Why does it seem we place more emphasis on Jesus’ Crucifixion than on His Resurrection? We could all be put to a torturous death on a cross, but we can’t be raised like Jesus was. If there was no Resurrection, there is no point in the Crucifixion other than it was done to an innocent man.
Nancy in Barry
When St. Paul went to preach at the Areopagus in Athens, he went to proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. As he proclaimed the bodily Resurrection of the Lord to the philosophically minded Athenians, they scoffed at him and rejected his message out of hand. The Greeks, who looked upon the body as nothing more than a prison from which the soul sought to escape, thought the notion of the reunification of the body and the soul preposterous. From that day on, St. Paul resolved to “preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23). He went so far as to say, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2). We place more emphasis on the Crucifixion because St. Paul does.
The Church has always held the cross of Christ to be the great sign of his victory — a trophy, of sorts — over sin and death. Just as the Church depicts the martyrs with the signs of their victory (St. Paul, for example, was beheaded by the sword and often is shown carrying a sword because it was the instrument of his death), the Church depicts the Lord on the instrument of his death, an instrument which brought us our salvation and victory over sin.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “the Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross” (638). This is why St. Paul frequently spoke of Jesus as the one who “died and was raised” (II Corinthians 5:15). The death of Jesus on the cross cannot be separated from His Resurrection from the dead, and vice versa; to preach one is to preach the other.
We emphasize the Crucifixion of Jesus in the certain hope that “if, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him… Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:8-11). The effective means of preaching this central truth of the Christian faith and life is to follow the example of Saint Paul, to preach Christ Crucified.
Father Daren Zehnle is pastor at St. Augustine Parish in Ashland and is the director for the Office of Divine Worship and the Catechumenate for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.
The Springfield Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (SDCCW) is sponsoring a Lenten Retreat March 29-30 at the Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center in Springfield. The subject of the retreat is, “Life’s journey — Why is God so important?” Father Larry Brunette, retired from the Dioceses of Springfield in Illinois and Joliet will facilitate the retreat.
The SDCCW Lenten retreat will feature spiritual presentations, prayer, the rosary, confession, fellowship, and the celebration of Mass. The retreat begins with registration and a light breakfast at 9 a.m. on March 29 and concludes after lunch on March 30.
Retreat costs include meals, refreshments, retreat master, retreat materials, and the use of the facility. The cost for an overnight stay, double occupancy is $90. An overnight stay, single occupancy is $110 or for commuters it is $70. Registration is due by March 22 and payment can be made to S.D.C.C.W. Contact your parish office, your women’s group, or your deanery president for additional information and registration form or email Myrna McKee at sdccwinil@gmailcom.
The Villa Maria is located at 1903 East Lake Shore Drive in Springfield.
By Andrew Hansen EDITOR
Tucked away, on the outskirts of Springfield sits a peaceful and sacred ground. Beautiful, dense trees and treasures of nature surround a property that for more than 100 years has been serving as the Motherhouse for the compassionate and faith-filled Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. The beating heart of this property? One of the most majestic and beautiful churches in the Midwest, St. Francis of Assisi Church, designed by Helmle & Helmle, a Springfield architectural firm, and built by local contractor Frank Fitzsimmons in the 1920’s. The church was dedicated in 1924.
“When I go into that church, the expression is ‘this is a hidden gem,’” said Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. “It is not a parish church, so there are not people coming there every Sunday. A lot of people in our diocese do not even know it exists. It is just a magnificent structure.”
The Romanesque style church is 133 feet long, 115 feet wide, and 84 feet tall and is shaped like a cross. It has spectacular artwork, mosaics, and statues, a vaulted ceiling, elaborate designs, striking stained glass, detailed bronze stations of the cross, and an astonishing scarlet dome.
On display, there is a bone relic of St. Francis of Assisi and a relic of the true cross that belonged to Pope Pius IX. The St. Joseph altar is made from rare Italian and Greek marble and the statue. Made in 1932, is among the first colored marble statues imported to the United States. The Altar of Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament is also made of rare marble from Greece and Italy. The gold covered tabernacle was designed in Belgium after images of the Ark of the Covenant and the door features the four evangelists. A crucifix above the altar was made in Belgium by a master artisan and is the only one of its kind in existence. The baldacchino is modeled after the tent under which the Ark of the Covenant was carried. If the sanctuary does not catch your attention, the large mural of “Christ the Almighty” will. Then, there is the dome, which rises 120 feet from the floor. It contains 24 windows of angels and 750 stars that symbolize the members in the American Province of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in 1964.
