Church must learn how to speak to young people

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN (CNS) – Too often when Catholics try to talk to young people about vocational discernment, “it’s as if we were speaking Esperanto to them, because they don’t understand a thing,” Pope Francis said.
Bishops, pastors, religious and other adults must learn to speak young people’s language and must avoid exercising undue pressure on young men and women to enter a seminary or join a religious order, the pope said June 6 at a gathering of people doing vocations work in Europe.
With the advent of new technologies and social media, he added, young people today know how to contact others, “but they do not communicate.” “Communicating is perhaps the challenge that we have with young people,” the pope said. “Communication; communion; we must teach them that computers are good, yes; to have some form of contact, but this isn’t language. This is a ‘gaseous’ language. The true language is to communicate, to speak.”
Participants in the Congress for the Pastoral Care of Vocations in Europe were in Rome to study ways to implement the recommendations made during the Synod of Bishops on young people and vocational discernment in October.
Departing from his prepared speech, the pope said he preferred to speak “a bit off the cuff with what comes from my heart.”
Citing the words of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis said the “church grows through attraction, not proselytism” and recalled a time when several Italian religious orders went to the Philippines in the early 1990s to search for vocations to bring back to Italy.
Seeking vocations “isn’t about looking where to take people like those nuns” who would “go there and brought girls here,” he said. “I wanted to clear this up because the spirit of proselytism hurts us.” Instead, the church must help young people learn how “to dialogue with the Lord” and how to ask him, ‘What do you want from me?’”
“This is important, it is not an intellectual conviction,” the pope said. “No, the choice of a vocation must be born from dialogue with the Lord, no matter what their vocation is.”
Young people, he said, must be helped to get to the point where they can say, “The Lord inspires me to go forward this way in life, on this path.” Pope Francis said helping young people discern their vocation is tiring work and requires “so much patience and a great capacity to listen.”
“It isn’t easy, it isn’t easy, but you can’t go forward with preconceived notions or purely doctrinal impositions, in the good sense of the word: ‘You must do this!’” the pope said. “No, you must accompany, guide and help so that the encounter with the makes them see what their path in life is.”

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

Where is home?


Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
During the years that I served as a Religious Superior for a province of Oblate Priests and Brothers in Western Canada, I tried to keep my foot inside the academic world by doing some adjunct teaching at the University of Saskatchewan. It was always a once-a-week, night course, advertised as a primer on Christian theology and drew a variety of students.
One of the assigned readings for that course was Christopher de Vinck’s book, Only the Heart Knows How to Find Them: Precious Memories for a Faithless Time. The book is a series of autobiographical essays, most of which focus on his home life and his relationship to his wife and children. The essays describing his relationship to his wife don’t overplay the romantic, but are wonderfully heart-warming and set sex into a context of marriage, safety and fidelity.
At the end of the semester a young woman, 30 years old, said this to me as she handed in her term paper, a reflection on de Vinck’s book: “This is the best book I’ve ever read. I didn’t have a lot of moral guidance growing up and so I wasn’t always careful with my heart and was pretty free and existential about sex. I’ve basically slept my way through two Canadian provinces; but now I know that what I really want is what this man (de Vinck) has. I’m looking for the marriage bed!” Her eyes teared as she shared this.
I’m looking for the marriage bed! That’s a great image for what the heart calls home.
At the end of the day, what is home? Is it an ethnic identity, a gender, a citizenship, a house somewhere, the place where we were born or is it a place in the heart?
It’s a place in the heart and the image of the marriage bed situates it well. Home is where you are comfortable, physically, psychologically and morally. Home is where you feel safe. Home is where your heart doesn’t feel out of place, compromised, violated, denigrated, trivialized or pushed aside (even if it is sometimes taken for granted). Home is a place which you don’t have go away from to be yourself. Home is where you can be fully yourself without the need to posture that you are anything other than who you are. Home is where you are at ease.
There are various lessons couched inside that concept of home, not least, as this young woman came to realize, some valuable insights apposite how we think about love and sex. Some of what’s at stake here is captured in the popular notion of longing for a soulmate. The trouble though is that generally we tend to think of a soulmate in very charged romantic terms. But, as de Vinck’s books illustrates, finding a soulmate has more to do with finding the moral comfort and psychological safety of a monogamous marriage bed than it has to do with the stuff of romantic novels. In terms of our sexuality, what lies deepest inside our erotic longings is the desire to find someone to take us home. Any sex from which you have to go home is still something which is not delivering what you most long for and is, at best, a temporary tonic which leaves you searching still for something further and more real.
The phrase, I’m looking for the marriage bed, also contains some insights vis-a-vis discerning among the various kinds of love, infatuation and attractions we fall into. Most people are by nature temperamentally promiscuous, meaning that we experience strong feelings of attraction, infatuation and love for all kinds of others, irrespective of the fact that often what we are attracted to in another is not something we could ever be at home with. We can fall in love with a lot of different kinds of people, but what kind of love makes for a marriage and a home? Marriage and home are predicated on the kind of love that takes you home, on the kind of love that gives you the sense that with this person you can be at home and can build a home.
And, obviously, this concept doesn’t just apply to a husband and wife in marriage. It’s an image for what constitutes home – for everyone, married and celibate alike. The marriage bed is a metaphor for what puts one’s psychological and moral center at ease.
T.S. Eliot once wrote: Home is where we start from. It’s also where we want to end up. At birth our parents bring us home. That’s where we start from and where we are at ease until puberty drives us out in search of another home. Lots of pitfalls potentially await us in that search, but if we listen to that deep counsel inside us, that irrepressible longing to get home again, then like the wise magi who followed a special star to the manger, we too will find the marriage bed – or, at least, we won’t be looking for it at all the wrong places.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX.)

