Fr. Somers remembered for exuberant life

somers-richard-colorFather Richard Lawrence Somers, 76, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, October 19, 2016, at St. Catherine’s Village. He was born in Clogh, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland on August 8, 1940, son of the late, Richard and Mary Somers.
He was fifth of six siblings, two sisters and three brothers. He attended the local school, after which he went on to the Minor Seminary, St. Kieran in Kilkenny City. From there he moved on to the Major Seminary at St. John’s in Waterford, where he completed his philosophy and theological studies.
Fr. Somers was ordained for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson in June 12, 1966. He arrived in Jackson on September 1966 and shortly thereafter took up his first assignment at Bay St. Louis Our Lady of the Gulf. He also served in Biloxi, Hattiesburg, and Meridian St. Patrick. In 1975 he became pastor of Jackson St. Therese and from there moved across town to St. Richard. His final assignment was at Greenville St. Joseph where he spent sixteen years, which was his longest tenure.
He will be remembered for his love of welcoming people into the church through RCIA. “He was unique in his approach of going after people,” said Father Gerald Hurley. “He always said God chased him to Mississippi so he was willing to chase after people,” he said.


A Knights of Columbus honor guard stood watch at Father Somers’ funeral, Saturday, Oct. 22, at Jackson St. Richard Parish. (Photo by Debbie Tubertini)

Fr. Somers retired for health reasons in 2012 and in December he moved into St. Catherine’s Village. His almost 50 years of service left a lasting impression on the church in Mississippi. His infectious optimism touched the lives of many people because of his enthusiasm, his energy, his faith and his great love of the Catholic Church. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Eddie; and his sister, Peggy. He is survived by his brothers, Patty and Frank; and his sister, Teresa.
Visitation and the funeral Mass were at St. Richard Saturday, October 22. He was buried in the cemetery at Gluckstadt St. Joseph.
Fr. Somers will be greatly missed by a large number of people. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made  to St Joseph Catholic High School, 1501 VFW Road, Greenville, MS 38701.


Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Father John Bohn, pastor of St. Richard Parish, joined dozens of priests at Fr. Somers’ funeral. (Photo by Debbie Tubertini)

In Memoriam: retired Deacon Sam Baker

JACKSON – Deacon Sam Milton Baker, 94, died Sunday, May 15, at home after having suffered a stroke. Funeral services were held Saturday, May 21, at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle.
Deacon Baker was born Dec. 13, 1921. He was raised by two loving and doting parents, Sam and Pearl Baker. Deacon Baker spent most of his developmental years living and attending church in South Jackson.
He enrolled in the business program at Tougaloo College in 1940, but had to take a break to answer the call to military service during World War II. He served overseas in the European Theater of Operations earning the rank of Technical Sargent.
During his enrollment at Tougaloo, he met and immediately fell in love with Barbara Justine Willis, who became his wife of 71 years. Prior to their marriage on Aug. 18, 1942, he converted to Catholicism. The couple had four children, Carlyle (deceased), Sandra, Rhenolda and George. Upon his discharge from the military, he worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. In 1952, he started working with the U.S. Postal Service where he served for 13 years as a letter carrier.
He was the first African-American to serve as district director of the Small Business Administration (SBA) from 1966 to 1978. During this period, he received numerous awards including Man of the Year by the National Business League in 1974. He retired, the first time from SBA in 1978. That same year he was appointed vice president of commercial lending at First National Bank of Jackson. He retired a second time to return to SBA as director of the Mississippi District of Southeastern Region. In 1991, Deacon began serving on the advisory board at St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital and was later appointed to its Board of Directors.
He was ordained a permanent deacon at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle on July 11, 1982, serving at both Holy Ghost and the Cathedral. He retired from active ministry in 2008.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Willis Baker; his parents, Sam and Pearl Baker; one son, Carlyle J. Baker; one grandson, Mario Baker. He is survived by his daughter, Sandra Baker of Stone Mountain, Ga.; two sons, Rhenolda (Barbara) of Jackson; and George (Nita) Baker of McKinney, Tex.; daughters-in-law Sarah Elizabeth Baker of Carrolton, Tex., and Mary Baker of Albuquerque, NM; niece, Lula B. Henry of Chicago, Ill.; a devoted grandson, Rodric, who served as his caregiver; thirteen grandchildren, numerous great grandchildren and a host of beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives, friends and his Holy Ghost Church family.

Sister Josephine Uhll dies

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Josephine Therese



was celebrated Tuesday, April 12, at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield. Sister Uhll died on April 9. Her legacy of service is the 40 years she gave to healthcare administration at St. Dominic Health Services in Jackson.
She retired in 1995 from her role as president and board chair, having overseen the growth of St. Dominic’s from a small hospital to a multi-institutional health system that remains today the only Catholic health system in Mississippi. One of her most cherished accomplishments was the development of St. Catherine’s Village, a life care retirement facility in Madison.
A memorial service to honor the life of Sister Uhll will be held at the St. Dominic Chapel in Jackson Tuesday, April 26, at 7 p.m.
She was born in Morrisonville, Ill., in 1918. Her earliest years of religious life were spent in elementary school education in Illinois and Minnesota. She made her profession of vows in 1937 at Sacred Heart Convent, Springfield.
Sister Uhll was a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Sister Josephine Therese was preceded in death by her parents, sister Mary Jo Figueira and brothers Roy B., and James D. Uhll. She is survived by her Dominican Sisters; nephews James D. (Mary Ann) Uhll, David (Dena) Uhll, Robert (Debbie) Uhll, Thomas (Shirley) Uhll, and nieces Nancy Hay, Barbara (Connie Joe) Mason, and Sharon Therese (Joe) Bencze.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the St. Catherine’s Village Dominican Fund, 200 Dominican Drive, Madison, MS 39110 or Dominican Sisters Retirement Fund, 1237 W. Monroe St., Springfield, IL 62704.