Priest’s new book offered as guide for reflection, preparation during season of Lent

By Terry Dickson
BAY ST. LOUIS – Father Sebastian Myladiyil, SVD, has written a new book that will serve as an excellent resource for daily reflection during Lent as Catholics prepare for Easter celebrations.
His Instruments: If God Could Use Them…He Can Use Us (Vol. 2) is available through Daphne, Ala. – based publisher River Birch Press. The first volume, which focuses on characters of the Old Testament, was published in 2012. Father Sebastian’s new book profiles 40 characters from the New Testament. The book’s foreword was written by Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz.
“The basic premise of this book is that, if you see a good person, you imitate that person, that person’s values and virtues. If you see a person of questionable character or a bad person, you examine your conscience,” said Father Sebastian during a recent visit to St. Augustine Seminary in Bay St. Louis.

BAY ST. LOUIS – Father Sebastian Myladiyil, SVD holds his newest book – His Instruments Volume Two. He is currently pastor at Sacred Heart Greenville. (Photo courtesy of Terry Dickson)

“In the Bible, we have so many wonderful men and women of faith whose lives and choices we can certainly relate to for ourselves. At the same time, in the Bible, we also have the questionable characters. Many of them responded to God’s call with great enthusiasm, initially, but when challenges and difficulties came, their enthusiasm diminished and they were attracted to other things. As a result, they fell away from God’s plans and their lives became failures.”
Father Sebastian, current pastor of Sacred Heart Greenville, said each of the characters in his newest book – both good and bad – have valuable lessons to impart.
“Their situations are no different than ours,” he said. “The historical context might be a little different, but the human emotions are the same and how we deal with the uncertainties of life, how we deal with unexpected tragedies in life. Those are all the same.
“The important thing is to see God always, and to have the steadfast conviction in our hearts that God is there always and to receive that strength from Him.”
Father Sebastian begins the book by examining the lives of the main characters from the Infancy Narrative – Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph and Mary.
“I also look at the public life of Jesus where some of the prominent apostles come along, such as Peter, Andrew, John, Thomas and Matthew,” he said. “I look at the parables of Jesus Christ where some of those beautiful characters evolve, such as the Good Samaritan, the Rich Man and Lazarus. I also profile characters such as Nicodemus and the Samaritan Woman, Martha and Mary and Lazarus. I look at the Acts of the Apostles and the writings of Paul. We have Stephen the Martyr and Saul of Tarsus, who becomes Paul of Tarsus.”
Father Sebastian is a native of India and a naturalized U.S. citizen. He is a Divine Word Missionary priest, serving the Southern Province of USA since 1999, and has been serving in different parishes that are comprised of multi-cultural populations such as African-Americans, Caucasians and Hispanics. Along with his pastoral duties, he obtained his first Master’s Degree in Moral Theology from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, and a second Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Counselling from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Currently, he is serving at Sacred Heart Greenville; St. Francis Church in Shaw; and Sacred Heart Church in Rosedale.
To date, Father Sebastian has four books published: His Instruments; His Instruments – If God Could Use Them He Can Use Us; and Blown Together – The Trials and Miracles of Katrina. His fourth book is a translation of His Instruments into Spanish: Sus Instrumentos. Currently, he is working on his next book, A Compendium of Prayers – Why We Pray.
His Instruments – If God Could Use Them He Can Use Us is available on Amazon for $20 plus shipping; the Kindle edition is available for $9.99. For more information, contact Father Sebastian at or call 228.324.4927.

(Terry Dickson is the editor of Gulf Pine Catholic and the director of communication for the Diocese of Biloxi.)

In memorium: Rev. James J. Pillar, O.M.I. and Sister Virginia Delaney

TEWKSBURY, Mass. – Rev. James J. Pillar, O.M.I., 92, died on Dec. 19, 2020 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Residence, Tewksbury, Massachusetts. He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and was a son of the late Jerome H. and Gertrude D. (Swifta) Pillar. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Donald and Gerald.
Father Pillar began studies for the Catholic priesthood in 1942 at Oblate Seminaries, St. Henry’s, Belleville, Illinois and at Our Lady of the Ozarks, Carthage, Missouri. He professed his first vows on Aug. 15, 1949 and was ordained to the priesthood at St. Paul Cathedral, Minnesota on June 5, 1954. He earned his Theology and Philosophy degrees at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He studied English Literature at Ottawa University in Canada.

