Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As I look back on 2021, I cannot help but smile with satisfaction. You may be wondering amongst all the negative news and the pandemic, how is this possible? It’s because of people like you, the Catholic faithful, who did and are continuing to do amazing things. As a diocese, we had so many accomplishments and good things that happened last year that we should have much hope this year. Here are just 21 highlights from 2021 that give us hope: 

  1. In all, 162 people became Catholic in our diocese.
  2. Also, 496 more students are attending Catholic schools across our diocese this year compared to last school year, an increase of 5 percent.
  3. There were 1,047 infant baptisms and 227 marriages involving two Catholics and 105 marriages involving a Catholic and non-Catholic.
  4. Six permanent deacons were ordained and are now serving in parishes across the diocese (Deacons Adam Cox, Michael Halbrook, Robert Sgambelluri, Joseph Zagorski, Bruce Scott, and Dennis Holbrook).
  5. Two seminarians were ordained to the transitional diaconate and will be ordained priests later this year (Deacons Paul Lesupati and Zachary Samples).
  6. Father Christopher Trummer was ordained a priest, and he is now getting a degree in moral theology.
  7. Three women and two men in our diocese professed religious vows and four women entered the novitiate. 
  8. More than 150 young people attended our first March for Life in Springfield, and we already have more than 430 signed up for the march later this month.
  9. About 250 volunteers from Adams County and Madison County quickly teamed up to pack 18,360 servings of food for people in Haiti when the country suffered a devastating earthquake in August.
  10. More than 120 young people from our diocese joined 12,000 peers in Indianapolis in November to learn more about our faith, become inspired to live the Gospel, and receive the sacraments at the National Catholic Youth Conference.
  11. Members of the Oakley family in Quincy made the largest gift in school history to Quincy University, a $6.5 million investment in undergraduate and graduate student scholarships, improvements for academic facilities, and in programs to enhance the student experience and for faculty support.
  12. The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in Springfield made an agreement with the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois in which the diocese formed a new entity that has assumed ownership and responsibility in a trust, effective this month, for the operations, care, and maintenance of the St. Francis Convent property, which includes the former Chiara Center, in Springfield.  The Hospital Sisters community will continue to live on the property indefinitely, through a long-term lease agreement with the newly formed entity.
  13. The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois announced it 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 at what was the former Chiara Center.
  14. Our administrators, teachers, staff, students, and parents are overcoming the challenges of the pandemic to offer in-person learning safely and responsibly in our 43 schools.
  15. The Dominican nuns of the Monastery of Mary the Queen broke ground on the site of what will become their new monastery in Girard in Macoupin County. Once the monastery is complete, it will be the only Dominican monastery in Illinois.
  16. The life of Quincy’s Venerable Father Augustine Tolton is now on display on beautiful, marble panels at the Church of St. Peter in Quincy for people to learn about his life of heroic virtue and appreciate the hardships he overcame to become the first black priest in the country.
  17. More than $100,000 was raised during the All-City Food Drive in Springfield for the St. Martin de Porres Center, which provides weekly food and clothing to dozens of individuals and families in need.
  18. A $2 million endowment was created to help offset the cost of food at the St. John’s Breadline in Springfield thanks to Frank and Marian Wagner and 152,000 meals were served at the St. John’s Breadline.
  19. In all, 132,000 meals were served to those in need in Decatur through Meals on Wheels. 
  20. On that note, thousands of volunteer hours and donations to organizations that help people in need in our own communities were made by people of our parish/school communities. For example, students went on mission trips to repair/paint homes, lay Catholics helped construct a home for Habitat for Humanity, and parishes/schools hosted toy/food drives. There was so much giving, we do not even have specific numbers for all these efforts!
  21. A 2021 survey from the Pew Research Center reports that only the Catholic Church showed an increase in growth, while every other religious group decreased.

I want to say thank you to our priests, deacons, religious, seminarians, principals, teachers, staff, catechists, volunteers, parents, and all our Catholic faithful for their hard work, dedication, and advancing the Kingdom of God in our diocese in 2021. I also wish to acknowledge all the sacrifices you made, prayers you said, Masses you attended, sacraments you received, and people you helped and loved unconditionally. If you could quantify graces, what the people of faith did across our diocese in 2021 would be a really big number! I am grateful for this witness of discipleship. We are one Church and have one mission: to live a life of heroic virtue so as to become saints. I look forward to this year and wait with anticipation on what God has in store for us. I wish you blessings and prayers in this new year!

May God give us this grace. Amen.