Reason for the season found in St. Francis Xavier parishioner’s hobby


Reason for the season found in St. Francis Xavier parishioner’s hobby


WIGGINS -Krystyna Korba’s hands have done much in her lifetime – from making string musical instruments in high school in her native Poland to milking cows at her family’s scenic dairy farm in the Wiggins, Miss. area.

Then, there was the time she shook the hand of Pope Saint John Paul II, who was also on hand for her confirmation in 1969 when he was still Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła.

In recent years, the wear and tear on her hands and back have limited what Korba can do around the house and farm. Still, with a strong desire to remain as active as possible and be creative, she’s painted Christmas tree ornaments over the last two years, many depicting primarily nativity scenes, as well as some that capture idyllic images of the farm life she’s known for so many years.

With no formal art education, she’s produced more than a 100 of the ornaments that have been a hit with family, friends and fellow parishioners at Saint Francis Xavier. She has also engaged in beadwork, inspired by the art and dress of Native Americans.

“I helped milk cows for about 20 years, but I had to quit because of issues with my back and hands,” she said. “So I sat down one day and decided to take up painting. It’s truly a gift from God and one that I’ve really enjoyed.”

Her husband Danny, who also has Polish roots (his parents left Poland for the U.S., settling in Vancleave before moving to Wiggins), helps in prepping the ornaments, cleaning and spraying them with primer before Krystyna goes to work on the small round canvases, painting Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the manger, or of wise men traveling from afar to pay their respects and brings gifts to the newborn King, among others variations on the theme.

“Too often when you go to a store, you’ll see ornaments that just portray snowmen or reindeer, but rarely any featuring what she does, which reminds us of why we celebrate this holiday,” he said.

When one meets Krystyna Korba, it soon becomes obvious her faith is an integral part of her of her life. She speaks fondly of John Paul II, especially when recalling the time she stood in line to shake his hand after he transitioned to the papacy from the Cardinal Wojtyła she knew as a young girl.

“It was a wonderful moment when it was announced he was elected. We (Poles) felt a great sense of pride when we heard the news,” she said. “It made me feel even closer to my faith.

“He was such a great man. When you looked him in the eye, you felt like you were with your best friend.”

Korba says she’ll continue pursuing her passion for painting Christmas ornaments as she is able, inspired by her faith and love of the season known best for the gift of God’s son.

“I don’t advertise my hobby to make money. I do it mainly because it brings me joy and I believe captures the spirit of my love for my faith and this wonderful time of year,” Korba said. “I’ve often thought, how fortunate I’ve been to live and work on a farm, often working in a stable like one Jesus was born in.”


Rev. Msgr. Louis F. Kihneman, III named Fourth Bishop of Biloxi


Pope Francis has named Msgr. Louis Kihneman, a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, to serve as the fourth Bishop of Biloxi. The appointment was announced today, December 16 in Washington, D.C. by the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre.

Bishop-elect Kihneman, the new chief shepherd of the 58,000 Catholics in South Mississippi, succeeds Bishop Roger Morin, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 on March 7, 2016. Bishop-elect Kihneman was introduced at a news conference today, Friday, December 16,  at the Pastoral Center of the Diocese of Biloxi.

Bishop Morin called the appointment of Bishop-elect Kihneman “a wonderful early Christmas gift from Pope Francis” for the people of the Diocese of Biloxi.

Bishop-elect Kihneman, no stranger to the Gulf Coast region, said he is both honored and humbled by the Holy Father’s appointment.

“It is with great joy and deep humility and faith that I accept the appointment by our Holy Father to be the next Bishop of the Diocese of Biloxi. I have been deeply touched by the welcome and hospitality that I have already received, especially from Bishop Morin and my brother priests,” he said. “As a son of a family of the Gulf Coast I have fond memories of summers and summer camp as a boy in the area and thus I feel as if the Lord has led me full circle in some ways back home. I look forward to getting to know you and growing with you in the love of Jesus Christ and together sharing that love with all our brother and sisters. We have a deep call to share the Word of God, the Good News with all and to bring them to Christ. I look forward to building on all the good work that has already been done. May our loving God bless us as we build up his kingdom together.”

Bishop-elect Kihneman was ordained to the priesthood on November 18, 1977 at the Corpus Christi Cathedral by Bishop Thomas J. Drury.  Presently, Bishop-elect Kihneman serves the Diocese of Corpus Christi as Vicar General & Moderator of the Curia while also serving St. Philip the Apostle Parish as Pastor.

Bishop-elect Kihneman was born in Lafayette, LA on Feb. 17, 1952 and baptized at Our Lady of Wisdom Parish. He received First Holy Communion at St. Andrew’s Parish in New Orleans in 1958 and was confirmed at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Corpus Christi, TX in 1963. On March 26, 1977, he was ordained to the transitional diaconate and on November 18th of that same year, was ordained to the priesthood.

His first assignment in 1977 as Parochial Vicar to San Isidro Labrador Parish in Artega, Mexico was followed by Parochial Vicar assignments to St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Robstown, TX (1978-1980), Christ the King Parish, Corpus Christi, TX (1980-1981), and Ss. Cyril and Methodius Parish, Corpus Christi, TX (1981-1983).  Bishop-elect Kihneman’s assignments as Pastor began at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Alice, TX (1983-1986) then Sacred Heart Parish, Rockport, TX (1993-2011) and St. Philip the Apostle Parish, Corpus Christi, TX (2014 to present).

