A Review of the Year 2015 in the Church in Southern Illinois

 Several parishes in the diocese marked significant anniversaries; one, the dedication of a new church. The parish community of St. Francis in Aviston celebrated 150 years of parish life on Oct. 4, the feast day of its patron. Immaculate Conception Lithuanian community in East St. Louis celebrated its 120th and St. Augustine community in Belleville its 60th. The newly established parish community of Gallaltin County participated in the Nov. 29 dedication of their new parish church, St. Kateri Tekakwitha. 

The diocese, diocesan vicariates and parishes began participation in the Jubilee Year of Mercy at the beginning of Advent. 

Four diocesan priests and two parish life coordinators retired from their parish ministries. In recognition of a growing diocesan ministry The Messenger published its first Deacon Appreciation supplement. Responding to a changing informational environment, Catholic high schools in the diocese incorporated use of articles and information from The Messenger’s electronic edition in their theology classes. 

Faith in action was recognized by diocesan Catholics in the marketplace, senior volunteers and youth participating in service projects.


January issues of The Messenger included publication of Bishop Edward K. Braxton’s “The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection for the World Day of Peace 2015.”

The annual Vocations section included features focusing on Deacon Bob Lanter, St. Luke, Belleville parishioner, reflecting on his diaconate ministry, and on Sister Judy McKenna, OSF retiring in 2015 from her ministry as choir director at St. Nicholas Parish in O’Fallon for 21 years.

Adults and youth from the Belleville diocese joined thousands of others at the annual March for Life on the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Also reported in January:

• Bishop Braxton introduced two Nigerian Vincentians — Father Linus Umoren and Father Sebastian Ukoh — as missionaries to the Belleville diocese.

• Franciscan Father Fernand “Ferd” Cheri III was named an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Father Cheri was a choir director and guidance counselor at Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville, in residence at St. Benedict the Black Friary in East St. Louis.

• Erin Maloney, who grew up as a member of St. Patrick Parish in Pond Settlement was invited to be one of the people to meet and greet Pope Francis when he visited Turkey, where she and her husband teach at a Turkey university.

•The annual Martin Luther King Jr., celebration was held Jan. 18 at St. Augustine Parish in East St. Louis. Parishioner Madonna Aldridge and Rev. Paula Wills, pastor at Missionary Baptist Church in East St. Louis and director of Health Visions East, sponsored by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, read and reflected on Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

• First-, second- and third-graders were given gifts from parishes at St. Joseph in Olney, St. Joseph in Stringtown and Holy Cross in Wendelin (a plate, a candle and a cup)  to engage families at the kitchen table, emphasizing that faith begins at home while families gather at the kitchen table.

• January obituaries: Father Richard Weidert Jr; Sister M. Gabriella Doran, CSC; Aloysius E. “Al” Rascher.


The Feb. 12 issue included the annual Catholic Schools Week Supplement. Activities described in the supplement were:

Belleville’s Althoff Catholic High School’s gathering with 50 distinguished graduates as part of the school’s 50th anniversary celebration;

Blessed Sacrament School in Belleville continuing friendship and visitation exchange with Notre Dame Elementary School in Kyoto, Japan;

The Hope for Tomorrow Club at Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo sponsoring their Teddy Bear Toss with the stuffed animals donated to Mercy Cancer Center. Started by six junior girls in 2012 the club is the school’s largest, with 80 members;

Parents and adults sharing their ideas on prayer with students at St. Clare School in O’Fallon.

At the annual Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion on the First Sunday of Lent Feb. 22 Bishop Braxton welcomed catechumens and candidates.

An insert in the Feb. 26 edition focused on the 2015 Catholic Service and Ministry Appeal, including a report on the 2014 Appeal with $1,065,716.37 pledged and $991, 547.07 distributed. Appeal recipients, The Griffin Center and Holy Angels Shelter in East St. Louis and Daystar in Cairo, were included in insert features.

Also reported in February:

• Bishop Braxton welcomed two new priests from Nigeria — Father Charles Anyoaku and Father Felix Chukwuma — to the diocese in the Feb. 26 issue.

• The final installment of Bishop Braxton’s “The Racial Divide in the United States” was published in the Feb. 12 issue. The Reflection was the topic for the first of six scheduled discussion gatherings initiated by St. Augustine of Hippo Parish in East St. Louis.

• The diocesan Ministry to the Sick and Aged sponsored Chris Lowney as the speaker for its annual day of reflection for volunteers.

