Masses to pray for return of fallen-away Catholics set throughout diocese in July

(CNS file/Gregory A. Shemitz)

In an effort to bring fallen-away Catholics back to the practice of their faith, the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women is asking people to turn to prayer and the Good Shepherd for assistance.

Building on last year’s successful pilot program, the DCCW has asked each vicariate of the Diocese of Peoria to schedule a Mass specifically for this intention. Many of them will be celebrated in July because Pope Francis has asked people to pray for lapsed Catholics during that month.

“I think this is going to be strong because it affects everybody, it affects every family,” said Agnes Christman of Danville, immediate past president of the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. “I haven’t talked to anybody who hasn’t shared with me that there is someone, somewhere who isn’t practicing.”

Masses for the intention of “The Return of Fallen-Away Catholics” are planned for:

  • Wednesday, July 5, at 7 a.m., at Epiphany Church, 1000 E. College Ave., Normal (Bloomington Vicariate);
  • Friday, July 7, at 11:15 a.m., St. Patrick Church, 100 W. Mazon Ave., Dwight (Pontiac Vicariate);
  • Saturday, July 8, at 7:30 a.m., St. Columba Church, 122 W. Washington St., Ottawa (Ottawa Vicariate);
  • Sunday, July 9, at 7 a.m., St. Mary Church, 9910 W. Knox St., Kickapoo (Peoria Vicariate);
  • Wednesday, July 12, at 8 a.m., Blessed Sacrament, 225 E. Greenwood St., Morton (Pekin Vicariate);
  • Friday, July 14, at 9 a.m., Holy Family, 444 E. Main St., Danville (Danville Vicariate), and 8:15 a.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 2401 N. Broad St., Galesburg (Galesburg Vicariate;
  • Wednesday, July 26, at 11:15 a.m., St. Louis Church, 616 S. Gosse Blvd., Princeton (LaSalle Vicariate);
  • Sunday, Sept. 17, at 8 a.m., Holy Cross Church, 405 W. Clark St., Champaign (Champaign Vicariate); and
  • Friday, Nov. 24, at 7:30 a.m., Our Lady of Guadalupe, 800 17th St., Silvis (Rock Island Vicariate).

Dates for Masses in the Kewanee and Macomb vicariates have not been finalized yet.


The Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women has also provided a “Litany of the Good Shepherd” for the vicariates to make available to people to pray before Mass, to take home and pray, or to hand out to others with an invitation for them to join in praying for the return of fallen-away Catholics.

“When you’re praying in solidarity, that matters,” Christman said. “How do you not get your prayer answered if you’re praying in solidarity with thousands of other people? It’s going to be answered.”

That’s one of the reasons the PDCCW decided to submit a resolution to the National Council of Catholic Women. It was accepted and is expected to be adopted after the membership has an opportunity to consider it during the national convention that will be held Sept. 6-9 in Dallas.

The resolution notes “the largest group of any religion in the United States of America is fallen-away Catholics” and “there are six people who fall away” for every new member of the Catholic Church. It adds, “The Gospel message of the Good Shepherd admonishes us to strive to bring ‘lost sheep’ back into the fold.”

It asks that NCCW member affiliates request Masses for the intention of the return of fallen-away Catholic throughout their dioceses and archdioceses, and “persist in prayer, fasting and evangelizing.”

“The whole point is to get people working in solidarity on this,” said Christman, who served as president of the PDCCW from 2014 to 2016.

To provide added assistance locally, the council encloses a DVD, “Right Here, Right Now: Always Be Ready to Share Your Faith,” with every thank-you note to pastors who are hosting vicariate Masses. Featuring Patrick Madrid, the Lighthouse Catholic Media presentation provides information on how to talk to those who have fallen away from the practice of their faith or do not know anything about the Catholic Church.

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