Student life at Catholic schools
Student life at Catholic schools
By Joanna Puddister King
VICKSBURG – The annual Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference (DCYC) at the Vicksburg Convention Center was back this year after a hiatus due to COVID. Held from Feb. 18-20, the conference brought together teens from around the diocese for a weekend celebration with the theme “Encounter.”
Diocesan coordinator for the Office of Youth Ministry, Abbey Schuhmann said, “It has been two years since we were last able to gather as a diocese to celebrate our Catholic faith as one large community. It was our great hope that DCYC 2022 was a time to celebrate and encounter each other but more importantly to encounter Jesus Christ through the gift of our Catholic faith.”
Youth were able to do just that with keynote presenter and recording artist Joe Melendrez, described as one of America’s most exciting Catholic performers. Melendrez got his start performing on MTV at age 15 and encountered the love of God shortly after. He has since dedicated his life to sharing the Good News and sharing the Gospel in unique ways – like his Catholic hip-hop style.
“Melendrez was a very dynamic and high energy presenter; his talks throughout the weekend were very interactive and powerful,” said Schuhmann. “Being a Catholic hip-hop artist, his music provided for very upbeat and entertaining sessions of worship that got all participants, young and old, on their feet and moving to the beat.”
On Saturday of the conference, diocesan vocations director, Father Nick Adam and Sister Kelly Moline, OP, a Dominican Sister of Springfield, Illinois and chaplain at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson, along with diocesan seminarians led a session on discernment on Saturday afternoon. They challenged each participant to continue to seek God’s will in their life and to continue to be open to His call, said Schuhmann.
Other activities during the “Encounter” weekend included small group sessions, games, Mass, Reconciliation, Adoration and a concert with Melendrez on Saturday evening. The weekend concluded with Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz and the presentation of the Bishop Chanche Youth Service Awards to six youth from around the diocese.
This was the fourth year that the conference was held in Vicksburg. Groups from twelve parishes representing five of the six deaneries were in attendance this year. Schuhmann says that plans are already underway for the 2023 conference and invites youth from around the diocese to encounter Christ.
For more information about events sponsored by the Office of Youth Ministry please contact coordinator, Abbey Schuhmann. 601-949-6934 or Abbey.Schuhmann@jacksondiocese.org.
JACKSON – This year, Bishop Joseph Kopacz and the Office of Youth Ministry awarded seven young people the Bishop Chanche youth service award. Six were presented their award at DCYC at the Vicksburg Convention Center on Sunday, Feb. 20. Award recipient, Owen Wolf was a part of the Bishop Chanche award presentation with adult recipients, as his parents Michael and Stacy Wolf were also awarded for their service to the church.
The brief descriptions on these pages come from the Bishop Chanche nomination forms and offer a glimpse into the young men and women who serve the church today.
When Bishop John Joseph Chanche arrived in the newly formed Diocese of Natchez in May of 1841, there were no Catholic Churches, only a couple of missionary priests, and his flock was far flung. He rose to the challenge and laid the foundation for the Diocese of Jackson. The diocese honors his legacy and thanks those who continue to build on his foundation with the Bishop Chanche medal for service.
OWEN Wolf – St. Jude, Pearl
Owen is dedicated and faithful to the parish and to his convictions. During the pandemic Owen showed great leadership and dedication of service to the parish by helping to transition a trailer into an altar so we could have drive in Mass. He served as usher and traffic director at every Saturday evening drive in service from May thru November of 2020 and still serves today whenever he is needed. The qualities that best describe Owen are humble, trustworthy, honest, a gentle leader and steadfast in his faith. – Father Lincoln Dall
Anna Harvey – St. Alphonsus, McComb
Anna is a great witness at our youth Mass, always willing to lector. She uses her gifts to glorify God and never to glorify herself. She often wins games and displays great humility. She has discussions with at least one non-Catholic friend about the Catholic faith and desires to share the best she can.
