slopes in this parish of San Miguel following in the footsteps of Father Quinn, walking with joy, with the cross of the ranchos and in the company of our brothers and sisters who are poorer and more vulnerable and to whom we announce to them that the reign of God has come.

“We end by saying that we ask of God that on Sept. 29, 2023 we can meet with our brothers and sisters of the Dioceses of Jackson and Biloxi, who have been part of our history. We thank God for all his blessings and his Mother Most Holy, the Virgin Mary for all of her maternal protection in our journey of faith.”

Knights aim to honor vets with Wreaths Across America

By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – The Assembly 554 of the Knights of Columbus, Bishop R.O. Gerow, will again be sponsoring the Wreaths Across America program (WAA) this year.

Steve Miller, PFN says the Knights will be selling wreaths made from live greenery to be placed on veteran graves during the Christmas season and that sales have already begun.

The cost of a wreath to honor brave men and women who have served the U.S. is only $15 and can be purchased at through Nov. 20. Wreaths may be purchased for an unspecified veteran. These will be placed on veteran graves at the Clinton Cemetery and Cedar Grove Cemetery in Clinton on Dec. 17 at 12 p.m.

Assembly member Craig Harrell with his grandchildren placing wreaths on veteran graves in 2021. (Photo courtesy Steve Miller)

Wreaths can also be purchased for a specific veteran family member or friend and will be available for pick-up at Holy Savior Church (714 Lindale St., Clinton) on Dec. 17 at 3 p.m.
The Wreaths Across America program honors veterans from the Revolutionary War to present day conflicts and come from all backgrounds. It also boasts over 3,400 participating locations around the country.

Wreaths Across America is a national program with humble beginnings. In 1992 Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine found himself with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season and realized he had an opportunity to honor our county’s veterans. With the help of former Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, Morrill arranged for the wreaths to be place at Arlington National Cemetery in one of the older sections which had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.

This act of generosity became an annual tribute that went on quietly for several years each December, led by Morrill and his family until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet and it began to grow.

In 2020, nearly 1.8 million veteran wreaths were placed at more than 2,500 participating locations. More than two million volunteers nationwide joined in these efforts. The National WAA program is held annual on the second or third Saturday of December.

“The WAA program was brought to the Assembly’s attention by Joe Blake in the fall of 2020. Joe, a past Faithful Navigator of 554 and a Vietnam veteran, thought it would be a good patriotic program for the assembly and worth looking into,” said Miller.

After researching the WAA program, the Assembly realized with so little time and Covid restrictions preventing in-person sales the most they could do in 2020 would be to rely on membership to purchase wreaths and place them at a Crystal Springs cemetery, which had been adopted by a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In July of 2021 the Assembly filed the necessary paperwork with the WAA’s organization and adopted the Clinton Cemetery located at 500 East College Street, where the Assembly had placed American flags for several years in observance of Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day and had identified 170 veteran gravesites, shared Miller.

“Our total wreath sales exceeded our expectations, and 250 wreaths were sold through our various purchase options,” said Miller. “Of the 250 wreaths purchased 30 wreaths were sold to individuals for placement on veteran gravesites of family members or friends at other cemetery locations rather than the Assembly’s adopted cemetery.”

On Dec. 18, 2021, the Assembly members along with women from Clinton’s local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and local Scouts took part in a Wreaths Across America Day Ceremony.

This year, the Knights assembly hopes to exceed those totals. For more information or to purchase a wreath, visit

(Steve Miller, PFN, Bishop R.O. Gerow Assembly 554 collaborated with this story. For more information about the national WWA program, visit

Editor’s note: Home with Heroes in Natchez is also sponsoring the Wreaths Across America Program. Wreathes will be places at the Natchez National, Greenlawn Memorial Park and Vidalia Cemetery on Dec. 17. For more information visit:

Patron saint, celebrated with Mass and festivities

By Galen Holley
NEW ALBANY – Parishioners celebrated Mass outdoors on Oct. 16, on a cool, crisp fall morning, with birds and squirrels darting through the pines encircling the yard. What better way to honor the legacy of their patron and namesake of the church, St. Francis of Assisi.

“St. Francis was known for loving nature and animals, and for loving others,” said Father Xavier Jesuraj, preaching his homily in front of a crowd of 300, most of them sitting in lawn chairs, others standing around the makeshift soccer and volleyball field that would soon be teeming with energetic athletes.

An unpainted statue of the saint, his hand held aloft in pious blessing, stood beside the altar, along with fragrant bouquets of flowers. On the west end of the yard, just behind the church, a Hispanic band, complete with bass, guitar, tambourine and a litany of female singers, serenaded the faithful. During Holy Communion, they sang, “The Prayer of St. Francis,” in Spanish. “Make me a channel of your peace,” they sang. “Where there is despair in life, let me bring hope.”

More than 300 people attended the celebration of the patron saint of St. Francis of Assisi Church in New Albany on Oct. 16. Delicious food, athletic events and dancing were part of the fun. (Photo by Galen Holley)

Catholics from Tupelo and Ripley also came to New Albany to worship. The “Danza” group, honoring their Aztec tradition, also performed.

Fluffy, bundled children scurried about, gathering handfuls of dried pine needles off the pavement. In the impromptu midway, on the north side of the church, the mechanical bull and the bouncy house were going up. The succulent smell of carne asada filled the air, along with the sweet smell of grilling onions, and the crisp, fresh bite of chopped cilantro.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish celebrated 72 years in 2022. The first gatherings were in the home of the Kelso family. Priests from the Glenmary Home Missioners staffed it until four years ago, when diocesan priest, Father Raj, began shepherding the community.

