By Joanna Puddister King JACKSON – The Catholic Foundation’s 38th annual Bishop’s Cup Golf Scramble is slated for September 1, 2020 at the Lake Caroline golf course in Madison. Due to COVID-19, the Catholic Foundation has been closely following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Mississippi Department of Health, as well as working with the Lake Caroline Golf Club to ensure a safe environment for golfers and staff during the Bishop’s Cup golf scramble. New protocols will be followed for this year’s event to avoid large gatherings and improve the safety of everyone involved. Tee times will be determined to assure safety restrictions are upheld. Rebecca Harris, executive director of the Catholic Foundation says, “We hope that our golfers return and come enjoy a day out on the course. We hope the day brings back some normalcy to their lives.”
New this year is the Bishop’s Cup website where golfers can sign up to sponsor the event, register each golfer, and purchase mulligans. Mulligans have always been a bonus part of the tournament. “It is a chance for a golfer to have a ‘do-over’ when they hit a bad shot,” says Harris. For the Bishop’s Cup, mulligans are $10 each with a limit of four. The Bishop’s Cup website can be found at https://one.bidpal.net/bishopscup2020/welcome. The site will also include an online virtual auction that should prove to be quite fun. Bidding on items will begin a week before the tournament and will end the night of the event. Winners of the tournament, as well as auction items, will be posted to the website. Harris says that this year the auction will be paired down from its normal size. “We appreciate all of the businesses around the diocese who have helped make our auction such a success through the years. However, we knew that COVID-19 has affected many of those businesses, so we decided to have a small auction.” The proceeds from this year’s tournament will benefit the Catholic Foundation Grant Trust. The Foundation manages 378 trusts for the Diocese of Jackson, which help Catholic parishes, Catholic schools, and other Catholic organizations under the auspices of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson. The goal this year is to raise $35,000 through the golf scramble. For more information, please contact Rebecca Harris, executive director of the Catholic Foundation, at 601-960-8477. Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased online or contact Julia Williams, assistant development director at 601-960-8481 for assistance.
By Berta Mexidor and Joanna Puddister King JACKSON – On Aug. 7, 2019 at least four Catholic parishes were shaken after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided chicken processing plants across the state, arresting 680 undocumented workers. The day left many children in fear and pain on their first day of school, as they were left with no place to go with their families taken from them. As some were released from ICE custody to care for their children, a new reality set in. The loss of income, along with an unforeseeable future and questions on how their families may survive without loved ones in ICE custody.
About seven months later, between court appearances, possible deportation, and legal incertitude, pain for these communities came again, now in the form of an illness affecting everyone without discrimination of legal status. But for the families of affected families in Canton, Forest, Morton, and Carthage, the fear of COVID-19 was less than the fear for immigration officials. Hundreds have gotten sick, and friends and family members have died due to COVID-19. Many undocumented immigrants are avoiding tests and hospitals regardless of the authorities’ promises of not to check legal status during medical tests due to the immense fear the ICE raids caused. The situation is not localized only to Mississippi, but around the country too. Several of the families affected by the raids migrated to other states due to fear of another raid. The church’s membership was reduced by this migration as well. Right after the raids last August, the church became a humanitarian hub for food, goods and financial resources to pay rent and utilities. At that moment, the immigrants noted that God was sending several helping hands, even a Cardinal from Guatemala. On Nov. 7, 2019, Rep. Bennie Thompson held a congressional hearing at Tougaloo College in Jackson. He was accompanied by two more representatives; as well as, state, community and religious leaders, including Father Odel Medina, ST of St. Anne Carthage, to question Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Jere Miles about the mishandling of the massive ICE raid months earlier. During the hearing, Father Medina took the opportunity to read a letter from a child in his parish, who was hurting and traumatized in the aftermath of the raids.
Shortly before Christmas, Cardinal Álvaro Ramazzini Imeri of Guatemala, visited the affected parish communities with a message that “God never abandons you.” He consoled families affected by the raid with words of the Gospel and accompanied them during three days of the advent season, participating in “Las Posadas” – a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s attempt to find lodging before the birth of Jesus. While in Mississippi, Cardinal Ramazzini spoke with media, advocating for a “migration policy with a human face” and spoke of the economic conditions that force many to leave their home country and asked for the elimination of the custom where immigrants are treated as criminals, without having a criminal record.
