Dual Citizenship


Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
I live on both sides of a border. Not a geographical one, but one which is often a dividing line between two groups.
I was raised a conservative Roman Catholic, and conservative in most other things as well. Although my dad worked politically for the Liberal party, most everything about my upbringing was conservative, particularly religiously. I was a staunch Roman Catholics in every way. I grew up under the papacy of Pius XII (the fact that my youngest brother is named Pius, will tell you how loyal our family was to that Pope’s version of things). We believed that Roman Catholicism was the one true religion and that Protestants needed to convert and return to the true faith. I memorized the Roman Catholic catechism and defended its every word. Moreover, beyond being faithful church-goers, my family was given over to piety and devotions: we prayed the rosary together as a family every day; had statues and holy pictures everywhere in our house; wore blessed medals around our necks; prayed litanies to Mary, Joseph, and the Sacred Heart; and practiced a warm devotion to the saints. And it was wonderful. I will forever be grateful for that religious foundation.
I went from my family home to the seminary at the tender age of seventeen and my early seminary years solidly reinforced what my family had given me. The academics were good and we were encouraged to read great thinkers in every discipline. But this higher learning was still solidly set within a Roman Catholic ethos that valued all the things religiously and devotionally I’d been raised on. My studies were still friends with my piety. My mind was expanding, but my piety remained intact.
But home is where we start from. Gradually though through the years my world changed. Studying at different graduate schools, teaching on different graduate faculties, being in daily contact with other expressions of the faith, reading contemporary novelists and thinkers, and having academic colleagues as cherished friends has, I confess, put some strain on the piety of my youth. It’s no secret; we don’t often pray the rosary or litanies to Mary or the Sacred Heart in graduate classrooms or at faculty gatherings.
However academic classrooms and faculty gatherings bring something else, something vitally needed in church pews and in circles of piety, namely, wider theological vision and critical principles to keep unbridled piety, naïve fundamentalism, and misguided religious fervor within proper boundaries. What I’ve learned in the academic circles is also wonderful and I am forever grateful for the privilege of higher education.
But, of course, that’s a formula for tension, albeit a healthy one. Let me use someone else’s voice to articulate this. In a recent book, Silence and Beauty, a Japanese-American artist, Makoto Fujimura, shares this incident from his own life. Coming out of church one Sunday, he was asked by his pastor to add his name to a list of people who had agreed to boycott the film, The Last Temptation of Christ. He liked his pastor and wanted to please him by signing the petition, but felt hesitant to sign for reasons that, at that time, he couldn’t articulate. But his wife could. Before he could sign, she stepped in and said: “Artists may have other roles to play than to boycott this film.” He understood what she meant. He didn’t sign the petition.
But his decision left him pondering the tension between boycotting such a movie and his role as an artist and critic. Here’s how he puts it: “An artist is often pulled in two directions. Religiously conservative people tend to see culture as suspect at best, and when cultural statements are made to transgress the normative reality they hold dear, their default reaction is to oppose and boycott. People in the more liberal artistic community see these transgressive steps as necessary for their ‘freedom of expression’. An artist like me, who values both religion and art, will be exiled from both. I try to hold together both of these commitments, but it is a struggle.”
That’s also my struggle. The piety of my youth, of my parents, and of that rich branch of Catholicism is real and life-giving; but so too is the critical (sometimes unsettling) iconoclastic, theology of the academy. The two desperately need each other; yet someone who is trying to be loyal to both can, like Fujimura, end up feeling exiled from both. Theologians also have other roles to play than boycotting movies.
The people whom I take as mentors in this area are men and women who, in my eyes, can do both: Like Dorothy Day, who could be equally comfortable, leading the rosary or the peace march; like Jim Wallis, who can advocate just as passionately for radical social engagement as he can for personal intimacy with Jesus, and like Thomas Aquinas, whose intellect could intimidate intellectuals, even as he could pray with the piety of a child.
Circles of piety and the academy of theology are not enemies; they need to embrace.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX.)