• Dr. Renato Rivera left Feb. 14 for his annual medical mission trip to the Philippines where he and other professionals would perform an estimated 120 surgeries and procedures free of charge.

February obituary: Philip Buettner.


The Lenten pilgrimage towards Easter became a family affair for the four Smith sisters who were the sponsors and support for their partners (three husbands and a fiancé) during the Rite of Christian Initiation at St. Lawrence Parish in Lawrenceville.

The annual Easter Greetings supplement included the traditional welcoming of the diocese’s catechumens and candidates who were baptized or welcomed into full communion at parishes’ Easter Vigils.

The diocese’s Catholic Committee on Scouting recognized 101 Scouts Feb. 22 at the organization’s annual recognition ceremony at St. Augustine Church in Belleville, with Father Eugene Kreher presenting the traditional Catholic Scout recognitions. A number of adults were also recognized for their service to the scouting program.

Also reported in March:

• The March 12 issue included the annual Spanish supplement.

• Father Didace Kamana led a community conversation on “Reconciliation through Truth-Telling” March 21 at the Catholic Newman Center in Carbondale. Father Kamana was a child when left for dead among his family members during the Rwandan genocide.

• About 50 people met March 21 at St. Clare Parish in O’Fallon to discuss  Bishop Braxton’s pastoral letter — “The Racial Divide in the United States.”

• Immaculate Conception Parish in Columbia dedicated a parish library in honor of Father Stephen Gira, CR, a former parochial vicar at the parish who died of cancer at the age of 59 in 2010.

• The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in Springfield installed a new leadership team March 15, including Sister Janice Schneider, a native of Stringtown, as provincial councilor.

• March obituary: Russell Peterson.


The April 9 issue included The Messenger’s first Deacon Appreciation supplement, with features on Deacon George Munie, retired but continuing to minister when requested at St. Pancratius, Fayetteville; Deacon Linus Klostermann, St. Dominic, Breese, looking forward to job retirement and full time diaconate ministry; and Deacon Corby Valentine, St. Joseph, Freeburg, creatively responding to needs as they arise.

The Spring Senior Living supplement was published in the April 26 issue. Features included an interview with Sister Bertha Fischer, ASC, now living in Ruma and for 20 years a translator at the Adorers generalate in Rome. The interview also focused on prayer.

Ella York, community outreach liaison for the Illinois Attorney General’s office in Carbondale addressed the prevalence of scams directed at senior citizens.

Catholic youth from throughout the diocese gathered March 27-29 at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville for their annual conference, with the theme: “Anchored in Christ: We Are All God’s Treasures.” Oddwalk Ministries, the Shannon Cerneka and Orin Johnson duo, were keynote presenters.

Also reported in April:

• Marvin and Bernice Winka hosted the annual Spring Blessing of the Farm March 26 at their family farm near Ashley.

• Bishop Braxton reflected on the death of Mr. Russell Peterson in the April 9 issue. The bishop also reflected on the death of Cardinal Francis George, OMI, archbishop of Chicago.

April obituary: Sister M. Agnes McDougall, OSF.


The Messenger’s annual Graduation supplement in the May 21 issue saluted 35 valedictorians and salutatorians and congratulated graduates from the diocese’s three Catholic high schools and Catholic graduates from public high schools throughout the diocese.

Recipients of the Bishop’s Discipleship Award, presented after a May 7 Baccalaureate liturgy at St. Peter Cathedral were seniors Marie Harla, Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville; Andrew Reinholz, Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo; and Kimberly Thole, Mater Dei Catholic High School in Breese.

Michael Kish, graduate, teacher and 40-year principal of Immaculate Conception parish school in Columbia, received a Peabody Energy Leaders in Education award in Region I.

A Memorial Day feature shared the memories of Celia Loyet, whose son Airman 1st Class Zachary Ryan Cuddeback was killed May 2, 2011 by a terrorist at Frankfurt, Germany’s international airport. He was buried from St. Nicholas Parish in O’Fallon where he had been baptized.

Also reported in May:

• A Health and Fitness section in the May 7 issue included features on activities from brain games to gardening for residents at the Shrine Apartment Community in Belleville and on exercise suggestions by physical, occupational and speech therapists on staff at St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon.

• Diocesan pastoral leaders gathered April 16 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center to discuss Hispanic Ministry in the diocese.

• Construction of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Ridgway resumed after a winter break.

