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Vírgenes y Santos

Milagroso Señor de Esquipulas Enero 15

Nuestra Señora de Altagracia. Enero 21

Conversión de San Pablo. Enero 25

San Juan Bosco. Enero 31

Fiesta de la presentación del Señor. Purificación de

María Santísima y Día de la Candelaria. Feb. 2

Nuestra Señora de Supaya. Feb. 3

Nuestra Señora de Lourdes. Feb. 11

San Valentín. Patrono de los Enamorados. Feb. 14

Dia de los Presidentes. Feb. 20

Martes de Carnaval. Feb. 21

Miércoles de Ceniza. Feb. 22

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Mark Bowden

Parish: St. Jude, Pearl

Spouse: Rhonda Bowden

Hometown: Currently, Brandon. Originally grew up in Cleveland.

Did you have a conversion or deep faith experience?
I am a cradle Catholic, and one who for a long time really took my faith for granted.

I would call my old-self a nominal Catholic, I was very timid about my faith. I was petrified that someone would ask me “Are you Saved?” Through the discovery and study of apologetics back in the mid to late ‘90s, I discovered so many truths of our faith. This helped me not only to understand what we as Catholics believe, but how to respond to confusion that so many have about our beliefs. That is what ignited my love for the Catholic faith.

Mark Bowden

Favorite Scripture passage: No single scripture passage really stands out above the others as so many touch me at different points and stages of my life. But James 2:14-17 which discusses that faith without works is dead is among my perennial favorites. It was this passage and similar ones through defending the Catholic beliefs that ignited my faith for Catholicism a number of years ago.

Favorite religious image: There are a number of crucifixes that portray Christ in a bloody, dirty manner versus the many that really ignore the scourging that took place before the crucifixion. Jesus was nearly dead from beatings when they nailed him to the cross. Those images really touch my soul of the reality and horror that our Lord endured for us. Many times I have gazed upon such an image and bow my head in shame that it should be me instead of Him. What a sacrifice He made for us.

Favorite liturgy: Holy Saturday is my favorite liturgy of the year, as it is when we welcome new members into the church. There is a deep-down joy in seeing new members embrace our faith. It is a compounded joy to celebrate our risen Lord and witness these new people receiving the Eucharist for the first time.

Did you come across something you learned in your formation that you did not expect?
Honestly, the fact that I got ordained really surprises me. The formation process was wonderful for my intellect and my soul, but it took nearly the whole time of almost five years for me to finally desire to be a deacon versus just willing to be one. That conversion was brought about by the prayer of so many.

Vocation story: Deacon John McGregor invited me to consider this calling, but I was initially not interested. However, I was interested though in a theology degree, so I went in with the idea that if the diaconate did not work out, I would have the Master of Theological Studies degree that I did want. So many times during this journey, I was ready to throw in the towel and give it up. But through lots of prayer, discernment and support by many, I finally embraced this calling.

What are you most looking forward to doing?
I think that my heart lies in doing pastoral work, like visiting the homebound, those in the hospital, those in prison, and doing small community evangelization. I fell in love with apologetics, which is understanding and defending the faith, so I am interested in sharing that.

Children: Rhonda and I have two children. Our son Andrew was recently ordained as a priest and our daughter Laura teaches special education in Pearl.

Deacon’s wives questions:

Name: Rhonda Bowden

What did you think when your husband first began to consider ordination?

I was excited to hear that he was open to a call to the diaconate. Mark enjoyed teaching Sunday school and sharing the faith, but he didn’t feel that he was as knowledgeable as he needed to be. He had been contemplating entering a theology graduate program for some time when he was asked to prayerfully consider the diocesan diaconate program. When he and I first talked about the possibility, I did encourage him. He has a servant’s heart and loves helping and ministering to others. It seemed like a great fit for him.

How has the preparation deepened your spirituality?

The time I spend in personal prayer has increased greatly. There were two aspects of the deacon formation that especially fed me spiritually — (1) participating in the annual diaconate candidate/wife retreats and (2) going to Mass together as a group to various Catholic churches in the metro area.

How has the preparation impacted your relationship as a couple and as a family?

Walking this path with him has certainly increased our prayer time as a couple. We are more open to discuss the personal aspects of spirituality with each other, which has deepened our spirituality as a couple and as individuals. Both of our children were away at college/seminary when Mark started in the formation program, so there was not a strong direct impact on them. Both were very supportive throughout the process.

As an added bonus, the formation process gave us the opportunity to get to know the other deacons and their wives. The men formed a true brotherhood, and the wives are all friends. So, our “family” has gotten bigger.

Favorite Scripture passage:

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you – plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” — Jeremiah 29:11

I am a planner. I like to have the “who, what, when, where, and how” of life on my calendar at least two weeks in advance. I want to be prepared. That’s not how God operates. I have to be reminded, often, that he is in control, and that he makes better plans than I do.

Favorite saint: There are a number of saints that I have a special connection to or call on regularly for intercession — St. Anthony (Where are my car keys, yet again?), St. Fiacre, St. Rita of Cascia, St. Elizabeth Seton, and Our Blessed Mother. My favorite, though, is saint-to-be Sister Thea Bowman. I saw her interview on 60 Minutes before I became Catholic. Her love for Christ and for others was so transforming, and her energy and joy were contagious.

Favorite religious image or devotion: It’s a long story for another day, but the first time I prayed the rosary changed my life. It is my favorite devotion and I have a collection of rosary beads.  

Favorite liturgy: I can’t narrow it down to one liturgy, but I love all of Holy Week. Starting with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem all the way through to his resurrection Easter Sunday is such a beautiful showing of God’s love for us.