Bishop-elect Kihneman has served the following diocesan offices; Diocesan Director of Religious Education (1978-1983); Director of Vocations (1986-1993); Director of Seminarians (1986-1993); Director of  Ministry to Priests (1986-1993); Director of St. John Vianney House of Studies and Christian Leadership Vocations Program (1986-1993); Associate Vicar for Clergy (1988-1995); Tribunal Advocate (1983-1987); Chancellor (2013-2014); and Vicar General (2010-present).

Over the years, Bishop-elect Kihneman has served and continues to serve on many diocesan boards. He is currently a member of the Priest Personnel Board, Presbyteral Council, the Diocesan Finance Council, Diocesan Deposit and Loan Board, the Priest Pension Plan Board and is Chair of the Perpetual Benefit Endowment Fund of the Diocese.

Bishop-elect Kihneman is the son of Louis Kihneman, Jr. & Bernadine Kihneman (both deceased).  They were natives of Morgan City, Louisiana and raised Bishop-elect Kihneman along with his brothers, Kenneth (Donna) and David (Hilda) in the gulf coast from Clearwater, Florida to Corpus Christi, Texas with Pecos, Texas and Calgary, Alberta, Canada in between. Bishop-elect Kihneman’s family includes a nephew, several nieces, great-nieces, and great-nephews.

Bishop-elect Louis Kihneman attended the Corpus Christi Minor Seminary from  1966 -1972 during which time he graduated from high school in 1970 and also attended Del Mar College from 1970-1972.  He then attended  St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Texas and the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas from 1972-1977.  He received his Liberal Arts degree in 1974 Summa Cum Laude. He completed a Masters of Religious Education degree in 1976 and a Masters of the Arts in Theology degree in 1977.  He has taught Scripture and Liturgy in the Diocesan Pastoral Institute and the St. Paul School of Catechesis of the Diocese of Corpus Christi. He has also taught Homiletics in the Permanent Diaconate program of the Diocese of Corpus Christi. He is the 2011 recipient of the NCEA Distinguished Pastor Award in recognition of his outstanding support for Catholic Education.   Bishop-elect Kihneman has served as a priest for the Diocese of Corpus Christi for the past 39 years.

Bishop-elect Kihneman will be ordained and installed as the Bishop of Biloxi on February 17, 2017 at 2:30 pm at the Nativity of the BVM Cathedral, Biloxi.

Until that time, Bishop Morin will serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Biloxi.

#iGiveCatholic day of online giving slated for November 29 in Diocese of Biloxi


DIOCESE OF BILOXI — The Diocese of Biloxi has joined forces with the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Diocese of Baton Rouge, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, and Diocese of Jackson to participate in #iGiveCatholic, a Catholic giving day on #GivingTuesday, November 29. 

The #iGiveCatholic campaign is a 24-hour online crowdfunding effort organized by The Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of New Orleans to support the work of parishes, schools, and other diocesan ministries, affiliated with the participating dioceses. Throughout the giving day, from midnight on November 29 until the stroke of midnight on November 30, Catholics can go to the home page and click on a specific ministry listed there to make a donation with their credit card. 

Last year, The Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of New Orleans launched #iGiveCatholic, the first-ever online giving day by Catholics for the works of the Catholic Church in the history of the U.S., and raised an unprecedented $1.3 million in 24 hours to benefit 112 parishes, schools, and ministries in the Greater New Orleans region. This year, #iGiveCatholic has set a goal of 200 participating organizations and $1.5 million to be raised within the 24-hour period.

#iGiveCatholic is held each year in conjunction with #GivingTuesday, which is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

All parishes, schools, and diocesan ministries affiliated with the Diocese of Biloxi (i.e. included in the Catholic Directory) are invited to participate as recipients of donations if they meet the three requirements: 1) complete and submit a commitment form; 2) attend an #iGiveCatholic training session; and 3) beginning September 1, register their organization online at

The #iGiveCatholic campaign wants to target people who have not given to Catholic institutions before and create relationships with them, especially with the younger generation.  Non-Catholics who believe in the work of the various Catholic ministries in the area are invited to give as well.

Our parishes, schools, and other diocesan ministries in the Diocese of Biloxi have been finding different ways to publicize their organizations, and the #iGiveCatholic hashtag will be a great way to spread the word about our local ministries.







Seminarian responds to call to priesthood, hopes to help others in considering religious vocations

Seminarian Adam Frey

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG – He entertained the idea of becoming a priest throughout high school, but it wasn’t until college that Ocean Springs native Adam Frey heard the call to commit to the vocation. Now a seminarian affiliated with Saint Joseph Seminary in Covington, La., Frey is back in the Diocese of Biloxi currently assigned this summer at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic.

“I was never truly open to the possibility of being called at that time (during high school),” Frey said. “Then in college at the University of South Alabama, the priest there told us to open our hearts to the Lord’s will in our life. So with that in mind, along with going to daily Mass, weekly adoration and serving at Mass for the first time, I became more open to the priesthood.”

