Together in Faith Reopening our churches

Current Liturgical Directives and allowances AS OF MAY 18
• The faithful are dispensed from the Sunday Obligation until further notice.
• Livestreamed Masses may ONLY be celebrated with no congregation present
• No public distribution of Holy Communion – such as drive-thru distribution in the parking lot.
• Sacraments and Rites that are allowed:
• Reconciliation – masks and social distancing of six feet required
• Baptism – must be Outside of Mass with 10 or less people present
• Matrimony – must be Outside of Mass with 10 or less people present
• Funerals – Graveside only with 10 or less peo- ple present
• RCIA Elect and Candidates may be received into the church in gatherings of 10 or less.
• Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament may occur in the church with 10 or less present at one time. Masks and social distancing are required. Adora- tion may also be held in the parking lot if people remain in their cars and can maintain proper so- cial distancing.

General Directives BEGINNING MAY 30, 2020
• Bishop Kopacz will continue to dispense all the faithful from the Sunday Obligation to participate in Mass until further notice.
• The public celebration of Mass will begin on the Solemnity of the Feast of Pentecost at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 30.
• Home Masses: At this time, Masses may not be celebrated in private homes or properties of parishioners. This places everyone at risk.
• The sacraments and rites currently in place are continued with proper social distancing. (See above)
• First Holy Communion and Confirmation celebrations may begin August 1, 2020.
• Bishop Kopacz has delegated individual pastors to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation for the remainder of 2020.
• If a candidate will be moving away prior to August 1, pastors may confer the sacrament individually for this family in the church.
• Social distancing will be kept in accord with the state and local health recommendations and local ordinances.
• Each parish and mission should have a plan in place by May 25, for re-opening that includes seating map, training of ushers and hospitality ministers in the plan, a method for parishioners to sign up for Mass, and a communique sent to parishioners explaining the plan.
• Parish Mass schedules may be expanded to accommodate the faithful but taking great care not to spiritually bankrupt clergy with too many celebrations – a maximum of two vigils on Saturday evening and four masses on Sunday.
• Choir and Ensemble singing and practices are suspended until further notice.
• Livestreaming of Mass may continue. Additionally, livestreaming to overflow crowds in parish centers or gyms on parish campuses though not ideal for participation will be allowed during this time.
• These directives may not encompass every minute detail. The overriding maxim is: use common sense. According to health officials, this virus will linger in our communities for longer than we can project. Stay safe and be vigilant!

• The gifts of bread and wine should be brought to the altar from the credence table in the sanctuary. There is no offertory procession involving congregation members.
• For the offertory, baskets will not be passed in the pews. An offertory station can be used, run by the ushers. Baskets should be sanitized before and after Mass.
• Exchanging the sign of peace should not involve physical contact.
• Distribution of the Precious Blood continues to be suspended.
• Distribution of Holy Communion will be in the hand. Distribution on the tongue is suspended. Medical personnel have emphasized that saliva is one of the worst fluids for transmission.
• Preferably, younger priests and/or younger Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in good health should distribute communion.
• The use of gloves to distribute Holy Communion is no more effective than distributing with the bare hand. Indeed, gloves would have to be changed for each communicant. Use of tongs or other instruments would, likewise, come into contact with each communicant’s hands.
• The Communion Rite is an essential and unmovable element of the Order of Mass. It is not to be celebrated after Mass.
• Masses may not be celebrated in private homes or properties of parishioners.

Safety and Hygiene: The Duty of Every Individual
• Those who are sick or symptomatic should stay home! This includes clergy!
• Vulnerable individuals, those 65 and older or with underlying health conditions, should continue to shelter in place. Families with vulnerable individuals are encouraged to continue to take special precautions.
• We would like for parents to consider the vulnerability of infants, toddlers and small children during this time, considering not bringing them to Mass or to perhaps bring them to a Mass during the week that is less attended rather than one of the busier weekend Masses.
• Wash hands at home and use hand sanitizer upon entering the church.
• Face masks are mandated for all assembly members over the age of two.
• Pastors must use face masks in proximity to parishioners, especially during the distribution of communion.
• Pastors and LEMs should make every effort to clearly communicate good hygienic practices and liturgical alterations to their parishioners prior to May 30, in light of continuing public health concerns.


