Youth news

Sacred Heart students complete renovation Service Project

By Laura Grisham
SOUTHAVEN – During the first week of June, Sacred Heart Southern Missions (SHSM) was blessed to welcome The Catholic Service Initiative (CSI) for Young Men. Three young men from the six parishes in North Mississippi served by the priests of the Sacred Heart arrived Sunday evening along with their chaperones (and parish DREs), Vickie Stirek and Donna Williamson, to assist on a number of projects. The youth were Michael Marking from Hernando Holy Spirit parish, Alexander Najera and Alex Castro from Southaven Christ the King parish.
Their first stop was at the home of Willie and Thomas. The elderly couple has been on the SHSM project list for a while, but Willie says it was worth the wait. The bathroom at the couple’s home had several issues, starting with a crack in their bathtub. Thankfully this was remedied by a volunteer team earlier this spring.
Next on the agenda was the rotten flooring and dilapidated vanity. Alexander Najera, Michael Marking and Alex Castro jumped in, under the leadership of jobsite foreman Paul Smith, to install a new sink and vanity and lay a new tile floor in place of the peeling linoleum.
Moving just a few miles down the road, the young men made quick work of some minor repairs to a wheelchair ramp for Joy. Next on the list, Alexander, Michael and Alex widened the front door of Robert’s mobile home. Robert can now guide his wheelchair in and out without difficulty.
But it was not all work and no play for the retreat participants. Father Quang Nguyen, SCJ, vice provincial superior and director of the province vocation office, spoke to the teens about vocation choices on their first evening.
A Wednesday evening respite of swimming rejuvenated the young men for the week’s work. The experience for them culminated at the Garden Café on Thursday, where the guys cooked, served and cleaned up after the evening meal in Holly Springs.
Many people have signed up to spend time in the Mississippi Delta with Sacred Heart Southern Missions’ Volunteer Program. By the time this is printed, CSI Young Women from the Sacred Heart parishes and St. John’s from Milwaukee, will be hard at work on home rehab projects and helping with other mission activities. At least nine more volunteer groups are scheduled through the first week of August.

(Laura Grisham is the Public Relations Coordinator for Sacred Heart Southern Missions. Full client names and locations are kept private out of respect.)

Youth news

Blood drive at West Point

WEST POINT – On Wednesday, May 29, the youth group from Immaculate Conception Parish hosted a blood drive in their parish hall. (l-r) Michelle Aguda; Dominic Borgioli, first-time donor and youth group member, and Jack Elliott III, in the background, donate blood. Parishioner Cathy Johnson and Interim CYO advisor Penny Elliott coordinated the project with the young people. Johnson said she worked on similar projects in her previous parish. Prior to donation day, the young people recruited donors and helped spread the word about the event within the community. (Photo courtesy of Cathy Johnson)

St. Patrick youth take on liturgical roles

MERIDIAN – On Saturday, June 15th, Cassandra Klutz led the Choir during the Youth Mass. She picked out and arranged the music, organized the practices and then led the choir during Mass. Pictured are (l-r) Alana Frias, Elena Stroot, Macarena Frias and Cassandra Klutz. Kirstie Graves is playing the piano during the Communion song “Holy Spirit.“
Additionally Noah McCaffrey and Helena Rutledge served as lectors and Vanessa and Diego Espino served as altar servers to complete the youth involvement during the Mass. (Photo by John Harwell)

Vacation Bible School at St. Jude Parish

PEARL – St. Jude pastor Father Lincoln Dall celebrated a childrens’ Mass during the parish Vacation Bible School in June, in photos above, attendees enjoyed snow cones after some fun outdoor and indoor activities. (Photos by Rhonda Bowden and Stacy Wolf)

Power of prayer helps spell teen victory

Christopher Serrao, a 13-year-old parishioner from Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Whitehouse Station, N.J., holds the trophy after being named the co-champion of the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee held at National Harbor, Md., May 30, 2019. (CNS photo/courtesy Dominic Serrao)

