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)

Catholic campus ministry keeps faith alive in students

By Joanna Puddister King
STARKVILLE – Catholic faith is alive and thriving in colleges in the Golden Triangle area through an outreach of St. Joseph church. The church’s Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) at Mississippi State University also serves students at East Mississippi Community College and the Mississippi University for Women.
Students are the heart of this peer-led organization that believes college is a time for growth and formation for the whole person – body, mind and spirit.
College is truly a time for social growth and community, an avenue that CCM excels at with – free food, a language every college student understands. Tuesday Night Dinner (or TND as it is more affectionately known) hosted at St. Joseph is a great way to feed hungry students bellies and give them spiritual fuel to get them through the week by hosting interactive talks ranging from relationships, vocations, apologetics and more.

“When I first moved to Mississippi, I knew approximately three people here. I … learned about Tuesday Night Dinner (TND) and free food – every college student’s dream! As I started going to TND, I met lots of new people, learned about other CCM happenings and joined in on events and volunteering,” says Mississippi University for Women senior, Maggie Rodriguez.
“Over the past few years CCM has become my second family, a home away from home.”
In addition to free food, CCM has two important Catholic figures in their corner – Mother Teresa and Pope Francis – well, life-size cut-outs that is. The pair have been a main feature since the summer at campus events.
“At the New Maroon Camp, a freshman orientation type set of events, we were the first table people saw as they came into the auditorium filled with representatives from the clubs at MSU. With the cowbell in hand, Pope Francis received lots of smiles from Catholics and non-Catholics alike; likewise, Mother Teresa and her ‘Hail Mary, Hail State’ flag got plenty of positive feedback,” said director of campus ministry, Meg Kanatzar.
“They’re fabulous conversation starters! People come over just to take selfies with them.”
The “Hail Mary, Hail State” phrase ignited a powerful fundraiser that has Catholic Mississippi State fans near and far sporting the phrase on the groups signature t-shirt. Former student Joseph Kerstiens helped come up with the idea for the hugely popular shirt, with the silhouette of Saint Pope John Paul II with a cowbell and rosary in hand, with the slogan.
“We really wanted to have something that incorporated MSU and the Catholic faith, and it wasn’t long before we had the slogan ‘Hail Mary, Hail State,” said Kersteins.
Though there are a lot of fun and games, like Catholic intermural sports and monthly trivia night, the group finds time to allow students to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ with Eucharistic adoration and Bible study, in addition to service to others.
Mini-mission trips to Smith Park in Jackson with Deacon John McGinley is one way the group ministers to others. Often times, the group come on a Sunday so that they can invite the people they meet to Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter. They also make plastic bags into beds and pillows and distribute to those that need them.
In addition to serving the homeless in Jackson, the group also ministers to their local community with volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, working in the St. Joseph food pantry and serving home-bound individuals with a food box delivery on a monthly basis.
“I want to give back to the community that has given me so much over the past four years,” says co-president of CCM, Jeremy Irwin.
“I had a tough time sophomore year and my CCM family still managed to make my time here at State enjoyable, while still growing in my faith. My hope is that I am able to help bring others the joy CCM has brought me, through Christ.”
That joy is the fuel that keeps director of the campus ministry, Meg Kanatzar going.
“Seeing someone come back on fire for their faith after attending a retreat or observing one student counsel a peer in a difficult time, or entering a chapel or church filled with students praying during Adoration. There are countless moments when I am privileged to witness students making God a priority in their lives,” said Kanatzar.

Youth news

High fives for fire safety

MERIDIAN – Firefighter Lee Bohl, with the city of the Meridian Fire Department, gives a “high five” to kindergarten student Kayleigh Johnson on Oct. 22 at St. Patrick School. Preschool and kindergarten students learned about fire safety and got a close up view of a fire truck. (Photo by Celeste Saucier)

Fun times in Vicksburg

VICKSBURG – students are ready for the Spooky Sprint 1-mile fun fun to start. (Photos by Rebecca Weatherford)

Chess masters in training

SOUTHAVEN – Lucas Delgado participated in the Sacred Heart School chess tournament on Saturday, Nov. 2. Lucas’s older brother Diego was the tournament champion. (Photo by Sister Margaret Sue Broker)

