Catholic Diocese of Jackson Agrees to Resolve Investigation

For Immediate Release

JACKSON, Miss. – The Catholic Diocese of Jackson has entered into an agreement with federal prosecutors to tighten financial controls and bring to a conclusion an investigation stemming from the actions of one of its former pastors.

Over the last year and a half, federal authorities have conducted an investigation into events at the parish in Starkville and its mission in Macon that involved then Father Lenin Vargas. That investigation included federal authorities executing search warrants at those sites and at the offices of the Diocese in Jackson.

“During the course of the investigation, the Diocese has worked to bring forth the truth that would lead to a just resolution and reconciliation throughout our Catholic community,” said Bishop Joseph Kopacz.

The Deferred Prosecution Agreement spells out a number of specific changes the Diocese is to undertake and maintain including:

  • Return of donations related to alleged fraudulent activities against parishioners
  • Undertake staff changes in the Accounting and Chancery Offices
  • Improvements in accounting for donations and priest spending
  • Formation of a new review board focusing on ethical conduct
  • Establish a fraud prevention hotline
  • Revise collection policies
  • Initiate formal penal process for Vargas

The Diocese had proactively undertaken all of these measures during the course of the investigation, with the exception of initiation of a formal penal process for Vargas, which will begin now.

“There are still steps to be taken and certainly more changes ahead,” added Bishop Kopacz. “As part of an agreed upon resolution of the federal investigation, the Diocese will welcome periodic review and oversight of its financial and management practices and protocols. As a result of the many steps we have already taken to tighten our internal controls, we are very comfortable with this resolution.”

Bishop Kopacz expressed, “deep regret for all who have been hurt by Lenin Vargas’s actions. We still invite anyone to come forward with claims, and we will work to seek a just resolution with them. We hope in Christ for new life and peace.”

The Agreement is to be in effect for twelve months.

Click here for pdf copy of this release.

Statement by Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz on the Mississippi State Flag

Statement by Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz on the Mississippi State Flag

JACKSON – In solidarity with other faith traditions and business leaders, I, as Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, call upon our State Leadership in the Legislature and the Governor’s Office to immediately remove the current State Flag of Mississippi and replace it with one that better represents the inhabitants of our State.

The people of Mississippi have elected you to make difficult decisions for the betterment of our State. Now is your time to lead us with justice and compassion.

Our Catholic Church has a long and storied tradition of speaking out against injustices in society and on a unique level in the State of Mississippi for the past 180 years. Today, we continue and honor that legacy by asking our State Leaders to remove a symbol that recalls an unjust and oppressive society and place it in a museum where it belongs.

Let our new flag reflect a new Mississippi where all our people can gaze upon it and feel pride. Let our new flag signal a Mississippi where we can learn from the past and carve a bright future for our young people. Let our new flag encompass a State where justice and peace swell in the hearts of all.

Click here for pdf copy of Bishop Kopacz’s statement on the Mississippi State Flag

Chrism Mass

This Chrism Mass was live streamed on Facebook at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 from the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson, Mississippi. Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from One License with license A-718704.


Ascension of the Lord – Mass, Sunday, May 24, 2020

This Mass for the Ascension of the Lord, May 24, 2020 was live streamed on Facebook at 9 a.m.and 11 a.m. (Spanish) from Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson, Mississippi. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Father Matthew Simmons.

For better visual quality visit

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-718704.

Together in Faith – Re-opening our churches

Bishop Joseph Kopacz brings good news to the faithful of the diocese – that the resumption of the public celebration of Mass will be on the feast of Pentecost, Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and 31.

Realistically, we know that we will not be returning to normalcy on Pentecost Sunday. This pandemic will not be going away anytime soon. Based on the capacity of our churches we will be welcoming back smaller congregations under rigorous protocols that will be consistently applied in all our parishes. We are committed to upholding safety and reverence.

Please view the Directives for Re-opening Churches for Public Worship by clicking here.