Creating and holding space for our brokenness

Father Ron Rolheiser

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
Some years ago I went on a weekend retreat given by a woman who made no secret about the fact that not being able to have children constituted a deep wound in her life. So she offered retreats on the pain of being unable to have children. Being a celibate and not having my own children, I went on one of these retreats, the only man to venture there. The rest of the participants were women, mostly in their 40s and 50s, who had not borne children of their own.
Our leader, using scripture, biography, poetry and psychology, examined the issue of barrenness from many points of view. The retreat came to a head on Saturday evening with a ritual in chapel in which various participants went up to a huge cross and spoke out their pain for Jesus and everyone else to hear. That was followed by us watching, together, the British movie, Secrets and Lies, within which one woman’s heartache at being unable to conceive a child is powerfully highlighted. Afterwards there was a lot of honest sharing of feelings – and lots and lots of tears! But after that painful sharing of pain and the over-generous tears which accompanied it, the entire atmosphere changed, as if some dark storm had just done its thing but left us still intact. There was relief and plenty of laughter and lightheartedness. A storm had indeed passed us over and we were safe.
“All pain can be borne if it can be shared.” Art Schopenhauer is credited with saying that, but irrespective of who said it first, it captures what happened at that retreat. A deep pain was made easier to bear not because it was taken away but because it was shared, and shared in a “sacramental” way. Yes, there are sacraments that don’t take place in a church, but still have sacramental power. And we need more of these.
For example, Rachel Held Evans writes: “Often I hear from readers who have left their churches because they had no songs for them to sing after the miscarriage, the shooting, the earthquake, the divorce, the diagnosis, the attack, the bankruptcy. The American tendency toward triumphalism, of optimism rooted in success, money, and privilege, will infect and sap of substance any faith community that has lost its capacity for holding space for those in grief.”
She’s right. Our churches aren’t creating enough space for holding grief. In essence: In the everyday, practical spirituality of community, prayer, liturgy and Eucharist within our churches we don’t lean sufficiently on the fact that Christ is both a dying and a rising reality. We generally don’t take the dying part of Christ as seriously as we should. What are the consequences?
Among other things, it means that we don’t create enough communal, ritual celebrations in our churches within which people can feel free to own and express their brokenness and grief communally and in a “sacramental” way. Granted our churches do have funeral rites, sacraments of the sick, reconciliation services, special prayer services after a tragedy within a community and other rituals and gatherings that are powerful spaces for holding grief and brokenness. However (with the exception of the sacrament of reconciliation which though is generally a private, one-to-one ritual) these are generally tied to a special, singular circumstance such as a death, a serious sickness or an episodic tragedy within a community. What we lack are regular ecclesially-based communal rituals, analogous to an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, around which people can come, share their brokenness and experience a grace that can only come from community.
We need various kinds of “sacramental” celebrations in our churches within which, to use Rachel Held Evans’ terminology, we can create and hold space for those who are grieving a broken heart, a miscarriage, an abortion, a dire medical diagnosis, a bankruptcy, the loss of a job, a divorce, a forced retirement, a rejection in love, the death of a cherished dream, the movement into assisted living, the adjustment to an empty nest within a marriage, barrenness and frustrations of every kind.
What will these rituals look like? Mostly they don’t exist yet so it is up to us to invent them. Charles Taylor suggests that the religious struggle today is not so much a struggle of faith but a struggle of the imagination. Nobody has ever lived in this kind of world before. We need some new rituals. We’re pioneers in new territory and pioneers have to improvise. Admittedly, pain and brokenness have always been with us, but past generations had communal ways of creating space for holding grief. Families, communities and churches then had less of a struggle with the kind individualism that today leaves us mostly alone to deal with our brokenness. Today there’s no longer a sufficient communal and ecclesial structure to help us accept that, here in this life, we live “mourning and weeping in a valley of tears.”
We need to imagine some new, sacramental rituals within which to help hold our grief.