By Christina Leslie
METUCHEN, N.J. (CNS) – Though 13-year-old Christopher Serrao studied long, complicated and obscure words for hours on end to win a prestigious spelling bee, the most important word in his arsenal had just five letters: F-A-I-T-H.
Christopher, a resident of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and member of the town’s Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, joined seven other contestants in taking home a trophy and $50,000 grand prize May 30 in the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland.
A seventh-grade student at Readington Middle School, he had been inspired by his older sister, Danielle, to compete in the annual test of knowledge and endurance.
Studying word roots and language patterns two to three hours daily, and longer on weekends, helped enlarge his vocabulary and sharpen his spelling acumen, but Christopher relied upon his faith to get him into the winner’s circle.
“When I was nervous, I said a prayer to God and would hold the cross in my hand. I also wore a rosary around my neck,” Christopher told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen.
Christopher said his pastor, Father Leonard F. A. Rusay, “told the congregation that I was in the contest and had everyone pray for me.”
Christopher is a member of the parish choir and a lector. Danielle is a cantor and sang the national anthem at the spelling bee the day Christopher competed.
Daily 8 a.m. Mass on competition days in nearby St. Columba Church in Oxon Hill, Maryland, also reinforced his faith. “They were really nice,” he said. “The congregation prayed for me. The community was really supportive.”
This is the third time Christopher qualified for the national competition. He finished in 34th place last year. He and the other seven “octo-champions” survived 20 rounds of competition, 12 of them in the evening. He spelled “cernuous,” (which means pendulous or nodding), before being declared one of the eight winners.
With the money he won, Christopher plans to “maybe buy a dog, but save the rest for college.” But the lessons he said he learned throughout the whirlwind experience were just as important: to be calm, how to study and how to deal with the media. Then, he returned to that all-important word: faith.
“My win is a reaffirmation of the power of prayers,” he said. “When the odds were against me, I knew faith in Jesus and prayers would help me overcome any obstacle.”
“We are proud of the effort Christopher put in and the gracious God-loving attitude he has displayed throughout,” said his father, Dominic.
“We didn’t expect him to win, even though we knew he would place well. We truly believe that his feat was a miracle that can only be attributed to God. We believe with God all things are possible and this has reaffirmed our faith.”
“This journey began seven years ago with our daughter, Danielle,” said his mother, Matilda. “There were a lot more downs than ups along the way.
“However, our faith carried us through. This win has strengthened our faith even more and that our God is the one that makes impossible things possible.”

(Leslie is a reporter at The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen.)

Vacation Bible Schools

AMORY St. Helen, Team Jesus, July 14-16, 5 – 7:30 p.m. for grades K-6 in conjunction with First Presbyterian Church at St. Helen. Details: church office (662) 256-8392.
BROOKHAVEN St. Francis, Cathletics, July 21-24, 6-8 p.m. Snack provided. Details: Erin Womack at the church office (601) 833-1799.
CLARKSDALE St. Elizabeth, June 17-21, 8 a.m. – noon for children leaving Pre-3 through fifth grade. Details: church office (662) 624-4301or www.vbspro.events/p/stelizabethclarksdale.com
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, June 17-21, 6-7:30 p.m. Details: Allison Baskin at (901) 409-1038.
JACKSON St. Therese, June 24-28, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. with lunch at noon. Closing Mass Friday, June 28 at 11 a.m. followed by lunch. Details: church office (601) 372-4481.
MERIDIAN Catholic community of St. Joseph and St. Patrick, July 22-25, 5:30 – 7 p.m. for grades K – fifth. Details: (601) 693-1321.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, ROAR! Totally Catholic, July 15-19, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. for Children PreK 3 (potty trained) – fifth grade at the Family Life Center. Must turn in registration form by June 24 to be guaranteed a t-shirt and deadline for turning in application form for attendance is July 9. Details: Melissa Johnson mjohnsonfnp17@gmail.com or the church office (601) 445-5616.
YAZOO CITY St. Mary, Friday, July 19, 5:30 – 7:15 p.m. and Saturday, July 20, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Details: church office (662) 746-1680.

Youth news

Saying goodbye to graduating students

COLUMBUS – Annunciation eighth grade students Luke Clarke and Rhett Shanahan give high fives to the younger students as they exit the school for the last time during the eighth grade sendoff ceremony on May 23rd. During this tradition, the younger students line the walkways to say goodbye to their older counterparts.
St. Vincent DePaul Society representative, Karen Overstreet, presents co-winner, Patrick Doumit with the St. Vincent DePaul award, given each year to a deserving seventh grade student who exemplifies the heart of Jesus in their actions of service both in school and in the community. This year the award was given to both Patrick and Elijah Clarke on May 22.

(Photos by Katie Fenstermacher)

St. Richard school performance

JACKSON – St. Richard’s after-school drama club performed plays they created on Thursday, May 16. At left, (l-r) Elijah Watkins, Maya Olivia, Allie Schuetzle, Rivers Lee, John Brody Fournet, Katherine Curley, Clara Clifford, Lily Frances Garner, Lorin Bass and Thomas O’Beirne sing a closing song.
Below, (l-r) Turner Brown, Christopher Brown, Jake Garrison, Nicole Amy, Lucy Smith, Sophie Bruckner and Davis Hammond take a bow after their ‘game show’ play.
(Photos by Tereza Ma)