This sacred space has been described as “overwhelming splendor,” all of which is about one thing, reminding us that we are called for holiness and to not live for this world, but for the everlasting reward in heaven.
“When you talk about a favorite thing (about the church), in my first ministry as a Franciscan, I was a pediatric nurse,” said Sister Maureen O’Connor, OSF, the Provincial Superior of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. “There is a statue of Mary where she is holding Jesus as about a toddler. It is such a wonderful picture of the humanity of Jesus because his little sandal is hanging off his foot. I think most parents would pick up their kids up and they would say that there shoes are here or their hat is there, and I see the loving embrace of Mary for Jesus and two minutes later she put him down and put his shoe back on him. It touches me for the relationship between Mary and Jesus and takes me back to my happy pediatric time.”
The property also features several shrines, including shrines to St. Therese of Lisieux, Our Sorrowful Mother, and St. Felicitas, otherwise known as St. Felicity. The Shrine to St. Felicitas shrine includes a wax body representing her with a small relic encased within. The Relic Chapel, which is situated as you enter the main entrance of the church, contains bone fragments, clothing fiber, and hair, among other relics of saints from all ages of the Church.
Outside on the 300-acre property, there are shrines to Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes. Several saints are also honored through devotionals along a walking path.
“Our first Motherhouse was at St. John’s Hospital,” said Sister O’Connor. “After the sisters had been there for some time, they acquired the property out here (in 1917), and the first structure was St. John’s Tuberculosis Sanatorium. They cared for TB patients here for many years. That brought our healing presence to this property. We also had the St. John’s Crippled Children’s Home, which took care of a lot of polio children and youngsters with cerebral palsy. We had treatment, and they went to school here. So, this property was initially for the healing ministry, and then the next structure was the church, a place for the sisters to live, and the chapel, and it just continued to grow, but it was always in service of our ministry.”
In May of 2021, the Hospital Sisters and the Diocese of Springfield announced that the diocese would form a new entity that will assume ownership and responsibility in a trust, effective in January, for the operations, care, and maintenance of the St. Francis Convent property. The Hospital Sisters community will continue to live on the property. The diocese also announced that they will form a new institute for religious life and intellectual and spiritual formation for teachers of the Catholic faith, parish teams, priests, and lay faithful living locally and across the country. So, all the treasurers on this property will be available to the faithful.
How do I defend our teaching of asking the saints to intercede for us? How do I respond when I am asked, “Why don’t you just pray to God directly?"
Anonymous in the diocese
To answer that question properly, we must first clarify what we are exactly doing when we ask for the intercession of Mary or a particular saint. When we say a saint prayer, whether it is the Hail Mary, the St. Patrick Prayer, or the St. Michael the Archangel Prayer etc., we are not actually “praying to” saints, even though that is the language we as Catholics even use.
We recognize that these saints, who are creations of God, have played an important part in God’s plan in this world. We, therefore, through prayer, are actually asking them to “pray for us” and intercede for us because they are saints, friends of God, and are literally in his company in Heaven. God doesn’t need them to do this. He knows all things and can do all things and is perfectly able to hear and answer all prayers Himself. He does, however, invite His creation to be a part of His ongoing plan of salvation.
We recognize that no saint, not even Mary, has any power in and of themselves, but that everything they do is through the power of God. The saints and the Blessed Mother want us to remember this too. That is why they are always pointing us toward Jesus. The saints and Mary help us recognize Jesus and His call to us in our lives. The saints teach us by their example and by the way they followed Christ while they were on this earth. They intercede for us, offering their prayers for us as close friends of God, just in the same way if you ask a friend or family member to pray for you or loved one in need. When you ask someone to pray for you or a loved one, you are not worshiping them or thinking that they have the power themselves to change things themselves.
Every person in Heaven is a saint, and we are still connected to them through what is called the Communion of Saints (we must also strive to be a saint one day). To ask for prayers from the saints is to ask friends to help us stay focused on Jesus, His plan, and what He asks us to do.
We can of course always lift our prayers directly to God, but we should also remember that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit used angels, prophets, apostles, and disciples as messengers and intercessors all throughout the Scriptures to do His work and spread the Good News. God didn’t need to do this. He could have done it Himself, and yet He used others to help with His mission.
In the same way, we continue to recognize that the saints play an important role in God’s plan, so why not ask them to help us and encourage us on the way! So, continue to pray to God, but ask too for the saints to pray for you or a loved one. After all, the saints are our friends, and they desire us to be next to them in Heaven worshipping God forever.
