St. Mary Natchez youth find love of service at home

By Joanna Puddister King
NATCHEZ – In past summers you could find youth from around the country taking part in the annual Catholic Heart WorkCamp, but this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic many youth were sidelined from the service projects that brought them to much needed communities near and far that need help. But the St. Mary Basilica Natchez CYO group did not let it get them down, they found projects in their own hometown to tackle.
Between July 20 and July 31, 2020, groups of CYO members and adult sponsors worked to beautify the outdoor areas of Cathedral School and the yards of six elderly and homebound parishioners as well as help with a local Habitat for Humanity project.
Youth director, Carrie Lambert said, “This felt like it had more of a spiritual impact on the teens than going out of town to a work camp because the youth knew the people they were working for, asked questions about Habitat, and really felt like they had accomplished something and were appreciated when they were done.”

“They feel this way at Catholic Heart as well, but when the smiles looking back at you are from people you know – you’re touched in a different way.”
Bonding is a big part of mission trips, like those taken through Catholic Heart WorkCamp. Last year, the youth spent time in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, working to beautify schools and churches damaged by Category 5 Hurricane Maria in Sept. 2017. After working, the youth enjoyed the beach and the sights of island life.
This year, the youth bonding experience was still special even though work was only completed in their own hometown.
“I loved watching the team work, the leadership and the hard work my teens put into this camp. I am so very proud of what they did and their attitudes while they were doing it.,” said Lambert.
“We at St. Mary are so blessed by the number of adults and parents who volunteer their time and energy to work alongside our teens throughout the year. The overall experience ended up feeling a bit like traveling on the Road to Emmaeus – feeling like we were accompanying one another and finding Christ in what we were doing and He was working there alongside us.”
Going forward the CYO will pair up with the Knights of Columbus for work days during the year.
“The main theme of our youth programs is ‘Faith in Action,’” said Lambert.
“Doing work for people simply because you want to help someone out is a wonderful way to put your ‘faith in action.’”

Youth news

Youth work camp at Cathedral school

NATCHEZ – On Monday and Tuesday, July 20 and 21, a group of CYO members and adult sponsors worked to beautify the Cathedral School flower beds and playground sites for the approaching opening of school.
Thirty-five youth along with nine adults did a fantastic job sprucing up the property. The youth engaged in multiple jobs throughout the week.

NATCHEZ – Jag Gilfoil and Ryan Carney work on the rose bushes in front of Seton Hall at Cathedral school.
Meredith Lessley trims the bushes near the Cathedral school gym.
CYO students pull weeds on the Cathedral elementary school playground.(Photos by Carrie Golden Lambert)

VBS is a treasure in Madison

On July 13, the first day of home Vacation Bible School, Emerson and Harper Schuhmann dig in to their treasure chests of materials for the week. (Photo by Abbey Schuhmann)
Presleigh and Harlee Kate Nassar are showing their Welcome Holy Spirit door hangers and treasure chest snack crafts on the last day of VBS. (Photo courtesy Nassar family)

Volunteers finish up home repair projects

By Laura Grisham
SOUTHAVEN – Sacred Heart students and Frater Hubert Liassidji, SCJ Jonathan Nguyen, Jacob Smith and Frater John Huan Nguyen, SCJ finished up a pre-COVID painting project this week. Volunteers began working on Edna’s home in Holly Springs earlier this year. The pandemic halted volunteer work mid-March. The elderly woman was extremely grateful to have this phase of the repairs complete.

Hello Summer from St. Anthony

MADISON – The fifth and sixth grade team (Amanda Jones, Vicki Moorehead, Cyndie Robertson and Katie Williams) give St. Anthony students a summer sendoff. (Photos by Michele Warnock)
(Below) St. Anthony student, Justina Visgarra and her father, Walter, enjoy the celebration parade that St. Anthony school had to honor sixth grader students.

