Sacred Heart Pilgrimage Invitation

Sacred Heart Pilgrimage Invitation

Dear Faithful of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, 

This coming December 27, 2023 will mark the 350th anniversary of the revelation of the  Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. As pastors and associate pastors, I encourage  you to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a long-standing devotion rooted in John 19: 33-34:
But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed  out.”
I am sure you have that powerful verse from the Preface of the Sacred Heart memorized, “For raised up high on the Cross, He gave Himself up for us with a wonderful love and poured out blood and water from His pierced side, the well-spring of the Churchs Sacraments…” 

The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau is blessed with 12 parishes named in honor of  the Sacred Heart of Jesus. During the 350th anniversary, which begins on the date of the firsapparition, December 27, and will conclude next year on December 27, 2024, I encourage all  Catholics to grow in their devotion and love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the diocesan Website you will find a collection of time-honored prayers and resources to encourage and enhance your  devotion:


Additionally, I am encouraging the faithful to make a “pilgrimageto each of the 12 parishes. The staff of the Office of Communications has partnered with the Office of Faith Formation and created a kit for the 12 parishes which includes a stamp,  prayers to pray during your visit, and Sacred Heart devotionals. A”passportcan be easily downloaded from the Website for this purpose and with each visit, pilgrims can stamp the “passport” of the particular parish they are visiting. Once the 12- parish  pilgrimage is completed, they simply mail the passport to the Office of the Bishop and I will send them a gift, along with a certificate of completion. 

I am grateful for the cooperation and hospitality of our 12 Sacred Heart parishes. I am also grateful for the support of all the clergy in promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us remember that one of the 12 promises of the Sacred Heart, is of particular importance for priests in the confessional:
I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.” (10) “Jesus, meek and humble of hearts, make my heart like unto Thine.”

Sincerely yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Edward M. Rice
Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau 


Published in the November 24, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
Photo: Getty Images

Transcendent Experiences Connect Us to Spiritual Realities

Transcendent Experiences Connect Us to Spiritual Realities

Did you see the article in the August 25th edition of Our Sunday Visitor entitled, “How to live like Saints in a Secular Age?” I kept the article near me because I wanted to reference it as we prepare to enter the Month of November with our two beautiful feasts, November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints (a holy day of obligation in the Church), and November 2, The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed (All Souls day).
On Nov. 2, we remember all the holy men and women who do not have a particular feast day. On that day, we remember all the holy men and women who were never canonized but lived lives of holiness, often hidden, normal, maybe even mundane and routine, but nonetheless: they lived their lives in holiness because they lived their lives with faith.
We probably know who these unnamed saints are: Maybe our parents come to mind, or a faith-filled teacher, or a neighbor or friend that inspired us to live the faith. They may never have been (or will be) officially canonized, but they were holy nonetheless. The article reminds us that we live in a “secular” world that is often not spiritual or religious. It’s the reality that we face. But because of that reality, do we not have even more opportunities to shine the light of faith?
The author of the article, Bob Plunder, highlights the need for transcendent experiences. Without these transcendent experiences that connect us to spiritual realities, there is no need to believe in God. Transcendent experiences is what the Church has to offer to people. The desire for God can be enhanced through modern technology, but often the opposite is true. What is found on Netflix or TikTok or Facebook, and the technology that goes along with it, can actually pull us away from the transcendent. A generation ago, most Catholics would have been carrying a rosary in their pocket or purse. Maybe now, we carry a phone and along with it, Emails and Web-browsing has replaced the rosary, and as a consequence, so many of us are sucked into a dark hole.
As a possible solution, the author suggests that we must “recover a sense of what the incarnation can mean.” He goes on to say, “The incarnation names our belief that God, in the second person of the Trinity, [the One] that has taken on our flesh in Jesus Christ in order to save us. He lived and moved among us, fully God and fully man. … He knew the heat of the noonday sun and the chill of a cold night. He was raised by a mother and father. He spoke amid conflicts; He preached; He listened. He knew joy and mourning. … We have to recover a sense of what the Incarnation can mean because of the manifold, often hidden, ways that our secular age has shaped our sense of what might be possible with God.”
It is particularly in the midst of the secular world that we are called to live like saints. What does that look like? It is the wife that sits by her husband’s bedside as he suffers the ravages of cancer. It is the parents that pour out love on their child that suffered a terrible car accident, cheering him on for every small victory in rehabilitation. It is the adult child that faithfully visits a parent that doesn’t even recognize them due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, and yet faithfully visits them week[1]after-week, advocating for their care. It is the countless number of parents that get up day-after-day and go to work, oftentimes to a thankless job that lacks real significance or value to them, but a job nonetheless that allows them to care for their loved ones, to keep a roof over their heads, and to keep them fed and clothed and educated. In the midst of all the busyness of life, in these situations and so many more, people recognize their need for God. They make room and time for God, coming to Mass, receiving Holy Communion, living a sacramental life without any fanfare. Oftentimes, the priest knows who you are. You’re the one that comes in at the last minute to Mass dragging the kids with you looking haggard and tired, but you’re there and the Church is better for it! The Feast of All Saints is for you!