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)

Faith in action at Holy Family Jackson

By Dorothy Balser
Corinne Anderson speaks about how Holy Family parish in Jackson lives out the calling of their faith on behalf of the “least of these.” (Matthew 25)

  1. What does it mean to you personally to put your Faith into Action?
    I always try to give back to others. My grandmother often quoted the Bible to me when she was helping others. I can hear her saying over and over “to whom much is given, much is expected.” So, I kind of got that from her. It’s important that I try to give back.
    When Father Xavier came to Holy Family in 2014, he introduced us to the Norbertine principles. The one I latched onto is something called “self-emptying service,” which is a willingness to cede one’s personal advantage for the good of the community – particularly as expressed in the generosity and discipline required to participate in the structures that support community life. Well there it was – the personal good of the community, the generosity, the structure that supports community life – that’s what Catholicism is all about.
  2. In general, how does Holy Family parish show faith in action?
    Since I came to the parish in 1979, there has been a core group of parishioners trying to do outreach. We began by ministering to people within the parish, making sure we touched base with people we didn’t see often. Then sometime early on, we realized we could not continue just ministering to ourselves. We needed to reach out to the community around the church, which is predominantly African American. Many of the apartment complexes around the church were opportunities for us to reach out with Bible school and summer sessions we had for youth.
  3. Describe one or two of the ministries at Holy Family parish where faith in action is seen.
    Many people in our parish are involved in faith in action ministries. Besides myself, people that have consistently helped the ministries grow are Joyce Adams, Ann Pullum and Gladys Russell. One of the ways we have reached out is through the faith formation and liturgy committees joining together to adopt the local Green Elementary School. We started taking little packets of school supplies to the school and began inviting students to our Black History Month program at church. We had a youth choir and a boy’s dance group and their parents also came to participate, most of whom are not Catholic.
    The other ministry is our food pantry. The diocese sent out a call for proposals to do various faith-building activities in the community. I called the project “going beyond boundaries: witnessing and focusing on life and dignity of the human person” and it was accepted by the pastoral council. So, it has become our theme to go outside the boundaries of the church.
    A number of the people we talked with across the street at the senior citizen’s complex became our first group to work with. As we started talking with them, we found out they have many food needs because their money runs out about a week before their check comes each month. So, we had the idea to see if we could get a little help to establish a food pantry and at least work with them. Funds from the diocesan mission grant provided part of the start-up money for that program. We then reached out to the apartments next door that have people with low-income, and the ministry continued to grow. There are now three apartment complexes within a mile of the church where we serve people from the food pantry. We reported to the parish what we were doing and soon started what we call a “20-20 club.” We found that we could work with the Mississippi Food Network to get most of the USDA food for free, but other necessities that are not on the USDA list, like jiffy, beans, etc. are supported by the 20-20 club, which is 20 people paying $20 per month to help pay for the $450 in extra food supplies.
    We started small with one of the closets in the parish hall and Cowboy Maloney gave us a good deal on some freezers. Now we serve about 40 to 50 families each month. We are still operating during the pandemic using a drive-through method and last month we served 111 families, which was a total of 159 individuals.
  4. What impact has this faith in action ministry had on the people served and on those involved in the ministry?
    People at the senior citizen’s home across the street see us as part of their family. They used to call us “that Catholic church across the street.” Now I hear them talking about “Holy Family” and referring to people by name. In terms of the community, we start in the morning with a prayer that we make sure we treat every person as if he or she is a special member of the family. We have conversations in our committee meetings about how we want to make sure each of us is letting them know we are here to help, and we want to be part of their extended family. There are parishioners and also non-Catholics that have joined us through an “each-one-bring-one” invitation, many who come religiously because they see we are doing good things here and they want to help. There is a lot to do and they are a tremendous help with picking up and unloading food from the food network, packing frozen or dry food items, delivering food and keeping a count for the reporting.
    We adopted the Norbertine self-emptying principle as one of our marching mantras. So, the community social outreach piece and witnessing through evangelization became part of our “reaching beyond boundaries.” We started with a core group of senior citizens in the parish that decided they could do this ministry as their self-emptying service. Now younger members of the parish are involved as well as members of the youth group that come periodically and earn community service points for school. The ladies guild is also involved by donating about 100 gift bags a year as a way of letting people know about Holy Family without pushing church on them. Some of the people we serve have asked us “what time are your services?” and so we’ve made a few new friends at Holy Family.
  5. What suggestions do you have for people that are not sure how to put their faith in action?
    I would suggest for people that want to do something to first ask, “How can we evangelize? How can we witness?” My grandmother always talked about reaching out to the community and to meet and get focused in one direction. If you don’t have a particular goal or direction, then you can talk a thing to death. I would also say go to the pastoral council meetings, which should be open to everyone, even if you are not a member of the council. See what leadership is talking about for the direction of the parish. Then talk with the people that might have the inclination to serve on a broader scale and will roll up their sleeves to get busy and let the community know we are truly a universal church.
    A suggestion for us as a church is that in order to get people in the parish involved, we have to do a better job of communication. We have to find ways to make sure people know what social outreach projects we have and to continue putting it out there on a regular basis – tell people what you’re doing, what your goals are and how we must reach out to the broader community. We can no longer just go to Mass and go home.
JACKSON – On distribution day in April, the food pantry coordinating team at Holy Family Jackson gathers to review drive-through distribution assignments prior to the arrival of clients. (Photo by Veronica Russell)

