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 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

(Reprinted with permission from The Natchez Democrat.)

Students participate in service, prayer

SOUTHAVEN – Vinney Heeney helps load groceries for a client. Sacred Heart Students are participating in their school theme for the year ‘Mercy Knows No Bounds’ by volunteering all year at the mobile food pantry run by Southern Missions

Sacred Heart middle school students prepared for Lent with a daylong retreat led by members of the National Evangelization Team, NET.(Photos by Laura Grisham)

Preparing for Lent

SOUTHAVEN – Sister Margaret Sue Broker shows students at Sacred Heart School how the palms from last year’s Palm Sunday procession are burned to use as ashes to mark everyone’s forehead during this year’s Ash Wednesday. Sister teaches the students how this connects the Liturgical calendar. (Photos courtesy of Laura Grisham)

Freezing fun on Fat Tuesday

CLARKSDALE – Cold temperatures didn’t stop the students from St. Elizabeth School from celebrating Mardi Gras with a parade around campus. Older students threw the traditional beads and prizes from convertables to their younger classmates. Mardi Gras, literally Fat Tuesday, was a day to eat all the sweets and meat a family might have to prepare for fasting and abstience during the season of Lent. (Photos by Dawn Spinks)

Youth news

Youth brief

The Office of Faith Formation will once again offer a diocesan High School Confirmation Retreat. This year’s event is set for March 30-31, at Lake Forest Ranch in Macon. The cost is $50 per person, which covers food, the accommodations and event materials. Each attendee must be registered through a parish by Monday, March 11. Even teens who miss their parish retreat and would like to attend this must register through their parish to attend.

Famous Mississippian interviewed

Dorothy by St Anthony


JACKSON – Murphy Moorehead, a fourth-grader at Madison St. Anthony School interviews Dominican Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, of St. Dominic Health Foundation.Moorehead is researching Sister as a “famous Mississippian” for a school project. Students will report on and then portray their Mississippian during a living museum. Other famous people will include Sister Thea Bowman. (Photo by Bridget Moorehead)

Catholic Schools Week Service

SOUTHAVEN – Sophia Moore reading to second graders during Catholic Schools week as students served one another. (Photo by Sitter Margaret Sue Broker)

GREENWOOD – St. Francis of Assisi School students Tyven Haymore and Ruben Martinez unload canned goods at the Lefore County Food Pantry. Students brought in the food as a Catholic Schools Week Service Project. (Photo by Jackie Lewis)

Fun Sunday at St. Jude

PEARL – (I-r) Eaten Dowdle, Aubey and Ross Lee enjoyed an evening full of fun, kids activieties and food as part of a series called Faith and Fun Sundays at St. Jude parish on Sunday, Feb 3. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

Youth conference grows, inspires students with faith, hope, love

By Maureen Smith
VICKSBURG – Young people from more than a dozen parishes spent the first weekend in February exploring Faith, Hope and Love during the Diocese’s of Jackson’s Youth Conference (DCYC). Participation was up from last year, with 130 youth attending.
The theme came from the readings for the weekend and each day explored one of the aspects. Abbey Schuhmann, Coordinator of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Jackson, plans the event with a team of youth ministers from across the diocese. “This (theme) was simple, basic, but we still felt like it was powerful and relevant to our teens,” she explained.
Keynote speaker Brian Butler led sessions on each concept. The teens got to have a dance party, participate in adoration, reconciliation, Mass and activities such as a ‘selfie scavenger hunt’ in which they had to take group selfies with particular people associated with the conference. Musical duo Greg and Lizzie led praise and worship and guest speakers including Greenwood St. Francis’ Derrick Faucheaux and his fiancé Mary Upchurch as well as Ray Lacy, youth director for the Diocese of Biloxi. Fathers Nick Adam and Aaron Williams led a young men’s session on vocation while Dominican Sister Kelly Moline led a young women’s session.
“In our talk with the men I wanted to help them to recognize that they absolutely have a call from the Lord, whether it is priesthood or married life is still to be determined, but to live out of the knowledge that God is calling them to greatness in Him, not just to worldly success,” said Father Adam.
Sister Kelly expressed a similar idea. “I wanted then to understand that everyone has a ‘big v’ vocation – whether that be married life, single life or consecrated religious life, but they also have a ‘small v’ vocation – to be the best doctor, nurse, mom or mechanic there ever was,” she said. She also urged the young women to pursue a life of listening and prayer, pointing out that “often the people around you, those who love you best, are the ones who may spot your vocation before you do,” she added.
This was the first conference for the newly-formed youth group at Forest St. Michael Parish. Diemmi Pham said she appreciated that members of her parish helped raise the money needed for teens to attend. “I didn’t know what to expect coming here. I was kind of expecting just praying, you know, and bonding as a parish, but the activities that we did together—yeah we bonded as a parish, but it took it to another level, so I got out of this making new friendships and strengthening our relationship with each other,” she said.
Many teens said they enjoy the chance to interact with a large group of other Catholics. “I actually live in Carrolton, but I go to school in Grenada and we don’t have a lot of Catholics so we are this small part of where we are from so I wanted to meet people and make some friendships. I’m a really big introvert so this is a way for me to expand my circle and just have new experience,” said Amelia Ferguson of Winona Sacred Heart Parish.
Merideth Johnson echoed the sentiment, saying “I felt like I needed something spiritual because a lot of gatherings are just for a concert or something — this is something different to go to and gather with a bunch of Catholic youth.”
This is the second year for Elvis Scott of Greenville Sacred Heart Parish to attend. “Last year we came and it was a wonderful experience so it was something I felt like participating in again,” he said. “To me this year is more of a spot-on connection with them teaching us to have trust in God and in Jesus. I never thought about what they were talking about yesterday – making a connection with Jesus – and it brought me closer to him because I didn’t have that in my mind before,” he said.
“I hope that our youth got a taste of the wider Church here in Mississippi,” said Father Adam. “Sometimes we think of our own parish as the ‘end-all-be-all’ of Catholicism, but the outstanding program that the diocesan Youth Office provided showed our young people how dynamic the young Church can be,” he added.
Many of this year’s new features came from evaluations turned in after last year’s event. “We take those evaluations seriously,” said Schuhmann. “We are just getting started with this conference,” she added.
One of last year’s special guests – a giant stuffed sloth – was joined by Llou the Llama. The plush animals are prizes for the youth groups who win different competitions throughout the weekend to take home. Only time will tell how large the menagerie will get.

More conference pictures click here.