By ANDREW HANSEN
A year dedicated to the holy Eucharist officially began with a special Mass at Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Alton Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, priests, and the lay faithful were present.
"During this Year of the Eucharist, let us take time to reflect on the mystery of the Eucharist," Bishop Paprocki said. “The reality that, in the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ without ceasing to appear as bread and wine to our five senses, is one of the central mysteries of the Catholic faith. This faith is a doorway through which we, like the saints and mystics before us, may enter into a deeper perception of the mercy 12 and love manifested in and through Christ’s sacramental presence in our midst. While one thing is seen with our bodily eyes, another reality is perceived through the eyes of faith. The real, true, and substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the most profound reality of the sacrament.” (USCCB, The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church, n. 21).
Ss. Peter and Paul Church was chosen for the opening Mass of the diocesan-wide Year of the Eucharist as it is known as the “Old Cathedral,” the cathedral of what was the Diocese of Alton. The diocesan see was transferred from Alton to Springfield in 1923.
Activities at parishes in the diocese throughout the Year of the Eucharist will be encouraged such as Corpus Christi processions, hosting The Vatican Eucharistic Miracles of the World, establishing and promoting eucharistic adoration, among other events and activities. In Catholic Times over the next year, you will read about eucharistic miracles, saints who were devoted to the holy Eucharist, among other eucharistic content to enliven your devotion to the Eucharist. You can also visit the diocese’s website (dio.org) for further content about the Eucharist.
The Year of the Eucharist will also include a eucharistic celebration in conjunction with the 100th year celebration of the transfer of the see city of our diocese from Alton to Springfield. This major event will take place on Oct. 28, 2023, at the BOS Center in Springfield. It will include talks from nationally recognized Catholic speakers Bishop Robert Barron and Scott Hahn, and Mass where the arena will be filled with thousands of Catholics from across the diocese. You are invited! Stay tuned for how to get free tickets and mark your calendar! The Year of the Eucharist concludes on Dec. 8, 2023, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield.
Old Cathedral’s capital campaign
Carved high above the pinnacle of Ss. Peter and Paul Church, above the rose window, is the date of 1855, indicating the year the church building was begun. The church is built of native limestone and the architecture is a beautiful specimen of Gothic. The interior of the church, with its graceful arches, clustered columns, and capitals and hood-molded windows and spacious choir loft attract many lovers of art. Below the main altar are the tombs of the first two bishops of the Diocese of Alton, Bishop Henry Damian Juncker and Bishop Peter Joseph Baltes. The third bishop of the Diocese of Alton, Bishop James Ryan, is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery.
To make needed repairs and better preserve this treasure and history of our diocese, the parish’s capital campaign, Preserving the Past for the Future, is going to help restore the structure of the church at a cost of $800,000. If you are interested in helping the “Old Cathedral” by contributing to their campaign, you can visit ssppalton.com.