At Mass we hear verses like Matthew 25:36: “I was in prison and you visited me” and Luke 4:18: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives … .” Have you been waiting for an invitation?

The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has been asked to partner with the Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, in expanding a correctional literacy program throughout our diocese. The SOARING Inmates Helping Inmates (SIHI) program assists offenders helping other offenders to read at a higher level. We are in search of teachers, active and retired, and librarians and education administrators. Since these volunteer literacy aides serve as “teachers to teach teachers,” they could possibly be graduate or doctorial students needing placement for real life experience to teach the qualified inmates to become literacy tutors of reading impaired inmate students.

If you turned on the news or opened a paper a few weeks ago, you may have seen some jarring headlines about a new report that includes nearly 400 “abuser priests” from the state of Illinois. The news stemmed from a Chicago press conference by Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota-based litigator, who issued his “Anderson Report,” which lists names of accused priests ― names of priests that are already publicly available. So, what was new about his report? Nothing. Unfortunately, the media bought it. Worse, media reports failed to recognize some glaring admissions by Anderson.

Sunday, 14 April 2019 17:33

Woman of Distinction event set for June

The eighth annual Woman of Distinction Mass and banquet will be held Saturday, June 1. This event is hosted by the Springfield Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. Each parish in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois is asked to select an honoree in appreciation for their leadership and service to church and community.

The celebration begins with 10 a.m. Mass, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. The honored women will be presented a certificate by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki and recognized at Mass.

Sunday, 14 April 2019 17:32

Way of the Cross to be held Good Friday

The annual Good Friday Way of the Cross for Peace and Justice will be held on April 19, beginning at noon at the Supreme Court Building at 2nd and Capitol. The 90-minute prayerful walk remembers Jesus’ passion and its connection with the sufferings of injustice experienced by God’s people in our world today. Join with others in this ecumenical experience of prayer.

Sunday, 14 April 2019 17:27

Remembering St. Teresa teacher

Joan Biebel would introduce herself with an instruction about how to say her last name. She would say, “It’s like Justin Bieber with an L instead of an R.” She would then proudly state, “I was the original J Biebs,” with a chuckle and smile. Mrs. Biebel just came to St. Teresa High School in Decatur in August of 2018.

She poured herself out to others whether it was a kind smile, an encouraging word, or an offer to help. The real place of impact that Mrs. Biebel had was on retreats, like Kairos. She had an ability to make people feel comfortable and always had the right words. She was a true joy.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to build heightened awareness to prevent child sexual abuse. Christ calls upon each of his followers to protect everyone, especially our children and most vulnerable, from harm. When it comes to preventing child sexual abuse, we must first know the facts:

The statistics of this atrocious crime are overwhelming. Each of us must keep our eyes and ears open to identify dangers to children. To recognize and stop child sexual abuse, screening and education through training is critical. Faith-based trainings that are true to the teachings of the Catholic Church are offered for adults and children.

On the weekend of March 9-10, which was the first weekend of Lent, 247 people came to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield to take part in the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion. That number included 103 catechumens, 45 uncatechized Catholic candidates and 99 baptized Christian candidates. They were accompanied by priests, deacons, RCIA leaders, sponsors, godparents, families and friends who traveled with them.


Veronica Mary Paprocki, the mother of Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, bishop the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, passed away on March 13, in Chicago. She was 91 years old.

She was beloved wife of the late John H. Paprocki Jr.; loving mother to Ramona (Joseph) Bellino, James (Candace) Janda, Bishop Thomas John, Edward (Lori) Ashe, John L. (Michelle), Ronald (Carol), Joseph (Joanne), Allen (Kim), and Ann (Robert) Dickmann; cherished grandmother of 17; proud great-grandmother of 14; fond aunt of many nieces and nephews; dear sister to the late Florence Osuch, Raymond Bonat, and Eugene Bonat; sister-in-law to Marian Jacobs, Roseann Gray, and Lillian Parks.