• Three long-time board members — Don Bierman of St. Polycarp Parish in Carmi, Phyllis Dumstorff of St. Dominic Parish in Breese and Bill Weber of Holy Cross Parish in Wendelin  — retired from the Catholic Service and Ministry Appeal  and Agency Allocation and Accountability Committee.

• St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville added a home care program to their health mission.

• The May 7 issue included a feature by Messenger editor Liz Quirin on Casa Hogar, a home in Honduras caring for abandoned or abused children whose families are unable to care for them.

• Emily and Jeff Niemeyer of the Niemeyer Agency Knights of Columbus Insurance in Breese were recognized for earning the number one-rated Knights agency in Illinois at a meeting in Madrid, Spain.

• Camp Ondessonk dedicated the new Msgr. Fournie Mini Camp Village May 30 at its 56th annual open house and homecoming.

• May obituaries: Sister Joan Range, ASC; Sister Helen Frances Winkler, OSF; Richard Reyling.


The June 18 issue included the annual Diocesan Jubilees supplement congratulating diocesan priests and priests serving in the diocese celebrating ordination anniversaries in 2015. A diocesan celebration beginning with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Peter Cathedral was held June 1.

Diocesan priests celebrating anniversaries were: Father Roger Karban (50), Father Eugene Kreher (50), Msgr. John McEvilly (50), Father William Rowe (50), Father Patrick Peter (40), Msgr. Dennis Schaefer (40), Father Edward Schaefer (40), Father Matthew Elie (10), Father Robert Zwilling (10). Extern priests serving in the diocese celebrating anniversaries were: Father Felix Chukwuma (10), Father Osang Idagbo (10).

Also reported in June:

• The June 4 issue included a salute to six valedictorians and salutatorians from high schools in Carlyle, New Athens and Murphysboro.

• The East Side Heart and Home Family Center in East St. Louis observed its 20th anniversary and 20th home build at the Center’s 7th and Summit neighborhood in East St. Louis.

• Bishop Braxton ordained Brett Judkins from St. Stephen Parish in Caseyville to the transitional diaconate May 23 at St. Peter Cathedral in Belleville.

• Bishop Braxton announced the appointment of Mr. Michael Gibbons as the Belleville diocese’s new chief finance officer.

• St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville broke ground for a new hospital facility to be built in O’Fallon.

• Marking the importance of pro-life ministry, over 3,000 pinwheels were placed on the St. George church grounds in New Baden.


Three “Rs” could describe significant events highlighted in July issues of The Messenger — retirements, renovation, retreats. Add a “P” for picnics.

The official  announcement of clergy, religious and lay appointments, published in the July 2 issue, included the retirement of four clergy, a religious, and a deacon from parish leadership roles.

Retiring as pastors were: Father Leo Hays of St. Elizabeth in Ava, St. Ann in Raddle and St. Joseph in Willisville; Msgr. John McEvilly of Queen of Peace in Belleville and Father Joseph Trapp of St. Joseph, Benton. Retiring as Vicar for Priests was Bishop Stanley Schlarman.

Retiring as parish life coordinators were Deacon Robert Lippert of St. Anthony in Beckemeyer and St. Augustine in Breese, and Sister Catherine Wellinghoff, ASC of St. Paul in Johnston City.

Parishioners of St. George Parish in New Baden were “welcomed home” June 21 to a reopened church after completion of a major renovation, remodeling and repair project.

Celebrating Eucharist, reminiscing and planning for the future, TEC (Teens Encounter Christ retreat program) marked its 50th anniversary June 12-14 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of  the Snows.

Diocesan parishes continued their traditional picnics dating back to the 1800s — famous for quilt bingos and suppers. The Diocesan Ministry to the Sick and Aged hosted its annual picnic June 10 for area nursing home residents; Catholic Urban Programs hosted its 35th picnic for seniors July 24.

Also reported in July

• A feature in the July issue highlighted the care of the environment  and land by Dr. Melanie and Chris Waller, parishioners of Holy Cross Parish in Wendelin,  on their 20-acre homestead.

• Bishop Bejoy N. D’Cruze, OMI visited Oblate brothers in the diocese.

• Bishop Braxton welcomed Father Vincent Mukasa, a fidei donum priest from the archdiocese of Kampala in Uganda.

• A Back to School section in the July 30 issue introduced two new parish school principals — Pierre “Nic” Antoine at St. Ann School in Nashville and Marcie Stinde at St. Theresa School in Salem.

• The July 16 issue included the semiannual Diocesan Calendar.