(Witnesses of Faith in Action ministries in the diocese of Jackson are featured each month. If you’d like to see your parish, school or group featured, contact the Parish Social Ministry office at

Walking by faith

Yet, decisions must be made each day, in the church and in the world, to uphold our way of life and cherished traditions, and at the same time to protect the common good.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
Over the next nine days the church throughout the world prepares in various ways to celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the culmination of the paschal mystery, the Lord Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.
Like the headwaters of mighty rivers which seem so modest at their point of origin, but in short order cascade into awesome currents of life giving waters, so too the Pentecost experience, modest in scope, 120 gathered in the sacred space of the Upper Room, swelled into saving rivers of grace that continue to empower the church and enliven many in our world. In both instances, consider the far-reaching impact of the Mississippi River and of the universal catholic church.
The Holy Spirit of God, the mind and heart of Jesus Christ, is at one and the same time obvious with the plan of salvation yet shrouded in mystery. We have the advantage of nearly 2,000 years of history to observe what the Lord wants for his people, and what he does not want. Yet, in the present moment we often see things dimly as in a mirror, recalling Jesus’ words that: “The wind blows where it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from, or where it is going, so it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
In the past two and a half months we have called upon the Holy Spirit often to make the right decisions regarding our response to COVID-19. Like the wind, we are not certain where this destructive force came from, nor where it is going, or where it will carry us. Yet, decisions must be made each day, in the church and in the world, to uphold our way of life and cherished traditions, and at the same time to protect the common good. This requires the wisdom of Solomon, so to speak, or far more all-embracing, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The celebration of Confirmation throughout our diocese has been delayed but the gifts of the Holy Spirit are at our disposal: knowledge, understanding, wisdom, right judgement, courage, piety and fear of the Lord. In our diocese, with these gifts as our guiding principles we have taken steps to avail the faithful of the gifts of the sacraments, most notably the Eucharist via live-streaming, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Clusters of ten or less also have gathered in prayer for grave-side services, baptism, marriage and the R.C.I.A.
With much care, we decided to resume the public celebration of Mass in our churches on Pentecost weekend. This timeframe allows for ample time to prepare parish leadership to welcome smaller congregations in order to abide by the recognized ways to contain the virus.
The packet of directives and guidelines is widely disseminated for parish and diocesan leadership to be implemented and adapted to each parish based on seating capacity and the makeup of the congregation.
In the gospel passage last weekend from John, Jesus was preparing his disciples for his withdrawal from their lives, while assuring them that they will not be left powerless, like orphans. He sought to relieve their anxieties with the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, fortified them with the gift of peace, and promised them at the Ascension that he would be with them always until the end of time.
Walking by faith, still rattled by doubt and anxiety, they were obedient to the Lord’s instruction to return to Jerusalem and wait in prayer to be clothed with power from on high, the Holy Spirit.
Every generation of Christians, including and especially ourselves in the midst of a once in a century pandemic, can be rattled by doubt and anxiety in our attempts to reconcile God’s promises with the shadows and darkness in our lives and in our world. We do not take these matters lightly.
Before the reception of communion at each Mass, the priest ardently prays: “Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our day, so that by the help of your mercy we may be free from sin and protected from all anxiety as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” There is a growing sense that the pandemic will compel us to run a marathon in the time ahead. In which case, along with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we will also need “the fruit of the Spirit to be centered in God and a blessing for one another: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
As we look forward to the resumption of the public celebration of Mass on Pentecost, may the Holy Spirit of God illuminate us to sanctify Jesus Christ in our hearts, (1Peter 3:15) to continue to serve one another and the common good of all, and, in all instances, to give God the glory.

