Seniors scheduled to graduate this spring from Catholic high schools throughout the diocese who are members of Catholic Athletes for Christ (CAC) were challenged by a former professional soccer star turned Catholic priest with the words of Pope St. John Paul II who once said that “sports are the school of moral virtue.”

Father Chase Hilgenbrinck, a Quincy native and now a priest of the Peoria diocese, is a former American professional soccer standout following an illustrious career at Clemson University.

Over 500 people from all around the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois were at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on the evening of March 22 as Bishop Thomas John Paprocki concelebrated the chrism Mass.

The chrism Mass is held annually in cathedrals all over the world during Holy Week. It is during this Mass that priests, who gather with their bishop in the sanctuary to concelebrate, publicly renew the promises they made at their ordinations.

The people of St. Joseph Parish in Benld will celebrate the 100-year parish jubilee on Saturday, April 9. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki will celebrate Mass at 4 p.m. Msgr. Lawrence Auda, pastor emeritus; Father Michael Haag, pastor; Father Marianna Sathuluri, parochial vicar; Father Patrick Gibbons, Father Charles Edwards and Father James Neuman will be concelebrating. Father Brian Alford will be master of ceremonies at the Mass and Deacon Sean Caveny will serve as deacon. A dinner (requiring reservations) to be held at JoDanni’s Amore Restaurant in Benld will follow the Mass.

Sunday, 20 March 2016 16:55

Church to celebrate Easter triduum

During Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday (March 20), Lent ends and the Easter triduum begins. The triduum is a single three-day celebration of the Paschal mystery. It opens with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening, has its center in the Easter Vigil and closes with Vespers — or Evening Prayer — on the Sunday of the Resurrection.

SILVIS — Jesus “Jessie” Vasquez-Sierra, the mother of Father Angel Sierra of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, passed away Feb. 25 at home surrounded by her family. She was 95 years old.

Sunday, 20 March 2016 16:41

Ecclesiastical honors to two

Two retired diocesan priests, have been designated Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope Francis and given the ecclesiastical title of “Reverend Monsignor.”

Both monsignors were conferred with a diploma issued by the papal Secretariat of State.

The Cathedral Council of Catholic Women in Springfield honored 27 members for their many years of service to the organization and parish following Mass on March 5 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Angela Vincent, CCCW president, said the “Women of Grace” event was long overdue recognition of the service, leadership, evangelization and spiritual growth provided by women of Cathedral Parish during the council’s 92 years in existence.

Marian Dionne stood in the ambo at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church last month and disclosed her longing for a place to share her experience of racism.

“I’ve waited for eight years and look what God gave me. He gave me all of you,” said Dionne to a diverse audience of approximately 70 participants.

COLLINSVILLE — Women who would like to participate in Pope Francis’ special devotion, Our Lady Undoer of Knots, can experience the prayers of the rosary and much more at the annual Women’s Day Retreat next month. The retreat is scheduled for Saturday, April 9, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Rt. 157 in Collinsville.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki will be fending off breakaways and flying pucks to benefit Catholic Charities Legal Services (CCLS) program. The annual “Hockey with Bishop Paprocki” is slated for Wednesday, March 23, at the Nelson Center in Springfield at 7 p.m.

This one-of-a-kind event features the “Holy Goalie” in the nets for the charity game against local players. Since 2010, the event has netted Catholic Charities more than $9,000 as participants pay a “player’s fee” to suit up and fans pay a nominal entrance fee with all proceeds raised going towards Catholic Charities Legal Services.

QUINCY — The Quincy Catholic Elementary Schools Foundation is now accepting applications for two scholarships that will be available for the 2016-2017 school year: the Newcomer’s Scholarship and the Father Augustus Tolton Scholarship.

Father Peter Harman, 43, a Quincy native and the former pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield was formally installed Feb. 28 as the 23rd rector of the Pontifical North American College (PNAC) in Rome. Appointed by the college last November, Father Harman assumed his new post on Feb. 1.

Approximately 125 donors and guests gathered at the Highland Knights of Columbus Council #1580 Hall on Feb. 21, for the 28th Annual Fundraiser for Vocations, Newman and Pro-Life, sometimes referred to as the Bishop's Dinner.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois began the day concelebrating Mass at St. Paul Church in Highland. At dinner, Council Church Director and fundraiser co-chairman Don Lohman of St. Paul Parish, welcomed guests and introduced Sir Knight John Kapp Jr., of St. Paul, warden for Fourth Degree Assembly 0231, who led the guests in the Pledge of Allegiance.

One weekend a month for the past several months, the diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life in conjunction with the Retirement Peace Project have been offering Retirement Peace University sessions for individuals or couples over age 50. There is still time to sign up for the next weekend session, which is scheduled to run March 19-20 at the Catholic Pastoral Center, 1615 W. Washington St., in Springfield.

