CSA helps care for retired caretakers

By Mary Woodward
Our Catholic Service Appeal is well into its annual drive for gifts and pledges from you and me and so many. This year’s goal of $1.15 million is getting close to becoming a reality but we still need your assistance in achieving this.
The Catholic Service Appeal funds important initiatives and ministries in our diocese such as seminarian education, evangelization, lay leadership development, campus ministry and mission parishes and schools. Another ministry it supports that is near and dear to all of us is the care of our retired priests.
For years these men have served us on so many levels. First of all, they have provided us with the holy sacrifice of the Mass where we are able to enter into the sacred mystery as bread and wine become for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the priest through the power of the Holy Spirit acting “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ) that we are able to partake of that heavenly banquet.
These men who have been called to serve as priests in the church make many sacrifices in order to bring us the heavenly food of the Eucharist. Many have left family and friends in faraway places to come and serve us.
Secondly, these men are there for us in the great celebrations of our lives. They baptize our babies, give us our first Holy Communion, and witness two becoming one in the sacrament of marriage. We invite them to bless our new homes. We even drag our cats, dogs, ferrets, snakes and whatever else we choose to have as a pet, out for a blessing by Father around the feast of St. Francis.
Thirdly, priests are there for us in sickness of soul and body. In the sacrament of penance, our priests are the vessels through which God offers his forgiveness for the sins we have committed against God and our neighbors. In this sacrament we have the opportunity to repair a rift and restore our relationship with God to its fullness by confessing that which has broken the relationship with the Lord and have that sin absolved through the sacrament administered by a priest who is not there to judge but to offer the healing, mercy and forgiveness that Christ promises.
When we are sick in the hospital or about to have a medical procedure, we can receive the sacrament of anointing of the sick. Most of us have either had a family member or close friend in the hospital or have ourselves been in the hospital at one time or another and have been a participant in the sacrament of the sick. This is a very comforting moment when prayers offered and the blessed oil is placed on our hands as a soothing ointment for peace of mind.
Lastly, priests are there for us in our saddest moments when we lose the love of our life, a parent, a spouse, a child, a friend. It is these dark moments that the priest brings quiet presence and hope. The ministry of presence is one of the most cherished. It is in this ministry that we take solace in the hope of resurrection and everlasting life.
And so, priests are an essential part of our entire human journey. Therefore, when you give to the Catholic Service Appeal your gift helps support priests who have served us for so many years and now have entered into retirement and no longer have a parish community to help support them financially. Your gift helps the diocese continue to provide these men with health care and living arrangements either in rectories as senior priests, retirement centers or assisted living environments and ultimately in nursing care and hospice.
We currently have 17 retired priests including two retired bishops supported by the diocese. However, priesthood does not end with retirement, it just takes on a new look. Retired priests may have a little more time for leisure, but they also generously make themselves available to assist in parishes.
Several of our retirees continue to serve the church by filling in when needed by celebrating Mass, anointing the sick, celebrating school Masses and hearing confessions for pastors on vacation.
The official retirement age for priests in our diocese is 70. At this time we have more than a dozen priests at or above that age still serving as pastors in our parishes and chaplains in hospitals.
In the next few years as more priests retire from active ministry and begin to face the  situations that later life has to offer, your Catholic Service Appeal gifts will help them take on these challenges with a sense of being supported and loved for the many years of support and love they have given to us and the church.
Your gifts let our retired priests know their lives of service have been greatly appreciated and abundantly blessed.

Counseling office open in Delta thanks to CSA

By Maureen Smith
CLEVELAND – The people of the Delta now have access to a nearby licensed counselor thanks to funding from the Catholic Service Appeal. The Solomon Counseling Center, a Catholic Charities operation, opened an office in Cleveland staffed by Larry Lambert, LPC, a member of Our Lady of Victories.

