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.

John Anh Pham

Parish: St. Michael of Forest

Spouse: Diem Thuy Nguyen

Favorite Scripture passage: Matthew 6:33 – “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

John Anh Pham

Favorite saint: My favorite saints are St. John the Apostle and St. Theresa, the Little Flower of Jesus. I love St. John for he is truly a friend of Jesus; and I like St. Theresa for she discovered the simple and easy way to holiness.

Favorite religious image: Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Did you come across something you learned in your formation that you did not expect?
Knowing that the “harvest is plenty, but laborers are few.” I want to contribute whatever I can to ease the burden of my pastor.

What are you most looking forward to doing?
I am most looking forward to creating a lively atmosphere at church, so the liturgical service would be more enjoyable for all who come to worship.

Deacon’s wives questions:

Name: Diem Thuy Nguyen

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

Truthfully, I was hesitant and afraid when my husband considered ordination. My fear stemmed from the change and responsibility that this will bring to my life. My husband and I are usually busy with managing our business, raising our children and helping the community. With the added duty and responsibility, I didn’t know if we would handle it.

How has the preparation deepened your spirituality?

The preparation for my husband’s ordination has deepened my spirituality. In the last question, I talked about fear. I overcame this fear by praying, using the rosary and reciting the Divine Mercy. This gave me the peace that I needed to support my husband in this journey. I chose to have faith instead of fear.

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

The preparation positively impacted our relationship as a couple and as a family. My husband and I had many discussions throughout this journey. We prayed for guidance to ensure that this is the right path for us. Through figuring everything out, we grew deeper in love with each other and our love for God. My husband becoming a deacon will allow us to serve our community better and to be a guiding light towards God’s love.

Favorite Scripture passage: 1 Corinthians 15:10 — “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all — yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

I struggled with defining who I am. This passage helped me to understand that I am a daughter of God. This means that I am a strong and loving woman who can do everything with my loving father by my side.

Favorite saints:

My favorite male saint is St. Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis was born into a life of wealth and luxury. However, he gave up this life to walk with Jesus. He is an inspiration to me. I always pray to him to have the courage and strength to do what is asked of me even if it is difficult.

My favorite female saint is St. Theresa of Lisieux. Saint Theresa is also known as the “little rose.” She showed me that we are able to perform important and meaningful work through our daily routine. An act is never too small for God to notice.

Favorite religious image: My favorite religious image would be Divine Mercy. This image creates a version of what I pictured when I prayed. I always picture God as a loving and protective father and this is what Divine Mercy portrays.

Favorite liturgy: My favorite liturgy of the year would be Advent. Advent season is my favorite because it is a time of reflection and gratitude in anticipation of the birth of Christ. I take this time to appreciate the blessing that God has given me throughout my life. This is also the time where my whole family get together and make memories.

Dien Hoang

Parish: Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, Jackson

Spouse: Honghuong Nguyen

Hometown: Saigon, Vietnam

Favorite Scripture passage: The Parable of the Lost Son because God created humans in his image and he also gave them reason and freedom to live according to his will. Freedom is a priceless gift that God has given so that human they are free to be faithful to God or to betray him. God always respects human freedom. It was because humans had the right to freedom that he sinned against God. But God is rich in mercy and he still loves people when they are still in sin. God patiently waits, invites and creates all conditions for them to return to live in his grace.

Dien Hoang

Favorite saint: St. Anthony – Because of his charity, he always helps the poor and especially helps those who have lost things to find what they have lost.
Favorite religious image: My favorite is the Crucifix because when I look at it, I see how dialogue with God is vertical. I share all my faiths, failing and successes with God. Jesus stretched out his arms on the crossbar just as he looks at me to bring the Good News to everyone through my daily lives and my loving sacrifices. The horizontal communion shows that I love Jesus Christ by making sacrifices for others as Jesus has sacrificed for me.

Favorite liturgy: My favorite liturgy of the year is Holy Thursday (the Last Supper of Jesus Christ).
In the evening liturgy of Holy Thursday, the church celebrates the Eucharist instituted by Jesus after the last supper with the Apostles in the Upper Room, in remembrance for all eternity to his real presence among us. This is the last Mass to be celebrated before the Easter Vigil of Holy Saturday. After Mass this evening, the altar cloths are stripped off, the candlesticks and crosses are removed, flowers are no longer displayed to announce the date of the church’s great funeral and also imply that the church celebrates no more until the day of the resurrection of Christ.

Did you come across something you learned in your formation that you did not expect?
Serving without forgetting myself, no matter how great would be in vain.

What are you most looking forward to doing?
Visiting the sick, helping the poor and bringing man back to human dignity.

