After listening to 90 minutes of oral arguments from defenders and opponents of taxpayer-funded abortion in Illinois, it took Judge Jennifer M. Ascher less than 10 minutes on Dec. 28 to rule that House Bill 40 would take affect, as scheduled, on Jan. 1, 2018. Opponents of the new law quickly filed an appeal of the ruling.
“We respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling,” said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society special counsel. “The Illinois Constitution was clearly violated here.”
On Dec. 30 at St. Aloysius Church in Springfield, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki ordained James Dodge to the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Concelebrating the Mass that day were Msgr. David Hoefler, Msgr. John Ossola, Father Christopher House, Father Brian Alford, Father Daren Zehnle, Father Clinton Honkomp, OP, and Father James Isaacson, SJC. Deacon Larry Smith and Patrick Hutt were masters of ceremonies and Deacon Dominic Rankin proclaimed the Gospel. Also in attendance were a dozen deacons from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, as well as some seminarians.
The Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal campaign is under way and — with the help of people who choose to donate this Christmas season — will meet its goal to raise $250,000 across the diocese.
“The appeal went out Nov. 29,” said Amber Cerveny, development coordinator at Catholic Charities. As of mid-December $73,500 had already been raised. Cerveny says Catholic Charities would like to hit the goal by the end of January.
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 Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has joined a coalition of pro-life organizations and legislators in filing suit against state officials to stop the implementation of House Bill 40.
“I am grateful to the Thomas More Society for bringing this lawsuit on behalf of Illinois taxpayers, county and statewide pro-life organizations, several Illinois legislators from across the state, and the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois,” said Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. “It is despicable that the Illinois General Assembly passed this bill requiring taxpayers to pay for abortions and shameful that Gov. Rauner broke his promise to veto it. I pray that this litigation will lead to reversing this disgraceful law.”
One of the final actions of the extended spring session of the General Assembly was the passage of the Invest in Kids Act which, among other things, will allow Illinois taxpayers to receive a scholarship tax credit for making donations for scholarships to private schools — Catholic or otherwise — in Illinois.
Emergency administrative rules to implement the five-year pilot program were published late last month ahead of the Jan. 1, 2018 launch date when donations to scholarship granting organizations (SGO) can begin where donors can receive a 75 percent credit toward their state income taxes.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, students at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield prepared baskets of donated food for distribution to many needy families in the Springfield area.
“The SHG Key Club, under the direction of theology teacher and club moderator, Dan Wilson, rallied the entire student body, faculty and staff to gather 150 baskets filled with Thanksgiving dinner essentials and 150 turkeys for Catholic Charities to help those in need this season,” said Amanda Mandeville, director of Enrollment Management and Communications at SHG.
TAYLORVILLE — Sixth-graders in Cathy Schaeffer’s class at St. Mary School have embarked on a new adventure to add to their studies on saints called “Paint My Saint.” Following the tradition of previous years, each student chose a saint to research and write about — and they also created Google Slides presentations to present to all grade levels at their K-6 school.
Just over eight tons of food was collected and donated to Holy Family Food Pantry in Springfield during Springfield Catholic Charities’ “Super Food Drive Challenge.”
During October, six Catholic elementary schools in Springfield (St. Aloysius, St. Agnes, Christ the King, Little Flower, Blessed Sacrament and Cathedral) collected food each week from students and families.
For 25 years, celebrating the Christmas season with the “Official City Ornament” has been a beloved Springfield holiday tradition for both current and former Springfield residents. Moreover, from Ossie Langfelder to Jim Langfelder, each Springfield mayor has participated in the unveiling of the annual ornament which is a fundraising project to support St. Joseph’s Home of Springfield.
Now, in honor of Lincoln Land Community College’s 50th anniversary, the 2017 ornament celebrates a half-century of community college education.
Informed by the Gospel of St. Matthew 25: 31-46 — “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me,” — the parishioners at St. Aloysius Church in Springfield have been reaching out to those most in need.
