State Religious leaders honor MLK with joint statement

To mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the bishops of both Catholic Dioceses as well as the Methodist and Episcopal bishops in Mississippi signed a joint statement marking the day and urging their faithful to action. It read:
“As our nation gathers to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this is an ideal time for our respective Christian communities to devote an even greater commitment to fostering understanding across racial, ethnic and gender divides.
As Bishops of the Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist traditions, we are asking each of our faithful to stand with us in recognizing and rejecting continued injustice against our neighbors. As we celebrate this Easter season, a season of rebirth, let us all be reborn with a renewed spirit of love and compassion to strengthen our parish and secular communities and to not be afraid of the stranger at the door.”
The statement was signed by Bishop Joseph Kopacz from the Diocese of Jackson, Bishop Louis F. Kihneman, III, of the Diocese of Biloxi, Bishop Brian R. Seage, the Episcopal Bishop for Mississippi and Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr., the United Methodist Bishop for the state.

El obispo Kopacz habla en solidaridad con los soñadores

El Obispo Joseph Kopacz hizo la siguiente declaración el jueves 2 de noviembre en apoyo de los “soñadores,” personas traídas a los Estados Unidos cuando eran niños y que desean seguir un camino hacia la ciudadanía. Mientras el presidente Donald Trump y los miembros del Congreso luchan contra los problemas de inmigración, los obispos y otros líderes religiosos alzan la voz a favor de la compasión, la razón y una reforma significativa. El obispo envió copias de esta declaración a las parroquias que sirven a las poblaciones hispanas en la diócesis de Jackson, ofreciendo a los pastores la opción de compartirla con sus comunidades.

Queridos amigos en Cristo,
Con el paso del tiempo desde el 5 de septiembre y la decisión de la Acción Diferida para Llegadas en la Infancia, DACA, aquellos que no se ven afectados directamente pueden ser arrullados en el sueño de que esta crisis ha pasado. Todos los que se ven directamente afectados, ya sea personalmente o con un familiar, amigo o vecino, saben de manera diferente. A menos que esta realidad sea abordada justa y exhaustivamente por el Congreso de los Estados Unidos en marzo de 2018, esta decisión presidencial se convertirá en una crisis para todos los Soñadores afectados, así como todas sus vidas se verán negativamente afectadas, especialmente los miembros de la familia.
Como obispo de la diócesis de Jackson, me solidarizo con mis hermanos obispos en todos los Estados Unidos, junto con todos los Soñadores para quienes esta nación es la única patria que conocen. Ustedes han vivido aquí la mayor parte de sus vidas, fueron educados aquí, trabajan aquí, y muchos de ustedes han defendido a nuestra nación en los Servicios Armados, todo lo cual es para decir que han soñado aquí y han estado construyendo una vida para ustedes mismos mientras contribuyen al bienestar de nuestra nación. La diócesis de Jackson se solidariza con ustedes, les da la bienvenida, ora con ustedes y por ustedes, y defenderá una decisión legal justa cuando el Congreso de los Estados Unidos aborde este tema crítico de integridad e identidad nacional. Ustedes son nuestros hermanos y hermanas en el Señor Jesús, miembros de la Iglesia Católica y la familia de Dios, y trabajaremos para mantener su dignidad y el lugar que les corresponde en nuestra nación.
En la paz de Cristo,
Obispo Joseph Kopacz

New class of catechists certified in Good Shepherd program

By Maureen Smith
PEARL – More than a dozen catechists gathered at St. Jude Parish the week of August 18 to conclude a week of training in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This group is finishing the third and final level of training, almost 300 hours in all, so they can now guide students through the program appropriate for their age.