Anna has been incredibly generous with her time in serving our parish. She has participated in service days, managed games for Easter and Halloween, led music for VBS, played piano for two Masses each month, and lectored often. She has modeled great kindness toward the youth at our parish events, helping the little ones to feel comfortable through her activities. Anna is patient, she listens attentively and strives for excellence in all that she undertakes. – Father Suresh Thirumalareddy
Claire Plaisance – St. James, Magnolia
Claire is consistent, dedicated and charitable. These virtues are demonstrated by her in a unique way, and I think her family has instilled these in her very well.
Claire works very hard, not only for her family, but for the parish. She arrived to a service day and was the only teen with a few chaperones who worked to clean an elderly parishioner’s yard. She is generous with her time, and I know would be willing to serve if called upon. Claire has a spirit of courage; I feel she would be willing to stand up for what’s right in the face of adversity. – Father Suresh Thirumalareddy
Avery Greyson Calvert – St. Joseph , Gluckstadt
Avery moved to Mississippi the summer before his junior year during the pandemic. He joined our very tiny virtual youth group at the time and quickly grew into the role of a youth leader. He is committed, outgoing, and shares his faith and talents readily with not only our parish, but his school and his community.
Avery volunteered to be a cantor as soon as Masses began again at our parish in 2020. He is a talented vocalist and we had very few cantors at that time. He is among the favorites these days. He cantors for his school Masses at St. Joseph in Madison as well. He joined our youth leadership team at the parish, which meets every Wednesday for training and Sundays for Youth Ministry. Avery has given talks to our Confirmation classes, helped lead retreats and is a member of the Jr. Core Team for LifeTeen. – Pam Minninger, LEM
Austin Dungan – St. Patrick, Meridian
Austin has such a peaceful demeanor. His kindness is genuine and earnest. He has a heart for the faith. His love for his parish family is evident in his very presence and he is such a delight to see on Sunday mornings when he is ushering – no words needed because he greets with a smile every time.
It is evident that Austin does not do what he does for praise or recognition. Everything he does, he does it quietly and almost as if in prayer. He is respectful with a confident “Yes, Sir” or “Yes, Ma’am” and a pleasant “Good Morning” when answering or speaking to any parishioner. He is mindful to not overlook anyone that walks into the church, he is so gracious with a smile. Austin is a natural leader, and his calm and gentle demeanor is infectious. His respect for the Blessed Sacrament and when he approaches the altar does not go unnoticed either. – Father Augustine Palimattam
Frank Joseph Serio – St. Joseph, Greenville
Frank is witty and kindhearted. His dynamic ability to be available for the school and parish, always, whether serving in the Mass, volunteering to help an elderly person or encouraging one of his peers, he is open to the needs of others and available to serve how the Holy Spirit leads. He is altar server every week, Eucharistic minister, leads Middle School small group, encourages his younger peers, friend to the elderly – he even led a service project for his senior class to decorate a widowed parishioner’s home for Christmas.
He serves at St. Vincent de Paul whether it be helping on a Saturday with maintenance or over the summer/spring/holiday breaks to carry items to the vehicle for clients. He also organized the can food drive at his high school that collected and delivered over 3,000 cans for St. Vincent. And what’s so special is that this kid doesn’t realize all that he is: charismatic, thoughtful, faithful, honorable, compassionate for others, spirit filled and joyful. – Monsignor Elvin Sunds
Olivia Ann Hanby – St. James, Tupelo
Olivia’s heart to serve, is never ending. No matter, what she just did, she is going to be there again, for the next thing. This is not just at church; it applies to all areas of her life.
Olivia currently serves as a faith formation teacher on Sunday mornings, as a member of the youth choir and often as a lector at Mass. Recently, she served others through working Habitat for Humanity and she has served with Catholic Heart Work Camp for three years. She has served at school for Fellowship of Christian Athletes for three years. Additionally, Olivia has served as a leader for Vacation Bible School for all of her high school career. Currently, she serves as a Math tutor and as a LifeTeen Leader as a Senior. – Father Tim Murphy
COLUMBUS – Annunciation
HOLLY SPRINGS – Holy Family
MERIDIAN – St. Patrick
MADISON – St. Joseph
GREENWOOD – St. Joseph
JACKSON – St. Richard
CLARKSDALE – St. Elizabeth