Deacon’s wives questions:

Name: Honghuong T Nguyen

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

I am glad that my husband has begun to enter the path of serving God’s people through the church.

How has the preparation deepened your spirituality?

Pray rosary every day and night before bed. I always recording what did I do in the day to see that what did do good and bad.  I ask God forgive me what I did bad and continue to do good next day.

Favorite Scripture passage: My favorite Scripture is Matthew 11,29 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” because I would like remind myself to control my ego.

Favorite saint: My favorite saint is St. Therese of the Child Jesus because she showed me the easy way to holiness through the little things that I do every day.

Favorite religious image: My favorite religious image is Heart of Jesus + Immaculate Heart of Mary because the hearts of God and Mother represent his love for us.

Favorite liturgy: My favorite liturgy of the year is Easter Mass because I know that if I live ̣by God’s will then when I die I will be resurrected with him.

Tony Schmidt

Parish: St. Paul, Flowood

Spouse: Karen Schmidt

Hometown: Gluckstadt and have lived in Brandon for the last 30 years.

Favorite Scripture passage: Romans 14:7-9 – I’m fond of this passage because it’s a reminder of our true purpose in life which is to be responsible to the Lord.

Favorite saint: St. Matthias – Matthias was chosen to replace Judas and his selection process was accomplished by casting lots after the Apostles prayed. The concepts associated with Matthias that make him so fond is that it is written that he was chosen not because he was worthy, but because he would become worthy. We should all work tirelessly to become more worthy of God’s love for each one of our souls.

Tony Schmidt

Secondly, Matthias was my paternal grandfather’s name. I owe my Catholic origins to him and my paternal grandmother. They were one of the five founding families of Gluckstadt and have a wonderful history with the Diocese of Jackson. I am proud to continue the Catholic faith in my life and life as a deacon.

Favorite religious image or devotion: I’ve always been intrigued by the story of the return of the prodigal son. Rembrandt’s painting, “Prodigal Son,” has multiple interesting aspects within the painted image to inspire repentance and forgiveness. At some point in our lives, we will have played all the characters in the story.

Favorite liturgy: Holy Thursday is my favorite liturgy. Obviously, Jesus serves as the one to emulate in all aspects of our lives, but Holy Thursday holds significance. As a deacon, I am here to serve and not be served and what more humbling example to attempt to emulate than that of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles.

Did you come across something you learned in your formation that you did not expect?
The formation process and the length of time to complete it are lengthy for a multitude of reasons; however, I entered formation wanting to be taught what it was that I needed to know as a deacon. I really wanted the formation process to be catechetical; however, for the formation process to form a deacon fully and properly, it requires one to absorb the academic knowledge and, most importantly, allow that information to transform oneself in the four main areas of formation — spiritual, human, pastoral and academic. Being in a personal and authentic relationship with others is how I can best let the face of God shine. The diaconate is less about me and more about me not getting in the way of God as he uses me to continue to build this church.

Vocation story: As an adult, I have been active in my parish in various areas. Service to others is a natural part of my being and has served me well as a registered nurse. When I reached my late 40’s, I began to plan for retirement and, oddly, the issue of finances was not my main area of concern. I was really struggling to formulate how my life was going to be spent once I was no longer on the 9 to 5 work routine.

My pastor, Father Gerry Hurley, called me one day and asked if I would consider the diaconate. My wife and I discussed and prayed about it and felt that it was an idea worth exploring. I can honestly say that pursuing the diaconate was a decision that received the most discernment out of all the decisions in my lifetime. I am ever confident that the diaconate is where God wants me. There have been plenty of struggles, doubts and fears along the formation journey leading up to ordination. However, ordination is not the supreme goal of the formation journey. Frankly, the journey is only beginning as I and my brother deacons, go into the world to serve.

What are you most looking forward to doing?
I am looking forward to transitioning into parish life and what other duties the Bishop assigns. I like knowing the people in my parish and hope that I will be able to know a larger segment of the parish via participation within the ministries of the parish. I also look forward to visiting with the sick. Hospice care holds a special place in my heart and I hope to be able to assist in the spiritual and pastoral care of the dying and their families.

Children: Houston Schmidt, 26; Parker Schmidt, 24; and three four-legged Jack Russell Terrier daughters – Butterbean, 16; Stella, 6; and Izzy, 5.

Deacon’s wives questions:

Name: Karen Schmidt

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

I was supportive of Tony but had many questions. He tends to analyze situations, consider multiple angles and is a loving and compassionate soul. I was confident that if he made the decision to pursue the diaconate, it was what God wanted him to do.