Father James Pillar, OMI

Much of Father Pillar’s life was spent in the classroom teaching at the Oblate seminary in Pass Christian, Mississippi and twenty-seven years at Loyola University in New Orleans. In 2012, a Distinguished Professorship in History was established in his name at Loyola University. It was subsequently renamed the A.D.G. Distinguished Professorship in history, highlighting his close association with Alpha Delta Gamma Fraternity.
A published American church historian, he earned his PhD in Ecclesiology at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He retired from teaching in 1992 and did parish work in Colorado Springs. He enjoyed camping in the Rocky Mountains and serving as a cruise ship chaplain.
Upon retirement in 2004, he was a resident of Oak Meadows Senior Living in Oakdale, Minnesota. In 2017 he transferred to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Residence in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, where he remained until his death. In addition to his Oblate family, he is survived by many relatives and friends.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral services will be private. Father Pillar will be buried at Saint Joseph Cemetery, East Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
Donations in memory of Father Pillar may be made to the Oblate Infirmary Fund, 486 Chandler Street, Tewksbury, MA 01876-2849.

Sister Virginia Delaney, D.C

ST. LOUIS – Sister Virginia (Virginia Katherine) Delaney, D.C., died on Dec. 28, 2020 at Seton Residence in Evansville, Indiana. Sister Virginia was born on Sept. 4, 1931 in Natchez, Mississippi, and was one of four children of Marcus James and Mary Katherine (Gilbert) Delaney. She graduated from St. Joseph Catholic High School (Cathedral School) in Natchez, in 1949 and entered the Daughters of Charity in St. Louis, Missouri, the same year.
After initial formation and earning a B.S. degree in Nursing from Marillac College in St. Louis (1961), Sister Virginia served in health ministry as a Nurse Supervisor at Providence Hospital in Mobile and St. Paul Hospital in Dallas. She received an M.S. degree in Public Health Nursing from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan (1968) and an M.A. degree in Theological Studies from Springhill College in Jackson, (1988). Sister was a Public Health Nurse at St. Vincent Hospital in Birmingham; Charity Hospital in New Orleans; St. Mary’s Medical Center in Saginaw, Michigan; and for the County Health Department in Selma, Alabama. She also served as a nurse at Marillac Social Center in Chicago and as a teacher at Loyola University in Chicago and Alcorn State University in Natchez, (1985-1988). In 1988, Sister Virginia began her ministry in Mission Integration at St. Vincent Hospital in Birmingham, and as Director of Mission Services at the former Mater Dei Provincialate until she moved to Seton Residence to serve in the Ministry of Prayer.
Sister Virginia was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana, and a memorial Mass will take place at a later date. Sister was preceded in death by her parents; her sister, Merle McLain; and her brother, Leo Delaney. She is survived by her sister Mary Gunning; nieces and nephews; her Sisters in community; and many friends.
Donations may be made to the Daughters of Charity, 4330 Olive Street, St. Louis, MO 63108.

Featured photo Mississippi Snow Day …

LELAND – St. James Catholic Church in Leland was covered in snow on Monday, Jan. 11. Mississippi Catholic would like to publish snow day photos of our parishes and schools in our next edition and online, if you have a photo you would like to submit for possible publication, please send to by Jan. 20. (Photo by Deborah Ruggeri)

Advent/Christmas 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

            As we look back to the beginning of the year of the Lord, 2020, no one of us could imagine the storm that was advancing imperceptibly. Pre-pandemic and post pandemic will be the great divide for generations to come. Yet, the rhythms of life, although impacted, do not cease. On the family front, Emil Calomino, Joseph Calomino, and Fiorella Calomino, the last of the greatest generation, died in the Lord and entered eternal life. Each was well into his or her nineties.