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

All creatures of ordinary times

Lucia Silecchia

By Lucia Silecchia
Kittens have eyelashes. I distinctly remember the moment I first noticed this. Years ago, a cat welcomed a litter of kittens in my family’s backyard. Happily, they were unafraid of their accidental landlords but had a wide-eyed curiosity about us. As they let me approach them, I saw perfect, nearly invisible, rows of eyelashes above the bright yellow eyes that looked up at me.
I was well beyond the age when this sort of discovery should have struck me so deeply. Yet, it did. There was something about such minute detail on such tiny creatures that overwhelmed me with a sense of creation’s glory – and the far greater glory of the Creator. God had planned every tiny eyelash above every tiny eye on every tiny face of every tiny kitten throughout time.
Often, it can be overwhelming to think directly of the glory of God because it is so far beyond what I can start to comprehend. Indeed, it is also overwhelming to contemplate the great dignity of human persons created in the image and likeness of God. Thus, I am grateful for all the ways in which the more accessible, but often overlooked, everyday miracles of creation show a glimpse of the face of God.
Each autumn, October’s feast day of St. Francis of Assisi turns our attention to the particular way in which the creatures of this world reflect their awesome Creator. In so many churches, blessings of animals take place – perhaps with some trepidation! Household pets are blessed during these days in an expression of gratitude for the ways in which they brighten our ordinary times in so many ways.
Cats will come, with that look of disgruntled ennui that cats wear better than anyone else can. Good-hearted dogs will frolic joyfully at the chance to meet new two and four-footed friends. Fish will slosh around in their bowls when they are carried to church steps and gardens – and it is hard to fathom what they may be thinking as their serene existence is interrupted in this way. Birds will dart around in their cages as they go on this peculiar fieldtrip, and the turtles, toads and lizards will wear the inscrutable looks they always sport. Gerbils and hamsters may nervously burrow in their cages when they discover that they are in a crowd that includes cats and the occasional snake. More exotic and larger animals will be welcomed too, in the hopes that nothing unexpected happens as they assemble.
As people and pets gather in holy places, I hope it will be a chance to think again of the ordinary extraordinariness of the animals who share our world. If I had an eternity, I could never imagine into creation the octopus, the elephant, the starfish or the giraffe – or any of the creatures that dart in the depths of the sea and fill the sky with fluttering. Who but God could conceive of a butterfly, a dolphin, a porcupine or a sea urchin? Yet, they grace my world and for the gifts of them, I am grateful.
Paradoxically, there are circumstances in which it seems as though our animals are treated better than our neighbors are. Conversely, there are other times when animals are treated with cruel neglect and thoughtlessness. Yet, despite these failings in the ways we share our world with others, I hope that this year, our tributes to St. Francis are a time for gratitude.
It is a time for gratitude for the blessed gift of creation, and for the gentle power of God the Creator who brought humanity and all else that lives into creation. It is a time for gratitude for the animals who share our homes, hearths and hearts – and for all those creatures we do not know. Most importantly, it is a time to be grateful to a God who even gives kittens those eyelashes that to this day remind me to be thankful for the smallest of miracles in ordinary times.

(Lucia A. Silecchia is a Professor of Law at the Catholic University of America. “On Ordinary Times” is a biweekly column reflecting on the ways to find the sacred in the simple. Email her at

A baby, Archbishop Sheen and a miracle

Melvin Arrington, Jr.

