Nearly 250 men woke up early Feb. 20 to take part in a Catholic Men's Prayer Breakfast here. This year's annual event was billed as "Fathers in a New Era."

The workshop began with morning Mass celebrated by Father John Paul Klein, OMV, in the historic St. Mary Catholic Church. After Mass the men adjourned to the cafeteria where master of ceremonies Zip Rzeppa recalled some of the lows and the highs of his colorful life and career. Rzeppa is well remembered by many metro-east viewers from his former stints as a popular St. Louis sports broadcaster.

Over the first weekend of Lent, 290 people from 62 places in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois came to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to take part in the Rite of Election of Catechumens and of the Call to Continuing Conversion of Baptized Catholics. They were accompanied by the priests, deacons, sponsors, godparents, families and friends who traveled with them. Those who came to the see city on Sunday dealt with less than desirable road conditions as several inches of snow fell that day, followed by freezing rain.

Sunday, 21 February 2016 17:38

Funeral Mass celebrated for Father Becker

Father Robert T. Becker, 83, of Springfield, passed away on Feb. 3 at St. John's Hospice.

Father Becker was born on June 6, 1932 in Springfield, the son of Henry George "Heine" and Marietta Vivian "Babe" Davis Becker.

Sunday, 21 February 2016 17:38

SDCCW opens annual scholarship competition

The Springfield Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (SDCCW), an affiliate of the National Council of Catholic Women, is again offering leadership scholarships that recognize outstanding female high school seniors.

Four $500 scholarships will be awarded to applicants who exemplify SDCCW's mission values of leadership, faith and service, said Mary Ann Scopel, scholarship chair. This is the 16th year that scholarships such as these have been offered, she said.

Quincy University students have access to a newly renovated physics lab thanks to a generous grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

The Center for Science renovation is one of seven major projects for which QU is raising funds as part of the university's Forever Forward Comprehensive campaign.

Jessica Foersterling, a fifth-grade teacher at St. Mary's School in Alton, has been selected as one of Challenger Learning Centers "Inspiring Teachers."

Nominated by a fellow teacher as someone who inspires her students, to pursue a lifelong engagement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Foersterling and other honorees were recognized in St. Louis on Jan. 28, which was the 30th anniversary of the loss of the space shuttle Challenger and its crew.

When Pope Francis declared 2016 the Jubilee Year of Mercy, he urged Catholic churches worldwide to keep their doors open to all.

The pope may not have envisioned how that would unfold at one church in particular in Springfield. The music ministry of Blessed Sacrament Church is keeping its doors open on a mission to unite, inspire, uplift, heal, comfort and challenge — by bringing people together in the creation and performance of time-honored works of music.

St. James Catholic Church will hold a parish mission beginning with the regular weekend Masses on Feb. 27-28 and continuing nightly on Monday, Feb. 29 through Wednesday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. The theme of the mission will be "Here I Am, Lord: Becoming an Intentional Disciple."

The four pillars of Stewardship/Discipleship are hospitality, prayer, formation and service. Our diocese has put together a 28-page document focusing on these four pillars as well as a strategy to implement these pillars into the life of all 128 parishes of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

Father Robert E. Erickson, CSV, who led the former Griffin High School as principal for 10 years, died Jan. 15 at age 75. He passed away at the Alden Estates of Evanston Rehabilitation Center, where he had been recovering from recent surgery.

The season of Lent begins this year on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10, and ends just prior to the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, March 24, when the Paschal Triduum begins. Lent is the principal penitential season in the church year.

Three college students from parishes in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois were among those who shared in more than $2,800 in the Father Yunker Student Assistance Fund for the current academic year. Scholarship recipients must be of Lithuanian ancestry, be an active member of the Catholic Church and currently enrolled in an accredited college or university.

"On Feb. 10, the highly successful 40 Days for Life campaign returns to Springfield with 40 days of prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil and community outreach," said Claudia Connelly, coordinator of the local campaign. "We pray that these efforts will help mark the beginning of the end of abortion in Springfield."

Parish organizers of pilgrimages to the 2016 March for Life in Washington, D.C., from throughout the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois drastically altered their plans as an intense low pressure system developed into a classic "nor'easter" that enveloped the nation's capital in monumental snowfall beginning on Jan. 22.

Sunday, 07 February 2016 15:46

CRS Rice Bowl offers meatless Lenten recipes

Fasting from meat on Fridays during Lent helps us "acquire a mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2043). Fasting is meant to free us. It helps us feel our physical hunger, and in turn, our spiritual hunger for the infinite love found only in God.