• July obituaries: Sister Mary Junkin, DC; Sister Antoine “Toni” Cusimano, ASC; Sister Mary Louise Loepker, ASC; Ruth Friedman; Leonard Daiber.


In numbers there were 54 religious jubilarians celebrating anniversaries from 10 communities recognized in The Messenger’s Aug. 13 annual Religious Jubilee supplement. In years of ministry and religious life the number was almost 3,000. What can’t be counted is the legacy of relationships with countless children and adults accompanied on their faith and human journeys in all walks of life.

Featured in the supplement were golden jubilarian Sister Mary Carolyn Welhoelter, PHJC, manager of the Kitchen Table in Cairo since 1997, and Sister Anne Irose, 60-year jubilarian, retired and long-time missionary in Bolivia.

The Aug. 27 Fall Senior Living supplement focused on individuals and programs for seniors in jeopardy because of political budget wrangling in Springfield, including  an interview with St. Michael, Paderborn parishioner, Marcella Klein, 95, who talked to state legislators requesting release of federal funds for needed Meals on Wheels programs.

Bishop Braxton reflected on his week as guest chaplain at Chautauqua Institution in New York in the Aug. 13 issue.

Also reported in August:

• The parishes in Wendelin (Oct. 4), St. Joseph in Stringtown (Oct. 11) and St. Joseph in Olney (Oct. 11) planned observance of the Year of Consecrated Life with religious who have come from or ministered in their parishes. In Wendelin parishioners celebrated the 25th anniversary of Sister Simona Frohning, FSGM, a daughter of the parish, Aug. 23.

• The North Central Vicariate continued celebrating bimonthly healing Masses for people living with cancer and other serious illnesses, scheduled Sept. 8 at St. Barbara Parish in Okawville.

• A Walk for Remembrance, remembering babies who have died and their loved ones was planned Oct. 4 at Lake View Memorial Gardens in Fairview Heights.

• The first day of the 2015-2016 school year included opening the new Notre Dame Academy in Belleville with campuses at St. Augustine and cathedral parishes.

• More than 200 people gathered for a Catholic Youth Ministry Reunion  July 15 at Sheve Park in Mascoutah. As youth, their lives had been touched by Colette Kennett, former diocesan youth director, who died Nov. 13, 2014.

• St. Joseph, Olney parishioners, students, relatives and friends participated in a 5k run Aug. 29 in honor of former pastor Father Jerry Wirth on the first anniversary (Aug. 30) of his death.

• Carlos and Efrend Garcia announced classes in Spanish for families of loved ones suffering mental disabilities, beginning Sept. 9 and continuing for 13 weeks.

• Family and friends celebrated July 25 the 100th birthday of Rose Voss Theising currently residing in Carlyle.

• August obituary: Sister Jane Ratermann, ASC


Messenger September supplements demonstrated faith as a 24/7 and lifetime journey in the traditional Faith in the Marketplace and Parish Religious Education supplements.

Six people were recognized at The Messenger’s annual Faith in the Marketplace dinner. Recognized for taking their faith into the marketplace were: Mark Cowell, St. John the Baptist, Red Bud; Terry Green, St. John the Baptist, West Frankfort; Bruce Holland, St. Nicholas, O’Fallon; Yolanda Mumford, St. George, New Baden; Larry Pfeffer, St. George, New Baden; and Wayne Weber, Holy Cross, Wendelin.

The annual Parish Religious Education supplement outlined parish plans and programs. Kim Diaz, director of religious education at St. Mary in Mt. Vernon said the understanding and practice of virtues will be the “strands that will be woven throughout the year,” including support of and presence at a shelter near St. Mary’s.

St. Augustine in Belleville celebrated the 60th anniversary of the parish’s founding in 1955 and Immaculate Conception Lithuanian Church in East St. Louis observed its 120th anniversary.

Also reported in September:

• Father Sean Martin, SJ, president of Aquinas Institute in St. Louis, offered four sessions on the Pastoral Epistles: Creating Christian Community at St. Mark Lutheran/St. George’s Episcopal churches in Belleville.

•The Sept. 10 issue included an interview with Brother John Laudenbach, the last Marianist in Illinois. The Brothers of Mary began their teaching ministry in the diocese in 1905 at St. Peter’s Grade School in Belleville.

• Bishop Braxton engaged freshmen at the three Catholic diocesan high schools at an annual liturgy welcoming them and their families to their schools.

• The Messenger began a column in Spanish and English in the Sept. 24 issue, authored by Father Salvador Gonzalez, OMI, staff member at Our Lady of the Snows shrine in Belleville.

