Mater Dei High School Principal Dennis Litteken wanted to honor the 107 seniors graduating this year in a special way—so he had yard signs made and delivered them to each student’s home in April. Litteken and Maria Zurliene, director of enrollment, split the list up and trekked not only across Clinton County, where a majority of students reside, but also to Belleville, O’Fallon, Lebanon, Mt. Vernon and north of Greenville—wherever a senior called home. They managed it in two trips.
Father Bob Flannery likes to recall to the message of love of Jesus Christ as he works to protect the lives of immigrant detainees in one southern Illinois detention center. Father Bob, pastor of Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Carbondale, is a founding member of Detained Immigrant Spiritual Care, an organization started in 2018 by members of Carbondale’s Interfaith Council and trained volunteers of a variety of faiths and languages.
You might say that Poor Clares have practiced social distancing for 800 years. The women who follow St. Clare of Assisi see their lifetime “sheltering in place” as a response to a call which unites them more deeply to every person, enabling them to offer their lives and prayers for the needs of the world. …
By LYNN VENHAUS Contributing Writer As a global pandemic has changed American life in a matter of weeks, the three high schools and 26 elementary schools in the Belleville Diocese have had to quickly adapt. Several local administrators and teachers say they see positive outcomes in an unprecedented challenging time. Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered all …
Updates and the latest news regarding the Diocese of Belleville and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
By CHRISTOPHER ORLET Editor Cindy K. doesn’t mince words when it comes to her feelings for the Belleville Council of St. Vincent de Paul. “I owe my life to St. Vincent de Paul,” she says. Cindy (she asked that we not use her last name) was for many years a successful, highly ambitious woman with …
Students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Olney have done that one better. When the world gives you plastic grocery bags, make sleeping mats for the homeless. As part of their study of homelessness and the affordable housing crisis, students in the sixth and eighth grades have been turning thousands of used plastic grocery bags into sleeping mats.
Donna Humphrey is not too proud to accept help. “I’ve been the one who helps people my whole life,” the 67-year-old McClure resident says. “I’ve always been independent. But I am not afraid to ask for a hand up.” Helping people is what got Donna in her latest predicament. While trying to stop a co-worker from falling, Donna fell and broke her femur.
Katlin O’Connor is ready to devote her life to prayer and penance as a Carmelite nun. O’Connor says she is confident about her divine calling, as her leap of faith came after she returned to the Catholic church amid much soul-searching. “It doesn’t seem like a big change for me,” she said. “It will be comforting to go back to the basics, to do the simple work of daily life and focus on prayer.”
God created the animals – the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and the many beloved creatures who walk or crawl on the earth – and God declared them all to be good. A closely knit group of students at St. Mary Catholic School, Mt. Vernon are doing their part to help …
Nearly half a century later, Hasenstab, now 66, is preparing for his final day at CUP on Jan. 17. Toni Muhammad, the assistant director will take over an agency that looks very little like it did 43 years ago, or even six years ago, when Hasenstab took over after Hubbard’s retirement.
While the Advent Season is traditionally one of joy and gratitude, Father Steven Pautler has even more reason to be thankful. On Dec. 1, the first Sunday of Advent, he became pastor of St. Mary Parish in Centralia and St. Lawrence Parish in Sandoval.
Parishioners of Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church, Chester, participated in a rare experience in their parish on Sunday, Nov. 24. The dedication of a new altar. The dedication comes after the parish completely restored the interior (and some of the exterior) of their church, a project which took seven months.
Parishioners were all smiles (with the exception of a few tears of joy) on Sunday as their new altar was dedicated by Bishop Edward K. Braxton.
The early history of the Jesuits in the United States is entwined with the institution of slavery. Records show that in about 1670, French Jesuit missionary Father Jacques Marquette received the gift of an American Indian slave from the Illinois tribe he ministered to. Years later, at the Kaskaskia settlement Father Marquette helped found on the Mississippi River in southern Illinois, both Indian and African people were held in bondage.
St. Junípero Serra described the string of missions he established along the coast of California as a “heavenly ladder” to bring people closer to God. Now, Father Nick Junker is inviting young men in the diocese to climb Serra’s ladder, to help them decide whether they’re willing to devote their lives to God as priests.
For three years, Pete Joergensen has been attending Mass at churches throughout the diocese. His goal is to celebrate the Eucharist in every parish in the Diocese of Belleville. He says his pilgrimage has helped him fill the hole in his life caused by the death of his wife Virginia, while giving him a new appreciation for the Catholic community in which he lives.
This summer marked the end of an era at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Belleville, as Dennis York stepped down from a 59-year career as organist and music director. For decades, his musicianship and his leadership of the church choirs created a sacred setting for Masses and other important events in the life of the Cathedral parish and the Diocese of Belleville.
In these days of school consolidation, it is truly a joyous occasion to dedicate the opening of a new Catholic school — or as they are called these days — a Catholic education and activity center. Hundreds of parishioners of Immaculate Conception, Columbia celebrated that joy as they attended Mass and the Rite of Dedication …
Immaculate Conception Church perches on Kaskaskia Island, a tiny outpost of Illinois on the western side of the Mississippi River. For more than three months this summer, its perch got a bit lonelier, as rising floodwaters covered the main road into the town, cutting off the church from most of its congregants.