Changing out crops in Southaven

SOUTHAVEN – Jonathan Barreto-Lorenzo from Southaven Sacred Heart School, picks okra seeds out of a pod as students get ready to plant a summer garden. Earlier in the day, the students dug up and said goodbye to the winter crop of broccoli. They hope to harvest okra when they return this fall. (photo by Sister Margaret Sue Broker)

Youth news

Students prepare backpack blessings for neighbors

CLARKSDALE – St. Elizabeth students Kimber Wilkinson, Rivers Rico, and Kalyn Matthews with Liz Brewer in the background, pack food and other items into backpacks to be given to those who may go hungry once school lets out for the weekends or summer.
The backpack project is headed up by Liz Brewer, a parishioner of St. Elizabeth and volunteer at the school. (photo by Dawn Spinks)

Students take virtual field trip

VICKSBURG – Vicksburg Catholic School recently completed the first installation of a Virtual Reality Lab. Vicksburg Catholic School is the second school in the state to make this big step forward in technology in education. Seniors Elise Piazza, Mattie Derivaux and Sarah Jane Pierce took the headsets out for a spin during the program introduction. (Photo by Kristi Smith)

Storms offer opportunity for service

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – A group of students from the University of Portland stepped in to help Jackson area residents trying to fight back flood waters on Saturday, May 11. The group is on a regional tour of sites significant to the Civil Rights Movement. They contacted the Diocese of Jackson to see if there were any service projects they could do while they were in town.
Paul Byrne, facilities manager for the diocese, had set up an outdoor project for them which involved painting. When storms rolled in the week before, he thought the students were going to get a day off. “That’s when I heard an announcement on the radio about sand and bags being available at the City of Jackson’s impound lot. I thought that might be a good way for the students to help people right now,” he said.
Twelve students and their two moderators went to the distribution site and filled and loaded sandbags into vehicles for a couple of hours. People facing rising waters could pick them up for their homes and businesses throughout the day. “I was a little worried on Friday, but it all worked out and those students worked hard,” Byrne added.
This is the second year for a group from the Catholic university to take this tour, which includes stops in Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. (Photos by Paul Byrne)

Race for education

By Laura Grisham
The third annual Sacred Heart School Race For Education Day was held Friday, May 10. Students, teachers and parents came together to show their school spirit in this unique fundraiser by running laps around the school in exchange for sponsorship by family and friends. Prizes were given out in each homeroom for most laps run in an hour. DJ Rockin’ Robin once again kept the crowd moving with great music and dance contests. Volunteers made sure that hungry bellies were fed and the Koha Ice Truck provided frosty treats to cool off the runners.
This event continues to be a tremendous success, raising $35,205 so far. Principal Bridget Martin said that the final total would rise, as there continues to be a flood of sponsorship envelopes arriving daily. With the funds raised over the previous two years, the school has been able to replace bleachers in the gym and refurbish the school library. This year monies will fund new technology with the purchase of more Surface Pros and a Surface Pro Cart. (Photos by Laura Grisham)

Youth news

Butterflies released

SOUTHAVEN – Sacred Heart third-graders release butterflies they raised in their classrooms into the courtyard at the school the week after Easter. Students in all grade levels had lessons about resurrection and new life during the Lenten and Easter Seasons. (Photo by Sister Margaret Sue Broker)

Service in the Garden

VICKSBURG – Vicksburg Catholic Schools seventh and tenth-graders spent Wednesday, May 1, helping out a the Vicksburg Community Garden. The project is a collaboration between the city, the Alcorn State Extension Program and Shape Up Mississippi to improve the community and increase access to fresh food. (Photo courtesy of Cristin Matthews)

Volleyball Tournament winners

MADISON – St. Anthony School volleyball teams square off at the end of the season elementary league tournament at St. Joseph High School on Wednesday, April 24. The St. Anthony third-grade team won the younger division while the St. Richard sixth grade team won the older division. Teams from a number of Jackson and Madison schools played in the tournament. (Photo by Abbey Schuhmann)

Oh Mary we crown thee with blossoms today …

MERIDIAN – St. Patrick School first grade students led the annual May Crowning at St. Patrick Church. Pictured from the procession (l-r) are: Olivia Henderson, Cayleigh Reeves, Ava Cayer and Amariah Dunnigan. Other students carried flowers and placed them at Mary’s feet. (Photo by Celeste Saucier)

JACKSON – On Thursday, May 2, Sister Thea Bowman students crowned Mary. Above, fifth-grader Zaniah Purvis (l-r) carried the crown of flowers and sixth-graders Cassie Anderson (kneeling) and RaNyia Ruffin carried bouquets of flowers to present. All are members of the Liturgical Dance group at the school. (Photo by Shae Robinson)

COLUMBUS – Annunication’s older students help their younger counterparts with May crowning. Above, eighth-graders Luke Clarke and Shelby Stafford help pre-k students Ames Borden and Vincent Beck place their flowers in vases. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