PEARL – Catechists from Jackson-area churches read the story of Moses and discuss how to guide students through it using the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd during a training in August. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a Montessori-based program in which students and their teachers work together to learn and explore their faith. There are three atriums, or learning environments, students and teachers use for the program, one for ages three to six, a second for ages six to nine and the third for ages nine to 12.
“It’s just so wonderful. It’s not the kids sitting in a desk and us teaching them like they do in school. It’s completely different. It’s centered around the work of the child and what they need and so for the kids it’s so different from what they have seen all week,” explained Stacy Wolf, coordinator of Faith Formation at St. Jude. “To come into a room that’s built for them and it’s a place of prayer and God – they can just slow down and take time to read the Bible and just talk about it,” she continued.
She said she likes that students can take Scripture at their own level so they are not reading it with the worry that they will have to take a test. The process is “organic and the students have time to do the work and to choose where the Holy Spirit is leading them – not everyone has to be doing the same thing,” said Wolf.
She and teachers from eight other area churches, including representatives from Baptist and Episcopal congregations, formed an association to make trainings such as this one easier. Each level of training can take 90 hours so being able to offer it to larger groups makes the process easier and more cost-effective for the churches and trainers alike. This training drew a catechist from Alabama and another from Florida.
The formation leader for this training was Donna Turner from Memphis. She said she first found out about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd back in 1994 when she was teaching children at her parish. She did not feel like the curriculum she was using fit the needs or capacity of her students so she spoke to her pastor about seeking new programs. She fell in love with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd almost immediately. “I love that it is a gift for the children, but as much as it is a gift for us as the adults who also do the work so it is really a beautiful way I think God draws all of us to him, ” she said.
Turner said the program is more than just lesson plans, it works with what people want and need. “Relationship – that relationship with Jesus, the relationship with the Good Shepherd, is one of their greatest needs and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd provides the right food to nurture that,” said Turner.
During the training on Friday, August 25, participants took turns reading the story of Moses and his confrontation with Pharaoh. They discussed how they reacted to the story and how they would expect the students to react. Turner took out cards with images from the story on them and a small group sat on the floor to talk about the items and their role in the story. One of the things catechists who use this program learn is that they will also have to do the work with their students.

Stacy Wolf from St. Jude Parish, left, Donna Turner from Memphis and a third catechist Catherine Bishop from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral, Jackson talk about images from Bible stories as part of their Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training.

Each atrium has items designed for the students who will use it. Smaller children may use a wooden shepherd, sheep and little fences to better understand the story of the good shepherd while older students may set up a small altar or create their own artwork to go with a story that appeals to them. Each age group will take on different topics, but ultimately, the students select what work they want to do.
The association is able to work with catechists who are worried about the cost of training or setting up an atrium. The association will offer a Level I training this year at a local Episcopal Church in the Jackson area. Anyone interested in learning more about local training should contact Stacy Wolf at St. Jude, 601-939-3181 or by email at


Fresh faces greet new school year

JACKSON – Students and their families meet their teachers and tour the school during Sister Thea Bowman’s back to school afternoon Sunday, August 6. Sister Thea Bowman, situated near Jackson State University, offers music, Spanish and technology as supplements to its excellent curriculum.(Photo by Melissa Smalley)

Parents and students meet the staff at back to school night.

Students meet the new lay ecclesial minister of Christ the King Church, Deacon Denzil Lobo, visible in the doorway.

Deacon Denzil Lobo, in the red shirt, was on hand to greet students on the first day of school.

Khamari Stevenson and his mom on his very first day of school.

GREENVILLE – Friends reunite in the halls on the first day of class for St. Joseph school in Greenville. The unit school has new principals for both the elementary and high schools this fall.(Photo by Missi Blackstock)

New Principal Jo Anne Heisterkamp opened doors in the carpool line for Our Lady of Lourdes students on the first day of School at Greenville St. Joseph School.

NATCHEZ – At left, at Cathedral School, Beth Foster’s kindergarten class started their day with the Pledge of Allegiance on Monday, August 7. Cathedral Unit School offers pre-k through 12th grade education and welcomes a new administrator and high school principal this year. (Photo by Cara Serio)

Third grader Braxton Brice leading the elementary school with the prayer, pledge and mission statement over the loud speaker.

