Dear Friends in Christ,
I am Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, and I am grateful to Archbishop Jose Gomez and the Mission Office of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for allowing the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi to participate in the Mission Cooperative. We are a mission diocese in the Deep South where Catholics are a mere 2-3% of the state’s population. Our diocese has the largest territory of any Catholic diocese east of the Mississippi River, approximately 38,000 square miles encompassing 65 counties. A small Catholic population over this expansive territory creates a pastoral landscape of many smaller rural parishes who struggle to maintain their mission and ministries. In fact, there are some counties where the Diocese of Jackson does not have even a mission station. In addition, we are embedded in the state that consistently ranks at the bottom of national poverty indicators, with respect to wages, health and access to health care, education, and healthy food choices. Under these circumstances, the Diocese of Jackson benefits enormously from the generosity bestowed through the annual Mission Appeals.
The pandemic which has had a more adverse impact upon the poor and the marginalized, has exacerbated further the pastoral realities already straining under financial pressures in normal times. Many of our rural parishes are experiencing a significant loss of income because most of the parishioners are immigrants who work in the massive poultry industry in Mississippi. The gravity of their vulnerability to the COVID-19 virus is well documented and some of the large plants closed their doors because of the high rate of infections. In turn, the parishes and the Diocese of Jackson are reaching out to families whose breadwinner has lost their job because of the impact of the virus, or because of the downturn in the economy. Since June 2020, our diocesan parishes opened under careful protocols, but for the past 11 months the number of parishioners who can attend Mass in-person has been reduced considerably. When speaking with our pastors and lay leadership who have experienced the harshest impact, it is apparent that they will need the assistance of the Diocese of Jackson through the Mission Cooperative to soften the impact of the pandemic.
I, and all leadership in the Diocese of Jackson, ordained and lay, thank you for your attention, prayer, and generosity during these very challenging times for all of us, and especially for the poor and marginalized.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Diocese of Jackson
For more information about the Diocese of Jackson- USA, please visit their website at www.jacksondiocese.org.
To support the Diocese of Jackson- USA, please click on the button below to donate and either select your parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and/or type Group 1039 in the memo box. God bless!