Franciscan Sisters and Bishop Kopacz Open the Year of Mercy at St. Francis of Assisi School

It was in early Fall that Sister Mary Ann, the Principal of St. Francis School, extended an invitation to the Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson, MS to come and visit our school. Not until a few weeks ago did we learn that Bishop Joseph Kopacz was really going to be able to come. His visit was not only to be on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, but also on the day of the opening of the doors for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Sisters Kathleen and Mary Ann conferred over the final details of the mass, while the students were being quietly gathered in front of school.

Everyone was in readiness eagerly anticipating the bishop’s arrival.

It wasn’t long before Fathers Greg and Adam brought the bishop over to join the students in front of school. It was here that we had the introduction of the Year Of Mercy.

All then processed over to St. Francis Church for the prayers in preparation for the opening of the Holy Doors to our church signifying for us the opening of the Holy Year.  St. Francis of Assisi Church has been designated as a pilgrimage church for our diocese during the Holy Year.

Bishop Joseph Kopacz entered through the doors and all followed after him in to our church.

Bishop Joseph Kopacz entered through the doors and all followed after him into our church.

Sister Kathleen with her Kindergarteners attentively singing led us through out the mass.

Sister Kathleen, joined by her attentive Kindergarteners, helped to lead us throughout the mass.

“What does the word ‘mercy’ mean?”the Bishop asked the children. He held their attention and led them into greater understanding. One Kindergartener defined mercy as follows, ” It is when you do a mistake and don’t get punished for it”! After gentle laughter circulated through the church, Bishop Joseph went with the flow and helped everyone understand God’s merciful love for us.   He related God’s mercy to that of the Good Shepherd who goes out after the lost sheep and carries them home over His shoulders as the Year of Mercy banner shows.

Sister Kathleen made us a banner for this Year of Mercy.

Sister Kathleen made us a banner for this Year of Mercy.

Mass continued with Fathers Greg and Adam concelebrating with Bishop Joseph.

After communion Brother Patrick announced the top two winners of the Christmas card contest. the first place winner received $25.00 and will have his card used as the missions Christmas card this year.

After communion Brother Patrick announced the top two winners of the Christmas card art contest. The first place winner received $25.00 and will have his design used on the mission’s Christmas card.

Following this announcement Bishop Joseph helped Sister Mary Ann award the “Diamonds of the Delta” for December. “Diamonds of the Delta” is a monthly award given by each teacher for an achievement or significant growth she or he sees in a student for that month. They are our diamonds here in the Delta.

Bishop Kopacz then gave us his final blessing.

Bishop Kopacz then gave us his final blessing.

Following mass Sister Elena's class of second graders were able to present to the Bishop a Spiritual Bouquet they had made for him.

Following mass Sister Elena’s class of second graders were able to present to the Bishop a Spiritual Bouquet they had made for him.

Before Bishop Joseph went on his way we were blessed to be able to pose with him for a picture.

Before Bishop Joseph went on his way we were blessed to join him for a photo op.

Pope Francis’ document for the opening of this Jubilee Year of Mercy states, “Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy.”  Bishop Joseph’s presence among us at this special celebration spoke to our school community of Jesus’ special presence to us in His Church.

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