GUEST Column
By Melvin Arrington
In one of the most famous sports calls of all time, Al Michaels, counting down the closing seconds of the 1980 U. S. Olympic hockey team’s upset victory over the mighty Soviet Union team, shouted at viewers, “Do you believe in miracles? YES!”
Well, of course, Catholics believe in miracles but, unfortunately, our modern culture does not. Those who subscribe to the prevailing secular philosophies of our day believe the natural world is all there is: no heaven or hell, no angels and certainly no miracles. In short, our culture pounds it into us on a daily basis that the miraculous simply does not exist and anything remotely considered supernatural is nothing more than superstition or a fraud.
Enter Bonnie Engstrom, popular Catholic blogger and speaker from central Illinois and mother of eight. She and her husband Travis beg to differ. In her recently published volume, 61 Minutes to a Miracle: Fulton Sheen and a True Story of the Impossible (Our Sunday Visitor, 2019), Engstrom relates the gripping facts of how her son James, who was delivered stillborn, suddenly came back to life 61 minutes after his birth.
All the while James was cold and blue and without a pulse or a heartbeat, Engstrom continually invoked the name of the famous Catholic radio and TV evangelist Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979) and asked for his intercession for her son. Sheen, a native of central Illinois whose cause for sainthood is currently moving forward, went to school in Peoria and was ordained to the priesthood there one hundred years ago.
The long, winding road to Sheen’s canonization began in 2002 with the opening of his “cause,” at which time he was given the title “Servant of God,” the first step along the way. Then, in June of 2012, following years of investigation into Sheen’s life, writings and broadcasts, Pope Benedict XVI declared that the Archbishop had lived a life of “heroic virtue” and named him “Venerable” (Step two).
Since the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Pope have already given their approval for the cause to go forward, at some point in the not-too-distant future, God willing, the Diocese of Peoria will celebrate Sheen’s beatification, at which time he will be declared “Blessed,” leaving him one step away from sainthood.
Engstrom’s personal devotion to Sheen developed slowly. Oddly enough, her first impression of the pioneer Catholic televangelist was not a positive one. On one occasion when she was back home from college watching television in her parent’s living room, she came across a rerun of one of Sheen’s programs. There was something mesmerizing about his overly dramatic style, his long, flowing cape and the penetrating gaze of those deep-set eyes that led her to ask her mother, “Who is that man? He looks like a vampire.”
However, as Bonnie and Travis uncovered more information about Sheen and watched his videos, they became fascinated with this future saint who was born and grew up only twenty miles from their house. When choosing baby names, the one they settled on for a boy was James Fulton.
This book is difficult to put down, not only because of Engstrom’s captivating, fast-paced narrative but also because of her brutally honest account of her thoughts and emotions. Especially poignant is the chapter where she reveals a deeply troubling dream, she had eight months into her pregnancy, a nightmare that would soon become reality.
During the 61 minutes and the aftermath, when the doctors told her that, if James lived, he would be severely handicapped, she experienced moments of questioning and doubting her faith. But through it all she remained steadfast in prayer, asking for Archbishop Sheen’s intercessory prayers. Meanwhile, James began to reach his developmental milestones. When an MRI showed that the child had no brain damage, it was clear that a second miracle had occurred. And now, at age nine, he is a happy, healthy boy.
Engstrom provides many spellbinding details that add to the compelling nature of this story, details that, because of space limitations, must be omitted from this brief review. And those are what make reading 61 Minutes to a Miracle so enthralling. Because of Sheen’s upcoming beatification, this is a timely read but its subject matter of a miraculous healing is timeless.
And so, each reader, after finishing the book must answer one question. It’s the same question that everyone sooner or later has to answer: Do you believe in miracles?

(Melvin Arrington is a Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages for the University of Mississippi and a member of Oxford St. John Parish.)

Answering the call

Father Nick Adam

In late September, I took a group of young women on a tour of several different religious communities in our region. We visited sisters who are nurses that care for the sickest of the sick, and who pray with families through the night as they prepare to commend their loved ones to the Lord. (Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick, New Orleans) We visited sisters who work in publishing and are dedicated to increasing the visibility of the Gospel on social media platforms. (Daughters of St. Paul, Metairie, La.) We visited sisters who are catechists and philosophy professors, (Daughters of Divine Providence, Covington, La.) and we ended our trip visiting cloistered nuns dedicated to praying for the Church and the world. (Carmelite Monastery, Covington, La.)
It was an eye-opening experience for the discerners and also for this priest. I heard vocation stories that sounded a lot like mine, calls that came from the Lord in the same mysterious way that my call to priesthood had come. It was an incredible trip.
As we seek to inspire disciples and create a culture of vocations, women religious must play a vital role. The young women were joined by supportive mothers who were excited to see what religious life was about and they were all blown away at the joyful hearts that they connected with over the weekend. If you are interested in visiting a religious community or learning more about male or female religious life, contact me in the Office of Vocations,
– Father Nick Adam

