Diocesan Administrator Account

Monday, 13 September 2021 13:15

Longtime catechist finds joy in teaching

09 19 2021 Sr. Christina Frick teaching 3By Diane Schlindwein
Managing Editor

TEUTOPOLIS — At 81 years old, Sister Christina Marie Frick, SSND, continues to find joy in teaching young children — and she has been teaching so long that many of her original students now have children and grandchildren of their own. In retirement she continues to share the Catholic faith with PSR students at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Teutopolis.

Sister Christina Marie was born in St. Louis and grew up being influenced by women of the order she eventually joined. She attended St. Wenceslaus Grade School, which was taught by School Sisters of Notre Dame. She went on to attend Rosati-Kain High School, an all-girls Catholic high school that was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

Like many at the time, her vocation came at an early age. “After graduation I went right into the motherhouse in St. Louis,” she remembers. She made her first profession as a School Sister of Notre Dame in 1960. She has devoted her decades of active ministry to teaching primary grade school students across both the Springfield and Belleville dioceses.

From 1962 to 1970 she taught at St. Paul Grade School in Highland, followed by three years at St. Dominic in Breese. She then moved to Herrin, where she served for four years at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. She then moved to Teutopolis, where she remains today.

Although she officially retired from teaching full-time at Teutopolis Grade School a few years back, she reports two days a week to spend 40 minutes teaching religion to children who attend public school in Teutopolis.

09 19 2021 Sr. Christina Frick teaching 6Sister Christina Marie calls Teutopolis “a very Catholic town.” There was a time when four School Sisters of Notre Dame taught full-time for various grades at the public school. Sister Christina Marie was the last of those sisters to retire. By that time, she was well into her 70s.

“I had a classroom at the school here from 1977 to 2017, and I taught every day,” she said. “Since I’ve retired, I volunteer two mornings a week.” She volunteers at other places, too, she added. 

Students who attend Sister Christina Marie’s class — as well as religion classes taught by other volunteers — begin religion class at 8 a.m. and spend time learning about their faith before their other school classes begin. Sister Christina Marie teaches on Thursdays and Fridays during the school year.

Children who are about 7 or 8 years old are a blessing to teach, Sister Christina Marie said. “They are so innocent, and they are ready to learn, their minds are wonderful.  They aren’t babies but they are not sophisticated just yet.  They are just a special age.

“I thank God for the blessings that Notre Dame has given me in ministry and living in community with SSND. Also, for the joy of preparing children to receive first Communion and first reconciliation,” she concluded.  “I am just so glad to have been a teacher all these years. I really have loved it.”

- Andrew in Springfield

Given the fact that access to gambling has drastically increased in many locations in the last few years, a frequent question being asked is, “Is it a sin to gamble?” The Catholic Church provides a good guideline for this question in Paragraph 2413 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement.”

What this means is that gambling in and of itself is neither good nor evil, it is a moral neutral like money itself is. Money is neither good nor evil but can be used for good purposes or evil purposes. The same goes for gambling. The circumstances around it determine when it becomes problematic or even sinful. 

For example, gambling runs the risk of becoming addicted to the activity and that is where real problems can occur. If someone begins gambling so frequently, or even sporadically, but it begins to have a negative effect on their relationships, finances, or responsibilities at home or work, then extreme caution should be taken. 

Gambling should be viewed as entertainment, in the sense that money spent toward it should not be money that is needed for bills, family needs, or other responsibilities. Just like we may spend money to purchase a ticket to a sports game or a movie, we are paying for something that may entertain us for a given time period, but one should always approach it with the expectation that once that money is paid, it is gone. Of course, with gambling there is always a chance that we may win something, but over the course of time, and especially when gambling frequently, one will most likely lose money.  

That is why no one should approach gambling as a quick way to make money, and risk money they do not have to spend. Nor is it prudent to continue to gamble to attempt to win back what we have lost, especially when doing so requires risking even more money than is budgeted for other responsibilities.  

If gambling starts to cause a strain in our relationships with a spouse, parents, children, or other family members and friends, we should stop, objectively look at the situation, and ask ourselves, “Why is this causing strain? Am I neglecting my responsibility at home, work, or toward my family, friends, church, or community because of my gambling?”  

