NEW FLAG APPROVED JPEG
NEW FLAG APPROVED JPEG

Diocesan Administrator Account

05 15 2022 EAS winner Tepen teachingBy ANDREW HANSEN
Editor 

She received a standing ovation. Her family, including her husband, siblings, and children made sure they were there to see it. Every student gave her a hug. That was the scene at St. Mary Catholic School in Brussels after Maureen Tepen, the third/fourth grade teacher and fifth/sixth grade language arts teacher in the small, rural school, was announced as the winner of the 2022 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois during a surprise celebration and award presentation at the school May 4. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki presented Tepen with the award.

“God is so good, God is so good,” Tepen said, as she fought back tears from the podium during the event. “I decided to be a teacher when I was in first grade, and I had this little seed in my heart that I wanted to teach kids, and to have a spot they knew they could come to be encouraged and grow.”

Then, looking at all the students in the room, Tepen said, “I just love every single one of you students. You have done so much for me. You helped me to grow, and every day I get to see growth in you. You say that I help you become the best version of yourself, but it’s you guys that help me be the best version of myself. God has given each of you so many talents. I want you to find that talent and live it in your life. Keep God first and foremost in your heart and mind.” 

embraceThe St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award recognizes one Catholic teacher who is making a big difference in the classroom, who authentically lives out what it means to be Catholic and instills the Catholic faith into her students, and who embodies St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who founded Catholic schools in the United States.

Tepen has taught for 27 years in Catholic education, including 21 years at St. Mary in Brussels, five at St. Francis Xavier in Jerseyville, and one at St. John in Carrollton. 

The Office for Catholic Schools and Office for Communications for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, organizers of the award, received a record number of nominations — 72 teachers in all — from principals, teachers, parents, priests, previous students, and current students this year. A team consisting of former educators in the diocese poured through the nominations and read all the stories of impact about each teacher, narrowing the list to five finalists. In the end, Tepen rose to the top. 

05 15 2022 EAS winner Tepen and kidsA common theme throughout the nominations for Tepen, who belongs to St. Joseph Church in Meppen, part of Blessed Trinity Parish, is she is “Christ-like” and inspires her students to become the “best versions” of themselves.

“Mrs. Tepen is a loving person, and one time when I did not know how to do my work, and I was getting mad, she came over and said everything would be OK,” said Riley Pohlman, a current student of Tepen. “She spent a long time helping me, and I finally got it. She was so patient and calm the whole time. I was happy that she took time to help me. At church, she reads, sings, and she goes to church every single weekend, and she does it all for Christ.”

“Mrs. Tepen treats everyone like her own family and is someone you should go to if you’re having a rough day,” said Dayton Brundies, a previous student of Tepen. “She is very selfless and loves donating to the less fortunate. Mrs. Tepen is truly a saint and is dedicated to her religion. She has inspired me to take my religion more seriously.”

group shot“Her knowledge of the Bible and the Catholic faith is infinite,” said Rachel Wilschetz-Hartman, a colleague of Tepen. “Her dedication to God and her faith is exemplary. Her love for God is witnessed at Mass, in school, and with her family. She volunteers for all the extra activities, is in charge of our missions collections, and she handmakes collection boxes and successfully encourages students to donate money for the less fortunate. I am appreciative of her patience, uplifting advice, and support throughout the years. She has influenced me to examine my relationship with God and deepen my faith.”

“The genuine love Mrs. Tepen has for being a teacher shines through in the heart-felt projects she incorporates into her lessons, like the Christmas angels, self-portraits, and Mother’s Day yarn flowers,” said Becky Lorts, principal at St. Mary School. “She infuses faith-filled activities throughout all subjects she teaches. Her classroom is warm and nurturing. She inspires others to grow in their faith and spirituality. She is an excellent role model to others, not only in words but actions. She is a witness through her faithful participation in the sacraments. As her administrator, I look to her when I need guidance and even reassurance if I’m having a difficult day, because she is the epitome of kindness. St. Mary School is very blessed to have her as a veteran teacher, and I am so blessed to call her my friend.”

There are 43 Catholic schools in the diocese (36 elementary, seven high schools). Stay tuned in early 2023 as Catholic Times will announce how to submit a teacher for the 2023 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award.

What is the origin of the concept of purgatory? Some Catholics and Protestants insist that purgatory is absolutely never mentioned in the Bible or by Jesus Himself.  
Nancy in Springfield 


Witnessing the majestic revelation of the new and heavenly Jerusalem, the visionary John foresees the nations of the earth passing through its gates while explicitly noting, “nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does abominable or deceitful things … ” (Revelation 21:27).

No sin will be allowed into the presence of all-holy God. Yet we sin, and so will need to be purified in order to pass through the gates of Heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms this: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death, they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1030–1).

While the term “purgatory” is not mentioned in Sacred Scripture, the concept of a post-death purification of sin and its effects can be found in both the Old and New Testaments. The Book of 2 Maccabees, 12:41–45, for example, tells of deceased Jewish soldiers found to be wearing amulets of a pagan god, and thereby breaking the First Commandment. The surviving soldiers first pray for their dead comrades and then take up a collection to send to the Temple in Jerusalem to pay for sacrifices to expiate the sins of the dead.  

Interestingly, Second Maccabees was written about 100 years before Christ, and so the idea of purification after death would have been known and believed in by many Jews during Jesus’ lifetime. While our Lord never mentions this notion explicitly, neither does He deny or correct it.

The Gospel of Matthew, in fact, may be cited to show Jesus supported the teaching of purification of sin after death. In 12:32 He says, “And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Setting aside the question of the unforgivable sin, Jesus discloses that some sins may be forgiven in “the age to come.” Considering the way Jesus uses this term in other places (Mark 10:30, 13:39-40; Luke 18:20, 20:35; Matthew 28:20), He is certainly referring to a time of life after death and so provides a divine foundation for the Church’s current teaching on purgatory. 

The concept of purgatory originates in our need to be absolutely free from sin to enter into Heaven. Yet, people do die imperfectly purified, as witnessed to in the Scriptures. It is necessary, then, for God to provide a way of purgation, or purgatory, for those souls to enter into His presence. Such is found explicitly in the Old Testament and implicitly in the teachings of Jesus Himself. So, make sure to pray for the souls in purgatory so that they may more quickly gain admittance to Heaven.

Father Seth Brown is pastor of Mother of Dolors Parish in Vandalia and St. Joseph Parish in Ramsey. He is also chaplain of Our Sorrowful Mother’s Ministry, chaplain of the Vandalia Correctional Center, and research theologian for the Diocesan Curia.

 

Below: Watch and hear directly from Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of Italian saint, St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962) and Pietro Molla (1912-2010), on why she chose Springfield to establish the St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla International Center for Family and Life. She met with Bishop Thomas John Paprocki in Rome April 29, 2022.

Bishop with Dr. Gianna and clergy of SpringfieldAs part of his trip to Rome last month, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki met with Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla on April 29 to discuss the St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla International Center for Family and Life, which will be located in Springfield. Their visit together also included the celebration of Mass inside St. Peter's Basilica with Dr. Molla and other clergy from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois who were also visiting Rome. From left to right: Troy Niemerg (seminarian), Deacon Rob Sgambelluri, Dr. Molla, Bishop Paprocki, Father Dominic Rankin, Father Christopher Trummer, and P.J. Staab (Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception parishioner).

