Clergy Corner, Aug. 11, 2017

Clergy Corner, Aug. 11, 2017

No pope, before or after, spent more time on American soil than JOHN PAUL II, who's credited with shaping a generation of Catholics and was canonized a saint.

Now, 12 years after his passing, a part of the Vatican's second-longest-serving chief resident is making the rounds in the U.S., with a stop scheduled for next week in Champaign.

A vial of blood — one of four extracted toward the end of John Paul II's life as he battled Parkinson's disease — will be the main attraction of a 6 p.m. Mass on Thursday at Champaign's St. Mary's Church.

Encased in a container shaped like the book of the Gospel with its pages open, the blood is part of the National Touring Relic of St. John Paul II, which will be showcased at six churches throughout the Peoria diocese over three days.

Long a Catholic tradition, the idea of traveling relics "developed out of an intention for great accessibility," says Urbana St. Patrick's Pastor LUKE SPANNAGEL, "since many of us wouldn't get a chance to visit the catacombs and honor the relics of saints — or in this case, the crypt underneath St. Peter's in Rome, where Pope John Paul II is buried."

The church designates three classes of relics — first (such as blood or bones), second (clothing) and third (personal possessions).

The relic headed here next week is entrusted to the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, whose founder, Mother ADELA GALINDO, travels with it.

The Rev. ROBERT RAYSON, pastor at Champaign's St. Matthew, was on hand in Peoria when it last appeared there in 2013. Years earlier, he celebrated Mass at the pope's tomb in St. Peter's Basilica after John Paul II was canonized a saint.

"Pope St. John Paul II is very special to me," says Rayson, who studied his writings in the seminary. "He had a shepherd's heart and I was privileged to meet him and deacon for him at the Papal Youth Rally in St. Louis in 1999, four months before I was ordained a priest."

THE WEEK AHEAD: Other notable events in the area church scene


Welcome back, JIM HACK and fellow members of the latest group of Good Shepherd Lutheran congregants to spend nine days helping build homes in El Salvador. Hack, 76, has been leading the mission trips, organized in part by Habitat for Humanity, since 2011.


It's the Rev. FLORENCE CAPLOW's first day on the job as minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign. The Terre Haute, Ind.-born Buddhist practitioner and fifth-generation Unitarian will preside over her first service here on Aug. 27.

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IllinoisAlum wrote on August 11, 2017 at 11:08 am

What a revulsive practice. Parading around with a vial of blood, as if it has some magical powers to instill faith. Another example of the misguided religion of Catholocism. How does this kind of hero worship (idolotry, anyone?) relate to finding peace and understanding through a higher being? Is the interest in such 'artifacts' potentially interesting from a historical perspective? Perhaps. But the fact that such practices are a part of that sect of religion speaks volumes. It seems to be more about archaic rituals and nostalgia around past religious leaders (many of whom were sainted despite being terrible people) than anything else.