Piatt County Catholic congregations mourn death of 57-year-old pastor


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MONTICELLO — When word reached the Catholic community in Monticello and Bement that their priest had passed away unexpectedly, they responded in a way they felt would honor the late Bruce Lopez.

"A prayer service was organized" Thursday, said the Rev. Joel Phelps, who leads the Champaign Vicariate.

The turnout among Piatt County congregations showed how highly they thought of the Rev. Lopez, who had served at St. Philomena Catholic Church in Monticello and St. Michael's Church in Bement since 2008.

"It was a full church and people stayed there for an hour with prayers and devotions," Phelps said of the service, held at St. Philomena.

Lopez was 57. He was ordained in 1988 and also served churches in Mendota, Bloomington, Alexis, Wataga, Galva, Spring Valley, Peoria, Havana and Manito.

He was also known for his sense of humor and dedication to the Chicago Cubs, traveling to see several games each season.