Jackson bishop to meet with priests

Published 1:17 am Saturday, October 13, 2007

Natchez — Bishop Joseph N. Latino, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, will open the bi-annual convocation of priests at the Eola Hotel on Monday evening, Oct. 15.

“He will present an overview of pastoral ministry in his 65 county diocese,” according to the Rev. David O’Connor, who has chaired the planning committee for this event.

The overview, to be presented by the bishop, will address issues arising from an increasing Catholic population, a declining number of priests, an influx of Hispanic American people, and an increasing need for the professional training of lay pastoral ministers. The Diocese of Jackson is divided into 74 congregations.

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“Traditionally, each congregation had a priest pastor, but now because of priest shortage there are 20 congregations under the leadership of a lay pastoral minister,” O’Connor said.

Because of the changing profile of congregational leaders, the lay pastoral ministers are invited to part of this convocation.

“We hope that we the priests, can learn from the experience of our non-ordained brothers and sisters who are doing ministry in our diocese,” O’Connor said. In addition, there are six seminarians studying for ordination to priesthood for this diocese, and these will also attend part of the convocation.

Approximately 85 ministers will attend.

That includes Bishop Latino, Bishop Houck, 63 priests, three permanent deacons (ordained married men), nine religious sisters (nuns) and eight lay parish administrators.

The purpose of the convocation is to bring together all the people in pastoral ministry to reflect on the mission of the church, to identify the challenges, to strategize for the ongoing work of the church, to pray and worship together, and to build community among those ministering in different part of the diocese — from Woodville to Corinth and from Meridian to Southaven.