Diocesan Administrator Account

1. PREPARATION: Before going to confession, take some time to prepare. Begin with prayer asking the Holy Spirit to shine His light into your heart. Ask that you can see yourself, and your life, since your last confession as He sees you. Then ask yourself whether you have — in your thoughts, words, and actions — neglected to live Christ’s commands to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:37, 39)? 

As a help with this examination of conscience, you might review the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes (Ex 20:2-17; Dt 5:6-21; Mt 5:3-10; or Lk 6:20-26). Or review an Examination of Conscience guide you can find online or on page 10 in this edition of Catholic Times. If you need to, you can jot down some notes to keep from forgetting anything that has surfaced during your examination but finish your examination either way with a prayer of gratitude to God and be at peace as you head to the confessional. When you enter the confessional, you can choose to say your confession behind the screen or face-to-face depending on whichever way will best allow you to encounter God’s mercy in the sacrament. 

2. GREETING: The priest might say words of welcome to you; he may say a short blessing or read a Scripture passage. More often than not, however, he will go right to step 

#3. THE SIGN OF THE CROSS: Together, you and the priest will make the Sign of the Cross. You may then begin your confession with these or similar words: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been [give days, months, or years] since my last confession.” Note, some priests may not say anything at all at the beginning. If that is the case, do not hesitate to begin with that and say “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been [give days, months, or years] since my last confession.” 

4. CONFESSION: Confess all your sins to the priest. Try to be as specific as possible. If you are unsure what to say, ask the priest for help and know that if he would like more clarity on something, he will gently ask you for more details. When you are finished, conclude with these or similar words: “I am sorry for these and all my sins.” Note, you can write down your sins on paper and read them if that helps you. However, after confession, you are to destroy the paper as soon as possible as these sins have been forgiven and are no longer part of your life. 

5. PENANCE: The priest may first counsel you on how to better live a Christian life and may ask you some questions. Then, he will offer to you some act of penance. It might be prayer, a work of mercy, or an act of charity. You will know this step because the priest will say, “For your penance … .” Just remember to do your act of penance! 

6. ACT OF CONTRITION: After the priest has given you your penance, he will ask you to pray an Act of Contrition out loud. A suggested Act of Contrition you can pray is below but know that you can also simply pray from your heart a prayer expressing sorrow for your sins and resolving to sin no more.  

“My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.” (Rite of Penance, no. 45) 

7. ABSOLUTION: The priest will extend his hands over your head and pronounce the words of absolution. He will say: 

“God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” You respond, “Amen.” 

8. PRAISE: The priest may then praise the mercy of God and will invite you to do the same. For example, the priest may say, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.” And your response would be, “His mercy endures forever” (Rite of Penance, no. 47). Note, some priests omit this, or may use another phrase to offer God thanks for His mercy. 

9. DISMISSAL: The priest will conclude the sacrament, often saying, “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.” You can thank the priest. 

10. PENANCE: After confession, spend time in quiet prayer in the church, especially if given a penance of prayer. Thank God for His unconditional love and forgiveness!

This list is reprinted with permission from the USCCB. See more information and resources about confession at

 My sophomore year of college, a fraternity buddy invited me to a retreat, and I begrudgingly said “yes.” I am really glad I went, because I went to confession for the first time in a long time. After confessing all my sins and by the grace of God holding nothing back, I remember a brief silence. Was the priest mad? Was he going to tell me I should leave the retreat? I still remember looking up and him smiling, then he said, “Burden lifted” and offered me penance and absolution. That encounter with God’s mercy changed the whole direction of my life. I wanted to get to know Jesus after that, and I wanted others to know him and His mercy. 

 Here are a few things I think we all need to be reminded of from time to time about going to confession: 

  1. Be direct and totally honest: You will not scandalize or startle a priest, no matter what you bring to the confessional. My favorite description of a priest is “God’s garbage man.” Name your sins specifically and tell the priest how many times they happened. You are good and created in God’s image, let the garbage man take care of the sins.
  2. The priest will never reveal your sins. Ever. Every Catholic priest is bound by what is called the seal of confession. He would go to jail or even give his life before he revealed anything said in confession. Under no circumstances is the seal permitted to be broken.
  3. Think of confession like a car wash. If you ever take your car through the mud, you get it to the wash right away. Or, if it has just been a while, it is still good to take it to the wash. If you believe yourself to be in a state of serious sin, be brave and go to confession right away. Or if it has been several months (or years!), it is still good to go and totally appropriate to bring smaller things as well, what are called venial sins. Just be sure to confess anything you know to be seriously sinful. 

God wants to offer us His mercy, He literally died to do so. Go to confession, do not worry about doing it perfectly. I try to go every couple weeks, and honestly, I still get nervous most the time, so I just take a deep breath and remember Father saying, “Burden lifted.”

Father Rob Johnson is pastor at Perpetual Help in Maryville, chaplain at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and associate director for the Office for Vocations for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

First, we look for God’s grace. As sin tends to shame us into silence and then convince us to quit the spiritual struggle altogether, that you acknowledge discouragement and ask for help prove God is already subverting the cycle of sin you mention. 

