I truly feel it is an exciting time to be a Catholic in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. To be a part of the church’s invitation to create a “Total Stewardship/Discipleship Diocese” and to be a part of the Holy Spirit’s fire and tug has been wonderful. I am blessed and really feel the joy in this role of being director of Stewardship and Discipleship.
I also struggle with these days of waiting until Election Day. Sadly, as an American I too often do not feel the joy of life in America during election time. Even in the midst of our own frustration with the options for voting in many political races, we still need to focus on the great privilege we have to live in the United States — in a country which has as its form of government a true democracy.
It becomes a sad reality when some choose not to vote. Recently, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki was seriously misquoted in an article in a Springfield paper as telling Catholics not to vote. This is ludicrous. How sad these “misquotes” happen. What is even a greater travesty is that anyone would have to feel that in conscience they should not vote for either candidate in any particular political race. Why in America has this reality come to be one’s choice?
When I was young growing up in Illinois I heard of, met, and came to know many wonderful area public servants. As a child in Gillespie they were Mayors Bishop, Carney and Mathis. Others were Reps. “Junie” Bartulis, Gary Hannig, and Russell Massinelli; Sens. Everett Dirksen, Bill Lyons, Vince Demuzio and then later Deanna Demuzio. These political servants loved those they served and gave much of their life to helping our communities and state become safe and better places to live, work and play. We could truly say we admired them. We felt so proud to vote for and support these candidates. They proved that our vote meant much to them by their service rendered as elected officials in government.
In my adult lifetime I have met and seen many great political servants like Rep. Chuck Hartke of the Effingham area, Rep. John Shimkus of Collinsville, Gov. Jim Edgar, Mayor Charles Scholz of Quincy, former Mayor of Springfield Ozzie Langfelder and now his son Mayor James Langfelder, and so many others. In my humble opinion, all of these folks truly have (or had) a heart and soul desire to serve with dignity, character and integrity. With all respect to all current elected officials, I feel if I hear anything about elections it is usually so negative. So many are frustrated and most simply want to “get it over with.” Too many people feel they can’t trust those running for election.
A change needs to happen soon in our beloved America. We must seek to heal the state of affairs in our country. We must regain our understanding of what democracy is all about and regain a true sense of gratitude for this great gift that is the “right to vote.” As a steward who treasures democracy, I have a responsiblity to be a “steward” in electing our government leadership.
I often question, with sadness, why folks would want to run for president, vice president, governor, senator or representative at the national or state level? In disgust, I watch most of them and their families endure such scrutiny and abuse by the media and public opinion. Who could endure that type of “negative bombardment” of their character and their intentions when seeking to be a public servant? It’s no wonder we are in this shape.
I can sit back and talk about our Illinois history of elected officials sent off to prison, or I can work hard to do what it takes to bring about a healthy change in seeking to encourage and then to support honest and worthy men and women for government leadership. We can bring about this change if we all unite for this common good.
What do you think? If apathy, distrust and weary frustration lead our choices, then we can expect a troublesome outcome. As stewards of this great democracy with all the freedoms we enjoy, why can’t we as a country demand, pray about and seek a change in our situation and become “hope-filled” once again as we elect our leaders?
Bishop Paprocki in his article in Catholic Times offered some good insights as to becoming a pro-active American in this noble privilege. As a steward that feels this “right to vote” is something I am privileged to share with others, I do believe God will ask of me: Did I cherish this freedom, did I take seriously this freedom, and by exercising my right to vote, did I seek to bring to my community, state, country and the world in which I live the common good of the Gospel of Christ? I hope and pray this change will come soon.
The two presidential candidates have used the two following slogans: “Make America Great Again” and also “Stronger Together” as their claim for the future of America. Study the positions of those running, discern, pray and then vote on Nov. 8. Pray for America with hope that both these slogans can be a reality for our future.