Youth

Youth retreat invites contemplation

Musicals brighten spring semester at Schools

Left: COLUMBUS – Annuciation middle school students presented the musical Willy Wonka Jr. on April 4 and 5. Below, the entire cast surrounds Delia Lochala who plays Charlie during the finale number. (Photo by Katie Fensteramacher)

Right: MADISON – At left, students from St. Joseph High School present the Wizard of Oz on Saturday, April 13. There were two casts for the play, allowing more students to play the lead roles for the show, which was presented four times. In this cast, Wyatt Davis plays the Lion, Annalise Rome is Dorothy, Hannah Dear is the Scarecrow, Liam Moorehead is the Wizard and Lake Dodson is the Tin Man. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

St. Richard students ‘Make something beautiful’

St. Jude Palm Sunday get together

PEARL – St. Jude’s youth get together for a fun event on Palm Sunday afternoon Aubrey Lee, Ross Lee, Thomas Paczak, Ashley Lowe, and Jessie Millette string colorful beads remind them to pray during Holy week. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

Cathedral wins third Science Olympiad state title

By Sabrina Robertson
NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School’s Science Olympiad Team recently won its third consecutive state championship, which qualifies the team for a seat in the national competition this summer at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
One of the team’s coaches, Jessie Wallace, said the Science Olympiad is a nationally recognized program that tests students’ skills and knowledge in various scientific fields, including anatomy and physiology, geology, physics, chemistry, herpetology, forensics, thermodynamics and more.
After winning first place for two consecutive state championships in 2017 and 2018, Cathedral students advanced to the national competitions at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Wallace said.
Cathedral’s team has two team captains, Will Vaughan and Samuel Freiberger, both seniors, and 14 members who each participated in different areas of the state competition on March 22 in Hattiesburg and won first-place overall.
“I had to fly a model airplane for as long as it could go around a gym,” Vaughan said. “The plane came in a kit that I had to build from, but I had to modify it to make it fly longer without breaking specific rules.”
Vaughan said he built his plane using balsa wood, carbon fiber and powered it using only a rubber band. In another competition, called ‘Code Busters,’ Vaughan said he had to crack ciphers and codes using different techniques while Freiberger said he competed in various labs and was quizzed on chemical equations and conducted his own experiments.
Other members of the prize-winning team are seniors, Mallory Hinson, Damira McGruder, Cameron Verser and Markayla Fleming; juniors, Alex Dale, Fisher Iseminger, Kirsten Sanguinetti and Faith Anne Brown; sophomores, Ryan Skates, Priya Brown and Lilly Drane; and freshmen, Dean Hunstock, Paxton Junkin and Cate Drane.
The captains said each teammate gave an equal effort while the coaches and parents worked just as hard from the sidelines.
“I think we all work pretty well together, and we all know each other,” Vaughan said.
“Behind the scenes, coach Wallace and all of the parents who stay up with us, sometimes until 2 a.m., just working on stuff. … Parents bring us food and give up a lot of Sunday afternoons.”
“We’ve practiced pretty much every day,” Freiberger said. “None of us left school until 5 p.m. a lot of days — we put in maybe 14 hours a week when you add it all up. … It’s just fun.”
All of the hard work and study paid off, Wallace said, as the students excelled in both the regional competition earlier this year and the state competition last month, where they bested the top 20 teams in the state. The students took home nearly 30 medals altogether, including 10 gold, eight silver and 9 bronze, she said.
“Three consecutive state championships speaks a lot of these students,” Wallace said. “This time of year especially is very busy for them, with sports and term papers due. … For them to be able to stay at school late and devote so much time to this is amazing.”
Though incoming freshmen join Cathedral’s Science Olympiads each year, many of the team’s members are not new to the national competition, Freiberger said, adding he and a few others in his class had been members of the Science Olympiads for four of the five years since Cathedral started a team.
“Some of us have been on the team since our freshman year, and every year we add new people,” he said.
Cathedral students have ranked in the top 60 out of 7,600 teams nationwide for the past two years and aim to do just as well or better for the team’s third trip to nationals on May 31 in New York, Freiberger said.
“Our goal every year has been to improve,” he said. “Our first year we ranked number 58 and last year we were 53. This year we hope to make it in the 40s.”
Wallace said the students are currently fundraising for their next national competition and are asking for help from sponsors to raise approximately $17,000 needed for team members and the coaches to make the trip.
To contribute, Wallace said sponsors should make checks payable to Cathedral School with a notation that the donation is for the Science Olympiad Team. Checks can be mailed or dropped off in the high school office at 701 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. For more information, call 601-493-4468 or email jessie.wallace@cathedralgreenwave.com.

(Reprinted with permission from The Natchez Democrat.)