• Friends joined Inez Wilson to celebrate her 105th birthday at St. Paul’s Home in Belleville.

• The three Catholic high schools in the diocese have incorporated use of articles and information from The Messenger’s electronic edition in their theology classes.

• Bishop Braxton held an annual meeting with Catholic high school teachers.

• September obituary: Sister Mary Bernard Braun, ASC.


The themes of October issues were historically rooted Catholic themes: respect for life, education, gratitude for ministry, including Pope Francis.

Bishop Braxton urged Catholics in  the diocese to read and reflect on Pope Francis’ messages during his U.S. visit.

St. Francis Parish in Aviston celebrated 150 years of faith Oct. 4, on the feast of its patron at an 11 a.m. liturgy with Bishop Braxton as celebrant and homilist. A reception and dinner followed.

The Respect Life section in the Oct. 8 issue voiced testimony and support for life from ‘womb to tomb’ and included a feature on respect for people dealing daily with mental illness.

The High School Open House section invited prospective students to open houses at Catholic high schools. Several students from Mater Dei Catholic High School in Breese commented on the value of their Catholic school education.

The Oct. 22 issue included the annual Priest Appreciation supplement, with expressions of  gratitude in commentary and ads for individual priests’ ministry personally experienced in parishes by parishioners.

About 135 women participated in the Belleville Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s annual convention Oct. 14 at St. Clement in McLeansboro. Redemptorist Father Peter Schavitz was the guest speaker for the morning and afternoon sessions.

The Diocesan Education Convention was held Oct. 9 at Holy Trinity Parish in Fairview Heights. Catholic school teachers recognized for 25 and 40 years of service were: Peggy Butler, Blessed Sacrament, Belleville; Michelle  Voegtle, St. James Millstadt; Cheryl Sackett, Mater Dei, Breese; Brenda Congiardo, St. Mary, Chester; Mary Kay McGinnis, formerly St. Mary-St. Augustine, Belleville; Sharon Canaley, St. Andrew, Murphysboro; Mary Czerniejewski, St. Ann, Nashville; and Chris Haberl, SS. Peter and Paul, Waterloo.

Thousands of people from the area and across the Midwest viewed the relic of St. Maria Goretti in repose at St. Peter Cathedral Oct. 19. St. Maria was on a Pilgrimage of Mercy in the United States. More than 1,200 people participated in an evening liturgy.

Also reported in October:

• Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Fernand Cheri III, OFM, a former member of St. Benedict the Black Friary in East St. Louis, celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving Oct. 17 at St. Peter Cathedral. In the diocese he ministered at Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville.

• The annual Blessing of the Harvest, a Thanksgiving Prayer Service, was held at the McCormick Farms near Ellis Grove, hosted by the family of Shirley and Paul McCormick.

• Bishop Braxton celebrated the annual Red Mass Oct. 2 at St. Peter Cathedral.

•About 250 gathered at Our Lady of the Snows shrine for the annual “Friends of the Poor Walk.” More than $23,000 was raised to support the charitable activities of St. Vincent de Paul conferences in the diocese.

• St. Augustine of Hippo Parish in East St. Louis scheduled Monday evening classes in November to celebrate Black Catholic History Month.

• A ribbon cutting ceremony formally opened the Cottages at Cathedral Square Oct. 16.

• October obituaries: Sister Gemma Hellmann, ASC; Sister Virginia Walsh, ASC; John Klein.


The Messenger’s Nov. 5 Vocations supplement included a feature on Deacon Steve Pautler, St. Boniface Parish in Evansville, one of five Belleville seminarians beginning studies at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis.

With the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy in December, the diocese, diocesan vicariates and parishes announced preparation plans to participate in the Year of Mercy.

Bishop Braxton’s All Saints Day Reflection on the relic of St. Maria Goretti (little saint of great mercy), and our vocation to be saints was published in November issues.

Holy Angels Shelter in East St. Louis celebrated its 30th anniversary with a fund raiser and a reunion of former East St. Louis parishes. The event honored the four people whose vision and creativity brought the shelter to life in 1985: Joseph Hubbard, retired director of Catholic Urban Programs (CUP), president, Society of St. Vincent de Paul; Gerry Hasenstab, CUP executive director; Patricia Lewis, first shelter director, now retired; and Paulyn Snyder, social service coordinator at the shelter.

