Jubilarians both dreamed of becoming priests from childhood

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Abbot emeritus Thomas DeWane, OPraem grew up “surrounded by Norbertines” in Green Bay Wisconsin. His family, five siblings and his parents, attended a parish staffed by Norbertines. The order also ran the schools he attended, so it was natural for him to enter the order as soon as he graduated from high school.
This summer, the abbot will celebrate his 60th anniversary of ordination. His family will gather at their old parish in Green Bay for Mass and then a meal at a local restaurant on Sunday, June 3. The Norbertines always celebrate their significant jubilees on the Feast of St. Norbert, Wednesday, June 6. A classmate of Abbot DeWane will join the celebration along with two priests celebrating 50th and two more celebrating 25th anniversaries this year.
“I always wanted to be a priest, I used to play at being a priest when I was a boy,” said Abbot DeWane. He remembers the Norbertine Sisters encouraging him to pursue the vocation. He spent most of his career in education management, as a principal, director of education and dean of student affairs, all around the Green Bay area. When it came time to retire, he decided he wanted to stay in ministry and maybe even try something new.
“I saw our priory in Mississippi and thought I would come help them,” he said. He enjoys helping out with works of mercy. “I have been involved in prison ministry in Yazoo and Washington. I am the chaplain at the VA hospital so I minister to the sick and parish work, I am the sacramental minister for Magee (St. Stephen parish),” he explained.
The abbot said his vocation has brought him great joy. “I am happy, I have never regretted any of it.”
Father Alphonse Arulanandu dreamed of being a priest from the time he was a child. In May of this year, he gave thanks for 25 years of priesthood at the First Friday healing Mass at Leland St. James parish, where he is pastor.
“I came from a farmer’s family in a rural area so we only had a priest come a few times a year. It was a privilege to be able to go to Mass every Sunday,” he said. The youngest of four, Father Alphonse said his family prayed all the time. When he left to become a priest, he served 2,000 miles from home so the idea of coming to Mississippi was not that far-fetched.
“I just wanted to go and explore more places the way the missionaries who came before did,” he explained. He heard about the missionary Diocese of Jackson while he was serving in Louisiana and decided to apply. He has been here for six years, serving at Brookhaven St. Francis before going to Leland, and said he is enjoying the people in the diocese.
Early in his career, Fr. Alphonse did social work in institutions such as hospitals and Catholic Charities. He is glad that he can now serve in a parish. “My goal in life is to spend more time with the people in my parish, praying with them when they are sick, visiting with them, things like that,” he said. “I like this place and I like the diocese and the people here.”

(Editor’s note: Mea Culpa. When I produced the previous issue of Mississippi Catholic, I inadvertently omitted these two jubilarians. I offer my deepest apologies. -Maureen Smith)

Five priests to celebrate significant anniversaries

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Five priests in the Dio

cese of Jackson will mark significant anniversaries of ordination in 2018. Father Noel Prendergast marks 60 years as a priest on June 7, Msgr. Elvin Sunds was ordained 45 years ago on August 5, Fathers Kent Bowlds and Tim Murphy are celebrating 25 years and Father Lincoln Dall was ordained 10 years ago on May 31.

Father Prendergast’s photo from when he first arrived in Mississippi. (Diocese of Jackson Archives)

Father Prendergast was born in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1934. He was ordained in St. Patrick’s Church in Carlow in 1958 and arrived in the then Diocese of Natchez Jackson that fall. He grew up with six brothers and one sister. Two of his brothers became priests. One stayed in their home diocese and another went to Africa as a missionary. The other siblings became farmers. Father Prendergast still goes home to visit his great-grand nieces and nephews.
When he arrived in Mississippi, starting his ministry at Biloxi Blessed Nativity Parish, the church was on the cusp of Vatican II and the state was just starting to see the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. Father Prendergast said he and his brother priests had to listen and be patient as history took its course.
The priests got updates on Vatican II as the council progressed. “Our bishops were very supportive, Bishop (Joseph) Brunini and Bishop (Oliver) Gerow. Bishop Brunini would go over to Vatican II and come back after two or three months over there and tell us what went on. Then then we had workshops to prepare ourselves for what was coming out of Vatican II. It was all very helpful,” he said.
Father Prendergast went on to serve at Jackson St. Mary, Natchez Assumption, Columbus Annunciation, Vicksburg St. Michael, Yazoo City St. Mary and St. Francis and Clinton Holy Savior as well as at the mission in Gulfport. These days he is retired in Clinton. He helps out at Holy Savior, offering Masses when the pastor is out of town, between playing golf and visiting with friends.
Holy Savior will celebrate Father Prendergast’s anniversary on Monday, June 18, with Mass at 6 p.m. followed by a reception. All are welcome.