Caminando por fe

Sin embarg todos los días, en la iglesia y el mundo, se deben tomar decisiones para mantener nuestra forma de vida y nuestras preciadas tradiciones, y al mismo tiempo para proteger el bien común.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
Durante los próximos nueve días, la iglesia en todo el mundo se prepara de diversas maneras para celebrar la solemnidad de Pentecostés, la efusión del Espíritu Santo, la culminación del misterio pascual, la muerte, resurrección y ascensión del Señor Jesús al cielo.
Al igual que las cabeceras de los ríos poderosos en su punto de origen, que parecen tan modestos en su punto de origen, caen en cascada en impresionantes corrientes de aguas que dan vida, también la experiencia de Pentecostés, de alcance modesto, con solo 120 discipulos que se reunieron en el espacio sagrado del Aposento Alto, se convirtió en ríos salvadores de gracia que aún continúan empoderando a la iglesia y animando a muchos en nuestro mundo. En ambos casos, considere el impacto de largo alcance del río Mississippi y de la iglesia católica universal.
El Espíritu Santo de Dios, la mente y el corazón de Jesucristo, es al mismo tiempo obvio con el plan de salvación aún envuelto en misterio. Tenemos la ventaja de casi 2,000 años de historia para observar lo que el Señor quiere para su pueblo y lo que no quiere. Sin embargo, en el momento presente, a menudo vemos las cosas tenuemente como en un espejo, recordando las palabras de Jesús: “El viento sopla por donde quiere, y aunque oyes su ruido, no sabes de dónde viene ni a dónde va. Así son también todos los que nacen del Espíritu.” (Juan 3:8)
En los últimos dos meses y medio, hemos pedido al Espíritu Santo que tome las decisiones correctas con respecto a nuestra respuesta a COVID-19. Al igual que el viento, no estamos seguros de dónde vino esta fuerza destructiva, ni a dónde va, ni a dónde nos llevará. Sin embargo, todos los días en la iglesia y el mundo, se deben tomar decisiones para mantener nuestra forma de vida y nuestras preciadas tradiciones, y al mismo tiempo para proteger el bien común. Esto requiere la sabiduría de Salomón, por así decirlo, o mucho más abarcador, los dones del Espíritu Santo.
La celebración de la Confirmación en toda nuestra diócesis se ha retrasado, pero los dones del Espíritu Santo están a nuestra disposición: conocimiento, comprensión, sabiduría, juicio correcto, coraje, piedad y temor al Señor. En nuestra diócesis, con estos dones como nuestros principios rectores, hemos tomado medidas para ofrecer a los fieles los dones de los sacramentos, especialmente la Eucaristía a través de transmisión en vivo y el Sacramento de la Reconciliación. Grupos de diez o menos personas también se han reunido en oración para funerales, el bautismo, el matrimonio y el R.C.I.A.
Con mucho cuidado, decidimos reanudar la celebración pública de la Misa en nuestras iglesias para el fin de semana de Pentecostés. Este plazo permite un tiempo suficiente para preparar el liderazgo de la parroquia para dar la bienvenida a las congregaciones más pequeñas con el fin de cumplir con las formas reconocidas de contener el virus.
El paquete de directivas y pautas se difunde ampliamente para que la parroquia y el liderazgo diocesano se implementen y adapten a cada parroquia según la capacidad de asientos y la composición de la congregación.
En el pasaje evangélico de Juan, del fin de semana pasado, Jesús estaba preparando a sus discípulos para su retirada de sus vidas, mientras les aseguraba que no se quedarían impotentes, como los huérfanos. Él trató de aliviar sus ansiedades con la promesa del don del Espíritu Santo, los fortificó con el don de la paz y les prometió en la Ascensión que estaría con ellos siempre hasta el final de los tiempos.
Caminando por fe, todavía sacudidos por la duda y la ansiedad, fueron obedientes a las instrucciones del Señor de regresar a Jerusalén y esperar en oración para ser revestidos con el poder de lo alto, el Espíritu Santo.
Cada generación de cristianos, incluidos especialmente nosotros mismos, en medio de la pandemia de un siglo, puede ser sacudida por la duda y la ansiedad en nuestros intentos de reconciliar las promesas de Dios con las sombras y la oscuridad en nuestras vidas y en nuestro mundo. No nos tomamos estos asuntos a la ligera.
Antes de la recepción de la comunión en cada misa, el sacerdote reza ardientemente: “Líbranos de todos los males, Señor, y concédenos la paz en nuestros días, para que, ayudados por tu misericordia, vivamos siempre libres de pecado y protegidos de toda perturbación, mientras esperamos la gloriosa venida de nuestro Salvador Jesucristo.”
Hay la sensación creciente que la pandemia nos obligará a correr una maratón en el futuro. En cuyo caso, junto con los dones del Espíritu Santo, también necesitaremos el fruto del Espíritu que “…produce amor, alegría, paz, paciencia, amabilidad, bondad, fidelidad, humildad y dominio propio.” (Gálatas 5:22-23).
Mientras esperamos la reanudación de la celebración pública de la Misa en Pentecostés, que el Espíritu Santo de Dios nos ilumine para santificar a Jesucristo en nuestros corazones (1Pedro 3:15) para continuar sirviéndose unos a otros y al bien común de todos y, en todos los casos, para darle a Dios la gloria.