In their passing, the torch officially is passed to the baby boomers, the new generation of elders. Because

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

of the pandemic, my travels have been restricted, within the diocese and beyond, and not being engaged fully in the ministry is frustrating. Yet, apart from going to the chancery office regularly, I spend more time in my home since March than I ever did for the first six years as Bishop of Jackson. Lo and behold, I am enjoying all of the tasks that a home requires, plus reading, praying, conversations, and of course, zooming from within the walls of mi casa. My dear dog, Amigo, now nearly 14 years old, keeps asking when I am going to return to work full time. He has been a delight in many ways, and although his mobility is diminishing, there is nothing wrong with his mouth nor his appetite.

            I am grateful to all of my coworkers in the vineyard of the Lord in the Diocese of Jackson, ordained and lay, who daily look for creative and meaningful ways to regroup, and to serve in our parishes, ministries and schools during this pandemic. Likewise, behind the scenes, only God knows the heroic efforts our families exert each day to do what has to be done for the children and the elders. At the top of our list, we express our gratitude for the health care workers who serve heroically during this marathon of critical care. They need our prayers, our respect and our common sense with proven precautions. Let us pray for all who have died, and for their loved ones who could not comfort them at their bedsides. For the unemployed and underemployed, may all who can make a difference, endeavor to do so as bridges to hope and a fresh start.

            As Christmas approaches we yearn for what is familiar and comforting. Yet, we are duty-bound in the midst of a rampant pandemic to curtail and/or sacrifice our treasured holy day and holiday traditions for the good of all, loved ones as well as the stranger. The time will come when we will feast together again and cherish one another’s company. Although this is distressing in the moment, each year at this time we proclaim hope and new life because of Jesus, the light shining through a world of shadows and death. In his light we seek comfort for our weary minds and hearts, and the blessings of encouragement and perseverance.

“The Lord is good; his mercy is eternal; his fidelity is from age to age! (Ps 100)  

Youth news

MADISON – St. Anthony kindergarten students prayerfully gather around the advent wreath during morning Prayer and Pledge. Pictured from left: Mae McDaniel, Ellison Cole, Emma Kassinger, Seth D’Mello, Caroline Hammett, Kaitlyn Rottman, Lucy Sanders and Olivia Howell. (Photo by Keri Dare)

(First pic) Second grade St. Anthony students created volcanos in conjunction with their classroom lessons. Addy Griffin is filled with excitement as her volcano erupts. (Photo by Kati Loyacono)

JACKSON – (Above) St. Richard fourth grade student Samantha Cochran won the school Spelling Bee on Tuesday, Dec. 8. (Photo by Chelsea Hamilton)
COLUMBUS – Annunciation fourth grader, Miles Brignac, presents his science fair project Soil vs. Soil x 4. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)

From the archives – exploring slave baptismal records, part II

By Mary Woodward
JACKSON – In last week’s article on the sacramental records of slaves recorded in the early days of our diocese, we talked about the beautiful handwriting that documented the sin of slavery. We talked about the records reflecting slaves with only a first name having been stripped of their ancestral names and given European names.
This week we will look at some actual records and see the different levels and phraseology of defining the particular condition of that person and his or her “family.”
It is important to note that baptism is essential to the Catholic Church. Normally, in our Catholic baptismal rite parents freely present their child to the church for baptism. They choose Godparents for their child and gather with the priest or deacon around the font.
The gathered community of parents and Godparents in these records also had another set of individuals present – owners or overseers on behalf of the owner. Several of these rites occurred in the homes of the owners.
The thought of who presented the child or who asked for the baptism in these records can spark some interesting dialogue. Did the parent(s) ask for the baptism or did they even have a choice? Did the owner (who also might have been one of the parents) ask for it out of some sense of obligation to their ingrained Catholic theology to baptize so that the child if it died prior to baptism did not end up in “limbo?” Did the priest ask for this out of a dedication to his ministry in the salvation of souls?
What we do know is that as Catholics, we have a very strong commitment to baptism. This beautiful sacrament in which we die to sin and are reborn into the life of Christ is the foundation of our sacramental life in the church.
Therefore, it does on one level demonstrate a recognition that the one to be baptized has a soul and that baptism is conferred to remove that stain of original sin and initiate him/her into life in Christ. Even though the individual was considered property, there was still a recognition of his or her inherent worth and humanity and the need for the sacrament to be conferred.
And yet I still wonder what might have gone through the mind of the person meticulously recording these records in standard format where the word slave and the color of the skin were included as an identifying factor. Again, remember that, sadly, slavery at this time was a cultural and legal institution. Many Catholics owned slaves.