Hope for synod: boldness, honesty

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis asked bishops to be bold, honest, open-minded, charitable and, especially, prayerful as they begin a three-week meeting on “young people, the faith and vocational discernment.”
While many young people think no older person has anything useful to teach them for living today, the pope said, the age of the bishops, combined with clericalism, can lead “us to believe that we belong to a group that has all the answers and no longer needs to listen or learn anything.”
“Clericalism is a perversion and is the root of many evils in the church,” Pope Francis said Oct. 3 at the synod’s first working session. “We must humbly ask forgiveness for this and above all create the conditions so that it is not repeated.”
The pope formally welcomed 267 bishops and priests as voting members of the synod, eight fraternal delegates from other Christian churches and another 72 young adults, members of religious orders and lay men and women observers and experts at the synod, which will meet through Oct. 28.
He also thanked the thousands of young people who responded to a Vatican questionnaire, participated in a presynod meeting in March or spoke to their bishops about their concerns. With the gift of their time and energy, he said, they “wagered that it is worth the effort to feel part of the church or to enter into dialogue with her.”
They showed that, at least on some level, they believe the church can be a mother, teacher, home and family to them, he said. And they are asserting that “despite human weaknesses and difficulties,” they believe the church is “capable of radiating and conveying Christ’s timeless message.”
“Our responsibility here at the synod,” the pope said, “is not to undermine them, but rather to show that they are right to wager: It truly is worth the effort, it is not a waste of time!”
Pope Francis began the synod with an invitation that every participant “speak with courage and frankness” because “only dialogue can help us grow.”
But he also asked participants to be on guard against “useless chatter, rumors, conjectures or prejudices” and to be humble enough to listen to others.
Many of the synod participants arrived in Rome with the text of the three-minute speech they intended to give, but the pope asked them “to feel free to consider what you have prepared as a provisional draft open to any additions and changes that the synod journey may suggest to each of you.”
A willingness to “change our convictions and positions,” he said, is “a sign of great human and spiritual maturity.”
The synod is designed to be an “exercise in discernment,” the pope told them. “Discernment is not an advertising slogan, it is not an organizational technique or a fad of this pontificate, but an interior attitude rooted in an act of faith.”
Discernment “is based on the conviction that God is at work in world history, in life’s events, in the people I meet and who speak to me,” he said. It requires listening and prayer, which is why the pope has added a rule that after every five speeches there will be a three-minute pause for silent reflection and prayer.
Listening to the Spirit, listening to God in prayer and listening to the hopes and dreams of young people are part of the church’s mission, the pope said. The preparatory process for the synod “highlighted a church that needs to listen, including to those young people who often do not feel understood by the church” or feel they “are not accepted for who they really are, and are sometimes even rejected.”
Listening to each other, especially young people and bishops listening to each other, he said, is the only way the synod can come to any helpful suggestions for leading more young people to the faith or for strengthening the faith of young people involved in church life.
“Adults should overcome the temptation to underestimate the abilities of young people and (should) not judge them negatively,” he said. “I once read that the first mention of this fact dates back to 3,000 B.C. and was discovered on a clay pot in ancient Babylon, where it is written that young people are immoral and incapable of saving their people’s culture.”

Happy Stitchers use craft to spread love

MADISON – Beginning in January of 2017, a small number of ladies at St. Catherine’s Village began crocheting blankets and placing stuffed animals and a Bible in them with a note, saying ‘Jesus Loves You.’ As they crochet, the ladies pray for the recipient of the gift. Father Frank Cosgrove blesses both the gifts and the ladies who make them. Kim Thomason of Catholic Charities, assists with distributing the packages. (Photos by Kim Thomason)

Summer service

MERIDIAN – Nine young people and two adults from the Catholic Community of Meridian traveled to Knoxville for the Alive In You Catholic Camp and Conference, June 19-24 for a week of service work. One of the projects was at the Knoxville Dream Center, a homeless outreach and food distribution Center. Students helped load a food truck and then helped give out the food to residents at a low income apartment complex that was in a so-called “food desert” area with no grocery store nearby. That afternoon the students helped the Center with various projects around their warehouse. At left, (l-r) Jean Karol Mayo, Kirstie Graves, Serena Sanders and Edwar Hernandez stand across the table from Cassy Klutz, Colby Evans and Mason Daniels. The youth were stuffing ziplock bags with condiments and utensils for the center’s upcoming Independence Day dinner for the homeless people under the bridge in Knoxville. (Photo by John Harwell)