To meet a displaced person is to encounter Christ, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The sad reality of people displaced within the borders of their own country, a crisis that has been ignored for far too long, is an opportunity for Christians to encounter Jesus, Pope Francis said.
“In each of these people, forced to flee to safety, Jesus is present as he was at the time of Herod. In the faces of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, strangers and prisoners, we are called to see the face of Christ who pleads with us to help,” the pope wrote in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2020.
“If we can recognize him in those faces, we will be the ones to thank him for having been able to meet, love and serve him in them,” he said.
The Vatican will mark World Day of Migrants and Refugees Sept. 27 with the theme: “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee.”
During a livestreamed news conference May 15, Cardinal Michael Czerny, undersecretary for the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section, said that this year’s focus on internally displaced persons is a continuation of Pope Francis’ teachings that center on “the discarded, the forgotten, the set aside.”
The pope’s message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees “is an invitation to discover them, to discover that they exist and that they are here among us; in our own country, in our own diocese, in our own parish,” the cardinal said.
According to the 2020 Global Report on Internal Displacement, there are an estimated 50.8 million internally displaced persons worldwide. Among them, there are 45.7 million displaced due to conflict and violence and 5.1 million who were forced to move because of disasters.
However, Cardinal Czerny said, it is yet to be seen “how much the COVID-19 pandemic is a driver of internal displacement.”
In his message, the pope said the sufferings endured by internally displaced persons have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the light of the tragic events that have marked 2020, I would like this message, although concerned with internally displaced persons, to embrace all those who are experiencing situations of precariousness, abandonment, marginalization and rejection as a result of COVID-19,” he wrote.
Recalling the day’s theme, the pope said that Jesus, Mary and Joseph experienced the same “tragic fate” of the displaced and refugees, a fate “marked by fear, uncertainty and unease.”
Displaced people, he said, “offer us this opportunity to meet the Lord, even though our eyes find it hard to recognize him: his clothing in tatters, his feet dirty, his face disfigured, his body wounded, his tongue unable to speak our language.”
Reflecting on the pastoral challenge to “welcome, protect, promote and integrate” migrants, the pope said he wished to expand on those verbs to further explain the church’s mission.
The pope said that the precariousness experienced by many today due to the pandemic “is a constant in the lives of displaced people,” and “all too often we stop at statistics” and fail to understand the suffering of those on the margins.
“But it is not about statistics, it is about real people!” he said. “If we encounter them, we will get to know more about them. And knowing their stories, we will be able to understand them.”
To be close to displaced persons, he continued, means to serve them and not turn them away due to fear and prejudices that “often prevent us from becoming neighbors.”
Sharing, an essential element of Christian life, is another important aspect that allows for men and women to “grow together, leaving no one behind,” the pope said.
“The pandemic has reminded us how we are all in the same boat,” he said. “Realizing that we have the same concerns and fears has shown us once more that no one can be saved alone,” he said.
The pope said the coronavirus pandemic also serves as a reminder of the importance of co-responsibility and that in order “to promote those whom we assist, we must involve them and make them agents in their own redemption.”
“To preserve our common home and make it conform more and more to God’s original plan, we must commit ourselves to ensuring international cooperation, global solidarity and local commitment, leaving no one excluded,” the pope said.