Approximately 120 people of all ages gathered on the steps of the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield at noon on Saturday, Oct. 14 to pray the rosary and to say The Prayer to the Guardian Angel of the United States, The Angelus, The Prayer to St. Michael, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, among other prayers at the Annual Prayer in the Public Square.
Those gathered were joining 21,750 other groups who were meeting in various places to say the rosary together that day, said organizer Donna Berte. One Hail Mary was prayed for each of the 50 states and an extra Hail Mary was added to each decade for additional territories of the United States.
Mary Susan “Sue” Eck Morris passed away on Oct. 5. She was born in Springfield on July 8, 1937, the daughter of Albert and C. Olive Pfeffer Eck, and sister of Al (Nancy), John (Linda), and Sara (Jim, deceased) O’Rourke. She attended Blessed Sacrament Grade School and Sacred Heart Academy in Springfield.
When she was a senior in high school, she met Jim Morris, who attended the University of Notre Dame. She enrolled at St. Mary’s College for their equestrian and chemistry programs. The couple dated throughout college and wed at Blessed Sacrament Church, Springfield in 1958.
ST. LOUIS — More than 350 guests were in attendence Oct. 19 to see Father Jeffrey Goeckner, pastor of St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville, named a “great preacher” by Aquinas Institute of Theology.
The 23rd Annual Great Preacher Award dinner recognized Father Goeckner and St. Louis area priest, Father Edward Stanger of suburban Ballwin, Mo.
Sister Agatha Niebrugge (Zita Therese), PHJC, passed away on Oct. 4 at the Catherine Kasper Home in Donaldson, Ind.
Sister Agatha was born in Effingham on Aug. 11, 1928 to Anthony and Anna (Aulenbrock) Niebrugge who preceded her in death along with her siblings Paul, Lawrence (Dorothy), Alphonse, Martha Muehlenfeld (Joe), Johanna Spracklin (Bernard), Ambrose (Dorothy), Father Herman, Dolores Bede (Stockman), Mary Ann, Anna Marie, Father Richard, and Bernard. Her brother Tony Niebrugge survives along with sister-in-laws Barbara, Dolores and Margaret Niebrugge. Sister Agatha noted in her biography, “Needless to say, Father and Mother had sufficient opportunities to practice parenting.”
EDWARDSVILLE — Ask anyone associated with Catholic Charities Legal Services (CCLS) and they’ll tell you attorney Christopher Hunter lives up to the motto lex cordis caritas, the law of the heart is love.
Hunter, of the firm, Hunter and Johnson, P.C. in Godfrey, was recognized with the inaugural Lex Cordis Caritas Award for his “service and devotion to the principles of pro bono representation of low income individuals in need of legal services.” He accepted the award from Bishop Thomas John Paprocki following the Red Mass at St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville on Oct. 15.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki concelebrated the annual White Mass for health care professionals at 4 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Paprocki were Msgr. David Lantz, Father Fredrick Chima Mbiere and Father Charles Hart, OFM. All three priests are involved with ministering with people who are in the health care ministry or who are patients at hospitals. Deacon William E. Kessler, the bishop’s delegate for health care professionals, proclaimed the Gospel.
DECATUR — Recently, Gloria Guy of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Decatur; George Menard of Immaculate Conception Parish, Shelbyville; and John Shields of Holy Cross Parish, Champaign made their profession as Secular Franciscans in the Secular Franciscan Order at St. Mary’s Hospital chapel in Decatur. Father Dennis Koopman, OFM, celebrated the Mass with the assistance of Deacon John O’Brien.
The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocations Awareness Week on Nov. 5-11. It is an annual event and special time for parishes throughout the U.S. to actively foster and pray for a culture of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life.
Tolton: From Slave to Priest, a theatrical one-man drama performed by actor Andrae Goodnight, begins the first of six performances throughout the Springfield diocese on Nov. 7 in Effingham. There is no admission charge; however, a free-will offering will be taken up at all performances.
