On Nov. 26, the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki celebrated a Mass to officially close the fourth diocesan synod for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. The synod had been under way since its official opening on April 11 at the chrism Mass.
About 200 people — including a number of religious sisters and brothers, many lay people of all ages and several large young families — were in attendance at the 2 p.m. Mass, which was concelebrated with over 30 priests from all over the Springfield diocese. Approximately a dozen permanent deacons of the diocese participated as well.
The majority of the diocesan seminarians took part in the Mass and Deacon Robert Johnson, a fourth-year theology student at Mundelein Seminary who hails from Illiopolis, declared the Gospel.
The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Bishop Griffin Assembly and the Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem provided honor guards. The Cathedral choir, along with some members of the choir from St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville provided the music. Patrick Hutt was the episcopal master of ceremonies.
During his homily, Bishop Paprocki said, “It is my hope that this fourth diocesan synod will set the direction and tone for the pastoral ministry of the parishes and other components of the diocese itself for at least the next 10 years. Thus we have pledged, ‘In the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, “all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness” and will invite people to a life of discipleship and stewardship.’”
However, after explaining the many aspects of the synod, he said, “We should not expect all of this to happen immediately, or perhaps in the next 10 years, or even in our lifetime here in earth. But we must plant seeds, even if another will sow, for ‘neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth. … For we are God’s co-workers.’ (1 Corinthians 3:7, 9)
“On many farms in our diocese here in central Illinois, it is understood that growth does not happen overnight. Seeds are planted and steps are taken to provide the necessary nutrients and conducive conditions for crops to grow, but patience is also needed while nature takes its course. As our local church continues to cultivate a culture of growth, my prayer is that through the ars crescendi in Dei gratia — the art of growing in God’s grace — we can rebuild and renew a community of dedicated and intentional disciples of Jesus Christ, always grateful for God’s gifts as faithful stewards of his beautiful creation!
“I pray that the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of the church and patroness of our diocese under her title of the Immaculate Conception, will lead us all to grow in a deeper relationship with her Son.”
Following Communion Bishop Paprocki signed the Synodal Declarations and the Diocesan Statutes. Also taking part in that signing of documents were: Msgr. David Hoefler, who was promoter (moderator) of the synod; Father Christopher House, who was secretary of the synod; and Father Kevin Laughery who was notary of the synod.
During the Concluding Rites Bishop Paprocki bestowed the papal blessing with a plenary indulgence, which he may bestow three times a year on solemn feasts, which he designates. The blessing was given at the end of Mass in place of the usual final blessing.
Following the closing Mass Bishop Paprocki gathered with the priests, deacons and seminarians for a commemorative photo on the steps of the Cathedral. A light reception followed.
For more information on the fourth diocesan synod, go to www.dio.org/synod.