Editor’s note: Read the full article at Our Sunday Visitor: how-to-live-like-saints-in-a-secular-age/

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”


Published in the October 27, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
Photo: Getty Images

Springfield’s Catholic Cold Weather Shelter Now in Its 3rd Year Needs Volunteers

Springfield’s Catholic Cold Weather Shelter Now in Its 3rd Year Needs Volunteers

For the third year, St. Anthony Claret Shelter, Springfield, will offer homeless men in the Springfield area a warm and inviting place to stay when the weather turns cold and snowy. The shelter, located in the parish hall of Sacred Heart Church, Springfield, is open twice a week from November 1 through March 31 and provides beds for 25 men.

New for this year, and recently blessed and celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Bishop Edward M. Rice, is a laundry facility and a handicap accessible shower for the homeless men to use. Thanks to donations, the St. Anthony Claret Shelter is one of the few shelters in Springfield that offers these services for the homeless. The shower is open every Tuesday, from 1-4 pm.

“We really offer a multi-service shelter here,” said Fr. Ray Smith, CMF, pastor of Sacred Heart Church. “Every Monday, Panera donates bread that we distribute to those in need. People who know about the offer come in and they’ll get bread. We will, of course, share it with anyone who comes through and has needs.”
Many restaurants and companies in the north Springfield area donate food for the kitchen.

“Someone donated a large freezer for our use, and an entire third of a cow for us, we never run out of food. Praise Jesus!” said Fr. Smith. 

“We’re now offering Narcotics Anonymous (NA) here twice a week, and you’ll have folks in need through that group as well. We have some outside groups that use this facility in addition to NA,” Fr. Smith said.

The men who will stay overnight in the shelter are transported by City Utilities, which provides transportation from Grace United Methodist Church to different shelters around town. The men are precleared at Grace Methodist for overnight shelter and will arrive by bus. Because the St. Anthony Claret Shelter serves a hot dinner meal, they are the first stop. During large snowstorms, the shelter will remain open and shelter persons for 24 hours until the bus is running again.

“So often these folks don’t get regular meals, don’t get hot meals. One of the things we want to do as Catholic witnesses is the element of treating individuals with dignity. So, we make the effort to give them a hot dinner and a hot breakfast whenever possible,” said Fr. Smith. “And we work with all six of our Springfield parishes for our volunteer base. The hot meals are served with real plates, cups, or utensils. It’s a simple act to show dignity to each person who finds shelter here.”

In addition to the hot meal, snacks are always on-hand because they may not have eaten for a couple of days, and some of them, even if they just ate, are still hungry. The shelter works in collaboration with Saint Joseph Catholic Academy, Springfield, which often provides snacks.

“We have one of the best kitchens here in Sacred Heart. Brother Manolo [Br. Manuel ‘Manolo’ Benavides, CMF], with our community, made the mosaic for our 40th anniversary that is featured in our serving area in the shelter,” said Fr. Smith.

Sheets and blankets used in the overnight shelter have been provided through donations from Mercy and Cox hospitals. The Community Partnership of the Ozarks donated a cart full of large jugs of shampoo for the shower dispensers. Walmart has donated blankets. A large wooden storage cabinet was built by Sacred Heart Parish staff member Glenn Eckl to hold supplies. Although not a full clothing ministry distributor, the shelter also has a hanging clothes rack with clothing donations to offer to the men in need who use the shelter.

“And so as it is, when starting one ministry, you get two more. These blessings come,” said Fr. Smith. “St. Agnes Cathedral (Springfield) is good about keeping us up on underwear, it’s amazing. We have towels for days. Once you ask, you really do receive as Jesus promised. You won’t get one house: You’ll get 10 houses. And that’s how donations happen sometimes. We are so grateful for the support from the diocese, both financially and for the volunteers.”