Soon, he would experience a powerful encounter that initiated that journey.

“The turning point was once when I had a strong encounter with Lord before Mass that I could not ignore, and after that I talked with the priest about my discernment to that point.”

When Frey applied to serve as a seminarian in the Diocese of Biloxi, Bishop Roger Morin gave him a copy of a book on St. Therese of Lisieux and her “little way” in life. Appreciating the small but significant gifts and blessings God places in our path, he says, play a big role in guiding him in his daily journey and he sees that continuing into the priesthood. “I found a connection with her in finding joy in the little things in life,” he said.

During his time at St. Thomas, Frey said he has found real joy in his visits with those in assisted living centers and hospital patients. “For some of these people, you are the only person they see outside the center,” he said. “It’s wonderful that in seeing their reaction to seeing you is in part because they know you have Jesus in with you in the Eucharist.”

Frey is a graduate of Ocean Springs High School, where he was a member of the Blue-Grey Pride Band. He earned the Eagle Scout designation, the highest rank in the Boy Scout organization, and is also a member of Knights of Columbus. He is the son of Michelle and Robert Frey and has a brother, Darren. His assignment with the diocese is something of a homecoming, one he hopes will continue in service going forward, including being a resource for high school and college students like those he has encountered at St. Thomas, and perhaps provide counsel to someone who, like Frey was only a few years earlier, is considering a life of service to his or her faith.   “I would enjoy working with the youth of the Diocese, including at St. Patrick High School or continuing at St. Thomas in Hattiesburg, because it is at these places where they are thinking about what they want to do with their life,” Frey said. “Some of them may have thought about a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, and I would like to be able to help them to better discern His will.”





Diocese’s newest seminarian, Wiktor, a product of Poland

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OCEAN SPRINGS – The diocese’s newest seminarian, Marcin Wiktor, spent his summer interning at St. Alphonsus Parish, under the direction of Father Michael Snyder.

Wiktor, 26, a native of Poland, spent approximately two months learning about parish life.

“I served during Mass every day. I participated in Vacation Bible School for children. I brought Holy Communion to the sick on Fridays and I visited St. Alphonsus School and the hospital,” said Wiktor, the older of two boys born to Malgorzata and Jacek Wiktor.

“I have learned a lot from Fr. Snyder. He showed me that a good pastor should serve and pray for his parishioners. He explained to me that a good shepherd should be among the people especially with the sick.”

Of all his duties, Wiktor said he most enjoyed having the opportunity to bring the Eucharist to the sick and shut-ins of the parish.

Wiktor said he thoroughly enjoyed the experience of serving at St. Alphonsus and getting to know the parishioners.

“I have been treated very well,” he said. “They supported me through their prayers during the adoration of Blessed Sacrament. They always were smiling and open to me,” he said.

Wiktor, who came to the United States in 2015, is currently studying at SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan, which is where he was recruited to the Diocese of Biloxi by former vocations director, Father Dennis Carver.

“Every new seminarian has to choose the diocese where he wants to be a priest,” said Wiktor. Father Carver came to Orchard Lake last academic year, and he invited me to visit the Diocese of Biloxi. I visited the diocese last Easter. After this I decided to choose the diocese of Biloxi.”

Wiktor is one of three Polish seminarians studying for the Diocese of Biloxi. The others are Darek Dega and Tomasz Golab.

“It is sometimes difficult being away from my family, but I believe that people need me here more than in Poland,” he said. “Of course, I often call my family by Skype. So, I know mostly what happens in my family.”

Wiktor St. Alphonsus on July 6 and is currently spending time with his family in Poland. He will return for his fall semester late next month to begin his sixth year of studies, including four in Poland and one in the United States.






Summer experience at Fatima Parish a real eye-opener for seminarian Necaise


Seminarian Braxton Necaise was reunited with his former pastor, Father Henry McInerney, who gave him his first Communion at Annunciation Parish in Kiln, for his summer internship at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Biloxi, where Father McInerney currently serves as pastor. The two men are pictured then and now.

Seminarian Braxton Necaise Then

Seminarian Braxton Necaise Now w


BILOXI – Seminarian Braxton Necaise definitely did not suffer from a lack of work during his summer internship at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Biloxi, one of the busiest parishes in the Diocese of Biloxi.

 On the contrary, the Kiln native hit the ground running.

Necaise’s assignment officially began the Monday after Mother’s Day and lasted six weeks.

“It’s been a great experience here,” he said, shortly before his departure.

Fatima has approximately 1,900 families on its roster and offers seven Masses on the weekend, two daily Masses (one on Saturday morning), as well as weekly Masses for the Hispanic and Filipino communities. The parish is staffed by three priests: Father Henry McInerney, who is the pastor, and two parochial vicars, Father Tom White and Father Everardo “Lalo” Mora Torres, as well as two permanent deacons. There are also several retired priests who live in the parish, including the pastor emeritus, Msgr. Francis Farrell.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” said Necaise, who is from Sacred Heart Parish in Dedeaux.

