The Diocese of Belleville was erected Jan. 7, 1887. Bishop Edward K. Braxton is the diocese’s eighth bishop.
The diocese covers 28 counties of southern Illinois, bordering the states of Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana. Its employees come from all areas of the diocese.
Each year, the names of those who celebrate milestone anniversaries at five-year increments are recognized. This year two employees have worked for 40 years in the diocese, one for 25 years and two for 20 years.
Others have worked for five 10 or 15 years.
The diocese congratulates and thanks all of its workers.
Father Eugene Neff, pastor of St. George in New Baden, also leads Ministry to the Sick and Aged in the diocese, visiting area nursing homes and celebrating liturgies in many of them in the Metro East.
At the beginning, Father Neff provided Catholic chaplaincy to area nursing homes and Belleville’s Memorial Hospital. That ministry has expanded to include nine facilities in the Belleville metropolitan area.
Through Father Neff’s efforts and the people who support the ministry, speakers have come to the diocese to enlighten audiences about the needs of elders, wherever they reside.
He has invited and encouraged others to join in this ministry as volunteers to bring Communion and solace to residents.
And, Father Neff has invited nursing home residents to an annual picnic at the Diocesan Pastoral Center to listen to music and spend some time outside and have a picnic lunch.
Patty Schilling began working for the Diocese of Belleville in 1974 at her parish, St. James in Millstadt. She served a number of pastors, managed the books at the parish before she was asked if she would like to apply for the job of secretary to the new bishop, Wilton D. Gregory, now archbishop of Atlanta, Ga. She was ready for a move.
She moved from parish life and all that means to managing a bishop’s schedule, which turned into a broader role when that bishop became president of the USCCB.
In 2005, when Bishop Gregory became archbishop, she thought it was time for another move. She became office manager at The Messenger and manager of the diocesan web site. Some might believe working at the diocesan newspaper would be less demanding than working at the Chancery, but the jury is still out on that decision.
Her co-workers at The Messenger are delighted she made that move in 2005 and hope she will continue to be a bright spot in this diocesan office for many years to come.
Patty and her husband, Al belong to St. Peter Cathedral in Belleville.
Kathy Schrage began her career at the Diocese of Belleville in 1989 working full-time in the Office of Youth Ministry. Since then she has pursued other opportunities within the diocesan structure by supporting the Vocation Office, Office of Education, Office of the Vicar General, and finally her current position in the Finance Office. Her well-rounded background makes Kathy a valuable resource for parishes and diocesan agencies. Kathy lives in Okawville with her husband Joe and she enjoys her children & grandchildren & camping, boating & traveling.
Jeanette Dempsey celebrates 20 years of service to the Ministry to the Sick and Aged. She began working as a receptionist to Father Gene Neff on July 1, 1994.
As part of her office responsibilities, she mails birthday greetings and bulletins to Catholic residents of nursing care facilities. She assists with the annual summer outing by contacting over 15 area facilities. Over 200 residents attend the June picnic. Another responsibility includes fund raising for the annual Rauchenfest. The Rauchenfest event includes a German meal, a silent auction, and music provided by the Waterloo German band.
Jeanette lives in O’Fallon with husband, John. She is an active member of the Altar Sodality and senior group of St. Clare of Assisi Parish. She is also a member of Council 4239 Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary.
Mike Jennings has long been a pillar in the Camp Ondessonk community. This year marks his 20th year of service.
Originally hired as an Assistant Camp Ranger in 1994, he quickly transitioned into his current role as Camp Ranger in 1995. Mike, who has a special gift for building meaningful, long-term relationships with construction and maintenance volunteers, considers that area of his work to be his favorite. His remarkable devotion continues to inspire others to serve the campers of Ondessonk in the same way. Heepwah Mike Jennings!
Those who have worked in the Diocese of Belleville for five years include: Deja Davis, Griffin Center; Kathryn Jack, Catholic Urban Programs; Connie Lanaghan, Camp Ondessonk; Brandon Vaughn, Griffin Center.
Those who have worked in the diocese for 10 years include: Sharnique Bryson, Griffin Center; Dawn O’Leary, Newman Catholic Student Center; Quinzetta Wince-Logan, Holy Angels Shelter for Catholic Urban Programs.
Those who are celebrating a 15-year anniversary as diocesan employees include: Aisha Anthony, Griffin Center; Alexandra Graham, Griffin Center; Linda Kreher, Vicar General’s Office; Venessa Marion, Catholic Urban Programs; Michelle Thompson, Griffin Center; and Patricia Warner, Vocations/Deacon Formation office.