Mrs. Beth Foster’s kindergarten class starting the day with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Middle School students starting the first day of Mrs. Brown’s Science class with a project – (kneeling on the table) Grayson Guedon, left going around the table clockwise: Will Welch, Kate McCann, Logan Ellis (standing on stool) and Barrett Burget

PreK 3 student Stratton Thompson practicing his writing on the first day of school

MADISON –  first day at St. Anthony School. (Photos by Kristian Beatty)

Pre-K4 Collin and Lindsey Truong get settled in Mrs. Newell's classroom

MADISON – The seventh grade meets for the first time at St. Joseph School on Monday, August 7. Students from all Jackson-area Catholic elementary schools in addition to students who transfer from private and public schools, started their middle and high school journey as Bruins with a day of tours, orientation and lessons in the fight song. (Photo by Tricia Harris)

The seventh grade at Madison St. Joseph School spent their first day in orientation -- touring the campus and meeting one another.

The seventh grade at Madison St. Joseph School spent their first day in orientation -- touring the campus and meeting one another.

The seventh graders divided into teams and had to complete a hands-off cup stacking challenge.

The seventh graders divided into teams and had to complete a hands-off cup stacking challenge.

Catherine Amy, center, and her team complete a challenge on the first day of seventh grade at Madison St. Joseph School.



Archbishop Gregory asks survivors for forgiveness

(Editor’s note: Bishop Joseph Kopacz participated in this Mass during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s gathering. See related stories on pages 1 and 3.)
WASHINGTON – As they began the spring general assembly, bishops from across the U.S. gathered June 14 at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for a Mass of Prayer and Penance for survivors of sexual abuse within the Church. The Mass was held in response to a call from Pope Francis for all episcopal conferences across the world to have a Day of Prayer and Penance for victims of sexual abuse within the Church.
The bishops gathered together in solidarity to pray for victims and to acknowledge the pain caused by the failures of the Church in the past. The Mass marked the opening for the June plenary assembly of bishops held June 14-15 in Indianapolis.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was the principal celebrant.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory delivers the homily during Mass June 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual spring assembly. (CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion)

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, of Atlanta, and former president of the USCCB, was the homilist.
Following is the full text of Archbishop Gregory’s homily.
In the very same chapter of his Gospel in which St. Matthew presents his rendition of the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us that He has not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Clearly, the Beatitudes are in fact a startling new edition of God’s Law. Jesus is Himself both the new law and the fulfillment of the old law. He calls us to see with new eyes how to live in a world so continually filled with sorrow, injustice and violence and how important it is to acknowledge our own share in causing or compounding the sorrows, suffering and violence that often seem to surround us.
We bishops have learned a great deal about the sorrow and pain of those we love and serve, even as we have to acknowledge humbly, publicly and pitifully our share in bringing much of that pain to bear. We feel, we see, we live with, as they do in much greater measure, the impact of behaviors, responses and revelations that have no place in Matthew’s Gospel, in the Beatitudes, or in the narrative of Jesus’ promise to fulfill God’s Law. And yet only there, by His Grace and His unwavering example, can we begin to learn to heal and to reconcile — to bind the wounds and to assuage the sorrow. We recognize this even as Paul reminds us that we have been qualified for this ministry only by God’s purpose and designation.
Pope Francis has summoned us as bishops to find occasions and opportunities to pray earnestly for God’s grace to bring about the healing and the reconciliation of those who have been harmed in this tragedy that has hurt far too many of His people and far too much of His Church. The Holy Father has called us respectfully to acknowledge our own share in causing the pain that so many are still enduring.
At this Mass, we bishops humbly and sincerely ask for the forgiveness of those who have been harmed, scandalized or dispirited by events that, even if they happened many years ago, remain ongoing sources of anguish for them and for those who love them. We humbly seek forgiveness from the faith-filled people of our Church and from our society at-large — and especially from those whose lives may have been devastated by our failure to care adequately for the little ones entrusted to us and for any decision that we made or should have made that exacerbated the sorrow and heartache that the entire Church has felt and continues to feel — for what we have done, and for what we have failed to do. We can never say that we are sorry enough for the share that we have had in this tragedy of broken fidelity and trust.