Bishops urged to pass ‘effective’ policies on accountability, transparency

(Editor’s note: Bishop Joseph Kopacz is at the USCCB meeting in Baltimore this week and was thus unable to contribute a column. His regular column will return in the next paper.)

By Julie Asher
WASHINGTON (CNS) – When the bishops gather in Baltimore starting June 11, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, said he’s “hopeful we will have some progress made in moving the football” on the church’s response to the abuse crisis by approving several proposals to hold the bishops accountable.
“I think the recent new norms from Holy Father will make it more possible, but I am waiting to see and I will be fully involved in the debate,” he told Catholic News Service June 7.
The centerpiece of the bishops’ agenda will be four action items dealing with the investigation of abuse claims against bishops themselves or accusations they have been negligent in handling or covering up cases of wayward priests and other church workers.
These proposals were before the bishops at the fall general assembly last November, but the Vatican requested they delay action on them until after the Vatican held a February meeting for presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide to discuss the abuse crisis.
The norms Bishop McKnight referenced are contained in Pope Francis’ “motu proprio,” released May 9 and in effect as of June 1. The document, titled “Vos estis lux mundi” (“You are the light of the world”), is a new universal law from the pope to safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable. It governs complaints against clergy or church leaders regarding the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons. The U.S. bishops will vote on directives for implementing this church law.
The full texts of the pope’s “motu proprio” and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” as well as the new reforms to be discussed in Baltimore, are available on a new website the USCCB launched June 7:
The pope’s new juridical instrument calls for a “public, stable and easily accessible” reporting system for allegations; clear standards for the pastoral support of victims and their families; timeliness and thoroughness of investigations; whistleblower protection for those making allegations; and the use of “proven experts from among the laity;” and the oversight of the metropolitan (archbishop) for such investigations in his province. The U.S. Catholic Church has 32 metropolitans.
Under each archdiocese are dioceses, also called suffragan sees, for which a metropolitan is responsible.
“For me the critical element in the effort to respond to the crisis is the necessity of lay involvement,” Bishop McKnight told CNS. “I am grateful the document allows for the metropolitan to use lay experts.”
Just as dioceses have a lay board to assess allegations against priests and other church workers, the same lay-led review is needed for bishops for two reasons, Bishop McKnight said. “First, for transparency to build credibility in the process so people know it is not just miters and collars but mothers and fathers (looking at these allegations) as well.”
“Second, as a bishop myself, if there was ever a false allegation made against me, I would want an independent lay assessment of the investigation to build credibility (in the finding) that the claim is not credible.”
Two other prelates interviewed by CNS ahead of the bishops’ spring assembly, Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Tucson, Arizona, and Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon, also strongly emphasized the need for lay involvement in reviewing claims against bishops.
“I cannot imagine there not being a majority of lay involvement,” Bishop Weisenburger said June 7. “The current model of diocesan review boards owes a substantial part of their success to the fact that they are lay-led and lay-driven. That fact is not lost on any bishop.”
In the Tucson Diocese, “we have had tremendous success in working with our Diocesan Review Board,” he noted.
“I feel certain that my brother bishops will strive to create regional lists of experts that are composed in majority of lay experts in the fields of law, law enforcement, psychology, education, canon law and social work,” Bishop Weisenburger added.
Said Archbishop Sample: “Clearly the cry for more lay involvement is not just among laity but priests and bishops (too). … For my part, I will do everything I can – and I am just one bishop among many – to ensure that there will be an adequate role for the laity to be involved in these investigations within these church processes. The ‘motu proprio’ certainly opens the door (to this).”
“Quite honestly I hope this is one of the areas we can strengthen. … I hope we will be able to enshrine within our own (structures) an active and significant role for the laity,” he said.
Going into the assembly, “my hopes and expectations are optimistic,” the archbishop added, “I wouldn’t say super-high but I’m very optimistic the bishops will be able to complete next week what we tried to begin at our November meeting in light of the new ‘motu proprio,’ (which is) further guidance on what we should be doing to take responsibility for this crisis in the church and respond to it.”
“I hope that there will be some good modifications and amendments to the documents” he said, to strengthen them especially with regard to “transparency and accountability, the two words that resonate most with me right now going into this meeting.”
The bishops must have effective protocols that enable them to hold each accountable, which is “really what Christ asks of us as shepherds of the church,” Archbishop Sample said. “We also need accountability before the people of God.”
As for the proposal for metropolitan oversight, the archbishop said that as metropolitan himself, he takes this charge “extremely seriously.”
“I think the Holy Father’s intention in the ‘motu proprio’ he issued is that the church use her own structures which are already in place to really address these issues in a significant way, and the role of the metropolitan archbishops is a grave responsibility,” he said.
Since the November meeting, when the metropolitan “option” surfaced, “I’ve given it a lot of reflection and I’m overwhelmed a little bit to receive this responsibility … and I pledge that I will do everything I can do to ensure there is full accountability in my realm of influence,” Archbishop Sample said.
“To the eyes of some it looks like the bishops are investigating themselves again and that this is what has gotten us into this mess in the first place,” he remarked.
However, it is important for people “to know and understand” that “using the church’s own structures is what the Holy Father intends,” he explained, and the church’s way of dealing with allegations – “within the church law and structures” – is carried out “without any prejudice” to civil authorities doing their own investigation.
“Both of these tracks have to run parallel, because in the end the church still has to deal with the status” of its own members, he said. “We need our own structure to deal with them” but this does not “hamper” what civil authorities must do on these abuse cases.
Bishop Weisenburger called the metropolitan option “an excellent model.”
“On the one hand it’s true to our history, who we are as a hierarchic church,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s a somewhat new adaptation which I think will allow general principles of investigation to be applied in a healthy local manner. The time limits related to the various steps are especially helpful as it prevents a critical investigation from being delayed.”
When he looks at his region, whose metropolitan is the archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, he said: “I trust that we have a wealth of experts who could come together and undertake an investigation in a timely and professional manner. I think something good for the church is unfolding before us.”
Last fall, when the Vatican asked the bishops’ to postpone voting on these critical abuse protocols, many felt the church was just stalling on the need to address issues of the hierarchy’s accountability, but Bishop Weisenburger feels “the November delay proved beneficial.”
“There was tremendous pressure for the bishops to create an immediate response to the situation – I felt that pressure myself – but in retrospect I’m not sure we make the best decisions when we move that fast,” he told CNS. “I think the Vatican summit helped clarify some of the critical issues. I now think it’s time for the U.S. bishops to come to a consensus on a procedure that can be undertaken easily when a report needs to be made about an allegation against a bishop.”
Bishop McKnight told CNS the laity in his diocese have given him “a consistent message” about the abuse scandal in listening sessions he has held, both this spring in preparation for his “ad limina” report to Rome and last fall ahead of the bishops’ November meeting: That message is to “get it all out now,” rather than this piecemeal approach to revelations about abuse, past or present.
One of his big questions about the McCarrick scandal, he said, is why haven’t members of the hierarchy “who were knowledgeable and complicit in his promotion” just come forward on their own and take responsibility?
“This does not require an investigation or special adjustment of canon law,” Bishop McKnight said. “I understand and feel the frustration of the laity.”

(Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher)

Bishop appoints new vocations team: Fathers Nick Adam, Aaron Williams

By Maureen Smith
Bishop Joseph Kopacz has appointed Father Nick Adam Director of Vocations and Father Aaron Williams Director of Seminarians effective June 13. The men were ordained together in 2018. Father Adam is the parochial vicar at Jackson St. Richard Parish and Father Williams is the parochial vicar at Greenville St. Joseph Parish.
Fathers Adam and Williams have come up with a plan and structure for their team-effort at increasing vocations to both the priesthood for men and consecrated religious life for men and women. Father Adam will take the lead on recruitment and early discernment. His plan includes regular visits to colleges across the state as well as diocesan high schools, regular maintenance and updates to social media and diocesan websites and collaboration with their fellow priests and lay ministers to foster a culture of vocations.

Father Nick Adam

Father Williams will work with seminarians once they enroll to keep an eye on their formation and provide support when needed. He will act as an intermediary between all the people involved in formation including Bishop Kopacz, seminary faculty and pastors overseeing summer assignments. He will also assist in the upkeep of the office’s online presence.
Bishop Kopacz noted that both men were already working in vocations prior to this appointment by their living witness as young, vibrant priests. “Their love for their vocations comes through in their interactions with their parishioners and students. They are a natural fit for this work,” said the bishop.
They also represent two ends of a vocational spectrum. Father Williams knew he wanted to be a priest at a young age. He was serving at the altar long before most children and went straight from high school into the seminary. Father Adam, on the other hand, did not consider the priesthood until after he completed college and started a career in broadcast journalism. This diversity of experience will be an asset to their work.
Earlier this year, Fathers Adam and Williams organized a seminary visit for a group of young men from the Jackson area. Visits like these can help a young man see what day-to-day life is like in the seminary setting and help him decide to take the next step in his discernment.

Father Aaron Williams

“One of the greatest joys of my first year of priesthood has been working with young Catholics and witnessing the joy of the Gospel through their example,” said Father Adam. “It reminds me of the great experience that I had in the seminary, studying with so many other young men who shared a love for the faith and for the priesthood. My goal as vocation director is simply to offer our young people an opportunity to come and see what the call to religious life is all about, and help them discern whether they are called to love and serve the Lord in this way,” he added.
For Father Williams, the appointment is an extention of the work he was already doing. “This past year I have served as an intermediary between the bishop and the seminary formation staff and seminarians. This appointment formalizes that relationship and will allow me to continue to assist in the same way this upcoming year,” he explained. “The seminaries which serve our diocese are remarkable institutions, and I look forward to the opportunity to stay involved with their programs and to assist Father Nick Adam in his great ministry to the diocese as vocation director,” he added.
Father Adam publishes a weekly podcast, the Positive Priest Podcast available on several podcast platforms. Both men post audio of their homilies on Soundcloud. Those interested in learning more about vocations can contact Father Nick Adam at (601) 366-2335 or by email at

Audit report released; bishops urged to renew vigilance ‘each day’

