VERY REVEREND DENNIS CARVER, RECTOR
I am very blessed to serve the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary community of faith in the role of rector. It excites me to be part of a Catholic Faith legacy that stems back to 1843 yet continues to strive to provide a faith experience that is relevant to the twenty-first century. I have the highest respect for the Office of Bishop made sacramentally manifest in his Cathedral Church. As Tradition teaches us, made manifest in Sacred Scripture, it is the bishop who holds the fullness of the priesthood in which I, the regular priest, share. Thus, my service as rector outwardly demonstrates my understanding of collaboration and the priestly pledge of obedience made on the day of my ordination. Being a native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I have a familial love for the Cathedral’s parishioners who live so well the multi-cultural sea-side values of South Mississippi.
I am a native of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi who grew up in the solid faith of my parents and the community of Our Lady of the Gulf Parish. My entire education is from Catholic Schools having attended St. Joseph’s Academy, Our Lady of the Gulf Elementary School, St. Stanislaus College, Loyola University, and Notre Dame Seminary. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Music, a Master’s Degree in Divinity, and post-graduate certification in Ignatian based Spiritual Direction. I was admitted into the St. Stanislaus Hall of Fame in 2015.
I was ordained to the priesthood in 1994. I have pastored Sacred Heart Church in Dedeaux and St. Paul Parish in Pass Christian. With the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I became the founding pastor of Holy Family Parish which comprised the merged parishes of St. Paul and Our Lady of Lourdes in Pass Christian. During this time, I served as the co-founding pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Long Beach, Mississippi. I have assisted our three diocesan bishops in the work of Presbyteral Council membership, Vocations Director, membership on the Bishop’s Board of Consulters, Diocesan School Advisory Board, and Chair of the Priest Personnel Committee. I have assisted Notre Dame Seminary in Spiritual Direction and I teach several classes for men in formation to the deaconate.
I give thanks to Almighty God for the gift of priesthood, delighting in sharing my service to the Lord with others.
DEACON BEN WIMBERLY, JR., PASTORAL ASSOCIATE
A lifelong Member of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral Parish, Deacon Ben Wimberly was ordained on July 7, 2002. Before ordination Deacon Ben was a school teacher for St. Martin schools in the area of history. He and his wife Mary have been married for 37 years. Deacon Ben has three children and four Grandchildren. His hobbies are gardening, cooking, reading, traveling to the mountains of Northeast Georgia, and attending local theatre productions.
Deacon Ben’s main diaconate ministries are hospital visitations, second Thursday Holy Hours, teaching RCIA, preaching, and Baptisms. When not at church, he spends time with his wife and two Boston terriers. Deacon Ben feels blessed to serve at his home parish where his hearts rests.
SISTER MARY JACQUELINE TARRANT, R.S.M., PASTORAL ASSOCIATE
A native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Sister Mary Jacqueline Tarrant, R.S.M., was born in Biloxi and grew up just a block south of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She attended Sacred Heart Academy/High School and upon graduation entered the Sisters of Mercy Novitiate on September 8, 1959. Sr. Jackie professed her vows in 1962 and 1967.
Sr. Jackie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master of Arts in Elementary Administration. She attained her Certification of Spiritual Direction from Springhill College in Mobile, Alabama. Putting her vocation, knowledge, and love of God in service to others, Sr. Jackie taught for five years at Holy Name of Jesus, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and St. Alphonsus, all located in New Orleans, Louisiana. From there she spent time teaching at St. Joseph Junior/Senior High in Greenville, Mississippi before returning to Biloxi to teach at her alma mater, Sacred Heart Girls High School. After a four-year stint in Biloxi, Sr. Jackie spent the next 10 years as an administrator at St. Patrick in Meridian, Mississippi. She then moved to St. Francis Xavier in Vicksburg, John Carroll in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Immaculate Conception in Laurel before returning to the Coast in 2001.
Upon her return, Sr. Jackie worked as Campus Minister/Pastoral Associate at St. Paul School/St. Vincent/Holy Family Parish. She is the Director of the Mercy Associate Program for Mercy Community, and spent many years teaching parish CCD programs and Vacation Bible Schools. Sr. Jackie has been involved in Faculty Staff retreats, children retreats and adult retreats for the Mercy Associate Program, Mercy Community, and RCIA.
