The killing of George Floyd has caused upheaval across the nation. Racism and discrimination have been tolerated for too long and have infected all areas of American society. Grappling with these injustices is a difficult, necessary process. Peaceful demonstrations are rightfully drawing attention to these issues. However, some interlopers are exploiting protests by instigating havoc, which distracts attention away from the important issues at hand.
These protests are different; they have cut across all segments of society. More white people are protesting side-by-side with their black brothers and sisters than before. People of all generations are speaking out in a united voice, exposing the racism and discrimination infecting our country. Nations across the world have joined in solidarity, protesting these injustices. People are more open and vocal than ever regarding their views and support for the black community than in the past. This is refreshing and needed.
The discriminatory treatment that people of color experience can no longer be denied. Technology has brought to the surface the disparaging treatment of blacks. The world now sees, and our country is finally acknowledging the disparate treatment and frequent violent acts against people of color. Although this may be an uncomfortable realization, we must recognize and confront racism rather than sweep it under the rug until the next unjust action.
The sacredness of life is the upmost priority of the Catholic Church. The Bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have condemned the killing of George Floyd and call us to stand up to work to reform structures that extinguish the equal dignity of all people. We cannot profess respect for life while ignoring the pervasiveness of racism. We have a responsibility to respond and speak out against actions that are antithetical to the Gospel of Life.
We can begin our efforts by praying, learning, and taking action. Pray for peace, justice, and an end to racism. Learn about racism. Read Open Wide Our Hearts, a pastoral letter written by the USCCB. Discuss it with others. Come together with those of differing backgrounds and seek an understanding of one another. Join organizations that support people of color. Exercise faithful citizenship by voting. Be the agent against hatred and division. This is how we bring about change.
Prayers are offered for the repose of the soul of George Floyd and to his family, as well as to all affected by the current events. May there be peace.
This article was collaboratively written by members of the diocesan Black Catholic Commission: Gale Borders, Frida Fokum, Donna Moore, Renee Saunches, Lorna Simon, and Carmen White.
Sister Mary Frances Lutty, OSF, 98, of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, died on May 30 at St. Francis Convent in Springfield.
Sister Mary Frances, the former Anna May Lutty, was born in Pittsburgh on July 26, 1921, the daughter of Frank F. and Josephine M. Fichter Lutty. She entered the congregation on Feb. 2, 1950 and professed her religious vows on Oct. 4, 1952.
Sister Rose Duchesne Noelke, OSF, 100, of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, died on May 30, at St. Francis Convent, Springfield.
Sister Rose Duchesne, the former Leona Mary Noelke, was born in Washington, Mo., on April 22, 1920, the daughter of the late Henry and Rose Barbara Gerritson Noelke. She entered the congregation on Sept. 23, 1949 and professed her religious vows on June 13, 1952.
Student demand for Illinois’ tax credit scholarship is at all-time high. This past school year, 377 students in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois received scholarships valued at $1,073,290.31 thanks to generous donations to Illinois’ tax credit scholarship program. When you learn, however, that 1,326 students in our diocese applied, it’s clear the demand is far exceeding the supply.
Can Catholics practice yoga?
— Tessie in Effingham
I suspect that many of us, although we are finding plenty to keep us occupied during our time at home, are coming up with lists of things we want to do when it will be possible to circulate socially again.
Before being ordained priests, Deacons Pawel Luczak and Piotr Kosk prostrate themselves before the altar at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield May 2 as a sign of humility and submission to God. Later in the Mass, the two were ordained priests by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki.
“I believe that I am really chosen by God to be a priest,” Father Kosk said. “As a young man, I felt that this is the way I should follow. I know how important the work of priests is and how badly people need the sacraments and the maternal protection of the church.”
“For me, becoming a priest is about building a personal relationship with Christ. I want to be close to him — as close as possible — and I want to share and lead others to that relationship,” Father Luczak said.
Father Kosk’s first assignment is St. Paul Parish in Highland. Father Luczak’s first assignment is St. Peter Parish in Quincy. Those assignments begin July 1.
On June 19, Bishop Paprocki will ordain six other men to the priesthood for our diocese.
Catherine A. “Cathy” Furkin, a longtime employee of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, died on April 27 at St. John’s Hospital. She retired in 2019 after 25 years of service. Over the years, she was secretary for the Office for Stewardship and Development and an executive assistant for the Office of the Chancellor and Pastoral Planning, the Office for Communications and Catholic Times.
Springfield Dominican Sister Charlotte Rebbe died April 10 at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield. She was born Charlotte Ann, in Petersburg in 1934, to John and Marguerite Heflin Rebbe. In 1960, she made profession of vows at Sacred Heart Convent.
Sister Augusta Sperl, OSF, of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis died on April 2 at St. Francis Convent in Springfield. She was 97 years old.
Sister Augusta, the former Bernadine Elizabeth Sperl, was born in Springfield on March 8, 1923, the daughter of August and Elizabeth Beckman Sperl. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1939 and professed her religious vows on Oct. 4, 1942.