How has the preparation deepened your spirituality?

The random discussions that occur in our time together pertaining to current events, the plot of a movie or the dynamics within a family tend to be on a deeper level. I can voice my emotions pertaining to the stressors of human life but can better contemplate what needs to happen so that I can remain true to my faith. Perhaps, we are not all called to be as influential as Mother Theresa, but we are ALL called to love one another.

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

As a married couple with two adult children, we have all learned to be flexible with our schedules. Tony and I both work full time and attempting to balance work life, formation, family commitments can be quite challenging. I think we both appreciate quality over quantity of time.

Favorite Scripture: Philippians 4:13. Internal peace and comfort comes from knowing that all we are and all that we have is because of God.

Favorite saint: I am particularly fond of St. Francis of Assisi. The initial draw was the fondness for nature and animals associated the St. Francis. I also admire Francis’ conversion story and embracing of poverty as it echoes that all we are and have is a gift from God.

Favorite liturgy: Good Friday is such a solemn occasion but is one that I look forward to all year. The remembrance of Jesus’ crucifixion and death is a stark reminder of the love God has for his people and the obedience of Jesus to do the will of his Father to pay a debt that I could never pay is overwhelming.

Wesley Lindsay

Wesley Lindsay

Parish: Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle

Hometown: Jackson

Can you describe a conversion or deep faith experience? I was born, raised and spent 40 years in the Baptist church. In 2004, I left the Baptist denomination to become an Episcopalian. Almost four years later, I “saw the light” and became Catholic via RCIA.

Favorite Scripture: John 8:32 – God’s own Freedom!

Vocation story: I turned my life over to God more than 40 years ago. He has led me to this wonderful service opportunity, the diaconate!

What are you most looking forward to doing? Helping to advance God’s Kingdom through service to His people.

Se unen en torno al llamado de acompañar a las futuras madres

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Como católicos, estamos en medio de una Novena de nueve días emprendida por la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos en preparación para la gran fiesta de la Visitación el 31 de mayo. Este segundo misterio gozoso del rosario recuerda esa tierna escena cuando María y Isabel, dos de las mujeres embarazadas más conocidas de la historia mundial, se encontraron con un gozo ilimitado en Dios su Salvador. Incluso el “bebé se agitó de alegría en mi vientre”, exclamó Isabel a su prima más joven que había llegado a la puerta de Zacarías e Isabel para ayudarla, que estaba en su sexto mes con el nonato Juan Bautista. Las mujeres ayudando a mujeres, en la preparación para el parto y en los meses posteriores a la salida de la nueva vida del útero a la luz del día, es fundamental para la vida familiar, comunitaria y de la civilización.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

La necesidad de apoyo cariñoso en torno al embarazo y la etapa más temprana de la vida es fundamental para las madres y sus bebés, la vida familiar, las comunidades y, en última instancia, la civilización. Hay muchos en nuestras iglesias y en nuestras comunidades en Mississippi que se unen en torno al llamado de acompañar a las futuras madres y en el tiempo posterior al nacimiento de sus hijos. Solo podemos regocijarnos al ver un apoyo tan amoroso. Para la Iglesia Católica, como todo el mundo sabe, el derecho a la vida es fundamental porque estamos hechos a imagen y semejanza de Dios (Imago Dei). La dignidad de la persona humana tiene sus raíces en esta creencia fundamental.

El mundo entero puede no saber o elegir ignorar que la iglesia se compromete, a tiempo y fuera de tiempo, con el bienestar de la persona humana en cada etapa de la vida. Esto es evidente en nuestras enseñanzas sociales que fomentan el bien común, sirven a los pobres, marginados y vulnerables, defienden la atención médica, patrocinan la educación y apoyan las necesidades básicas de la vida: alimentación, vivienda y vestido, y empleo remunerado. Además, en los últimos años, el cuidado de nuestra casa común, la tierra, se ha vuelto más urgente.

La obra maestra del Papa Francisco, Laudato Si, se regocija en Dios el creador y aborda esta obligación dada por Dios. Cuando sumamos todo, se trata de lo que San Pablo afirma con elocuencia en su carta a los Romanos. “Porque el reino de Dios no es cuestión de comer o beber determinadas cosas, sino de vivir en justicia, paz y alegría por medio del Espíritu Santo. (14:7)

Ahora volvamos a la Visitación y al don de la vida no nacida que abrió esta columna. La decisión de la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos sobre Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization es inminente y la posibilidad de anular Roe v. Wade está enviando ondas de choque por todo el país, desde la Casa Blanca hasta todos los puntos de la brújula.