One thing is certain, the availability and temptation to gamble is very prevalent in today’s society. Gaming machines are found at numerous restaurants, bars, even gas stations. The internet provides numerous sites and phone apps for online sports betting, online casinos, and even online lottery tickets. Internet betting can be a cause of other concerns as well because some of those websites are scams that are designed to steal your money with no way to get it back. Gambling on anything that is morally evil presents its own set of problems as well and should always be avoided. 

Even things like raffles, bingo, and other fundraisers, where we purchase a ticket or chance to win a bigger prize are a form of gambling, even though most times churches or community organizations may use the proceeds from those things to donate toward a charitable cause or institution. 

To reiterate, gambling in and of itself is not good or evil. It all depends upon the circumstances and the consequences it has in our lives, families, and upon our responsibilities. If we gamble, it is best to use moderation, and to treat it as entertainment without the expectation of winning. If we notice signs of addiction when we gamble, or our family members or friends do, take notice, use caution, and seek help so it doesn’t become something that controls and negatively affects our lives. The National Problem Gambling Helpline is 1 (800) 522-4700.

Father Marty Smith is pastor at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Jerseyville and St. Patrick Parish in Grafton and is an associate vocations director for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.


Quincy students pack riceStudents from St. Peter’s School in Quincy work, packing rice meals for those suffering after the earthquake in Haiti.  Submitted photoIt was an ordinary morning on Aug. 14 in Haiti when the earth started to shake. As the shaking intensified, homes and buildings started to collapse, screams for help echoed in the streets, and within minutes, tens of thousands of people’s lives were left in ruins. The 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated the country. First, in the death toll — more than 2,000. Also, in what the earthquake left behind — rubble, chaos, and hopelessness.

Shelly Sands, a teacher at Marquette Catholic High School in Alton who also runs Missions International, a Highland based nonprofit organization that has been performing missionary work for over 30 years in the Caribbean and Central and Latin Americas, saw the images from Haiti and knew she had to help. Missions International has a “sister parish” program that involves connecting Catholic parishes in Guatemala and Haiti with "sister parishes" in the United States who then provide spiritual and financial assistance to their sister parish. Sands’ home parish, St. Paul in Highland, has a sister parish in Haiti. 

“After hearing of the earthquake, I checked on our pastor there, Msgr. Victesse and our sister parish, St. Charles Borromeo (in Haiti),” Sands said. “Haiti has been through so much lately with kidnappings, their president being assassinated, tropical storms, and the earthquake. When his reply was that they were scared and hungry, my heart broke. We had to do something!”

So, Sands put our Catholic faith into action. Sands requested rice meals from the organization Feeding Children Worldwide to have them deliver food to the Knights of Columbus in Highland and Quincy University. Then, on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 246 faith-filled volunteers from schools and parishes in our diocese spent hours packing all the food into boxes. In total, a whopping 18,360 servings of food were packed. From there, a team took the boxes to Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach in Springfield, who then delivered everything to Haiti. 

“Working on the Haiti project, I felt like I got closer to God because I was doing what he wants you to do to serve others,” said Isabelle Boudreau, a student at St. Peter School in Quincy. 

Highland stduents pack riceStudents at St. Paul School in Highland joined other Catholics from parishes in the area, helping pack rice meals for those in need in Haiti.  Submitted photo“It felt very good to do the rice project for those in Haiti affected by the earthquake,” said Sophia Baragree, a student at St. Peter School in Quincy. “Doing something for someone else less fortunate helps us feel closer to God.”

The entire operation, which had to come together quickly due to the dire nature the Haitian people are in, was a testament to putting our faith in action.  In all, 156 volunteers worked for six hours packing food supplies in Quincy. Parishes represented included Blessed Sacrament and the Church of St. Peter, both in Quincy; students, teachers, and parents from St. Peter School, Quincy Notre Dame High School, and Quincy University; and volunteers from St. Thomas Parish in Camp Point made the trip. 

In Madison County, 90 volunteers worked for three hours packing supplies. Parishes represented included St. Paul in Highland, St. Lawrence in Greenville, St. Jerome in Troy, St. Elizabeth in Marine, St. Gertrude in Grantfork, Mother of Perpetual Help in Maryville, St. Boniface in Edwardsville, Immaculate Conception in Columbia, and Our Lady Queen of Peace in Belleville. Students from St. Paul School in Highland were also part of the action.

