Vocations

OXFORD – Members of the Catholic Campus Ministry at Ole Miss share their thoughts at “Good Cheer” after a talk by Vocation Director Father Nick Adam on Wednesday, Sept. 18. (Photo by Father Nick Adam)
Spanish Bishop Rafael Cob, apostolic vicar of Puyo, Ecuador, foreground in blue vest, speaks with journalists in Quito Sept. 14, 2019. Bishop Cob said the ordination of married elders — “viri probati” or “men of proven virtue” — would be a possible solution to the lack of priests and missionaries in the Amazon region. (CNS photo/Junno Arocho Esteves)

Couple stays connected at St. Catherine’s Village

By Debbie Szwast
MADISON – What started as a meeting in elementary school has become a lifelong love story for Betty and John King, now residents at St. Catherine’s Village senior living community.
“The couple act like newlyweds, even though they have been married for 66 years,” said Felichia Fields, assistant executive director at St. Catherine’s Village. John, who is 90 years old and a Korean War veteran, lives in skilled nursing in Siena Center while Betty, 88, has a studio independent living apartment on campus.
“Being able to stay happy and connected while living in separate areas of St. Catherine’s Village is a testament to their bond and the strength of their marriage,” said Fields.
John and Betty first met in Clinton and after travelling across the country and Europe and raising two daughters, retired there. But as John entered his 80s, his health began to falter and his mobility became restricted due to diabetes. After caring for her husband at home for seven years, Betty—a former teacher—realized it was time to get caregiver support. A close friend told the couple to check out St. Catherine’s Village.
“We had seen the community being built but were unaware of the services available,” said Betty. Following a stint in physical therapy for John, the couple decided to visit the property.

MADISON – John and Betty King enjoy life at St. Catherine’s Village. (Photo courtesy of Debbie Szwast)

“When we first spoke with the staff, they were all very kind and truly made us feel wanted here,” she continued. “Luckily, one private skilled nursing room was available so we took it. And we are so glad we did! St. Catherine’s Village is about the most precious place in the world.”
John moved into Siena Center in Oct. 2017. For a year, Betty visited John at St. Catherine’s Village every day. John was concerned about Betty driving 20 miles each way so her daughters urged her to consider moving to the senior living community as well. It was a difficult choice after owning a home for more than 60 years.
“I put everything on paper…one column with what I liked about St. Catherine’s Village and one column with the drawbacks. When I looked at the paper, everything was in the ‘like’ column,” she recalled. “So I prayed on it and asked God to show me a sign to make the right decision.”
Soon after, Betty’s son-in-law called to tell her he had a friend who was looking to purchase a home for investment purposes. The morning after showing Betty’s home, the potential investor made an offer and within 30 days the Kings’ family home was sold and closed.
“I knew this was God’s answer,” she said.
In Oct. 2018, Betty moved to St. Catherine’s Village and immediately began making friends. Around the corner from her apartment was a college mate and around the other corner was a couple from Clinton she had known. On her first night, she also met the community’s music director.