By Julie Asher (CNS)
WASHINGTON – The 16th annual report on diocesan compliance with the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” shows a significant increase in the number of abuse allegations over last year’s report because of additional claims received in five New York dioceses after implementation of their Independent Reconciliation and Compensation programs in the last year.
Released May 31, the report for audit year July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, states that 1,385 survivors of child sex abuse, including 26 minors, came forward with 1,455 allegations. In last year’s report, charges were raised by more than 650 adults and 24 minors.
Twenty-six of the new allegations reported by dioceses and eparchies involved current minors – 12 males and 14 females – and came from three different dioceses, the report said.
Of the other new allegations reported by dioceses and eparchies, 47 percent were said to have occurred or began before 1975; 43 percent between 1975 and 1999; and 5 percent since 2000. The most common time period for when these reported allegations occurred was 1975 to 1979, followed by 1970-1974.
More than half of new allegations reported by religious institutions in the latest audit year, or 55 percent, are alleged to have occurred or begun before 1975; 41 percent occurred or began between 1975 and 1999; and 1 percent (two allegations) occurred or began after 2000.
Regarding the 26 allegations involving current minors, the report said that as of June 30, 2018, three claims were substantiated and the clergy were removed from ministry; seven were unsubstantiated; three were categorized as “unable to be proven;” investigations were still in process for six of these allegations; two were referred to a religious order; two were reported as unknown clerics; and three were not claims of sexual abuse, but were boundary violations.
The report was issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners.
“These current allegations point to the reality that sexual abuse of minors by the clergy should not be considered by bishops as a thing of the past or a distant memory,” said Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the all-lay National Review Board, which oversees the audits. He called the 26 new allegations by current minors in dioceses and eparchies “concerning.”
“Any allegation involving a current minor should remind the bishops that they must rededicate themselves each day to maintaining a level of vigilance that will not permit complacency to set in or result in a less precise and less thorough implementation of the charter,” he said in introductory remarks to the report.
Cesareo pointed to areas of concern that he said must be addressed, such as “poor recordkeeping of background checks; failure to train or background check clergy, employees or volunteers who have contact with children; a high percentage of children not trained, especially in religious education programs; and lack of cooperation by parishes in the implementation of safe environment requirements.”
If parishes are unable to implement the charter “as fully as possible” because of a lack of resources, he said, parishes – and dioceses – should find ways to collaborate with one another, including sharing resources.
In some dioceses, he said, there is a “lack of diligence” and a “laxity” that is putting children’s safety at risk. He was dismayed that “we have still not achieved 100 percent participation” in the auditing process. He also called for a “more in-depth” audit process and a revision of the charter that “will incorporate new practices, such as parish audits,’ which he said the National Review Board has been recommending for some time.
“It should be pointed out that, given the current climate within the church, StoneBridge noticed a heightened sense of urgency and focus in many of the dioceses that were visited during this cycle,” Cesareo said. “This was evident in the active review of priest files, the release or updating of lists of alleged abusers, and greater emphasis on discussion and transparency with parishioners in individual dioceses/eparchies.
“This is a welcome change which must be sustained going forward rather than a one-time response to the heightened sense of scrutiny if a lasting cultural change is to take place,” he said.
The “current climate” relates to several events of the last year, including allegations of sexual misconduct with minors and seminarians, some decades old, against former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, which led to his church trial last fall and the Vatican dismissing him from the clerical state in February.
Also, last August a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a report on the state attorney general’s monthslong investigation into six of the state’s Catholic dioceses. The probe covered a 70-year period starting in 1947 and linked more than 300 priests and other church workers to more than 1,000 abuse claims during that timeframe. However in the months since that report’s release many have criticized the methodology of investigators.
“While much has been done to ensure survivor ministry and the protection of the vulnerable are core values of the church, improvements still must be made. When it comes to the protection of young people, the question must always be ‘what more can be done?'” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, said in the report’s preface.
“We must continually rededicate ourselves to keeping our promise to protect and pledge to heal. Not once, not twice, but every single day,” he said. “With every action we take, let us all remember to keep the survivor, the child, the vulnerable person, at the center of everything we do.”
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, based at Georgetown University in Washington, gathers data for the annual audit report. StoneBridge Business Partners, based in Rochester, New York, provides the compliance report based visits to dioceses and eparchies and reviews of diocesan documentation.
During 2018, StoneBridge conducted on-site audits of 72 dioceses and eparchies, and collected data from 122 others. All dioceses/eparchies were found compliant except for the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, which, the report said, had not complied with article 7 of the charter requiring dioceses “to be open and transparent” in communications regarding allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, “especially those parishes that may have been affected.”
The Lincoln Diocese, in a June 2 statement sent to Catholic News Service in response to the audit report, said it announced the promulgation of new safe environment policies April 2 of this year and at the time time “acknowledged that in November 2018, it was audited on-site by the USCCB to ensure that its safe environment policies and procedures are in compliance with the charter.”
“Citing a 2017 example of allegations against Father James Benton,” the diocese said, “the auditors concluded that the diocese must be more transparent in informing parishes and other church communities who are directly affected by an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. While the diocese changed its practices in this regard in August 2018, the April 2, 2019, revised policies formally adopt this change.”
In 2017, Father Benton, now retired, resigned as pastor following allegations that more than 25 years ago, he abused two family members. The Diocesan Review Board addressed the claims and referred them the case to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which then asked Lincoln Bishop James D. Conley “to take appropriate action,” according to the bishop’s open letter published Aug. 10, 2018, in the Lincoln Star Journal daily newspaper. He prohibited the priest from exercising public ministry and restricted him from being with minors.
Earlier claims that surfaced in 2002 that the priest had inappropriately touched a minor on a camping trip in the early 1980s “was fully investigated by the Lincoln Diocese,” the bishop said, but the “allegations could not be substantiated.”
In the new audit report, the CARA data shows that more than nine in 10 alleged offenders, or 92 percent, identified during the 2017-2018 survey year were already deceased, already removed from ministry, already laicized or missing. Most abuse reported occurred between 1960 and 1990, peaking in the 1970s.
Dioceses, eparchies and religious institutes reported paying out $262,619,537 for costs related to allegations between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018. This includes payments for allegations reported in previous years. That payout figure is just under the amount reported the previous year.
Outreach and support was provided to 472 victims/survivors and their families who reported abuse during this audit period. Continued support was provided to 1,542 victims/survivors and their families who reported abuse in prior audit periods. Support may include counseling, spiritual assistance, support groups, and other social services.
The report also notes the ongoing work of the church in continuing the call to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. In 2018, more than 2.6 million background checks were conducted on church clerics, employees, and volunteers. In addition, in 2018 more than 2.6 million adults and 3.9 million children and youth also have been trained on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.