We are facing a national crisis in the United States. As a Catholic Bishop striving to live by and teach the good news of justice and peace proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth, I am compelled to name this truth. It is, in some way, a crisis of gun violence.
Sister Julia Huiskamp has spent the past 60 years serving God and the poor, creating havens where people on the margins can build escape ladders out of poverty and violence.
More than 30 years ago, St. Paul Parish in Vienna, Ill., was able to take a big step forward with the help of Catholic Extension. The parish was ready to expand from a small wooden structure in order to accommodate its growing congregation. Among the groups that contributed money to the project was what was then known as the Catholic Church Extension Society, an organization devoted to building and strengthening isolated faith communities.
By CHRISTOPHER ORLET Editor “You are the future of the Catholic Church!” That was one of the main messages delivered to more than 90 teenagers and pre-teens June 29 at the annual Diocesan Hispanic Youth Day. The gathering was sponsored by the diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry and held at the Pastoral Center in Belleville. …
It’s one of the most sought-after roles in theater: Alexander Hamilton, the singing, dancing founding father as portrayed in Lin Manuel Miranda’s acclaimed musical “Hamilton.”
By SUZANNE KOZIATEK Staff Writer Summer can be a time of rest and relaxation. But a group of students from Mater Dei Catholic High School used it as an opportunity to refocus on their faith, diving into service and contemplating what God wants of them. The 10 students participated for the first time in the …
A year ago, the men and women who serve southern Illinois inmates’ spiritual needs lost their leader, Father Christopher Reuter, OFM. It’s been a year of poignant reminders and a determination to continue to fulfill Father Reuter’s vital work, says Louis Slapshak, associate director for prison ministry for the Diocese of Belleville.
For Dennis Trickey, God’s call came in stillness. Trickey, then a rising junior at Mater Dei Catholic High School, was attending a summer retreat aimed at vocations. As an altar server, Eucharistic minister and lector at his home parish in Pierron, he’d often been told by parishioners and priests that he’d make a good priest, but he hadn’t thought much about it.
For Southern Illinois’ Catholic schools, service and values education are more than just “doing the right thing” – they’re an essential part of imbuing education with Catholic social teaching. The Church has developed seven themes of this teaching, aimed at building a just society and living lives of holiness: The life and dignity of the human person; call to family, community and participation; rights and responsibilities; option for the poor and vulnerable; the dignity of work and rights of workers; solidarity; and care for God’s creation.
Students at Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo are digging deep to help families far away, as they join forces with a non-profit that aids farmers in the developing world in improving their harvests.
The central principle of improvisational theater, or improv, is “saying yes” – following the spontaneous suggestion of your acting partner in a performance, no matter how outlandish it is or where it may lead. That element makes it a great fit with Catholic high school students, says MaryBeth Babcock, who has been teaching improv classes at Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo for about six years.
Few people know that there is a unique shrine to the Blessed Virgin overlooking Highway 64 through East St. Louis. The shrine of Our Lady of Siluva is located in the church yard of Immaculate Conception Lithuanian Catholic Church, East St. Louis, the East European-style church with the uncommon steeple that is clearly visible from the highway.
The latest and littlest Mater Dei Knight spends her days winning hearts and soothing stressed souls. CoCo, a 12-week-old chocolate Labrador retriever, comes to the Catholic high school daily with her human, Mater Dei’s counselor Tammy Carroll. There, CoCo socializes with the kids and adults, providing pet therapy to anyone who needs it.
Every year, the Herrin Chamber of Commerce honors an individual, chosen by the group’s president, for his or her contributions to the community. As she prepared for her final awards as chamber president, Kelly Green was having some difficulty figuring out who to choose for the 2019 President’s Award. Turns out, all she had to do was look up from her keyboard.
Two southern Illinois parishes in Hamilton County have been suppressed as part of the ongoing diocesan Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring. St. Clement of Rome Parish in McLeansboro, and St. John Nepomucene Parish in Dahlgren will now be designated as chapels of the “Mother church,” St. John the Baptist Parish in Piopolis. The three rural communities are located about 80 to 90 miles southeast of Belleville.
For years, St. Vincent de Paul has worked tirelessly to help people living on the margins by offering food, clothing and access to services from the society’s outreach center in East St. Louis. Now, the group has its sights set on one of the area’s thorniest problems – caring for those who don’t have a place to sleep at night.
The Catholic Church in the United States stands at a critical crossroad. On the one hand, the Church is facing the greatest crisis in its history with the unspeakable sin, scandal and crime of members of the clergy abusing children and concealing that abuse.