Father Marty Smith is pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Jerseyville and St. Patrick Parish in Grafton and is an associate vocations director for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.
By ANDREW HANSEN
It started with Father Jeffrey Goeckner, pastor at St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville, approaching parishioner and artist Nancy Jatcko in 2018. To celebrate the parish’s jubilee, Father Goeckner’s celebration plan included having paintings of St. Boniface, several other saints, and Venerable Father Augustine Tolton, the nation’s first black priest who grew up and ministered in Quincy, hang inside the church.
“The opportunity to paint holy men and women for those who walk through St. Boniface's doors was an incredible opportunity,” Jatcko said. “It was a blessing to be able to tell stories about the saints, especially Father Tolton.”
Using oil on canvas, Jatcko created this masterpiece (right), which was hung and blessed for veneration by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki at St. Boniface during the jubilee Mass and celebration of the parish on Sept. 15, 2019. It hangs inside the church today.
“I felt invited to a private encounter with this holy and courageous priest,” Jatcko said. “As I painted, I reflected on his life and the sacrifices he made as the first black priest in our country to bring the Gospel to the people of Quincy and, eventually, Chicago. The task of doing him justice seemed daunting at first, but there was a special connection to Father Tolton through another great saint to whom I have long had a devotion, St. Katherine Drexel. Father Goeckner had seen a portrait I had painted of her and asked if I would take on the St. Boniface project. St. Katherine Drexel had been responsible for sending support to Father Tolton as he ministered to his parishioners in Chicago. I would say that divine providence definitely had a hand in the portrait of Father Tolton.”
Father Tolton was born into slavery in 1854 in Missouri. In 1862, his mother and siblings made a daring escape across the Mississippi River to Illinois. After settling in Quincy, he went to school at St. Peter’s Catholic School. Tolton later went to seminary school in Rome because no American seminary would accept a black man. Thinking he would minister in Africa, once he was ordained, he was instead sent back to Quincy, where he arrived to thousands of supporters. Known for his incredible singing and homilies, Father Tolton spent several years in Quincy before transferring to Chicago. He died of heatstroke at the age of 43 on July 9, 1897, and is buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Quincy. Pope Francis declared him “Venerable” on June 12, 2019, the second step of four to becoming a saint in the Catholic Church.
As we celebrate Black History Month in February, see page (WHAT) to learn five things you probably didn’t know about this holy man who lived a life of heroic virtue.
What you didn’t know about Venerable Father Augustine Tolton of Quincy
by Anna Fitzroy
As we celebrate Black History Month in February, we look at one of the diocese’s own, Father Augustine Tolton. Born a slave and affectionately known as “Gus,” Father Tolton is known as the first black priest in the United States. Pope Francis declared him “Venerable” in 2019, and he is currently buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Quincy. Here are five other facts about Father Tolton, who is on his way to becoming a saint!
For more information on the life of Father Tolton and his cause for sainthood, go to dio.org.
Anna Fitzroy lives and works in Springfield.
By DIANE SCHLINDWEIN
Lent is the 40-day, penitential season of preparation for the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday (March 2) and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday with the beginning of the paschal triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday — April 14-16).
Pope Francis has said this of Lent: “Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion.”
So, consider taking advantage of the Lenten season by reading Scripture, attending daily Mass, practicing self-control by fasting, giving alms, or by doing an act of charity. Remember, Lent is not just about abstaining from luxuries but is about seeking true inner conversion of heart.
All the Christian faithful are urged to develop and maintain a voluntary program of self-denial (in addition to the Lenten regulations that follow), serious prayer, and performing deeds of charity and mercy, including the giving of alms.
Abstinence — Everyone 14 years of age and over is bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday (March 2) and all the Fridays of Lent.
Fasting — Everyone 18 years of age and under 59 is required to fast on Ash Wednesday (March 2) and Good Friday (April 15). On these two days of fast and abstinence, only one full meatless meal is permitted. Two other meatless meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each person’s needs, but together these should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids (including milk and fruit juices) are allowed.
Remember, to disregard completely the law of fast and abstinence is seriously sinful.
According to section 1447 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church did not establish the private practice of penance until the seventh century. Given that this practice was adapted from Irish missionaries inspired by Eastern monastic tradition, couldn’t and shouldn’t the Church consider adopting a private confession (between God and man) and incorporate that into a group service as is commonly done around Easter and Christmas instead of confessing to God through a priest? In my opinion, more Catholics would receive this sacrament more often.
