Andrew Hansen

She received a standing ovation from her colleagues. Tears filled her eyes. She was filled with an emotional gratitude you could hear in her voice. That was the scene on Aug. 12 at Christ the King’s parish center as Bishop Thomas John Paprocki surprised Janine Desmarteau-Morris with the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois’ first annual St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award.

Edwardsville — Willie Jansen would have never guessed the path God had for him. Growing up in Dieterich, he went to high school in Teutopolis. Thinking about the vocation of priesthood, he studied in the seminary for our diocese for four years and graduated with a philosophy degree from Marian University in 2015.

Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:33

The wonder of God’s creation

It was a rich, colorful, and mesmerizing beauty as they had never seen before, but to get there, they had to endure battling Mother Nature, leave the comforts of a bed and a home, push their body and spirit, and drive 18 hours.

Eleven men, from across the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, took part in a four-day adventure pilgrimage to Wyoming July 31-Aug. 8. The expedition, focusing on physical endurance and boosting one’s faith life, was part of The Legion of Valor, a new men’s group in the diocese that focuses on brotherhood, virtue, and mission.

Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:16

Catholic schools reopen across diocese

The sound of laughter, “hellos,” students joyfully yelling their friend’s names, and teachers welcoming back students is filling classrooms in Catholic schools across the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois once again. Schools have officially reopened, although to different looks and dozens of new safety precautions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite that, the feelings of joy, excitement, positive anticipation and looking forward to starting new friendships, celebrating school Mass, and learning are on new levels this year considering the coronavirus resulted in students learning from home in March, April, and May last school year.

St. Louis and Joliet to install new bishops in coming weeks
It was a joyous two-day celebration for tens of thousands of Catholics in Illinois as two of the dioceses in our province have new bishops. On July 22, Bishop Michael McGovern was installed as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Belleville at the Cathedral of St. Peter. Then, on July 23, Bishop Louis Tylka was installed as the coadjutor bishop of Peoria at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception.
Bishop McGovern comes from Chicago, where he was a parish priest. He replaced the now retired Bishop Edward Braxton, who was the leader of the Diocese of Belleville for 15 years.
“Looking back over the years, I would say that there were three key ‘influencers’ of my vocation as a priest: my family, my parish and Catholic schools,” Bishop McGovern said in The Messenger, the newspaper of the Diocese of Belleville. “They were formed in the Catholic faith through their own families, parishes and Catholic schools. The seed of faith was planted and nourished through the celebration of the sacraments, as well as the habit of prayer and devotions such as the rosary. They both strongly believed in the sanctity of human life and generously welcomed the eight children in our family.”
Bishop Tylka was also a priest in Chicago. As coadjutor of the Diocese of Peoria, he will work alongside current Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky. Bishop Jenky requested a coadjutor in advance of submitting his resignation at age 75 because of health issues.
“I look forward to many years getting to know you and walking with you on our path of discipleship,” Bishop Tylka said. “We are here to serve the Lord and bring Jesus to others, and we trust in the Holy Spirit’s trust and guidance. As I begin my ministry, I ask for your prayers for me as well as our local church that we may continue to grow closer to Jesus every day and that we can bring the message of our faith to all the parts of the world and our diocese in particular that need to know Jesus is here, walking with us.”
On July 17, Pope Francis named Bishop Ronald Hicks, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, as the next Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet. Ordained to the priesthood in 1994, he has served as auxiliary bishop of Chicago since 2018. A native of Harvey, Bishop Hicks, who is fluent in Spanish, will be installed at the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet on Sept. 29.

 

“I am just humbled and delighted and excited to be named here,” Bishop Hicks said. “What a vibrant diocese — so many wonderful things going on in the name of the Lord — and to be a part of this and to be assigned here, what a beautiful call and gift.”
Meanwhile, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, will be the next archbishop of St. Louis. He is replacing Archbishop Robert Carlson, who last year reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 and therefore, submitted his resignation to Pope Francis. Bishop Rozanski will be installed as the 10th archbishop of St. Louis on Aug. 25. “Parish priests are graced to be with people in such moments of their lives — weddings, baptisms, funerals, and that really establishes a relationship,” Archbishop-elect Rozanski told The St. Louis Review. “I miss those relationships I had as a parish priest, but it has also taught me that being a bishop does not mean being removed from that sort of interaction of ministry, of being involved in the lives of people and reaching out.”
Please pray for our bishops, priests, religious, and those discerning a vocation to religious life.

Sunday, 09 August 2020 16:49

‘I can’t wait to see our kids!’