“I found my niche—playing the piano and loving it,” said Betty. “I grew up playing in church then in clubs and at dances. Now I play hymns for Sunday church.”
At first, Betty was concerned about downsizing to a studio apartment.
“I thought, I can’t live in a space that small,” she recalled. “But the staff assured me that when a larger apartment opened up I could move into it. Needless to say, the studio ended up being absolutely perfect for me.”
She appreciates that her residence has a balcony overlooking the lake because a natural setting is very important to both Betty and John, who worked for the Mississippi State Park Service helping to restore the Gulf Coast after hurricane Camille and building 11 new state parks.
Overall, St. Catherine’s Village boasts 160 acres of beautiful outdoor space with lakes and wooded grounds. The Kings can be found walking around the lush campus and enjoying the well-manicured property during “date time” nearly every day. Betty often accompanies John to the grill, as well.
“We both adore the food here,” John said. Several choices are offered for every meal, all chef prepared in one kitchen. So whether in independent living or skilled nursing in Siena Center, menus are the same.
While Betty likes going out to eat at night, she also plays bridge with friends and participates in many of the activities and events at St. Catherine’s Village. There is so much to do on campus that even though the couple’s daughters and their families live nearby in Clinton and Madison and can frequently visit, “sometimes I’m already booked,” Betty teased.
John prefers quiet hour on the lower level. More importantly, he wants to catch a big fish on what he calls “Lake Siena,” the large lake outside the Siena Center skilled nursing building.
“I keep trying to put together a football team but no one wants to be on my team,” John joked. A former college football coach, he met a staff member at St. Catherine’s Village who had been a quarterback on one of his teams.
“We feel so special and blessed to be in such a good place,” said Betty. “With John’s diabetic condition, the nurses test his blood sugar several times a day and keep him on track. You don’t find that anywhere else. And they are always in such good spirits and take beautiful care of him. So we can stay relaxed and not worry about anything.”
“Everything at St. Catherine’s Village is at the highest level—service, amenities, property, activities, etc.,” said Betty. “Anyone who moves here will have the best quality of life—whether for the next year or many years.”
As Madison’s preeminent all-inclusive Life Plan Community, St. Catherine’s Village provides the right care at the right time for those in their retirement years. The private, gated community boasts a caring staff, on-site resident-centered care, and a mission-focused environment. Adults age 62 and older are welcome and encouraged to enjoy fullness of life, health and faith.
St. Catherine’s Village offers independent living in apartments and garden homes, assisted living in Marian Hall, memory care in Campbell Cove, skilled nursing in Siena Center and the new Tuscany building, and skilled nursing dedicated to memory care in Hughes Center.
The all-inclusive Life Plan Community was the first in the state to earn accreditation by CARF-CCAC. This “commitment to excellence” seal signifies that the campus exceeds the standards established by the only international accrediting body for CCRCs.
To learn more about life at St. Catherine’s Village, log onto www.StCatherinesVillage.com or call (601) 856-0123 to schedule a tour.