Helping the people of the Caribbean is nothing new for these Catholics as most of the parishes involved in this emergency food effort have sister parishes in Haiti and Guatemala they help on a yearly basis already. What was different was the speed involved and the helping response from so many in making this effort happen.

“Packing rice meals is not something Missions International normally does,” Sands said. “If a country is not in crisis mode and we send free food, then the local farmers are hurt. It is important to walk with our brothers and sisters and understand the culture. I knew in my heart that this time the food was needed.”


Brendan20Daly20320credit20chiefsPhoto courtesy of chiefs.comDan Marino. Barry Sanders. Dick Butkus. Paul Brown. Marty Schottenheimer. Those are just some names of National Football League (NFL) greats to have never won a Superbowl. Winning just once on the sport’s biggest stage perhaps the biggest stage in the world is a moment every player and coach dreams about.

For Brendan Daly, the Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, he has lived that dream four times.

But getting to the big stage comes with a price. Moving constantly, long hours, working weekends, high stress, and not as much time with family and friends is what Daly has endured since he started coaching in the late 90s. So, how does the Springfield native who attended Christ the King School and Sacred Heart-Griffin High School (1993 graduate) in Springfield deal with the high pressure to win, long time commitments at work, and the constant uncertainty of his future that comes with coaching in the NFL? Leaning on and living our Catholic faith is his answer. 

Catholic Times editor Andrew Hansen interviewed Daly to talk faith, family, and football.

Let’s start first with your time growing up in Springfield and attending Catholic schools. What was your experience like?

It was a tremendous experience for me. I have a lot of fond memories of both of those places (Christ the King School and Sacred Heart-Griffin High School) and lifelong friendships for sure. Those places for me were very special not only for the people I was with in terms of classmates, but some great teachers, some great communities in terms of parents and the values and principles that were instilled in me during those years. Some of my friends have kids at those schools now so it’s interesting to see that dynamic unfold from a distance. 

What did you learn from Catholic education that has helped you in your NFL coaching career and vocation as a husband and father?

 It has been a foundation for who I am. It taught me to put others before myself. It definitely gave me an appreciation for the differences in other people and the will-

ingness to accept other opinions and other cultures and other views. That is probably the biggest thing I have taken from it. Those are things that have served me well. I try to put that into practice with own kids and with my professional life and my personal life and how I live day to day.

Brendan Daly credit chiefsPhoto courtesy of chiefs.comYou have coached at colleges such as Drake, Maryland, Oklahoma State, and Illinois State, and then in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, the then St. Louis Rams, New England Patriots, and now the Kansas City Chiefs. You have certainly had to “keep the faith” as you moved around and up the coaching ranks. How have you leaned on our Catholic faith during what I am sure were plenty of ups and downs and moving to different time zones so frequently?

There have been a lot of moments of euphoric in terms of highs and very disappointments in terms of lows. Trust in God. Trust that He has a plan for us. Trusting that ultimately, I don’t have control over this whole process. There are certain things you can control but being able to let go of things that you don’t necessarily have control over. That faith, that Catholic upbringing certainly comes into play in a lot of those instances. 

I would also say, some of the career decisions I have had to make, and they are not in a negative way as I have been extremely fortunate, but they have been difficult decisions, there has been a lot of prayer there. There has been a lot of prayerful moments in terms of trying to navigate through those decision-making processes. I have always prayed that I would have the open mindedness to accept whatever God’s plan has for me and my family. It has certainly been a journey, not a destination, which I think that is what life is. Certainly, the faith that I have from a Catholic standpoint, I have had to put into play from a navigating life standpoint.  

Your vocation as a husband and father is at the top on your list. You and your wife, Keely, are blessed with three children, one son and two daughters. But the life of an NFL coach is busy and stressful. How do you and your wife make it all work and how do you balance time with your children?

That is definitely a challenge and Keely, my wife, is kind of the glue of our family and holds things together. She does an unbelievable job. I wouldn’t be able to have the career that I have without her and the way she handles our family. That is the first thing. But we do the best we can. I would say, we try to be where we are. When I am at work, I am at work. When I am home, I try to be fully present when I am at home and engaged with the kids. I try to coach their sports teams whenever possible. I coached softball this past spring. I have coached baseball and basketball throughout my son’s athletic endeavors, and I love doing that. We try to carve out time that is special to our family and where we are turning off screens, and we’re going on day trips or adventures or doing things with all five of us together. Those are special times. We all enjoy those moments.  