“It was a challenge because of the sheer number of parishioners. There’s no excuse for anyone to miss a Mass around here. The number of Masses was kind of overwhelming for a simple country boy from Dedeaux coming to the big city. There was a fiddle player at one of the Masses, so that really made me feel at home.”

Necaise said the first thing he discovered about the parish was the warmth of the parishioners.

“As I was introducing myself to parishioners, I went to extend my hand to these two ladies and they said, ‘Don’t you dare extend your hand. We don’t give handshakes. We give kisses around here.’ Their names were Miss Freda and Miss Edie. They said, ‘We’re going to be your second mothers this summer.’ They have taken care of me,” he said.

“It’s just been a wonderful experience and I have to say that about all the parishioners here. They’ve been so warm and very welcoming.”

Necaise said another enjoyable aspect of his summer internship was being surrounded by so many priests.

“There are six retired priests here in residence and one of the highlights of my day was actually getting the opportunity to have lunch with the retired priests,” he said. “These priests have provided over 300 combined years of ministry, so just to be able to pick their brains and ask for advice has been priceless. I feel like I’ve gained so much wisdom that you cannot even begin to grasp in a classroom or seminary type setting.”

Necaise said he was unaware of Biloxi’s homeless problem and was very impressed by the work of the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society.

“At Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, I’ve actually had the opportunity to work with the Bishop Perry Center in Downtown New Orleans and I had commented that we didn’t have that problem in Biloxi with the homeless,” he said.

“So I was quite shocked when I recognized that there is a significant problem here around Fatima and the surrounding area. One of the things that shocked me but gave me hope was the St. Vincent de Paul Society. They actually serve around 850 people a month. They provide financial assistance with rent and utilities, clothing, household items, medication and food from their food pantry. What shocked me is that they also provide showers, laundry, mail, and transportation to essential services. I just couldn’t get over the fact that they offer all this stuff because, in other parishes where I’ve been, the St. Vincent de Paul Societies had limited resources. Also, in a lot of parishes, the St. Vincent de Paul Society is typically open one day a week, whereas Fatima’s operates Monday through Thursday. There’s always a line back there.

“It was really like you had your bubble burst,” he added. “You live in this idealistic world, but then you come to realize that there is a significant problem with the homeless and that they have needs to be met. Luckily, Our Lady of Fatima’s St. Vincent de Paul is trying to meet those needs.”

Necaise said he also relished the opportunity to participate in Fatima’s ACTS Retreat at Paul B. Johnson Sttate Park.

“I got to work with some amazing teenagers,” he said. “It’s really cool. It’s a spinoff of Cursillo. There were 34 participants with 37 team members and what they focus on is adoration, community, theology and service. You hear various talks and various personal testimonies throughout the weekend and it was a great experience. I guess, coming from a youth ministry background, I always feel so inspired when I’m working with young people, particularly with that group at Paul B. Johnson, because they gave me a sense of hope for the future. These young people are so thirsty for the truth. You could just see it and it was an amazing thing to witness.”

Necaise said his time at Fatima exposed him to the Hispanic and Filipino cultures.

“I have learned to say Body of Christ in three different languages, including Tagalog, which is spoken by the Filipinos,” he said. “Yesterday, I forgot how to say Blood of Christ in Tagalog and a lady told me. My response to her was ‘gracias.’ I think she thought I was being funny, but I wasn’t. I just thought I was speaking Tagalog.”

Necaise also helped out with Vacation Bible School and parish bingo. His time at Fatima also gave him the opportunity to reunite with his former pastor, Father McInerney.

“Father Henry was the priest at Annunciation Parish in Kiln who gave me my first Communion,” said Necaise.

“It was such a blessing to be here with him, someone who really taught me a lot about my faith at a really young age.”

Necaise said Father Henry remembered him because once, when he was an altar server at Annunication Parish, he accidentally caught a plant on fire.

“Luckily, there was some holy water on the altar and he just sprinkled some on it to put it out,” said Necaise. “That’s a memory from childhood that always comes to mind when I serve Mass. ‘Please don’t catch a plant on fire, Braxton.’”








Adore offers a night of worship, teaching and adoration for all ages

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LONG BEACH – Adore Gulf Coast will host a night of worship, teaching and adoration on Thursday, September 1at 6:30PM at St. Thomas the Apostle Church.

Adore Ministries was established in 2004 in Houma, Louisiana, under the guidance of Bishop Sam Jacobs and the vision of Fr. Mark Toups and Paul George. The first initiative of Adore Ministries was to bring the relevancy of the Gospel to those who were disenchanted, fallen away, un-evangelized, marginalized or simply desiring to know more about Jesus Christ.

In recent years, the ministry has caught fire in Houston Texas, under the direction of current president, Ennie Hickman, who will be the guest speaker at the September 1 event.

According to Matt Ladner, who has been instrumental in getting Adore established on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, an effort was made to introduce Adore on a local basis in 2004.

“The roots just weren’t deep enough at that time,” he said. “We scattered a little seed, I guess you could say, but things kind of fizzled out, so we took about a four year break and regrouped in 2014.”

The results have been phenomenal, as the events have drawn in powerful speakers, including Msgr. Dominick Fullam and Father Michael O’ Connor, and, even more importantly, attracted huge crowds of people looking to grow in their faith.