During the same visit, Catholic Extension, which sponsored Cardinal Ramazzini’s visit, announced their Holy Family Fund, a relief program that assists families in the United States who are financially dependent on a parent that has been detained or deported for immigration reasons. Through the fund, Catholic Extension has been instrumental in ensuring the flow of aid to support delivery of basic resources to the churches serving the humanitarian and spiritual needs of the families in Mississippi affected by the ICE raids. The help from Catholic Extension, Catholic Charities and many within the Catholic community has helped affected families in the parishes of Canton, Carthage and Forest-Morton communities. In Forest and Morton, close to 120 families were affected, and now 20 of those families have been affected by COVID-19. Father Roberto Mena, ST sacramental minister of St. Michael Forest says that ”the loss of jobs and an uncertain school year for the children” is a huge challenge right now for his community. Blanca Peralta coordinates the activities of the Hispanic community, under the leadership of Father Mike O’Brien, pastor of Sacred Heart Canton. Both began offering aid even as the raids were still being conducted. Father Mike and Peralta, along with a network of volunteers including Patti Greene, Jerry Perez and John Scanlan, have been helping 120-150 affected families since the raids. They have been providing food, payments for rent and utilities, and pastoral care. The team from Sacred Heart Canton, along with constituents from Grace Episcopal Church, were recently announced as nominees for the Lumen Christi award from Catholic Extension for their work after the ICE raids. For Father Mike, the decision to close his church doors for a period of time after COVID-19 hit earlier this year was very painful. His main concern was how to continue the labor of helping those affected by the raids. Peralta navigated the struggle due to the virus, but Sacred Heart never stopped helping. They continued assisting by phone, by mail and by accompanying immigrants to the hospital and court appointments. Additionally, every Wednesday since June, they have distributed 300 boxes of food, fruits and vegetables, provided by Partners of Mississippi. She says that families deeply felt the closure of the church. “They understand perfectly why, but the church ground is the only place where they feel that they belong. In church they can meet, share, hug, be happy and enjoy a moment of protection from the Almighty Father,” Peralta said. Since Aug. 9, Sacred Heart has opened two services for Mass in Spanish, with space for only 40 people. The challenge now is communicating the importance of social distancing and sanitary measures, as well as, calming the fears immigrants manifest in going to the hospital for tests, says Peralta. Father Odel, of St. Anne Carthage, has also been an advocate for families affected by the raids. He has also been distributing humanitarian aid and coordinating volunteers from around the country to those affected by the raids in his community since last August. Additionally, he fought COVID-19 in April and has been sharing his story with migrants, so they will not be afraid to seek the help they need if they contract the virus. He says that in some instances, entire families have been infected with COVID-19 in his community. In total, Father Odel says approximately 80 families at his parish were affected by the raids and now COVID-19. The challenge for the whole undocumented community is ”… to break the stereotype propagated by some political outlets, of not being hard working individuals. They get arrested while working, and during the pandemic, when most people were home, they were working,” said Father Odel. “The chicken plants are considered essential industries; therefore, immigrants were needed, regardless of legal status.” Father Odel says the biggest challenge for his community now is “the consequences of family separation, now worsened by COVID’s restrictions.” After a year, the undocumented population has mixed feelings of pain and faith. Due to their lack of documentation, they lost jobs and some their freedom last August. Now, due to COVID-19, many in chicken factories and agricultural harvesting are considered essential workers. Many hope that this situation can soften the laws toward immigrants looking for an honest way of living. Still, the community has faith even after the trauma suffered one year ago lingers on.
By Joanna Puddister King JACKSON – In January 2020, the Diocese of Jackson established a hotline system for individuals to report potential fraud, compliance issues, ethics violations and human resource issues.
The use of a hotline has been discussed for several years at the National Diocesan Fiscal Managers’ Conference, that members of the diocese attend. A hotline is considered a ‘best practice,’ as having an independent hotline can help alert companies to and reduce the possibility of inappropriate or illegal actions.
Carolyn Callahan began researching hotline platforms after presentations at the conference, even before she entered her current role as director of temporal affairs at the diocese in May of 2019. Previously she acted as controller, internal auditor, and coordinator of special projects for the diocese, director of finance for St. Joseph School in Madison, and as an accounting support person for all Catholic Schools.
“Although we have always had procedures in place to handle complaints, events of the past few years helped us see past any potential misuse of the hotline, so our parishioners and employees have a confidential and effective way to report issues,” says Callahan.
The diocese hotline system is operated by Lighthouse Services. For the past 15 years, Lighthouse Services has maintained ethics, safety, and fraud hotlines and now services over 4,100 organizations between the U.S. and abroad.