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

Leaving peace behind as our farewell gift

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
There is such a thing as a good death, a clean one, a death that, however sad, leaves behind a sense of peace. I have been witness to it many times. Sometimes this is recognized explicitly when someone dies, sometimes unconsciously. It is known by its fruit.
I remember sitting with a man dying of cancer in his mid-fifties, leaving behind a young family, who said to me: “I don’t believe I have an enemy in the world, at least I don’t know if I do. I’ve no unfinished business.” I heard something similar from a young woman also dying of cancer and also leaving behind a young family. Her words: “I thought that I’d cried all the tears I had, but then yesterday when I saw my youngest daughter I found out that I had a lot more tears still to cry. But I’m at peace. It’s hard, but I’ve nothing left that I haven’t given.” And I’ve been at deathbeds other times when none of this was articulated in words, but all of it was clearly spoken in that loving awkwardness and silence you often witness around deathbeds. There is a way of dying that leaves peace behind.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus gives a long farewell speech at the Last Supper on the night before he dies. His disciples, understandably, are shaken, afraid, and not prepared to accept the brute reality of his impending death. He tries to calm them, reassure them, give them things to cling to, and he ends with these words: I am going away, but I will leave you a final gift, the gift of my peace.
I suspect that almost everyone reading this will have had an experience of grieving the death of a loved one, a parent, spouse, child, or friend, and finding, at least after a time, beneath the grief a warm sense of peace whenever the memory of the loved one surfaces or is evoked. I lost both of my parents when I was in my early twenties and, sad as were their farewells, every memory of them now evokes a warmth. Their farewell gift was the gift of peace.
In trying to understanding this, it is important to distinguish between being wanted and being needed. When I lost my parents at a young age, I still desperately wanted them (and believed that I still needed them), but I came to realize in the peace that eventually settled upon our family after their deaths that our pain was in still wanting them and not in any longer needing them. In their living and their dying they had already given us what we needed. There was nothing else we needed from them. Now we just missed them and, irrespective of the sadness of their departure, our relationship was complete. We were at peace.
The challenge for all of us now, of course, is on the other side of this equation, namely, the challenge to live in such a way that peace will be our final farewell gift to our families, our loved ones, our faith community, and our world. How do we do that? How do we leave the gift of peace to those we leave behind?
Peace, as we know, is a whole lot more than the simple absence of war and strife. Peace is constituted by two things: harmony and completeness. To be at peace something has to have an inner consistency so that all of its movements are in harmony with each other and it must also have a completeness so that it is not still aching for something it is missing. Peace is the opposite of internal discord or of longing for something we lack. When we are not at peace it is because we are experiencing chaos or sensing some unfinished business inside us.
Positively then, what constitutes peace? When Jesus promises peace as his farewell gift, he identifies it with the Holy Spirit; and, as we know, that is the spirit of charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, longsuffering, fidelity, mildness, and chastity.
How do we leave these behind when we leave? Well, death is no different than life. When some people leave anything, a job, a marriage, a family, or a community, they leave chaos behind, a legacy of disharmony, unfinished business, anger, bitterness, jealousy, and division. Their memory is felt always as a cold pain. They are not missed, even as their memory haunts. Some people on the other hand leave behind a legacy of harmony and completeness, a spirit of understanding, compassion, affirmation, and unity. These people are missed but the ache is a warm one, a nurturing one, one of happy memory.
Going away in death has exactly the same dynamic. By the way we live and die we will leave behind either a spirit that perennially haunts the peace of our loved ones, or we will leave behind a spirit that brings a warmth every time our memory is evoked.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. He can be contacted through his website

Called by name

Father Nick Adam

During the time of COVID-19, our circumstances have changed in the Office of Vocations, but our mission has not, and the seeds of faith are still growing in our diocese. We have several young men either actively applying for the seminary or seriously discerning whether to enter the seminary. I am in contact with several young women who are discerning whether the Lord is calling them to religious life. We will also celebrate the ordination of two new priests in late June, and six seminarians continue their formation to the priesthood this summer. I want to honor these men and women by making sure our vocations department continues to grow with them.

With this in mind, the Vocations Office is hosting the first annual Homegrown Harvest Gala and Fundraiser on October 9, 2020 at Cathead Distillery in Jackson. The staff at Cathead have been great with the uncertainty of this time, and they are dedicated to working with us as social distancing protocols are updated throughout the summer.