The Saints go marching

COLUMBUS – Annunciation sixth graders observed All Saints Day by presenting their Hall of Saints project to other students and visitors. Students worked on their Saints project for several weeks, learning about the lives of these special people in history. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

Bearing Gifts

GREENVILLE – Students at St. Joe Greenville celebrate All Saints Day Mass with Father Aaron Williams. (Photo by Nikki Thompson)

Youth news

St. Patrick students get creative

MERIDIAN – St. Patrick Catholic School students in fourth through sixth grades participated in the annual Knights of Columbus – Council 802 Creative Contraption contest. Each student was given identical bags with various items to create functioning contraptions. First place winners were fourth grader, Anthony Hopson; fifth grader, Elizabeth Crudup; and sixth grader, Stephen Wilson. They each received a $10 movie gift card from the Knights of Columbus. (Left) Freeda Ramirez, a sixth grade student at St. Patrick School, demonstrates her Creative Contraption to KC member John Harwell, on left and KC Grand Knight David Viger.(Below) Fourth grader, Tytan Duong demonstrates his Creative Contraption to KC Grand Knight David Viger. (Photos by Celeste Saucier)

Apple bobbing time

GREENVILLE – Sacred Heart church held a picnic for the youth of the Catholic children of the city to bring about support and fellowship of the future leaders. Featured activities included bobbing for applies. (Photo by Maurice Mosley)

Recess time fun

COLUMBUS – On Oct. 16, Father Jeffrey Waldrep stopped by the Annunciation school playground to visit with students. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

Little leaders

NATCHEZ – Cathedral School fourth grade students, Jordan Stubbs, Grant Carlton, Adeline Burget and Leah Tillman, led a Natchez Board of Supervisors meeting with the pledge of allegiance. (Photo by Cara Serio)

Learning is better together

MADISON – St. Anthony fifth graders Katie Venable and Murphy Moorehead explain the properties of Uranus to second graders Ben Schenk and Ava Archer. (Photo by Michele Warnock)

Youth news

Pinwheels for peace at St. Patrick Meridian

MERIDIAN – St. Patrick School recently held its annual Pinwheels for Peace program in celebration of International Day of Peace.
Students were chosen to write essays on what peace meant to them and pinwheels were placed in front of the school with messages of hope and peace.
Shown placing their pinwheels are Mrs. Palmer’s third grade students Helena Rutledge, Miles Whitman, Reese Ann Gressett and Victoria Ramirez. (Photo by Helen Reynolds)

Fighting Irish football

GREENVILLE – Bishop Kopacz enjoyed a night of Fighting Irish football at St. Joseph school. (Photo by Nikki Thompson)

Math gets technical

JACKSON – Sister Thea Bowman school students Khamari, Harry and J’Zarrio are concentrating hard to solve math problems using their tech tablets. (Photo courtsey of school)

Firefighters visit promotes fire safety first

COLUMBUS – First grade students at Annunciation school enjoyed a visit from local fire fighters who discussed fire safety and the importance of an evacuation plan in an emergency situation. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

Field trip fun

GREENVILLE – Greenville’s St. Joseph fourth through sixth graders got to attend Native American Day at Winterville Mounds on Oct. 10. They learned a lot about the Native American culture and also got to make a few crafts. Fun was had by all! (Photo by Nikki Thompson)

Grandparents breakfast at St. Thea Bowman

JACKSON – Sister Thea Bowman school grandparents Cathy Pendleton and Shirley and Phil Thiac enjoyed a nice breakfast with their grandchildren at the annual “We Love Our Grandparents Breakfast.” (Photo courtesy of school)

Youth from diocese parishes gather in faith and as one church

MACON – Middle school youngsters from across the Diocese of Jackson stepped away from phones, computers and the world this month to take part in a spiritual retreat and to spend some quality time with the Lord.
“The theme of our retreat was “One Church” focusing on the universality of the Catholic Church,” said Abbey Schuhmann, diocesan coordinator of the Office of Youth Ministry, who helped organize the annual diocesan Middle School Fall Retreat Oct. 12-13 at Lake Forest Ranch surrounded by 50,000 acres of pine forest in rural Noxubee County. “The overnight retreat provided the youth with a high-energy, faith-filled program throughout the weekend,” Schuhmann explained.