JACKSON – Msgr. Sunds, with Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman, opened the 2016 Mississippi Legislative session with prayer. He was often at the capitol advocating for Catholic Charities. (Mississippi Catholic File Photo)

Msgr. Sunds said he can hardly believe he is celebrating 45 years of priesthood. Although born in Nebraska, he was raised in Iowa where he attended Catholic schools. After high school, he went to seminary. He was not convinced he had a vocation, but “had a feeling this is what God wanted me to do.” Msgr. Sunds always tells young men they don’t have to go to seminary with their minds made up. Seminary, he said, helps men discern their call and acquire the skills they will need to do the job. “After all, as they say, God does not call the enabled, he enables the called,” he said.
When he advises young men who believe they have a vocation, Msgr Sunds urges them to “pray. Really listen to the Lord. He’s not going to whisper in your ear, but he will tug at your heart.” He took a year off during his seminary formation to be sure he was following the right path. He was serving in New York when he met some priests from Mississippi. “They were very involved in social ministry and serving the poor and I thought ‘that’s the kind of priest I want to be,’” said Msgr. Sunds. He returned to seminary and asked to be ordained for the Magnolia state.
He started on the coast, serving at Biloxi Sacred Heart before coming to Jackson for the most significant part of his career, working for 19 years at Catholic Charities. He was the director of the agency for 16 of those years. He left Charities and served as the Vicar General of the Diocese for 10 years. In parishes, he served at Jackson Holy Family, Meridian St. Patrick and St. Joseph and currently serves as pastor of Jackson St. Therese.

JACKSON – Father Kent Bowlds celebrates Mass with Bishop William Houck at St. Richard Parish in this 2001 photo. (Mississippi Catholic file photo)

Father Kent Bowlds will mark 25 years of the priesthood this June. The Kentucky native moved to Jackson with his parents, four sisters and one brother, when his Dad’s job was moved here. He was in seventh-grade so he finished school at St. Joseph School.
“I started thinking about priesthood in my junior or senior year of high school, and I think an important factor was all of the priests I had known — from Father Mitchell in Kentucky, who was young and down to earth, to Fathers Eddie Balser, Joe Dyer, Elvin Sunds, and others who helped me grow in faith, perhaps without their ever realizing it, while also being themselves with their unique personalities,” wrote Father Bowlds in an email to Mississippi Catholic.
Father Kent was not convinced of his vocation so he went to college and started a career. “After graduation I worked at Mississippi Public Broadcasting for ten years. I enjoyed that immensely but the idea of priesthood had never entirely gone out of my mind. I was ready for a change and after some good spiritual direction I decided the only way to truly discern was to enter seminary and was accepted by the Diocese of Jackson. In seminary the discernment continued and the call to priesthood solidified,” he wrote.
He worked as vocations director for the Diocese of Jackson for a number of years, so Father Kent has spoken to many young men about vocations. He urges them to have courage and be open. “And it’s important not to pray in a total vacuum, ‘just me and God,’ but also to consider all sorts of things, such as what others are saying about him, what his experiences tell him, where he finds himself naturally drawn, etc. A good spiritual adviser, also, will not try to talk someone into the priesthood, but can help one figure out what God could be saying,” he explained. “Some men think, ‘I might want a family someday’ — which doesn’t necessarily mean they are not called to priesthood. A desire for family can also indicate a generous spirit and an openness to long term commitment, qualities that are also essential for priesthood.”
He served at Madison St. Francis of Assisi, Meridian St. Patrick and St. Joseph, Clarksdale St. Elizabeth and Immaculate Conception, Jackson St. Richard and Holy Family, Crystal Springs St. John and Hazelhurst St. Martin as well as his current parish of Cleveland Our Lady of Victories.
Father Bowlds will celebrate his anniversary with a Mass and reception at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, June 22, at Cleveland Our Lady of Victories, Parish.
Also celebrating a quarter of a century of priesthood is Father Tim Murphy, pastor of Tupelo St. James and Pontotoc St. Christopher, ordained Nov. 27, 1993. “I was ordained by Bishop (William) Houck at Glenmary in Cincinnati. It was a wonderful privilege,” said Father Murphy, who was born in New Jersey.
He came to the diocese as a Glenmary Home Missioner in 1991. He was working with the Glenmary research center out of Atlanta as part of the order’s Commission on Justice. At that time, the Glenmarys had founded and were staffing several missions and parishes in the state including Amory St. Helen, Fulton Christ the King and West Point Immaculate Conception.
When the Glenmarys left in 2015, he was incardinated into the diocese. Father Murphy has always served in some of the diocese’s rural locations, often caring for more than one community at a time. He said he came to Mississppi “by the grace of God.”
His postings include Amory St. Helen, Fulton Christ the King, Aberdeen St. Francis, Houston Immaculate Heart of Mary, Okolona St. Theresa, Pontotoc St. Christopher and Bruce St. Luke.
“I am very happy to be here and I am grateful for the mission and to be a part of it,” said Father Murphy.