Sr. Jackie came home to Nativity B.V.M. in November 2015 and serves our cathedral parish in a number of capacities. In a wonderful short story written to the parishioners upon her arrival, Sr. Jackie shared her mission: “Together we can inspire each other, strengthen our faith, share our values, and bring hope into the lives of those we waken, worship with, and welcome. This is what Christ impels all of us toward.”
GREG & PENNY PAYNE, R.C.I.A. COORDINATORS
Greg and Penny Payne are residents of Biloxi and have been lifetime residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. A program specialist at Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District, Greg is currently the State Director for the Mississippi Council of SHRM. He is also on the Advisory Board for the Junior Leadership Program of Harrison County. A nationally certified paralegal, Penny works for Walter Dukes of Dukes, Dukes, Keating & Faneca, P.A. She is a graduate of the New Wine program and a former CCD teacher.
As converts, both Greg and Penny found a love for the RICA Program. They are currently the RCIA Coordinators for Nativity B.V.M. Cathedral Parish. They also serve as Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, members of the Liturgical and Spiritual Life Committee, and are Ministers of the Sick.
Greg and Penny are volunteers for the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Non-Violence, the Harrison County Youth Court Children’s Shelter, and are very involved with local political endeavors, as well as other civic and professional organizations.
MAGGIE LANDRY, DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
Maggie Landry accepted the role of Director of Religious Education (DRE) in August 2015. She was raised in the Catholic faith in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as a member of St. Jude Church. Maggie graduated from St. Aloysius Elementary School and St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge. She has lived in Biloxi since August 2003 and became a member of Nativity B.V.M. Parish upon moving here.
As Director of Religious Education, Maggie oversees the CCD program for grades Kindergarten through 11th grade. With the help of a group of wonderful volunteer teachers, the program seeks to enrich the lives of our young people as they grow and mature in their faith.
Maggie is currently employed as the Service to the Armed Forces Program Manager for the American Red Cross and is an active volunteer at Nativity B.V.M. Elementary School. She serves as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist and a Lector at the Cathedral. Maggie was a CCD teacher for four years and currently assists with the Altar Server program. She has three daughters and if she finds any spare time, she will take the opportunity to read a good book.
Maggie earned her MPH in Health Education/Communication and Maternal & Child Health from Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, and her BS degree in Human Services Management from Louisiana State University.
NATHAN J. HETTINGER, CHOIR DIRECTOR
A church musician for nearly a decade, Nate Hettinger has served as a conductor, singer, pianist, and administrator. Before moving to Mississippi, he served churches and taught voice and piano lessons in Iowa and South Dakota.
As a conductor, Hettinger has lead mixed, men’s, women’s, brass, and children’s choruses. As a vocalist, Hettinger has appeared with the Cherokee Symphony, where he sang Aaron Copland’s Old American Folk Songs. He is also a two-time winner of the Lewis and Clark NATS voice competition.
As a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi, Nate has conducted the Southern Miss Men’s Chorus and Chamber Singers, as well as the Gulf Coast Civic Chorale. He is the co-director of the Spirit of Southern, a men’s pop a cappella ensemble. Hettinger is also a member of The Southern Chorale, the university’s premiere performing ensemble. During his time in The Southern Chorale, they have premiered pieces in Oregon, Tennessee, and Carnegie Hall in New York City. In the Spring of 2016, Hettinger assembled and prepared the FestivalSouth choir for Sandi Patty’s Farewell Tour, conducted by Maestro Jay Dean. The choir consisted of 200 amateur singers from across southern Mississippi.
Hettinger holds a B.A. in music from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, and will complete an M.M in choral conducting from the University of Southern Mississippi in the spring of 2017.
JACKIE HEWITT, OFFICE MANAGER
I was born and raised in the small town of Bassfield, Mississippi. My family attended St. Peter’s Catholic Church throughout my childhood. I am married to Arthur Hewitt and lived in Hattiesburg, Mississippi for over 20 years. We have three wonderful children and one adorable granddaughter. In 2005, my husband was offered a wonderful job here on the Coast, helping the poor and under-privileged people with legal assistance. I worked with the Biloxi Public School District for five years until my daughter was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She lived with me for the next year and I was blessed to be able to stay home and care for her during her last year on earth. I became secretary/office manager at Nativity B.V.M. Cathedral in June of 2014. It has been an honor and blessing to work with such devoted and giving people.