“This time, we’ve taken a different approach. We’ve tried to surround ourselves with humility and immerse ourselves in prayer,” said Ladner. “We didn’t take time out for prayer last time and that’s the reason it fizzled.”

Ladner and a core group of missionaries get together several times a year to brainstorm.

“It’s catching root this time, as opposed to last time,” he said. “We’re taking baby steps. We’re not getting in a hurry to go anywhere. When we do, God slows us down. We’re just kind of doing it one parish at a time, one night at a time, and letting God just take his time as he normally does.”

Approximately 400 people attended the most recent event, which was held in April at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Picayune.

“We’ve been seeing between 300 and 400 people each night, so, overall, it’s been pretty successful,” said Ladner.

According to Ray Lacy, youth minister at St. Thomas, Adore is open to people of all ages.

“It’s for anyone who wants to worship and adore the Lord,” he said. One of the cool things about Adore is that it crosses all age boundaries. If you want to just come, sit and enjoy it, that’s good. If you want to come and really worship, that opportunity’s there as well.”

Lacy said the night’s structure is pretty simple and straight forward.

“The night will begin with an introduction and a song or two and Ennie will give about a 30 minute talk. After that, we have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with adoration and worship led by Matt, Shea Michaels, Kyle Lizana, Cody Roth and a few other guys we’ll be adding to the mix this coming year.”

One of the great things about Adore, Ladner said, is that it draws Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

“We’ve probably averaged anywhere between 10 and 20 non-Catholics each night. We’ve had fallen away Catholics, who haven’t been to church in a long time. We’ve had people who just don’t want to go to church on Sundays. We’ve had people who are intimately involved in their parishes,” he said. “We’ve really had all demographics and backgrounds. We probably have some people who are not rooted in the Christian faith. It’s just such a pleasure to see people come. The greatest thing they tell us afterwards is, ‘Hey, I’m Baptist, but I feel so welcome. You really made me feel at home.’”

That’s important, Ladner said, “because by the time the person gets out of their car and starts walking to the building, we want to immerse them and let them understand that God loves them. Through us, God loves them. From the time they get out of the car until the time they get back into the car, we want them to feel welcome, at home and full of love.”

“It’s a powerful night, added Lacy. We go to Mass on Sunday knowing that’s the greatest prayer we can pray. To go into a night like this and almost pause that moment in the Mass and just go in and worship is so enriching, so deep and such an opportunity to just kind of take that next step. It totally does enhance the Mass for people and that’s what we hear over and over again. People are constantly being enriched.”

Lacy said the goal is that these nights will continue to grow.

“What we hope is that, in the years to come, these nights will continue to be incredibly impactful, but that there will be some spinoff groups from Adore that will kind of be like small groups,” he said. “I think that’s the vision of anything in the Church. You create something and that it will evolve into a movement of the spirit.”

Added Ladner, “Our hope is that, at some point, the churches will overflow and it’ll spill out into the streets.”

For more information, visit and follow Adore Gulf Coast on Facebook.




New director of youth ministry says program’s success hinges on team effort

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BILOXI – Bishop Roger Morin has hired Ray Lacy to serve as the new diocesan director of youth ministry, effective August 15. Lacy succeeds Bragg Moore, who is retiring after three decades in the position.

Lacy, 37, is a native of Gulfport and a graduate of St. John High School. He is married to Mandy and has three children: Mackenzie, 13, Peyton, 11 and Mia Clare, 6. They are members of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Long Beach, where Lacy has served on and off as youth minister since 2000.

Lacy became Catholic during his senior year at St. John, after having what he describes as “a conversion experience.”

“I wasn’t really practicing anything,” he said. “I attended Catholic churches, but I never participated in the sacraments. I was on the campus ministry team at St. John and, when I had my conversion experience during a retreat at Franciscan University in Steubenville, I came back and Jack Beattie, God rest his soul, said, ‘You should think about becoming Catholic.’ That’s when I met Msgr. Dominick Fullam, who signed me up for RCIA. There were three of us in the class at St. James Parish in Gulfport and I came into the Church in 1997.”

After that, he said, youth ministry began to play a greater role in his life. So, when St. Thomas pastor Father Louis Lohan asked him to run the parish’s youth ministry and Life Teen programs.

Lacy left his position at St. Thomas after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to teach religion at St. John and then St. Patrick Catholic High School in Biloxi, while continuing to help with youth ministry.

The fruits of working with young people on a parish level, said Lacy, “come from seeing them experience Christ in a way that creates conversion in their life.

“They experience Christ in a way that changes their world view and their understanding of how they are supposed to live out this Christian virtue because, when they get it, it’s amazing,” he said. “When it clicks, when they recognize how much God loves them and how much a part of their life he is, and they acknowledge that and surrender to that, that’s it. I mean that really and truly is it. There’s so much to that but, simply put, it’s about them experiencing the love of Christ and realizing it.”

Lacy said he is excited and nervous to be following in Moore’s footsteps.

“I love where we’re at with youth ministry in our diocese,” said Lacy. “I think we’ve got a lot of good things going and I just kind of feel that we want to keep those things, whether they be the annual youth conference or SEARCH, going in the right direction.”

Lacy said he owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Moore.