By Andrew Hansen
EDITOR

The daughter of one the most popular modern day Catholic saints announced plans to establish an international pilgrimage site and center in Springfield to help spread knowledge of and devotion to her holy parent’s virtues and, thus, to promote the holiness of the family and respect for the sanctity of all human life. 

The Saint Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla Foundation, a North Dakota non-profit corporation founded by Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Father Timothy P. Elliott, founding pastor of the Saint Gianna Catholic Church in Wentzville, MO, and Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of Italian saint, St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962) and Pietro Molla (1912-2010), will establish the St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla International Center for Family and Life, which will be a peaceful place of prayer, learning, study, and spirituality for pilgrims. 

“I learned from my saint mom and holy dad to have deep faith and unwavering confidence in divine providence,” Dr. Molla said. “The establishment of this international center is one of those times I am trusting in God to show me the way and all those who are involved in the project. I am filled with humility to start this international center so we can promote and help families grow holier together.” 

Gianna Molla and Peitro meeting JP2 at canonizationGianna was canonized a saint by Pope St. John Paul II in 2004. At her canonization was her husband, Pietro, and children, including her daughter, Gianna Emanuela, whom she saved. They both met the Holy Father as this picture shows. It was the first time a husband witnessed his wife's canonization. Today, Saint Gianna is the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children. Her feast day is April 28.Dr. Molla said that she chose Springfield because of Bishop Thomas John Paprocki’s faith filled leadership and his steadfast commitment to defend innocent life, Springfield is in the United States where there is much devotion to her holy parents, and because of Springfield’s central location, especially it being within driving distance of St. Louis and Chicago. Ultimately, she said, “It was God who chose Springfield.” Molla said she plans to live on the grounds once the center is open and when she is in the U.S.

The St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla International Center for Family and Life will be located near the St. Francis of Assisi Church and The Evermode Institute (4875 Laverna Rd, Springfield, IL 62707), which the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois announced its establishment in March, as part of the transition of ownership and care of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis’ convent and associated buildings and grounds. The Evermode Institute, a new center for Catholic spiritual and intellectual formation, will also soon include priests from the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey. 

The St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla International Center for Family and Life will include: 

  • a replica of the spousal home of Gianna and Pietro as it was in Ponte Nuovo of Magenta in Milan, Italy (with the help of the original photos and films);
  • a pilgrim center, located between the replica of the spousal home and the replica of the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel, to be built in different phases, and according to the needs that arise;
  • a replica of the original Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel with attached rectory as it was in Ponte Nuovo of Magenta (with the help of the original photos); 
  • a shrine church of St. Gianna;
  • a rectory for visiting clergy;
  • a Way of the Cross and Way of the Rosary.

St. Gianna and Peitro on mountainSt. Gianna and Pietro, engaged, on the snow of Livrio, August 1955.“For years, Dr. Molla has been searching for a site to honor her holy parents and promote holy marriages and families, and if you want to see first-hand how divine providence can work, the story of how this all came together is the perfect example,” Bishop Paprocki said. “I happened to meet Dr. Molla in a shared car ride to a conference at the Napa Institute in California in 2019. That time in the car helped us form a friendship that resulted in Dr. Molla later reaching out to me asking about having this international center in Springfield. Then, in January, when a trust under the care of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois assumed ownership of the property of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, we announced plans to establish The Evermode Institute and having the Norbertine Fathers from Orange, Calif. establish a community there. By us having these faith enriching endeavors in place, it was an easy decision for Gianna to decide this international center should be built near the St. Francis of Assisi Church and The Evermode Institute. 

“The excitement of what is shaping up in Central Illinois is proof the Holy Spirit is guiding all of this. To think, Central Illinois will have The Evermode Institute, the St. Gianna and Pietro Molla International Center for Family and Life, our own Venerable Father Augustine Tolton in Quincy who is on his way to sainthood, and Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen in Peoria — this region of America will provide so much grace to people around the world who visit.” 

The center is expected to bring tens of thousands of pilgrims to Springfield every year from all over the world as St. Gianna is known as a saint for mothers, families, healthcare workers, and the pro-life cause, as she herself had four children, was a pediatrician, and died from complications after giving birth to her daughter Gianna. 

St. Gianna smiling at childSt. Gianna is known as a saint for mothers, families, healthcare workers, and the pro-life cause, as she herself raised four children, was a pediatrician, and died from complications after giving birth to her daughter Gianna Emanuela. In the picture: Gianna with Pierluigi and Mariolina, Ponte Nuovo of Magenta, Milan, 1959.While pregnant with her fourth child in 1961, St. Gianna felt much pain, which led to the discovery of a benign tumor in her uterus. Doctors discussed having an hysterectomy or an abortion together with the tumor removed to preserve St. Gianna’s life. Instead, St. Gianna chose to have only the tumor removed, understanding this could save her child but lead to further, perhaps deadly complications for her. St. Gianna’s faith gave her perfect clarity and confidence in this critical moment of choice. Both the baby and St. Gianna survived the surgery but knowing she could lose her life delivering her child, St. Gianna prayed to God and told Pietro, "If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate, choose the child. I insist on it. Save the baby." 

On April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela Molla was born. Over the next week, however, St. Gianna, the mother, dealt with further serious complications. Despite several treatments, St. Gianna died a week after giving birth by septic peritonitis. Her selfless act of love of choosing the life of her child over herself had been another astounding demonstration of her deep faith. 

As word spread of St. Gianna’s greatest act of love, the Catholic Church opened her cause for sainthood and faith-filled people from around the world started asking to St. Gianna for her intercession, leading to two Church approved miracles. She was beatified in 1994 and canonized a saint in 2004 by Pope St. John Paul II. At her canonization was her husband, Pietro, and children, including her daughter, Gianna Emanuela, whom she saved. They both met the Holy Father. It was the first time a husband witnessed his wife's canonization. Today, Saint Gianna is the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children. Her feast day is April 28.

As Pope St. John Paul II said of St. Gianna, she was "a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love."

Want to learn more? Check out these links:

Effective July 1, 2022
(unless noted otherwise)

Pastor Emeritus

Reverend John P. Beveridge is appointed Pastor Emeritus of Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Collinsville, Illinois, from Pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Collinsville, Illinois.

Reverend Monsignor David S. Lantz is appointed Pastor Emeritus of Christ the King Parish, Springfield, Illinois, from Pastor of Saint Mary Parish, Taylorville, Illinois; Saint Rita Parish, Kincaid, Illinois; and Holy Trinity Parish, Stonington, Illinois; from Chaplain, Taylorville Correctional Center, Taylorville, Illinois; and from Chaplain, Springfield Chapter of the Catholic Physicians Guild/Catholic Medical Association. 

Pastor

Reverend Albert F. Allen is appointed Pastor of Saint Mary Help of Christians Parish, Effingham (Green Creek), Illinois, while retaining his appointment as Pastor of Annunciation Parish, Shumway, Illinois, from Pastor of Saint Anthony Parish, Effingham, Illinois, effective August 10, 2022.

