Continuing my sharing from my last column I want to help break down the walls some have built up in regard to each of our parishes and their relationship to the diocese. Our Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield is our mother church for all 129 parishes. Together we make up what is called the “see” of Springfield in Illinois. First the Diocese of Quincy, then the Diocese of Alton, the see was transferred to become the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois in 1923.
Our bishop (presently Bishop Thomas John Paprocki) resides in Springfield at the bishop’s residence and is the “shepherd” of this local diocesan church. He represents the Holy Father (presently Pope Francis) who is the supreme head of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Each of us who are Catholic belongs to a Catholic church or parish. Our parish belongs to one of the seven deaneries of our diocese. Our diocese joins five other Illinois dioceses under the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Chicago, with Cardinal Blase Joseph Cupich. Together we all belong to this local church called the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Our diocese joins all of the dioceses from all over the world which make up the Roman Catholic Church.
As a pastor of any parish I am called to help link the faith life of this Catholic community (my parish) with the diocese (sometimes called the “local church”) of which we are a part. None of our parishes can ever exist without that bond with relationship with our diocese, just as the diocese can never exist without a bond and strong sense of unity with Rome.
How does the diocese help us? I have heard that question so many times, usually with a negative tone. Come visit the curia (the working body and the diocesan offices) at the Catholic Pastoral Center.
We have the Office for Catholic Schools which oversees the running of our 40 grade schools and seven high schools throughout the diocese. It offers direction and great resources for all of our Catholic schools. The Office for Catechesis works with adult formation, catechist formation, PSR and so much more. Also under the care of the curia are the Office for Marriage and Family Life, the Office for Tribunal Services, the Office for Divine Worship and the Catechumenate, the Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministries, the Office for Development, the Office for Pro-Life Activities and Special Ministries, and many other offices.
We have a phenomenal Office for the Missions which helps teach and form our young and old Catholics about helping the needs of the universal church, especially the poor and needy. Catholic Charities offices in the curia and also in all seven deaneries offer great outreach with many services.
I have come to know these “intentional disciples” who run or work in these offices, many who have given well over 20 years and remain great folks in Catholic ministry, sharing their gifts and charisms to bless the diocese and your parish. They are unbelievable and live at the heart of the message of the Gospel.
“Why should we support them?” some ask in judgement. I say, “How can we not?” Our diocese is so blessed by all they do and offer to enrich our faith and make our diocese and its 129 parishes vibrant and viable. Next issue I will continue and talk about ACSA (the Annual Catholic Services Appeal) and how we should all actively support this collection.