ALTON — Father Peter J. Donohoe, 95, died peacefully on Oct. 26, at his home surrounded by family. He was the oldest diocesan priest in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and celebrated 70 years of priesthood in May.
ST ANNE — Father James F. Fanale, CSV, passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 13, in St. Anne. He was 77.
Father Fanale was born on Nov. 19, 1942 in Springfield, the son of Michael and Gertrude (Davis) Fanale.
URBANA — Springfield Dominican Sister M. Sara Koch, OP, died suddenly on Oct. 18, in Urbana.
She was born in Mt. Sterling in 1940 to Raymond and Marie (Redmond) Koch, and baptized Marcia Sue at St. Mary Church, Mt. Sterling. She joined the Dominicans in 1959 and professed her vows in 1961 at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield will host a novena to honor the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary starting Nov. 30.
At the end of September, our diocese launched the “Be Not Afraid” campaign to address the many fears that we face as human beings, especially during these uncertain times. As people of faith, we have the words of Jesus, who repeats on multiple occasions in the Gospels: “Be not afraid.” One of the early videos released during this campaign was a set of testimonies from several of our seminarians, sharing the fears that they faced upon entering the seminary and how they have overcome those fears. Their words, spoken from the heart, are inspiring to hear and they show how when we choose to trust in the Lord’s plan for us; he will never abandon us, but will provide for what we need, especially in helping us to overcome our fears.
In June 2002, Bishop George Lucas started the permanent deacon program in the diocese and the first class was nearly or completely formed. One Sunday morning my pastor, Father Bob Jallas, asked me if I would be interested in joining them. I did not think about it long when I told him that I didn’t feel called to it. I told my wife, Helen, about our conversation and she did not say much. Over the next few weeks, various people in my life such a woman who worked in the parish office, Helen’s aunt, and other friends and family, told me that they felt I would make a good deacon. I always repeated that I didn’t feel called. Helen always seemed to be there when these conversations occurred. She told me after still another one of these invitations, “I don’t think the call will come on the telephone; you ought to just consider it.”
I applied and was accepted to be in the second class of deacons, scheduled to be ordained in spring 2009. I was confident that I was at least of average ability academically, and I knew I would enjoy the “church things” that we would be learning about and experiencing. I did have one nagging fear that stayed in the back of my mind. We were told that we would be given an assignment at another parish as part of our training. It would mean that my formation would be public. I had always held my faith as a private thing. I went to Mass every week and was active in my parish. However, my faith — what I held in my deepest part of myself — was kept private. I did not want to make it a public thing. What if I failed? Would I make it through the formation program and be ordained?
In my second year of formation, I was assigned to one of the largest parishes in the diocese, The Church of St. Peter in Quincy. My fears were unfounded. The people of St. Peter’s were generous and welcoming to me. They allowed me to make mistakes and let me grow. In the spring of my third year of formation, I underwent a rough patch in my formation, and I was considering dropping out of the program. I remember it was a Friday afternoon and I was coming home from work. When I pulled into our driveway, I decided to find out the procedure for doing so. In the mailbox was a note from a parishioner of St. Peter’s, a wonderful woman. She thanked me for being in the permanent deacon program and for the things I did at St. Peter’s. It was just the lift I needed to get through the rough patch. It also showed me that people appreciate it when we try our best to serve God and the people of God.
I still have fears — I am human. I pray every day that on those days that I am not at my best, whether I am tired, or if I am not totally aware of a situation, that something I say or do does not offend a member of the parish. I am sure it has happened in the past and to any of those people I apologize. I ask that you give me another chance. I have come to realize that any success I have had as a deacon comes from God. It is only by trusting him that I, or anyone in the church, can continue.
Deacon Wayne Zimmerman of St. Francis Solanus Parish in Quincy
The initial jump into seminary can intimidating. Fear can be present when we venture into something new. A fear or concern I had in joining seminary was: Can I really be fulfilled in living out a vocation of celibacy? After all, marriage is a wonderful thing. Can I really sacrifice that? As seminary progressed, I became convinced that God could truly fulfill the deepest longings of my heart. I also became convinced that if God were calling me to be a priest that he would supply for all of my needs.
I discovered the fulfillment in pursuing God’s call for my life and my relationship with him. In addition, I found the fraternity with my brother seminarians to be deeply fulfilling. As time progressed, my original concern dissipated. Now as I live my vocation as a priest, I continue to find fulfillment in my relationship with God, my brother priests, and lay faithful in the parish. The question is not: Can God fulfill me in any vocation? — for he can. The question to ask is: What is God calling me to?
Father Michael Trummer, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes in Decatur and St. Thomas the Apostle in Decatur
My little sister recently gave me this quote when I made my first profession of vows this summer with the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George: “The one thing that we owe absolutely to God is to never be afraid of anything.” (Blessed Charles de Foucauld). Before entering the convent, I had some fears about responding to the Lord’s call. My greatest fear, however, was leaving my family. I have always been very close to my parents and siblings, and I still am. I knew, that by responding to the Lord’s invitation to follow him in religious life, my relationship with my family would change. Entering the convent was a choice that I was making, but I was asking my family to embrace this with me.
I know that there is nothing to be afraid of when I am following Jesus and living his will for my life. And yet, knowing that in my head and knowing that in my heart are two different things. Fear is never from the Lord. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1) The beautiful thing is that the Lord never takes anything from us. As we grow in trust and freely give ourselves to him, he will always return more than we could ever imagine.
Over the past three years, it has been amazing to see how the Lord has been faithful to our family. As I surrender my family to him every day, he is caring for them in ways beyond anything I could ever do. My family has truly embraced my vocation and our community. They love coming to visit me at the convent and being with the sisters. It brings them great joy to be able to spend time with the sisters and give of themselves to the community. It is not to say that it is not still hard at times, but it is a way we can unite ourselves to the Cross and grow in love of Christ and each other. It is an ongoing surrender that leads to a good. The peace and joy I have experienced since entering is amazing. I know there is nothing to fear as long as I continue to surrender to the Lord each day.
Sister M. Rose Thomas Weighner of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton
The parish of Ss. Peter and Paul in Alton dates back to 1838 when Masses were held in a home in Upper Alton. Today, the church, which was finished in 1857, carries as much history as any church in our diocese.
Sister Charlotte Gaughan, a School Sister of Notre Dame and retired educator, died peacefully on June 15 at age 94.
Born in Pana, she met the School Sisters of Notre Dame in high school and following graduation, she entered the candidature at Sancta Maria in Ripa in St. Louis in 1944. She was received into the novitiate in 1946 and given the name Mary Carol Therese. She pronounced her first vows in 1947 and final vows in 1953. She returned to her baptismal name in 1970.
Springfield Dominican Sister Margaret Therese Hebert, OP, died Oct. 6 at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield. She was born in Pana in 1952, to Noel and Mary Louis (Fullerton) Hebert, and baptized Margaret Louise at St. Patrick Church. She joined the Dominicans in 1973 and professed her vows in 1976 at Sacred Heart Convent.
Springfield Dominican Sister M. Dominic Joerger, OP, died Oct. 9 at Sacred Heart Convent, in Springfield. She was born in Mendota, in 1924, to Lawrence and Julia (Jones) Joerger, and baptized Mary Ann at Holy Cross Parish in Mendota. She joined the Dominicans in 1943 and professed her vows in 1945 at Sacred Heart Convent.