NEW ORLEANS – Seniors Annalise Rome, Leah Murphy, Hannah Dear and Farrell Moorehead, participate in morning prayer with the Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick at St. Joseph Catholic School. (Photo by Father Nick Adam)

Vocations Events

Thursday, Oct. 24, 6:30 p.m – St. Richard Catholic Church (Glynn Hall). This is a meeting for anyone interested in helping to launch a Serra Club in the Diocese of Jackson. The Serrans are lay men and women dedicated to supporting priestly vocations in their diocese. Please contact the Office of Vocations if you are interested in attending this meeting.
Friday, Nov. 8-11 – Saint Joseph Seminary College offers a retreat for high school men (juniors and seniors) who are interested in learning more about seminary life. The retreat lasts from Friday evening through Sunday lunch and gives discerners a chance to get a feel for the seminary routine and meet seminarians and professors.
Friday, Nov. 22 – Bonfire Football Game – St. Joseph Seminary, Covington, La.
Contact the Office of Vocations if interested in attending any of these events.

NATCHEZ – (Above) Father Mark Shoffner and senior, Faith Anne Brown, show their Greenwave school spirit in the ring on Sept. 14 at Cathedral school’s homecoming court announcement. (Photo by Shannon Mason Rojo)
NATCHEZ – (Above) Father Mark Shoffner and senior, Faith Anne Brown, show their Greenwave school spirit in the ring on Sept. 14 at Cathedral school’s homecoming court announcement. (Photo by Shannon Mason Rojo)
NATCHEZ – Father Scott Thomas cathes some air while playing some ball out on Cathedral school’s football field on Friday, Sep. 20. (Photo by Cara Serio)

Parish calendar


HOLLY SPRINGS Hands–ON + Hearts–IN is a program is to assist women who are discerning a call to consecrated life through hands-on service to the needy throughout north Mississippi. Monday – Thursday, Oct. 21–24. This program, coordinated by the Sisters of the Living Word, is a collaborative effort between the Chicago Archdiocesan Vocation Association (CAVA) members and Sacred Heart Southern Missions (SHSM). The hospitality team will be the Sisters of the Living Word. They previously will be offering the meals and a comfortable home base for the prayer and discernment aspects of the experience. Details: contact Sister Sharon Glumb, SLW at or (847) 577-5972 Ext# 233.
METAIRIE, La. Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans (CCRNO), Torrent of Grace, An Evening of Worship, Sunday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Benilde cafeteria, 1901 Division Street. The evening features “Overshadow Me” with Sean Tobin, composer and worship leader from Los Angeles. The sole purpose of this gathering is to seek God, to worship and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit. Everyone is invited who desires to spend an evening with prophetic, spirit–filled music and praise. There is no charge, but a love offering will be received. Details:; or (504) 828-1368.
MIAMI, Fl. Journeying with Pope Francis Conference Roots and Challenges, Pedro Arrupe Jesuit Institute, Nov. 8-10. Bilingual confernce touching on a variety of subjects and challenges. Cost: $160-$180 – Limited to 150 attendees. Details: or email Ramon Machado at
NATCHEZ Join Father Mark Shoffner on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land Feb. 12-21, 2020. Details: call Father Mark at the church office (601) 445-5616.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. National Catholic Singles Conference, Oct. 25–27. Join hundreds of single Catholics from across the country at the Diocese of Nashville Catholic Pastoral Center. The weekend includes talks by dynamic speakers (Sr. Helena Burns, Dr. Kerry Cronin, Damon Owens and David Clayton) as well as music, social events, prayer, food, fellowship and more. Space is limited. Enter promo code NASH19 for a $20 discount. Details: For more information and to register visit or call Mirjana Northrop at (512) 766–5798 or email
STANTON, Tenn, Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend, Oct. 25–27 at Our Lady Queen of Peace Retreat Center. Details: Norman and Barbara Sobota at (901) 373-7030 or email