Brendan20Daly20with20brother20Tim20and20sister20Maura20on20first20day20of20school20at20CTK204th20gradeBrendan Daly, (left) with his sister Maura and brother Tim, attended Christ the King School in Springfield.Sunday — the big day of the week for Catholics — going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist. During the season, NFL games are mostly on Sundays. How do you practice our Catholic faith on those game weekends?

One of the things I have appreciated is, and it has been the case in every NFL team I have been with, whenever we are playing, typically, the evening before the game, there is both a chapel and a Mass that is available to the players, coaches, and support staff. Everyone who is in the travel party. I have always been a regular participant at those. It has been a fun experience in terms of getting to know a number of priests in the various teams and cities I have worked in, but then also as you travel on the road and you are in a hotel somewhere, it’s usually a priest from one of the parishes there that you get to know. So, I have had the privilege of getting to know a lot of different priests and going to a lot of different Masses. I have enjoyed that experience.

So that is day before. The day of the game, we do typically pray in the locker room before and after the game, which I struggle with at times because certainly not everyone in that locker room is Christian, but the aspect of prayer is definitely respected, and I participate in. Some guys choose not to, and that’s fine. But that is one of the things the Catholic faith has taught me — to be able to respect those individuals and the fact they view things differently. 

What is the biggest challenge of a career in coaching, especially the NFL?

There have been many. The constant challenge is getting each individual to put the needs of the team first before their own goals and agendas. That is a constant battle in our society. I don’t think that is unique to my line of work or the NFL. But that is a challenge on a daily basis. It’s one that I enjoy working on. There is nothing more fulfilling than getting a group of people to buy into something that is bigger than them. A greater cause. My Catholic faith has definitely centered me and grounded me in that regard. Humbling yourself and believing in something bigger than you for sure.   

You have won four Super Bowls. Three with the New England Patriots, one with the Chiefs. Most would do practically anything for just one. What is the feeling?

It has been a privilege for sure. I have enjoyed it. It has been a fantastic run. It’s a wonderful feeling when accomplishing that goal. Some of the best moments of my life have been after winning the Superbowl and having my wife and three kids come and run out on the field and join me. That feeling is something I have not been able to replicate.

You still have family in Springfield. How often do you come back to your native city and what are some of the staples you have to do while here?

I love getting back to Springfield. The food. I mean some of the restaurants and places I miss so much. I miss horseshoes, Maid-Right, the pizza places in Springfield I love. I almost always go to SHG and visit with the coaches there, many of whom are still there from when I played. I enjoy meeting with the players who are currently there. Those have been some fun relationships I have built over the years. Washington Park is favorite of mine. I love taking my kids to the playground there, bike rides, and just hanging out with family.  

Who has inspired you the most when it comes to our Catholic faith?

My grandmother (Josephine) and my mother (Anne). That’s kind of where my core roots of my faith originated. They were my first inspiration and mentors. I have had a great family background. Catholic faith and Catholic education have served my family extremely well. I have had some great teachers along the way. Msgr. David Lantz, who was at Christ the King (now at St. Mary in Taylorville) and then taught at SHG, was a tremendous mentor. There have been some very special ones.   

Brendan20Daly20Freshman20year20at20SHGBrendan Daly during his freshman year at SHG.We saw last year Philip Rivers, a former NFL quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers, in his retirement statement mention our Catholic faith and St. Sebastian, as he is the patron saint of athletes. Do you have a favorite saint you turn for help?

I would say I turn to my namesakes. My first name, Brendan, is after St. Brendan, an Irish saint who was a sailor and came to American long before Columbus. And St. Patrick. My middle name is Patrick. Those have been two key ones for me. All the way through my life simply because of my name.  

What is your advice for young athletes today?

My first advice is to simply enjoy the opportunities. Enjoy your youth. Enjoy your ability to be involved in athletics. I would say, don’t turn it into a job. Limit the specialization. Play multiple sports and don’t allow adults to screw it up for you. I think our society has turned to the constant pressure to succeed, gain an advantage, and year-round specialization and club sports. I honestly would like to see kids play everything and enjoy it. Just go to the park and play.  