Second, it is vital we familiarize ourselves with our ascetic tradition. By closely reading the Scriptures and vigilantly observing the human person, the Church has developed means to accurately diagnose and interrupt the progress of temptation. 

For example, early Christian ascetics identified five progressive stages of evil as well as possible remedies to halt their advancement. Memorizing both the stages and their remedies will assist us immensely when tempted. They are: 

1. Suggestion: Our first contact with the image, fantasy, or urge to do evil always presents itself in a pleasing manner. We cannot rid ourselves of these fleeting thoughts, but we choose whether to let them pass by or to entertain them. Remedy: Ignore them. Busy yourself with something else and they will depart. “Keep your mind warm with holy thoughts,” counsels St. Ephraim. “If the soup is hot, the fly won’t land in it.”  

2. Conversation: But we do not always ignore them. Instead, we converse with the suggestion as Eve did with the serpent. We let ourselves be provoked by it and then begin reflecting on it. All day long we may consider the person who wronged us that morning. If there is no decision, there is no sin. But much time and vital energy has been wasted on these inner dialogues. Remedy: Continue the dialogue but change partners; instead of talking to yourself, talk to Christ. Reveal the conversation to Him and see where the discussion goes. 

3. Struggle: A suggestion grown through conversation has wormed its way into the heart and is now a struggle. It will not be easily dispelled, but with much exertion it can be done. Remedy: Hold firm and prayerfully repeat: “Jesus, you do not want this for me; neither do I. I freely decide the opposite.” Or “God come to my assistance; Lord, make hast to help me!” 

4. Consent: If the will surrenders to the struggle and consents to the suggestion of evil, one sins. Remedy: Make an Act of Contrition. Go to confession if necessary. Let God love you in this moment of weakness. 

5. Passion: The final and most tragic stage, passion indicates the continual consent to evil which weakens both the will and the character of the person. Sin becomes something like an addiction, and the sinner a slave to it. Remedy: The will needs to be re-awoken. Devote yourself to prayer, the sacramental life of the Church, and seek help if needed. Some passions can’t be overcome alone. 

God desires our freedom from sin. Knowing the cycle of evil and patiently sabotaging it at every step will go a long way in living into that freedom.

Father Seth Brown is pastor of Mother of Dolors in Vandalia and St. Joseph 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

 I had been a priest for a very short time when I was in the old-style confessional on a Saturday afternoon. A young family came in and the mother and the father went into the two side doors. Their young son, who had received his first Communion recently, not knowing quite what the procedure was, opened the middle door. And there I was! We began the ritual, and I was overwhelmed by his childlike innocence and complete trust in God’s mercy and love. That child opened my heart to love this sacrament more than ever. 

The Father invites us to come, sit in his lap, and experience his love and mercy. As a priest, I am there not to judge or to reprimand, but to forgive in God’s name and on behalf of the Church. When I am in the confessional, I experience peace as penitents are reconciled. It fills my heart with joy. Some come to confession carrying heavy burdens of sin and guilt. In the words of absolution all that melts away. The words, “I absolve you from your sins” are powerful and affirming. There is nothing else like it. 

I am humbled by the power bestowed on me in my priesthood ordination. I can still feel the coolness of the marble at the Cathedral as I lay prostrated during the Litany of Saints. I still feel the strong hands of Bishop Joseph McNicholas on my head. I still can smell the sweetness of the sacred chrism as my hands were anointed for service. I still feel the warmth of the embraces as my fellow priests welcomed me. But most of all I remember were the tears that flowed for three days as my heart was so full of joy that I thought it would burst. I was a priest! I had the privilege and the power to be able to stand at the altar for the rest of my life as I would take bread in my hands and say, “This is my body,” and take the cup of wine and say, “This is my blood.” I had the privilege and the power to welcome sinners and declare, “I absolve you.”  

The gift of being able to confect the Eucharist and to absolve sins as an alter Christi, another Christ, still brings tears to my eyes. The ability to hold in my hands the very body and blood of Jesus and to extend my hands over a penitent in absolution continues to make me shudder at the power of God working through me. I stand in awe! 

I know that it is hard to admit that I am a sinner, especially to another person. Frequent confession and a regular confessor have helped me. Several years ago, I received a young woman into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. She is a dentist and told me, “You know Father, confession is like flossing your teeth. You hate to do it, but afterward you feel so much better.” She is my dentist to this very day. Such insight! 

Someone asked me one time if hearing all these sins depressed me or if it changed the way I viewed someone. I told them that I focus not on the sins, but rather on the mercy and love of God. I listen to the sins since there might be something that we need to discuss, but what I really listen for is sorrow for sin, and what I experience again and again is the overwhelming power of Divine Mercy. 

A couple of years ago I was sitting at the bedside of a dear friend as she was dying. She was surrounded by family and friends. At one point she asked them all to leave so that she could talk to me privately. When she asked me to hear her confession the tears started as I realized that I was in a grace filled moment of a death bed confession. I was overwhelmed by her childlike innocence and her complete trust in God’s mercy and love. A few hours later she breathed her last, at peace with God. It is very humbling to be able to be part of such incredible moments.  