ABERDEEN St. Francis, Adult Bible Study, Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Studying the Gospel of John. Details: church office (662) 813-2295.
BATESVILLE St. John, Knights of Columbus are holding a Rummage Sale, Friday, Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 2 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please donate any clean, unbroken, gently used items that you no longer need. Details: church office (662) 563-2273.
OLIVE BRANCH, Queen of Peace, Prayer and Worship Course taught by Sister Emily, Thursdays, Oct. 3 until Nov. 21 at 6:45 pm. The focus of the classes will be a better understanding of the liturgy and of various prayer forms. The texts that will be used are Introduction to Christian Worship, third edition and We Worship: A Guide to the Catholic Mass. Details: or the church office (601) 895–5007.
JACKSON HABITAT FOR HUMANITY CAPITAL AREA CATHOLIC BUILD – The build for the next 5 years will be renovating existing houses in the Broadmoor Neighborhood in north Jackson. Sign-up sheets for Saturdays, Oct. 19, Oct. 26, Nov. 2, Nov. 9, Nov. 16 and Nov. 23 are available at participating parishes. Please consider helping with this very worthwhile ministry. No experience is necessary, just a desire to help someone less fortunate than yourself. In addition, they still need assistance in reaching their financial goal. Any size gift will be greatly appreciated. To donate, visit; call (601) 353-6060 or mail to Humanity MS Capital Area, P.O. Box 55634, Jackson, MS 39296.
JACKSON Walk for Life to benefit Pro-Life Mississippi. Oct. 19 at 8 a.m. Details:
YAZOO CITY St. Mary, Bake Sale, Lunch, & Bingo, Tuesday, Nov. 26. Community will be invited to participate in the Bake Sale, as well as purchase a lunch and then play Bingo. If you have any items you would like to donate for Bingo prizes, please contact


JACKSON Sister Thea Bowman School, registration is underway for the 2019–20 school year. If you are looking for a solid academic education rooted in Gospel values serving grades Pre K3 – 6th grades. Details: Shae Goodman-Robinson, principal at (601) 506-8998 for more information.
JACKSON St. Richard would like to ask you to continue to vote for in the Bank On Their Future contest. The school must be in at least third place to receive some sort of prize. You can vote daily until Oct. 15th. Details:
MADISON St. Anthony, Open House and Fall Festival, Saturday, Nov. 2 from 2-5 p.m. There will be games, carnival food and hayrides. Details: school office (601) 607-7054.
RIDGELAND St. Francis of Assisi, Senior Bible Break, Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m. at M7 Coffee House, 111 North Wheatley Street in Ridgeland, for all 12th graders for scripture sharing and fellowship. Bring a Bible and friends are welcome. Details: church office (601) 856-5556.


Miss Sturbaum served as the Lay Ecclesial Minister at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Louisville and St. Therese Catholic Church in Kosciusko for nearly twenty years. She was very involved in prison ministry, as well as her daily duties of ministering to the two parishes.

