Inaugural Pilgrimage for Life celebrates Respect Life month


By Elsa Baughman
GREENWOOD – The first “Pilgrimage for Life” in the Diocese of Jackson, was held Saturday, Jan. 14, at Locus Benedictus Retreat Center. January is Respect Life Month.
During the three mile walk around the retreat center and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Delta, the pilgrims, flanked on both sides by dancers from Tupelo and Jackson, prayed the rosary, sang songs and prayed after each mystery. Leading the way were four people carrying the cross, (the source of salvation) the banner of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe (source of conversion) and the banner of the event. The dancers took turns dancing after each mystery.
“We want to present God our needs and pray for justice, for life and hope,” said Father Michael McAndrew, CsSR, before starting the walk. “This is why we walk in pilgrimage, it is a very Catholic tradition. And on this day we are going to celebrate life, from conception to natural death, and we’re going to pray for the honor and dignity of every person and every race,” he said.
The petitions after each mystery were offered for the healthy and happy conception of all infants and for the end of abortion; for all migrants and immigrants of the world; for all elderly people so that they may always be treated and cared for with gratitude and love; for all the youth and young people of the world so that they live their lives with purpose and be brave men and women of God; and for the care and respect of our environment, our home.
“This is something beautiful, I loved it,” said Ernestina Mata, of Jackson, who attended the pilgrimage with her teenage daughter. “I was not planning to come,” she added, “but God wanted me to come. I saw myself in need to accompany my daughter because my husband didn’t want her to come alone.” Mata commented that the event reminded her of something that she witnessed as a child in the village where she grew up in Mexico. “On special occasions the people of the town gathered in the field to ask God or give him thanks for something in particular, such like that it rains or for a good harvest,” she said. “Today, these childhood memories came to my mind.”
The closing Mass was celebrated at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Delta by the priests of the Redemptorist community living in Greenwood.
In his homily, Father McAndrew said that the Mass was celebrated for all the families affected by the migratory situation in the country and especially by migrants who do not have a house, who are not welcomed and for the success of the Fifth National Encuentro. During Mass, a family whose father is facing deportation, offered their testimony.
Veronica Lopez, coordinator for Hispanic young adult ministry for the diocese, said she thinks this first Pilgrimage for Life was very good and successful. “We were able to gather 150 people; whole families, including children, youth, young adults, grandparents and even Father Ted’s dog,” she said, adding that “precisely, all of these people, human beings, were the focus and objective of our pilgrimage. And we prayed for the human rights of each one of us, from the youngest to the oldest.
Lopez said she was very pleased for the support and help she received from the young Hispanic adults of the diocese and the Redemptorist priests who guided and led the pilgrimage. “It was great,” she said. She noted she wants to continue having this pilgrimage every year and hoped that more people attend it. “I would like to see more than 500 people attending next year.”
Salomón Esparza, from Greenwood, attended the event with his wife and children and said he liked that people from other areas of the diocese took the day to attend the event. “This is something very nice to experience and I think the children will always remember it. I would like to continue attending and that it becomes an annual tradition.”

Baughman bids farewell, honored for 20 years of service

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Mississippi Catholic says goodbye this month to one of its most loyal and longest-standing employees, Elsa Baughman, editor of Mississippi Catolico. elsa-baughman-2016
Baughman celebrated her 20th anniversary with the Chancery earlier this year. She was hired part-time in 1996 as the office manager for the paper, but that soon changed. In the fall of 1997, Baughman helped put together the first edition of the paper in Spanish.
Then, it was called Mensajero, which loosely translates to ‘the message.’ The effort was supported through a grant from the Catholic Foundation and only published once-a-quarter.
Baughman, a native of Venezuela, was perfect for the role as shepherd of the new venture. She holds a master of communication and taught Spanish, making her bilingual in both speech and print. She is a co-founder of the Mississippi Hispanic Association.
Baughman helped bring the first Spanish Masses to the Diocese of Jackson and continues to be an advocate for the Hispanic community here.
She moved to the Magnolia state to study at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg where she met her husband, Brian. The two raised two daughters and are now enjoying a pair of grandchildren.
Mississippi Catholic will continue to publish a Spanish language insert once a month, but will now depend on freelance and parishioner submissions for content. Baughman will continue to be a freelance member of this team.
On a personal note, I will miss her boundless energy and creativity. She was a great help to me when I first arrived in this office and was not quite sure what I had gotten myself into. I hope you will join me in wishing her a long and adventurous retirement.
(Maureen Smith is the Communications Director for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson.)

Hispanic community joins St. Therese, celebrates new home

By Elsa Baughman
JACKSON – Carrying two statues and a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Hispanic community of St. Mary Parish processed to St. Therese Sunday, Aug. 31. After the 12:30 p.m. liturgy, they all got in their vehicles and followed Father Ricardo Phipps’ car for the 3.6 mile caravan to the church where they marked the beginning of a new community of faith with a prayer service.