The incredible moments continue to happen as people come with their burdens trusting in God. I always give thanks to God for his love as I stand in awe before such a powerful and beautiful sacrament. The grace given on that first Easter Sunday in the upper room when Jesus said, “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven,” continues to give life to the Church.

Father Donald Wolford is pastor at Holy Angels Parish in Wood River.

Remember, you can always call a parish and schedule your confession with a priest if these days and times do not fit your schedule.


Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception 

Sunday, 4-4:45 p.m. 

Monday-Friday, 4:15-5 p.m. 

Saturday, 9-10 a.m., 2:30-3:30 p.m. 


Blessed Sacrament 

Monday-Friday, 7:30-7:45 a.m. 

Saturday, 7:30 a.m.- 7:45 a.m., 3-4 p.m. 


Christ the King 

Sunday, 4-4:45 p.m. 

Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-6:50 a.m.

Wednesday, 5-5:45 p.m. 

Saturday, 3-4 p.m. 


Little Flower 

Saturday, 3:30-4:30 p.m. 


St. Agnes 

Saturday, 3-4 p.m. 


St. Aloysius 

Saturday, 3:30-4 p.m. 


St. Joseph 

Saturday, 3:15-4 p.m. 


St. Katharine Drexel (Sacred Heart and St. Patrick churches)

Before all Masses, seven days a week 



Visitation BMV 

Saturday, 3-4 p.m. 



St. Mary 

First Friday, 4-5 p.m. 

Saturday, 4-5 p.m.; 7-8 p.m. 


Ss. Peter and Paul 

Saturday, 3:15-3:45 p.m.



St. John the Baptist 

Thursday, 6:45 p.m. 



St. Fidelis 

Saturday, 3:30-4 p.m. 



Holy Cross 

Sunday, 7:30-8 a.m. 



St. Alexius 

Third Sunday of the month, 6 p.m. 

Thursday, 6 p.m. 



Our Lady Queen of Peace 

Monday, available 45 minutes before Mass 

Saturday, 3:30-4:15 p.m. 



St. Isidore 

Sunday, 7:30-7:50 a.m. 

Tuesday, 7:30-7:50 a.m. 

Saturday, 7:30-7:50 a.m. 



St. Mary 

Saturday, 5:45-6 p.m. 



St. Thomas 

First Fridays, 5-5:45 p.m. 



St. Joseph the Worker 

Saturday, 3:15-4 p.m. 



St. Charles Borromeo

Saturday, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Wednesday morning before Mass



Ss. Peter and Paul 

Saturday, 3-3:30 p.m. 



Holy Family 

Saturday, 3:30-4 p.m. 


Our Lady of Lourdes 

Tuesday, 12-1 p.m. 

Thursday, 5-6 p.m. 

Saturday, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. 


Ss. James and Patrick 

Monday, 7:30-7:45 a.m. at St. James 

Wednesday, 7:30-7:45 a.m. at St. James 

Friday, 10:30-11 a.m. at St. Patrick 

Saturday, 11-noon at St. Patrick; 3:15-3:40 p.m. at St. James 


St. Thomas the Apostle 

Saturday, 3 p.m. 



St. Isidore the Farmer 

Sunday, after 10 a.m. Mass at Island Grove 

Tuesday, after 8 a.m. Mass at Bishop Creek 

Thursday, after 8 a.m. Mass at Island Grove 

Saturday, 4:45 p.m. at Bishop Creek 



St. Boniface 

Wednesday, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Thursday, 6-6:30 p.m. (bilingual) 

Saturday, 3:30-4 p.m. 


St. Mary 

Saturday, 3:30-4:30 p.m. 



Sacred Heart 

Monday-Thursday, 8-8:25 a.m. 

First Monday of the month, 7 p.m. during adoration 

Saturday, 3 p.m. 


St. Anthony of Padua 

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 7:45-8:15 a.m. 

Saturday, 3:15-4 p.m. 



St. Mary 

Saturday, 5:15-5:50 p.m. 



St. Cecilia 

Monday, 6-6:30 p.m. 

Saturday, 3:30-4 p.m. 

First Saturdays, 7:30 a.m. 



St. Ambrose 

Saturday, 3:30-4 p.m. 



All Saints (White Hall) 

Sunday, 9:15-9:25 a.m. 


St. John the Evangelist (Carrollton) 

Saturday, 5:15-5:45 p.m. 


St. Michael (Greenfield) 

Saturday, 3:15-3:45 p.m. 



St. Lawrence 

Saturday, 4:45-5:15 p.m. 



Holy Family 

Saturday, 3-3:30 p.m. 


St. Elizabeth 

Saturday, 3-4 p.m. 



St. Gertrude 

Tuesday, 8:30-9 a.m. 



St. Paul 

Saturday, 3 p.m. 



Our Saviour 

Saturday, 3:15 p.m. 



Holy Ghost 

Sunday, 7:15-7:50 a.m. 

Saturday, 3-3:50 p.m. 


