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)

Vardaman summer camp offers variety of experiences

VARDAMAN – The Catholic Charities Northeast Office ended its three-week summer program for 40 students from kindergarten through seventh grade with a big celebration Thursday, July 26. The center partnered with local businesses to offer classes in art, gardening, civic involvement and culture. Bancorp South and Topashaw Farms both donated to the program. In photo above, Father Tim Murphy learns about the flowers the children have planted. (Photos by John Lundardini)

VARDAMAN – The Catholic Charities Northeast Office ended its three-week summer program for 40 students from kindergarten through seventh grade with a big celebration Thursday, July 26. The center partnered with local businesses to offer classes in art, gardening, civic involvement and culture. Bancorp South and Topashaw Farms both donated to the program. In photo above, Father Tim Murphy learns about the flowers the children have planted. (Photos by John Lundardini)

Students, supplies, teachers blessed for new year

JACKSON – Above, backpacks lined up in front of the altar at Christ the King Parish await their turn to be blessed Sunday, Aug. 5. Ecclesial Minister Deacon Denzil Lobo blessed the children, students, teachers and all those who worked with schools. All of them also received a pencil that said “I am a child of God” and a pin badge for their backpacks that said “I Love J.C.” Many of the students attend Sister Thea Bowman School, which is attached to the parish. (Photos by Gina Lobo)










VICKSBURG –At left, Father Tom Lalor extends a blessing to the children of his parish, St. Paul, on Sunday, August 5, at the 10:30 a.m. Mass. Many of these children attend Vicksburg Catholic School, which started classes Tuesday, August 7. (Photo by Allyson Johnston)

PEARL – At right, Father Lincoln Dall snaps a photo of backpacks waiting to be blessed at St. Jude Parish while the director of religious education, Stacy Wolf, begins the blessing service. (Photo by Rhonda Bowden)

Youth ministers ‘recharge’ with day-long workshop

By Maureen Smith
MADISON – On Saturday, July 28, more than two dozen youth minister representing four deaneries and 10 parishes gathered at Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish for a day-long event. The theme was “Reflect, Renew, Recharge” as an effort to offer support, encouragement, time for personal reflection, prayer and to share best practices.
The agenda included Youth Culture/GenZ, study from St. Mary’s Press called “Going Going Gone,” the Pre-Synodal Document on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment,” Creating a Vision in Ministry, Spirituality of a Youth Leader and best practices for youth ministry. The presentation involved prayer, discussion, activities, multimedia, and resources for youth ministers to take home to their parishes. Abbey Schuhmann, coordinator for youth ministry for the diocese, coordinated the day, compiled the materials and lead the workshop.
“We’ve added new diocesan events for youth over the past couple of years and I knew we needed to include something to offer support specifically for youth ministers which is what sparked the birth of this event. It was purposely planned for this time of year to “recharge” youth ministers before the start of a new ministry year which often coincides with the start of a new school year,” said Schuhmann.

MADISON – (l- r) Father Jason Johnston, Mary Catherine George, Amy Lipovetsky and Melissa Smalley, all from Madison, St. Francis of Assisi Parish attend the youth ministry event. (Photos by Abbey Schuhmann)

MADISON – (l-r) Hunter Yentzen, Mary Katherine Yentzen, Melinda Weisenberger, all from Clinton Holy Savior; Hunter Pugh of Cleveland Our Lady of Victories; Edgar Meyer of Gluckstadt St. Joseph and Stephen Martinolich of Clinton, Holy Savior Parishes share their experience at the youth ministry gathering.

MADISON – (l-r) Trish Ballard (Clinton Holy Savior), Alyssa Ingram, Terri Hill, Jamie Cole (Greenville St. Joseph)

Hundreds of students “Rescued by Jesus” at Vacation Bible School

CLEVELAND – Our Lady of Victories used the “Shipwrecked and Rescued by Jesus” theme for their Vacation Bible School June 24-28 from 6-8 p.m. (Photos by Jenifer Jenkins)

CORINTH – St. James Parish hosted a Vacation Bible School during the last week of June. (Photos by Luis Rosales)


MADISON – Music played a big part in the St. Francis of Assisi Vacation Bible school, also using the “Shipwrecked and Rescued by Jesus” theme June 18-22. Every morning, students sang the theme song, “Never Let Go” to prepare for the parents’ program on the last day. Students got to make their own treasure chests, enjoyed beach-themed snacks and learned about Jesus’ love for them. (Photos by Eileen Dibble)


JACKSON – Boy Scout Troop 30 from Jackson St. Richard Parish presented flag at St. Dominic Hospital on Flag Day, Thursday, June 14. The troop also led a flad retirement ceremony at the St. Richard Fourth of July Celebration on Sunday, July 1, accepting flags from the community that needed to be disposed of respectfully. (Photo by Melisa Munoz)