No hay duda de que este es un momento histórico para nuestra nación. La pasión que rodea este tema de la vida arde no menos intensamente que hace casi 50 años cuando Roe v. Wade se convirtió en ley del país en 1973. Ha habido una sombra que se arrastra desde entonces porque en el centro de nuestra conciencia colectiva hay una conciencia torturada que es incapaz de reconciliar una imagen propia de bondad inherente con la sangre de los inocentes. Pero, ya sea que Roe v Wade sea anulado o revertido, los abortos no cesarán, como sabemos. La responsabilidad política volverá a las legislaturas de los 50 estados para promulgar leyes en el futuro y, como ya hemos experimentado, estas leyes variarán mucho.

Al igual que los incendios que envuelven a nuestros estados del oeste, habrá conflagraciones generalizadas que arderán en las fallas de nuestra sociedad fracturada. La responsabilidad personal es otra dimensión, el terreno de la conciencia y la conversión, que desafía a cada individuo a salvaguardar el don de la sexualidad sabiendo que hay libertad a través de las fronteras, a apreciar el don de la vida, la propia y la de los vulnerables entre nosotros y a darse cuenta de que la violencia contra los no nacidos está en la raíz de la violencia que agita a nuestra nación y al mundo.

¿Qué puede hacer una persona o una iglesia?

“Esta luz brilla en las tinieblas, y las tinieblas no han podido apagarla.” (Juan 1:5) es la promesa de que nuestro trabajo con Dios siempre importará. Orar, servir, empoderar y abogar son siempre relevantes. El Papa Francisco fomenta el encuentro con los demás y el acompañamiento y un proyecto reciente digno de elogio en todas las diócesis católicas como “Caminando con las mamás necesitadas.”

Cualquiera que sea el fallo de Roe v Wade, la iglesia, en connivencia con otras redes, está redoblando sus esfuerzos para acompañar a las madres, sus bebés antes de nacer y sus niños en las primeras etapas de desarrollo para que ellos y nosotros, como Mary y Isabel, podamos regocijarnos en el regalo de vida y en Dios nuestro Salvador.

Papa: Países deben hacer más para que la migración sea segura y legal

Por Cindy Wooden

CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) — Continuando con el enfoque en la atención de migrantes y refugiados, el papa Francisco instó a una organización de la ONU a hacer más para convencer a las naciones de que abran vías seguras y legales para la migración y regularizar a las personas que han ingresado a países sin documentos adecuados.

En un mensaje enviado el 29 de noviembre a la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones, el papa Francisco dijo: “Existe una necesidad urgente de encontrar formas dignas de salir de situaciones irregulares”.

“La desesperación y la esperanza siempre prevalecen sobre las políticas restrictivas”, dijo, por lo que la migración continuará sin importar lo que hagan los países. “Cuantas más rutas legales existan, menos probable es que los migrantes se vean arrastrados a las redes criminales de los traficantes de personas o a la explotación y el abuso en contravención de la ley”.

El mensaje del papa fue leído por el cardenal Pietro Parolin, secretario de Estado del Vaticano, en una reunión para conmemorar el 70 aniversario de la agencia de la ONU. En 2011, el papa retirado Benedicto XVI decidió que la Santa Sede se convertiría en miembro de la organización.

Si bien insistir en la creencia de la dignidad humana significa que los migrantes deben ser tratados como individuos y no como un “fenómeno”, el papa Francisco también sugirió las políticas necesarias para ayudar tanto a las personas en movimiento como a los países donde buscan una vida mejor.

“Los migrantes hacen visible el vínculo que une a toda la familia humana, la riqueza de las culturas y el recurso para los intercambios de desarrollo y las redes comerciales”, dijo, pero eso siempre depende de la integración de los recién llegados.

“La integración implica un proceso bidireccional, basado en el conocimiento mutuo, la apertura mutua, el respeto a las leyes y la cultura de los países anfitriones con un verdadero espíritu de encuentro y enriquecimiento mutuo”, dijo.

Mantener a las familias migrantes intactas o ayudar a reunir a las familias es esencial, ya que las familias son “un componente esencial de las comunidades en nuestro mundo globalizado”, dijo. Lamentablemente, “en demasiados países a los trabajadores migrantes se les niegan los beneficios y la estabilidad de la vida familiar como resultado de impedimentos legales. El vacío humano que se deja cuando un padre o una madre emigran solos es un duro recordatorio del abrumador dilema de verse obligados a elegir entre emigrar solo para alimentar a la familia o disfrutar del derecho fundamental a permanecer en el país de origen con dignidad”.