According to Saint Luke Productions, the new production, based on the life of Quincy priest Father Augustus Tolton, is a “compelling true story of courage, forgiveness, and reconciliation [that] resonates deeply with modern American audiences.” The production runs approximately 90 minutes, and is suitable for middle school age and up.
In what many veteran state Capitol observers regard as a stunning reversal, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has signed a bill that allows taxpayer money to pay for abortions. Rauner vowed to veto the bill last April.
House Bill 40 authorizes the use of taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions for Medicaid participants and state of Illinois employees who are covered by state health insurance. It also removes a “trigger” provision in state law that called for elective abortions to become illegal in Illinois if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion across the country.
TUSCOLA — When Father Angel Sierra was named pastor of Forty Martyrs in 2015, he came on board during a landmark year — the 150-year anniversary of the Tuscola parish. Because he was aware of the timing, Father Sierra wondered how the parishioners would like to celebrate. It wasn’t long before he discovered that the people hoped to refurbish the church, which was built in 1925 and had last been refurbished in 1978.
The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis welcomed 12 new Franciscan Associates on Sept. 24 during the morning liturgy in St. Francis of Assisi Church in Springfield. The new Associates are Ameyo Ayilisunga, Donna Chase, Jean Kapp, Diane Tebrugge, Gerardo Valdés and Michelle Wood (from Springfield); Mike Brummer, Joan Eggers and Jane Herman (from Effingham); Shirlene Kassing and Kathy Lohman (from Highland); and Pam Achten (from Green Bay, Wis.).
ROME — Diocesan seminarian Dominic Rankin was one of 31 seminarians from the Pontifical North American College who were ordained to the transitional diaconate Sept. 28, in Rome. Deacon Rankin is a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Quincy and is the son of Mark and Stephanie Rankin.
Bishop James F. Checchio, Bishop of Metuchen — rector of the North American College from 2006 to 2016 — was the ordaining prelate, celebrating the Mass at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter, in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, in the Vatican.
Approximately 200 people from throughout the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois were in the pews of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on the afternoon of Sept. 17, as Bishop Thomas John Paprocki celebrated the Mass for Couples Married 50 Years or More.
The annual celebration included a Mass, reception and an opportunity to have photos taken with Bishop Paprocki. It was attended not only by many couples who are celebrating 50 years of marriage this year, but others who had been married even longer. In some cases, children and grandchildren came along to celebrate with them.
QUINCY — Quincy University has been recognized as a “College of Distinction” for the 2017-18 school year for its “engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes.”
The announcement, by the organization bearing the same name, designated the four-year liberal arts university in both the Catholic and National categories.
ALTON — “For the seven of you for whom we are gathered … may you see the words, actions, and symbols, … through that lens of your charism, and so serve as the guide for how you will live this next stage of your journey in religious life.”
With those words, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki challenged seven women who celebrated their professions of final vows, first vows and the reception into the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George on Aug. 2.
TROY — The St. Jerome (Troy) and St. John the Baptist (Blackjack) cemetery board members are looking for contacts who have information about those buried at either or both of the cemeteries.
ROME — Dominic Rankin, a seminarian for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois who is studying at the North American College in Rome, was to have been ordained to the diaconate on Sept. 28 at 9:30 a.m. Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The ordination Mass was to have taken place at the Altar of the Chair, celebrated by Bishop James F. Checchio, of Metuchen. “He was the rector at the North American College my first year-and-a-half there,” Deacon Rankin says. “The altar is the one on the far back wall (behind the main altar that only Pope Francis uses) and below the famous window of the Holy Spirit.”
The Dominican Sisters of Springfield are inviting all to enjoy the view from their newest meeting space at Jubilee Farm: the Creative Arts Center.
As part of their Center for Ecology and Spirituality, the new building provides space for meetings and facilities for the sister-weavers, potters and woodworkers. There is also a small gift shop, workroom, and bathroom facilities. The arts center replaces a picturesque but termite-ridden 100-year-old barn, according to the Springfield Dominicans.