Parish calendar

CULLMAN, Ala., Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center, Letting Go and Letting God: The Wisdom of Twelve-Step Spirituality. This reflection day will focus on the core principles of twelve-step spirituality and the gift of spiritual freedom that is experienced when these principles are put into practice. Tuesday, August 28. Retreat Director: Sister Therese Haydel, O.S.B. Cost: $30 includes lunch. Details: (256) 734-8302, retreats@shmon.org or www.shmon.org.
GREENWOOD Locus Benedictus Retreat Center, Grace for the Journey Training for Caregivers, Sunday, July 29 at 2 p.m. This training is for family, friends, clergy or employees who take care of people suffering from any illness or injury. Presenters: Catherine Kidd and Charlene Gressett. Details: (662) 299-1232.
METAIRIE, La., “Fresh Fire 2018,” a day-long gathering for those desiring refreshment and empowerment in the Holy Spirit, will take place Saturday, August 25, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., at St Benilde Cafeteria, 1901 Division St., Metairie. The event is sponsored by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans (CCRNO). The theme for the day is “Return to Your First Love” and will focus on the call of the Lord to us now. Registration is $30 per person and includes lunch. Special price for youth ages 18-30, $10. Register online at www.ccrno.org no later than Wednesday, August 22, noon, to reserve your lunch. Details: Call CCRNO at 504-828-1368 for more information.

CLARKSDALE Northwest Mississippi Medical Center, A Healthy Night Out for Ladies, Thursday, July 19, at 6:15 p.m. in the private dining room. This event is free and features numerous speakers and exhibitors, including a skincare presentation from parishioner Lisa Chicorelli. Details: St. Elizabeth church office (662) 624-4301.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, All Parish Picnic, Sunday, July 29. Chewalla Lake Recreation Area, 726 Chewalla Lake Rd., Holly Springs, 3-5 p.m. Mass at 5 p.m. swimming, food and fun! Bring a side dish to share and drinks for family. The meat will be provided. Don’t forget your chairs. Details: (662) 429-7851.
JACKSON St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Save the Date, Level II Training for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Classes are: August 11, September 8, October 6, November 2-3, December 1, January 4-5, February 1-2, March 2, April 6 and May 4. Cost: $675, which includes course materials, lunch, snacks and certification by the National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, USA. A non-refundable deposit of $100 is due by August 1. Details: Rachel Misenar, rmisenar@standrews.ms or (601) 573-3689.
Catholic Charities, Mississippi Catholics against Human Trafficking (MCAHT) will meet at Catholic Charities, 850 East River Place, Jackson on Monday, July 23 at 4:30 p.m. Details: For more information, contact Dorothy Balser, dorothy.balser@ccjackson.org or (601) 941-4600.
Christ the King, National Black Catholic Men’s Conference in Richmond, Virginia, October 18-21. Fifteen years of fellowship among men who have been forged by faith and experience. Registration forms are available on the table at the back of the church. Details: church office (601) 948-8867.
St. Richard, ChristLife: Discovering Christ, Mondays from August 20 and ends October 1 at 6:30 p.m. with a retreat on Saturday, September 22. Explore answers to questions such as, “How does knowing Jesus really make a difference? Dinner and program offered at no cost. Seating is limited. Details: (601) 366-2335, register at www.saintrichard.com.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Choral Concert, Wednesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. Free admission and open to the public. Guest Conductor: Dr. Rollo Dilworth. Details: (601) 445-5616.
SHAW St. Francis of Assisi, Religious study of Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly, Fridays at 9:30 a.m. after Mass. Details: church office (601) 754-5561.
YAZOO CITY St. Mary, Parish Potluck Lunch, Sunday, July 29, after 10:30 Mass in the Parish Hall cafeteria (changed from an earler date). The church will provide the meat, bread,and drinks. Parishioners’ last names A-D, please bring a salad, E-H, please bring a meat or vegetable casserole, I-Q, please bring a vegetable, R-Z, please bring a dessert. There are sign-up sheets in the back of the church. Details: (662) 746-1680.