Looking at Elizabeth Warren’s child care plan through a pro-life lens

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – In February, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a leading Democratic presidential aspirant, made a splash when she unveiled one of her many plans, this one on universal child care.
It may have gotten lost in the pileup of plans laid out subsequently by Warren and a raft of other presidential hopefuls. But the question is whether Warren’s child care proposal has the secondary effect of being a pro-life plan.
Not that Warren herself would call it pro-life; in May, she revealed another plan, about three-fourths as long as the child care plan, titled “Congressional Action to Protect Choice.”
Still, the child care plan deserves scrutiny under a pro-life lens, especially given the reasons why women say they get abortions.
In a Guttmacher Institute survey conducted in 2004 – the last time such a poll on this topic was conducted – economic reasons are cited most often and are in the highest percentage of responses. Women were asked to name up to four reasons.
“Can’t afford a baby now” was cited by 73 percent of the women. “Would interfere with job/employment/career,” was mentioned by 38 percent. “Can’t afford a baby and child care” – a reason that wasn’t even on Guttmacher’s radar when it conducted the same kind of survey in 1987 – was mentioned by 28 percent.
It’s not as if Congress has been paralyzed by inaction on child care like it has on so many other issues. Last year, it passed a $2.4 billion funding increase for the Child Care and Development Fund, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump, The total kitty got raised to $8.1 billion distributed to states to fund child care for low-income families. Even a decade of funding at that level represents a slender fraction of the estimated $687.5 billion federal outlay Warren envisions for her plan over 10 years.
What the federal government cannot or will not do, at least for now, states are interested in picking up some of the slack. Fifteen governors were elected last November on platforms that included improvements in early childhood development. Many of the successful governors pledged funding for universal or optional public pre-kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds as part of their campaign platforms.
The issue resonates among voters. A 2018 poll conducted by GBA Strategies, a public opinion and strategic consulting firm, found 54 percent of parents called finding quality, affordable child care in their area either a “somewhat serious” or “very serious” problem, with the numbers spiking for parents of minor children of any age – including 83 percent of parents of kids under age 5.
Moreover, 64 percent agreed with the statement that “we nee to raise the bar on quality, safety and reliability at all child care centers” and “government has a critical role to play” on the issue, while 68 percent agreed that “our public policies should be designed to help families afford the costs of child care and early learning.”
Which brings us back to the Warren plan, under which “the federal government will pick up a huge chunk of the cost of operating these new high-quality options,” she says. “That allows local providers to provide access for free to any family that makes less than 200% of the federal poverty line. That means free coverage for millions of children.”
For those with more income than that, child care costs would be “capped at no more than 7% of that family’s income,” Warren said. “That’s a heck of a lot less than what most families are paying for high-quality child care now.” She cited percentages of 9% to 36% of a family’s total income as typical child care costs today for just one child, with the numbers going up for multiple children – and the costs exacting a huge toll on single mothers.
“Nobody would be required to enroll in this new program,” Warren said. “But right now, millions of families can’t take advantage of child care because of its cost – and millions more are draining their paychecks to cover high costs.”

A volunteer helps Samuel Roberts put together a train track Aug. 19, 2016, at a free child care center at St. Stephen Church in Old Hickory, Tenn. In February, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a leading Democratic presidential candidate, unveiled her plan for universal child care, which she said would be paid in part by an “ultra-millionaire tax.” (CNS photo/Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register)

She touts it as “a win-win-win.” “Parents get the security of knowing there are affordable and instructional child care options for their children. That gives them the freedom to choose the best work and child care situation for themselves,” Warren said. “Kids get high-quality early learning opportunities that put them on track to fulfill their potential.”
Meanwhile, “the economy gets a huge boost. More than a million child care workers will get higher wages and more money to spend. More parents can work more hours if they choose to, producing stronger economic growth,” she added. “And a generation of kids will get the early instruction they need to be healthier and more productive members of society after high school and beyond.”
The plan would be paid for what Warren calls an “ultra-millionaire tax” on those with a net worth of at least $50 million that would generate an estimated $2.75 trillion over 10 years.
Michael New, a visiting assistant professor of political science and social research in the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America in Washington, disputes the notion that Warren’s plan would have a secondary pro-life effect.
New said he has not seen evidence that “any kind of provision of government benefits – welfare, child care – has any impact on the abortion rate,” he told Catholic News Service Sept. 26, adding there’s “no substantive body of research providing universal child care of any kind” makes a difference.
He said a study soon to be published indicates that stronger enforcement of child support laws brings down the abortion rate, but “it’s only one study. It’s not wise to invest a lot of credence in one study.”
While “I don’t deny there’s an economic component” to Warren’s plan, New added, “we just don’t see the body of evidence.”
“Sen. Elizabeth Warren is correct that there are too many barriers facing mothers and fathers pursuing work-life balance and the possibility of both a fulfilling career and a happy family life. Access to child care is a critical way to strengthen American communities, especially to give mothers’ options when it comes to making life-affirming choices,” said a Sept. 26 statement from Tom Shakely, chief engagement officer of Americans United for Life.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, did not mention Warren by name, although her own statement, issued Sept. 25, addressed Warren’s plan.
“We need a national conversation on how to help young families prosper, after children are born and before. As an advocate for pregnant and parenting students, I invite politicians from every party to talk about how to help families prosper, and that includes families whose children are in the womb. Some ideas are going to be better than others, but it’s striking how so many who argue for government programs for young children don’t offer the same support to preborn children,” Hawkins said.
“There’s a cognitive dissonance among politicians who can’t see the humanity of a child before birth. I would ask politicians who call themselves pro-child and pro-choice at what point do you offer an infant your support and protection?” she added. “Our policy needs to support and embrace children, born and preborn, and their parents at every stage of life.”