St Richard Boy Scouts present flag at St. Dominic June 14

Synod working document: Young Catholics need church that listens to them

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Young Catholics are looking for a church that listens to their concerns, accompanies them in discerning their vocations and helps them confront the challenges they face, said a working document for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people.
The synod’s “instrumentum laboris” (working document), published by the Vatican June 19, stated that young people “want to see a church that shares their situations of life in the light of Gospel rather than by preaching.”
Quoting a presynod gathering of young people who met at the Vatican March 19-25, the working document said young Catholics “want an authentic church. With this, we would like to express, particularly to the church hierarchy, our request for a transparent, welcoming, honest, attractive, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community.”
The working document is based mainly on comments solicited in a questionnaire last June from national bishops’ conferences around the world as well as the final document of the presynod gathering.
An estimated 305 young adults participated in the weeklong presynod meeting, which allowed practicing Catholics and others to provide input for Pope Francis and the world’s bishops, who will meet at the synod in October to discuss “young people, faith and vocational discernment.” Some 15,000 young people also participated in the presynod process through Facebook groups online.
The meeting, the working document said, “highlighted the potential that younger generations represent” as well as their “hopes and desires.”
“Young people are great seekers of meaning, and everything that is in harmony with their search to give value to their lives arouses their attention and motivates their commitment,” it said.
Presenting the “instrumentum laboris” to journalists at a press briefing June 19, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the synod, said the synod’s goal is that young Catholics may find “the beauty of life, beginning from the happy relationship with the God of the covenant and of love” in a world that often robs them of their “affections, bonds and prospective of life.”
“The synod dedicated to young people gives us the opportunity to rediscover the hope of a good life, the dream of a pastoral renewal, the desire for community and passion for education,” he said.
Divided into three parts, the working document outlines the church’s need to listen to young people, to help guide them in the faith and in discerning their vocational calling, and to identify pastoral and missionary paths to be able to accompany them.
The responses collected by bishops’ conferences around the world cited a need for ways to help young men and women confront the challenges of cultural changes that sometimes disregard traditions and spirituality.

Pope Francis prepares to take a photo with young people at a presynod gathering of youth delegates in Rome March 19. The Vatican has released the working document for the October Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The working document also states that while the church highlights the importance of the body, affection and sexuality, many young Catholic men and women “do not follow the directions of the sexual morality of the church.”
“Although no bishops’ conferences offer solutions or indications, many (conferences) believe the issue of sexuality should be discussed more openly and without judgment,” it said.
Young people attending the presynod meeting said issues such as contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and marriage are often debated both by young Catholics and non-Catholics.
The working document also highlighted the need to reaffirm church teaching on the body and sexuality at a time when biomedical advancements have pushed a more “technocratic approach to the body,” citing examples such as egg donation and surrogacy.
“Moreover, precocious sexuality, sexual promiscuity, digital pornography, the exhibition of one’s own body online and sexual tourism risk disfiguring the beauty and depth of emotional and sexual life,” the “instrumentum laboris” said.
Church leaders, it said, must “speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, which young people are already freely discussing without taboo.”
Also, “LGBT youths, through various contributions received by the secretariat of the synod, want to benefit from a greater closeness and experience greater care from the church,” while some bishops’ conferences are asking what they can recommend to young people who enter into a homosexual relationship, but want to be closer to the church, the document said.
Regarding the use of the initials “LGBT” in a major church document, Cardinal Baldisseri told journalists that it was a term used in one of the documents given by the bishops’ conferences “and we quoted them.”
“We are open. We don’t want the synod to be closed in itself,” Cardinal Baldisseri said. “And in the church, there are many areas, there is freedom for people to express themselves – on the right, left, center, north and south – this is all possible. That is why we are willing to listen to people with different opinions.”
The working document also said young Catholics would like more initiatives that allow further dialogue with nonbelievers and the secular world to help them integrate their faith in their dealings with others.
Young men and women from primarily secularized areas “ask nothing from the church” and “expressly asked to be left in peace, because they feel its presence as annoying and even irritating.” These feelings, the document stated, do not come from contempt but rather due to “serious and respectable reasons.”
Among the reasons are the church’s sexual and economic scandals, priests who do not know how to engage with young people, and the way the church justifies its doctrinal and ethical positions to modern society.
Young men and women are also hoping the church can help them “find a simple and clear understanding of the meaning of vocation,” which is often misinterpreted as referring only to priesthood and consecrated life.
While the church has confirmed that marriage is also a vocation, the document confirms the need for “a youth vocational ministry capable of being meaningful for all young people.”
“Called to holiness and anointed by the spirit, the Christian learns to grasp all the choices in existence in a vocational perspective, especially the central one of the state of life as well as those of a professional nature,” it said.
“For this reason, some bishops’ conferences hope that the synod will find ways to help all Christians rediscover the link between profession and vocation in all its fruitfulness … and in view of the professional orientation of young people with a vocational perspective,” the document said.

Camp Friendship builds Catholic spirit

AMORY – Ryan Stoer, right, a seminarian for the Diocese of Jackson, chats with a camper at Camp Friendship, a summer camp for Catholic youth in Mississippi started by the Glenmary Missioners many years ago. For the last couple of years, dioscean seminarians have spent part of their summer helping at the camp. The parishioners from Aberdeen St. Francis go Wednesday while camp is in session and prepare a traditional fried chicken dinner for the campers, counselors and staff. The counselors are from all over the nation including Chicago, New York, D. C., even Rhode Island. (Photos by Rhonda Bowden)