ICE raids: how to help

CANTON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz celebrated mass on Sunday, Sept. 8 at Sacred Heart parish. As a parish hit hard by the ICE raids last month, in his homily Bishop Kopacz reminded parishioners that even when carrying the cross, there is always someone coming to help, like Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus.
Catholic Charities of Jackson has received monetary donations from around the country to help those affected, in addition to numerous in-kind donations that they are using to restock affected parishes as needed. At this time, Catholic Charities is in need of a warehouse or building with lots of storage space for a several month period in the Canton, Jackson, Forest or Morton area. Catholic Charities would provide insurance, utilities and janitorial needs. If you are able to help contact executive director, Wanda Thomas at wanda.thomas@catholiccharitiesjackson.org.
Monetary donations may be made at https://catholiccharitiesjackson.org/ice-raids-in-morton.

CANTON – Mississippi Catholic’s Joanna King and Robert Harris from the Iota Phi Theta fraternity at Jackson State University work to sort donations at Sacred Heart parish. (Photos by tereza ma)
CANTON – Deacon César Sanchez distributed children’s bulletins after Mass, officiated by Bishop Kopacz on Sunday, Sept 8. (Photo by Berta Mexidor)

In Memoriam

Father Alfred Louis “Al” Camp

JACKSON – Father Alfred Louis “Al” Camp died Sunday, Sept. 1, at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson. Born in Monroeville, Ohio on Sept. 30, 1931, Father Camp enrolled in the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio in 1945. After completing his seminary studies at the Josephinum in 1957, he was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 1957 by Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the United States. Father Camp taught Latin and served as Dean of Men in the College Division at the Josephinum from 1957-1966. While teaching, he also pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees from Ohio State University in Classical Languages, Physical Education and Higher Education.
Upon completion of those studies, Father Camp came to the Diocese of Jackson (Natchez-Jackson) where he was assigned to St. Paul Parish in Vicksburg and St. Aloysius School, where he began his life of service as a priest and educator. He served as teacher and principal of St. Aloysius until 1992, when he was named pastor of St. Mary Basilica in Natchez where he served until 2004. During his tenure in Natchez, St. Mary, the original Cathedral of the diocese, was named a minor basilica by Pope St. John Paul II.
Father Camp tried to retire in 2004, but his services were needed by the Bishop in Clarksdale as pastor of Immaculate Conception and St. Elizabeth Parishes. He served there for two years and then retired in 2006 as Senior Priest at St. Francis Parish in Madison.
Beloved by countless numbers of people with whom he shared his wisdom, knowledge, compassion and wonderful sense of humor, Father Camp never ceased to serve by visiting the sick and comforting the dying until his health no longer allowed it. He is survived by one sister and many nieces and nephews.
As the consummate educator he was, Father Camp chose to be an anatomical donor to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, so that even in death he will continue to teach. His pupils now are numerous medical students tasked with improving the healthcare of our state for all its inhabitants.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz celebrated a Memorial Mass for Father Camp on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at St. Mary Basilica in Natchez.

Sister Judanne Stratman

MANITOWOC, WIS. – Sister Judanne Stratman, age 80, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, died Wednesday, August 14, 2019 at Holy Family Convent, Manitowoc.
The former Mary Lou Stratman was born March 18, 1939 in West Point, Nebraska, daughter of the late Leonard and Angeline (Disher) Stratman. She entered the convent in 1956 and professed her vows in 1958. Sister Judanne earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Holy Family College, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; Masters in teaching Biology at Loyola University, Los Angeles, California; Masters Certificate in Renewal of Apostolic Religious Life, Rome, Italy; and Master of Arts in Religious Education, Notre Dame Institute, Arlington, Virginia.
Sister Judanne was involved in a variety of ministries. These included teaching at all grade levels: St Joseph, Rice Lake; Catholic Memorial, Waukesha and Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, Manitowoc, all in Wisconsin; Bishop Amat, La Puente and San Roque, Santa Barbara, both in California. She also directed religious education programs at St. Anthony, Neopit; Holy Redeemer, Two Rivers in Wisconsin, and St. Mary, West Point, Nebraska. Sister Judanne studied in Rome, Italy, in preparation for her years as Directress of Novices in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. For twelve years, sister Judanne served the Community as a General Administration Council Member. Later on she volunteered at the St. Gabriel Center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.
Sister Judanne also ministered to the Sisters at St. Francis Convent, Manitowoc, as well as the Sisters in St. Rita Health Center, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Sister Judanne had been a resident of St. Rita Health Center, Manitowoc, for the past month.
Survivors include the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity; one sister: Susan Stratman of Williamsport, Indiana; and other relatives and friends. She is preceded in death by her parents: Leonard and Angeline (Disher) Stratman; and one brother: Brother Bernard Stratman, S.M.
Memorial contributions may be made to support retired Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, in care of FSCC Retirement Fund, Holy Family Convent, 2409 S. Alverno Rd., Manitowoc, Wisconsin 54220.
Published in Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter from Aug. 16.

Mental Health First Aid workshop provides insights and skills

By Charlene Bearden
TUPELO – Do you know how to identify when someone is struggling with a mental health problem? Where would you send someone for help?
Participants learned just that at the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) workshops held on Aug. 22 and 23, a collaboration by the Diocese of Jackson’s Office of Family Ministry and Catholic Charities Office of Parish Health, sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Health and Belhaven University. Workshops on the opening day focused on adult mental health, while the second day focused on youth mental health.