Sunday, 24 January 2016 16:04

Diocesan presence felt in D.C.

More than 250 central Illinoisans signed up for the annual trip to the nation's capital for the 2016 March for Life Youth Pilgrimage.

Buses departed early in the day Jan. 20 from various points throughout the Springfield diocese. Twenty-three groups representing 27 parishes or congregations were on board, including one group from the neighboring Diocese of Peoria.

"The opportunities that our seminarians have to be with one another and with the priests of our diocese are special times."

So said Father Brian Alford when asked for a takeaway from the winter gathering of seminarians, held each year between Christmas and New Year's while they are on break from their studies. Except for two studying in Rome, more than 20 seminarians attended the gathering Dec. 29-30, 2015.

When Lucy DeFrain was born at HSHS St. John's Children's Hospital in December 2009, she weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces. She was born at 27 weeks. In the first 30 days of her life, parents Megan and Dr. Chad DeFrain were told more than once that their baby may not survive.

Sunday, 24 January 2016 14:28

Friend(s) of Catholic education

The award is named "Friend of Catholic Education," but in the case of the McClains, it's friends ... with an "s."

The family of Elmo "Mac" and Margie McClain will be recognized Feb. 6 at the eighth annual "Friend of Catholic Education Award" dinner at the Quincy Quality Inn & Suites. The award is given annually by the Quincy Catholic Elementary Schools Foundation (QCES) to recognize significant contributions to Catholic schools in Quincy.

Sunday, 24 January 2016 14:25

New leadership at FMCHS

Father Jeffrey Goeckner has been named the first ever president of Father McGivney Catholic High School (FMCHS). He will continue in his current positions as pastor of St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville and Dean of the Alton Deanery.

Penney Porter, the owner of Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County's 99th build known as the "Pope Francis house," was able to move into her new home just in time for Christmas and New Year's.

Bishop Emeritus Daniel L. Ryan passed away on Dec. 31, 2015 in Naperville. He was 85 years old.

He was born Sept. 28, 1930 in Mankato, Minn., to Leonard "Pat" and Irene Ruth Ryan. His family moved to Springfield in 1943, where he briefly attended Blessed Sacrament School and then began his freshman year at Cathedral Boys School.

Sacred Heart-Griffin High School recently announced that 37 seniors have been recognized as 2016-17 Illinois State Scholars.

Father McGivney Catholic High School Principal Mike Scholz recently announced that three of the 17 students from the graduating Class of 2016 at FMCHS have been recognized as Illinois State Scholars.

Christ the King Parish in Springfield hosted a Christmas Festival Sing-a-Long on Dec. 20 in the Parish Center which highlighted the Christmas story as told through carols, Scripture and witnesses of personal relationships with Christ.

Sunday, 10 January 2016 12:52

A corporal work of mercy: feed the hungry

The temperature on the late December morning was brisk, like most winter mornings. Dozens of people were waiting outside for the St. John's Breadline to open and begin serving a nutritious hot lunch. For some, it would be their only meal that day.

VIRDEN — Sacred Heart Parish in Virden recently celebrated 40 Hours of eucharistic adoration, held in advance of the just-opened Jubilee Year of Mercy that was officially proclaimed by Pope Francis.

Sunday, 13 December 2015 10:47

Discipleship is your greatest gift

All around the diocese I have come to encounter many profound examples of "Discipleship as a way of life." Loretta Koester is one of them.

In 1987 I moved to Effingham and from my first days of ministry there I heard of this woman of faith, defender of Life. It is one thing to say "I am pro-life" (which is good), but to be one who totally commits their life to defending human life from womb to tomb is true.

Twenty-four Sacred Heart-Griffin choral and band students were selected for the 2015 ILMEA District Festival in Macomb at Western Illinois University on Nov. 14 and are eligible for All-State Selection in mid-December.

Sunday, 13 December 2015 10:43

Church reconstruction project receives award

The Immaculate Conception (St. Mary) Church reconstruction project was recently submitted by HBD Construction, Inc., to the Associated General Contractors of Missouri (AGCMO) for the 2015 Construction Keystone Award.

The Keystone Award honors the achievement of member firms and their employees in building the facilities that support and enhance quality of life. The awards are in recognition of the skill, teamwork and spirit of innovation needed to address project-specific challenges to jobsite safety, communications, diversity and quality of construction.

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