Both men and women are welcome to volunteer for the shelter. There is always at least one man staffed for the overnight shift and to help with shower oversight. An overnight staff typically consists of 10 volunteers, but it is expected to increase to 12 this year because of the new shower and laundry facilities and the additional needs from these services. Volunteers could help with dinner preparation and serving/clean up. Individuals and groups should contact the church for specific times.

“Our real need is the middle of the night shifts. That is the big challenge,” Fr. Smith said. “Our team would like to add a third day for shelter, but it really depends on the volunteer base we have. We started with nothing more than our parishioners and we made it through two months with just that. Then we opened it up to the other parishes, with the sense that I’d like this to be not just the Sacred Heart shelter. This is the Catholic Shelter at Sacred Heart.”

The shelter is having what Fr. Smith calls unexpected, beautiful, consequences. One being that this ministry is bringing together parishioners from all area parishes. “We have so few activities that do that. Most folks stay active in their parish and don’t get to meet people from other parishes,” said Fr. Smith. “But in this activity, after one evening, you have people from Saint Agnes (Cathedral), IC (Immaculate Conception), Holy Trinity, and SEAS (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton) come together as volunteers. They’ve never met each other, and they get these chances to form new connections. That’s what our Catholic church should do.”

Fr. Smith shared that one of the things he found beautiful about the shelter ministry is the backstories. “Sacred Heart Parish is approximately 50/50, maybe 60/40, Hispanic. And we’ll have nights or periods where many of the servers will be from the Hispanic community. Imagine, you are an immigrant and come to your new country and you’re caring for the homeless in your new parish home. And I just think that speaks volumes of their faith, that’s one of those little backstories that people don’t see. But in most church ministries, yeah, all those little backstories are always happening.” He also shared that some of the men who use the shelter will re-engage with their Catholic faith, and some will receive the sacraments.

“We had a man come to the shelter who had grown up as a child in this parish. Because of the connection through this ministry, I was able to offer him last rites at the hospital before he passed from an illness,” Fr. Smith said.

Although Sacred Heart is a small parish, Fr. Smith hopes that the work done there will inspire others to step up into this ministry. “Last year, in preparation for a major snowstorm expected for the Springfield area, we helped coordinate with shelters around town and had other churches step up to help and do what they could do to help offer shelter here at Sacred Heart. If just a few more churches would help us add just 10 beds this year, that would make a huge difference. As the Claretians do, we try to follow the vision of St. Anthony Mary Claret in our ministry and serve those in most need.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or donating to the shelter may call Sacred Heart Parish, Springfield, at (417) 256-2556. ©TM 

Published in the October 27, 2023 issue of The Mirror, written by Paula Wright

Photo Source:  Grace Tamburro/The Mirror

Missouri Needs a Conversion of Heart

Missouri Needs a Conversion of Heart

The recent financial report from the 2022 National Religious Retirement Office indicates that our diocese donated $78,302.79 for the care of retired religious in the United States. I also received a letter thanking the diocese for the $49,263.69 collected for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. These two collections highlight the generosity of our people for the various causes we are asked to support.

In our own area, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri is well on the way to completing LifeHouse Cape Girardeau, tentatively scheduled for completion and occupancy in April of 2024. At the recent Dinner for Life, in Springfield on Sept. 23, an update was given on the progress. LifeHouse Cape sits on an almost two-acre plot of land donated by a generous benefactor for this specific purpose. The space itself, spanning 17,000 square feet, will include 15 units, each unit will house a mother and her children. While LifeHouse Springfield is based in the repurposed Carmelite Monastery, LifeHouse Cape is a new building that was specifically designed to include indoor and outdoor community spaces and administrative and office space for LifeHouse; Catholic Charities offices, and pregnancy support programs. The location, close to downtown, will provide employment opportunities for the women from the many nearby businesses and industries.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked every (arch)diocese to Walk with Moms in Need and our local LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Homes are the perfect examples of doing just that! As a diocese, we can be so proud of what is being accomplished to assist women in need. Further, Bishop Burbidge, USCCB Chairman of the Committee on ProLife Activities, has called for “radical solidarity,” with women in need. Pope St. John Paul II first defined “radical solidarity” in this way: “In firmly rejecting ‘pro-choice,’ it is necessary to courageously become ‘pro woman,’ promoting a choice that is really in favor of women… The only honest stance in these cases, is that of radical solidarity with the woman. It is not right to leave her alone.”
LifeHouse Cape and LifeHouse Springfield are perfect examples of this “radical solidarity” and I encourage everyone to offer a financial gift to Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri for our LifeHouse ministries.