Reverend David Beagles is appointed Pastor of Saint Elizabeth Parish, Robinson, Illinois, and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Oblong, Illinois, and Chaplain of the Robinson Correctional Center, Robinson, Illinois, from Parochial Vicar of Saint Francis Solanus Parish, Quincy, Illinois.

Reverend Michael B. Haag is appointed Pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Collinsville, Illinois, from Pastor of Saints Mary and Joseph Parish, Carlinville, Illinois; Saints Simon and Jude Parish, Gillespie, Illinois; and Saint Joseph Parish, Benld, Illinois; Parochial Administrator of Saint Louis Parish, Nokomis, Illinois, and from Chaplain of Blackburn College, Carlinville, Illinois; while retaining his duties as a Member of the Diocesan Finance Council. 

Reverend Peter C. Harman is appointed Pastor of Saint Anthony Parish, Effingham, Illinois; Bishop’s Delegate for Health Care Professionals; and Chaplain, Springfield Chapter of the Catholic Physicians Guild/Catholic Medical Association; from Rector of the Pontifical North American College, Rome, Italy, effective August 10, 2022.

Reverend Piotr Kosk is appointed Pastor of Saint Mary Parish, Taylorville, Illinois; Saint Rita Parish, Kincaid, Illinois; and Holy Trinity Parish, Stonington, Illinois, and Chaplain, Taylorville Correctional Center, Taylorville, Illinois; from Parochial Vicar of Saint Paul Parish, Highland, Illinois.

Reverend Florent Emmanuel Kanga, S.A.C., with the assent of his religious superior, is appointed Pastor of Saint Mary Parish, Farmersville, Illinois; Saint Maurice Parish, Morrisonville, Illinois; and Saint Raymond Parish, Raymond, Illinois; from Parochial Vicar of Saint Louis Parish, Nokomis, Illinois; Saint Mary Parish, Farmersville, Illinois; Saint Maurice Parish, Morrisonville, Illinois; and Saint Raymond Parish, Raymond, Illinois. 

Reverend Joseph Koyickal, S.A.C., with the assent of his religious superior, is appointed Pastor of Saints Mary and Joseph Parish, Carlinville, Illinois; Saints Simon and Jude Parish, Gillespie, Illinois; and Saint Joseph Parish, Benld, Illinois; and Chaplain of Blackburn College, Carlinville, Illinois; from Provincial Superior of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine Fathers and Brothers), and is granted the faculties of the Diocese, effective August 1, 2022, and continuing for the duration of his residence in this Diocese. 

Reverend Michael Meinhart is appointed Pastor of Saint Louis Parish, Nokomis, Illinois, from Parochial Vicar of Saint Boniface Parish, Edwardsville, Illinois, and Associate Chaplain of Father McGivney Catholic High School, Glen Carbon, Illinois.

Reverend Paul C. Stein, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, with the permission of his Archbishop, is appointed Pastor of Saint Alexius Parish, Beardstown, Illinois; Saint Fidelis Parish, Arenzville, Illinois; and Saint Luke Parish, Virginia, Illinois; from Pastor of Saint Frances of Rome Parish, Cicero, Illinois and is granted the faculties of the Diocese, effective July 1, 2022, and continuing for the duration of his residence in this Diocese.  

Reverend Christopher Uhl, O.M.V., upon presentation by his religious superior, is appointed Pastor of Saint Mary (Immaculate Conception) Parish, Alton, Illinois, and is granted the faculties of the Diocese, effective July 1, 2022, and continuing for the duration of his residence in this diocese.

Parochial Administrator

 Reverend Ervin Pio M. Caliente, a priest of the Diocese of Rockford, with the permission of his Bishop, is appointed Parochial Administrator of Saints Mary and Joseph Parish, Carlinville, Illinois; Saints Simon and Jude Parish, Gillespie, Illinois; and Saint Joseph Parish, Benld, Illinois, from July 1 to 31, 2022, from Parochial Administrator of Saint Alexius Parish, Beardstown, Illinois; Saint Fidelis Parish, Arenzville, Illinois; and Saint Luke Parish, Virginia, Illinois, to begin a period of discernment with the Norbertine Community in Silverado, California, August 1, 2022.

Parochial Vicar

Reverend Paul L. Lesupati, newly ordained, is appointed Parochial Vicar of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Springfield, Illinois.

Reverend Paweł Łuczak is appointed Parochial Vicar of Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish, Newton, Illinois, and Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish, Sainte Marie, Illinois, from Parochial Vicar of Saint Peter Parish, Quincy, Illinois. 

Reverend Ramesh Babu Matta, a priest of the Diocese of Vijayawada, India, with the permission of his Bishop, is appointed Parochial Vicar of Saint Aloysius Parish, Springfield, Illinois, and Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini Parish, Springfield, Illinois, effective upon arrival in the United States with the required immigration visa and is granted the faculties of the Diocese at that time, continuing for the duration of his residence in this Diocese.

Reverend Wayne Stock is appointed Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Decatur, Illinois, and Saint Thomas Parish, Decatur, Illinois; and Chaplain, Saint Teresa High School, Decatur, Illinois; and Associate Chaplain, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois; from Medical Leave of Absence and Pastor, Saint Alexius Parish, Beardstown, Illinois; Saint Fidelis Parish, Arenzville, Illinois; and Saint Luke Parish, Virginia, Illinois.

Reverend Christopher A. Trummer is appointed Parochial Vicar of Saint Agnes Parish, Springfield, Illinois; and Associate Delegate for Health Care Professionals; and Associate Chaplain, Springfield Chapter of the Catholic Physicians Guild/Catholic Medical Association; from Graduate Studies for the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) in Moral Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome, Italy, and residence at the Pontifical North American College, Rome, Italy.

Reverend Michael Trummer is appointed Parochial Vicar of Saint Boniface Parish, Edwardsville, Illinois; and Associate Chaplain of Father McGivney Catholic High School, Glen Carbon, Illinois, from Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Decatur, Illinois, and Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish, Decatur, Illinois; Chaplain, Saint Teresa High School, Decatur, Illinois, and Associate Chaplain, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois.

Reverend Zachary D. Samples, newly ordained, is appointed Parochial Vicar of Saint Peter Parish, Quincy, Illinois; and Associate Chaplain of Quincy-Notre Dame High School, Quincy, Illinois.

Reverend Patibandla Zechariah, from the Diocese of Guntur, India, with the permission of his Bishop, is appointed Parochial Vicar of Sacred Heart Parish, Effingham, Illinois, from Saint Mary Parish, Taylorville, Illinois; and Saint Rita Parish, Kincaid, Illinois; and Holy Trinity Parish, Stonington, Illinois.

Graduate Studies

Reverend Peter Chineke is appointed to Graduate Studies in Canon Law at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., from Parochial Vicar of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Springfield, Illinois, and Co-Chaplain of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, Springfield, Illinois.

Reverend Dominic Vahling is appointed to online Graduate Studies in Canon Law at Saint Paul’s University, Ottawa, Canada, and part-time teaching as a member of the Theology Faculty of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, Springfield, Illinois, while retaining duties as Chaplain of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, Springfield, Illinois, with residence at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Springfield, Illinois, from Parochial Vicar of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Springfield, Illinois.