Pro-life supporters challenged by ordinance

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Pro-life supporters will now have barriers to their First Amendment rights to support women considering abortion at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. The Jackson City Council passed an ordinance on Tuesday, Oct. 1 preventing people from congregating, picketing or demonstrating within 15 feet of any entrance of a health care facility.
The ordinance also created a “buffer zone” prohibiting persons from approaching women with any sort of leaflet or speaking to her about saving the life of the unborn within a radius of 100 feet from the abortion clinic’s entrance.
On both Sept. 26 and Oct. 1, to a packed chamber, with standing room only in the hallway outside, Jackson city council members listened to those in favor and those against the ordinance. The ordinance passed with a vote of 3 to 1. The sole voting for the life of the unborn was Councilman Ashby Foote of Ward 1.

JACKSON – Also known as the “Pink House,” the Jackson Women’s Health Organization is located in the Fondren business district. (Photo from archives)

The ordinance states that the city council “recognizes that the exercise of a person’s right to protest or counsel against certain medical procedures is a First Amendment activity that must be balanced against another person’s right to obtain medical counseling and treatment in an unobstructed manner and that is free from increased health risks such as those associated with shouting or other amplified sound. The Jackson Police Department has been consistently called upon to mediate the disputes between medical providers, those seeking medical counseling and treatment, and those who would counsel against their actions. …”
The ordinance continued that, “It is the intent of this article to establish guidelines that will ensure that patients have unimpeded access to medical services that may be conducted in a calm environment while ensuring that the First Amendment rights of those seeking to communicate their message are not impaired.”
At the council meetings, business owners in the Fondren neighborhood in Jackson where the clinic is located reported that the atmosphere around the abortion clinic is “bad for business.” The position that resonated with council members when they voted for the “buffer zone” ordinance.
Lisa Duran, president of Pro-Life Mississippi, is concerned about the limitation “to exercise free speech [and] the right to share the Gospel on the streets of Jackson around ‘healthcare facilities.’”
Duran says that “all citizens should be concerned because now a Pandora’s Box has been opened.”
“The city council used the term ‘health care facility’ in the ordinance but the only facility mentioned in the city council meeting was the abortion facility … When did the killing of pre-born boys [and] girls become ‘healthcare’?”
Pro-Life Mississippi pledged to continue to be on the sidewalk near the facility to pray and share other options with expectant mothers. The organization invites all to respect life and join the group for their annual Walk for Life event on Oct. 19, where supporters march from St. Richard Jackson to the abortion facility and back. For more information visit

Day of golf supports special kids

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – The weather has been perfect for the St. Richard Special Kids Golf Tournament since the tournament’s inception in 1981 and this year was no exception. On Thursday, Oct. 3 golfers, including several priests and Bishop Joseph Kopacz, teed-off for this special fundraiser, which is organized by students in St. Richard’s Special Kids program.

JACKSON –Caroline Hosey, Benjamin Morgan, Rashad Adams, Will Parker, Mary Catherine Vanderloo, Allyson Plunkett, Joshua Richardson and Eve Walsh thank golf tournament participants. (Photo by Shannon Garner)

Golfers ranging in age from 20 to 80 years young enjoyed a game of golf, fellowship over lunch and prizes sponsored by area businesses and restaurants.