I hope this column has helped you to see how your financial contributions to the vocations department are being spent. I want to continue to offer regular opportunities for young people to see what religious formation is really like, and with two new seminarians expected to enroll this fall, tuition and room and board remain a substantial need. The proceeds of this annual event will provide immediate support to our programs and will greatly bolster our long term plans in vocation promotion and seminarian support. But this celebration will also simply be an opportunity for us to rejoice that the Lord is calling men forth to serve His people.

Tickets to the Gala will be available this summer, and I will be hitting the road and finding ways to reach out to your parishes and ask for your support as the summer wears on. Our diocese is growing because the Holy Spirit is moving in the hearts of young men and women, and it is our job to support them. I pledge to do that as vocations director, and I want you to get to know our seminarians who have already answered the call to discern. In the next several issues of Mississippi Catholic, you will be introduced to all of our seminarians, and I look forward to giving you more information on this exciting event, which I pray will be a great celebration of what the Lord is bringing forth in our Diocese.

Vocations Events

Saturday, June 27, 2020 – Priestly Ordination of Deacon Andrew Nguyen and Deacon Cesar Sanchez, Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle Jackson, 9:30 a.m.

Friday, October 9, 2020 – Gala, Cathead Distillery in Downtown Jackson

If you are interested in visiting a seminary or house of religious formation,

“All shall be well? Really?”

Sister alies therese

From the hermitage
By Sister alies therese
I’ve never given plagues much thought. Stunned by AIDS (1980s) and hearing of various pestilence ‘over there’ in Africa or India … but not here! I was a polio pioneer but don’t remember if I got the real stuff or the placebo. Even the ‘white plague’ (TB) has largely been relegated to medication.
In Derbyshire, England, on the grounds of the Parish Church of St. Lawrence, stands a large 8th century stone cross looking out over Plague Village. What a name!
There are black plagues, bubonic plagues, leprosy, SARS, polio, AIDS, anthrax, H1N1, ebola, bird flu, dengue fever, Spanish flu, TB, and, of course, this horrid “19.” Consider these folks:
St. Louis died of plague in Tunisia during a crusade in 1270. St. Julian of Norwich, England, 1416, was an anchoress, lived through three plagues.
Martin Luther wrote Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague, where he discussed whether a pastor (or others) might ‘run away’ if their life was in danger. Germany, 1527.
In Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in 1531 between the European small pox invasion and later hemorrhagic fevers. St. Martin de Porres, OP of Peru, 1630’s, nursed the sick midst the plague.
Venerable Dorothy Day (Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn), 1918, nursed the epidemic sick and Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Portugal, 1919-20, both died of plague.
St. Julian was six when the black death hit Norwich in 1348 and resurged in 1362 and 1369. Clearly, for most of her life the terrors of plague and death surrounded her.
Author, Ritamary Bradley explores St. Julian’s writings in Julian’s Way:
“Julian insists this present situation requires the impossible to be well. God answers gently: ‘True, you cannot do the impossible. But, I can. Hence all things can be made well.’ (32)
St. Julian talking with the Lord: ‘Really what kind of a mother are you? All is not well: none of these things (ravaging disease, hunger, pain …) are being made right, are they?’
To us God sounds defensive: ‘I didn’t say that! I did not say you would not be tempted. Did I say you would not be travailed?’
‘Then what did You say?’
God answers this time ‘sharply:’ ‘What I said is that you will not be overcome.’ (68). In the end we will sing a mighty chorus: ‘Indeed, this is the way things are, and it is well.’ For we shall then see …’”(85).
I wonder if Julian’s religious sensibility of devotion to the Passion of Christ wasn‘t formed around the plague pains and anguish she heard at her window and saw in her prayer?
Venerable Dorothy Day (d. 1980), not unlike many of our first responders, was young and still trying to find her way to God and her way to serve. So, she went to nursing school, just in the nick of time.
“One afternoon when I had been cleaning up filth all day, and the perverse patient had again thrown her bedpan out on the floor dirtying my shoes and stockings, I left the ward in tears … this was the time of the ‘flu’ epidemic and the wards were filled and the halls too. Many of the nurses became ill and we were very short-handed. Every night before going off duty there were bodies to be wrapped in sheets and wheeled away to the morgue. When we returned in the morning, the night nurse was performing the same grim task. (D. Day, The Long Loneliness, HarperOne, 1952).
What would be well? All? Really?
I want to remember what Governor Cuomo said: “The cruelest irony is the poorest pay the highest price.” Just look around, not only Mississippi, but the world! Not only the dying patients but the frontline workers. Did you see the pic of the masked kneeling six-year-old, Alen Zelada at night prayer on Junin St., Guadalupe, NW Peru? When asked why he was there said he wanted to be sure God heard him. His house was noisy. He wanted an end to the sickness … people are dying.
Offer what kind of service you can and note that during this time of anguish we can either be lonely or alone. Community is formed in many different ways. Love is needed for all to be well!
“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” (D. Day)

