Father Phipps to lead Charities

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz has appointed Father Ricardo Phipps director of Catholic Charities Jackson. Father Phipps, a Mississippi native, has a doctorate from the University of Mississippi in counselor education as well as a masters in counseling, a masters in divinity and undergraduate degrees in math and history. He has taught graduate level courses at Ole Miss and the University of Texas in Tyler and has served in a number of parishes in the state.
“I am extremely humbled to be appointed to serve at Catholic Charities and also very excited about the appointment. I appreciate the confidence of the bishop in giving me this opportunity,” said Father Phipps. “My training is mental health related, counseling specifically, so I feel like my experience is in line with much of what Catholic Charities is already doing. I want to be a part of assuring that these services will be offered and expanded for a long time,” he added.
“Father Phipps has been a priest of the Diocese of Jackson for the past ten years, and I am confident he will apply his leadership skills to strengthen and develop the array of services that bring support and hope to many in need,” said Bishop Kopacz in a statement.
Linda Raff has been leading the agency temporarily while a search committee looked for a permanent director. The bishop thanked her for coming out of retirement to be the interim director. “I thank Linda Raff for her invaluable leadership during this time of transition. May the Lord continue to bless her and her family,” said the bishop.
Catholic Charities is undergoing re-certification with the national Council on Accreditation (COA) right now. Raff will remain at the agency part-time until the end of September to help smooth the transition and assist with the review. COA accredits child welfare, behavioral health and community-based social service providers. The certification process is very rigorous.
“Father Ric’s background and experience in ministry, education and clinical work in addition to his care and concern for all of God’s children makes him especially suited for the work and mission of Catholic Charities,” said Raff. “I know the agency will thrive under his leadership and I know it will continue to be a beacon of help and hope for all Mississippians especially the poor and vulnerable,” she added.
Catholic Charities is the social service arm of the church in Mississippi, providing direct service to those in need. The agency offers counseling, adoption services, a rape crisis center, a domestic violence shelter, immigration and resettlement services, a health ministry, social justice advocacy, addiction services, disaster response and housing and job training for veterans. Clients do not need to be Catholic, in fact, a majority of those served are not Catholic.
“I feel like Catholic Charities is our greatest evangelization arm in an area where not many people are Catholic, and I am excited to be a part of that,” said Father Phipps. He will remain pastor of Jackson Christ the King, but will no longer be pastor of Jackson St. Therese. Msgr. Elvin Sunds will serve as canonical pastor of St. Therese. See page 11 for these and other pastoral assignments.

Pastoral Assignments:

Father Ricardo Phipps was appointed director of Catholic Charities Jackson and will remain pastor at Jackson Christ the King, effective August 3.

Upon the recommendation of Father Paul Kahan, SVD, provincial for the Southern Province of the Society of the Divine Word, Father Alfred Ayem was appointed pastor of Jackson Holy Ghost Parish, effective August 17.

Msgr. Elvin Sunds was appointed canonical pastor of Jackson St. Therese parish and will oversee the redistribution of the property of Jackson St. Mary Church, while living in residence at Pearl St. Jude Parish, effective August 3.

Father Mario Solarzano was appointed pastor of Corinth St. James, and sacramental minister for Booneville St. Francis and Iuka St. Mary Parishes, effective August 24.

Artist donates to drawdown

Brother McGrath donated this painting of Sr. Thea Bowman to her namesake school while here for a visit. (Photo by Fabvienen Taylor)

JACKSON – Brother Mickey McGrath presented four workshops for different groups around the diocese during a visit the week of April 6. First, he led a workshop at the diocesan school principals’ retreat where administrators drew mandalas using different symbols and then talked about the meaning of each.

Then he joined 90 people, 45 at Madison St. Francis of Assisi School and another 45 the next day at Tupelo St. James Parish to present a Lenten retreat called “Cloud of Witnesses,” where they talked about saints and holy people in the church.

Before he left, Brother McGrath gave a workshop to the students, staff and faculty at Jackson Sister Thea Bowman School and donated one of his paintings of Sister Thea to the school for the drawdown, which is set for Saturday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m. For information on the drawdown, call the school, 601-352-5441.

Junior Knights, Daughters gather in Jackson

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – About 300 young men and women gathered at the Marriott in downtown Jackson the weekend of March 8, for the regional conference of the Junior Knights and Junior Daughters of Peter Claver. The conference draws from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. The gathering was sponsored in part by the diocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry.

Jeremy, Donovan and Raphael Barner from Jackson Holy Ghost Parish receive an award for the talent show during the banquet. They will go on to represent the district at the national convention in Orlando, Fla.

JACKSON – The Knights and Daughters dressed out for a Mass Saturday night followed by an awards banquet. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

In his homily, Chaplain Father Vernon Huguley challenges the youth to go to confession within the week of the gathering.

Supreme Knight and CEO DeKarlos Blackmon addresses banquet attendees.

Conference participants chat at table during the Saturday night banquet. Three hundred people attended the weekend gathering.

The participants ranged in age from six-18. The theme, “Worship Like a Rock Star, Through Christ Who Strengthens Me,” drove all the presentations and activities, which included a talent contest of musicians, vocalists, dancers and steppers, a science fair, debate and speech competitions as well as business meetings and, of course, prayer and Liturgy.

At all of their conferences the participants engage in a service project. This year, junior knights and daughters selected literacy as their issue and they all brought books to donate to a local shelter.

At the conference Mass Saturday, March 8, celebrant Father Vernon Huguley, the chaplain for the Gulf Coast District and a pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Birmingham, Ala., was joined by Father Darrell Kelly, SVD, of Jackson Holy Ghost Parish and Father Ricardp Phipps of the Catholic Community of West Jackson. Father Huguley challenged the congregation to go to confession by the following Sunday. He reminded them that confession is a great way to root out negativity. “When we have something negative in our hearts, we block a blessing,” he said.

He also reminded them that the season of Lent is about sacrifice and challenged them to give up something that might be hard, such as texting or watching a favorite television show. After Mass the group gathered for a spirited awards banquet and then a dance.
The Knights of Peter Claver is a Catholic organization founded specifically for African Americans. They do service and evangelize as well as support one another in their faith. Matthew Amos, president of the Junior Knights, 18, came from Atlanta for the convention. “The Knights run deep in my family, my grandmother is the Grand Lady in my parish and Director Hutchens is like a second father to me. It’s like one huge family,” he explained. Amos plans to attend Clark Atlanta University next year, but will continue to work with the group. In fact, he’s hoping to pull more juniors into the senior knights with him. “I feel like I have gained so much knowledge over the years through this group. I hope I can use it to get more juniors to transfer to the senior division,” he said.

Junior Daughters president Kennedy Blanchard also described the group as a family. She joined after seeing her brother participate at their home parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in downtown Atlanta, but continued through the ranks as she got older. “I felt like it was my duty to God to serve and I felt called to serve (in the Junior Daughters).” Amos and Blanchard grew up together.

Supreme Knight DeKarlos Blackmon closed the banquest by urging those in attendance to make each gathering bigger. “We go back to those baptismal promises. We need to evangelize, we need to be the salt and the light, we need to be the hope,” he said. He added that every member is a leader, even if they are not an officer or group leader. They are, by their faith, called to be community leaders.

The senior members of the organization in the Gulf Coast Conference will gather in Jackson on the first weekend of May.