Nearly 250 men woke up early Feb. 20 to take part in a Catholic Men's Prayer Breakfast here. This year's annual event was billed as "Fathers in a New Era."

The workshop began with morning Mass celebrated by Father John Paul Klein, OMV, in the historic St. Mary Catholic Church. After Mass the men adjourned to the cafeteria where master of ceremonies Zip Rzeppa recalled some of the lows and the highs of his colorful life and career. Rzeppa is well remembered by many metro-east viewers from his former stints as a popular St. Louis sports broadcaster.

Over the first weekend of Lent, 290 people from 62 places in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois came to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to take part in the Rite of Election of Catechumens and of the Call to Continuing Conversion of Baptized Catholics. They were accompanied by the priests, deacons, sponsors, godparents, families and friends who traveled with them. Those who came to the see city on Sunday dealt with less than desirable road conditions as several inches of snow fell that day, followed by freezing rain.

Sunday, 21 February 2016 17:38

Funeral Mass celebrated for Father Becker

Father Robert T. Becker, 83, of Springfield, passed away on Feb. 3 at St. John's Hospice.

Father Becker was born on June 6, 1932 in Springfield, the son of Henry George "Heine" and Marietta Vivian "Babe" Davis Becker.

Sunday, 21 February 2016 17:38

SDCCW opens annual scholarship competition

The Springfield Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (SDCCW), an affiliate of the National Council of Catholic Women, is again offering leadership scholarships that recognize outstanding female high school seniors.

Four $500 scholarships will be awarded to applicants who exemplify SDCCW's mission values of leadership, faith and service, said Mary Ann Scopel, scholarship chair. This is the 16th year that scholarships such as these have been offered, she said.

Quincy University students have access to a newly renovated physics lab thanks to a generous grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

The Center for Science renovation is one of seven major projects for which QU is raising funds as part of the university's Forever Forward Comprehensive campaign.

Jessica Foersterling, a fifth-grade teacher at St. Mary's School in Alton, has been selected as one of Challenger Learning Centers "Inspiring Teachers."

Nominated by a fellow teacher as someone who inspires her students, to pursue a lifelong engagement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Foersterling and other honorees were recognized in St. Louis on Jan. 28, which was the 30th anniversary of the loss of the space shuttle Challenger and its crew.

When Pope Francis declared 2016 the Jubilee Year of Mercy, he urged Catholic churches worldwide to keep their doors open to all.

The pope may not have envisioned how that would unfold at one church in particular in Springfield. The music ministry of Blessed Sacrament Church is keeping its doors open on a mission to unite, inspire, uplift, heal, comfort and challenge — by bringing people together in the creation and performance of time-honored works of music.

St. James Catholic Church will hold a parish mission beginning with the regular weekend Masses on Feb. 27-28 and continuing nightly on Monday, Feb. 29 through Wednesday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. The theme of the mission will be "Here I Am, Lord: Becoming an Intentional Disciple."

The four pillars of Stewardship/Discipleship are hospitality, prayer, formation and service. Our diocese has put together a 28-page document focusing on these four pillars as well as a strategy to implement these pillars into the life of all 128 parishes of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

Father Robert E. Erickson, CSV, who led the former Griffin High School as principal for 10 years, died Jan. 15 at age 75. He passed away at the Alden Estates of Evanston Rehabilitation Center, where he had been recovering from recent surgery.

The season of Lent begins this year on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10, and ends just prior to the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, March 24, when the Paschal Triduum begins. Lent is the principal penitential season in the church year.

Three college students from parishes in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois were among those who shared in more than $2,800 in the Father Yunker Student Assistance Fund for the current academic year. Scholarship recipients must be of Lithuanian ancestry, be an active member of the Catholic Church and currently enrolled in an accredited college or university.

"On Feb. 10, the highly successful 40 Days for Life campaign returns to Springfield with 40 days of prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil and community outreach," said Claudia Connelly, coordinator of the local campaign. "We pray that these efforts will help mark the beginning of the end of abortion in Springfield."

Parish organizers of pilgrimages to the 2016 March for Life in Washington, D.C., from throughout the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois drastically altered their plans as an intense low pressure system developed into a classic "nor'easter" that enveloped the nation's capital in monumental snowfall beginning on Jan. 22.

Sunday, 07 February 2016 15:46

CRS Rice Bowl offers meatless Lenten recipes

Fasting from meat on Fridays during Lent helps us "acquire a mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2043). Fasting is meant to free us. It helps us feel our physical hunger, and in turn, our spiritual hunger for the infinite love found only in God.

Sunday, 24 January 2016 16:04

Diocesan presence felt in D.C.

More than 250 central Illinoisans signed up for the annual trip to the nation's capital for the 2016 March for Life Youth Pilgrimage.

Buses departed early in the day Jan. 20 from various points throughout the Springfield diocese. Twenty-three groups representing 27 parishes or congregations were on board, including one group from the neighboring Diocese of Peoria.

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