By SUZANNE KOZIATEK Staff writer The southern Illinois students and chaperones who make the yearly trek to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. are a hardy bunch. A day and a night spent on a bus from Belleville, marching for hours in all kinds of weather and the same long journey home can take …
By SUZANNE KOZIATEK Staff writer Dave Fahrner has come full circle. He’s back teaching anatomy, physiology and biology in Room 304 at Althoff Catholic High School – the same classroom he taught in as a young teacher in 1977. And back in the school he attended himself as a high school student. In between, he’s …
In the nearly six months that the Diocese of Belleville’s new superintendent of schools/director of education Jonathan “Skip” Birdsong has been on the job, he has visited 26 Catholic schools. The new director took charge August 1, just as the new school year was beginning. Almost immediately he began accompanying Bishop Edward K. Braxton on …
In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for Black Catholics will sponsor a keynote address by Bishop Edward K. Braxton of the Diocese of Belleville. The presentation is the second in a three-part series developed by the Office for Black Catholics in response to the U.S. bishops’ pastoral initiative against racism, “Open …
By SUZANNE KOZIATEK Staff writer An innovative program to provide peer-to-peer literacy help in Illinois’ prisons has been phenomenally successful: results show 97 percent of inmates who were tutored by other inmates have advanced their reading skills, making them more employable after release and less likely to end up back in prison. Now, the agency …
By SUZANNE KOZIATEK Staff writer It’s the time of the year for homemade halos and DIY mangers, when the school gym blossoms into Bethlehem. The Christmas play, complete with carols sung in young voices, is a mainstay of Catholic school life. In Red Bud, St. John the Baptist Catholic School is putting the finishing touches …
In 1893, Leo XIII was pope, Grover Cleveland was president of The United States, The World’s Columbian Exposition was in full swing in Chicago, the song we now sing as “Happy Birthday to You” was published, and the panic of 1893 was causing hundreds of U.S. banks to fail. What decidedly did not fail was …
For many retired priests and women religious, retirement doesn’t lead to a gold watch and a condo in Florida – it’s the first step to a continuing calling to help others. They serve in individual parishes and schools, in diocesan roles and in private prayer, serving as a spiritual force multiplier to accomplish greater goals than might be possible otherwise. The Diocese of Belleville will support their work through a special collection at Masses on Dec. 8-9 to benefit elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests.
As you know, I am in Baltimore for the autumn meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. On Sunday, I participated in the meeting of the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People during which we discussed a number of issues critical to the current crisis. The Bishops spent yesterday primarily in prayer and listening to lay women and men expressing their concerns for those who have been abused by members of the clergy and their dissatisfaction with the way some Bishops have responded to this abuse.
Within hours of the Oct. 27 massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, religious leaders in Carbondale were making plans to come together in solidarity and healing. The next day, more than 150 people crowded into Congregation Beth Jacob in Carbondale offering prayers for the victims of the shooting, as well as everyone affected by the violent attack.
There’s no one way and no perfect time to discern a vocation. Some people realize as children that they want to become priests or sisters. Others hear their calling in high school or college. Still others come to it later in adulthood, after another career.
In Cherán, a small town in central Mexico, residents hold a special reverence for St. Francis of Assisi, celebrating his feast day Oct. 4 with a Mass, music, dances and food.
At St. Augustine of Hippo’s parish school of religion program, parents, church and catechists don’t operate separately, they are woven together to form a strong connection between children and their Catholic faith. Parents support the catechists through assignments that promote family religious education at home.
The death of a baby during pregnancy never leaves a parent. Emily York has seen those reverberations, as she works to provide ways for families to remember their children lost to miscarriage.
Father Federico Higuera, 77, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Anna, died Sept. 4 in Carbondale. He had been in failing health for some time. He was assigned to the pastorate of St. Mary Parish in Anna in 2009 and continued as the pastor of the Union County parish until his death. He was the face and presence of Hispanic ministry in the Cobden-Anna-Carbondale area for 35 years.
Diocesan priests Fathers Flannery and Salamanca say we should welcome the ‘stranger among us’
To celebrate the ministry of priests in the diocese, The Messenger invited parishioners to comment on how priests’ pastoral ministries affect their spiritual and personal lives or the parish community.
John Reed just made a triumphant return to the Metro East, bearing a gold medal he won in the 2018 Transplant Games of America in Salt Lake City. The road to that victory – and to the life-changing kidney transplant he received four years ago – ran through Holy Family Catholic Church in Cahokia. That’s where his parents, John and Dee, are members and where their fellow parishioner, Kathy Carron, learned about his need for a kidney donor.
Bishop Edward K. Braxton has appointed Jaime Gil Nuñez as the new Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese. The appointment is effective Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.
The director of faith formation provides a central role in the promotion and implementation of the National Directory for Catechesis to parishes in the diocese.
Three sisters growing up in rural Clinton County, chose a path of religious life – one that branched into separate journeys all over the country and even the world. Now the sisters, all of whom are celebrating jubilee years, have come to live together for the first time in decades.
Holy Trinity Parishioner Receives Inspiration on Journey of the Saint James Way
Twice a month, a group of men and women with a commitment to fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life come together at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows to pray and learn.
Monsignor Thomas Flach’s journey in the priesthood took a difficult turn more than 10 years ago, when an unexpected illness slowed his steps.
Father Christian Reuter, OFM, is being remembered for his early work in the Civil Rights Movement and his admirable work with inmates in southern Illinois prisons and with ex-offenders.
They donated for years, sometimes decades, putting checks into envelopes that traveled thousands of miles to help sister parishes in Guatemala.