St. Francis Xavier 

Saturday, 3:15-3:45 p.m. 



St. Brigid 

Saturday, 3:50-4:20 p.m. 



Holy Family 

Saturday, 3:15-3:45 p.m. 



Immaculate Conception 

Sunday, 7:30 a.m.; 4:30 p.m. 

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6:30 a.m. 

Tuesday, Thursday, 5 p.m. 

Saturday, 2:30-3:30 p.m.



St. Elizabeth 

Sunday, 9:15 a.m. 



St. Mary 

Wednesday, 6 p.m. 



Mother of Perpetual Help 

Tuesday, 5-5:45 p.m. 

Saturday, 3-3:45 p.m. 



St. Edward 

Saturday, 7:15-7:45 p.m. 



St. Rose of Lima 

Saturday, 4:30-5 p.m. 



Holy Family 

Saturday, 4-5 p.m. 



Our Lady of the Holy Spirit 

Sunday, 10-10:20 a.m.; 5-5:20 p.m. 

Monday, Thursday, Friday, 7:30-7:50 a.m. 

Wednesday, 4:15-5:15 p.m. 

Saturday, 4-5 p.m. 



St. Thomas the Apostle 

Wednesday, 4:15-4:30 p.m. 

Saturday, 8-9 a.m., 3:30-4 p.m. 



St. Louis 

Saturday, 3-3:30 p.m. 



St. Aloysius 

Sunday, by appointment 



St. Patrick 

Saturday, 2:45-3:25 p.m. 



St. Mary 

Saturday, 4-5 p.m. 



St. Peter 

Saturday, 3-3:45 p.m. 



Immaculate Conception 

Thursday, 5:30-7 p.m. 



St. Mary 

Friday, First Friday after 8 a.m. Mass 

Saturday, after 6 p.m. Mass 



St. Nicholas 

Saturday, 3:45-4:15 p.m. 



Blessed Sacrament 

Sunday, 4-4:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, 4:30-5:10 p.m. 

Saturday, 9-9:30 a.m. 


St. Joseph 

First Saturdays, 9-9:20 a.m. 


St. Francis Solanus 

Saturday, 8:30 a.m.; 3-4 p.m. 


St. Peter 

Saturday, 7:30-7:50 a.m.; 3:30-4:30 p.m. 


St. Rose of Lima 

Sunday, 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. 

Monday, 11:30 a.m. 

Tuesday, 6:30 a.m. 

Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. 

Thursday, 6:30 p.m. 

Friday, 11:30 a.m. 

Saturday, 7:30 a.m. 



St. Joseph 

Sunday, 7-7:45 a.m. 



St. James 

Saturday, 3 p.m. 



St. Elizabeth 

Saturday, 3:45 p.m. 



St. Jude 

Tuesday-Friday, 6:45-7:15 a.m. 

Saturday, 3:15-4 p.m. 



Immaculate Conception 

Saturday, 45 minutes prior to Mass 



St. John Vianney 

Wednesday, 5-5:30 p.m. 

Saturday, 4-4:45 p.m. 




Wednesday, 7:45-8:15 a.m. 

Saturday, 4:15-5 p.m. 



St. Michael the Archangel 

Saturday, 3:15 p.m. 



St. Michael the Archangel 

Sunday, 7:30-7:55 a.m. 

Saturday, 3:30-3:55 p.m. 



St. Columcille 

Wednesday, 5-6 p.m. 



St. Mary 

Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-noon 



Forty Martyrs 

Saturday, 5 p.m. 



Mother of Dolors 

Saturday, 3-3:45 p.m. 



Sacred Heart 

Sunday, 9:45-10:10 a.m. 



St. Luke 

Tuesday, 6-7 p.m. 



St. Mark 

Sunday, after 10:30 a.m. Mass 



Holy Angels 

Saturday, 3-4 p.m. 


Confession in Spanish


Our Lady of Lourdes, Decatur: 

Tuesday, 12-1 p.m., Thursday, 5-6 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m.-12 p.m., or by appointment:  


St. Thomas the Apostle, Decatur: 

Saturday, 3-3:45 p.m. or by appointment:


Sacred Heart, Springfield: 

Last Thursday of the month, 6 p.m. or by appointment: (217) 523-4501 


St. Boniface, Edwardsville: 

Thursday, 1 p.m. or by appointment: (618) 656-6450 


Sacred Heart, Effingham: 

By appointment: (217) 347-7177 


St. Mary, Alton: 

By appointment: frpaul@stmarysalton. com / (618) 465-4284, ext. 227 


Immaculate Conception, Mattoon: 

30 minutes before daily Masses, 3-4 p.m. on Saturday, or by appointment: 217-235-0539. 


Forty Martyrs, Tuscola: 

By appointment: (217) 253-4412 


St. John the Baptist, Arcola: 

Thursday, 6:45 p.m. 