JACKSON – Baptismal slave records document the sin of slavery, seen above in a record from July, 24, 1854. Diocese Archivist, Mary Woodward is presenting a series in Mississippi Catholic for reflection from the diocese archives to further understand the dynamic tension between faith and culture during the time of slavery in Mississippi. (Photo by Mary Woodward)

So, as you read through these records think about the beauty of the handwriting (example provided) and the desire to have a person initiated into Christ and the church through baptism. But on the other hand contemplate the immense gravity and evil of the phrase “slave of.”
I am going to start with a record from Spanish Colonial times. These are written in Spanish. The parents, Chere (father) and Genoveve (mother) of the girl are the same – both are slaves. What is interesting is Chere is a “slave of” Don Juan Rodriguez and Genoveva is “slave of” Madame Forman.
On the day of February 5, 1797, I, Don Francisco Lennan, priest of the Parish of the Savior in the city of Natchez, baptized and placed the holy oils on a girl of the color brown who was born on January 8, 1794, daughter of Chere, mulatto slave of Don Juan Rodriguez, and Genoveva, slave of Madame Forman; having conferred the sacred rites and prayers on this girl given the name Sara; Godparents were Simon de Arze and Maria Gertrude to whom I instructed on their spiritual kinship and have signed this: Francisco Lennan
It turns out that Madame Forman brought four to be baptized that day – two (Sara and Maria) from Chere and Genoveva; one named Thomasa described as a brown girl and daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth, both slaves of Madame Forman; and another Sara described as black and the daughter of Peter, slave of Madame Forman, and Judith, slave of Madame Paten.
The following record is from 1820 in Natchez and was written in English:
The underwritten testifies to have baptized in the Roman Catholic Church in the City of Natchez on the 26th of March 1820 a negro girl belonging to Gabriel Gireaudeau to whom the name Sophy was given; she was old seven years and had for Godfather Martial Pomet and for Godmother Virginia Gireaudeau.
Antoine Blanc, rector
We will have an article about the Gireaudeau family next edition. Antoine Blanc went on to become the first Archbishop of New Orleans.
From 1864, we have the following entry written by Bishop William Henry Elder, Bishop of the diocese from 1857 – 1880. This record reflects the pastoral care of the sick and again the foundational theology of baptism in that these individuals were in danger of death and the Bishop wanted to make sure they had received baptism. We will explore Bishop Elder’s time in a future article as well.
April 1 – At the smallpox hospital near Natchez, I baptized privately without ceremonies for in danger of death the following colored persons:
Joe aged 40 years
John Carter of [Peggy]
Henry Harrison of [Ocilia] – 56 years conditionally
The last two records shared are from the sacramental register of then Immaculate Conception Parish (now Sacred Heart) in Sulphur Springs (Camden). In these records a slave is denoted with a blank line after the first name is given.
The first record details an infant baptism that defines the infant as “servant.” This four-month-old baby was already destined for servitude. Since the Godmother is not given a last name, we can deduce she too was a slave.
The second example lists 15 slave children belonging to a Colonel Llyod of Maryland. They are listed in one record but they each are given a number in the register by listing them as 25-39 in the margin of the book.
In the year eighteen hundred and fifty four on the fourth day of June, Rev. C. Courjault baptized an infant named Elizabeth, born in February, same year, servant of Cornelius O’Leary of Madison County, Mississippi, Godmother Becky.
J.M. Guillou
Col. Lloyd
In the year eighteen hundred and fifty four, on the twenty fourth day of July, Rec. C. Courjault baptized the following children, Servants of Col. Lloyd of Maryland, on his plantation under the care of John Hargan Esq.
Bernard – John – Meletiana Mary – Louisa – Henry – Noah – Amos William – John Marion – William – Edward – Amalh – Alice – Eliza Ann – Sally Ann – Louisa Ann. John Hargan, Esq., stood Godfather for all the above.
J.M. Guillou
Our hope in the diocesan archives is to one day have the resources to digitize these records and make them accessible online for researchers to further discover and understand the dynamic tension between faith and culture during the time of slavery in Mississippi. Our archives are a gateway to that understanding and we are committed to broadening opportunities for study and open dialogue about this tension. We hope you will be able to reflect more on this topic and prayerfully seek opportunities to discuss this with others in a spirit of solid openness.
To be continued …