Chaplain

Reverend Paul Kallal, O.M.V., with the assent of his religious superior, is appointed Chaplain of Marquette Catholic High School, Alton, Illinois, while retaining duties as Campus Minister of Marquette Catholic High School, Alton, Illinois, with continued residence at Saint Mary (Immaculate Conception) Parish, Alton, Illinois. 

Senior Priest

Reverend Stephen J. Pohlman is appointed to Senior Priest status, from Leave of Absence.

Appointment Concluded 

Reverend John C. Burnette concludes his appointment as Parochial Administrator of Saint Mary Parish, Farmersville, Illinois; and Saint Maurice Parish, Morrisonville, Illinois; and Saint Raymond Parish, Raymond, Illinois, while retaining his appointment as Pastor Emeritus of Saints James and Patrick Parish, Decatur, Illinois. 

Reverend Sunder Ery concludes his appointment as Pastor of Saint Mary Help of Christians, Effingham (Green Creek), Illinois, while retaining his assignments as Pastor of Saint Michael the Archangel Parish, Sigel, Illinois; Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish, Neoga, Illinois; and Sacred Heart Parish, Lillyville, Illinois, effective August 10, 2022.

Reverend Christudasan Kurisadima, S.A.C., concludes his appointment as Parochial Administrator of Saint Louis Parish, Nokomis, Illinois; Saint Mary Parish, Farmersville, Illinois; Saint Maurice Parish, Morrisonville, Illinois; and Saint Raymond Parish, Raymond, Illinois; to return to the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine Fathers and Brothers) in India.

Reverend Suresh Sambaturu concludes his appointment as Parochial Administrator of Saint Elizabeth Parish, Robinson, Illinois; Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Oblong, Illinois, and Chaplain of the Robinson Correctional Center, Robinson, Illinois, to return to the Diocese of Cuddapah, India. 

Reverend William F. Kessler concludes his appointment as Chaplain of Marquette Catholic High School, Alton, Illinois, while retaining duties as Pastor of Saint Alphonsus Parish, Brighton, Illinois, and Saint John the Evangelist Parish, Medora, Illinois. 

Reverend Paul Nguyen, O.M.V., upon notification from his religious superior, concludes his appointment as Parochial Administrator of Saint Mary (Immaculate Conception) Parish, Alton, Illinois, for reassignment to serve as Pastor of Holy Ghost Parish with the Oblate Community in Denver, Colorado.

Consultant

Deacon William E. Kessler is appointed Consultant for Health Care Ministry, from Bishop’s Delegate for Health Care Professionals, while retaining his appointment for Diaconal Ministry at Saint Ambrose Parish, Godfrey, Illinois.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022 16:10

St. Gertrude Parish celebrates 150 years

IMG 8196Photo by Debbie SchwarzBy DIANE SCHLINDWEIN
Managing Editor 

GRANTFORK — On Sunday, May 15, parishioners from St. Gertrude Catholic Church will welcome Bishop Thomas John Paprocki for a celebration of their parish supporting Catholics in Grantfork for 150 years. Bishop Paprocki will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m., followed by a luncheon in the parish hall. 

St. Gertrude was established on Sep 1, 1870 — way back when Ulysses S. Grant was president of the United States. At that time, a group of approximately 30 Catholic men from the Grantfork vicinity (then known as Saline) met with Father P. Peters of St. Paul Church in Highland to form a church for their community.  It was a few years before a simple brick structure, housing only those things necessary for worship, was completed in 1872. It stood on a block of ground donated by John Bardill of Grantfork. 

The parish was served by priests from St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Marine until January 1880, when Father Michael Weis became the first full-time priest.  By that time, the parish consisted of approximately 70 families.

A rectory was built in 1878.  Classes were also held there until the school was built. The original church was remodeled and enlarged in 1880 and on Sept. 15, 1881, the church was dedicated by Bishop Peter Baltes from Alton.  Concluding this dedication, Bishop Baltes confirmed 39 people.

The current church was built in spring of 1904 (using suitable material salvaged from the old building) and completed for a June 12, 1905, dedication by Bishop James Ryan from Alton. 

A new rectory was built in 1948 and was then demolished in 2020. The parish hall (formerly referred to as the confraternity hall) was completed in 1968.  It was dedicated on May 26, after which Bishop William A. O’Connor of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois administered the sacrament of confirmation to both children and adults of the parish. The pastor at the time, Father Edward Groesch, said the cost of the building was kept low because men and women of the parish volunteered their help with the painting, shingling, and tiling the ceiling. 

Over the years, there have been many changes made to the church and parish hall. Following the Second Vatican Council, interior changes were made in the current St. Gertrude Church so that liturgical guidelines would be followed.  Those changes were made in 1972 for the 100th anniversary. Bishop O’Connor offered a Mass at the parish in honor of the occasion. 

Tradition is important to the parishioners in Grantfork. The annual chicken dinner held on the first Sunday of June began in 1969 and was held through 2019 until being cancelled due to COVID restrictions. It will return this year as a drive-through only event and will hopefully eventually return to its earlier form in the future. 

Father Paul Bonk, the current pastor, was appointed pastor of St. Gertrude Parish in 2018.  This appointment also included St. Nicholas in Pocahontas and Immaculate Conception in Pierron.  The current congregation of St. Gertrude consists of 94 families who make up the active and ambitious parish.  Quarterly meetings are held by the Parish Pastoral Council and Finance Committee and the Altar Society meets various times throughout the year.  The Parish School of Religion (PSR) classes are now coordinated by a lay coordinator who is backed up by the parishioners.

Father John Farrell (now deceased) was the first to be ordained from St. Gertrude Parish in 1943. Father Pat Jakel was the second to be ordained from the parish. Father Jakel served as pastor or St. Gertrude for two years just prior to his current assignment as pastor at St. Paul in Highland.  

Father Jakel says the pastor at St. Gertrude during his teenage years, Father Henry Schmidt, was a profound influence on his personal vocation. “I always wanted to be a carpenter, get married and have children; however, over the years, Father Schmidt would say to me, ‘Pat, God is calling you, but you’re not listening.’ … It was at the end of that summer (after high school graduation) that I finally answered God’s call,” he said. “Due to the great support of Father Schmidt pulling strings, within two days I entered our Diocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception on Lake Springfield.

“Now after almost 37 years of priesthood, 34 of them as a pastor, I reflect back on the people who influenced me. First was my parents and family, then my parish priests, my friends, and lastly, but not least, my parish family of St. Gertrude, Grantfork. I started to list the families at St. Gertrude who were my influencers, but the list became too long.”

Father Bonk has had various committees formed and several events have been planned for throughout the anniversary year.  On Sunday, Feb. 27, a kick-off Mass was held at St. Gertrude. St. Gertrude parishioners will also be taking part in the annual Grantfork Homecoming which takes place in August.  On Sept.  18, there will be a 10 a.m. joint church service with the Grantfork United Church of Christ, which is also celebrating their 150th anniversary.  The service will be followed by a pot-luck lunch.  The Feast Day of St. Gertrude is Nov. 16, and on Sunday, Nov. 13, at the 8 a.m. Mass, St. Gertrude will celebrate their closing Mass of their 150th anniversary year.