 Valerie McClelland of the Solomon Counseling Center  worked with CSA and Delta pastors to open a counseling office in Cleveland. Her staff uses short-term therapy to help people who may feel overwhelmed by a situation. The center charges based on a sliding scale to make therapy available to everyone. (Mississippi Catholic file photo)

Valerie McClelland of the Solomon Counseling Center worked with CSA and Delta pastors to open a counseling office in Cleveland. Her staff uses short-term therapy to help people who may feel overwhelmed by a situation. The center charges based on a sliding scale to make therapy available to everyone. (Mississippi Catholic file photo)

The idea for the expansion came from several directions. The priests of deanery four had been talking for years about how they would like to have counseling available to their parishioners. The director of the Solomon Counseling Center, Valerie McClellan, was open to the idea, but it was hard to find a qualified person in the area. The priests had discussed the idea at their deanery meetings with diocesan leadership, who brought the idea to the CSA allocation meeting. During these discussions Father Kent Bowlds, pastor at Our Lady of Victories, found out Lambert was a professional counselor. Lambert was willing to take on the task, money was allocated and the service opened in October 2013. This year’s CSA appeal is well underway with hopes to surpass a million dollars.

“As priests, we provide spiritual counseling, but there are limits to what we can do for emotional counseling” said Father Bowlds. Both he and Lambert said many people are not willing to go to the public health center because it is so public. “If they go to public health, everyone can see you – especially in a small town,” said Father Bowlds.

The pastor added that the Solomon Center is able to charge on a sliding scale, which makes the option affordable to many who would not otherwise be able to pay. There is a Solomon clinic in Jackson, but the trip, two-hours from Cleveland, is not an option for many in need. McClellan agreed. “I am from the Delta and I think it can be extremely important to have someone in the area who is qualified and screened by the church,” she said.

“For someone with mood disorders, for example, who doesn’t know where to go for help, it can literally be a life-saver. It can be the difference between a family staying together or breaking up,” she added.

“One in five people have an emotional disturbance at any given time, so you have 20 percent of people walking around with some difficulty,” said Lambert. He came to his profession late in life, becoming a counselor after he retired from a career in higher education. He has seen clients across the life span, from adolescents to couples to older people. “All of us are subject to being overwhelmed by circumstance or put in a situation where our theories about how to live just don’t work,” he said. That is where counseling can help.

Both Lambert and McClellan want to dispel some misconceptions about counseling. “We use a short-term therapy model,” said Lambert. “We focus on what the problem seems to be and then focus on relief and change,” he explained.

The client does the work, the counselor is just there to be a resource and a support. Lambert used two analogies to explain the process. If a person had four bad tires he or she would go to a tire shop, discuss what kinds of tires he or she needed, purchase them and then continue on the journey.
The second example comes from scripture. “When I got into this, the story of the Good Samaritan struck me, the practical aspect of it. The Samaritan had a place to be, he was busy, but he saw someone in need so he stopped. He helped the man, got him what he needed and then left him in someone else’s charge. Therapy is about companioning with people – supporting them for a time on their journey,” said Lambert. “This ideas motivates me with my clients. They’re going to do the work. I’m going to support them, maybe give them some ideas,” he added.

McClellan uses similar language. “I like to say a counselor is a witness who walks with them (a client),” she said. “We use evidence-based and research-based therapies. Some are short-term or a little longer term,” she explained. She said most of the time a client will know when he or she is finished with the work. This can take as short as a matter of weeks.

Some reasons a person might seek counseling include depression, anxiety, mood or personality disorders, addiction and problems with a spouse or children, especially if a family is going through a stressful situation such as economic problems or a divorce. McClellan said her office often sees clients, both children and adults, who have experienced some kind of trauma or abuse. “Things that happen in childhood can affect you for years to come, they affect your quality of life. Counseling can help with that. You can have a fuller, richer life,” she said.

Christine Bach is the director of childrens’ services for Catholic Charities. She said the organization works with those in need across the diocese to get them in touch with the resources they need.

“CSA dollars strengthen marriages and families, partly through marriage counseling, but often through helping remove those road blocks that keep people from loving one another. For example, parents who were physically abused sometimes don’t know appropriate discipline strategies because they have never seen them used … Counseling can help bridge those gaps,” she said.

McClellan said the new office is using parish bulletins and pastors to spread the word about Lambert’s services, but the Solomon Center sees both Catholic and non-Catholic clients. The center accepts most insurances and charges based on a sliding scale. For information contact the Solomon Center in Jackson at 601-326-3719.

To make a pledge or check the progress of CSA visit the website http://jacksondiocese.org/