TUPELO – Dr. Bradford Smith speaks about the importance of recognizing a mental health crisis on Aug. 22 at the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) workshop. (Photo by Charlene Bearden)


Created in 2001 by Betty Kitchener, a nurse specializing in health education and Anthony Jorm, a mental health literacy professor, the MHFA program is designed to teach individuals how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in a community.
It is vital for parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human service workers, law enforcement officers and caring citizens to learn how to offer initial assistance to someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis or addiction challenge. Introducing participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illness, building understanding of their impact and providing an overview of common supports are hallmarks of the MHFA program. The goal is to take the fear and hesitation out of starting conversations about mental health and substance use problems by improving understanding and providing an action plan that teaches people to safely and responsibly identify and address a potential mental illness or substance use disorder.
Participants in the workshops led by licenses psychologist, Dr. Bradford Smith, Ph. D., Provost and Vice President of academic affairs at Belhaven University, felt that they received vital insights and skills to handle mental health emergencies and the ability to offer support to someone who appears to be in mental distress. In addition to the hands-on training by Dr. Smith, participants in the program received a comprehensive MHFA reference manual and certificate of completion, valid for three years.
Sister Pat Clemen, program coordinator of parish health ministry at Catholic Charities said that “the MHFA training was well received. The participants were very much engaged in the training. Their insights and experience enhanced the learning for all attendees. Comments from the trainings lead us to believe that more Mental Health First Aid trainings are a must.”
The Diocese of Jackson’s Office of Family Ministry and Catholic Charities are in talks to offer additional MHFA workshops in other areas of the diocese, the first of which will be in spring 2020.

(Charlene Bearden is Coordinator for the Office of Family Ministry for the Diocese of Jackson and a member of Jackson Holy Family Parish)

Parish calendar of events

SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT
CHATAWA St. Mary of the Pines Retreat Center, Theology of the Body, a Retreat Focusing on Women, Thursday, Sept. 26, supper until Sunday, Sept. 29, lunch. Theology of the Body was written by St. Pope John Paul II and is an in-depth study of the human person. Focuses on the meaning of being women, ways of relating to men. Presenters: Becky Clements and Paula Hunter, from Southwest Louisiana. They are both experienced, certified retreat directors and leaders of groups in their Catholic Church communities. Suggested donation: $250 (private room) or $200 (shared room) Details: Sister Sue Von Bank (601) 783-0801 or retreatcenter@ssndcp.org.
GREENWOOD Locus Benedictus Retreat Center will host a Training Session for those in prayer ministry. The Retreat will be held Sept. 20-22. Presenters are Dr. Sheryl Jones and Joyce Pellegrin who have led prayer teams for many years. Cost: $100 which includes registration and meals. Details: Magdalene Abraham at (662) 299-1232.
Locus Benedictus Retreat Center offers Peer Companioning sessions for caregivers. If you are a caregiver and would like to meet with those who are experiencing a similar journey to ask questions, express concerns, or for prayer, call for an appointment. There is no cost. In addition, there is a Caregiver support group which meets Thursdays at 10 a.m. Details: Magdalene Abraham (663) 299-1232.
NEW ORLEANS, La. Our Lady of the Cenacle Retreat Center, New Testament Women as Role Models of Faith, Oct. 25-27. This retreat is intended to put retreatants in touch with New Testament women so that they may find opportunities to grow in faith. Presenter: Rev. Glenn LeCompte. Cost: $350 actual cost; $250 minimum offering. Details: Susan Halligan, shalligan@arch-no.org or (866) 937-9170.


PARISH, SCHOOL AND FAMILY EVENTS
BROOKHAVEN St. Francis, Genesis to Jesus Bible Study Fridays at 8 a.m. or Saturdays at 5 p.m. in the library. Details: Becky Corkern at (601) 757-5526 or Emily Phillips at (601) 757-0579.
GLUCKSTADT St. Joseph, Germanfest 2019, Sunday, Sept. 29, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The family-oriented event features German food and authentic German Folk music provided by the band, Polkameisters from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Advance meal tickets are $6 and meals the day of the festival will be $7. Details: church office (601) 856-2054.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, Fall Fish Fry, Friday, Oct. 4 from 4-8 p.m. Adults $10/children $5. Proceeds go to support three charities that they help each year. Details: Sal Galtelli (662) 429-5071.
LELAND St. James, Parish Fair, Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. Volunteers are greatly appreciated. Details: church office (662) 686-7352.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, ChristLife Catholic Ministry for Evangelization, Sundays from 5:30-7:40 p.m. (starting with dinner) on Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27 and Nov. 3, 17, 24. A retreat day will be held after the fifth session on Saturday, Nov. 9. Sessions will be held at the O’Connor Family Life Center in the main hall. Babysitting provided. Details: church office (601) 445-5616.
SOUTHAVEN Christ the King, National Prayer Event, Let’s Life Chain America, Sunday, Oct. 6 2-3 p.m. Life Chain is not political or confrontational. Life Chain a silent prayer vigil to communicate opposition to abortion. Details: Barbara Dean (901) 486-6470 or Mary Ann (662) 429-7851 or (662) 429-0501.