Lawrence Schwarz, one of the three current lifetime members of St. Gertrude Parish, is compiling information for a book which will cover the history of the past 150 years.

Father Bonk says he feels very honored to be the current pastor at St. Gertrude and to be able to participate in the events planned for the special celebrations of the 150th anniversary year.

MaryAnn Frueh, a parishioner at St. Gertrude Parish, contributed to this article. Additional information came from newspaper clippings from Western Catholic and Catholic Times.  

St. Gertrude Parish in Grantfork is celebrating 150 years as a parish this year. Bishop Paprocki will be celebrating a Mass there on May 15.

siuebiblestudyStudents at SIUE take a quick break from their Bible study to snap a photo. Submitted photoBy ANDREW HANSEN 
Editor  

EDWARDSVILLE — When Kayla Bridick, a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), took a class called Biblical Studies, the senior from Granite City said it was one of her favorite classes, but it opened her eyes to how little she knew about Scripture. For Joshua Coleman, a graduate student at SIUE, he was simply “coasting” through his faith life. Both of these students were in different places of their life spiritually, but they both recognized they desired something more. Little did they know that hunger would be filled through a Bible study, organized by FOCUS, a team of young adult missionaries serving on campus.

“I have been able to shape my understanding of the Bible through the Catechism, Catholic social teaching and doctrine, and at the same time, I have been invited to pray with Scripture and make connections with what the Lord is trying to say to me personally in my own life,” Bridick said. “This year, I have been lucky enough to take on the role of being a leader of my own Bible study group. Because I had witnessed such incredible transformations in my own relationship with God through Bible studies, I knew I wanted to help invite other women to do the same. I expected the Lord to provide everything I needed, but in His usual fashion, He has provided even more than I could ever have imagined.” 

“I have enjoyed not only the amazing community and friendships that I have formed, but the deeper understanding I have begun to develop about the Gospel,” Coleman, an Edwardsville resident, said. “Through that deeper understanding, I have been able to continue to grow in depths of my relationship with Christ that I never thought I would enter.”

These weekly Bible studies started in 2020 when FOCUS came to campus. This year, there are 11 different groups (men and women groups), with about 70 students as regular participants and at least 100 students have joined at least once. 

Some of the Bible studies are led by FOCUS missionaries, while others are student led. They begin with a prayer and then the flow normally goes: Scripture, questions, discuss, and repeat. Fellowship usually follows afterward. 

“I love to watch God’s grace move by seeing people grow in their relationship with Christ over time,” said Willie Jansen, the leader of the FOCUS team. “If someone is faithful to showing up and taking the next step Christ is inviting them into, He leads them on an incredible journey, and it has been fun to watch students walk this path. This highlights a key part of these Bible studies — they are deeply and intrinsically relational. So, while so much happens in the 60 to 90 minutes of Bible study, a lot happens in the time spent and conversations we have outside of that time.”

Jansen has seen firsthand the impact these Bible studies are having on students. 

“One of the many graces from Bible studies this year comes from a male, student led study,” Jansen said. “Early in the fall, Luke invited one of his classmates named Josh to join his Bible study. Josh accepted the invitation and has been loving it. He was not raised in any faith tradition, so he is taking a lot in. Josh has been joining for Mass, community events, and service with the Missionaries of Charity. This is a great example of what we hope for these Bible studies — these two men are not just in a Bible study together. They have an authentic friendship that is orienting their lives in the direction of Christ and His Church. It all started with a simple invitation, and it continues through real friendship, both with the other and with Christ.” 

Bridick can relate. Her group consists of four women who meet once a week to pray with Scripture, share in joys and sorrows of the week, and just be with each other.  

“My favorite thing about the study is that we are able to just be honest, vulnerable, and real with one another,” Bridick said. “On college campuses, it can be hard to find a safe space to connect with like-minded people especially on the topic of faith. I’ve been told many times by all of the women in my study that being a part of this group has changed their life — both spiritually and personally — and that it is the best part of their week.”

For Coleman, he says the Bible studies have helped him better understand the deeper levels of our faith. 

“There have been more ‘Now I get it!’ moments than I can count, but I think my favorite ones have been going through the Salvation history and growing in my understandings of Christ,” Coleman said.

While these weekly Bible studies are part of the SIUE Newman Catholic Community, they happen in places such as dorm rooms, apartments, and other places. 

“When people hear the words ‘Bible study,’ I think many people think of a Theology class or they assume they must perform and have a lot of previous knowledge,” Jansen said. “While I do hope the students are learning so much about who God is, who they are and what His plan is for their life, ultimately, I hope Bible studies lead students to deep covenantal relationship with Christ and His Church for a lifetime. I hope Bible studies lead them to a deeper receptivity to Christ in His sacraments. I hope it leads them into more receptive and consistent daily prayer lives. And I hope it leads them to an unshakable faithfulness to the Church’s teachings.” 

“As a Bible study leader, I have been hearing the voice of God and learning about my relationship with the Father in a whole new way,” Bridick said. “In order to lead my group of women well, I have to constantly be in relationship with and relying on the Father to provide everything we need.

“I can’t imagine where I would be in my faith journey without the community that the Lord has placed around me, whether it be as simple as a friend sitting next to me at Mass when I’m feeling alone or something larger, such as being pushed to spend my summer in another state with other students focused solely on growing in our faith,” Coleman said. “Each moment every day with this amazing community plays a pivotal role in pushing me closer to Christ.”

Honoring our teachers
Presenting the third annual St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award

We asked everyone from across the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois what Catholic teacher in our schools is making a big difference in the classroom? What teacher goes above and beyond, someone whose impact is deep and personal? What teacher authentically lives out what it means to be Catholic and instills our faith into his or her students? What teacher embodies St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who founded Catholic schools in the United States?

The Office for Catholic Schools and Office for Communications for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, organizers of the award, received a record number of nominations — 72 teachers in all — from principals, teachers, parents, priests, previous students, and current students this year. A team consisting of former educators in our diocese poured through the nominations and read all the stories of impact about each teacher, narrowing the list to five finalists, which Catholic Times presents in this edition along with quotes taken from nomination forms. Catholic Times will reveal the winner of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award in the May 15 edition. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination and thank you to all our teachers who work so hard! 


Vicki WentheVicki Wenthe
Sacred Heart School, Effingham
Fourth-grade teacher

“I first met Mrs. Wenthe when my oldest son began school at Sacred Heart School in 2013. My first impression of her was that she was someone who lived her faith in her life, every day, all day. It was apparent to me that God was center in her life and that resonated with me because that was something that I needed to work on in my own life. Seeing her was a great example for me. Mrs. Wenthe reinforces religion all day long and integrates it into her teaching. This is natural for her because she chooses to always keep God first in her own life. Mrs. Wenthe volunteers her time to stay after school and help students who need a little more time with her. It is important to her as an educator that every child succeeds, and she makes that happen by going above and beyond with giving of her time and talents to her students. She also volunteers her time to teach for our PSR program. She serves as a greeter for Mass, is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, and helps with social events.”
Billi Jansen, colleague

“I have known Mrs. Wenthe for eight years and in those eight years, I have worked with her in a variety of roles. She has been a principal, teacher, volunteer, and one of my beloved parishioners. In every role, she has taken and in every day of her life, she puts God first and lives her faith.