Quotes taken and edited from an interview Brendan Daly did with Andrew Hansen on Dive Deep, the official podcast of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, that aired on Sept. 3. To hear more from Daly’s interview, go to to listen and subscribe.

FSGM crash 2

Special to Catholic Times

The song It is Well with my Soul was written by Horatio Spafford in the year 1873 amidst deep sorrow and tragedy in his life. In 1871, he had suffered the loss of a 4-year-old son to scarlet fever while at the same time losing a fortune during the great Chicago fire. In 1873, knowing that his family, now consisting of his wife and four daughters, needed a vacation, he sent them on a boat to England with the plan to meet up with them after closing up some business dealings. The boat carrying his beloved family was struck in a terrible collision, drowning his four daughters. After receiving a telegram from his surviving wife, he set sail to be with her in their collective grief. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean, he came upon the sight of his daughters’ graves below the sea. The lyrics of this famous song suddenly poured forth as a prayerful cry from his heart and thus became a hymn of surrender to God with trust and abandonment. It has long been my favorite Church hymn.

FSGM20crash201Sister M. Clementia Toalson, Sister M. Magdalene Diaz, and Sister M. Michael Redding are in good spirits as they continue to recover from the accident. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

As I lay in my hospital bed after a horrific car accident of June 9 on I-55 outside Springfield, I began having vivid flashbacks of the wreck. I could see the blood dripping from my hands, could feel my body at an awkward angle resting in agonizing pain on the dashboard, and could sense the urgency of my beating heart as I considered if the other sisters were alive. In the hospital, sleep became allusive to me, and my eyelids would shoot open in fear. Another sister, recognizing my sleepless state, asked if she could pray over me and with me. As she opened her Divine Office book to begin Night Prayer, she asked for a song I would like for her to sing. My troubled heart instinctively turned to It is Well with my Soul. Tears rolled down my cheeks as the musical notes descended upon me. With all that I had been through and with all that I knowingly would suffer in my recovery, I could honestly say, “It is well with my soul!” A sudden peace took over my debilitating fear as the Lord revealed to me his faithfulness and love in the midst of this tragic event. It was at that moment that I began journeying the path of abandonment, trust, and mercy.

Remembering the accident

Sister M. Magdalene, Sister M. Michael and I were heading to our motherhouse in Alton from our convent in Rock Island.(Editor’s note: they are all Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George.) We would be beginning our summer assignments and Sister M. Magdalene would be commencing a new apostolate in her transfer to Alton. Our van was packed with luggage and boxes.

FSGM20crash203The sisters’ vehicle was unrecognizable after the June 9 crash on I-55 outside of Springfield. Along I-55 outside of Springfield, traffic came to a sudden stop in a construction zone and our van was struck at seemingly high speed from behind, sending us into the two cars in front of us. Our van was later described as a crushed soda can or accordion. It was an accident scene in which any passerby would say to themselves, “There is no way anyone survived that.” All three of us blacked out upon the impact and my body was hurled, even with a seatbelt on, to an unexplainable position. The passenger seat I was occupying separated, breaking the back rest from the cushion. My legs were thrown on top of the dashboard and my head rested upon the seat cushion. Later I would discover how impossible — saving all things are possible with God — that my legs were not crushed under the front of the van. When I finally came to, I slowly lifted my hand, saw the blood, and realized I was injured. My next thought, which was clearly impelled by the Holy Spirit, was, “Stay calm. Don’t move.” This mantra repeated in my head, convincing myself that help was on the way.

True to His faithfulness, God immediately showed His love for his brides in sending us a bishop, priest, and seminarian who happened to be traveling through Illinois a few cars behind us. The first on the scene, they spoke to me from the broken window and discovered that we were religious sisters (our veils had flown off at impact). Soon I was anointed, and my hand was being held as I spoke to the priest, asking him questions in total coherence. I began to say, over and over again, “Jesus, I trust in you” as the paramedics and rescue teams arrived. Assessing the situation, they soon realized that my door would need to be pried open with the “jaws of life.”

My left leg was severely broken on the tibia and fibula, three of my left ribs were fractured and there were many unknowns at the time in regard to my spinal situation. Later, it would be discovered that the middle of my back was broken vertically at the jut-out of the vertebrae and another vertebrae was slipping forward. After quite a long time in the trauma room after our transport to HSHS St. John’s Hospital, I was given an Emergency Department room to await further tests. The arrival of the first sister to be with me, console me, and hold my hand brought about guttural sobs as everything I had endured hit me. As I lay in this vulnerable state, more sisters and family arrived, many calls were made, and I was surrounded in utter love.