Any concerns relative to financial misconduct, fraud, compliance issues or human resources issues within the diocese may be reported anonymously by calling the hotline’s toll-free number or filed online. Lighthouse Services will field and process the information reported.
Immediately upon receipt of a complaint, Lighthouse Services will email three designated recipients.
“Two recipients are chancery employees and one is a diocesan priest who does not work for the chancery office,” says Callahan.
“If one of the three recipients are named in the complaint, that person does not receive the email notification and cannot access the report.” After receipt, the three designated recipients access the complaint through the secure Lighthouse Services web portal. If the reporter files anonymously, the designees only see a PIN number, but never a name. Communication occurs between the reporter and designees via the Lighthouse online portal. Files and other documentation can be uploaded for review.
“Discussion ensues and a plan is created for investigating the claim either internally or using an outside investigator,” says Callahan.
“Depending on the results of the initial investigation the diocesan attorney and/or law enforcement are notified.”
Callahan’s hope is that anybody concerned about fraud, compliance issues, ethics violations and human resources issues will feel comfortable knowing they have an objective and confidential platform to file a claim that will be investigated immediately.
“Questions asked within the filing process are meant to only identify the complaint and allow the reporter to give as much or as little detail as desired. Use of the hotline gives us the ability to know about and respond to complaints in a timely and effective manner,” says Callahan.
Vicar general, Father Lincoln Dall, who works closely with Callahan, says “The Lighthouse hotline is part of our overall strategy of strengthening our control procedures and oversight of the assets and gifts that God and his people have entrusted to our diocese, our parishes and schools. We have been improving upon such policies, procedures and controls within the past two years and continue to do so through the current agreement we have with the federal government.”
The hotline information is published regularly in Mississippi Catholic and at least quarterly in parish bulletins. It can also be found at www.jacksondiocese.org.
Mississippi Catholic will publish Sacrament pages in upcoming editions. This means we need First Communion and Confirmation photos. Due to COVID-19, we understand there may not be group shots, so individual pictures are accepted. email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Please include, full names, parish, date and name of sacrament celebration and name of photographer, if possible.
NATCHEZ – On Monday and Tuesday, July 20 and 21, a group of CYO members and adult sponsors worked to beautify the Cathedral School flower beds and playground sites for the approaching opening of school. Thirty-five youth along with nine adults did a fantastic job sprucing up the property. The youth engaged in multiple jobs throughout the week.
JACKSON – Daniel and Mary McNamara celebrated 60 years of marriage on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at St. Richard Jackson. Father Nick Adam said Mass, blessed the McNamara’s marriage and prayed for them on their special day. The McNamara’s give thanks and praise to God for blessing them with their long happy and wonderful lives together to share with family loved ones and many dear caring friends who have made their lives blessed and more meaningful throughout the entire 60 years. They were orignally married at the Cathedral of St. Peter Jackson. (Photo by Maggie Mayer)
By Daisey Martinez CHOCTAW – “The Choctaw people believe that when you have a skill or a gift, you give it to another person in the family, and I believe [my grandmother] gave that [gift of sewing] to me, Kaylee and Michelle.” Tina Routh, her daughter Kaylee Routh, cousin Michelle Hickman, and friend Gwendolyn Hickman have, so far, made over 4,536 face masks. They average about 100 masks per day. This project began around mid-March when these kind-hearted women noticed a need for masks around their community. At first, they were only distributing to family and friends, but then their little project grew. They have been providing masks to different departments throughout the Reservation and the Choctaw Health Center which has had the most need for masks. They also send masks to other people who live on different Reservations and to tribal members who live out-of-state.