BROOKHAVEN St. Francis, Genesis to Jesus Bible Study Fridays at 8 a.m. or Saturdays at 5 p.m. in the library. Details: Becky Corkern at (601) 757-5526 or Emily Phillips at (601) 757-0579.
GLUCKSTADT St. Joseph, Germanfest 2019, Sunday, Sept. 29, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The family-oriented event features German food and authentic German Folk music provided by the band, Polkameisters from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Advance meal tickets are $6 and meals the day of the festival will be $7. Details: church office (601) 856-2054.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, Fall Fish Fry, Friday, Oct. 4 from 4-8 p.m. Adults $10/children $5. Proceeds go to support three charities that they help each year. Details: Sal Galtelli (662) 429-5071.
LELAND St. James, Parish Fair, Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. Volunteers are greatly appreciated. Details: church office (662) 686-7352.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, ChristLife Catholic Ministry for Evangelization, Sundays from 5:30-7:40 p.m. (starting with dinner) on Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27 and Nov. 3, 17, 24. A retreat day will be held after the fifth session on Saturday, Nov. 9. Sessions will be held at the O’Connor Family Life Center in the main hall. Babysitting provided. Details: church office (601) 445-5616.
SOUTHAVEN Christ the King, National Prayer Event, Let’s Life Chain America, Sunday, Oct. 6 2-3 p.m. Life Chain is not political or confrontational. Life Chain a silent prayer vigil to communicate opposition to abortion. Details: Barbara Dean (901) 486-6470 or Mary Ann (662) 429-7851 or (662) 429-0501.

YOUTH BRIEFS
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, Fall Fish Fry, Friday, Oct. 4 from 4-8 p.m. Adults $10/children $5. Proceeds go to support three charities that they help each year. Details: Sal Galtelli (662) 429-5071.
FLOWOOD St. Paul, Big Deal Youth Group, ages 7th thru 12th grades, meet Wednesday evenings @ 6 p.m. Details: church office (601) 992-9547.
GREENWOOD St. Francis School, Draw-Down, Friday, Oct. 4, in the School Cafeteria, beginning at 6 p.m. There will be a Silent Auction and refreshments available. Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased at the School and Parish Offices. The Grand Prize is $5,000. The prize for the 450th ticket will be for the Green Bay versus Carolina Panthers football game on Sunday, Nov. 10 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Details: school office (662) 453-9511.
St. Francis School, Fall Festival & Drawdown, Saturday, Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the school grounds. Details: school office (662) 453-9511.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, Wednesday nights “Open Gym” for 6-12 graders in the Family Life Center from 5:50–6:30 p.m. Make plans to come and enjoy the food, fun and games. Details: (662) 429-7851.
JACKSON St. Richard Special Kids Day, Thursday, Oct. 3 at Deerfield Golf Club, Canton. You can help support them by putting with a purpose, donating your time as a volunteer, making a cash donation or donating an item for a door prize. Your support helps provide weekly groceries for their Friday Feast cooking lessons, plus textbooks and other vital materials for the classroom that fit each student’s individualized lesson plans, in addition to many other things. Details: Shannon Garner at (601) 366-2335 or garner@saintrichard.com.

