As I reflect on the past year, I see the impact of the pandemic upon all areas of our lives. It continues to be a trying time, but not without points of light. When I look beyond the surface level, I realize how our Church has not just survived but has thrived. Each parish had to come up with new ways to bring the Gospel message to their parishioners. We have all become more tech savvy so we could stay connected. Our Catholic Schools are educating more students, and Catholic Charities continues to serve vulnerable populations across the state as a visible sign of Christ’s love. Family members have become closer, realizing we need one another now more than ever. We all have realized along the way the things that are truly important to us.
As I looked over the CSA impact report for this past year, it struck me again how important these ministries are to the people of our diocese. As you review this report, I hope that you will see how each of these ministries and all of them combined are the face of Jesus Christ in varied and many ways. I would like to personally thank you for your donation to the Catholic Service Appeal. I am so proud of how you and so many others have come together to support these important ministries of our diocese during these uncertain times.
Your prayers and generosity make a difference. Please know that I am praying for you and your family.
Sincerely Yours In Christ,
+Most Reverend Bishop Joseph Kopacz
Seminarian Education – $125,000
Your gift to the Catholic Service Appeal supports our six seminarians who are in formation to become a priest in our diocese.
We are so lucky to have these men who are discerning to one day become priests in our parishes.
Andrew Bowden, St. Jude, Pearl, MS – “The Diocese of Jackson is my home. It will be a great blessing to continue to live with and serve the people of our great diocese. The work of priestly formation could not occur without the prayers and support of the faithful.”
Catholic Charities – $350,000
The Catholic Service Appeal provides support to the Catholic Charities Born Free program that helps pregnant women break the cycle of addiction so they can have a healthy baby. Catholic Charities works with these young mothers to connect them with community resources such as job placement and housing to help them have a stable environment for their continued recovery. Catholic Charities also has programs that work to improve the lives of those they serve. With programs like adoption, Children’s Mental Health Services that strengthen families and nurture the children and youth they serve, breaking the cycle of domestic violence for women and their children, welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees, and parish and community engagement. Catholic Charities reaches out to the vulnerable and poor in the community with program locations in Jackson, Natchez, Vardaman, and Biloxi serves over 16,000 men, women and children through direct services, crisis outreach, community education, and advocacy each year.
Ayah, Catholic Charities Client – “I had so many questions when I entered the program, “Where would I live, would my baby be healthy, how do I find a job?” I was so scared. I worked so hard to gain my sobriety and develop a plan to keep me sober. My sweet baby was born healthy and drug free. She has brought such joy to my life. Thank you to all who donate to make this program possible. You have given me so much hope, love and a new beginning for both myself and my daughter.”
Priest Retirement and Clergy Assistance – $175,000
Our retired priests have served our parishes for many years, and they continue to serve our Diocese even in retirement. The diocese has 19 retired priests that the Appeal helps to support as well as our clergy who may need assistance during the year.
Fr. PJ Curley – “I go to Vicksburg Catholic School each day to be with the kids. For an old priest like me they put a spring in my step, a smile on my face, and a song in my heart. I also like to see the teachers and the staff; they are such an inspiration.”
Formational Ministries –
Religious Education and Faith Formation Office – $40,000
The office of Faith Formation brings people into a closer relationship with God through educational and experiential opportunities for encounter. This ministry helps prepare parish volunteers become certified catechists so they can work with adults and youth. They provide training, retreats, and certification for parish lay ministries and Catholic School teachers who are involved in catechesis, RCIA, Liturgy, Lay Ecclesial Ministry, Pastoral Ministry and more.
Letty Ruiz, St. Christopher, Pontotoc, MS – “Building and maintaining good habits are essential- DAILY PRAYER- is a must living in our society. I need all the help I can get to do God’s will and praying daily will slowly open the ears to my heart. It only takes 66 days to build good habits, so, set an alarm if you have to, but make sure you stick to it!!”
Intercultural Office – $40,000
The Intercultural Ministry offices works with Black, Hispanic, Vietnamese and Native American Catholics in our diocese to develop leadership, celebrate diverse cultures, and strengthen parish engagement. The staff work offers leadership training, family programs and retreat experiences to celebrate their gifts and deepen their Catholic faith.
Fr. Clem Olukunle Oyafemi, Intercultural Ministry Coordinator – “Today we are challenged to break down the barriers of division and sectarianism. We are challenged to bring the Gospel to every race and culture and help them understand the marvels of Goad in their own native languages.”