“When I came into youth ministry, Bragg was one of those people that I would often call on for guidance and input,” he said.

“It was always with just a joyful response of ‘I’m here to help you in every way that I possibly can.’ That friendship became even stronger through the years in doing ministry together, whether it was March for Life or conference, and working more personally with him. I consider him a great friend. I consider him someone who was very, very impactful in me continuing to stay in youth ministry through his encouragement and conversations that we’ve had through the years. I think that one of the things that Bragg is so good about is sitting back and listening and giving that input and encouragement where it’s needed to really keep people plugged in, to keep people engaged in the long-term goal of what youth ministry is. It isn’t about just having fun experiences. It’s about understanding how we are called to impact the younger generation so that they too can come back and do the same thing.”

Lacy said he is “super excited” about working with Brenda Sargent, a long-time fixture in the Office of Youth Ministry.

“Brenda has been great to collaborate with through the years and I look forward to continuing the good things we already have going on,” he said.

Sargent agreed.

“I am excited to see where this adventure leads us,” she said. “Knowing he has so many qualities and ways that Bragg has, we will start out on the beginning of a great work relationship.”

Lacy reiterated that his goal coming into his new position is to keep the good things going.

“As time allows, we will create new approaches and make adjustments where we feel adjustments need to be made,” he said.

“That would be a collective decision, not just something coming from me. There are going to be things that change because I’m not Bragg and that’s just the nature of humanity in and of itself. With Brenda and her influence and all she brings to the table in wisdom of how we’ve done it in the past, there’s going to be great collaboration there that I think will allow us to continue the great things that are going on and, at the same time, allow us to create new ideas.”

Lacy believes every male and female should seriously consider his or her vocation, whether it is to priesthood, religious life, married life, etc., but especially to priesthood and religious life. He said the same thinking applies to young people and their role in the Church.

“There’s the easy road and there’s the opportunity to go deep,” he said.

“The truth is that every person has something to offer. It may not be that your gift is getting up and giving great talks. Your gift may be being quiet and listening. I hope that, as Bragg does so well, I’ll be able to look at someone and say, ‘Don’t believe you don’t have anything to offer because you do.’ Get involved. See where you fit. If it doesn’t work this way, it may work a different way. It may be that his isn’t what you need to be doing at all, but you’ve got to give it a shot.”

Lacy added that he’s very passionate about young people discerning their vocation.

“I’m excited to be able to work with Father Adam Urbaniak and Father Dominic Pham on vocations and reaching into the hearts of our young men and women and just encouraging them to pray about it. There’s no pressure. One of the things I loved when I was discerning was that there was someone available to help me along in the process.”

Lacy also believes that every adult has a major role to play in the spiritual development of young people.

“Age doesn’t matter. Heart matters,” he said. “As you love young people and you give them time and you listen, they respond. That’s what they long for, is to have value. Any person can offer that opportunity to our young people.”


After three decades, Moore’s tenure as diocesan director of youth ministry coming to an end

Youth Conference 006



BILOXI – An era is coming to an end as Bragg Moore, diocesan director of youth ministry, is retiring on September 10, after three decades of service in that position.

All are invited to attend a retirement reception in Moore’s honor on Aug. 20 from 1 pm to 5 pm in the Sacred Heart Center, located behind Nativity BVM Cathedral.

“It’s time for somebody new, it really is,” said Moore. It’s time for some new ideas, some new direction. I just turned 65 in July and this is a young person’s job.”

Ray Lacy, former director of youth ministry at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Long Beach has been selected to replace Moore.

“I’ve known Ray since he was at St. John High School in Gulfport. He’s been a real active part of youth ministry in several capacities,” said Moore. “He’s certainly been a big supporter of our office. I’m real excited. I think he’s excited about the new challenges that will be a part of that. I know Ray will bring some new ideas and direction and he will continue to build up the youth ministry program.”

Moore’s longtime assistant, Brenda Sargent, will stay on in a new capacity as office manager and assistant director of youth ministry operations.

“She’s really going to be able to help Ray figure out this job and what goes on in the Office of Youth Ministry,” said Moore.

“I can’t imagine how that office would function without Brenda’s hard work and dedication and her love for those young people and those who minister to them.”

Sargent said working with Moore has been “a humbling experience.”

“He has helped me to always see the positive in situations, stay focused on what is the best for young people but most of all lead by example,” she said. “The motto around our office is ‘for the good of the group.’  His passion to speak with young people, learn who they are and what they are about, draws young people like a magnet.  No matter what situation or how busy our office is, if a young person walks through the door, everything stops and the focus is on that person.

“Over the years I have watched young people walk through our door with heavy hearts about matters in life.  A little time with Bragg, they are smiling and have a better outlook on life, but most likely they have been challenged, in some way to work on the situation.  He always follows up on those kinds of meetings,” she added.

“I can’t begin to express the number of young people from our diocese who would stand up and tell you that they are who they are today because of the friendship and loving advice Bragg Moore shared with them  many years ago.”

Moore, a native of Pascagoula, is a product of Catholic schools, having attended Our Lady of Victories Elementary and High School. He graduated in 1969 and headed to Mississippi State University in Starkville, where he earned a degree in education, with the aim of becoming a teacher and a coach.

