Andrew Hansen

Catholic Times asked the people of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois to submit questions for Bishop Thomas John Paprocki to answer for his 10th anniversary of being named bishop of our diocese. Here are those questions with Bishop Paprocki’s answers:

This year, an aunt and her niece will observe the anniversary of their profession of vows as members of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. Sister Leola Brown, OSF, will observe 80 years of profession while Sister Ritamary Brown, OSF, her niece, will observe 60 years of profession.

“Sister Leola, my aunt, and I are the products of faith-filled Irish Catholics,” Sister Ritamary said. “Throughout our lives, we were melded by strong traditions: May altars, family rosary during Lent, prayers before meals and bed time, and intercessory prayers for people in need. Having shared family experiences has given us deep pillars for our faith and strengthened our journey.”

Join the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois as we celebrate and promote our religious liberties. Religious Freedom Week is June 22-June 29, and the diocese will host speakers on its online platforms to discuss religious freedom, what issues will be coming to the forefront, and what you can do to fight back.

Forty-foot shipping containers, containing crucial medical supplies to help doctors and nurses, are on their way to Fiji, Liberia, Ghana, Pakistan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Bolivia, Uganda, Tanzania, Jamaica and Ethiopia, thanks to Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach. Founded in 2002 by the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in Springfield — Mission Outreach packages and delivers medical supplies and equipment around the world, mostly to poorer countries. Since the pandemic broke out, activity has increased dramatically.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought stress to new levels for many families as parents try to balance working from home, completing schoolwork and countless Zoom meetings, keeping the children occupied all day, and staying on top of all the new government guidelines. Throw in the fact that even before the pandemic, raising children in a world full of secular temptations, was already a daunting task.

EFFINGHAM — Father Mark Tracy, parochial vicar at St. Anthony Parish in Effingham and St. Mary Parish in Shumway, has already been preparing his body and mind before he heads off to complete basic training with the Illinois National Guard June 3 through Sept. 3. Over the past several months, he has been working out and running, even competing against students in a sit-up contest at St. Anthony Grade School during Catholic Schools Week.

Will include locally produced Catholic content

Catholics in and around the Springfield area are now more easily able to listen to Catholic radio programming provided by Covenant Network. On May 18, the St. Louis based Catholic radio network launched a full power FM station, 88.9 FM - WTTT, which will give listeners a stronger signal around the greater Springfield area.

How Regina Villafuerte’s beautiful voice, amazing musical talents, and her trust in God brought her from Mexico to Effingham

EFFINGHAM — If you were to make the drive between San Juan del Rio, in the State of Querétaro, in Mexico to Effingham, your journey would encompass 1,787 miles and it would take you 28 hours — without stopping. That’s how far away 29-year-old Regina Villafuerte is from where she was born. Villafuerte’s amazing journey from Mexico to Effingham can only be described as providential. Villafuerte has been the director of music at St. Anthony of Padua for about a year now (she is currently working on her R-1 Visa: religious worker — she can only work for St. Anthony Parish). Since her arrival, her charm, commitment to the Catholic faith, and musical talents are bringing a whole new dynamic to St. Anthony Parish.

Eight men, representing a wide spectrum of ages and backgrounds, who come from different parts of the diocese and the globe, will make history in the coming weeks. That’s when they will be ordained priests at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, making them the largest class of new priests in the diocese since 1964.

Over the past decade, the diocese has averaged about three men every ordination class, so eight this year is a huge jump. So what is happening in our diocese that is positively impacting men and opening their eyes to the priesthood? Vocations Director Father Brian Alford says a big part of it is the seminarians themselves.

It’s a common question: Why is my parish priest being reassigned to another parish? This question especially comes up when the priest is beloved by parishioners and then, quite naturally, there is angst about what the future of the parish will look like.

The first thing to remember is that diocesan priests don’t “belong” to a parish, but in fact, belong to the universal church. Diocesan priests, through their ordination by their local bishop, therefore, serve the people of their diocese.

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