Youth news

Pomp and pandemics …

HOLY SPRINGS – Cameron Walton rides in the eighth grade graduation parade around Holy Family school on May 15. In celebration, principal Tunia Sangster prepared gift bags for each student and tokens of love from teachers and staff. (Photo by Laura Grisham)

Thank you teachers

MADISON – Second graders show appreciation for their teachers, Mrs. Gail Kraft and Mrs. Beth Burns, in this heartfelt photo collage. (Photo by Kati Loyacono)


Star student

JACKSON – A Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School student with a perfect 36 composite score on the American College Test (ACT), combine scores of 144 and average of 99.50 has been named Mississippi’s Top ALL-STAR Scholar for 2020. John C. Kees is the son of Lara and Chris Kees, parishioners of Cathedral of St. Peter Jackson. John will receive a $24,000 scholarship provided by the Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. Charitable Foundation, Inc. Kees plans to attend college and study Biology.
Kees designated Thomas B. Riesenberger of Jackson as his STAR Teacher. Riesenberger has been teaching for nine years and this is his first time to be named STAR Teacher. (Photo courtesy of Lara Kees)

Parishioners show appreciation for Father Rusty

VICKSBURG – St. Paul Vicksburg held a parade past the church on Tuesday, May 5 to show appreciation for all that Father Rusty has done for the parish virtually in the past several weeks. Organized by Allyson Johnston, the parade was a way for church members to show their appreciation for all the work he has put in to keep them virtually connected during a time of social distancing. (Photo by Mary Margaret Edney)

Students love teachers

MADISON – Third grader, Caroline McCoy ‘chalked’ her driveway to show her love for St. Anthony school teachers. (Photo courtesy of Kati Loyacono)

Teacher appreciation week

FLOWOOD – St. Richard third grader, Elizabeth Jennings cheers for her teacher Shea Luckett during the school’s teacher appreciation week parade. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

Youth news

Christmas visitor

COLUMBUS – Lower elementary students at Annunciation school had a special visitor, The Grinch, during library in December. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

Christmas singing

MERIDIAN – Students from St. Patrick school choir perform Christmas carols to residents of Poplar Springs Nursing home. Front left: Denise Quedado, Alana Frias, Audrey Lee, Myla Locke, Cayden Boomer, Anthony Hopson, Collin Angermann and Tytan Duong. Back left: Matthew Wilson, Serenity Brown, Christian Grace, Noah McCaffrey, Kennedy Frost, Chelsea Allen and teacher, Jill Scott. (Photo by Celeste Saucier)
SOUTHAVEN – Adult and childrens choirs from six area churches gathered to celebrate the season. The school choir, the folklorico dancers from Christ the King, as well as the Spanish, Filipino and Vietnameses choirs performed. At the end of the program, the brass and drum ensemble from Senatobia Community College entertained the crowd. (Photo by Sister Margaret Sue Broker)

Virtual reality

VICKSBURG – Students receive a unique experience with the XR (Extended Reality) Lab at Vicksburg Catholic School. The schools aim is to be the “Campus of the Future.” (Photo by Lindsey Bradley)

A Catholic school tradition – Mass

JACKSON – Father John Bohn gives the Body of Christ to St. Richard student, Clark Bergin during a St. Richard school Mass. (Photo by Meredith McCullough)

Hey – Let’s read together

NATCHEZ – Kindergarten students Natalie McLemore and Ally Stampley enjoy morning reading time at Cathedral school. (Photo by Cara Moody Serio)

Science experiment time

CLARKSDALE– Fifth grader Kalyn Matthews leads Virginia Johnson (PreK-4) and Anna Chris Talley (fifth grade) in her project for Math and Science Family Fun Night at St. Elizabeth school. (Photo by Sarah Cauthen)

GREENVILLE – Mrs. Applewhite’s fourth grade class at St. Joseph school show off their science projects. Pictured left to right: Fletcher McGaugh, Hensley Fortenberry, Jacob Powers, Leonard Murrell and Madison Scrivner. (Photo by Nikki Thompson)

FLOWOOD – Georgia Raine Weeks and Tuc Brendel have a fun time playing with “snow” at St. Paul Early Learning Center. (Photo courtesy of St. Paul Early Learning Center)

Youth news

Feast day for St. Francis Xavier

VICKSBURG – On Tuesday, Dec. 3 Vicksburg Catholic School elementary students participated in Mass to celebrate Saint Francis Xavier’s feast day.