The decision to overthrow Roe v Wade is an answer to our prayers, but it has also rallied those in the abortion industry. Pro-abortion extremists want to change state constitutions, and Missouri is one of the targets. Massive out-of-state dollars will fund their pro-abortion campaigns as they rally their troops—so, we cannot sit idle. While our Missouri Catholic Conference lobbyists are working the political angle at the state capitol, we must push for voter registration at our parishes, and we must counter the lies. We cannot expect support from the secular media and popular culture, and at times, we may feel like we are David against Goliath, but what we do have is faith. Let us always be courageous, because in the end: life will be victorious!

Now, some reject that the death penalty is a pro-life issue as well and I would respond with “Indeed, it is!” Paragraph 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says, “The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” And as much as Missouri is a pro-life state regarding abortion, one-fourth of the executions in the US in 2023 occurred in Missouri. Catholics are called to be pro-life from the “womb to the tomb,” and so we have a lot of hearts to touch if we are fully pro-life. Recent efforts in various states to promote euthanasia, assisted suicide, and non-resuscitation on request, are becoming popular as well. As Bishop Burbidge stated, “The transformation of our culture also requires continual conversion of our own hearts so that we can recognize in every person, the face of Christ and place their needs before our own.”

That sounds like “radical solidarity.” 

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”


Published in the October 13, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
Photo: Getty Images

October’s Focus is on the Dignity of Life

October’s Focus is on the Dignity of Life

“Who would Jesus execute?” That is the rather provocative title of the annual report put out by the Catholic Mobilizing Network, a national organization that works with Catholics and others to promote the dignity and value of human life and the abolishment of the death penalty. I hope everyone would agree that the answer to that question is no one: Jesus would execute no one. Is there anyone beyond the mercy of God, even the “worst” human? And is there not always the chance of conversion, turning to the Lord in repentance? Of course, we could also ask, “Who would Jesus abort?” That question too, as repulsive and provocative as it may sound, has the same answer: no one.

The fundamental principles guiding our teachings on human life are simple: the human person is made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, life is sacred—period! There are no exceptions or circumstances or situations or economics or creed or color or ethnicity that would mitigate that basic truth. Life is sacred, and therefore any attack on life must be rejected or it will weaken the fiber of our society. I think that was at the heart of Pope St. John Paul II’s 1993 address made during his visit to the United States, when he said, “America, defend life so that you may live in peace and harmony.” It is often said that we are the richest country in the world, and while I do not know if it is actually true, Mother Teresa said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish … any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence [in order] to get what it wants.” The same can be said of capital punishment. Our laws say you’re not supposed to kill people, and yet we kill people who kill people so that we can reinforce the message that we are not supposed to kill people. The argument is inherently illogical. In our post-Roe reality, Catholics must now work together in “radical solidarity,” walking with women in need. Our LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Homes and Aftercare Program is a 24/7 residential transitional housing program for homeless pregnant women and their infants and young children. This program in Springfield, and opening April 2024 in Cape Girardeau, will go a long way in walking in “radical solidarity” with women in need. I invite you to walk with us in a spirit of “radical solidarity” and make a financial donation to our local LifeHouse ministry. This may be done on the Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri Website at Thank you.

The battle for life is not over. Since the Dobbs decision, the opponents of life are ramping up their efforts, targeting Missouri and other states to enshrine abortion in state constitutions or legislation that would codify so-called abortion rights. And let’s not forget about religious freedom. Some federal regulations have been proposed which would require Catholic healthcare ministries to violate Church teaching on human life and dignity. I invite you to the Citizen’s Network of the Missouri Catholic Conference to better inform yourself on the threats to religious freedom and legislation that may be not in line with the dignity of life in Missouri: What should our response be? Well, as Christians, we are filled with hope that the beautiful vision of a true culture of life can become a reality. Is it possible to live in a country where every life is valued and received as a gift? Absolutely. More than anything, we need a conversion of hearts. Our elected officials can pass laws protecting human life but no law can legislate the human heart. Ultimately, the conversion of minds and hearts will make the biggest impact in building a culture of life in a Post-Roe world.

The champion of the pro-life cause, Mother St. Teresa of Calcutta, offers us a particular challenge these days: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Yes, we belong to each other. Yes, life is sacred. Yes, we are made in God’s image. Yes, life is fragile and therefore must be defended and protected. Let us never be discouraged. As in all things, let us be strengthened in our prayer especially before the Blessed Sacrament.

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”


Published in the September 29, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
Photo: Dean Curtis (The Mirror)