.- This morning Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment of Chicago’s Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki as the new bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois.
A 10 a.m. press conference at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield will introduce Bishop Paprocki to his new flock. “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,” Bishop Paprocki said in a statement this morning.
The Diocese of Springfield has been without a bishop for 10 months, since Bishop George Lucas was appointed Archbishop of Omaha last June. “On behalf of the priests, deacons, seminarians, consecrated religious and lay men and women in all our parishes and institutions, I joyfully welcome Bishop Thomas Paprocki as the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois,” said Msgr. Carl Kemme, who has served as the diocesan administrator in the absence of a bishop.
“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. We are most grateful to Bishop Paprocki for accepting this appointment,” added Msgr. Kemme. “Together, we pledge our prayers, support and loving cooperation to him in the ongoing work of proclaiming the Gospel.”
Bishop Paprocki, aware that Abraham Lincoln was a native of Springfield, quoted from the famous president. “We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducting more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings.”
“It is indeed a ‘fundamental blessing’ which I am profoundly privileged to inherit as the new shepherd of the flock that comprises the Catholic community of central Illinois,” the newly appointed bishop said.
The Diocese of Springfield itself covers 28 counties, and comprises approximately 146,000 Catholics in 131 parishes. There are 157 priests in the diocese, 23 permanent deacons and 661 religious.
Bishop Paprocki is both a canon lawyer and a civil lawyer. He has studied law at DePaul University College of Law and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He has served as chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago from 1992-2000, and has since served as a pastor, an adjunct professor of law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, the Episcopal Vicar of Vicariate IV, and the president of the Chicago Legal Clinic, a non-profit dedicated to providing legal services to the poor. He enjoys reading, playing hockey, and has run 16 marathons.
“The Archdiocese of Chicago will no longer directly enjoy the many gifts that Bishop Paprocki brings to his Episcopal ministry, but we rejoice with the Diocese of Springfield on their receiving their new bishop,” said Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George. “My prayer is that the Lord and his Blessed Mother, under the title of her Immaculate Conception, will bless Bishop Paprocki and the Church of Springfield as he takes up his new Episcopal duties.”
Bishop Paprocki will be installed as Bishop of Springfield on June 22 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.