(Mary Woodward is Chancellor and Archivist for the Diocese of Jackson)

Posadas pickup pilgrimage gives gift of charity to Louisiana parishes affected by hurricanes

By Daisey Martinez
PEARL – Sister Marirose Rudek, R.S.M., Director of the Office of Religious Education and Evangelization in the Diocese of Lake Charles, shared during a regional meeting of the diocesan faith formation directors back in November. She spoke about the great loss people in her diocese have faced and how they are all just trying to navigate these troubled times, together.
“After the hurricane Laura, people had the attitude of, ‘It’s okay we can do this. We can handle it’, but after Hurricane Delta, people were just sobbing, sobbing, sobbing. … On top of everything else, people are losing loved ones due to natural deaths, heart attacks, suicide. There’s this sense of being overwhelmed and fatigued.” These are some of the words that Sister Marirose used to describe the difficult situation over in Lake Charles.
Daniel McCormick, Director of the Office of Religious Education from the Diocese of Birmingham, was touched by what Sister Marirose had shared with the group and knew he wanted to find a way to help out. After speaking with Sister Marirose, McCormick came up with the idea of a supply drive for faith formation for the parishes who lost their religious education buildings and more due to the wind and rain damage of the hurricanes.

PEARL – Mike Speyrer of Birmingham picks up a donation to load on the truck for a special “Posadas Pickup Pilgrimage” project that stopped at St. Jude parish on Dec. 17. Daniel McCormick of the Diocese of Birmingham developed the project to deliver much needed supplies to parishes in the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana that were hard hit by Hurricanes Laura and Delta earlier in the year. Stops were made in Meridian, Pearl and Natchez within the diocese. Kelly McGregor of St. Jude Pearl is pictured in the background. (Photo by Daisey Martinez)

This was the genesis of the “Posadas Pickup Pilgrimage” project. The objective was to gather parish leaders and catechists for charitable Advent celebrations at parishes across the dioceses of Birmingham, Jackson, and Alexandria and encourage the celebration of the Posadas in parish communities and families this Advent.
McCormick planned the trip to include nine stops to symbolize the nine nights leading up to Christmas in the Posadas tradition. Three of those stops were in the Diocese of Jackson: St Patrick Meridian; St Jude Pearl, and Mary Basilica Natchez on Dec. 16 and 17. Items were collected from their parishioners and from St. Francis Madison, St. Paul Flowood and Holy Family Jackson, whom actively participated by collecting and dropping off donations at the Pearl pickup location. St. Anthony in Madison and Cathedral in Natchez were some of the local Catholic schools that were also involved in collecting supplies for the pilgrimage. The parishes in these cities provided a welcoming environment for those who dropped off donations on the dates of the pickup.
In a time when everyone must be socially distant, this served as a wonderful opportunity for people to come together and show love and kindness to our neighboring brothers and sisters.