Mothers are the beating heart of a family and the backbone of society. They are also the reason for our priests in more ways than one. Catholic Times Editor Andrew Hansen spoke with two mothers of young priests in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois about what it’s like being the parent of a priest, what they saw in them at a young age, and advice they have for other mothers with young boys.


Something that hasn’t occurred in years at the Statehouse happened March 20: The building was temporarily shut down – no one was allowed in. That’s because the Statehouse was at capacity due to the thousands of people from across the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and other dioceses in the state advocating and rallying for life inside.

Sunday, 17 March 2019 12:15

Encountering Jesus at SEEK Conference

The SEEK Conference, held in Indianapolis from Jan. 3-7, was all about encountering something more. It was about encountering Jesus. The conference was hosted by FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, and offered so many amazing opportunities for college-aged Catholics. Every day included Mass, dynamic speakers, the opportunity for adoration and confession, and exploring the church deeper through many different vendors.


When I worked in Rome for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Commission received permission from the Holy Father to have episcopal conferences celebrate a National Day of Prayer for the victims/survivors of sexual abuse. Upon sharing this powerful healing opportunity, some responded saying the problem of sexual abuse did not exist in their country and having such a day of prayer would cause shame. Since sexual abuse exists everywhere, in every corner of the world, with the rich, the poor, the highly educated, the illiterate, the young and old alike, I personally felt a strong argument was needed to move those who believed that the sexual abuse of children from a “does not exist” position, to a “What can I do to protect the children and vulnerable?” position.

Sunday, 17 March 2019 12:07

SDCCW to hold Lenten retreat

What is your Passion?

All women are invited to attend the 2019 Springfield Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Lenten retreat April 2-3 at Villa Maria Catholic Life Center on Lake Springfield. Presenters at the retreat are Father Michael Friedel, spiritual advisor of SDCCW and parochial vicar at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and Marlene Mulford, retired director of Communications for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and spiritual director to women.

Sunday, 03 March 2019 00:56

HSHS at 40

Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) is commemorating the 40th anniversary of its incorporation, which took place on Dec. 26, 1978. Recently, a celebration was held at the System Services Center in Springfield, to recognize the vision and leadership of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis and the historic milestone.Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) is commemorating the 40th anniversary of its incorporation, which took place on Dec. 26, 1978. Recently, a celebration was held at the System Services Center in Springfield, to recognize the vision and leadership of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis and the historic milestone.


Lent is meant to be a time of prayer and penance and for many members of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois this Lent will also be a time to use those 40 days to stand up for life.


In Effingham, a 40-Day Prayer Campaign for Life has already seen great success. The campaign, originally co-lead by Loretta Koester (who was 86 years old at the time) and Valerie Kemme, was begun in January 2012. Since Koester’s death two years ago, Kemme has been the sole leader for the campaign. “Loretta passed away at the age of 91, but she co-led the campaign even in the months before she passed away,” says Kemme. “What an example of fortitude!”

Michael Hicks has been named president and CEO of HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur. He will begin serving in his role on April 1.

Hicks comes to St. Mary’s after spending more than two decades with UChicago Medicine: Ingalls Memorial, a non-for-profit in the Chicago area. He most recently served as the senior vice president and chief operating officer. Hicks is a hospital executive with a proven track record in inpatient, outpatient and service line development. The first several years in his career were spent working in the healthcare sales field.

Sunday, 03 March 2019 00:47

Sager to lead HSHS Holy Family Hospital

Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) has announced the appointment of Kelly Sager to serve as the president and CEO of HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville. Sager currently serves as the chief nurse executive for HSHS Southern Illinois Division. She will begin her new role on March 18.


The season of Lent begins this year on Ash Wednesday, March 6 and ends just prior to the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 18, when the paschal triduum begins. Lent is the principal penitential season of the church year.