New priest to U.S. installed as pastor in diocese

By Joanna Puddister King
PORT GIBSON – On Aug. 25, a sunny summer Sunday, a new priest was installed at St. Joseph parish in Port Gibson.
Bathed in a calming blue hue from the cobalt-stained windows this unique Gothic Revival style parish was filled with a diverse group of faithful to welcome Father Anthony Claret Onyeocha.
Originally from Nigeria, Father Anthony was ordained in 2010 for the Archdiocese of Owerri in Imo State, Nigeria. By the end of his seminary training, Father Anthony received a bachelor of arts in philosophy and a degree in theology, as well.
In 2018, Father Anthony came to the U.S. to tour Mississippi and travel around the diocese. “After spending some time in Mississippi, I felt like serving the local church in the diocese,” said Father Anthony.
Upon returning to Nigeria from his time in Mississippi, he visited Archbishop Anthony John Valentine Obinna, who has served as archbishop of Owerri since March 1994, and asked to be sent on a mission to serve the Church in the Diocese of Jackson.
Subsequently, Father Anthony was approved by Bishop Jospeh Kopacz to serve the diocese and was placed at St. Joseph.
During the Rite of Installation ceremony conducted by Bishop Kopacz, Father Anthony was presented with scriptures, blessed oil, a basket, baptismal shell and Roman Missal from parishioners to officially welcome him to the parish.
At the close of Mass, parishioners celebrated Father Anthony and introduced him to some traditional southern fare: fried and baked chicken, potato salad, bacon baked beans, along with a host of casseroles and homemade desserts.
Father Anthony says, “I feel happy being the pastor of St. Joseph. … The parishioners are great, welcoming and dedicated. As their pastor, I am willing to serve spiritually, morally and pastorally.”

Christ is alive in faith leaders

By Joanna Puddister King
MADISON – More than 100 catechist and pastoral leaders from across the diocese gathered for Fall Faith Formation Day hosted at St. Francis parish on Saturday, Aug. 24. The day of information, fellowship and encouragement was centered around the theme of “Christ, Alive!” and opened with a keynote by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, who led attendants on a discussion of the foundation, framework and focus of Pope Francis’ Christus Vivit, an apostolic exhortation to young people and “the entire People of God.”
Bishop Kopacz spoke to attendants about each chapter, reviewing the rich text of Pope Francis and focusing on reaching a deeper level with youth – the heart, mind and spirit of a young person – hope. He touched on subjects raised in the document such as, joy, “God is love,” relationships with God and with others, migrants, digital environments, divisions in society and more.
Focusing on building a foundation, Bishop Kopacz said, “the love of God and seeds of the divine are planted in the young people.”
Those in attendance received a copy of Christus Vivit and Director of Faith Formation, Fran Lavelle encouraged all to “spend time with the document, … Every time we break it open there is something new that is revealed.”
“Read. Explore. Think outside the box,” encouraged Lavelle.
After the introduction to Christus Vivit, attendees could select from a number of breakout sessions dealing with catechetical issues which included, catechist certification, rethinking confirmation, intentional youth ministry, forming multicultural communities, how to talk to youth about vocations, and exploring St. Paul’s encounter with the Risen Christ.
Session leader Father Roberto Mena led a discussion entitled “Out of Many – ONE: Forming Multicultural Communities.” Father Mena gave a brief history of immigration and U.S. Catholicism and spoke about the challenges found in multicultural parishes. He told faith leaders in attendance that “Catholics need to work together to form parish communities where every person, regardless of race, ethnicity or culture, has a place at the eucharistic table.
Next year, Fall Faith Formation Day will be held on Aug. 22, 2020. The Keynote speaker will be Dr. Tim Hogan, the co-author of How to Find the Help You Need, a guide to psychotherapy and spiritual direction.

