Statement announcing suspension of Mass and Parish Ministries through April 30

Dear Friends in Christ,

The current and anticipated surge of diagnosed COVID-19 infections in Mississippi and throughout the nation compels us to extend the ban on all public gatherings in our churches in the Diocese of Jackson through April 30, 2020. This is a critical time in our fight to flatten the curve of infections and this weighty decision gives witness to our commitment to the common good of our families, communities, state and nation.

It is disappointing to accept the reality that we will not be filling our churches throughout Holy Week, Easter, and early on during the Easter season. Yet, there are many positive signs that our mission to “proclaim Jesus the Savior by living the Gospel, so that all may experience the crucified and risen Lord,” is alive and well even in the throes of the current austerity.

For full statement CLICK HERE.

Please visit our Public Health Concerns for Announcements and Resources during this crisis.


Statement from Catherine Cook – Superintendent of Education – Catholic Schools to Close through April 17

March 20, 2020

Dear Catholic school families:

Bishop Joseph Kopacz and I conferred today regarding the recent executive order of Governor Reeves to close public schools across the state. We decided that it is in the best interest for the common good in our communities across the Diocese of Jackson that our Catholic Schools remain closed through April 17th. We will continue to monitor information regarding COVID-19, as well as the recommendations and directives of national, state, and local government officials. You will be notified as additional decisions are made regarding our schools.

CLICK HERE for full statement on Catholic School Closures

Statement From Bishop Kopacz on COVID-19 Regarding Suspension of Mass And Parish Ministries Effective Immediately

In Solidarity with the Archdiocese of Mobile and the Dioceses of Biloxi and Birmingham, I announce today that Public Masses in every parish, school and institution in the Diocese of Jackson are suspended effective immediately until further notice. This decision was guided by health experts, the Center for Disease Control and the Mississippi Department of Health and in light of the announcements from President
Trump and Governor Reeves. The situation will be reassessed at the beginning of April in regards to the Sacred Triduum ceremonies.



Notice: suspension of the distribution of the Precious Blood during the Eucharist

Until further notice, Bishop Joseph Kopacz asks all parishes, missions, institutes and schools to discontinue distribution of the Precious Blood from the chalice to the congregation at all Masses; and urges communicants to receive the consecrated host  in the hand if at all possible due to concerns over the ongoing flu season and uncertainty over the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) that is starting to show up in this country.

This is a temporary action to determine the severity of the outbreak. It is diocesan norm to distribute Holy Communion under both species and this should be followed normally.

Additionally, the exchange of the sign of peace is to be offered without any physical contact, if possible. Instead of a handshake, parishioners may bow or nod to persons nearby. Hands are a prime location for viruses to be shared.

Once more knowledge is shared and the concerns have abated we will re-institute the diocesan norm.

Bishop Kopacz presents Bishop Chanche Medal to local Catholics

JACKSON – Twenty adults and 15 youth in the Catholic community who have extensive and distinguished records of service received the 2020 Bishop Chanche Medal on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson.

“On this occasion we celebrate the tradition … of our diocese with Bishop Chanche from the very beginning and much more importantly that this is still alive in our time and that the living Lord is in our midst and in our hearts,” said Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz during the celebration.

The individuals awarded were nominated by their pastors or Lay Ecclesial Ministers and recommended for the award by a peer committee to receive the Bishop John Joseph Chanche Medal. This diocesan award, established in 2012 in honor of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson’s 175th anniversary, is given for outstanding service to parish, diocese and community. It is named for the first Catholic Bishop to serve the state of Mississippi after the Diocese of then Natchez was established in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI.

Bishop Chanche arrived in Natchez in May 1841 to find a handful of missionary priests and no real church building. “His zeal and efforts to grow the Catholic faith in our state is reflected in the faces of the people honored with the award for his name,” said Father Lincoln Dall, Vicar General of the Diocese of Jackson and pastor of St. Jude in Pearl.

The Bishop Chanche Medal was awarded to:

Myrtle Curro Alvarado – St. Michael Catholic Church, Vicksburg
Joy Bellipanni – All Saints Catholic Church, Belzoni
Benjamin and Charity Cannon – Christ the King Catholic Church, Jackson
Charlie Collins – Holy Savior Catholic Church, Clinton
Merrick P. Conway – Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Camden
Julice Fontana Curry – St. Joseph Catholic Church, Greenville
Ronald DiPalma – Holy Cross Catholic Church, Philadelphia
Penny Elliott – Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, West Point
Frank and Fern Fillingim – Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, Jackson
Ben and Phyllis Mokry – St. Therese Catholic Church, Jackson
Diana Murillo – St. Mary Catholic Church, Batesville
Tom and Cindy Murphree – St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, McComb
Elizabeth Ann Pullum – Holy Family Catholic Church, Jackson
Lawrence Rabalais – St. Paul Catholic Church, Vicksburg
Dunaway Rooks – St. Jude Catholic Church, Pearl
Cass Salina – St. Mary Catholic Church, Yazoo City
Jennette Larieu Thimmesch – St. Joseph Catholic Church, Woodville
Chuck and Betty Turner – Holy Family Catholic Church, Gloster
Karen Worrell – St. Joseph Catholic Church, Gluckstadt/Madison
Blanca Rose Peralta Zuniga – Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Canton

Those awarded with the Bishop Chanche Youth Medal are:

Carolyn Ann Adams – St. James Catholic Church, Magnolia
Riley Dane Bellipanni – All Saints Catholic Church, Belzoni
Adam M. Eckstein – St. Michael Catholic Church, Vicksburg
Kitty Elliott – Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, West Point
Grayson Foley – St. Richard Catholic Church, Jackson
Rebecca Hahn – St. Paul Catholic Church, Vicksburg
Allison Marie Hanby – St. James Catholic Church, Tupelo
Edwar Hernandez – St. Patrick Catholic Church, Meridian
Gracie McGaugh – St. Joseph Catholic Church, Greenville
Jack Riordan – St. Jude Catholic Church, Pearl
John Luther Selby – St. James Catholic Church, Leland
Zion Anthony Apalla Smith – Annunciation Catholic Church, Columbus
Josie Tripp – Holy Savior Catholic Church, Clinton
Phillip Jonathan Wright – St. Joseph Catholic Church, Gluckstadt/Madison

Download the full release statement: Bishop Chanche Medal 2020 Press Release

Propublica list of clergy and religious

Recently, ProPublica released a list of all clergy and religious credibly accused of sexual abuse in the U.S. The Diocese of Jackson released the list of those credibly accused in March of 2019, which not only includes diocesan priests or religious who are credibly accused, but also those who were accused elsewhere (in other diocese/states) who served in the diocese at some point in time.

Since March of 2019, two names were added to the Diocese of Jackson’s list as a result of their appearance in other diocesan databases. Nicholas Bendillo and Bill Wright both served in the Diocese of Jackson at some points in time. In the spirit of transparency, it is diocesan policy to include their names among our list of credibly accused.

Anyone who has been a victim of abuse or exploitation by clergy, religious or lay church personnel and has not yet reported it is encouraged to do so. Safe Environment Coordinator, Vickie Carollo is available to assist in making a report by calling 601-960-8471.