Moore achieved that goal, spending a decade (1976-1986) in the classroom and coaching football, baseball and girls’ basketball at his alma mater, OLV.

He was already involved in youth ministry by the time he became a teacher.

“In 1974, my good friend, Father Louis Lohan, was associate pastor at OLV and asked my wife and I to help with parish CYO,” said Moore.

“In 1984, Father Bernie Farrell asked me to take on the dual responsibilities of Director of Religious Education and Youth ministry at Sacred Heart Parish in Pascagoula and I stayed in that position for three years.”

Moore took on his current job in 1987.

“It was really kind of odd how I got the job,” he said. “I was probably the most unprepared person ever for diocesan work. Father Greg Barras had served for one year as diocesan youth minister and really found that ministry to be challenging for him. So he asked for a reassignment to a parish and he forwarded my name to Bishop Joseph Howze. The first thing I know, I’m meeting with Bishop Howze and the job was offered to me. I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to prepare.”

Moore said the highlights of his time in youth ministry would start with the countless people he has encountered on the journey. However, he said the seminal events of his 30 years would include World Youth Day in Denver in 1993 and the annual National Catholic Youth Conference.

“All the trips to our diocesan mission in Saltillo are certainly big highlights in my life and were opportunities to minister with some great kids in places I never thought I would go,” he said.

“But it’s the people, the hundreds; if not thousands of young people and adults I’ve had a chance to work with from parishes that have really me the most joy in my ministry.”

Moore said there are some things he won’t miss.

“I really won’t miss all the long bus rides that we’ve taken, some as long as 18 or 20 hours,” he said.

Moore said he gets great satisfaction out of witnessing teenagers who have grown into active participants in their parishes and parents of children, who are also being raised in the faith.

“That’s always exciting,” he said. I think of all those people I still keep in touch with. Their children are grown. They’ve moved on and have careers. The Church is still very meaningful to them. Then, to see the generation that they’re producing, that’s just awesome.”

Conversely, there have been some low points.

“The disappointment is seeing young kids whose faith was really on fire in high school and then find out later that they’ve maybe moved away from our Church. That’s really disappointing in a lot of ways.”

However, said Moore, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Moore said he’s honored to have had the opportunity to serve three bishops – Bishop Howze, Bishop Thomas Rodi, who is now archbishop of Mobile and the current bishop, Bishop Roger Morin.

“They’ve all been very different,” he said. “Bishop Howze took a chance on a young man 30 years ago and told me that we were a young diocese, a mission diocese and not to be afraid to try new stuff and we did. Then, Bishop Rodi came – we were almost 25 years old when he came – and he brought a lot of stability and structure to our diocese, which I found to be very helpful to me in my ministry. Then, Bishop Morin came and he’s been very generous to work with, very supportive. I’ve enjoyed all three of them. They’ve all added to who I am as a man and as a minister and they’ve certainly each brought their own gifts to our diocese. I hope I have been as supportive of them as I could be.”

Sargent said Moore’s loss will be felt, not only on a local level, but on a national level as well.

“When looking back on all the trips and programs our office has endured it is remarkable to think of the adults and young adults that Bragg has encountered and shared the experience with,” she said.  “Whether it be local Youth Celebration, SEARCH RETREATS, NCYC, NCCYM, March for Life, Notre Dame Vision, Saltillo Mission trips etc.  It is a fact that he has encountered a hug from at least 52,000 people during his time as Youth Director of the Diocese of Biloxi over the last 30 years.”

Moore said it’ll be difficult to give up those things.

“That’s going to be kind of weird,” he said, adding that he’ll somehow manage.

Even though he’s retiring, Moore doesn’t plan to sit at home and twiddle his thumbs. He’s already signed on to teach a religion class at Resurrection High School in Pascagoula come fall. He will be in good company, as one of his teaching colleagues will be his wife, Linda. The Moore’s have two children, a son Matt and a daughter, Kiley Leonard (Jeff), and two grandchildren.

“I’m also hoping to apply to be an usher for the Biloxi Shuckers because I love baseball and free baseball sounds really good,” said Moore. “They work about 80 days a year, so I’m hoping that’s going to happen. There are some other possibilities. I’d like to consider forming a young adult ministry in Jackson County, but that’s kind of just in my head right now. I’m excited about this next chapter of my life. I’m really just looking for some new direction in my own life, recalibrating who I am and where I will be going.”

Before he departs, however, Moore has some words of advice for the young Church of Biloxi.

“Be open to God’s spirit, his movement in your life,” he said. “Be aware, when you feel that God is close, to acknowledge that and be thankful and, when he seems far away, know that he is walking alongside you.”






Expansion of priesthood for diocese ongoing through education, mentoring to facilitate ‘God’s Call’

Vocations Followup


DIOCESE OF BILOXI – Since 2011, three Polish men, including Father Adam Urbaniak, have been ordained priests for the Diocese of Biloxi and three more are currently in formation.

However, Father Adam, who was recently appointed diocesan director of Vocations, said that while he will continue to recruit men from his homeland and other foreign countries for the Diocese of Biloxi, his main emphasis will be fostering native vocations.