JACKSON Catholic Charities welcomes Jim Caveziel Friday, Sept. 7, 7:30 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall. Tickets start at $25. Group rates are available. Details: Catholic Charities (601) 355-8634 or www.catholiccharitiesjackson.org.
Diocesan Middle School Retreat: October 13-14, Lake Forest Ranch, Macon, Miss. Lead by young adults from NET Ministries. This retreat is open to youth in 7-8th grade. Registration will open late August 2018.

A story in the last issue of Mississippi Catholic misidentified the president of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Sister Susan Gatz, who delivered a victim’s impact statement during the sentencing hearing for Rodney Earl Sanders. We regret the error.

Diócesis de Jackson ordena a cuatro

Por Maureen Smith
JACKSON – La Diócesis de Jackson ordenó a cuatro hombres esta primavera, dos como diáconos transicionales y dos como sacerdotes. La gente estaba de pie en cada rincón disponible de la Catedral de San Pedro Apóstol en la Fiesta de la Visitación, el jueves 31 de mayo, para presenciar la ordenación al sacerdocio de Nick Adam y Aaron Williams.
Los dos hombres provienen de orígenes muy diferentes, pero ambos respondieron sí a la llamada a servir a su iglesia. La familia del Padre Adán se mudó varias veces. Él es el más joven de ocho hijos y había comenzado ya una carrera en la televisión cuando por primera vez consideró el sacerdocio. Trabajaba como reportero deportivo en Meridian cuando comenzó a pensar en ser sacerdote. El Padre Frank Cosgrove, su pastor, lo ayudó a través del proceso inicial.

El Padre Williams tiene sólo un hermano, ha vivido en Jackson toda su vida y comenzó a servir en el altar a los cinco años con la esperanza de llegar a donde está hoy. Pidió ser monaguillo a los cinco años, aprendió a tocar el órgano a una edad temprana y fue al seminario justo después de la escuela secundaria.
La familia, sin embargo, jugó un papel muy importante en la vida de ambos hombres. Al final de su primera misa, el Padre Williams invitó a sus sobrinas, Ava y Hadley, a colocar un ramo de flores a los pies de la estatua de María. Luego le entregó a su madre la tela que había usado la noche anterior para limpiarse el aceite de crisma de sus manos, y le explicó a la congregación una tradición que pide que Julia Williams guarde la tela para que sea colocada en sus manos cuando sea enterrada, un símbolo de acción de gracias por el regalo de su hijo a la iglesia. De hecho, el Padre Williams mandó a bordar en la tela un versículo de las Escrituras antes de su ordenación para presentarselo como un regalo personal.
Los siete hermanos del Padre Adam y nueve de sus doce hijos llenaron varias bancas en la catedral para la ordenación y en la Iglesia St. Richard para su primera misa. Los bebés, niños pequeños y grandes sonrieron mientras veían a su tío profesar sus votos solemnes. La madre del Padre Adam murió de cáncer en 2014. Dijo que su familia de la Diócesis de Jackson lo apoyó durante ese momento difícil, algunos de ellos incluso viajaron en autobús para asistir a su funeral en Alabama.
El Padre Williams ha sido asignado como pastor asociado en la Parroquia St. Joseph en Greenville y enseñará en la escuela St. Joseph. El Padre Adam servirá como pastor asociado en la Parroquia St. Richard en Jackson.

Two ordained as priests

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Father Nick Adam and Father Aaron Williams were ordained to the priesthood on the Feast of the Visitation, Thursday, May 31, at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Both are local vocations. Father Williams grew up at the Cathedral and graduated from Jackson St. Richard and Madison St. Joseph schools. While Father Adam grew up out of state, he first felt the call to the priesthood while working in Meridian so he calls St. Patrick and St. Joseph his home parishes.
At the ordination Bishop Joseph Kopacz announced that Father Adam has been assigned as parochial vicar at Jackson St. Richard Parish and Father Williams has been assigned as parochial vicar at Greenville St. Joseph Parish. Father Williams will also teach at St. Joseph School.
Both men also celebrated their first Masses of Thanksgiving the following day. Father Williams celebrated a votive Mass of the Sacred Heart at 12:05 Friday at the Cathedral while Father Adam celebrated his Mass at 6 p.m. at St. Richard Parish.
Mark Shoffner is set to be ordained a transitional deacon on the day this paper is delivered to homes, Friday, June 9, at his home parish of Greenville St. Joseph. Deacon Adolfo Suarez Pasillas was ordained in Mexico earlier this year. Deacon Shoffner will serve his transitional year at Gluckstadt St. Joseph Parish while Deacon Pasillas will serve at Jackson St. Therese Parish.
Full coverage of all four of this year’s ordinations will appear in the next edition of Mississippi Catholic, set to publish Friday, June 29.
In Bishop column you can read the bishop’s ordination homily or click here.