Compassion in community

FSGM20crash204This picture of St. Joseph holding the baby Jesus was the only thing with glass that survived the accident fully intact. In December of last year, Pope Francis declared this year the Year of St. Joseph, which concludes on Dec. 8.Along with the appearance of the first sister to the emergency room, I have experienced a profound understanding of the beauty of my religious community throughout this time of physical and emotional suffering. After my hospital stay, I was transferred to the infirmary of our motherhouse in Alton to recover, heal, and begin physical therapy. As I settled into my new room the afternoon of my arrival, I was surrounded by nearly 30 sisters. Each one had tears in their eyes and had a look of relief washed over their faces.

At that moment, it struck me how the word “compassion” is true to its etymology: “to suffer with.” My sisters suffered through the agonizing unknowns of the accident, the anxious awaiting of any news, and the torment of hearing their sisters were being rescued through the jaws of life. They had to patiently endure the medical updates and the fear of losing one of their sisters. Though their suffering was not physical, it held deep weight emotionally and mentally. Their suffering has lessened my own suffering. I continue to feel that I am being held in a tender embrace by their compassion.

Over the last few months, I have had experienced sisters reach out to assist me in my needs, squashing the lie that I am a burden. Through my daily tasks of tying my shoes, taking care of my personal hygiene, getting my meals, attending medical appointments, going to faraway places in the convent in a wheelchair, and much more, my sisters have been instruments of great healing within my heart. It often happens that God sends to me a sister with whom I might have a previous grievance toward, healing the sin of unforgiveness that was eating away joy within my heart. Sisters have held me in their arms as I sobbed, strengthened me through their prayers, and have given me encouragement when fear settles in. I am so grateful to God for calling me to this community.

Learning abandonment, mercy, and trust

I have not once felt an animosity or bitterness toward the man who hit us. In fact, I have been deeply praying for him. More importantly, I have not once sensed that I have been abandoned by God in this great suffering. Before the accident, like many people, I carried within me a deep wound of abandonment. Through the various events encompassing my life, I struggled reconciling with a God who would allow such deep pain and woundedness. I held on to bitterness and resentment. I allowed my past to control my reactions, my anxiety, and my joy. The accident brought about in me a surrender of this control — I could do nothing to stop the pain but could only give God permission to draw good out of the situation. I saw His presence through every twist and turn and miracle of the wreck. I was not abandoned. I was loved and held. My wound of abandonment had turned into the virtue of abandonment — surrender — to the God who created me and sustains me.

Along with a true sense of abandonment has come a deeper understanding of mercy and trust. The charism of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George is to “make Christ’s merciful love visible.” The deepest and most profound expression of our charism is that of suffering. Coupling our charism with my religious name for Divine Mercy, Jesus has continually drawn me into the mystery of my most wounded parts. The reality of my namesake is that I am called to a deeper trust and intimacy with the Lord through suffering, be it either physical, mental and/or spiritual. Through years of coming to an understanding of the multiple reasons for God naming me for his greatest attribute, I have developed a personal definition of mercy:

Mercy is when my brokenness and sinful misery encounter God’s faithfulness and steadfast love so that we can have access to one another’s hearts through our wounds — me with His and His with mine — resulting in a mutual exchange of trust born as fruit.

Through the accident, I have been drawn into the mystery of His mercy. Jesus has beckoned me to snuggle into his wounded heart to find refuge and protection instead of embracing the lies of fear and abandonment. His pierced side pours out blood and water — the rays of his mercy — which in turn give radiating light that pierces through the suffering of my own wounds.

No wasted suffering

The Venerable Fulton Sheen (Peoria native) once said, “There is nothing more tragic in the world than wasted pain.” My first prayer while in the emergency trauma room was that I might “suffer well.” I have prayed for this grace throughout this post-accident time. Though I may never see the impact of the miracles that took place via the accident nor the fruits of my suffering, I trust that God is using it for His glory.