MACON – NET Missionary, Molly Shanahan speaks to middle school youth attending the “One Church” retreat at Lake Forest Ranch on Oct. 12. (Photo by Abbey Schuhmann)

The weekend gathering was led by members of the National Evangelization Team or NET, a Catholic ministry program established 35 years ago out of St. Paul, Minn. Net ministers are typically aged 18-24. They volunteer a year of their time to work as trained missionaries without pay and solely focused on creating relationships with young people through retreats and programs and bringing them closer to Christ.
“NET was very popular in our diocese in the 1980’s, and we are excited to have them serving in our diocese once again,” said Schuhmann about the team of young men and women, who visited two schools during their Mississippi mission. At Sacred Heart Southaven and St. Joseph Greenville they staged mini-retreats and shared their own personal encounters with Jesus Christ and their faith transformations, inspiring all in attendance.
The fall program in Macon included talks, small group discussions, prayer, adoration before the Lord in the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There were plenty of opportunities for the young people to socialize and have fun. Throughout the weekend there were games of friendly competition including ping-pong, basketball, volleyball and gaga ball, the latest craze. Saturday, there was a bonfire by the lake, and the NET Team performed funny skits throughout the weekend and a drama was also part of the entertainment lineup.
“Parishes from five of our six deaneries were represented at this year’s retreat,” said Schuhmann, pleased about the turnout. Adult youth leaders from the various parishes helped out where needed, and during the weekend, they had the opportunity to meet one another and discuss the youth ministry programs at their respected parishes.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz visited on Sunday morning and celebrated Mass bringing participants together in praise and worship and inspiring all with his message. In fellowship, he joined the teens and adult leaders after Mass.
For information on upcoming diocesan youth events and activities, please contact Abbey Schuhmann, coordinator for the Office of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Jackson at

Youth news

Making art for a cause

COLUMBUS – Annunciation 8th graders, Patrick Doumit and Jules Gallo assist special guest, Kathryn Davis who specializes in stained glass, make their class art project for our upcoming Art Auction fundraiser on Nov. 8. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

High fives

GREENVILLE – Father Aaron Williams and second grader Charles Beckham celebrate with high fives after the Mass of our Lady of Sorrow at St. Joseph school on Sept. 16. (Photo by Nikki Thompson)

Exploring space

VICKSBURG – Fifth grade students Caroline Ponder and Tyler Roberts were able to explore the solar system in the XR (Extended Reality) Lab. With the addition of the new lab, students are able to go on field trips to the most inaccessible corners of the universe. Vicksburg Catholic School is the “Campus of the Future.” (Photo by Lindsey Bradley)

Patriot Day in Southaven

SOUTHAVEN – Mona Giannini, grandmother of a Sacred Heart graduate and of two current students, spoke to first grade students, Jillian Encarnacion and Kamilla Enriquez Giron about the work of EMTs as the school celebrated 9/11 Day, now known as Patriot’s Day. Students could wear red, white and blue as a way of showing pride in our country on this day of remembrance. Father Greg Schill also talked of our faith in God on good days as well as bad ones. At the end of his homily he talked about the strength it sometimes takes to “Step up to the Plate.” After Mass, Principal Bridget Martin talked to children about practical ways to step up to the plate in our everyday school lives. (Photo by Sister Margaret Sue Broker)

Fiesta at Columbus

COLUMBUS – Annunciation school, celebrated the end of a thematic unit on Mexico with a Fiesta which included authentic food, dances and games. (Photos by Katie Fenstermacher)


OXFORD – Members of the Catholic Campus Ministry at Ole Miss share their thoughts at “Good Cheer” after a talk by Vocation Director Father Nick Adam on Wednesday, Sept. 18. (Photo by Father Nick Adam)
Spanish Bishop Rafael Cob, apostolic vicar of Puyo, Ecuador, foreground in blue vest, speaks with journalists in Quito Sept. 14, 2019. Bishop Cob said the ordination of married elders — “viri probati” or “men of proven virtue” — would be a possible solution to the lack of priests and missionaries in the Amazon region. (CNS photo/Junno Arocho Esteves)