David Rouch

Parish: St. Michael, Vicksburg

Spouse: Ann Rouch

Hometown: Vicksburg, but after college I moved to Magnolia, Arkansas for 22 years before moving back in late 2018.

As a Catholic, did you have a deep conversion or deep faith experience?
My real conversion came about in my mid to late 30s when my pastor asked me to serve as RCIA director.  I was in a very small parish and so one other gentleman and myself handled all the presentations. As I dug deep into the scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, God drew me deeper and deeper into himself. The more and more I learned about what the church really teaches the more and more I realized how closely what the church teaches aligns with what I personally believe to be true, and I got really, really excited about my faith.  It changed my life.

Favorite Scripture passage: Luke 1:46-49 – “And Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.’” I love this passage because it describes the way He has worked in my life!

Favorite saints: St. Thomas Aquinas – I appreciate his efforts as reconciling reason with the faith of the church. This reconciling has been very important to my own journey and is vital to the future of the church.

My favorite female saint has just got to be Mother Teresa. Her faithfulness to the Lord’s calling for her and her dedication to doing the work of the Lord is an inspiration to me and speaks to people of all nations and faiths and walks of life. Her life demonstrates an important element of how the church needs to evangelize in the future.   

David Rouch

Favorite religious image: I really like the image of the smiling Jesus. I think it’s a good model for us as we think of ourselves as images of Christ that the rest of the world sees. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of joy – we need to let people see that. When people look at us, they need to see the joy of the Gospel shining out to them through a happy person smiling back at them, ready to share their joy with them.

Favorite liturgy: By far the Easter Vigil! I love the drama played out in the fire outside, the light of Christ being carried into the darkened church, the lights being brought up as the old testament unfolds and then the celebration when Jesus comes into the world! I wish everyone would immerse themselves in the Triduum and take part in the Easter Vigil. Mass on Easter day pales in comparison!

Did you come across something you learned in your formation that you did not expect?
Probably the thing that I didn’t expect was how much I would grow as a person. One of my first Deacon formators said, “if you want to be the same person that you are today, leave now.” Formation is about growing into a better image of Jesus Christ. People think it’s about studying and learning stuff, but really, that’s just a means to an end. It’s really about changing who you are for the better.

Vocation story: In retrospect, I think I have been aware of a call beyond the vocation of Christian husband and father from an early age. When I was a kid, I’d play priest and my mom says I would tell her that I wanted to be a priest when I grew up. Life went on and I got interested in girls and life took turns that I felt like closed off that opportunity to me. One day at church I saw a flyer about the diaconate, and I picked it up. I remember being incensed that the church wouldn’t ordain people until they were 35.

Then when I was about that age, the diocese started a Diaconate formation class. I thought about it briefly but didn’t respond. During that time, I became very active in my church and my pastor at the time, Father T.J. Hart, asked me if I’d ever considered the diaconate. He invited me to pray about it, but it would be several more years before the diocese started another class.

During that time, I was praying about it diligently and I led a church trip to an event at another parish. As we walk in, this guy walks up to greet us, looks at me and says, “Are you a Deacon, or are you going to be one?” Obviously, I was completely shocked! At the time, only my wife and my pastor knew anything about my discernment. I had to ask the people with me not to talk it, because the shock on my face was readily apparent to everyone.

Now that I look back on my journey, God gave me lots of hints and nudges along the way, and He even guided me away from the priesthood, which I see clearly now was not my calling. People ask, “How did you receive your call?” From my experience, that is the wrong question. We are all called to ministry, some are called to live their baptismal ministry as Christian Husband or Christian Wife and Father or Mother. Some are called to the religious life. Some are called to the priesthood. Some are called to the diaconate either as a single person or a married couple, but we are all called. It’s not a matter of being called, it’s a matter of recognizing what you are called to and deciding how you are going to respond.

What are you most looking forward to doing?
What I really want to do the most is engage the young adult church. Young people today are so beautiful and want so desperately to do good, but they have been let down by everyone: their parents, their church, their government, society. They are jaded and distrustful, especially of the church. here is such good and such beauty in Catholicism, but many of them dismiss it, thinking it is too good to be true. I want to reach out to them, get them involved and “rebuild the brand.”

Ann and I have four adult children and three grandsons:
Reece and his wife Nicole and their son Jack, age seven months. They live in Olive Branch.
Destin and her husband Jonathan and their two sons, James (6) and Benjamin (2). They live in Germany.
Meredith, our daughter, who lives in Shreveport.
Conner and her husband Zach, who live in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Deacon’s wives questions:

Name: Ann Rouch

What did you think when your husband first began to consider ordination?

When David first started talking about entering the deaconate program, I thought that if this was what God was calling him to do then who was I to stand in his way? I very much supported his decision. David has always worked in the church, so this seemed to be the next step. I was concerned that in becoming a deacon, then he would have to work where the priest told him to work instead of where he wanted to work. I am sure that whatever assignment David is given then he will give it his all.

How has the preparation deepened your spirituality?

I think this has made me more open minded to things. I find myself trying to look at all sides in any situation more. I pray about everything all the time. I try to find God in everything. I am convinced more than ever that there are no coincidences, that God has a hand in everything. My hope and outlook are more positive. The longer that I live I realize that I cannot change anything, but that God can change everything. Also, I don’t have to be successful; I just have to be faithful. Mother Teresa’s words to live by.

How has the preparation impacted your relationship as a couple and as a family?

Over the last five years, David has been noticeably absent from most holiday and family events. My family thought that he must be having an affair. I assured them that it was an affair with God. Whenever we went anywhere, I always drove, and David was in the back seat either reading a book or typing a paper for class. David has been giving his obvious sacrifice, but I like to think that I am also giving God my sacrifice of time with my husband. We have many more religious discussions, and we pray together. I think that the experience has strengthened our relationship as a couple.