“I think it’s very important that we have American priests, that the majority of seminarians will be American seminarians,” he said. “It’s also important that we continue to look for vocations from Poland and Mexico as well.”

Bishop Roger Morin has appointed Father Dominic Pham to serve as assistant director of vocations. Together, the two priests aim to come up with initiatives designed to nurture American vocations. Father Adam realizes that this will require a team effort.

“A big part of my job, as I see it, is to support the call of the Holy Spirit and, of course, being available to the seminarians. A vocations director is there for them. He has to be available. He has to be in a close relationship with the seminarians. He also has to be available to the seminary authorities and the seminary formation team,” he said.

Father Adam, who became pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Vancleave and Christ the King Mission in Latimer on July 1, said he is very grateful to have Father Pham’s assistance.

“He has already agreed to put his focus on looking for vocations and he’s going to do a lot for the diocese,” Father Adam said.

Addressing the need for vocations with programming, dialogue and discernment – above the din

The Diocese of Biloxi is comprised of 43 parishes and nine missions. There are currently 79 priests in the diocese, 38 are active diocesan priests (nine of whom are nearing retirement age) and the rest are already retired, members of a religious order or extern priests from another diocese or religious order who have diocesan faculties but are not assigned to a specific parish.

These numbers underscore the dire need for more priestly vocations in the Diocese of Biloxi.

“The sacramental life of the Church depends on a body of active clergy who day in and day out serve at the Eucharistic altar, baptismal font and throne of mercy. They witness holy matrimony on behalf of the Church, console the sick at their bedside, and when the time comes, escort them to the Father’s embrace,” said Father Pham. “He is there when someone needs an open ear, a word of encouragement, and just an affirmation. Such is the life of the priest, sometimes overlooked and forgotten, yet so essential to any Catholic faithful.

“If you ask any Catholic priest what he enjoys most about the priesthood, he will tell you just that: Serve the people of God through the sacraments. The shortage of priests today does raise concerns for the Church. God continues to call young men to the priesthood and the seeds of that call are present. Our responsibility as parents and educators is to pray for and nurture those seeds so that they become an acceptance of God’s invitation to work in the vineyard.”

Father Adam admits that he and Father Dominic have their work cut out for them.

“Secularism, relativism, and so much noise that we have in the world – it’s all very challenging in discovering your vocation because you hear God’s voice in silence,” he said. “Yet, I see a lot of people looking for that voice. They’re looking for something else and the only place they can find it is in the community of the Church. It is a big challenge but, at the same time, if God calls, he gives the grace and he leads you. You just have to be available to listen to that call.”

That, said Father Adam, is why it’s so important to implement programs such as vocations retreats for high school and college students, “where people can spend time in silence and look deep into their hearts and listen to the call.”

It’s imperative, he added, that both he and Father Dominic make themselves present to those who are discerning the call to vocations. “That means being present in the parishes and all of the schools and to youth ministry programs,” he said. “We’re thinking of all these things, but, of course, we have to take time to plan and prepare.”

As director of vocations, Father Adam also encourages any woman who is feeling called to religious life to heed the call.

“First of all, we in the Diocese of Biloxi, are grateful for the beautiful service of Catholic nuns, mostly from Ireland, who dedicated their lives to Catholic education and to ministry to the sick and poor,” he said.

“We need that and the Catholic Church needs that and the Diocese of Biloxi needs that. So, if there is a lady who is thinking about this, I am more than happy to help with this process of recognizing the call and providing contact information about different religious communities.”

Recognizing God’s not man’s – call to serve

Again, however, Father Adam stressed that the call to priesthood and religious life comes from God and is nurtured by the Holy Spirit.

“It is very important to understand that it is not me who calls because I’ve seen people in my life who thought they had a vocation to the priesthood because their mom or grandmother told them they did,” he said.

“You can waste your whole life. You can ruin your life. If you don’t have a vocation, if you don’t have the call of the Holy Spirit to be a nun or a priest, you shouldn’t even think about it because it’s too big of a sacrifice. Priesthood is a sacrifice. Like Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross for his people, so a priest sacrifices his life for the good of the Church and the good of the people he serves. The sacrifice is not only celibacy. There’s much more. For me, I’m from Poland and I contact my family only through Skype. I miss lots of family celebrations, lots of family dinners, but it is a needed sacrifice for a priest to leave his family to be with his parishioners, to be with the people of God.”

The upside, Father Adam said, is that “a priest becomes a part of many families.”

“You rejoice with them on the day of their wedding, you rejoice with them on the day of the baptism of their child. You see, you leave your own family to join an even greater family,” he said.

“On one hand, it is a sacrifice, but, on the other, it’s a great blessing to be so close to the lives of so many people. “

Father Adam encourages everyone to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

“God answers our prayers and vocations to the priesthood are, very often the fruits of the prayers of the people,” he said. “Pray for the priests of our diocese. A priest always needs the prayers of his parishioners. I would also encourage everyone to talk to any young person who you may think has a vocation to the priesthood.

“When I was young, I never thought I would become a priest. And then my pastor told me I needed to think about the priesthood. That’s how it began. The first thought in my head came because of the pastor and he didn’t call me. He just helped me to recognize the call.”