(Editor’s Note: The Diocese of Jackson passed its onsite audit. The full annual report on compliance with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops can be found at

Parish calendar of events


BROOKSVILLE The Dwelling Place, St. Teresa of Avila’s “The Interior Castle,” July 19-20. Beginning with dinner Friday at 6:30 p.m. to Saturday at 3:30 p.m. St. Teresa describes how the soul is like a diamond in the shape of a castle that contains seven mansions – symbolic of the seven stages of a journey of faith which culminates in union with God. Presenter: Father John Bohn, pastor of Jackson St. Richard, a long-time student of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. Donation: $100. Details: (662) 738-5348 or email
COVINGTON Louisiana, Two-night Couples Retreat “Living the Gift of Marriage,” July 19-21 at St. Joseph Abbey Christian Life Retreat Center. Begins at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Come away for rest and spiritual strength and nourishment. Suggested donation: $355 per couple. Details: or call (504) 830-3700.
CULLMAN, Ala., Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center, Common Wisdom: Parallels in Benedictine and Twelve-Step Spiritualities, Saturday, July 13, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. We cannot save ourselves is a universal truth that contemporary society attempts to suppress by its overemphasis on pleasure, power, excessive consumption and unbridled individualism. The spiritualities offered by The Rule of St. Benedict and the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous set forth a vision that challenges the illusory promises of contemporary society. Retreat Director: Sister Therese Haydel, O.S.B. Cost: $30, includes lunch.
Details: (256) 734-8302,
NEW ORLEANS Louisiana, Corpus Christi-Epiphany Church, Restorative Circles Intensive with Janine Geske. Experience restorative justice circles and gain an in-depth understanding of their use in the criminal justice system, parish life, community ministry schools and families, Friday, June 28, 6 – 9 p.m. and Saturday, June 29, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Details: Caitlin Morneau at or Sue Weishar at or go to event website:
PEARL St. Jude, Life in the Spirit and Healing Prayer Seminar, Saturday, August 17, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the parish hall. Do you desire a deeper experience of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you interested in an opportunity to receive new gifts of the Holy Spirit and a greater outpouring of God’s healing and love? Come for a day of preaching, prayer, and praise sponsored by the Marian Servants of Jesus the Lamb of God. Guest speakers include; Father Bill Henry, pastor of Greenville St. Joseph; Celeste Zepponi, painter/singer/songwriter, spiritual director and Mark Davis, formerly Ordained Assemblies of God pastor currently serving on St. Dominic Hospital’s pastoral care team. Free admission, $10 suggested donation for lunch. Details: Contact Maureen Roberts (601) 278-0423 or


AMORY St. Helen, Farewell barbecue lunch for Father Antony Chakkalakkal after Mass on Sunday, June 30. Details: church office (662) 256-8392.
GLUCKSTADT St. Joseph, annual Parish Picnic, Friday, July 12, at 6 p.m. on the grounds near the pavilion. Hot dogs, chips, beverages and ice cream will be provided. Fireworks display will begin at dark. Details: church office (601) 856-2054.
JACKSON St. Dominic’s Maternal and Newborn Care Services will be hosting its annual Mommies and Miracles event, Thursday, June 27, from 5-7 p.m. in the St. Dominic’s Organizational Development and Training department on the lower level of the hospital. The event will feature a panel of local OB/GYNs and neonatologists who will be available to answer questions for mothers-to-be and families followed by a reception and tour. Details: To pre-register for this free event, please call St. Dominic’s OB Educator Retta Boyd at (601) 200-6934. Registration will also be available at the event.
NATCHEZ Celebration to honor Father David O’Connor upon his retirement. Sunday, June 23. The celebration starts with blessing the new prayer garden at 2 p.m. followed by a rosary. Reception at the Family Life Center starts at 3 p.m. Details: Parish Office
SHAW St. Francis, Parish cookout, Sunday, June 30, at 6 p.m. Details: church office (662) 754-5561.
SOUTHAVEN Christ the King, Mass for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, Friday, June 28, at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner. Details: church office (662) 342-1073.
TUPELO St James, Level 1 Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Formation Course. The first Formation weekend will be July 26-28. The second will be August 16-18. The rest of the weekends will be determined during those first two sessions. Cost: $600. Details: Karen Mayfield at or (662) 213-6593.


MADISON St. Joseph School, Summer Camps remaining, Football Camp (High School): June 24-26. Cost: $100; Mini Cheer Camp for rising K-6th Graders: July 15-18. Cost: $125 for 1st child; $115 for 2nd child and $105 for 3rd child; $130 day of camp; and Spirit Stepper for a Day, Saturday, August 17, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Cost: $55 (includes lunch and snack). Details: visit or call (601) 898-4800.
GRENADA St. Peter, ECHO Retreat for Juniors and Seniors, Pineville, Louisiana, July 22-25. The retreat is a Theology of the Body camp including outdoor activities. Details: church office (662) 226-2490. Register at


In the Friday, May 24, edition of Mississippi Catholic, a story about the ordination of Father Mark Shoffner omitted his service at Gluckstadt St. Joseph Parish, where he served during is diaconate. We regret the error.