It is well with my soul in both joy and pain. It is well with my soul because I know that God, in His great mercy, has permitted this accident to draw bountiful goodness out of it. It is well with my soul because I know that Jesus Christ has allowed me to fall into his wounded side so that he may increase through my own suffering. I pray with the Venerable Fulton Sheen and say, “Here is my body, take it! Here is my soul, my will, my energy, my strength, my poverty, my wealth — ALL that I have. It is yours. Take it! Consecrate it! Offer it! Offer it to the heavenly Father with Yourself, in order that He, looking down on this great sacrifice, may see only You, His Beloved Son in whom He is well pleased.” 

Sister M. Clementia Toalson, FSGM, is in the congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton. She is a member of St. Pius X Church in Rock Island, and currently serves as a fourth-grade teacher at Jordan Catholic School.


For several priests and many parishioners growing a garden is just one way to enjoy God’s gifts over the spring, summer, and beyond. Whether the gardens are small or large, sometimes digging in the dirt, planting, weeding, and harvesting are great ways to relax, spend some time in prayer, or even burn off frustration.

Father Michael Meinhart, parochial vicar of St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville, says he is happy to get back to following in his family’s footsteps. “Growing up we always had a large garden. … It just seeps into your being when you grow up doing it,” he said. “When visiting my parents during the summers, I would often still help in the garden. 

“I tried my hand at container gardening a few summers while assigned at parishes during seminary, with varying degrees of success. Last year I tried putting out a small garden in the backyard before I moved in July 1, but it is hard to maintain a garden when you don’t live somewhere yet. This year was my first opportunity to put in a better and more extensive garden.”

4Father Meinhart’s garden contains strawberries, cucumbers, kale, onions, spinach, carrots, turnips, full-size tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green bell peppers, sweet corn, zucchini, yellow squash, watermelon, gourds, sweet potatoes, green beans, Asian cucumbers, and rhubarb.  “I’ve got marigolds and sunflowers throughout,” he said.

Gardening takes time and is worth the effort, but the priests say sometimes their parish schedules mean the plants must take a back seat. “It depends on the week for how much time I put into it,” said Father Meinhart. “I do it as a hobby, so if something doesn’t get done when it should — oh well!  Usually, I work on it on Mondays, my day off.”   

Father Allen Kemme, pastor of Little Flower Parish in Springfield, says he began gardening when he first became a pastor, about 20 years ago. “I gained interest in gardening from my dad.  He had a large garden in our backyard, and he taught me most of what I know about gardening,” he said. “I enjoy working in the garden, being outside and experiencing the fruits of my labor.” 

In his garden Father Kemme grows lettuce and radishes in the spring; green beans, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and potatoes in the summer; and sweet potatoes and honeydew in the fall. He says harvest time is his favorite part of gardening, while he doesn’t really enjoy pulling weeds “and keeping the critters out of my veggies!”

Father Kemme says pulling weeds does give him quiet time for reflection. “Most of my prayerful time comes when I am planting the seeds.  Usually early in the season the weather is pleasant, and planting is kind of an act of creation in itself,” he said and then added, “Sometimes when I am fed up with parish administration, etc., it is really good just dig in the dirt!” 

IMG 2698Father Mark Schulte, pastor of St. Mary in Pittsfield and St. Mark in Winchester, says gardening is “in his blood” as his maternal grandparents were gardeners by profession. Their company was called Frericks Gardens and Greenhouses in Quincy. As a boy, he helped with the family business and then rediscovered gardening again after college. He has small garden plots around the parish grounds, which are mingled among the flower beds. 

“I also operate a large garden with our Knights of Columbus Council on some ground that a parishioner generously lets us use,” Father Schulte said. “We grow most of the common vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas, cucumbers, onions, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, cabbage, melons, pumpkins, and peppers.  I started growing oak tree seedlings from acorns this year. I also grow a fairly large selection of perennial flowers and herbs.” 

Father Schulte says he doesn’t have a favorite part of gardening. “It’s all part of a whole. One thing is connected and dependent upon another,” he said. “It is organic just like our Catholic faith (CCC 18). But it is very gratifying watching God’s handiwork in the various plants. There really isn’t anything I don’t like about gardening, even the sweat and toil. I understand how it all goes together, like a piece of art or a fine piece of furniture. The work is simply part of the finished product.” 