Other languages 


Philippines (Tagalog and Cebuano): by appointment: (715) 207-9575 (textable); or email Father Nick at or  


Indian (Kannada, Telugu, and Tamil): by appointment: email Father Chowrappa:  


Vietnamese: by appointment: (217) 961-6404, ask for Father Dat Hoang      


Italian and Igbo (language in Nigeria): By appointment: Father Freddy, (217) 220-1837 


Polish: By appointment: Father Michal Rosa, (217) 347-7177 or by appointment: Father Augustyniak, , (217) 774-3434 


American Sign Language: Our Saviour Parish, Jacksonville: By appointment:

Can you please explain the suffering servant from the book of Isaiah?
Pat in Ramsey

“The suffering servant” is a famous passage from Isaiah 53, which theologians claim is a messianic prophecy about Jesus. It talks about the suffering this “servant” will endure, however, to get the full picture, you need to look at four Songs of the Servant of the Lord. 

The four Songs of the Servant of the Lord (Is 42:1-9; Is 49:1-7; Is 50:4-11; Is 52:13-53:12) describe the mysterious figure of the “Servant of God” who in some respects resembles Israel — the Servant of the Lord from many other texts (Is 41:8), but in His other features, He is someone completely different, a very distinguished and distinctive personality, having no equal (Is 49:5). 

The “Servant of the Lord” is chosen by God for His mission while still in the womb, fashioned by Him, filled with His spirit (Songs I and II). He is a docile, attentive, and a faithful disciple of the Lord, diligently listening to His teachings to be able to teach people in turn (Song II). The task and role of this Servant is to announce a new religious law for all nations, not only for Israel. It is to be a light for the nations and a covenant for Israel, to bring people messianic good and salvation (Song I, II, III).  

Although persecuted and despised by people, the Servant will not be afraid and will carry out His mission bravely, trusting in the power of God, who will constantly support Him and surround Him with His care, and finally, reward and glorify Him (Songs III and IV). The fourth song presents and ponders the sufferings of the Lord's Servant. Though innocent, He suffers severe physical torments and spiritual humiliation inflicted upon Him by people, up to and including a shameful death, as if He were the worst villain. He, however, suffers these torments voluntarily as an expiation for the sins of others, namely all sinful people, because He took them upon Himself. The Lord acknowledged and accepted His Passion as universal satisfaction. Therefore, the Servant of the Lord will receive as a reward eternal glory and immense descendants forever, that is, of the people He redeemed, both from Israel and from other nations. 

In various texts, the New Testament recognizes and sees in Isaiah's “Servant of the Lord” a prophetic announcement — a type of Jesus Christ Himself, the Messiah and Savior (Mt 3:17; Mt 8:17; Mt 12:17-21; Lk 2:31; Lk 4:17-21; Acts 3:13). More often, the words of the fourth Song of the Servant of the Lord are used or quoted (Is 53) in Mk 9:12; Jn 12:38; Acts 8:32-35; Rom 4:25; Rom 10:16; Rom 15:21; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pt 2:22-25. 

Christ combines in His person both the features of the glorious Messianic King of the Davidic family (2 Sm 7:12-17; Is 7:14; Is 9:5; Is 11:1-5) and the suffering Servant of the Lord (Is 52:13-53:12; Ps 22). Christ Himself identified Himself as the Servant of the Lord (Lk 22:37).

Father Michal Rose is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Effingham.

Tuesday, 04 January 2022 14:54

Founder of HSHS Passes Away

          A Cinderella story of a visionary who went from the kitchen to the board room

Sister Marianna Kosior, OSF, age 99, passed away on Dec. 11, 2021 at St. Francis Convent, Springfield. Sister Marianna was the founder of Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS), a multi-institutional health care system in 14 communities in Illinois and Wisconsin with 15 hospitals, health centers and clinics, physician partners, and colleagues.

In the early 1970s, “Sister Marianna found herself responsible for 12 Catholic hospitals at a time of considerable flux in sponsorship and organizational arrangements within Catholic health care,” said Sister Jomary Trstensky, OSF, chair, Hospital Sisters Ministries, and HSHS president from 1989 to 2006. “She led the way with her creative vision and unwavering belief that the future of Catholic health care would be built on strong systems and lay leaders. With no blueprint she established Hospital Sisters Health System and entrusted others to give life to her vision.”

In a 2006 interview, Sister Marianna stated, “As the Lord served people and washed his Disciple’s feet, I have tried to live my life in service to others.”

When she entered the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in 1943, she was ready to devote her life to God and the service of his people. The path that God paved for her was something that most women, including those not in religious life, could not imagine would be possible. In 1978, Sister Marianna was one of the first women CEOs of a multibillion-dollar corporation as she founded HSHS and was named its executive vice president. At this time in U.S. history, health systems had only been formed by three other religious communities, and Sister Marianna, the provincial superior of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis from 1973 to 1979, pioneered the process for the hospitals the Sisters had founded.

Sister Marianna was born in 1922 in Indiana. After graduating from high school, she worked as a secretary, and as her friends were signing up to help in the war effort in 1941, she wondered if she should find ways of serving God. A friend invited her to a weekend retreat where Sister Marianna asked the retreat leader if he thought she had a religious vocation. He sent her to visit a “nice Franciscan group in Springfield, Ill.,” and Sister Marianna recalled that her visit to the Motherhouse felt like home. She entered the community in 1943 and professed first vows in 1946.