Clergymen pray during Mass at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual spring assembly June 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (CNS photo/Mike Krokos, The Criterion)

With hearts that are contrite we ask the forgiveness of God, our Almighty Father, under whose purpose and designation we are entrusted with this ministry, and whom we disgrace most profoundly when we fall so woefully short.
There have been many procedural and educational expressions of our commitment to reform and renewal that have been put into place in the past 15 years. They are sincere, state-of-the-art, and effective. Nevertheless, this expression of our sorrow is far more important at this time, in this place, than any administrative process or training effort, however beneficial to the Church and to the world.
While we have had many opportunities to pray in our own dioceses with survivors, their families and our people, we gather this evening as a community of bishops to pray together for the grace of healing and reconciliation that only the Lord Jesus Himself can bestow upon His Church. While there is still more, always more, that must and will be done to assure our people of our dedication and commitment to safeguarding the innocent lives of our young and vulnerable faithful, this evening we acknowledge that ultimately it must be the Lord Himself who heals and reconciles the hearts of those who live with the pain of God’s law unheeded.
For that Grace, with sincere hearts, with contrite spirits and with a renewed promise to protect, we simply pray this evening. Amen

Clergymen pray during Mass at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual spring assembly June 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (CNS photo/Mike Krokos, The Criterion)

Jóvenes hispanos celebran la resurrección de Cristo

El 22 de abril, unos 30 jóvenes hispanos celebraron la resurrección de nuestro Señor durante el primer “Pascua Juvenil, Viva Cristo Rey” en el Locus Benedictus en Greenwood. El día consistió en oración, canciones, actividades al aire libre, videos, sesiones de escucha y más. Sacerdotes Redentoristas del Delta estaban disponibles para escuchar confesiones y el día terminó con la celebración de la Santa Misa.

GREENWOOD – Wilmer Urizar de San Pedro en Jackson y Nestor Juárez de St. James en Tupelo. (Fotos de Veronica Lopez)

Isamar Mazy de San Pedro en Jackson y Diana López de St. James en Tupelo. Eliazar Castillo de St. James en Tupelo.

Los jóvenes rezan el Rosario mientras celebran la resurrección de nuestro Señor.

Memorial to honor Durant Sisters

By Maureen Smith
DURANT – On Saturday, May 20, at 3 p.m., the community is invited to honor the memory of Sisters Paula Merrill, SCN, and Margaret Held, SSSF. Father Greg Plata, OFM, will bless and dedicate a marker to the two women in Liberty Park in Durant, Miss. The women were found murdered in their home in Durant in August 2016. Both had been nurse practitioners at a medical clinic in Lexington.

Sister Paula Merrill

Sister Margaret Held

Carolyn Reynolds, an alderwoman in Durant, conceived the idea of a memorial. “She called me, she didn’t really know the sisters, she had never met them, in fact, but she knew about all the good work they had done and thought it would be tragic if there was no memorial for them,” said Father Plata.
“She was hearing people in Durant talk about them – grown men were crying about them so she thought ‘surely someone like this needs some recognition,’” said Jaime Sample, the music minister at Lexington St. Thomas Parish where the sisters were in the choir. “I still cry sometimes when I am selecting music,” said Sample.
Family members and members of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and the School Sisters of St. Francis will be on hand for the dedication. In fact, the Sisters of Charity will arrive early and spend a week doing service in Durant, which is currently cleaning up from a tornado.
The monument will include pictures of the sisters and will sit near a similar marker dedicated to two Durant natives who died on 9/11. The dedication service will include scripture readings and the sisters’ favorite songs, ‘This Alone I Ask,’ and ‘How Can I Keep from Singing’ as well as some reflections from close friends and family members. After the service, the community will gather for Mass at 4:30 at St. Thomas.
“I still miss them, but I know they are still with us. I know they are watching over us,” said Sample. The parish is still accepting donations for the marker. They can be sent to St. Thomas Catholic Church, 200 Boulevard St., Lexington, MS, 39095 or via Go Fund Me at:

Carmelite shop renovated, updated, ready for new business

JACKSON – The Carmelite gift shop on Terry Road in Jackson celebrated a grand re-opening on Saturday, April 22. The shop was relocated to the convent for a couple of months while work crews overhauled the space. Father Kevin Slattery, vicar general for the Diocese of Jackson, blessed the space and welcomed guests after Mass.
The Knights of Coulmbus from Clinton Holy Savior built two ramps, one from the outside of the store and another from the convent to the back door.

Sister Margaret Mary Flynn, OCD, blesses baby Bernadette McFall, carried by her father Brian, at the store re-opening.

In addition to new floors, workers removed walls to create more open space inside the store. The inventory was reorganized and is displayed together. Sr. Donna Degnan, OCD, is visible greeting Peggy Harkins, at left, at the grand re-opening.

New lighting and paint as well as freshly cleaned windows create a much brighter space. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

Workers removed some walls inside the buidling, a pre-Civil War house, to create more open space and either restored or replaced the wood flooring. The windows were uncovered and cleaned and the shop has new lights and new paint. The result is a much brigher, open space. The shop’s signature Fontanini nativities have their own room and the other inventory has been reorganized.
The sisters are grateful for the many years of support from the faithful and want to remind people they are open for business.

Father Delaney celebrates 60th anniversary

By Maureen Smith

Father Delaney (Photo courtesy of Janice Stansell)

CRYSTAL SPRINGS – Father Tom Delaney will celebrate 60 years as a priest this June. The 83-year-old continues to serve as the pastor of St. John parish and St. Martin of Tours mission. “I plan to continue in active ministry for as long as the Lord gives me breath,” he said during a recent interview. His parish of Crystal Springs St. John has planned a Mass and lunch for Saturday, June 24, starting at 11 a.m.
Father Delaney had to work hard just to get to Mississippi in 1959. He was ready to make the trip after his June 8, 1957, ordination, but an x-ray required for a visa showed a shadow on his lung. When he followed up with a doctor he discovered he had tuberculosis. It took almost a year of treatment and months of monitoring to heal completely before he was allowed a visa. He has never had a lung problem since.
Last July he had an aortic valve replaced, and this year had a malignant spot removed from his head, but he describes himself as being in good health.
“I have enjoyed my service in Mississippi and I have been blessed by the friendship of so many people, brother priests and bishops. I was lucky to know Bishops Gerow, Brunini, Howze (of Biloxi), Houck, Latino and now Bishop Kopacz,” said Father Delaney.
He has served all across the state, starting in Bay St. Louis at Our Lady of the Gulf before the creation of the Diocese of Biloxi. He went on to Greenville St. Joseph, Jackson St. Peter, Pearl St. Jude, Starkville St. Joseph, Port Gibson St. Joseph, Grenada St. Peter, Greenwood Immaculate Heart of Mary and Crystal Springs St. John along with its mission of Hazelhurst St. Martin of Tours. “I hope I have done some good,” said Father Delaney when reflecting on his time here.
Father Delaney also served as the chaplain for the state hospital at Whitfield, Mercy Hospital in Vicksburg, the moderator for the Catholic physicians’ guild and chaplain for Catholic nurses as well as once being a moderator and advocate for the marriage tribunal. “I would like to add one thing, I want to apologize to anyone whose feelings I may have hurt over the years,” said Father Delaney.
(Editor’s note: Father Tom Delaney was inadvertently omitted from the article in the past issue about significant anniversaries. I apologize for the error.)