Today, the church is a vibrant mix of Anglo and Latino members, along with other races and nationalities, who collaborate on festive occasions, like this one, to express their unity in Jesus Christ. Their diversity and mutual love testify to a broken world that division is only a deception, and that faith in the risen Jesus is the tie that binds.

Father Raj spoke of his recent trip to the holy sites of Europe, including Assisi. He became emotional when speaking of Carlos Acutis, a remarkable Italian youth, who died of leukemia, in 2006, at the age of 15. The boy had vast computer skills, and documented, online, miracles concerning the Holy Eucharist. He was beatified in October 2020.

“The Pope says that we need saints in jeans,” said Father Raj, during his homily to the crowd of jean wearers gathered at the celebration Mass. Maybe modern saints are living among us.

Grounded in faith

By Lora Beth Barrett
SALTILLO – Just as Jesus says in the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time’s Gospel reading from the book of Luke, “Stand up and go, your faith has saved you,” so has the faith of the descendants of the St. Thomas Aquinas Church in the Saltillo community.

On Oct. 9 on a beautiful, sunny day, members of the Catholic community gathered to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

The first structure, as a wooden framed church, was built and was dedicated on May 7, 1922, by Bishop John Edward Gunn. St. Thomas became a mission church of St. James the Greater parish of Tupelo in 1963 when Father Paul Gillis was priest. In 1966, a brick church was built to replace the original church. Tragedy hit this faith community when the church burned to the ground in the early morning hours in late April of 2009.

SALTILLO – The St. Thomas community celebrated Mass outdoors on the site of the former structure destroyed by fire in 2009. (Photo by Carrie Barrett)

The only items that were saved from the fire include a votive candle stand, a holy water font and Consecration bells. Father Tom Lalor was the priest of the St. Thomas mission at the time of the fire. Since this tragedy, the members of this faith community have continued to remain strong in their faith.

The community continued to worship in Marie Barrett Hall. The small chapel was built when Father Lincoln Dall was priest. Today, this faith community continues to worship together. Each fall the community celebrate the “Blessings of the Graves.” In the spring, this faith community celebrates Easter with a potluck dinner and Easter fun and games. The community continues the traditions and stand together in faith just as their ancestors did over 100 years ago.
Mass was celebrated under a tent in the area where the 1966 structure used to stand on Sunday, Oct. 9. The altar was placed in the general location as the previous structure. Mass was celebrated by Father Tim Murphy and Father Henry Shelton. The St. Thomas choir, under the leadership of Lailah Valentine, provided music for the Mass.

A potluck was served after the Mass celebration by the members in attendance. Entertainment was provided by the Gusmus Grass, a bluegrass band, made up of several members of the congregation. Games were played by the newest generation of the community and lots of love, laughter, and conversation was shared among the congregation.

Both Father Tim Murphy and Father Henry Shelton left everyone in attendance with a lasting impression on the day’s events. Father Tim Murphy concluded his homily in comparison to the community’s ancestors, “Just as they came with two mules of the earth, so did their faith remain and grow. Just as yours will continue in future generations.”

Father Henry Shelton shared reflections of his experiences. He concluded by reminding us of the cemetery filled with generations of family members in the community who have gone before us. He stated, “It is the belief of the Catholic church that when we receive the Eucharist all of our loved ones are gathered around and sharing it with us.”

The community will continue to thrive as they worship together with the compassion, joy and love celebrated on this glorious day. God Bless this community!

(Lora Beth Barrett is a second-grade teacher at Dorsey Attendance Center outside Fulton, Mississippi. She enjoys singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school and growing her faith within her church family and work family. She spends her free time with family, reading and anything art related.)

St. Alphonsus celebrates jubilee of church building

By Berta Mexidor
MCCOMB – In a special Mass with Bishop Joseph Kopacz and pastor, Father Suresh Reddy Thirumalareddy on Sunday, Oct. 30, parishioners and priests from around the diocese celebrated the 100th anniversary of the St. Alphonsus church building.

Bishop John Edward Gunn led the McComb Catholic congregation in building the twin-towered church, which was dedicated in 1922. According to claims, the cornerstone of which contains the names of the 1922 confirmation class.

The McComb area Catholic history reaches back to the 1860s with the first Mass being celebrated at the Bunker Hill home of Marie Elizabeth Brown and other Masses held at Vinegar Hill where “wooden dressers were made into make shift altars,” according to Christ: The Living Water by Cleta Ellington.

Nine days ahead of the celebration parishioners began a novena to St. Alphonsus Logouri, patron saint of the parish. On the last day of the novena, parishioners prayed:

“Lord, we celebrate 100 years in this building at St. Alphonsus Parish in McComb. Let this sanctified structure, we pray, continue to serve as a sanctuary for the Faithful, the True Church founded by Christ Himself, and as a beacon of Your Truth to our community of Pike County, through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.”

Two days after the parish celebration, parishioners reunited at the gravesite of Father Brian Kaskie at Hollywood Cemetery for an All Souls Day Mass for their former pastor who passed in 2021.

Father Brian was only in McComb a few years but left a deep impact in the life of the parish.

With all the happiness, and faith of late Father Kaskie, all the priests that served the community since the beginning, and the founders’ parishioners, everyone present at the celebration said ”Thanks be to God for 100 years of blessings bestowed on St. Alphonsus!”

MCCOMB – the faithful gather for a Mass celebrating the 100th anniversary of the current St. Alphonsus church building on Sunday, Oct. 30. Above, a picture of the exterior of the parish with its twin towers in 1954. (Photos courtesy of St. Alphonsus parish and Diocese archives)