These incredible women do what they do as they have had many of their loved ones pass away during this pandemic. As tribe members, they know it is important to stand up and to give back when there is a need. They thank God for the gifts and opportunities they have been given to help other members of the Body of Christ. They are also thankful for Father Bob Goodyear who has always shown his love and support for the Choctaw people. “We don’t need to think of ourselves; we need to think of others,” Gwendolyn shared and continued, “when Tina and Michelle asked me to help, I thought of my own mom and how I would want her protected and how I want other tribal members to be protected as well.” Gwendolyn credits her grandparents, who were deacons, for her way of thinking. Kaylee, an upcoming senior at the University of Southern Mississippi, shared her reason for being a part of this project, “I saw the need for masks in my community, especially for our elders, and rather than just sit around all day, which is what I was doing once school was out, I chose to do something productive that could benefit my people. I view our elders as teachers to my people; therefore, anything I could do to protect their health, I was more than willing to do.” Tina, Michelle, and Kaylee are Catholic, and Gwendolyn is Baptist. They joke about how they do not hold that against her. It is a beautiful thing when people can come together for a great cause. They focus on their common goal of wanting to serve others around them. During these divisive times, it is wonderful to see unity at work. These women are truly living out 1 Peter 4:10: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Michelle, Gwendolyn, and Tina purchased much of the material using their own funds, but have also received donations from others, even from people out of state. This positive feedback really amazed and further motivated these ladies. They are always accepting donations to help in continuing the effort to keep others safe, so if you would like to donate material such as fabric, thread, and elastic, please email email@example.com.
By Laura Grisham SOUTHAVEN – On June 28, well-wishers gathered at Christ the King parish in Southaven to say good-bye to Father Thi Pham, SCJ, as he left to begin a sabbatical. A ‘COVID-capacity’ crowd at Christ the King gathered (and hundreds more watched a live Facebook stream) to show support for Father Thi at his final Mass in north Mississippi. Father Greg Schill, SCJ, was co-celebrant. At the conclusion of Mass, Father Greg recognized Father Thi’s work, summing it up by saying, “This man has done a fantastic job.” The church responded with exuberant cheers and three separate standing ovations.
Parishioner Don Kraft paid tribute to Father Thi, speaking for many to whom the priest has ministered. “On behalf of the congregation, the sheep of your flock, thank you for being our good shepherd. Your energy seems endless even when you profess to be tired. We truly appreciate your vision and care, and sharing of your many talents through the years,” said Kraft. Touching on Father Thi’s numerous gifts, Kraft pointed out Father’s exquisite decorating of the churches for each liturgical season and celebration, as well as his expert culinary skills, which he shared with the parishes on numerous occasions. Kraft also mentioned the priest’s love of all things ‘outdoors’ — including camping, hiking and kayaking – which Father Thi is sure to do more of during his time of rest. “Your exuberance and passion for your vocation will remain an inspiration to us all. You choose to be happy and set a grand example about attitude for those who know you … and those who do not. It has been a great pleasure and honor to work and worship with you,” concluded Kraft. Extending their hands, the congregation shared a final prayer over Father Thi with an Irish blessing asking for guidance of the Spirit, mercy and provision: “May the road rise up to meet you. May the Wind be always at your back. May the Sun shine warm upon your face, the Rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” Father Thi addressed the church, thanking all for their support in his ministry and making him feel a part of their families. He also had a special message of encouragement for the children, reminding them of their importance in the Body of Christ. Exiting the church through a flood of tears, parishioners presented cards, kind words and other tokens to their beloved pastor as they said good-bye one final time.
By Joanna Puddister King and Tereza Ma JACKSON – On a beautiful Saturday, May 30, Knights from various councils spent their morning in South Jackson at the Carmelite Monestery cutting grass and working on various projects for the cloisered community of nuns that pray for the Diocese of Jackson. But it doesn’t seem like work showing up every other Saturday to work on various projects, “it is very fulfilling,” says Calvin Torregano of St. Jude.
Torregano set up an app for Knights from various councils to coordinate who can help and when. It has helped the councils chip away at the various projects at the property, built in 1836. It all began with Father Lincoln Dall about two years ago with a conversation after Mass, says Torregano. Father Lincoln mentioned how many projects needed to be tackled at the monastery and then the idea “blew up” at a Knights convention on the coast. In the past, individual councils from Holy Savior Clinton, St. Paul Flowood, St. Jude Pearl, St. Joseph Gluckstadt and St. Richard Jackson have worked to replace windows, rebuild a gazebo, to build two handicap accessible ramps, to clean and rebuild a wall and much more. Even the Ladies Auxiliary of St. Joseph Gluckstadt has jumped in to help with various cleaning projects starting three years ago with pressure washing and work inside the Carmelite gift shop. This past year, even a group of seniors from St. Joseph school in Madison came out to help to clean up the grounds. “It is the perfect place for service hours,” says Torregano.
For large projects, Victor Gray-Lewis of the St. Richard group of Knights and the Diocese of Jackson helps make sure all of the details are covered for construction. The Knights aim to complete a few projects before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16. Torregano says they would like to finish spreading some dirt, get siding on the garage replaced and painted and a new roof on the gift shop, among others.