TUPELO – Father Lincoln Dall brought the tradition of the Camino del Santiago to St. James Parish. Wearing his pilgrim’s shell, he walks a pilgrimage to the parish in 2015. (Mississippi Catholic file photo)

Ten years ago, the diocese welcomed Father Lincoln Dall to the presbyterate. Dall was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was a lay missionary for eight years in Canada, Ecuador and the U.S. before he ended up in a teaching corps in Greenville. He joined Sacred Heart Parish. “I had been looking into the priesthood and they encouraged me,” he said of the parish community. He went to Sacred Heart Seminary in Wisconsin where he “had the most wonderful experience possible,” said Father Dall. “It encouraged me and nurtured me.” He was ordained on May 31, 2008.
Father Dall said he tells young men they don’t have to be 100 percent sure to attend seminary. “Just listen to where God is calling you and don’t be afraid to take little steps,” he advised.
Father Dall has made a number of pilgrimages – including several to the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James in Spain. He said the first one he made helped him discern his vocation. “Sometimes, you don’t understand what is happening while you are on the pilgrimage and you come home and unpack it – sometimes even years later,” he said. He started a pilgrimage at Tupelo St. James Parish to celebrate the parish’s patron.
Father Dall has served at Jackson St. Richard, Yazoo City St. Francis and St. Mary, Belzoni All Saints and Tupelo St. James. He is currently pastor of Pearl St. Jude Parish.

Jubilarians celebrate gift of priesthood




By Mary Woodward
The month of June has been a month of jubilee celebrations for clergy and religious throughout the diocese and country. Women religious celebrating special anniversaries are profiled on page seven of this edition of Mississippi Catholic. Celebrations for these jubilarians were held at province homes in Iowa, Indiana, and Wisconsin. We congratulate and thank these remarkable women for their commitment to the consecrated life.
From June 3 until June 18 five diocesan priests celebrated Masses of Thanksgiving and were honored by family and friends for a combined 265 years of service in the vineyard.
On June 9, Father Frank Corcoran, who is retired and living in Greenville, celebrated 60 years of priestly life.  Msgr. Michael Flannery, pastor of Madison St. Francis Parish; Father David O’Connor, pastor of Natchez Assumption  Parish and St. Mary Basilica; and Bishop Emeritus Joseph Latino celebrated 50 years of priestly life June 3, 6, and 18, respectively. On June 10, Father Robert Dore of Columbus Annuciation marked 25 years of ordination.
All of the celebrations honored the gift of priesthood both ministerial and the “common priesthood of the faithful.” Each observance highlighted the life of the ordained within the life of the church and his service to the presbyterate as well as the priestly life.
Both ordained and laity participate in the priesthood of the church. In his homily on June 6, Bishop Latino focused on the dignity of the priesthood and defined its dimensions using the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.” The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. the faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are “consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood.” (CCC #1546)
The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, “each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ.” While being “ordered one to another,” they differ essentially. In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace – a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit –  the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. the ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders. (CCC #1547)
Although each celebration was one evening in the life of the church. Each life of service honored is a witness to the building up of God’s Kingdom. Each of these lives is a testimony to the church’s mission in the world to bring the Good News to all, especially those who are marginalized, oppressed, wounded and alone.
We give thanks to Almighty God for the gift of priesthood and the men who carry out the office.