Despite her lack of interest in nursing, she attended St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing, Springfield. “I remember sitting in the balcony of the chapel facing a picture of the healing Christ and I said, ‘Well Lord if this is what you want, you’re just going to have to help me.’ I was in tears because I just didn’t know how I was going to do it.” 

Throughout the following years, Sister Marianna worked at St. Mary’s Hospital (Decatur) and St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital (Effingham). An election by the Hospital Sisters in 1969 brought Sister Marianna to the Motherhouse as a member of the leadership team and four years later, she was elected Provincial Superior and served until 1979.

During this time in the U.S., religious congregations were closing their Catholic hospitals or turning them over to be run as community facilities because of Medicare regulations. While facing these challenges, the Hospital Sisters also faced the decline of women entering their community and so they began discussing the future of their hospitals. Sister Marianna and her team researched options for an organization that would oversee the management and operations while keeping the Sisters involved with sponsorship and governance. 

One of the first steps she implemented was the establishment of a holding company in the late 1970s with a parent corporation and subsidiary corporations. The members of the parent corporation were the Sisters’ leadership team, who were similar to major stockholders. The health system was the holding company, and the hospitals were the subsidiary corporations.

“The Catholic Church has a long history of care for the sick, which is a work of mercy,” Sister Marianna explained in a 1981 interview with the Catholic Health Association. “The religious congregations have been given this apostolate almost as a trust and if congregations can’t continue in the same way, then what can we do to preserve that work as a mission of the Church? If we develop strong systems and begin to pass our torch to laypersons who see health care as a mission, possibly it could survive through lay leadership,” she added. “It is the age of the laity, and even if they are not in the traditional religious congregations, they have an obligation to do the works of mercy. They find a different working environment in Catholic hospitals with value other than profit and the bottom line.”

On Dec. 26, 1978, HSHS was incorporated, and Sister Marianna was named president in August 1979, a position she held until her retirement in October 1989. 

“My Cinderella story of my life as a Hospital Sister took me from the kitchen to the board room, and throughout my life, I was open to the Spirit and waited to see where the Lord was calling me,” she stated. “All people are called to holiness, and so it is my hope that we should always strive to develop a greater love with our neighbor, and in doing so, we will share our love with the Lord.” 

Monday, 20 December 2021 08:54

Three things you didn't know about Christmas

Special to Catholic Times

for question 11. Why is Dec. 25 the date for Christmas? 

Matthew and Luke are the only two Gospels that mention the birth of Jesus Christ. Although they do not provide a clear date for Jesus’ birth in their narratives, they did leave implicit clues. As Christians began to be interested in celebrating Jesus’ birth as a special feast date annually, they used the Gospels to calculate Dec. 25 as the specific date for the Nativity. 

In Luke 1:9, the Gospel author notes that Zechariah “was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense.” This location was the altar of incense just outside the Holy of Holies in the inner sanctuary of the Temple. Early Christians, who believed that Zechariah was serving as high priest that year, associated this special event with the feast of Yom Kippur, or the Day of the Atonement, which usually falls in late September. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, he gave him the news of the coming of his son John the Baptist. In fact, the Church recognizes the conception of John the Baptist on Sept. 23. 

The second key point from Luke is the date for the Annunciation. According to Luke 1:26-27: “In the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy], the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” Based upon this information, we can determine that six months from late September brings us to a date in late March. The Feast of the Annunciation is in fact held on March 25. Continuing with this information, three months later (June 24) is the date for the birth of John the Baptist. And finally, nine months from the Annunciation brings us to the 25th day of December. This biblical information is what led early Christians to celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25. In the fourth century, St. John Chrysostom even explains these calculations in one of his Christmas sermons as the reason for celebrating the feast on this date.

Early Christians also believed that God had chosen Dec. 25 because it fulfilled biblical prophecies of the Old Testament and because of its cosmic significance. As for biblical prophecy, Malachi 4:2 predicted the coming of God’s judgment with his Messiah: “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.” Early Christians noticed that the Sun of Righteousness was a symbolic sign for the Messiah, who would come when the sun would rise. In the Julian calendar of the ancient world, the winter solstice fell upon Dec. 25. Therefore, the image of the sun rising held significance as the date predicting the birth of the Messiah. This is further confirmed in the New Testament. The Gospel of John points to cosmic solar symbolism as a sign of Jesus Christ: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it … . The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” In John 3:30, John the Baptist admits that “He must increase, but I must decrease.” In other words, Jesus Christ, the light of the world, came at the time when light was increasing. Since the winter solstice is the beginning of the increase in light, early Christians recognized that God had given His Son this auspicious birth date to prove his divine origins to all people. The Old Testament, New Testament, and cosmic symbolism all suggested to Christians that Dec. 25 was the birth date of Jesus Christ.

for question 22. Where was Jesus born? 

