Each year on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil, thousands are baptized into the Catholic Church in the United States. Parishes welcome these new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). This is true for individuals and families from around the Diocese of Belleville, who made professions of faith to the Catholic church, receiving the sacraments of confirmation and communion, or were baptized. Sister Laura Reynolds, a Franciscan Sister of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, is one of many coordinators of RCIA throughout the Diocese of Belleville. For 10 years, she has served in Franklin County, which includes three parishes and two chapels.
“As a Catholic going to a Catholic high school, I feel that participating in my school’s Theology Club is a great way to deepen and further my education in religion,” says Julia Nugent, 18, a senior from O’Fallon. “It exposes me to other people’s thoughts on religion and other theological ideas,” she says. Nugent attends Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville and is co-president of the Theology Club.
When Angie Leonelli found Pietra Fitness online, she fell in love with it. “It spoke to my heart in ways yoga never could,” she says. “I used to make up my own prayer workouts because I love prayer and fitness together. When I found Pietra Fitness, I thought, Wow!” Leonelli, a Pietra Fitness instructor and parishioner at St. Clare Church, O’Fallon, says this exercise option combines the love of fitness and Catholic faith.
“It’s Canon Law that surrounding parishes take care of those who are in the prisons near them. Those in custody at these prisons are members of the local parish,” says Louis Slapshack, associate coordinator for prison and reentry ministry for the Diocese of Belleville. Taking care of incarcerated parishioners’ needs—both spiritual and temporal—is the mission of the Prison and Reentry Ministry. The spiritual isolation brought on by COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on prisoners, Slapshak notes. Prior to COVID-19 mandates, priests, deacons and lay persons could enter the prisons and offer scripture studies or RCIA classes.
On Feb. 18, Fr. Linus Umoren, C.M., pastor of S.S. Peter and Paul Parish in Waterloo, blessed Gibault Catholic High School’s Class of 2022 and sent them out into the community for their three-week senior service project. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Gibault’s inaugural senior service project held in 1972, a program school …