The Nov. 19 issue noted diocesan employees celebrating milestone anniversaries and scheduled to be recognized at an employee gathering. Recognized for 40 years of service was Mrs. Ollie Ward; for 35 years, Mary Fournie; for 30 years, David “Butch” Beer, Renee Quirin, Paulyn Snyder and Montez Tinsley; for 25 years, Diane Sonneman. Recognized for 10 years of service are three employees and five for 5 years.

Also reported in November:

• The 257th Teens Encounter Christ retreat weekend, with participants from St. Mary in Mt. Vernon, was held in September. The Luke 18 Retreat Team leaders announced formation of a 2016 team for the sixth-eighth-grade youth retreat program.

• Fifth- and sixth-graders from Mt. Vernon area Catholic schools gathered Nov. 3 at St. Mary in Mt. Vernon for a regional vocational awareness day.

• A feature in the Nov. 19 issue focused on a Sept. 12 study day on “Race, Space and Identity” at the Adorers Ruma Center in a National Black Catholic month section.

• In a Nov. 19 feature Jashira Bolden, 16, continued her fund-raising history for local charities, begun at the age of 8, coordinating her third annual cotillion. She is a member of St. Augustine of Hippo Parish in East St. Louis.

• Warren Mudd, eighth-grader at St. John the Baptist School in Red Bud and Ryan, fifth-grader at St. Clare School in O’Fallon were “framed,” as outstanding, in November’s Kids Connection features.


An Advent feature in the Dec. 3 issue focused on the joy and hope of Dan Whelan, Immaculate Conception, Columbia parishioner, despite a diagnosis in 2007 that later developed into terminal cancer. He spoke of his cancer as a “gift from God,” which he would like to give back after carrying it and sharing it with family, friends and strangers, though always looking forward.

Parishioners of the new St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Ridgway gathered Nov. 29 as Bishop Braxton installed Father Steven Beatty as pastor and to witness the dedication of the church and altar. The church, built on the site of the former St. Joseph Church, destroyed in a tornado Feb. 29, 2012, serves Catholics in Gallatin County, with churches in Shawneetown, Pond Settlement and Equality continuing as chapels. Excerpts from Bishop Braxton’s Dedication Sermon were published in the Dec. 17 issue.

Christmas reflections and greetings, including Bishop Braxton’s annual reflection, filled the pages of the Dec. 17 Christmas Greetings supplement.

Also included in the supplement were winners of The Messenger’s Prayer for Christmas contest for third- to fifth-graders. They were: Brielle Seiler, third-grader, St. Joseph Catholic School in Olney; Liam, Diana and Alex, fourth-graders, St. Francis Xavier Parish School of Religion, Carbondale; Sarah Whittom, fifth-grader, Holy Childhood Catholic School in Mascoutah.

Also reported in December:

• Bishop Braxton installed ten deacon candidates (eight for the Belleville diocese) as Lectors Nov. 21 at St. Peter Cathedral.

• An Advent Evensong was continued Dec. 13 by the Kloepfen Singers at Holy Cross Parish in Wendelin, with Scripture, organ music, English carols and Austrian Christmas music sung in German.

• Famous family recipes were included in the Dec. 3 issue.

• Bobby Wheetly, eighth-grader at Blessed Sacrament School in Belleville and Luke Chapple, first-grader at St. Clare School in O’Fallon were “framed,” as exemplary in December’s Kids Connection features.

• Third- through fifth-grade students from St. Mary in Mt. Carmel and St. Joseph in Olney gathered Nov. 24 for a day of reflection.

• The famous Way of Lights Christmas display at the shrine, with its more than 1,000,000 lights and other attractions was scheduled to continue until Jan. 2.

• Corpus Christi Parish in Shiloh continued its Holiday Hilltop 5K run, benefitting a child with cancer. Proceeds were donated to Anne Chaffee/Friends of Kids with Cancer.

• The diocesan Knights of Columbus councils honored Msgr. Donald Eichenseer (deceased), Tom Norrenberns (deceased), Msgr. William Hitpas, Alexander Grudzinski and Russ Thoman at the 31st Southern Friendship Dinner Honor Program Oct. 3 at St. Nicholas Parish in O’Fallon.

•The East St. Louis Griffin Center director Diane Sonneman was recognized for her ministry as a 25-year diocesan employee in the Dec. 17 issue.

• Obituaries: Sister Mary Jerome Goeckner, ASC; Father Jerome Hibner; Sister Maxine Peppenhorst, PHJC; Sister Teresa Schleper, PHJC; Sister Rose Schrage, ASC.