Challenges of multicultural parishes

By Father Roberto Mena, ST
MADISON – U.S. Catholicism has always included substantial cultural diversity, but more than a half century ago, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described Sunday morning as “the most segregated hour” of the week, Catholic parishes also operated as separate (but unequal) communities.
By the 1980s, however, in the so-called “gateway cities” where immigrants began their journey in the United States, many Catholics had begun to worship in parishes with multiple cultural groups, often known as “shared parishes.” By the 1990s, as new immigrants from Latin American and Asia settled across the nation, such parishes proliferated everywhere.
According to a 2018 study of Catholic parishes with Hispanic ministry across the United States, 43 percent of parishioners in parishes with Hispanic ministry are actually Anglo Catholics. In places like Los Angeles and Miami, up to three-fourths of parishes in a diocese hold Mass in more than one language; in Midwestern and Southern dioceses, often one-fifth to one-half of parishes do.
After decades of cultural, ethnic and racial groups sharing parishes, we might ask how things are going.
On the one hand, the number of ministries for underserved groups and the number of Catholic parishes serving multicultural congregations has steadily increased. On the other hand, research shows that most of the nation’s parishes still primarily serve white and English-speaking Catholics; a smaller percentage do the “multicultural heavy lifting.”
On the one hand, for many U.S. Catholics, journeying alongside other cultural groups has begun to feel normal. On the other hand, many nonimmigrant Catholics complain vociferously about the signs of cultural diversity in their midst, about Masses in Spanish or Vietnamese, about Day of the Dead “ofrendas” or the smell of unfamiliar food in the parish kitchen.
Political polarization and noisier forms of opposition to the presence of undocumented immigrants (most of whom are Catholic) has exacerbated these tendencies in our time. Sensitive to such divisions, church authorities sometimes downplay the overwhelming reality of demographic change, so much so that many Catholics have unrealistic ideas about the size or influence of groups other than their own.

Even where parishes have embraced the diversity of their communities, parishioners routinely avoid one another. In one parish, parishioners would park on the street just to avoid negotiating the parking lot between the English and Spanish Masses. Eventually, however, groups must negotiate the details of parish life — sharing meeting rooms, planning multicultural liturgies, even navigating the parking lot between Masses.
Societal tensions and inequalities intrude on these negotiations. People come to church carrying hurt from discrimination. They assume that difficulties, for example, in securing a job or a favorable home loan will translate into difficulties in obtaining meeting space for their ministries.
Recent immigrants often feel intimidated and powerless trying to negotiate parish life with longtime residents. Aging ethnic or racial communities, including many white Catholics, feel outnumbered and therefore aggrieved, leading them to hold on to privileges within their parishes.
Even so, not a small number of communities have found relative success in sharing parish life. Among those who do, there appear to be four factors that make a difference.
First, such parishes learn to balance the need for “safe space” for the different groups with opportunities to experience parish life together. They do not insist on quick assimilation (which is not possible anyway). Parishioners regularly pray and minister according to their own language and culture, but they also work together selling tamales or hamburgers at the parish festival.
Second, successful shared parishes work to be fair and just in the relationships between communities. In one parish, a white Knight of Columbus was the one who noted that the Christmas decorations, as beautiful as they were, were arranged by an all-Anglo committee according to Euro-American Christmas traditions; that had to change.
Third, successful shared parishes make room for people’s grief over demographic and other changes, but they do not resist change.
Finally, research on shared parishes shows that the vision and authority of the parish’s pastor makes a real difference. In one parish, for instance, the pastor worked hard to confuse people as to which group he favored. He never missed an opportunity to talk about the parish as a community of communities, and he (or his staff) would intervene when a group tried to dominate or needed more attention.
While the pastor’s role matters, research suggests that Catholics should be wary of placing too much on pastors and their authority to adjudicate multicultural tensions. Many priests are already overburdened, and Pope Francis reminds us that all the baptized have a responsibility for parish life.Especially in these more contentious times, Catholics need to work together to form parish communities where every person, regardless of race, ethnicity or culture, has a place at the eucharistic table.

(Father Roberto Mena, ST is Sacramental Minister in St. Michael, Forest and In Residence at St. Anne, Carthage.)