It has been anything but a summer break for principals, teachers, and school staffs at Catholic schools across the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. With the coronavirus pandemic continuing and news changing daily, preparing for the upcoming school year has been a challenge.

 

At the 43 Catholic schools in the diocese, school leaders are working on specific, tailored plans for their school so students can return safely. That includes things like extra cleaning, obtaining back-up masks for students, reconfiguring classroom spaces for safe distancing, setting staggered schedules for drop-off and pick-up, adding more lunch periods to lower the amount of students in the lunchroom, figuring out the best practices for outside learning, installing water bottle filling stations to allow students to refill their bottles without using the water fountain, teachers learning new online methods in
the event distance learning is needed again, among
other plans.
“They (teachers) are giving up things they love to do or ways they like to do things in order to keep our kids safe and healthy,” said Jill Bierman, principal at St. Thomas School in Newton. “They have been willing to help me by providing input on changes that have to be made, providing insight and guidance since they are the ones in the trenches!”
“We have used this time to remodel some of our school,” said Nicholas Blackburn, principal at St. Patrick School in Decatur. “Our teachers have voluntarily come in and painted every wall in our building. Our maintenance crew has repaired things that can only be done while students are not in session. All of these improvements, in the end, will lead to a safer learning environment for our students and staff.”
Despite the stress, Catholic school principals, teachers and staff are excited to welcome back students later this month for in-person classroom instruction. This, after schools closed their doors to in-classroom instruction and went completely distance learning the last two and half months of school in the spring.
“In-person learning allows our students the social connection they need with their teachers and their peers,” Bierman said. “It also lets our parents be parents. It’s very stressful when they’ve worked all day and have to teach when they get home. Remote learning takes the best part of teaching away from teachers — connecting with their students.”
“With in-person learning, the students are allowed to create a personal relationship with their teacher,” Blackburn said. “This relationship fosters a strong bond that allows the student to feel comfortable asking questions and making mistakes. In-person learning also allows students to separate their ‘work’ time and home time. Being at school limits the distractions for students, which allows them to focus on their work. It then allows their time at home to be free to spend with family and friends.”

So, what will Catholic schools in our diocese look like when they reopen in the coming weeks?

— Each school will adjust their safety protocols based on student count, space, and resources and practice safe distancing.
— Students must have on hand anti-bacterial gel, their mask, and water bottle.
— Students, teachers, and staff will wear their mask if safe distancing is not possible or in question, following CDC guidelines.
— Parents must conduct a home safety scan before their child leaves the house for school asking if they feel sick, had a cough, lack of smell or taste, and ensure their temperature is not over 100.4 degrees. If so, parents must not bring them to school and coordinate with the school office for take-home work or virtual work.
— After the self-screen at home, parents are to follow their school’s protocol for drop-off/pick-up. Please arrive on time as drop-off and pick-up times for each student may be different to maintain safe distancing.
— Throughout the day, students will have opportunities to learn and engage safely with their peers.
— Students will have time made available for cleaning their workspace and washing hands.
— To increase air circulation, doors and windows will be opened as much as possible and students will be able to learn outside.

— Students will be able to attend Mass following safe spacing and mask guidelines.
— As schools communicate with parents on their own specific policies and procedures, please be patient and understanding.
“The care and concern for the health and safety of children and staffs is of utmost importance to all of our school communities,” said Brandi Borries, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. “We have been hard at work the past several months preparing our Catholic schools for reopening. We are ready to learn, serve, pray, and play at our schools this fall. It’s important to remember that Catholic education is a gift and at the heart of our faith. I encourage our families to say ‘thank you’ to our teachers, administrators, and staff members who have tirelessly worked to reopen their school safely. We look forward with great joy seeing our school families again, hearing the laughter from our students, seeing the hands raised to answer questions in the classroom, and praying together.”
“I can’t wait to see our kids!” Bierman said. “I’m blessed to attend church with many of them, and I see them at the ballpark, but having them in our building will make things come alive again. I think we all need to be together as a school family.” 