- Pat in Granite City
What you propose has never been part of the Church’s tradition or her understanding of the power of the sacrament of penance, which is also sometimes called confession or reconciliation. Jesus established this sacrament of forgiveness when he said to the Apostles, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23). Nowhere in the Gospels does Christ Jesus tell us it is enough to confess our sins directly to God; neither is such a notion found in the other writings of the New Testament. It simply is not a Biblical idea.
Rather, Jesus entrusted his authority to forgive sins to his Church, to his Apostles, who in turn entrusted this authority to their successors, the bishops, and also to the priests of the Church who act in the person of Christ. If these ministers of the Church are to determine which sins to forgive, they must know what the sins are. This is why the sacrament of penance requires the confession of sins to a priest. This Biblical foundation of the sacrament cannot be forgotten, nor can it be diminished.
It is true that the Church only began to implement an individual confession of sins to a priest around the seventh century, what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the “private” confession of sins. This happened late in the history of the Church because it took some time for the Church to come to a deeper understanding of the power of the sacrament entrusted to her. Prior to this time, the Church understood that the only sins that could be forgiven through this sacrament after baptism were those of adultery, apostasy, and murder, and that these could only be forgiven once. When these sins were confessed, they confessed publicly before the gathered assembly of the faithful after which the bishop or priest absolved the penitent and imposed a heavy penance that could take years to fulfill. The Irish monks helped the Church arrive at a deeper understanding of the mercy of God active through this sacrament.
It would be impossible for the Church to do away with the ministry of priests and bishops in the sacrament of penance because they are part of the will of the Lord for his Church, and the Church cannot contradict the intentions of her Founder. That the Holy Spirit was given by the Lord Jesus to the Apostles for the forgiveness of sins is recalled in the first half of the formula of absolution: “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.”
It is my hope and prayer that more people avail themselves of the grace of confession. If you or someone you know is afraid to go to confession, it is important to remember that when one enters the confessional, the priest will walk and help you through it. So as Scripture reminds us, do not be afraid, because what lies on the other side after confession is forgiveness of our sins, a clean slate, and your relationship with God restored.
Father Daren Zehnle is pastor at St. Augustine Parish in Ashland and is the director for the Office of Divine Worship and the Catechumenate for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.
Growing up in a strong Catholic family, Lauren Jatcko’s faith has always been important to her (the Jatckos are parishioners at St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville). But little did she know that her strong faith would be the shared enthusiastic connection between her and her now fiancé Joey Pruski.
Jatcko and Pruski first stumbled upon each other via social media. Pruski was a touring musician from Texas, and Jatcko was a nanny at the time in Illinois. They became friends and kept in touch, but it was nothing more than just casual exchanges. One day, Pruski reached out to Jatcko and invited her to one of his shows so they could meet.
“Though I had no intentions of sparking anything beyond the friendship we had built, I happily agreed,” Jatcko said. “We met a month later, and to our surprise, we had a lot in common. One of the very first things we discovered was that we were both Catholic! In that moment we both couldn't stop smiling and exchanged stories about how it was growing up in the Church.”
Fast forward to today, and now the happy couple is engaged, with the wedding to take place at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Kosciusko, Texas.
Jatcko and Pruski’s courtship and soon-to-be marriage is a refreshing reminder that despite growing numbers of couples choosing not to get married in the faith of the Church, there are still many young people who understand the importance of it and desire to enter into this holy sacrament.
“We both firmly believe that to have a strong and lasting marriage, God must be the center of it,” Jatcko said. “Marriage is a sacrament, and we look to treat it as such. We have both been raised as Catholics and want to continue growing stronger in our faith together as one, and for the future of our family.”
As the couple prepares for their wedding day, Jatcko says what they are looking forward to most is starting and raising a family and instilling the values and faith their parents instilled in them into their new family.
“We believe that our Catholic faith will guide us in giving the other compassion and forgiveness as Christ gives us,” Jatcko says. “We believe that prayer is the binding ingredient to keep a marriage strong and solid. Faith strengthens all.”
Edwardsville native Lauren Jatcko and Joey Pruski are engaged and will exchange vows at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Kosciusko, Texas.
By ANDREW HANSEN
They came from every corner of our diocese to pray together, worship together, receive the Eucharist together, and march together — all for one purpose: for the protection of human life.
