In 2010, Danielle Loftus of Springfield was involved in a jet-ski accident that left her with a severe brain injury — unable to speak or eat and limited in her movement. Over the past nine years, the Loftus family, parishioners at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield, have asked the community for prayers and relied on their faith and humor to care for Danielle, who is now 23. Catholic Times Editor Andrew Hansen sat down with the Loftus family, parents Lynell and Jeff, and their other daughters Taylor and Rachel, to talk about how Danielle is doing today, how prayers have helped, and how their faith and humor are the backbone of their family.


Newman Center at SIUE impacts college students from across diocese

It’s a Wednesday morning on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). For most college students, that means class, grabbing something to eat, or maybe sleeping in. But for dozens of Catholic students, it means praying the rosary and celebrating Mass on campus at the Fuller Dome.

“Mass on Wednesday is great because you get to recharge your faith life in the middle of the week, which is super awesome and helps me get through the week,” said Nick Berkenbile, a student from Edwardsville. “Confession, adoration, you name it, they have it.”

On April 28 the Dominican Sisters of Springfield capped a week of common study, prayer and contemplation — called a General Chapter — by electing to leadership the sisters who will animate their common life and mission for the coming five years. Earlier during the meeting, they signaled the direction for ministry for the coming five years by affirming A Prayer for the Life of the World.

Re-elected as prioress general of the congregation is Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, who has led the Springfield Dominican Sisters during the 2014-2019 term. Sister Rose Miriam Schulte, OP, was elected as vicaress, and Sisters Mila Diaz Solano, OP, and Marie Michelle Hackett, OP, will serve as second and third councilors.

Sister Maureen O’Connor, OSF, has been elected for a second term as provincial superior of the American Province of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. In addition, Sister Christa Ann Struewing, OSF, was elected provincial vicaress and Sisters Rosily Menachery, OSF, and Janice Schneider, OSF, were elected for a second term as provincial councilors. They will serve a term from 2019-2023.

EJ Kuiper has been selected to serve as the president and CEO at HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield. He has been serving in this role as interim since November 2018 after the former president and CEO, Dr. Charles Lucore, left HSHS for a position in New York.

Kuiper joined HSHS when he was appointed president and CEO of the HSHS Central Illinois Division (CID) in November 2013. He will continue to serve in this CID role in addition to his new appointment at St. John’s.

TEUTOPOLIS — Recently, Joan Eggers and Lawrence Carie, both of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Effingham, and Michael Brummer of St. Aloysius Parish, Dieterich made their profession as secular Franciscans in the Secular Franciscan Order at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Teutopolis. Father Frank Folino, OFM, celebrated the Mass.

Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) recently announced that Dr. Marc E. Shelton has accepted the offer to become the vice president and chief physician executive of HSHS. HSHS has 15 hospitals and three physician practices with 230 clinics in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Shelton joined Prairie 25 years ago as an interventional cardiologist. He has been part of the HSHS family since 2008 when Prairie officially became part of HSHS. He has served as the president of Prairie Cardiovascular since 2008.

Catholic Times is pleased to recognize the following religious order sisters who have lived in or served in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and are celebrating a significant jubilee in 2019. The following biographies were compiled from information submitted for publication by the religious orders.


The Illinois Army National Guard officially has a Catholic chaplain to serve the men and women who serve our country. Father Mark Tracy of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois was officially sworn in as a commissioned officer during a swearing-in ceremony April 29 at Camp Lincoln in Springfield.


At the end of each school year, catechists in parish school of religion (PSR) programs and teachers in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois are honored for special service anniversaries.

Honorees for 2018-2019 receive a certificate. The catechist certificates are signed by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki and Christine Malmevik, director of the Office for Catechesis. Teacher certificates are signed by Bishop Paprocki and Brandi Borries, superintendent for Catholic Schools. Overall, 146 certificates were issued.



St. Augustine Parish
Troy Smith, 5 years


St. Alexius Parish
Alejandra Borjas, 10 years
Camerina Castro, 10 years
Blincia C. Reza, 10 years
Sabina Rios, 5 years
Jackie Tanner, 5 years

Camp Point

St. Thomas Parish
Pam Clampitt, 15 years


Ss. Peter and Paul Parish
Maggie Brennan, 25 years
Rebecca Boyce, 15 years
Nora Fraze, 5 years
Tom Fraze, 5 years


Holy Family Parish
Rita Hogan, 10 years


St. Boniface Parish
Heather Sundar, 10 years

St. Mary Parish
John Dowdy, 10 years
Eva Duncan, 10 years
Leon White, 10 years
Danielle Wisely, 10 years
Michele Ziolkowski, 5 years


St. Lawrence Parish
Kate Alderman, 5 years
Kristy Johnson, 5 years


St. Francis of Assisi Parish
Terry Vacca, 10 years
Kari Fraley, 5 years
Angie Goode, 5 years
Chelsea Pluester, 5 years
Tera Pohlman, 5 years


St. Paul Parish
Barb Bellm, 5 years
Clara Rutz, 5 years


Holy Family Parish
Dale Hughes, 10 years
Bill Borklund, 5 years
Cindy Borklund, 5 years