Youth news

Students prepare backpack blessings for neighbors

CLARKSDALE – St. Elizabeth students Kimber Wilkinson, Rivers Rico, and Kalyn Matthews with Liz Brewer in the background, pack food and other items into backpacks to be given to those who may go hungry once school lets out for the weekends or summer.
The backpack project is headed up by Liz Brewer, a parishioner of St. Elizabeth and volunteer at the school. (photo by Dawn Spinks)

Students take virtual field trip

VICKSBURG – Vicksburg Catholic School recently completed the first installation of a Virtual Reality Lab. Vicksburg Catholic School is the second school in the state to make this big step forward in technology in education. Seniors Elise Piazza, Mattie Derivaux and Sarah Jane Pierce took the headsets out for a spin during the program introduction. (Photo by Kristi Smith)

Storms offer opportunity for service

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – A group of students from the University of Portland stepped in to help Jackson area residents trying to fight back flood waters on Saturday, May 11. The group is on a regional tour of sites significant to the Civil Rights Movement. They contacted the Diocese of Jackson to see if there were any service projects they could do while they were in town.
Paul Byrne, facilities manager for the diocese, had set up an outdoor project for them which involved painting. When storms rolled in the week before, he thought the students were going to get a day off. “That’s when I heard an announcement on the radio about sand and bags being available at the City of Jackson’s impound lot. I thought that might be a good way for the students to help people right now,” he said.
Twelve students and their two moderators went to the distribution site and filled and loaded sandbags into vehicles for a couple of hours. People facing rising waters could pick them up for their homes and businesses throughout the day. “I was a little worried on Friday, but it all worked out and those students worked hard,” Byrne added.
This is the second year for a group from the Catholic university to take this tour, which includes stops in Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. (Photos by Paul Byrne)

Race for education

By Laura Grisham
The third annual Sacred Heart School Race For Education Day was held Friday, May 10. Students, teachers and parents came together to show their school spirit in this unique fundraiser by running laps around the school in exchange for sponsorship by family and friends. Prizes were given out in each homeroom for most laps run in an hour. DJ Rockin’ Robin once again kept the crowd moving with great music and dance contests. Volunteers made sure that hungry bellies were fed and the Koha Ice Truck provided frosty treats to cool off the runners.
This event continues to be a tremendous success, raising $35,205 so far. Principal Bridget Martin said that the final total would rise, as there continues to be a flood of sponsorship envelopes arriving daily. With the funds raised over the previous two years, the school has been able to replace bleachers in the gym and refurbish the school library. This year monies will fund new technology with the purchase of more Surface Pros and a Surface Pro Cart. (Photos by Laura Grisham)

Father Dall appointed Vicar, Callahan to lead Temporal Affairs

Father Kevin Slattery

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz made three critical chancery personnel announcements on Monday, May 20. Father Lincoln Dall is appointed Vicar General for the Diocese of Jackson, effective July 1. He will remain pastor at Pearl St. Jude Parish. Father Kevin Slattery is appointed Canonical Consultant for the Vicar General. He will remain sacramental minister for Gluckstadt St. Joseph Parish. Carolyn Callahan has accepted the position of Director of Temporal Affairs for the Diocese of Jackson, effective immediately.
Father Lincoln had been acting Director of Temporal Affairs while a search committee looked for a new leader. He will remain connected to that office as a priest liaison to the Office of Temporal Affairs.
Bishop Kopacz made the announcement about Fathers Lincoln and Slattery in a letter to chancery staff. “We have developed a good team over the past few months and I feel we can utilize our many talents and various roles to assist Father Lincoln as he takes on this new responsibility. I ask you to keep both Father Lincoln and Father Kevin in your prayers and I ask for your prayers as well. Thank you for your commitment to the Diocese of Jackson,” wrote the bishop. He commended Father Slattery on his many years of service to the diocese and on his willingness to serve as Vicar.
Callahan is no stranger to diocesan work, having acted as Controller, Internal Auditor and Coordinator of Special Projects for the diocese, Director of Finance for St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison, and as an accounting support person for all Catholic Schools. “The diversity of this work makes Carolyn well suited to know the in and outs of how the Diocese, parishes and schools operate. Carolyn is a natural problem solver and will work to streamline processes, create greater transparency and employ best practices in accounting and finance,” said Bishop Kopacz.

Carolyn Callahan

Callahan brings to the position more than 30 years of accounting experience. Her work within the Church has given her many opportunities to get to know priests, deacons, lay ecclesial ministers, principals, business managers and bookkeepers. She and her husband Danny have two adult sons, Christopher and Stephen. They are parishioners at Gluckstadt St. Joseph Parish.
Father Lincoln was born in Chicago and grew up as a teenager in Orange County, California, the oldest of four siblings. He started his career in accounting and finance. “I worked as a CPA in an auditing firms in both North Carolina and California for 6 years. I was also a comptroller for a company in the retail industry for a year,” he explained.
The timing of this assignment is providential as Father Lincoln is completing an advanced degree from Catholic University that will serve him well in his new role.
“The Masters of Science in Ecclesial Administration and Management is a professional degree that prepares clergy for effective and efficient parish and diocesan leadership. The program’s goal is to take inspiration from the proven best practices established in the secular business environment and assist the clergy in applying these practices on a parish and diocesan level in order to manage day-to-day administrative responsibilities and to best respond to particular challenges and difficulties that might arise. Course content emphasizes various aspects of fundraising, the transparent management of financial resources, the organization and management of employees, and effective communication strategies with the dual aims of promoting faithful stewardship and fostering growth through evangelization.” explained Father Lincoln.