“Currently, as our fourth-grade teacher, I see Mrs. Wenthe focus on the academic excellence in her classroom, while maintaining Christ in the center of her lessons. She volunteers her time to tutor her students after school if they need extra help. She is a disciple of Christ and gives of herself to help others. 

“Mrs. Wenthe joins me for prayer in church on a regular basis, and this also brings her closer to Christ. She understands the importance of time with God and shows her students that also. She ensures that they are shown the importance of prayer by bringing them to church during the school day.”
Father Michal Rosa, pastor


Mrs. Amber TallmanAmber Tallman
St. Paul School, Highland
Second-grade teacher

“My daughter was blessed to have Mrs. Tallman as her second-grade teacher. Mrs. Tallman is innovative in the way that she teaches her students, and she loves and cares for her students like they are her own children. 

“When my daughter, Lillian, entered second grade, I was concerned about her reading abilities. Mrs. Tallman quickly noticed her challenges and reached out to me. From that point forward, she did anything and everything she could to support Lillian. Her expertise even helped her to realize that Lillian had a tracking problem and was in need of glasses. But she did not stop there. One of the things she knew about Lillian is that Lillian likes reptiles. Mrs. Tallman is an animal lover herself, and she had a bearded dragon at home that was no longer getting much attention from her own children. With our permission, she asked Lillian if she would like to take the bearded dragon, Lizzy, and take of her care of her for a while. One thing about Lizzy is that she really likes being read to, and Lillian would have to take time reading to her new friend. After a few months of Lizzy staying at our house, Lillian’s reading scores began to improve. To reward Lillian, Mrs. Tallman surprised Lillian by presenting her with an adoption certificate. A year later, Lizzy has become a part of our family. She is a constant reminder of the hard work Lillian has put in and of what a caring teacher Mrs. Tallman is. At the start of second grade, Lillian scored in the third percentile on her readying test and this year, she has moved up to the 56th percentile. Mrs. Tallman exemplifies what the love and support of a wonderful teacher can do for a student. She is truly an example of a teacher who brings light and love to her students in the same way Christ does for His followers.”
Susanne Himsel, parent of student

“My son, Matthew, struggled with reading, and that had led to behavior issues in first grade. We worked with him constantly, and he made little progress. With COVID and all the changes, it was a battle. Starting in second grade, he just wasn’t confident. Before the school year started, I spoke to his new teacher to make sure everyone knew he might need extra help. She was very reassuring and confident they could work on it. 

“About a month into the year, Matthew had changed. He had so much excitement to go to school each day! His reading level improved to his grade level. I sincerely couldn’t believe it. Matthew also received the Viking Award from the principal based on his kindness and behavior at school.

“We have four children, our oldest graduating from Father McGivney Catholic High School in 2018. We have experienced a lot of different teachers and teaching styles. I have never been so impressed with the attention, understanding, and passion Mrs. Tallman gives all her students. I am extremely grateful for all of the extra love and attention she has given Matthew.”
Suzanna Bushur, parent of student


Kate WestKate West
St. Agnes School, Springfield
Junior high literature teacher (grades, 6, 7, 8)

“Mrs. West always makes sure her students, no matter what their background or skill level is, understands and comprehends the material she is teaching. She spends so much time preparing lesson plans that meet the needs of all students. She also tries to make learning fun for the students by preparing activities to play on ‘Fun Friday’ that are related to the curriculum that is being taught. Mrs. West has improved mine and many others’ understanding of English and reading, and I feel like she has very much prepared us for high school, college, and beyond.”
Emma Johnson, current student 

“Mrs. West is always in a good mood no matter what. She always has a smile on every day. Mrs. West constantly strives to make sure every student gets the education they need and gives everyone enough time to complete any assignments. She is always focusing on the mental health of the students and worries about how each student feels. Every day at the start of class, she asks us how our day is going, as a way to ‘wind down’ as it comes toward the end of the day. She gave me great advice that I still keep with me today. She told me, ‘Separate yourself from people who put you down.’”
Gloria Ayilisungu, current student


Maureen TepenMaureen Tepen
St. Mary School, Brussels
Third/fourth-grade teacher, fifth/sixth-grade language arts teacher

“Mrs. Tepen exemplifies the ideal Catholic school teacher. She instills a love of God in all her students and her reach extends to each child’s entire family. She teaches with joy, love, and understanding. From the moment I saw in her parent orientation, I was in awe of her passion. She read the Starfish Poem, highlighting how small acts can make a big difference. In a world where it is easy to be distracted on what is important, Mrs. Tepen is focused on her faith and leads by example for all her students.

“One of the most impactful aspects of Mrs. Tepen’s teaching is her handwritten notes for each student. During parent-teacher conferences, she presented a three-page written letter highlighting my child’s strengths in the most beautiful words. She eloquently included areas my daughter needed to work on but made sure to express that all children have different talents, all children are not on their best behavior every day, and through all of it, God loves them. 

“Mrs. Tepen has been a teacher at St. Mary School for more than 20 years. Without a doubt, she has made a positive difference for every child blessed enough to be part of her classroom.”
Renee Rose, parent of student

“Mrs. Tepen will do anything for her students. She got to share the miracle of being a grandmother with all of us, her students. She is very dedicated to being Christlike and holy. She loves God with all her heart. She is really sweet and an amazing teacher. At Lent, she hand- makes boxes for students to put money in for the missions. She inspires me to be the best version of myself. She helps us all to love God, learn about God, and spread the Gospel. She loves anything Christlike.”
Conley Klocke, current student


Diane Keller HeadshotDiane Keller
Our Lady of Lourdes School, Decatur
Religion teacher (grades 3, 5, 6, 7, 8)

“Mrs. Keller organized over 60 students and led them during the March for Life. She spent hours during the weeks before explaining and teaching our Catholic belief that all life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death. She walked alongside the students. I’ve always likened her to our very own St. Mother Teresa. Finally, Mrs. Keller makes every student feel loved. I’ve seen her wrap her arm around the shoulder of a student and say, ‘I love you,’ and “I hear you.’ You cannot be in her presence and not feel joy!”
Elizabeth Wherly, parent of a student 

“Mrs. Keller has been a pillar of Catholic education in Decatur for many years now. She taught for 25 years at St. Teresa Catholic High School, and everyone I’ve met who has had Mrs. Keller as a teacher loves and respects her greatly. With her at Our Lady of Lourdes, I watch the way her students interact with her, and I’m so impressed. She has their affection, their attention, and their utmost respect. When I’m in her classroom, I watch as student after student come in to give her a hug or tell her ‘Good morning.’ They truly love her — and she takes a vested interest in every aspect of their life. When they need to be loved and healed from the difficulties of young adolescence, Mrs. Keller is there. When they need to be challenged to rise to a better version of themselves, she is there.

