On June 15, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki celebrated a Mass for parents of priests at Christ the King Parish in Springfield. Approximately 20 priests were at the church to concelebrate with Bishop Paprocki, while their parents were in the pews. Parents drove to Springfield from all parts of the diocese — and some came even more of a distance. Paul and Jan Zawadzki, parents of Father Adam Zawadzki, parochial vicar at Our Saviour Parish in Jacksonville, came from Westfield, Ind.
Bishop Paprocki said he hopes the Mass, which last happened before COVID, will be celebrated annually. He said the Mass was a celebration thanking God for the gift of love in our families. God’s love is passed on to us through our parents, he said in his homily. “We first know God’s love through our parents.” He also mentioned the significance of this Year of St. Joseph, because of course it was St. Joseph who lovingly cared for Mary and for Jesus as he grew up.
The Mass gives parents the opportunity to celebrate with their sons. It also gives parents — many who came to know one another when their sons were in the seminary — the ability to worship together and visit, he said. His sentiments were evident as parents of priests who had not seen one another in a while embraced and laughed together.
The program provided at the Mass said it celebrated and gave thanks to all parents of our priests and in a special way those who have gone before us into Eternity. Listed were parents who have passed away over the past few years, including Veronica Paprocki, Edward Bonk, Donna Bergbower, Evelyn Ring, Duane Haag, Pius Onyejiaju Chineke, Raymond “Bud” Probst, and Jerry Smith.
Tom and Elaine Arisman, members of St. Agnes Parish in Springfield, were at the Mass for their son Steve Arisman, who is pastor of St. Francis Solanus Parish in Quincy. They said they are blessed to have their youngest son enjoying his life as a priest.
Mark and Stephanie Rankin from St. Rose of Lima Parish in Quincy took part in the Mass, where their son Father Dominic Rankin was Master of Ceremonies. They are parents of two children who entered religious life: Father Dominic and his twin sister, Sister Mary Thomas of the Holy Name of Jesus, OP. Mark Rankin said they were born prematurely (28 ½ weeks) and many, many people prayed for them to be healthy and live a good life. He credits his wife’s prayers, in particular, for his children’s religious vocations.
“It was the Lord’s work,” Stephanie Rankin said. “He had a plan for them from the very beginning.”
Elaine Arisman said she is especially uplifted by the number of new priests who are bringing their enthusiastic faith and leadership to the Springfield diocese. “I am so proud of this younger group of guys,” she said. “They really are a dynamic group. They are wonderful and supportive friends to one another. It’s a wonderful thing to witness!”