Y dijo que en vez de simplemente quejarse de los flujos migratorios, “la comunidad internacional debe abordar urgentemente las condiciones que dan lugar a la migración irregular” (pobreza, conflicto, discriminación, cambio climático) para que la migración sea un bien, una decisión informada y no una necesidad desesperada.

“En última instancia”, dijo el papa Francisco, “la migración no es solo una historia de migrantes, sino de desigualdades, desesperación, degradación ambiental, cambio climático” pero también de “sueños, valor, estudios en el extranjero, reunificación familiar, nuevas oportunidades, seguridad y protección, y trabajo duro pero digno”.

Bishop to lift dispensation from obligation to attend Mass, diocese issues modified directives

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – After careful study and consultation with the clergy, Bishop Joseph Kopacz will lift the general dispensation from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass, effective on the Solemnity of the Feast of Corpus Christi beginning with the vigil Mass on Saturday, June 5, 2021.
In a letter released on May 20 by the diocese, Bishop Kopacz states, “The Sunday obligation will be restored on this great feast when we can satisfy our hunger for the Bread of Life, in Word and Sacrament with the reception of Holy Communion.”
Bishop Kopacz also reminds the faithful in his letter to keep in mind that the church always dispenses those confronting serious health concerns. “Therefore, someone can validly make the decision to attend Mass during the week, if able, and to participate in the Mass on the Lord’s Day through live streaming,”
In addition to lifting the general dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation, the diocese modified their protocols during the pandemic. The directives, which represents a combination of previously released protocols, detail how parishes can move forward towards more normal operations, taking a gradual phased approach, with a watchful eye on the developments and guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Mississippi State Department of Health.
For Masses, social distancing will be at 3 feet and parishes may use every pew, deciding how to stagger seating to maintain social distancing.
Also, masks are no longer required at Mass but encouraged for those who are not vaccinated and for children and youth under the age of 16. However, priests and eucharistic ministers are required to wear masks when distributing Holy Communion.
With the changes, some things remain the same. Holy Communion is still encouraged to be received in the hand and hand sanitizer should still be used by parishioners upon entrance to the church.
The updated protocols also include directives on meetings, gatherings, as well as youth activities and Vacation Bible School.
Pastors and their pastoral staff are responsible for the safe and prudent execution of the directives, recognizing that every parish has unique circumstances. The goal is to continue to provide a safe place for worship while maintaining a level of confidence for all the people of God.
On May 13, the CDC eased the mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and most indoor settings. The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
Father Lincoln Dall, vicar general for the diocese, stated at the end of the directives, “We want to thank all of you for your efforts in keeping our parishioners safe during the pandemic. We acknowledge that all of us are very weary of dealing with the pandemic. … However, we acknowledge that this is still is not the time to let our guard down completely. We will continue to monitor the situation and will issue modified guidelines when the reality of the pandemic changes.”
To view the letter from Bishop Kopacz lifting the dispensation and a full list of updated protocols, visit

The Diaconate – Are you called?

By Deacon John McGregor
JACKSON – Have you ever thought or felt that God was calling you to greater service in the Catholic Church? Are you drawn to know more about your Catholic faith and to enter more deeply into a life of prayer and intimacy with Christ? If so, these could be indications that you are being called to the Permanent Diaconate. The Permanent Diaconate, restored by a Motu Proprio following Vatican II, is a ministry of service that is open to married and single men. In the words of St. Pope John Paul II, the deacon’s ministry “is the church’s service sacramentalized.”

Deacons are ordained to the Ministry of Service in three areas: word, sacrament and charity. As a servant to the word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, instruct the faithful and evangelize by word and deed, as did the great deacons St. Stephen and St. Francis. As a servant of the sacramental life of the church, deacons preside at baptisms, assist at the Eucharist, bring the Eucharist to the sick and suffering, witness marriages, bury the dead, and preside at Benediction. As a servant of charity, like the great deacon St. Lawrence, deacons report the needs of the community to the church and bring support and assistance to those in need. The deacon is called to be the “Icon of Christ the Servant” living out the life of charity for the people of God and inviting everyone to help feed the hungry, visit the sick and care for one another in our brokenness.

Because deacons have secular jobs and many are married with families, they are familiar with the daily stresses of life. By living and working in the secular world, the deacon seeks to model, in his person, the integration of what one believes and how one lives.

If you think you may be called to the permanent diaconate, the Diocese of Jackson is offering a series of five inquiry meetings via Zoom. Below are the dates and the topic for each of the inquiry meetings.

For Zoom meeting invitations and additional information, please contact:
Deacon John McGregor, D.Min.
Director of the Permanent Diaconate