Father Ricardo Phipps, (right) pastor of St. Mary and St. Therese parishes, welcomes the Hispanic community of St. Mary to St. Therese Sunday, Aug. 31. Both communities participated in a prayer service and afterward light refreshments were served. On Sundays the English Mass was changed to 10:30 a.m. and the Spanish is celebrated at 12:30 p.m. (Photos by Sister María Elena Méndez)

Father Ricardo Phipps, (right) pastor of St. Mary and St. Therese parishes, welcomes the Hispanic community of St. Mary to St. Therese Sunday, Aug. 31. Both communities participated in a prayer service and afterward light refreshments were served. On Sundays the English Mass was changed to 10:30 a.m. and the Spanish is celebrated at 12:30 p.m. (Photos by Sister María Elena Méndez)

St. Therese parishioners were waiting to welcome them.
Singing “We are the body of Christ,” both communities, led by two guitarists and singers, entered the church and placed the statues and the painting on the altar.
Father Phipps, pastor of both St. Mary and St. Therese, told the congregation it was a day of great joy. “Every church is God’s house and today is a day when we form a new community,” he said. “We want to welcome our new parishioners from St. Mary. Now we are all parishioners of St. Therese.”
Father Phipps noted that all come with their own traditions and history but “most importantly we all come as children of God.”
After the brief prayer service the St. Therese community hosted a reception for its new parishioners.
Joel Montoya, catechist and Eucharistic minister, believes any change for the good of the people is welcomed. “We are only changing the building where we worship,” he said. Montoya noted all the programs and classes offered at St. Mary will continue with several added benefits and space.
According to Karina Solano, catechist, there are about 100 children registered for religious education classes.

Guadalupan Sisters Lourdes González (center) and María Josefa Garcia (back row) pray with the community at St. Therese Church on Aug. 31. Sister González is serving as pastoral assistant to the Hispanic community.

Guadalupan Sisters Lourdes González (center) and María Josefa Garcia (back row) pray with the community at St. Therese Church on Aug. 31. Sister González is serving as pastoral assistant to the Hispanic community.

“The space at St. Therese is great for all the classes we are offering so we can accommodate between 20 and 30 children in each classroom,” she said.
Solano is very excited about all the new classrooms, the gymnasium, and the  football field at her new parish. “This change comes to us as the ring to the finger,” she said, using a Spanish phrase meaning ‘a perfect fit.’ “We will be able to grow and offer more activities to our families and their children.”
St. Therese parishioners, Phyllis and Ben Mokry, attended the Mass and procession. “When the Hispanic parishioners brought in their statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I was humbled by their devotion to both her and St. Mary Church,” said Phyllis. “It must be very difficult for St. Mary parishioners to be faced with such a challenge as leaving their spiritual home. I’ve felt challenged as well with all the changes happening so quickly.
“But the changes have made a connection with St. Mary, St. Therese and Christ the King parishes that would not have happened normally. I remember reading that St. Therese of Lisieux wanted to be a missionary, but couldn’t. I see this as her opportunity to make her dream come true in our parish.”

Sisters flourish in Hispanic Ministry

By Elsa Baughman
JACKSON/NATCHEZ – Three Guadalupan Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit who have been serving in the Diocese of Jackson have been assigned to work in other U.S. dioceses. Sister Magdalena Carrillo came to Mississippi in August 2010 with Sister Maria Elena Mendez to serve the Hispanic community of the diocese. Her mission in Mississippi ended in mid-July when she left to  take on a new mission experience in Wichita, Kansas.
“I am very grateful to God for the opportunity that he gave me to have shared my faith with many of you, members of the parishes in this diocese. Throughout these years, I have seen in many of you your desire and dedication to participate in formation classes to better serve in your parish communities. For this I also give thanks to God and I will continue to support you with my prayers from the place where I am going,” Sister Carrillo wrote on the diocesan Hispanic ministry Facebook page.
“I think that something very positive is the interest and dedication of several members of some parish communities who have responded and continue to respond to the invitation to attend the formation courses in the Catholic faith,” she noted in her farewell message, adding that she believes this is a blessing for the parishes. “In the future they will be, with the grace of God, a big help for the


Sister Lara

growth and strengthening of the faith of this large Hispanic community scattered all over the state,” she continued.
Sister Maria Josefa Garcia Alvarez, who is also a Guadalupan Missionary of the Holy Spirit, will take over the responsibilities of Sister Carrilo. She has been working in the Diocese of Birmingham, Ala., for four years.
In Natchez, two other sisters from the same order, Irena Lara and Marta Perez,  who have been serving in Assumption Parish, completed their religious mission in the parish on July 6. The members of St. Mary Basilica and Assumption Parish hosted a farewell reception for them that Sunday.


Sister Perez

Sister Perez will continue her ministry in Hoover, Ala., and Sister Lara will return to her community’s headquarters in Los Angeles, Calif.
Father David O’Connor, pastor, wrote in the parish bulletin, “They have been a blessing to our parishioners in Natchez and to the Hispanic people here. They have been great evangelizers and have a detailed system in place of contact with the people. I want to thank them and wish them an abundance of God’s blessings in the future.”
Another transition between the sisters of this congregation will be that of Sister Lourdes Gonzalez who has been working in Forest St. Michael Parish and will begin to serve in the Hispanic ministry at Jackson St. Therese Parish in September.