Seminarian Summer Assignment 2018

Carlisle Beggerly is assigned to the chancery offices.
Andrew Bowden and Ryan Stoer are assigned to Camp Friendship in Pontotoc.
Andrew Nguyen is assigned to he Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson and will minister at St. Dominic Hospital.
Cesar Sanchez is assigned to Canton Sacred Heart Parish and will minister at St. Dominic Hospital.
Tristan Stovall is assigned to Clarksdale St. Elizabeth Parish.

Minnesota volunteers return to Clarksdale

By Michael Banks
CLARKSDALE – On the grounds of a church that was formed in the days of segregation, white students from a Minnesota college entertained and formed friendships with black children from Clarksdale on a recent weekday afternoon.
This marks the ninth year that students from St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul and Minneapolis, have come to Clarksdale to assist and learn more about the people of the Mississippi Delta. They are here for two weeks to learn more about others and also about themselves.
For Abby McCall, a Superior, Wis., native who is in the final year of the graduate program at St. Catherine’s, this was her first trip to the Delta.
“Every experience has been eye-opening, but the people are very hospitable and welcoming. It’s been very inviting,” said McCall, who has plans to be a physical therapist and work with patients who have suffered brain injuries.
“It was my hope to be exposed to people and work more with children,” she said. “I really like being able to interact with the kids on a personal level.”
In the afternoons, the nine St. Catherine students conducted an afterschool camp for children ages 5 to 14. The camp was held on the grounds of and with the assistance of members of the Immaculate Conception Parish.

CLARKSDALE – A physical therapy student from Minnesota plays ball with a child on the grounds of Immaculate Conception Parish.

During the mornings, the students did volunteer work at the Care Station and exercised with clients at the S.L.A. Jones Senior Activity Center and the students at George H. Oliver Elementary School. They also spent time ministering to the patients at the Clarksdale Children’s Clinic.
David Chapman, an associate professor at St. Catherine’s, said it is the program’s goal to promote physical activity and fitness, as well as increase awareness of good nutrition for all age groups.
“Hopefully we’re able to meet some needs of the community and learn social and political structure and how it impacts health,” Chapman said.
During the two weeks they are in Clarksdale, the students stay in the former sister’s rectory on the church campus. The weekend was filled with a night at the Ground Zero Blues Club and then a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum and blues festival in Memphis, Tenn. Sunday consisted of a trip to Oxford and a visit to Ole Miss.
The visit is part of a one-credit course for the students, Chapman said. Once they return to campus, each student will give a two-minute, self-reflection report to their classmates on what the experience meant to them.
“If anything, it helps them be aware of their own biases they may have,” Chapman said, noting that this if often the first trip to the Deep South for most of the students.
They learn “cultural competence” and become mindful of how things are done in different parts of the country, as well as the social, economic and political influences of each community and their impact on health care.
The program came about due to a collaboration between the late Sister Manette Durand, who was a Midwestern native but was serving in Clarksdale, and Dr. Jyothi Gupta, an instructor at St. Catherine’s. Sister Manette, who passed away in October 2015, was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, which helped form St. Catherine’s University in 1905.
Christine McDaniel, a member of Immaculate Conception and one of those who works behind the scenes in organizing the event each year, said there have been years when they have close to 100 children in the afterschool camp.
And while church members give the students “a taste of the Delta” with a soul food supper of smothered cabbage, barbecued neck bones, corn on the cob, collared greens and cobbler cake, she believes both the students and Clarksdale benefit.
“The last day is the most emotional,” McDaniel said. “We see a lot of hugs and tears.”

(This story was reprinted with permission from the Clarksdale Press Register.)

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.