All the Christian faithful are urged to develop and maintain a voluntary program of self-denial (in addition to the Lenten regulations which follow), serious prayer and the performing of deeds of charity and mercy, including the giving of alms.

One of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois’ own, Father Augustine Tolton, continues to move toward sainthood. The cause for beatification and canonization of Servant of God Father Tolton, the nation’s first black priest — who served and is buried in Quincy — advanced recently in Rome.

On Feb. 5, the theological consultants of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints unanimously approved that his cause move forward.

Sunday, 03 March 2019 00:33

Understanding excommunication

Recently, the governor of New York, a Catholic, ignited a firestorm in the U.S. church with his support of new sweeping pro-abortion legislation in New York State and the response of many among the faithful has been a call for his excommunication from the church. For many, the notion of excommunication is a casting out, a spiritual condemnation as pronounced in the famous scene from Becket: “We declare him excommunicate and anathema. We cast him into the outer darkness. We judge him damned with the devil, and his fallen angels, and all the reprobate to eternal fire and everlasting pain.” That was our understanding several centuries ago, but not today.


Pope Francis dismissed former Cardinal and Archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick from the clerical state Feb. 16 after a Vatican tribunal found McCarrick guilty of abusing minors and seminarians over several decades. It’s the first time a cardinal has been defrocked or laicized from the Catholic Church over sexual misconduct.


ALTON — The Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George celebrated the first profession of a novice during Mass at 10 a.m. on Feb. 2.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki was the main celebrant of the Mass, held at St. Francis Convent in Alton. He was joined by several local and visiting priests.

Sunday, 03 February 2019 09:00

Witnesses for life

Diocese well-represented at March for Life

Carrying rosaries and signs and wearing identifiable hoodies, scarves and warm outerwear, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, hundreds of young people, dozens of adults, several seminarians and members of the clergy from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois walked for life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18. The theme of this year’s March for Life was “Unique from Day One: Pro-life is Pro-science.”

Sunday, 03 February 2019 08:56

Changing of the guard

Hansen named editor, director of Communications

On Jan. 14, Andrew Hansen joined the Curia staff for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois as director of Communications — and is also now editor of Catholic Times. Hansen replaced Marlene Mulford and Scott Mulford, who retired on Dec. 31, 2018 as director of Communications and as editor of Catholic Times, respectively.

ALTON — “A colored child born April 1, 1854, son of Peter Tolton and Martha Chisley, property of Stephen Elliott.” Those were the words written in the baptismal record for Father Augustus Tolton. Born a slave in Brush Creek, Mo., he grew up to become the first African-American Catholic priest. He bore the insults of racial prejudice, and even after his ordination suffered the jealousies of religious leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, who saw him as a threat to their congregations.

Sunday, 23 December 2018 15:24

Tax credit scholarships: JB not a fan

The colorful graphic that pops up on the home page when you enter on your computer states that the Tax Credit Scholarship applications open January 15. But for how much longer?

If J.B. Pritzker’s rhetoric during his long march to the governor’s office is an indication, not long.

LITCHFIELD ― Jim Timpe has been selected to serve as the new president and CEO at HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield. He started in this new role Dec. 11.

Timpe joined St. Francis from HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield where he most recently served as the director of imaging services, rehabilitation services, sleep and neuro-diagnostics. He had been in that role since 2011.

Sunday, 23 December 2018 15:08

Thinking priestly thoughts?

The Office for Vocations of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois will host a “Thinking of Priesthood” day for men, ages 18-30 on Thursday, Dec. 27 at the Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center in Springfield.

“Seniors in high school are also welcome and encouraged to attend,” said seminarian Zachary Samples who is assisting in organizing the event.

Sunday, 09 December 2018 09:41

Thinking priestly thoughts?

The Office for Vocations of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois will host a “Thinking of Priesthood” day for men, ages 18-30 on Thursday, Dec. 27 at the Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center in Springfield.


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