This is the largest fundraiser for the Special Kids program at St. Richard Jackson, a program that was started almost 40 years ago when Father Patrick Ferrell saw the need to provide a program designed to address the challenges of children with special needs.

No matter their faith denomination, the program works with students that have a variety of special needs and each follows an individual plan for growth and learning. The Special Kids high school program serves students 13 to 20, while the adult program serves students age 21 and over.

Several businesses, including M7 Coffeehouse, Gina Diamond’s Flower Company and The Ramey Agency, support the adult program by offering weekly opportunities to work and learn valuable skills.

“As the mom of a special needs adult, your hope is a place for your child that helps him realize his full potential and his place in the community. St. Richard does that and more. It is a second home for Will and the place that helped us realize he could do so much more than we ever imagined,” says parent Melissa Parker.

In addition to the golf tournament, the Special Kids program hosts two student art shows, where students sell ceramics, candles, icons and photography. The next at show will be held on Dec. 5 at Foley Hall at St. Richard. Funds raised from these events provide the financial aid needed to make the Special Kids program possible.

Rusty Haydel, steering committee member for the tournament and longtime supporter of the Special Kids program, said “St. Richard’s special kids are an inspiration to all of us. What ever we do for them, we get paid back tenfold. God has blessed us with our special kids.”

For more information on the program or to volunteer time and talent with students, email program director, Kim Turner at

Martínez joins chancery staff

Daisey Martínez

JACKSON – Daisey Martínez joined the chancery staff as the Associate for Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the new Office of Intercultural Ministry on Monday, Sept. 30. She is a member of St. Jude Pearl, but also serves as a catechist at St. Martin Hazlehurst and as a co-leader for the young adults group at St. Richard Jackson. Martínez is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and has worked as an admissions counselor for the university.
Over the summer two events helped lead Martínez to apply for the position at the diocese. She had a beautiful, intimate experience with the Eucharist at the Southeast Pastoral Institute’s (SEPI) Young Latino Summer Leadership Institute at the end of July and then the occurrence of the ICE raids in Mississippi on Aug. 7.
As the child of immigrants, her madre from El Salvador and her padre from Mexico, Martinez’s “heart ached” after the raids.
“Members of the Body of Christ were hurting. I realized that God needed me here in Mississippi,” said Martínez, who had been considering moving out of state. “Then one Sunday after Mass, Angéle Bartholomew approached me and told me that the diocese was creating a new Office of Intercultural Ministry. She … believed I could make a difference in our community if I accepted the role.”
While the Office of Intercultural Ministry is new to the diocese, it is a connection to the past. In 1978, Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA was appointed by Bishop Joseph Brunini to direct the Office of Intercultural Affairs for the diocese. In this position Sister Thea was integral in renouncing racial prejudice and promoting cultural awareness and sensitivity. In that role, she balanced the challenge of encouraging Catholics to embrace our common faith while celebrating our diverse cultural heritages.
With Sister Thea’s example in mind the Department of Faith Formation saw a growing need to re-envision the offices of separate ministries to serve the needs of long standing and emerging cultural communities in the diocese. The Office of Intercultural Ministry is tasked with the primary goal of cultivating empowerment of Black Catholic, Hispanic, Vietnamese, Native American and other culture communities throughout the diocese.
The office will be staffed by two full-time employees, a coordinator for the office and an associate for youth and young adults.
Director of Faith Formation, Fran Lavelle is thrilled to have Martínez on board in the associate role.
“Daisey brings so many gifts to this ministry. She is a servant leader and is a natural at making people feel at ease and part of the group,” said Lavelle.
“She is deeply committed to her faith and deeply committed to serving God’s people. I am so excited to see how God uses her gifts serving the young people of our diocese.”
Martínez credits her mother for the deep faith she has today. “She introduced me to God, His love and so much more,” said Martínez.
The Department of Faith Formation hopes to have an announcement soon on the position of Coordinator for the Office of Intercultural Ministry.