(Sister alies therese is a vowed catholic solitary who lives an eremitical life.)

Ordinary Times in St. John Paul II’s Hometown

Lucia A. Silecchia

By Lucia A. Silecchia
Had this May unfolded differently, I planned to be in Rome to celebrate the 100th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s birth in the jubilant grandeur of St. Peter’s Square. I was eager to celebrate because he was the first pope I really remember and the one who shaped my youth and young adulthood as part of the “John Paul II generation.” I remember the way he confronted a broken world in the vigor of his youth and how he faced his very public suffering and death with the strong serenity of his age.
Since the extraordinary celebration is no longer on my calendar, my thoughts turn instead to more ordinary times and some days I spent in St. John Paul II’s Polish hometown of Wadowice. There, I saw the places sacred to his youth that may have seemed ordinary at the time, as so many of our own hometowns seem ordinary simply because they are so familiar. But, it was this small town that shaped the life of an extraordinary man.
I saw the parish church where St. John Paul II was baptized and the baptismal font where, in his words, “it all began.” I saw the town square where he played with his friends — many of whom would soon have their lives stolen from them in Nazi death camps or on the bloody battlefields that engulfed their young lives. I saw the programs from his high school drama productions, and thought about how different the world would be if he had followed his early ambitions to be a poet or an actor.
I saw the photographs of the whole Wojtyla family he loved and lost — a sister, Olga, whom he never knew; a beloved mother, Emilia, who died when he was only eight; a brother, Edmund, who died as a physician caring for his patients; and his devoted father, Karol Sr., who died suddenly when young Karol was merely twenty. Years before Karol Wojtyla was ever ordained a priest, his entire family had already passed from this life.
I saw the dining hall where his father took him to eat when the two lived alone. I saw the orphanage run by religious sisters who cared for him as a boy during the times when his father was traveling. In the interest of serious historic inquiry, I ate at more than one bakery that claimed to sell the very crème cakes the future pope enjoyed as a boy. In the interest of curiosity, I visited the museum devoted to his life.
Most poignant to me, I visited his very ordinary childhood home. In a small flat on the second floor of a modest building, was a simple bedroom he shared with his father, a tiny kitchen and a neat sitting room. The sitting room was the nicest – and it went unused after the shadow of Emilia’s death. In those few rooms, he grew up and came to know the God who would sustain him in the many sufferings of his youth, the blessed Mother who would comfort him in the trials of his life, and the understanding of what it is to live with fear and hope, with joy and sorrow, with great love and great loss.
This home was located just across an alley from the parish church where Karol and his father would go to Mass each morning. What caught my eye was a large sundial mounted on the side of the church — a sundial now permanently marked with the precise time of Saint John Paul II’s death. Over the sundial was, and is, a Polish inscription that read, “Czas Ucieka Wiecznosc Czeka” or “Time Flies, Eternity Waits.”
These were words that young Karol Wojtyla would have seen out of his window every day. In those words, lies an important truth by which to live. It is a reminder to do what is urgent, pressing and necessary — but not at the expense of those things and people who are truly important because they point the way toward eternity.
For me, it is so easy to get caught up in the things of this world that keep life busy and make time fly. But, perhaps what gave St. John Paul II the serenity, courage, and fortitude to live the life he did was knowing that, in spite of all that makes time fly here on earth, it is eternity that waits — patiently and peacefully. It was a truth learned in his own hometown.
I would like to think that, in the joy of eternity, St. John Paul II prays for those of us still occupied with the busy-ness of life that makes time fly. I hope too, that the same eternity waits for us when we, cross the “threshold of hope” and leave behind our ordinary times.

(Lucia A. Silecchia is a Professor of Law at the Catholic University of America.)