We propose to live in such a way that we proclaim the Kingdom of God, the Good News of Jesus Christ, by our own ongoing conversion and by the witness of an authentically Christian life according to the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. . . .
We, the Church of Jackson, believe: . . . That the gift of faith and love we receive demands that we be signs of God's love for us and instruments of God's love for others as we live our family life, parish life, and civic life. 1
Written as part of the diocesan Pastoral Plan 1990, this above statement expressed vividly how Catholics in the diocese of Jackson perceived their lives. They were so committed to living their Catholic faith in their Mississippi environment that they proclaimed it aloud for all to hear. In his introductory message to the Pastoral Plan, moreover, Bishop William Houck specifically told his followers that they were "empowered by the Holy Spirit and motivated to share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ with our own parish communities, with active and inactive Catholics, and the unchurched." He also said, "There is something for everyone in our diocese to be involved in living our Catholic faith and fulfilling the pastoral plan for our diocese and our parishes."
The Pastoral Plan ultimately was for every man, woman, and child a responsibility. Everyone had his or her part to play, and everyone was now expected to do it. Bear in mind that the bishop was and is calling for his fellow Catholics to do this in Mississippi, where Catholicism ranks, at best, fourth in denominational support in the state and, in some places, much lower. Why the bishop and Catholics of this diocese have set this goal for themselves is simple to answer. By 1994, the Catholic Church in Mississippi had become an integral part of its political, economic, and social environment. The task ahead, not surprisingly, had to be for all to work on. Whether it was evangelization, ministry formation, family life, youth, reconciliation, and/or stewardship, the people of the diocese of Jackson were committed to