According to Luke, the Holy Family traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem (the city of David), and the Virgin Mary gave birth to him and “wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). The ancient term for an inn was not meant to convey a formal place for travelers, but mostly likely a simple lodging where one could stay at a residence. 

Imagine a Nativity scene like the one that many Catholics have in their homes. There is a stable made of wood, with farm animals such as an ox, donkey (Isaiah 1:3), and sheep gathering around the Holy Family. This image comes from the popularity of the manger scene spread by St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226), who celebrated a Mass at a stable with living animals. Later, living Nativities and artistic Nativities became widespread across medieval Europe. 

However, the typical Jewish stable would not have been made from wood, which is a plentiful source in Europe but was already depleted in Israel by the first century. Instead, caves functioned as stables for animals in the region. An early second-century Christian tradition about the Nativity recounts the cave birthplace. It notes how as onlookers approached the cave, a dark cloud hovered over the cave and Mary’s midwife declared it a miracle. As the cloud withdrew, suddenly a great green light appeared in the cave. Then when the light subsided, the child Jesus was born.

The tradition of Jesus’ birth in a cave is found in the writings of early Christians such as Justin Martyr (d. 165) (“he took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village”). The Christian teacher and theologian Origen also confirmed the cave as a sacred site of veneration in the early third century: “There is shown at Bethlehem the cave where He was born, and the manger in the cave where He was wrapped in swaddling-clothes. And this site is greatly talked of in surrounding places, even among the enemies of the faith, it being said that in this cave was born that Jesus who is worshipped and reverenced by the Christians.” This location was a shrine by the second century where Christians venerated Jesus’ birth at the site of the Church of the Nativity, which was built around the cave by Constantine in the fourth century. 

The cave also had theological significance for pointing out how God uses signs to prove the coming of His son Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus’ birth was in a cave, so his body would be placed in a cave at his death. Just as he was wrapped in swaddling clothes at his birth, Jesus was wrapped in cloths at his death. Just as angels announced his birth, so too they would announce his resurrection. These theological parallels and the early Christian traditions indicate that Jesus was born in a cave. 

for question 33. Who were the Magi and why did they bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh? 

The Magi are mentioned only in the Gospel of Matthew. According to Matthew, “wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him’.” After speaking with King Herod, “the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

The term Magi (plural) comes from the singular Magus, which means someone who examines the stars for auspicious signs that point to real world events. These wise men were in a sense like astrologers, who had noted the star of Bethlehem and came from the East. The Magi were known as religious adherents to Zoroastrianism in the ancient world — so why would they be interested in a Jewish king? An Old Testament prophecy predicted that when the Messiah appeared, wise men from the East would arrive. In Numbers 24:17–18, Balaam, a wise man from the East, tried to put a curse on Israel, God made him speak only words of blessing, saying: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.” Jews knew that the appearance of a star would signal the coming of the Messiah King. This passage was a foretelling of the coming of Magi following their guide, the star of Bethlehem. The ones who worshipped stars were taught by a star to worship the true star and light of the world, Jesus Christ. 

In the western Church, there developed a tradition that there were three wise men: Balthasar, Melchoir, and Gaspar. By the fifth century, there were already mosaics of the Magi offering their gifts to the Christ child with their names mentioned in the artwork in the Basilica of St. Apollinarus in Ravenna, Italy. 

The three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were both a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah as well as a symbol of the status of Jesus Christ. In Psalm 72:10-15, the author affirms that kings of nations will bow before the son of David, bringing him gifts of gold. This passage is where we get the tradition that the Magi were also kings. Likewise in Isaiah 60:3 and 6, we read that kings will come at the rising of the Messiah, and that “they shall bring gold and frankincense.” Therefore, the Magi represent all of humanity across the world acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord. As for the symbolic significance of these three gifts, they also demonstrate Jesus’ rank. Gold is the sign of a king. Frankincense is the sign of worship for a divinity. Myrrh, which is a burial ointment pointing to Jesus’ eventual death, is the sign of his humanity. Therefore, Jesus’ kingship, humanity, and divinity are revealed through the gifts of the Magi. 

This Christmas season, think about the gift of Jesus Christ to the world. Remember the gifts of the Magi. Gift-giving does not have to be a materialist and consumer-driven motivation to acquire more things. God is the ultimate gift giver. And in return we can be like the Magi and offer our gifts to the only one worthy of worship this Christmas season.

- David Bertaina, PhD, is a professor of history at the University of Illinois Springfield and is a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield.

Laura in Springfield

The titles of Venerable, Blessed, and Saint are given at various stages to those whom the Catholic Church is considering for canonization, the title of Saint, of course, being the last one.

Once a local bishop receives permission from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome to investigate the life of a person who has died and who had a reputation for holiness, the title of Servant of God is given to the person. The bishop then begins a formal inquiry into the biography of the Servant of God to be certain he or she actually existed, has died, and researches the Servant of God’s writings looking for anything contrary to the faith. When the investigations are complete, a report is sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. 

After the cardinals and bishops who are members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints read through the report, they make a recommendation to the pope as to whether or not the pope should declare that the person in question lived a life of heroic virtue. If the Holy Father so declares, he grants the title of Venerable to the person because his or her life is worthy of imitation by the Christian faithful.

