Young missionaries gather at Cathedral for annual Mission Mass
By DIANE SCHLINDWEIN
On Oct. 4, hundreds of school children from across the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, along with their teachers, school leaders, and parent chaperones, traveled to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to take part in the annual Mission Mass.
The children represented their Catholic schools well by joining in praying the rosary just before Mass and then by singing hymns as Bishop Thomas John Paprocki celebrated the Mass. Concelebrating the Mass were Fathers John Burnette, Jeff Grant, Joseph Havrilka, Michael Meinhart, Callistus Osiaga, Don Roberts, and Dominic Vahling. Father Peter Chineke was master of ceremonies and Deacon David Sorrell assisted Bishop Paprocki.
In his homily Bishop Paprocki spoke about some of the saints who are represented in the statuary at the cathedral and how they were special missionaries. For example, the Apostle St. Peter, “brought the Good News to Rome” and “that is why to this day we are called Roman Catholics,” he explained. One saint honored at the cathedral — St. Thérèse of Lisieux known as the “Little Flower” — was not able to go out and about as other missionaries did, but her work was still very important, he told the children. She had a great desire to be a missionary — so she prayed. “She saw her part as being in the heart of the Church,” he said.
Bishop Paprocki reminded the youngsters that “the mission work of the Church happens at every level” and can be done “at home in Illinois or in the poorest parts of the world.” “You are a missionary now, even as children,” he said.
At the end of the Mission Mass, Donna Moore, director of the Office for the Mission, spoke to the young missionaries, and thanked them, their Mission moderators, and all who keep the missions in prayer. She then recognized the awards for the highest per capita donation to the Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) . Recognized for exceptional giving were: fifth place, Sacred Heart School, Pana; fourth place, St. Agnes School, Springfield; third place, St. Mary School, Taylorville; second place, St. Mary School, Brussels; and first place, St. Louis School, Nokomis. Each of the winning schools received a Fair-Trade cross, with an engraved plaque on the back identifying the school, the school year, and what award the school received.
Additionally, Moore announced diocesan winners of the annual Missionary Childhood Association Christmas Artwork Contest, which includes Nora Burns of St. Dominic School, Quincy, who won in the grades K-2 category; Lilah Moore of St. Dominic School, Quincy, who won in the grades 3-4 category; Jemma Dorsey, Our Lady Queen of Peace School, Bethalto and Eve Schleeper, St. Mary School, Brussels, who won for the grades 5-6 category; and Lakin Allenswork, St. Dominic School, Quincy, and Allison Albrecht, St. John the Evangelist School, Carrollton, who won for the grades 7-8 category. The children who won in the local level for art received a mission rosary and a globe, and the student and their school received a certificate signed by the bishop.
This year another student, Adam Schumacher, who was an eighth-grader at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Newton when he entered the art contest, was recognized at the national level of the annual MCA Christmas Artwork Contest. Adam, who is now a student at Newton Community High School, received a framed copy of his drawing with an engraved plaque, a globe, and a mission rosary, and will be recognized along with other artwork winners by the director of the Pontifical Mission Societies at a ceremony at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.