About 700 clergy, religious, teachers, students, and other lay Catholics from across the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois packed the streets of downtown Springfield to participate in the Springfield March for Life Jan. 21, raising their voices in prayer for the unborn and most vulnerable and protesting unjust laws that attack the dignity of human life. Marching past the Statehouse, Illinois Supreme Court building, and Governor’s Mansion, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki led the group in peacefully praying the rosary for an end to abortion and a greater respect for human life. This year marked the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Jan. 22, 1973, U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
“Life begins at conception, so we should protect it and fight for that,” said Audrey Lasarge, a student at Sacred Heart School in Effingham.
“Babies can’t defend themselves,” said Ella Farris, a student at Mattoon High School. “They’re completely defenseless. They need someone to fight for them. That’s us. We’re here to fight for the lives that can’t fight for themselves.”
“Especially with our culture today, they want to really silence us, and they want to make us think that we don’t have a group, and that we don’t have enough numbers,” said Jacob Mizera, a student at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield. “I think we do. That’s proved in the march as we have 700 people, and it’s really exciting to make our voices heard and show people that this is a popular idea (fighting for life), and this is the truth.”
The day began with Catholics first joining together for a Life Mass at 10 a.m., celebrated by Bishop Paprocki at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. Concelebrating with the bishop were 14 priests from across the diocese. The Mass was also livestreamed on the diocese’s YouTube and Facebook channels so schools who could not make the trip could participate virtually.
In his homily, Bishop Paprocki reminded the faithful to stay hopeful and continue to act and speak up for life. “Most mothers and fathers who consider aborting their children do so because they are afraid,” Bishop Paprocki said. “They are afraid they will not be able to care for their children. We in the pro-life movement must expand our already extensive efforts through our women’s centers, our pregnancy centers, and our Catholic Charities programs to offer life affirming and healing services to women in crisis, either by helping them to have access to the resources they need to care for their babies or if they are not able to do so, to assist them in giving up their children for adoption to the many adoptive parents that are ready, willing, and able to care for them. These are just some of the ways that we are called to end the scourge of abortion with the help of God’s grace.”
After the Mass, most everyone bundled up but did their best to embrace the below freezing temperatures to participate in the prayer march in downtown Springfield. While praying the rosary, the marchers prayed for vulnerable mothers contemplating having an abortion, those who work in the abortion industry, mothers who are struggling financially or emotionally, for lawmakers to enact laws that defend the sanctity of human life, and for a greater respect for life, including an end to abortion. The march in Springfield passed buildings of each branch of government before returning to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for Benediction.
“I believe in being pro-life, and I want to protect everyone who can’t be protected,” said Gracie Harman, a student at Sacred Heart School in Effingham. “It makes me proud that there is a group where we all believe in the same thing.”
“We are the prolife generation, and I think having a really large turnout for events like these really helps impress upon everyone that we’re going to make sure that we’re going to have a positive impact in getting rid of abortion,” said Rick Wright, a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Those attending the Mass and Springfield March for Life came from schools across the diocese including St. Anthony High School in Effingham, Sacred Heart School in Effingham, Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield (the student choir sang at Mass), Christ the King School in Springfield, and Father McGivney Catholic High School in Glen Carbon.
Parishes sending students and/or adult lay Catholics included St. Isidore in Dieterich, Immaculate Conception in Mattoon, Our Lady of Lourdes in Decatur, Blessed Trinity in Brussels, St. Mary in Alton, St. Charles Borromeo in Charleston, Mother of Perpetual Help in Maryville, St. Francis Xavier in Jerseyville, St. Brigid in Liberty, St. Francis Solanus in Quincy, St. Raymond in Raymond, St. Alexius in Beardstown, Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Mt. Zion, St. Luke in Virginia, St. Paul in Highland, Annunciation in Shumway, St. Joseph the Worker in Chatham, Mother of Dolors in Vandalia, St. Thomas the Apostle in Newton, St. Francis of Assisi in Teutopolis, Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Alexander, St. Mary in Pittsfield, Sacred Heart in Virden, St. Ambrose in Godfrey, St. Agnes in Hillsboro, St. Anthony in Effingham, Sacred Heart in Effingham, Christ the King in Springfield, Holy Ghost in Jerseyville, St. Joseph in Springfield, Holy Family in Decatur, Blessed Sacrament in Quincy, St. Agnes in Springfield, Annunciation in Shumway, St. Thomas in Camp Point, Cathedral in Springfield, Holy Family in Granite City, St. Jude in Rochester, St. Louis in Nokomis, St. Columcille in Sullivan, St. Rose of Lima in Montrose, and Ss. Mary and Joseph in Carlinville.
The Eastern Illinois University Newman Center also had students participate as well as sisters from the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, the Knights of Columbus State Council, and Calhoun for Life.