On right Father Rusty Vincent blesses first grade students during the feast day Mass. (Photos by Lindsey Bradley)

Dashing though the streets

MERIDIAN – Timothy Duong, Denise Quedado, Ashton Taylor dash through the streets for the Candy Cane Fun Run. (Photo by Celeste Saucier)

Checkmate Father MarkNATCHEZ – Cathedral School third graders Quin Branton and James Gammill enjoyed learning the game of chess with Father Mark Shoffner. The students received a little free time for meeting their Accelerated Reader goal early. (Photo by Cara Moody Serio)

Here we go a caroling

GRENADA – The youth of St. Peter won first place Overall in the Grenada Christmas parade, themed “Here we go a caroling.“ Father Savio is holding up the banner as the children carollers look on in delight. (Photo courtesy of Michael Liberto)

Mapping the path of Jesus

GREENVILLE – Mrs. Lee’s religion class created salt dough maps of the travels of the public ministry of Jesus before the holiday break. (Photo by Nikki Thompson)

Children Celebrate Our Lady Guadalupe

MERIDIAN – On Dec. 8 at St. Patrick parish’s Celebration of Our Lady Guadalupe, Macario Espino, jr. picks up a fresh made tortilla for his delicious meal after the procession and Mass. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

MERIDIAN – On Dec. 8 at St. Patrick parish’s Celebration of Our Lady Guadalupe, Macario Espino, jr. picks up a fresh made tortilla for his delicious meal after the procession and Mass. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

St. Nicolas visits

(Right) MERIDIAN – On Dec. 6, 2019 St. Patrick School students had a special visit from St. Nicholas. First graders Aiden Walker, left, and TJ Dunn race to check their shoes for gifts from St. Nicholas. (Photo by Helen Reynolds)

Youth news

Junie B. Jones – a production

MADISON – St. Joseph school drama students presented “Junie B. Jones is NOT a Crook” on Nov. 14. From left to right, Hannah Dear as Junie, Georgia Conrad as Lucille and Natalia Igwebuike as Grace. (Photos by Tereza Ma)
(Center) Hannah Dear as Junie was unbelievably funny and added real character to the book. Dear is a senior at St. Joseph and is involved in volleyball, SEARCH committee, St. Richard Faith and Life, youth choir and is employed of Lemuria in Jackson.

Fun times at St. Patrick school

MERIDIAN – William Skinner from Fire Department Station One visits with students. Pictured from left to right, Stephen Wilson (back), Macarena Frias (front), Star Cayer, Ellis Farmer, Elizabeth Crudup and teacher, John Harwell, Church Youth Director and religion teacher. (Photos by Celeste Saucier)
Police Department appreciation day! Fifth grader Laney Palmer, hands out the projects and letters of appreciation from other grade levels. Each grade level, Pre-K3 to sixth grade contributed to the project.
Pre-K4 students Avery Hook, Alden and Josiah Christian learn about how Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn and enjoy a healthy snack.

Turkey feast

GREENVILLE – Why do turkeys eat so little? Because they are always stuffed. Unfortunately, not all of us are turkeys and there are a number of people, both young and old, in the Greenville community who go throughout the day without anything to eat. Members of St. Joseph church youth group reached out to St. Vincent de Paul to see how they could help this holiday season. This young and charismatic group worked diligently to fill 300 food bags with stuffing mix, mushroom gravy mix, vegetables and a host of other tasty treats that were distributed to those in need for Thanksgiving. (Photo by Alyssa Ingram)

JACKSON – St. Richard school hosted a Thanksgiving feast for students and their relatives. Pictured on left is Chamblee Ezelle with her mom Shelley having great time as Father Nick Adam talks to parents in the background. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

Youth SEARCH to deepen relationship with Christ

GALLMAN – Youth gathered for a SEARCH retreat Nov. 22-24 at Camp Wesley Pines. SEARCH is a unique experience designed for juniors and seniors who have a strong desire to deepen their faith and relationship with Christ. Thirty-five “searchers” participated, coming from different parishes around the diocese. Each year the diocesan office of Youth Ministry has two SEARCH retreats, coordinated by Abbey Schuhmann and Ann and Jeff Cook. Thirty people, staffers and volunteers helped the searchers during their new experience of Christ. Among the volunteers were former searchers, there to serve and to help others to reach the fullness of spirituality. (left) Caroline Coffelt and Danielle Murphy, two adult volunteers welcomed searchers. (below) Searchers walk down a hill, eyes closed, during a “Trust Walk” exercise to learn how to rely on each other. (Photos by Berta Mexidor)