On Friday, April 28, Fr. Jack Kurps, SCJ, announced to the staff of Sacred Heart Southern Missions that he was stepping down as CEO of the organization of which he has been a part since the early 1980s. Fr. Jack was executive director from 1987 to 1993, and then again from 2000 until today.
As of today, May 1, Tim Courts, Executive Director of Corporate Services for SHSM, becomes President and Chief Executive Officer of Sacred Heart Southern Missions.
“I have been a priest now for more than 45 years, and more than 36 of them have been here in northern Mississippi,” said Fr. Jack. “It has been very good and I hope to spend many more years here with Sacred Heart Southern Missions. But I have decided that it is time for new leadership. I will continue to serve as the spiritual director, but I am stepping down as president and chief executive officer of Sacred Heart Southern Missions.”
Fr. Gregory Bezy, SCJ, led SHSM until his death in 1982. Fr. Jack had been vice president of SHSM under Fr. Gregory, but the role was primarily to serve as a second signature on legal documents. It wasn’t until after Fr. Gregory’s death that Fr. Jack began to learn about the organization from a corporate standpoint. When he was named executive director in 1987, he hired Sr. Maria Brocato, SCN, to serve as assistant executive director. Realizing the need to always plan for succession, Sr. Maria was well prepared to take on the executive director’s role when Fr. Jack was named province vocation director. With this in mind, Fr. Jack informed the SHSM Board of Directors last November of his desire to step down. The board approved of Fr. Jack’s suggestion of appointing Tim Courts as the next CEO and Fr. Jack began to prepare him for the role. “Since the board’s approval I have included Tim in every major decision of the organization,” said Fr. Jack, adding that informally, “Tim has been preparing for the role for years through his daily work.”
“I still have a lot of energy for SHSM and expect to be involved as spiritual director as long as I enjoy good health,” he continued. “SHSM is blessed with a dedicated staff. I look forward to continuing to be part of SHSM and I will assist Tim in any way he asks. With Tim, SHSM is in good hands. SHSM is in his blood.
Tim Courts has a long history with SHSM, going back to his primary school days as a student at Sacred Heart School when it was based in Walls, MS. He has a bachelors degree in Business Administration, Management Information Systems from the University of Memphis, and held numerous roles at SHSM before leaving for several years to take on positions at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and later Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare while earning an MBA from the Executive MBA program at the University of Memphis. He is a licensed CPA in both Mississippi and Tennessee.
“I am honored and humbled to have been appointed to lead Sacred Heart Southern Missions,” said Tim. “I have been affiliated with the organization my whole life and believe in its mission and that of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. I look forward to working with the SHSM team to break the cycle of poverty as we serve the thousands of financially struggling individuals and families across northern Mississippi who depend on us and the tens of thousands of donors across the United States who support our mission.”
Reflecting on his own history with SHSM, Fr. Jack said that “As I look back on 36 years of ministry here in Mississippi, there is much that has been accomplished. Our HIV/AIDS ministry began in the early 90s when a diagnosis was a death sentence. The program continues to serve a very important need with all the stigma that is often associated with the disease. Our Dehon Village and the Dehon Learning Center provides affordable housing and adult life skill development. Our food pantry has become a major program and serves a tremendous need. Our volunteer program matches the desire of individuals to give of themselves with people who need help and our volunteer housing makes it possible for groups to come from around the country to assist others. Merging Sacred Heart League back into Sacred Heart Southern Missions removed some of the duplication of efforts and made us a stronger organization.
“I will take credit for some ideas – but often my contribution was to green light the ideas and suggestions of others. SHSM is blessed with a dedicated staff.”
At the top of the page Fr. Jack (left) is pictured above with Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson and Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ during last Friday’s prayer service with SHSM staff. The change in SHSM leadership was announced during the service.