Father Lincoln Dall

Father Lincoln became Catholic in 1992 at the Easter Vigil and immediately became a missionary. “I did not realize that my auditing and accounting background would be such a valuable resource for me as a missionary and as a priest,” he said. In fact, he said he tried to put aside his accounting experience when he became a missionary, but his skills were needed.
In addition to work with a food bank and soup kitchen as well as a healing center for in Canada, he worked extensively in Central and South America. “I was a lay missionary with the Comboni Missionaries in Borbón, Ecuador in a rain forest jungle,” said Father Lincoln. .
He is looking forward to continuing to work closely with Callahan on diocesan administration. “Carolyn and I have been working a lot with policies and procedures and structure and very defined – what people’s areas are,” he said. “I am very team-oriented, and I really want to emphasize that and work with the key people in a very team-oriented way and empower them in their ministries and our positions.”
Father Lincoln was ordained in 2008. He has served at Jackson St. Richard, Yazoo City St. Mary, Belzoni All Saints and Tupelo St. James.
“I am really humbled at getting this appointment. It is a surprise- nothing I expected. I need a lot of prayers from people and I will give it my best,” said Father Lincoln.

Q&A: Father Adolfo Suarez-Pasillas

I lived in Pabellon de Arteaga, Aguascalientes, Mexico until I was 11. I have six siblings, three brothers and three sisters, I am the youngest.

Home parish: In Mexico, Jesus Nazareno in Jesus Maria, Aguascalientes. Over here, Our Lady of Victories in Cleveland 

Favorite Saints and why?
St. Augustine, St. John Bosco, St. Francis de Sales, St. Therese of Calcutta, St. John Marie Vianney, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John Paul II. I think I like them because of their deep love for God and for the people, their closeness to the people of God and their care for them made a great impact in my life.
Do you have a favorite devotion, religious image or prayer and why?
Our Lady of Guadalupe, first because I am a Mexican and second because I know that she has accompanied me right from the beginning of my Christian life, since the parish where I was baptized was named after her. My devotion to her began even before I meet Christ. When I was probably around 6 years old, I used to take my grandma’s Bible – which I could not read – but I used to look at the pictures in it and right at the beginning of this Bible was the story of the apparition of Our Lady … The picture that stayed in my mind was the one where she cured uncle Bernardino, in it there is Our Lady, uncle Bernardino, a skeleton and an angel defeating it.

Who vested you at ordination and why?
Father Kent Bowlds, because besides Father Matthew Simmons, he has been my biggest supporter together with Our Lady of Victories Parish since I came here.

In what parishes have you served?
St. Francis of Assisi in Brookhaven, St. Mary in Batesville, St. Therese in Jackson, and at least ten parishes in the Diocese of Morelia.
Can you tell me a little about your vocation story ?
The first time I can remember that priesthood came to my mind was when I was around 6 years old. It was a Sunday, I was walking with my cousin’s wife Concha and I remember telling her that I wanted to become a priest. She asked me why then I said to her, because all priests go to heaven. I was scared because the day before our catechist taught us about hell and heaven. The way she depicted hell to us was so shocking that I decided to become a priest in order to escape from it.
The second time was when I was around 16 years old. I was heartbroken for my family situation. My parents separated …and my mother moved away. Two of my aunts from my mom’s side, insisted I live with them. My grandma was a woman who was in love with our blessed Lord. She constantly insisted all her children and grandchildren go to confession and receive Holy Communion.
My aunts introduced me to the life of prayer which I had forgotten during my teenage years. At the beginning I thought they were crazy, asking me to go and give thanks in front of what for me was nothing. To please them, I just began talking to the Lord as if he really existed. Later they invited me to participate in the Mass by reading on Sundays. … I met my pastor whose name was Tirso Sanchez Cruz … who inspired me because even when he was an old priest he seemed to never get tired. He was tireless disciple of the Lord, joyful man, and full of energy. These characteristics made me wonder where all that energy and happiness come from.
I experienced a year of consolation from the Lord. That year, attending Mass after Mass was a taste of heaven. One Sunday I spend the entire day helping Mass after Mass and there were six Masses at that time and I did not experience boredom, it was one of the happiest days of my life …
Time passed I began to work and get busy and I forgot about the seminary. I had to work to pay rent, bills, and food and contribute to the house. I began to hang out with friends and forget about God but I was not happy. … Finally, trying to get away from the noises of the city and society, I decided to come to the United States … to look for a quiet place to meditate and to find the reason for my sadness. … I spent hours and hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament asking the Lord for answers and strength. He listened to my prayers and took away from me a depression which I had been suffering since I remember … When my depression was gone, I told to the Lord, now I am ready to follow you …. But I think it was not my time yet …
I had an accident in a truck I did not own, so had to pay for it and for the other car and for the penalty fee. I had to wait until I finish paying to think about going to the seminary. That time was useful because I came down from heaven and set once again my foot on earth.
Can you share something about yourself people may not know?
That some of my friends have inviting me to join their dioceses because there are more benefits but I have rejected their invitation because from the beginning of my vocation I have asked God to serve the poor and he heard my petition and he has sent me to serve in one of the poorest dioceses in the United States. I am planning to serve in this diocese at least until retirement and I thank you for your support and prayers.
What advice do you have for those discerning a vocation?
Do not be afraid, come and see, “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” There is not boss like him; he will fulfill your heart’s desires. Seminary life is not like you think, we pray, we play, we live, we enjoy, we love, we laugh, we learn, we are transformed by Christ. Come and see and if this is not your vocation you are free to leave. But be sure that your life will not be the same because spending a period of time with the Lord will change your life.

Is there one part of priesthood in particular you are looking forward to?
Celebrating the sacraments of course, especially the sacrament of reconciliation and Eucharist because those sacraments I believe are the ones that can bring people closer to God. I also look forward to serve in this diocese because I have seen the need we have of priests.
What are you looking forward to about your first parish assignment?
I am looking forward to establishing a good relationship with both the pastor and the community. I am looking forward to the new experiences that God has reserved for me in that parish.