“I believe what everyone is looking forward to is being a family again,” Blackburn said. “Losing that extra time with our students was devastating for our faculty. So many awesome learning relationships were built throughout the year, and it was upsetting to lose those final months with our children. With every bit of safety in place, we are excited to be whole again.”
— Students will be able to attend Mass following safe spacing and mask guidelines.
— As schools communicate with parents on their own specific policies and procedures, please be patient and understanding.
“The care and concern for the health and safety of children and staffs is of utmost importance to all of our school communities,” said Brandi Borries, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. “We have been hard at work the past several months preparing our Catholic schools for reopening. We are ready to learn, serve, pray, and play at our schools this fall. It’s important to remember that Catholic education is a gift and at the heart of our faith. I am extremely grateful to our teachers, administrators, and staff members who have tirelessly worked to reopen their school safely. We look forward with great joy seeing our school families again, hearing the laughter from our students, seeing the hands raised to answer questions in the classroom, and praying together.”
“I can’t wait to see our kids!” Bierman said. “I’m blessed to attend church with many of them, and I see them at the ballpark, but having them in our building will make things come alive again. I think we all need to be together as a school family.” 
“I believe what everyone is looking forward to is being a family again,” Blackburn said. “Losing that extra time with our students was devastating for our faculty. So many awesome learning relationships were built throughout the year, and it was upsetting to lose those final months with our children. With every bit of safety in place, we are excited to be whole again.”
Doctors and scientists support reopening schools

“We recognize that children learn best when physically present in the classroom. But children get much more than academics at school. They also learn social and emotional skills at school, get healthy meals and exercise, mental health support and other services that cannot be easily replicated online. Schools also play a critical role in addressing racial and social inequity. Our nation’s response to COVID-19 has laid bare inequities and consequences for children that must be addressed. This pandemic is especially hard on families who rely on school lunches, have children with disabilities, or lack access to Internet or health care.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics 
“Pediatricians, Educators and Superintendents Urge a Safe Return to School This Fall”; July 10 news release

“Reopening schools is really important. It’s a difficult issue, but it’s one that should be addressed as a matter of priority. There’s good evidence that we can do so safely … if certain conditions can be met.”

Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, epidemiologist
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, July 17

“Almost six months into the pandemic, accumulating evidence and collective experience argue that children, particularly school-aged children, are far less important drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission than adults. Therefore, serious consideration should be paid toward strategies that allow schools to remain open, even during periods of COVID-19 spread.”

Dr. Benjamin Lee and Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr., pediatric infectious disease specialists
University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine
“COVID-19 Transmission and Children: The Child Is Not to Blame;” Appearing in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics; July 1

“School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while
protecting the most vulnerable.”

Dr. Robert Redfield
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“... the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.  Further, the lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities. These students are far less likely to have access to private instruction and care and far more likely to rely on key school-supported resources like food programs, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs to meet basic developmental needs.”“... the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.  Further, the lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities. These students are far less likely to have access to private instruction and care and far more likely to rely on key school-supported resources like food programs, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs to meet basic developmental needs.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention“Preparing K-12 School Administrators for a Safe Return to School in Fall 2020”; July 23

“Opening schools will benefit families beyond providing education, including by supplying childcare, school services, meals, and other family supports. Without in-person instruction, schools risk children falling behind academically and exacerbating educational inequities.”
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine“Schools Should Prioritize Reopening in Fall 2020, Especially for Grades K-5, While Weighing Risks and Benefits”; July 15 news release

“... it should be a priority for districts to reopen for in-person learning, especially for younger ages.”
Dr. Caitlin Rivers, epidemiologist Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security; July 15

Sunday, 26 July 2020 09:06

Quincy honors Father Tolton

QUINCY — Despite temperatures in the 90s, about 150 Catholics from the Quincy area and other places devoted to the Venerable Servant of God Father Augustine Tolton, commemorated the 123rd anniversary of his death with a pilgrimage procession on July 9 in Quincy. Father Tolton, a Quincy native, is recognized as the first black priest in the United States and his cause for the beatification and canonization of sainthood is under way in Rome.

Advice, tips, resources, and help for parents and grandparents

In this special edition of Catholic Times, hear from diocesan priests, medical experts, and lay leaders on the subjects of raising your children, discipline, how to build a faith foundation for your child, how to get your adult child back to the faith, COVID-19 advice for back-to-school, why you shouldn’t put off baptizing your infant, resources for parents and grandparents, and much more.

From changing diapers and taking children to Mass, to family rosaries and balancing work and family life, come next year, eight men will add another vocation to their lives as they will all be ordained to the holy order of deacon.

“I am very pleased to have these eight men in their last year of formation,” said Deacon Dave Sorrell, director of the Office for the Diaconate for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. “They have proven to be men of good character and continue to discern their call to holy orders.”

Biking for Babies, a pro-life nonprofit aiming to renew the culture of life one pedal stroke and one pregnancy resource center at a time, was supposed to be riding through Springfield July 17 and have a fundraising event at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The young adult missionaries were planning on riding across the country on four routes, with groups starting in Wisconsin, Ohio, Mississippi, and Colorado. Due to different coronavirus related restrictions in each state, however, they have decided to ride within the boundaries of Wisconsin and not ride through Central Illinois.

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