Every student at Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School in East St. Louis learns how to play the violin. Every student. Beginning in kindergarten. Third graders at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Belleville learn to play the recorder as part of an arrangement with the St. Louis Symphony. In turn, they are invited to perform with the Symphony. At Mater Dei High School in Breese, various band and vocal classes are offered, along with extracurricular activities, such as marching band. These are just three examples of music education opportunities available at the schools in the Diocese of Belleville.
Picture a big bowl of tri-colored pasta salad with vegetables, brimming with multi-colors, tastes, shapes and textures. Now read this description: “As different as we are, we are ALL called to be disciples of God. We all have special gifts, talents and charisms that blend so beautifully with our neighbor and help build up the Kingdom of God. When you take a big bite of this pasta salad, be reminded of your calling, the value of your neighbor and mission of the Kingdom.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020, the Illinois Department of Corrections closed all prisons, jails and work camp access to clergy and lay volunteers who were providing Catholic service ministry to detainees and those incarcerated. On August 24, 2021, Father Nick Junker, pastor at St. Mary the Immaculate Conception in Mt. Vernon, enthusiastically posted on Facebook that he celebrated Mass at the Big Muddy River Correctional Center in Ina. This was the first time in more than 18 months that the men at Big Muddy could receive the sacraments.
For Ken and Barb Kenney, the next chapter of their lives began in 2012. Barb had been married to Tom for 39 years before he died in 2005. They lived in Chesterfield, Mo. After his death, Barb moved to southern Illinois to be closer to family and started attending St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church in O’Fallon. Ken had been married to Jeanne for 43 years before her death in 2011.
The Diocese of Belleville may be small population-wise, but it has been blessed to have been home to many remarkable, saintly people. Two of these saintly people, Joe Hubbard, now retired as director and founder of Catholic Urban Programs, and the late Sister Ann Connolly, ASC, were recognized for their selfless service with the Catholic …