Gulf Pine Catholic

14 Gulf Pine Catholic • August 4, 2023 The New Orleans conference was the first in the Knights of Peter Claver’s 114th-year history to include its junior, third- and fourth-degree Knights and the Ladies Auxiliary in the same place and time. Approximately 1,700 Knights and Ladies Auxiliary members attended and discussed a myriad of topics including all facets of what it means to be pro-life while holding an end-to-gun violence rally, conducting com- munity service, holding fundraisers, medical panels and, for the first time, a wellness component to promote healthy lifestyles, said Athanase Jones, a lay board member and public relations committee member. Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary Court 330 Grand Lady Janice Collins of New Orleans said she has attended several national Knights’ conventions and enjoys them. The conventions, she said, promote unity while highlighting the wonderful works of the fraternal organization. Having the Junior Knights at the conven- tion for the first time, she added, helps the older Knights serve as role models. “Friendship, unity and charity are the three virtues of our whole organization,” Collins told the Clarion Herald , the New Orleans archdiocesan newspaper. “We share ideas between the organization, make resolutions and see where we can better our organization.” Kurt Jensen reports for OSV News from Washington. Contributing to this story was Christine Bordelon, associate editor of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. NOTES: A link to video of the Knights of Peter Claver’s annual convention Mass is available here:  Claver Annual Convention Mass From page 8 Msgr. Thornton From page 9 “The impact he had in the Saltillo Mission was tre- mendous. It was not an easy job. There was lots of travel, many Masses to celebrate and sacraments to administer, He was also tasked with building more cha- pels, both in the ranchos and city. There were many poor people to take care of,” Father Balderas added. “He made it very clear when he arrived to Saltillo, when he said, ‘I am not here to replace Father Quinn’s presence in your hearts and minds, I am here just to continue his missionary work with the poor.’ Those wise words stole the hearts of the people and they immediately fell in love of the little Irish priest. His humility, kindness and service to the poor were a clear testimony of his faith and love for God.” Suzie Middleton witnessed that love the first time she met Msgr. Thornton during a mission trip to Saltillo. “It was the summer after Padre Quinn passed away. He was so kind. He would come around and shake everyone’s hand and welcomed us to the downtown mission,” she said. “I remember how loved he was. When we went out to the ranchos, he would visit with the local families and church members and go to their homes. It was such a beautiful thing to witness. You could see the joy in his eyes and smile on his face. His love for Jesus poured over to his ministry. He traveled long hours on dirt roads but it never dampened his call to serve.” Mississippi Middleton would reunite with Msgr. Thornton when he returned to Mississippi to became pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Laurel. “He was our parish priest for 14 years and not once did he ever raise his voice or say one negative thing about anyone,” said Middleton, who is the parish youth minister. “He was an honorable man, a holy man, a saintly man.” Kathleen Parker and her late husband, Roger, worked closely with Msgr. Thornton when he was pas- tor of Sacred Heart Parish in Pascagoula. “He was the best pastor. I have to say this time at Sacred Heart is at the top of my list for favorite times in my life,” she said. “I worked with him in many min- istries. He enabled the lay people to step up and do their thing. Sacred Heart was an active, evangelizing parish because of him. He was always there to listen, to advise, to support, and to lead. “We shared our love for Padre Quinn and I made a few trips with him to Saltillo. I called him Father Mikey and he called me “jefe” which means boss in Spanish. I got a kick out of that. Monsignor Thornton, Roger and I attended Padre Quinn’s funeral in Saltillo. I will never forget, on the night of the funeral, he invited us to say the Rosary at Father Quinn’s grave with a few other priests. It was late at night and the cement on the grave was still wet. Such an overwhelming experience and an honor for us. “‘The heart of a servant is the sanctuary of God. This quote was on the retirement card we sent him. Msgr. Thornton had the heart of a servant and served God and his people faithfully. I truly loved this kind, humble, and holy man.” Wanda Loper served as Msgr. Thornton’s secretary at Immaculate Conception Parish until his retirement in 2019. She too recalls his deep care for the sick and the dying. “Father Mike had a gift for visiting the sick,” she said. “I remember when my mother was in the final stages of her cancer, Father Mike came to my house to visit with my mother. They sat at the table in the kitch- en and talked and he heard her final confession. She was at such peace when he left. My family and I will never forget his kindness to us. He was small in stature, but a man with a gigantic heart.” Deacon Rich Hollingsworth said one of Msgr. Thornton’s charisms was “the gift of listening.” “Within the first year of being assigned to Immaculate Conception/St. Bernadette, he found Catholics that had never been to our church. People who knew these people did not know they were Catholic. In one case, he went to the Emergency Room at the hospital and asked who had been in there and registered as Catholic. He would weekly visit shut-ins that were not on the church shut-in list, even though they were Catholic. Fr. Mike would not take anyone with him, because he could sit for five minutes without saying a word. He wanted the shut-in to bring up what was on their mind.” St. Bernadette parishioner Mary Jo Canady recalled a time when Msgr. Thornton went out of his way to help her family. “My daughter’s husband was in the Navy in San Diego and my granddaughter was preparing for her First Holy Communion there,” said Canady. “When orders came that they had to move cross country, my granddaughter was not going to be able to make her First Communion with her friends. Father Mike made it possible for her to receive her First Communion at St. Bernadette.” Sharon Sanderson recalled a time when her hus- band, Bill, spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. “Father Mike arrived unexpectedly in Bill’s Forrest General Hospital room bringing the Sacraments to Bill,” she said. “Bill was battling a serious sepsis infec- tion. Father spent a generous amount of time with us that special day. This was truly an example of his holy priesthood.” Msgr. Thornton will be buried in Cloughanover Cemetery in Headford, County Galway, Ireland. Prayer for Protection against Storms and Hurricanes Our Father in Heaven through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, spare us during this Hurricane season from all harm. Protect us and our homes from all disasters of nature. Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.