Family Ministry Office – $35,500
The Family Ministry office works with couples preparing for the sacrament of matrimony by offering programs that support couples, families, and individuals by way of marriage preparation, remarriage preparation enrichment, divorce support, and Natural Family Planning. Their goal is to strengthen the vocation of marriage for those entering a lifelong commitment.
Since it is never easy to lose the one you have spent your life with, this office also offers support to those who are grieving the loss of a spouse due to death or divorce.
Sarah and Yoni Holz – “We had an absolutely wonderful experience with the FOCCUS Marriage Preparation course. The FOCCUS questionnaire was very thorough and helped us to objectively hone in on areas where we disagreed and topics we needed to discuss. Our life together started with a much stronger foundation, thanks to the FOCCUS Marriage Preparation program, and we are very grateful to have been a part of it.”
Campus Ministry – $50,000
Our young adults at college in our diocese need to be supported in their faith. Campus Ministry helps connect them to a parish to help them meet their spiritual needs and develop friendships. Campus Ministry provides a community of believers who share a desire to live a Catholic Christian lifestyle.
Dylan Bufkin, Mississippi State University – “I went from being completely alone in my faith to sitting next to close friends in Mass every Sunday. A year prior, I had only met maybe three college-aged Catholics total, but after a few months, I was surrounded by them. There was no more edifying experience than to see faith-filled men and women try to grow in the love of the Lord amidst a college culture that is hostile to the faith’s demands.”
Youth Ministry – $35,500
With the Catholic population in our diocese at 3%, Youth Ministry allows our Catholic youth to gather at retreats and conferences, so they interact with other Catholic youth and engage in their faith. An emphasis is placed on learning the importance of developing a relationship with God. Through Youth Ministry the kids in our parishes deepen their faith and can participate in diocesan events like Search Retreat, Catholic Youth Convention and other activities that help them strengthen their Catholic Faith.
Conrad Becker, St. James, Tupelo, MS – “Adoration came around after Confession. Adoration hit differently this time around as I truly reflected on who and where I was in my faith. I questioned if I had ever even accepted Jesus as my Savior, that is how I knew I had not yet. I decided that the rest of my life God would be intertwined with everything I do in life from that night on. All who have donated to the Catholic Service Appeal I thank you and so do the other youth members for the chance to do more and be more invested in our faith. Even though some kids have not found that hunger to learn more, yet it will come.”
Mission Parishes and Schools – $75,000
The Catholic Service appeal helps to provide grant opportunities for parishes to help with projects in their parish. Our mission parishes are filled with parishioners who are dedicated to their Catholic faith. These parishes are small but determined to build a strong Catholic community. Because they are small, they need the support of larger churches to help them accomplish the mission of our Catholic faith.
St. Francis, New Albany, MS – “For us, here at St. Francis of Assisi, Mission Grant allowed us to make necessary structural repairs to our aging facility without worrying if we could cover our recurring bills. We have suffered from roof leaks in our 8 dormers for a while now, but with the aid provided by the Mission Grant, we were able to secure our place of worship and prevent further damage to our church facility. Many of us have worried about the cost of this repair for quite some time as there was much “discovery” to be done to find the source of our problems. Now that our repair is complete, we can turn our attention to other issues yet to be addressed.”
Catholic Schools have served in our diocese since 1847, providing a Catholic education in a Christ-centered environment. Your gift to the Catholic Service Appeal offers grant opportunities for our schools to help them provide a quality education to these children.
Joni House, Principal, Annunciation Catholic School, Columbus, MS – “The Diocesan Mission grant helped Annunciation Catholic School. The $10,000 awarded to repair and replace Cottage 2’s roof enabled us to use that space as a classroom again (which was very necessary during COVID.) You enabled us to continue increasing enrollment, because now we have access to that room as a classroom, Thank you for your generosity so that we can continue to help children reach their full potential in a Christ-centered environment.”
Public Relations – $50,000
Our Catholic newspaper helps Bishop Joseph Kopacz evangelize throughout the diocese. We receive local, national, and worldwide Catholic events. Many of our faithful Catholics are home-bound. The Mississippi Catholic newspaper helps them stay connected to their faith.
Joanna King, Director of Communications – “Communication is the core activity of the church. It is essentially the sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our communications team, along with many across the diocese, work to bring this Good News through print, video and social media to help Catholics stay connected to their faith and to evangelize to all with His Good News.”