After a person is declared Venerable, the Church begins looking for possible miraculous healings that can be attributed to the intercession of the Venerable. When such a case is reported to the bishop, an investigation is done which involves a team of medical professionals to ascertain whether the healing can be attributed to any natural means. If the investigation finds the contrary, another report is sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If the cardinals and bishops who serve on the Congregation judge the healing to be miraculous, they recommend it to the pope. If the pope finds it to be a miracle, he grants the title of Blessed to the person in question through a formal declaration that the Blessed is in Heaven because he or she has been shown to have interceded before the throne of God. When a person is declared Blessed, liturgical prayers for the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours may be prayed in the location where he or she lived and/or died, but not throughout the universal Church.

After a person is declared a Blessed, a search begins for a second miraculous healing that can be attributed to the Blessed’s intercession. If such a miracle is found and so determined by the pope, he names the Blessed a Saint, which allows for liturgical prayers to be prayed in the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours in honor of that person throughout the whole world.

Father Daren Zehnle is pastor at St. Augustine Parish in Ashland and is the director for the Office of Divine Worship and the Catechumenate for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. 

Monday, 20 December 2021 08:44

St. Francis Solanus - Quincy


Founded by the Franciscan friars from Germany in 1860, St. Francis Solanus Parish in Quincy is rich in history and deeply Catholic. The church, built in 1885, is home to beautiful statues, gorgeously colored Stations of the Cross, a towering ceiling that makes you look up toward heaven, and a high altar unlike any in the diocese.

“This church is so spectacularly built, so well appointed, and so beautiful,” said Father Steven Arisman, pastor. “They put so much effort into making sure it lasted and truly it has because all these years later, it is still standing.” 

One of the biggest parishes by family count in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, St. Francis Solanus Parish was known for 160 years as having the Franciscan friars minister to the people of the parish. This included decades ago when dozens of Franciscans would offer Mass every half hour starting at 5 a.m. until 8 a.m. at the five different altars in the church. In 2020, the order transferred the staffing of the parish to the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

7“This parish was the Franciscan’s novitiate, this is where they would do some of their studies, and formation as Franciscans,” Father Arisman said. “Beyond that, at one point, there were 55 priests who at one point lived here that took care of this parish and the people at Quincy College and St. Francis Solanus College, which is now Quincy University. Those Franciscans have left such a legacy of building a Catholic culture and people who follow the Lord as disciples.” 

Inside, the church is a treasure of everything Catholic. Relics of saints can be seen including St. Francis Solanus, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Anthony of Padua. Franciscan saints line the main area of the pews, towering above the faithful. Nearly 1,000 people can be seated inside. Most eyes, however, are immediately drawn to the white and gilded high altar. It was designed by 19th century designer, Franciscan Brother Adrian Wewer and built by Henry Schenk of Quincy. Standing more than three stories tall, the base includes a replica of Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper and closer to the top, the statue of St. Francis Solanus. The statue depicts St. Francis baptizing a native of Peru while he was a missionary in South America. 

The statue of the crucifix that is just above the tabernacle is unlike any in the diocese. That is because there are three crucifixes with three different backgrounds. All the priest must do is spin the mechanism and depending on the solemnity or what the priest wants to portray, that is the crucifix and background that is displayed. 

4To side of the high altar is the friar’s choir, where the Franciscans would pray together. In the etching of each of the dozens of wooden seats is a phrase from the Psalms that when you read them from one side to the other, it reads that Psalm out in Latin. 

“One of the other unique things about the church is the stained-glass window on the font of the church which depicts St. Francis Solanus playing the violin for the native people,” Father Arisman said. “That was one of the ways he drew them to Christ — the beauty of music.”

Other interesting spaces in the church include the library, which includes a ladder and stairs so readers can find books on two levels. In the basement, under the sacristy, is an area where altar servers used to get ready for Mass decades ago. The old cabinets their vestments would hang in are there and are still in good shape. This changing area for the servers was accessible by an outside door. That is because with so many Masses going on daily, this allowed the dozens of daily servers to enter and exit the building without making any noise for the faithful praying in the church. 

8The church itself is 75 feet high, with the steeple climbing to 217 feet high, making it one of the prominent structures in the Gem City. Right next to Quincy University and Underbrink’s Bakery, in one of the most historic parts of Quincy, St. Francis Solanus is a refreshing reminder of the dedication and faithfulness of Catholics from the past and the present. 

“There have been so many different people who have walked through here with so many stories,” Father Arisman said. “There are so many families who are tied to this parish, and they have very large families. With that, some have been tied to this parish from the very beginning. The work the Franciscans and these families have done to build up this parish community is quite beautiful. The work they have done with native peoples, the work they have done with the Hispanic culture, and the work they did with (Venerable) Father Augustine Tolton, and to think that Father Tolton was in this building at one point in his lifetime, is quite astounding to us as a parish — to have that kind of history to stand on, a foundation rooted on Christ with Him as our cornerstone and the people of this parish following after Him.”

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