“As a religion teacher, she is not teaching them — she is modeling for them what true discipleship is. I see this especially when Mrs. Keller has to challenge them to love and respect each other more. She simply does not shy away from the difficult conversations, but the way in which she addresses them with love and sympathy is unparalleled in my experience. I’m truly grateful to have her as a teacher at my school! I enjoy seeing her love for the students, and it’s a privilege to see the care and generosity that she has reached now with a second generation of students in Decatur.”
Father Michael Friedel, pastor

By DIANE SCHLINDWEIN
|Managing Editor

On Wednesday, May 4, priests from around the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois will gather at Villa Marie Retreat Center on Lake Springfield for a day of celebration. That day they will hear from special guest and speaker Bishop Michael McGovern, of Belleville. Additionally, they will take part in Evening Prayer, a social hour, and a dinner, after which Bishop Thomas John Paprocki and the priests will honor several priests who are celebrating Jubilees this year. Those priests include Father Louis Schlangen and Father Henry Schmidt, who are celebrating 65 years; Father Philip Kraft, Father Jerry Wickenhauser, MM, and Father Joseph Zimmerman, OFM, who are celebrating 60 years; as well as these priests who are celebrating 50 years or 25 years of priesthood: 

Beveridge JohnFather John Beveridge
50 Years

Springfield native Father John Beveridge grew up in the see city, where he, his parents and his siblings were members of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish. He attended Ss. Peter and Paul Grade School and then graduated from Griffin High School in 1964. He began his studies for the priesthood at the Diocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception on Lake Springfield and attended St. John’s Seminary in Little Rock, Ark., before continuing his studies at Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Quincy, and then completing his training at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis. On May 27, 1972, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop William A. O’Connor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. 

Over the last 50 years, Father Beveridge has held a number of assignments. He was an assistant at St. Paul in Highland from 1972 to 1976, at St. Anthony in Effingham from 1976 to 1980, at Our Lady of Lourdes in Decatur in 1980, and at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield from 1980 to 1984. In 1980 he was also a pastoral consultant in the Catholic Education Office.

He was named parochial administrator of St. John the Baptist in Quincy in 1984, before being named pastor there that same year. He remained pastor at that parish until 1999. He was also pastor of St. Brigid in Liberty and St. Thomas the Apostle in Camp Point from 1991 to 1994. He was dean of the Quincy Deanery from 1996 to 1999. In 1999, Father Beveridge was for a brief time parochial administrator of All Saints in Quincy. In 1999 he also began his longest assignment when he was named pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul in Collinsville, where he has been serving for almost half of his priestly life.

“It is a very humbling experience to look over all these years and realize how quickly they have gone,” Father Beveridge said. “There are many challenges, yet the Lord is always there, healing and strengthening for the mission that needs to be done. Each year has been a blessing whether it held a challenge, a question, or sheer joy and happiness.”

He says the Eucharist is his greatest joy. “It is the Easter celebration all over again. To share in that same Eucharist that has taken place over these many centuries brings me to my knees. He loves us with such a deep love, despite our weaknesses and sinfulness.”

Developing ministries, identifying gifts, and helping people use them for the good of the community is one of the most important parts of being a pastor, he said. Through it all, his parishioners have “embodied God’s love in an extraordinary way.” “May God bless them for their love, prayers and support over these many years,” he said.

On July 1, Father Beveridge will be assigned as pastor emeritus of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Collinsville.


Chiola RichardFather Richard Chiola
50 Years

Another Springfield native, Father Richard Chiola, was ordained by Bishop William A. O’Connor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on May 27, 1972.

Looking back, Father Chiola says he was blessed to grow up surrounded with family and friends “who knew Jesus, went to church, and prayed.” He especially credits his late mother, Faye Chiola, for helping him discover his vocation. 

His first assignments were as associate pastor of St. Thomas in Decatur, St. Agnes in Springfield, and St. Bernard in Wood River. From 1984 to 1988 he was parochial administrator and then pastor of St. Louis in Nokomis and St. Barbara in Witt. 

“I remember after seminary I felt the need to continue my study of theology, so that I could explain our Catholic faith more clearly. Study and prayer kept me close to God. I did my postgraduate studies while I worked in parishes,” he said. He says the Ignatian Exercises, the 30-day retreat, was “formative of my prayer and practice of spiritual direction … .” 

Father Chiola has a Ph.D. in historical theology and a master’s in human development counseling, is a licensed professional counselor and certified sexual addiction therapist, worked in the Tribunal, and has taught at various universities. He worked with the Franciscan Hospital Sisters on integrating the Catholic healthcare mission in their hospital system.  For more than a decade he was a therapist and spent a few years teaching doctors how to become psychiatrists at SIU School of Medicine. Additionally, he has authored a book and served for a decade on the U.S. Catholic China Bureau’s Board of Trustees. He also gave retreats and workshops with the Missionaries of Charity in Central and South America. 

After many years teaching and serving in other areas, Father Chiola returned to the Springfield diocese. “When my father was dying in 2000, I moved back to the diocese until retirement,” he said. He was diocesan director for the ongoing formation of clergy for six years and the delegate for clergy health and wellness for three years. He was parochial vicar at Blessed Sacrament in Springfield, at St. Agnes in Springfield, parochial administrator of St. Augustine in Ashland, and finally pastor at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Springfield from 2004 to 2015, when he became pastor emeritus at that parish. He also served as parochial administrator at St. Joseph the Worker in Chatham in 2016. 

Father Chiola is currently writing another book, continues to work as a spiritual director, assists in parishes as needed, and sometimes gives retreats and workshops in various dioceses and to religious women. “Next fall, I will teach a course in pastoral care at Aquinas Institute, a Dominican graduate school of theology in St. Louis. And this summer I will conduct a reading course for a priest from a Chinese seminary,” he said.

Looking back on the priesthood, Father Chiola surmises that he emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus, and prayer. “There is one thing that cannot be avoided, that is suffering. Priesthood is not a career but a sharing of fullness of what the Spirit of God is doing in you. You will only be as compassionate toward God’s people as you are aware of God’s compassion toward you.” 


Nellikunnel George PhilipFather George Nellikunnel
25 Years

Father George Nellikunnel was born into a traditional Catholic family in India and entered the seminary as a teenager in 1984. He was ordained a priest on April 30, 1997.  “My parents were farmers, and I am the third in line of seven children,” he said. “My sisters and a niece are religious sisters.” 

During his earlier years as a priest, Father Nellikunnel served in a variety of places, often with youngsters. “I have participated in the International Catholic Agriculture Rural Youth Movement with my training in Germany and Sri Lanka. I have participated in the World Catholic Youth Day in Germany and Asian Catholic Youth Day in Hong Kong and in India, also worked for six years as a regional youth director in rural areas of Western and Central India and organized national and regional youth conventions for 16 dioceses. 

“I was very active with many youth groups and organizations in India,” he said. “I served as a pastor, manager, and principal of a school in Delhi for three years and then continued to work in the African land of Zambia as a pastor.” 

Having worked in the African mission areas of Zambia, Father Nellikunnel was asked to discern work in the United States and to support the Zambia mission. “Then the Springfield diocese needed priests and I was asked to come and minister to the diocese,” he says. He came to work at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, where he served as chaplain from 2014 to 2019. He has also been in various parishes, serving as pastor of St. John Vianney in Sherman from 2015 to 2021, Holy Family in Athens from 2019 to 2021, and at St. Aloysius and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, both in Springfield, from 2021 to the present time. Before COVID, he was able to visit his family in his home country once a year. 