Sister Marirose messaged everyone involved by sharing her gratitude “Thank you to everyone, … no matter what you’re able to give. Just your prayers are much appreciated because the people in our diocese are overwhelmed and things have been stressful … so we’re grateful.”

Pope proclaims year dedicated to St. Joseph

St. Joseph and the Christ Child are depicted in a stained-glass window at Immaculate Conception Church in Westhampton Beach, N.Y. In a Dec. 8 apostolic letter, Pope Francis proclaimed a yearlong celebration dedicated to St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Marking the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being declared patron of the universal church, Pope Francis proclaimed a yearlong celebration dedicated to the foster father of Jesus.
In a Dec. 8 apostolic letter, “Patris Corde” (“With a father’s heart”), the pope said Christians can discover in St. Joseph, who often goes unnoticed, “an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.”
“St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all,” he said.
As Mary’s husband and guardian of the son of God, St. Joseph turned “his human vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of himself, his heart and all his abilities, a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home.”
Despite being troubled at first by Mary’s pregnancy, he added, St. Joseph was obedient to God’s will “regardless of the hardship involved.”
“In every situation, Joseph declared his own ‘fiat,’ like those of Mary at the Annunciation and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,” the pope said. “All this makes it clear that St. Joseph was called by God to serve the person and mission of Jesus directly through the exercise of his fatherhood and that, in this way, he cooperated in the fullness of time in the great mystery of salvation and is truly a minister of salvation.”
St. Joseph’s unconditional acceptance of Mary and his decision to protect her “good name, her dignity and her life” also serves as an example for men today, the pope added.
“Today, in our world where psychological, verbal and physical violence toward women is so evident, Joseph appears as the figure of a respectful and sensitive man,” he wrote.
Pope Francis also highlighted St. Joseph’s “creative courage,” not only in finding a stable and making it a “welcoming home for the son of God (who came) into the world,” but also in protecting Christ from the threat posed by King Herod.
“The Holy Family had to face concrete problems like every other family, like so many of our migrant brothers and sisters who, today, too, risk their lives to escape misfortune and hunger. In this regard, I consider St. Joseph the special patron of all those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution and poverty,” the pope said.
As a carpenter who earned “an honest living to provide for his family,” Christ’s earthly guardian is also an example for both workers and those seeking employment and the right to a life of dignity for themselves and their families.
“In our own day, when employment has once more become a burning social issue, and unemployment at times reaches record levels even in nations that for decades have enjoyed a certain degree of prosperity, there is a renewed need to appreciate the importance of dignified work, of which St. Joseph is an exemplary patron,” he said.
The Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal that deals with matters of conscience, also issued a decree Dec. 8 stating that plenary indulgences will be granted to Catholics not only through prayer and penance, but also through acts of justice, charity and piety dedicated to the foster father of Jesus.
Among the conditions for receiving an indulgence are a spirit detached from sin, receiving sacramental confession as soon as possible, receiving Communion as soon as possible and praying for the Holy Father’s intentions.
However, the decree also highlighted several ways to obtain the indulgence throughout the year, including to those who “meditate on the prayer of the ‘Our Father’ for at least 30 minutes or take part in a spiritual retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph.”
As a “just man,” the document continued, who guarded “the intimate secret that lies at the bottom of the heart and soul,” St. Joseph practiced the virtue of justice in “full adherence to the divine law, which is the law of mercy.”
“Therefore, those who, following the example of St. Joseph, will perform a corporal or spiritual work of mercy, will also be able to obtain the gift of the plenary indulgence,” it said.
Indulgences will also be granted to families and engaged couples who recite the rosary together and thus imitate the “same climate of communion, love and prayer lived in the Holy Family. “
Other acts of devotion include entrusting one’s daily activities and prayers for dignified employment to St. Joseph, reciting the litany or any “legitimately approved” prayer to St. Joseph.
During this time of pandemic, the Apostolic Penitentiary also decreed that special indulgences will be granted to the elderly, the sick and all those who “for legitimate reasons are prevented from leaving their home” by “reciting an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph and committed to fulfilling the conditions as soon as possible.”