St. Mary Parish
Allison Medsker, 15 years


Mother of Perpetual Help Parish
Pam Lauber, 10 years
Melanie Heinle, 5 years


St. Patrick Parish
Kayla Duez, 10 years


Immaculate Conception Parish
Pat Kalous, 45 years
Candace Luitjohan, 5 years
Bill Trickey, 5 years


St. Francis Solanus Parish
Anna Keithley, 5 years


St. Elizabeth Parish/Our Lady of Lourdes Parish
Lori Davis, 5 years


Immaculate Conception Parish
Kathy Clark, 40 years
Cherise Cruit, 20 years
Glenda Durbin, 15 years
Teresa Whalen, 10 years


Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Daphne Southern, 20 years
Jane Fornoff, 15 years
Matthew Southern, 15 years
Patty Miller, 5 years
Ramona Von Berg, 5 years

Christ the King Parish
Savannah Skonberg, 5 years


St. Francis of Assisi Parish
Sue Esker, 20 years
Dan Niemerg, 20 years
Mary Lou Gier, 15 years
Jacob Pruemer, 10 years


Mother of Dolors Parish
Cheryl Sasse, 35 years
Becky Bauerle, 30 years
Jackie DuPlayee, 30 years
Sidney File, 30 years
Tim Daiber, 15 years
Jascha Nestrick, 10 years



St. Mary School
Erica White, 15 years
Andrea Leach, 10 years

Ss. Peter and Paul School
Teresa (Teri) Lyons, 40 years


St. Mary School
Maureen Tepen, 24 years
Karen Kinder, 18 years


Ss. Peter and Paul School
Barb Plocher, 30 years
Julie Scheller, 20 years
Julie Buehler, 15 years
Bryan Winterbottom, 10 years


St. Patrick School
MaryBeth Mumaw, 45 years
Julie Hettinger, 35 years
Kathy McIntyre, 20 years
Lara Vespa, 20 years
Karen Moore, 15 years
Jan Sweet, 15 years

St. Teresa High School
Todd Vohland, 20 years
Heather McKay, 15 years
Moldisa Gurley, 5 years
Don Steers, 5 years


St. Boniface Catholic School
Maria Wilson, 25 years


St. Anthony of Padua Grade School
Donna Dust, 25 years
Marsha Rubsam, 20 years
Natalie Bohnhoff, 5 years
Kim Hustedde, 5 years

Glen Carbon

Father McGivney Catholic High School
Myriam Lambiotte, 5 years
Alyssa Spa, 5 years
Tim Vance, 5 years


St. Ambrose Catholic School
Jennifer Baird, 15 years
Lisa Jacobs, 5 years
Abby Wielgus, 5 years

Granite City

Holy Family School
Rosalie Ohlson, 30 years
Margaret Pennell, 30 years
Cindy Reber, 25 years
Amanda Atkins, 20 years
Laura Jackstadt, 10 years

St. Elizabeth School
Renee Ratkewicz, 25 years
AnnMarie Boyd, 15 years


St. Paul Catholic School
Staci LaPorta, 15 years
Shelly Litzenburg, 15 years
Tiffany Abert, 5 years


Our Saviour School
Paitra Gibson, 5 years
Polly Jones, 5 years

Mt. Sterling

St. Mary School
Mary Weronko, 20 years
Amy Johnson, 10 years
Jenni Obert, 5 years


St. Thomas the Apostle School
Janet Vahling, 20 years
Jill Bierman, 5 years
Brittany Schreifels, 5 years


Sacred Heart School
Debbie Holthaus, 20 years
Susan Weddle, 15 years


Quincy Notre Dame High School
Mark Longo, 30 years
Susan Schmitz, 30 years
Bob Sheffield, 20 years
Monica Scholz, 10 years
David Damm, 5 years
Nathan Koetters, 5 years
Bill Schlegl, 5 years
Kathryn Untiedt, 5 years
St. Dominic School
Donna Richmiller, 35 years
Meg Benner, 20 years

St. Francis Solanus School
Lori Shepard, 40 years

St. Peter School
Becky McCutchen, 25 years
Cindy Venvertloh, 25 years
Carmen Griffith, 15 years
Maggie Erd, 10 years


Blessed Sacrament School
Angela Alan, 10 years
Daniel Manfredo, 10 years
Morgan Ambrose, 5 years

Christ the King School
Donna Schroeder, 30 years
Mary Harmon, 15 years
Pam Fahey, 5 years
Kate Large, 5 years

Sacred Heart-Griffin High School
Tom Lavin, 50 years
Ken Leonard, 35 years
Robert Watts, 15 years
Doug Martin, 5 years
Carol Squires, 5 years
Ginger Troyer, 5 years

St. Agnes School
Karen Cummins, 20 years
Rita Stuewe, 20 years
Kathi Keane, 15 years
Tammy Carter, 5 years
Kate West, 5 years

St. Aloysius School
Kristie Tolliver, 15 years
Molly Murphy, 10 years
Adam Mrozowski, 5 years

St. Patrick Catholic School
Teresa Gladson, 5 years

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.

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