Father Schulte says he is a big fan of “abundance.” “I can’t eat everything I grow,” he said. “Most of the produce goes to the Knights of Columbus vegetable stand where the proceeds go to charitable causes. The vegetable stand is on the parish parking lot and people come from all over town and even from some distance to support it.” 

Holy20FamilyAt Holy Family Parish in Granite City, parishioners began a community garden this year. “Through our community outreach program, we felt this would be a good way we could offer assistance to both our community and our parish family,” said Mary Wilkinson, who spearheaded the program. “We offer it as an extension of our food pantry.” 

The Holy Family garden sits next to the parish. “We are lucky, our parish has a parcel of land next to our parish grounds that we are able to use,” Wilkinson said. “Since this is our first year, we started with about eight people working on the project. We had workers preparing the land and building wooden garden boxes. Then we had the expertise of gardeners and workers to help maintain the garden. 

“The garden is available to our neighborhood and parish community,” she said. She said a parishioner, Ricky Smith, built a veggie stand that holds the produce. “Our first goal is to benefit those in need. But we also encourage our parishioners to get veggies because we do not want to see any go to waste.” 

Father Schulte says so much good comes out of gardening. In fact, he believes gardening is form of prayer in itself, “because work is a form of prayer and a fulfillment of God’s will.” “After the fall of Adam and Eve work was no longer an optional thing, but an essential part of fulfilling God’s will.” 

Gardening, and agriculture in general can play an integral part of his homily preparation, he says. “The Gospels are full of agricultural metaphors. … A man will do well to have some familiarity with the soil. Like the plants he cultivates, he will become part of it someday. Even the cemetery is a garden that should be maintained well.” 

As far as priests and gardening, Father Schulte sees a connection. “Gardening can be good training for the priesthood,” he said. “If a man is not willing to sweat and get his hands dirty, he is not likely to be a good candidate for the priesthood.” 

Wednesday, 01 September 2021 08:28

Hey, Father! What is privilege of the faith?

I always heard about the “privilege of [the] faith.” What is it and can it affect a divorced non-Catholic if they join the Church?

                 — Anonymous in the diocese


We keep in mind that Church authority can declare marriages null if one party to the marriage petitions and facts are presented proving nullity. There also exist dissolutions of marriage (we cannot begin to examine any such marriage until there has been a divorce).

For centuries, popes have dissolved marriages which were celebrated but never consummated. In the 20th century, American canon lawyers began to present to popes cases in which at least one party was certainly unbaptized for the duration of common life. They argued that if the pope can dissolve a sacramental marriage (both parties baptized) which has not been consummated, all the more can he allow dissolution of the so-called “natural bond” marriage — one in which at least one party was certainly an unbaptized person throughout the course of common life, and which is therefore, non-sacramental.

So began the granting of dissolutions of marriage “in favor of the faith.” This may refer only to the faith of the prospective Catholic spouse; an unbaptized party is not required to receive baptism. Such a dissolution is looked upon as a “privilege,” in contrast with the vindication of a proposed “right” to have a marriage declared null.

It is understood that this favor is granted personally by the pope. When we are between popes, these cannot be granted. We have to wait for a new pope.

The diocesan tribunal aids the petitioner in preparing a petition and the proving of the facts which must necessarily exist. The key fact is to prove that at least one party was an unbaptized person throughout the time that the parties lived together. We rely on witnesses. Parents are preferred witnesses, but other close relatives and people who have known a party a long time can so act. If the presumably unbaptized party ever attended a church, the tribunal asks that church whether there is a record of baptism. When the tribunal has gathered the necessary proofs, the file is sent to the Matrimonial Section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.

A panel of three judges at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) reviews the file and, if they find that the necessary facts have been proved, the petition goes directly to the pope. I have been told that CDF officials have a weekly audience with the pope for this purpose. When the pope approves, the tribunal receives a document reporting that the marriage can be dissolved. The pope does not himself dissolve the marriage; it is understood that the new marriage dissolves the previous one.

So, yes, this sort of case is one way for a divorced non-Catholic to enter a new marriage according to the law of the Catholic Church. 

Father Kevin Laughery, pastor of St. Jerome Parish in Troy and St. James Parish in St. Jacob, has been a judge of our diocesan tribunal since his priesthood ordination in 1983.

If you have a question for the Hey, Father! column, please send it to: Subject: Hey Father! Please include your first name and city.