Habemus Episcopum!

It is with great joy that I forward the news that the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has a new bishop:

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Archdiocese of Chicago to be the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. He succeeds Archbishop George J. Lucas, who was named archbishop of Omaha last June.

The appointment was announced at 5 a.m. April 20 in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

“We are grateful to God, to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and to Francis Cardinal George for choosing such a gifted and dedicated priest and bishop to serve us,” said Msgr. Carl Kemme, diocesan administrator, who introduced Bishop-designate Paprocki to the community during a news conference later that morning at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield.

“We are most grateful to Bishop Paprocki for accepting this appointment. Together, we pledge our prayers, support and loving cooperation to him in the ongoing work of proclaiming the Gospel,” Msgr. Kemme said.

Although he has been an occasional visitor to Springfield, Bishop-designate Paprocki said he sees his new ministry as bishop of the diocese and a “blessing” and looks forward to learning more about the Catholic community of central Illinois.

“I am deeply grateful for the confidence shown by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in appointing me to serve as the ninth Bishop of Springfield in Illinois,” Bishop Paprocki said. “I look forward to working with the priests, deacons, men and women religious, the lay Christian faithful and all people of good will here in our State Capital to carry out the mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel. I pledge to do my best with the help of God’s grace to build on the fundamental blessings established through the dedicated ministry of the previous bishops of Springfield, especially my immediate predecessor, the Most Reverend George Lucas, now Archbishop of Omaha.”

Bishop-designate Paprocki is a native of Chicago, born Aug. 5, 1952. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 10, 1978 in Chicago. He is a canon lawyer, with a doctoral degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (1991), and is also a graduate of DePaul University College of Law in Chicago (1981).

In addition to his parish assignments, he served the Archdiocese of Chicago as vice-chancellor (1985-2000) and chancellor (1992-2000). He was ordained auxiliary bishop for the Chicago Archdiocese on March 19, 2003. He serves Chicago Cardinal Francis George as vicar for Vicariate IV; the cardinal’s liaison to Polonia (the Chicago Polish community); the cardinal’s liaison for Health and Hospital Affairs.

An installation liturgy and Mass of Welcome will be held Tuesday, June 22, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. More information on the installation and related events will be announced later.

The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois comprises approximately 146,000 Catholics in 131 parishes in central Illinois. The diocese includes the following counties: Adams, Bond, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Greene, Jasper, Jersey, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Pike, Sangamon, Scott and Shelby.

More at www.dio.org/bishop.

A press conference will be held today at 10a at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; plans are to stream the press conference live at the diocesan web site. Bishop Papricki’s installation will be June 22 at that same cathedral.

In the meantime, please keep Bishop Paprocki in your prayers!

Heavenly Father, you sent Jesus to shepherd your
people and the Holy Spirit to make your people one.

Send your Holy Spirit to anoint our new
Bishop-designate Thomas Paprocki, that he may continue
the work of renewal in the Church and unite our
parishes, priests and people in love, truth and wisdom.

Give him a true shepherd’s heart like that of Jesus,
that he may give strength to the weak, heal the
broken-hearted, console the lonely, bring back the
wandering and be a power against the evil of our day.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

On the Feast of St. Patrick

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Patrick. In our secular culture, St. Patrick (and his feast day) is remembered simply for his connection to shamrocks, leprechauns and green beer. In fact, St. Patrick was a native of Britain. While still a teen Patrick was captured and taken to Ireland; he spent six years there as a slave. After escaping and returning home, Patrick had a vision. As he later wrote:

I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish.” As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea — and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.

Patrick, now a bishop, returned to Ireland where he baptized thousands, ordained native priests, and converted the sons of kings. He won over the people who had once enslaved him and is now the patron saint of the Emerald Isle.

Like the Irish of the 4th century, our diocese is waiting for a bishop who will “come and walk among us.” It has been extraordinarily heartening to see and hear of the many people around the diocese who are praying for our new bishop through intercessions, litanies and the Eucharist. Whoever he is, our new bishop has been cloaked in the prayers of the faithful and entrusted to the care of our Blessed Mother. And we pray that, like St. Patrick, he will teach us to walk in the joyful company of the Triune God.

Lord God,
you are our eternal shepherd and guide.
In your mercy grant your Church of Springfield in Illinois a shepherd
who will walk in your ways
and whose watchful care will bring us your blessing.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.