 Although he was incardinated with the Pallotine Fathers and Brothers, he is now ad experimentum in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.  “What I like here is the vibrant Catholic communities, rooted in Jesus Christ with the spirit of joy and collaboration and sharing Jesus through Eucharistic celebration,” he said. “The favorite aspect of my priesthood is the celebration of the Eucharist. Every priest is called to be a eucharistic priest. Without priests there is no Eucharist and without Eucharist there is no salvation.” 

Father Nellikunnel says the sacrament of confession is also especially important. “Another favorite sacrament for me as a priest is confession, because I have found unconventional mercy of God in it,” he said. “If I am merciful to others in my ministry and teaching, it is because I have been shown great mercy. Confession has proven to be the reminder of my own weakness and need for the mercy of God to live well this earthly life.” 

When a young man believes he has a vocation to the priesthood, Father Nellikunnel suggests “praying well to make the right decision” and “trusting in the Lord and His plan.” “It is not your desire, but God’s call and you need to make lots of sacrifices to follow the path of Jesus,” he said. “Attend daily Mass and pray the holy rosary. The Blessed Mother will inspire you and guide you to take the right choice.” 


Schulte MarkFather Mark Schulte
25 Years

Father Mark Schulte was ordained May 24, 1997, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. Prior to becoming a priest, he was in the Army, where he was a skydiver and paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. He then received a degree in agronomics (crop science) and worked as a production manager for various tree and shrub nursing productions. However, his vocation to the priesthood was with him for years, he says. 

“I was ordained a priest at the age of 45. But the calling to priesthood started long before that,” he said. “There was no particular event that influenced me to be a priest, but many smaller things along the way, such as a strong Catholic family life while growing up, being an altar boy, praying the rosary, devotion to the Blessed Mother, and reading Catholic devotional books.” 

Father Schulte’s first assignment was as parochial vicar at St. Agnes in Springfield. While serving there he also spent a year as chaplain for the University of Illinois at Springfield. From 2001 to 2005, he as pastor of St. Bernard in Wood River, and also spent 2004 to 2005 leading St. Matthew in Alton. He returned to Springfield from 2005 to 2010 and was pastor of St. Aloysius. Since 2010, he has been pastor of St. Mary in Pittsfield and St. Mark in Winchester. 

“Every parish is unique in its own way, whether it is a larger parish with a school, or a small-town parish,” he said. “My favorite aspect of being a priest is having the opportunity to minister to people in various stages of their life, but most importantly, having the opportunity to celebrate the sacraments — especially that of the holy sacrifice of the Mass. My favorite sacrament is the holy Eucharist. The mystery of the holy Eucharist, celebrating the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is all-encompassing.”

When he isn’t serving his parishioners, Father Schulte likes to spend his time outdoors. He once walked 85 miles raising money to fund a new altar during a renovation project for his church in Pittsfield. “I continue to walk the neighborhood for exercise, but I still hike through the woods and hill country. Walking is an excellent way to pray and meditate. 

“I do like to grow things in a garden and in the flower beds,” he said. “My background is in agriculture for the most part. But I also love to read, hunt, fish, and just generally spend time in the outdoors. I have always found it easy to encounter God in His creation; in the mountains, along the river, in the woods and walking in a beautiful field.” 

Father Schulte says that the past 25 years as a priest “have been very rewarding” and adds, “Any man who thinks he has a vocation to the priesthood should pursue it.” 

04 17 2022 effingham Fr Michal and Fr Marcin ukraine donations 2Sacred Heart, Effingham pastor Father Michal Rosa (left) stands with his friend Father Marcin Kokoszka from the Diocese of Tarnov in Poland. They are shown with a collection box used for donations to assist the Ukrainians who have fled their war-torn country and taken refuge in Poland. By DIANE SCHLINDWEIN
Managing Editor

EFFINGHAM — When Father Michal Rosa, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Effingham, first heard of the Russian attacks on Ukraine — and the plight of the people fleeing their home country for Poland — he was naturally concerned. His parishioners, knowing their pastor had grown up and was ordained in Poland, were especially eager to help the refugees and asked Father Rosa what they could do. Of course, he first requested that they pray. 

However, in March “after much consideration and prayer” Father Rosa decided to reach out to his friend, Father Marcin Kokoszka, to see if the Effingham parishioners could also help financially.  As luck would have it, Father Kokoszka had already planned to travel to see Father Rosa in Effingham, so the two friends went ahead with their visit. Together they also met with Bishop Thomas John Paprocki at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. 

Father Rosa says he knew Father Kokoszka, who lives in Poland two and a half hours from the border of Ukraine, would know what to do. Moreover, Father Kokoszka, who is the economist for the Diocese of Tarnov, has personally been actively involved in helping Ukrainian refugees.

Father Kokoszka agreed that if money was collected, he would ensure the funds were used to help the people in need. By the time Father Kokoszka completed his visit to the Springfield diocese and was set to return home, Sacred Heart parishioners had already donated close to $31,000. That money was carried to Poland by Father Kokoszka. Since that time the parish has collected nearly $8,400 more, with donations still coming in, from Sacred Heart parishioners and some others as well. 

“Growing up in Poland, Ukraine is Poland’s neighbor, three hours away from my parent’s house,” Father Rosa said. “So I am familiar with the areas that are now in the middle of the conflict. And I am in regular contact with my family, especially my parents, in Poland. The great openness of the hearts of the Polish people is being shown right now through their assistance to Ukraine people. And I know many priests with the Diocese of Tarnow. They are actively helping refugees every day.

“As for the people of my parish, they came to me and asked what they could do, and this was one way we could help right away, because we had a direct connection,” Father Rosa said.  “I am very happy that the people here were so generous.” 

Submitted photo 

04 17 2022 Paprocki LIFErunner award

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD — There are 19,281 LIFE Runners in 3,201 cities across 41 nations, and it was Bishop Thomas John Paprocki who received the LIFE Runners 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award at the LIFE Runners annual banquet in Omaha, Neb., March 25. LIFE Runners is the largest pro-Life team of runners who wear the "REMEMBER The Unborn" jersey.

Founded in 2008 by Patrick Castle after he said he had “an encounter with St. Padre Pio,” Bishop Paprocki has been the national chaplain for the group since 2011 and was also the recipient of the first LIFE Runner Man of the Year Award (2011). 

“Bishop Paprocki is a bold Catholic shepherd for the Gospel of Life,” said Castle, who is also president of LIFE Runners. “He inspires our team, leading by example at our national events. At our annual national race and the annual A-Cross America Relay finish line, he leads prayer at the local abortion facility. Bishop Paprocki is heroically pro-life. He is truly all in Christ for pro-life!”   

One can join LIFE Runners by registering for monthly updates, order a "REMEMBER The Unborn" jersey to wear as a public witness, and have a committed faith. Running is optional. Go to  liferunners.org/join.

In this photo, Bishop Paprocki speaks at the annual banquet in Omaha on March 25.

Submitted photo

Page 1 of 10