For more than five years, a group of missionary priests, known as Redemptorists, have been working to expand Catholic outreach to the Delta’s Hispanic community and with that, improve lives.
Now, they are leaving.
“I think we made great strides,” said the Rev. Scott Katzenberger, leader of the group, which now consists of two others, the Rev. Mike McAndrew and the Rev. Kevin Zubel.
The Rev. Ted Dorcey recently departed for a parish in Whittier, California. Redemptorist missionaries have been serving from a residence at Locus Benedictus Retreat Center since shortly after it opened in 2014.
“Our goal is to get ourselves out of a job,” Katzenberger said.
The priests came to train laity, priests and others in providing opportunities for worship and support for Hispanic residents. He is particularly pleased to have helped Our Lady of Victory parish in Cleveland establish a ministry for Hispanics. “We have one there now, a very well established and functioning community. That has turned into a real success.”
“I think we leave the Hispanic ministry in much better shape than when we got here,” Katzenberger said.
McAndrew, who has been active in supporting Hispanic families with immigration problems, will be working in San Antonio, helping to train other priests. Zubel will be stationed at St. Gerard’s Parish in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Katzenberger will be the rector of the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec City in Canada.
Reflecting on immigration issues, among others, Katzenberger said, “We have no doubt we were here at God’s bidding.”
Magdalene Abraham of Locus Benedictus said all will be welcome at a 4 p.m. Saturday vigil Mass and reception at the retreat center that has been organized to express gratitude and bid the priests farewell.
She said Locus Benedictus hosts “support groups for caregivers, for people who have lost children and people struggling with life’s hurts — addictions, anxieties and fears. ... Our retreats are for people who are seeking renewal and peace.”
She is sorry to see the Redemptorists leave. “They have been a huge addition to Locus Benedictus and the Mississippi Delta,” she said.
“These guys are the pioneers,” Abraham said. “We hope more priests and religious (members of religious orders) will come to help here. We are actively looking to get more. ... We are confident that God is going to send us more to work here.”
•Contact Susan Montgomery at 581-7233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.