Q&A: Father Mark Shoffner

“I was born in King’s Daughters Hospital in Greenville, Mississippi on the Feast of Our Lady of Victory(the Rosary). In the same hospital as Jim Henson who created Kermit the Frog. I was born into a family heritage composed of German, French, English, Sicilian, Mexican, Scotch-Irish and Choctaw. With ancestors ranging from Native Americans, to German indentured servants immigrating to the colonies in the 1740’s, to a 20th century Mexican immigrant, my family covers all of what makes America.
I am the first son of my parents, both whom are the oldest of their siblings, and I have one brother who is ten years younger than me. I grew up attending Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Greenville and attended Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School and then St. Joseph High School until my family moved to Fort Walton Beach, Forida, where I spent the last three years of high school at Choctawhatchee High School in Ft. Walton. I graduated in 2005, started college and then moved back to Greenville where I would attend college at Mississippi Delta Community College. I graduated from nursing school at MDCC as a Registered Nurse in 2010 and worked at Delta Regional Medical Center in the Cardiovascular ICU until entering seminary for the diocese.”

Home parish:
St. Joseph, Greenville.

Favorite Saints and why?
St. Augustine, because he was not perfect and he had a past which Christ Jesus rescued him from certain destruction. He is a good model for those who give themselves to God and work it out each day with hope.
Mother Mary, she is so loving and helpful to all of her children, making herself known to us all throughout the ages in our local circumstances. She is eternally glorifying God by pointing us towards her Son and reminding us of Christ Jesus’ love for us. St. Benedict, devoted and well-ordered. He founded monasticism which has given the world so much and his brother monks gave me so much to me in my time at St. Joseph Seminary College which is run by Benedictine monks.
St Patrick has always been inspiring as he was a missionary, he overcame so much, and he was so beloved by the Irish priests in my parish who loved me so much and gave me such good examples. He found ordinary ways of teaching great mysteries to those whom he ministered, something I´ve taken a cue from.
St. Mark, my confirmation saint who I picked because I thought I was being lazy. He was an evangelist, he ministered in the Nile Delta city of Alexandria. He stayed close to St. Peter and wrote what he heard. His Gospel shows in great brevity and hurriedness the Lord’s desire to cast out demons with the presence of the Word Incarnate. I hope to preach and heal with this closeness to the Lord and the Church.

Do you have a favorite devotion, religious image or prayer and why?
I am mesmerized by the icon of Our Lady of Bethlehem which I was able to see firsthand when I visited the Holy Land last year. She is so beautifully adorned, wife and mother, watching over her children. Pray for peace in the Holy Land and for persecuted Christians.
I love to move between the Sacred Heart and Good Shepherd image of our Lord as he guides me and gives me the greatest example of what I am to be.
I ponder the wounds of Jesus’ feet, and the place where his side was pierced. I reverence these wounds of Our Lord and I pray with them very regularly.

Who vested you at ordination and why?
Msgr. Patrick Farrell, who was my first parish priest and who baptized me as a baby. I loved him so dearly when I was growing up. I used to process out with him and I wanted to be the first to hug him on Sunday mornings. I want to thank him for his priestly ministry by having him vest me. There is a part of the baptismal rite where the minister speaks to the child and claims him or her for Christ our Savior with a sign of the cross, an eternal action upon a soul. As he claimed me for Christ Jesus and clothed me in the white baptismal garment of salvation, I see it most proper that he should further vest me in the garments of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Do you have any hobbies?
I like to cook. Baking, grilling, working a stovetop, I enjoy it all. I enjoy seeing the enjoyment of those for whom I cook for. I’ve played golf since I was two, I enjoy my annual dove hunt with my good friends, and I really enjoy gardening. Planting things, digging up stuff, stoppin on the roadside to dig up heirloom plants from old homesites, I love good dirt, really because I’m from The Delta.

In what parishes have you served?
Our Lady of Victories, Cleveland; St. Joseph Starkville, and St. Dominic Hospital.
Can you tell me a little about your vocation story?
I’d thought about priesthood since third grade and been encouraged by teachers, priests, sisters and parishioners. It was always in my head through elementary, high school, and college despite me not actively pursuing it.
I was working one night in the hospital on an elderly man and I thought of St. Mother Teresa and Father Richard Ho Lung. I’d seen the work of his order on EWTN. I had a profound thought of, ‘What is their motivation for doing their work,’ which was much like my own in the hospital? I worked up the courage to reach out to Father Kent Bowlds who met with me regularly for about a year to help me see where the Lord was leading me. The motivation I was looking for that night in the hospital, it was Love. The love and mercy God has for us all and how we are called to be his hands and feet to bring that love to all people
Can you share something about yourself people may not know?
I was my high school mascot, and I taught myself how to sew in order to make my costume.
I also carry a shovel and green boots in my car, so that nothing will stop me from bad weather or an interesting plant on the roadside.
What advice do you have for those discerning a vocation?
Talk to someone! Prayer is more than essential and there are people who need you. Religious sisters, Brothers, Priests, Deacons, there are people in our parishes who need you and Mississippi needs the witness of good Catholic Priests to bring the Gospel to the world through Christ in the sacraments.

Is there one part of priesthood in particular you are looking forward to?
What are you looking forward to about your first parish assignment?
It›s going to be exciting to say the Mass for people and lead them to God. I›m also looking forward to blessing people and the things that pertain to their lives (fields, homes, etc.). I am particularly excited about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, bringing people back to God who loves them despite their faults and desires to be with them in every aspect of their lives. The loving and merciful heart of God, poured out for us through Confession is what I’m looking forward to.