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Msgr. Gray: Always have the courage to preach Gospel truth, no matter what

Bringing the sacraments to people -- especially those who are dying -- have been rewarding moments for Msgr. Jason Gray, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights. (Provided photo)

PEORIA HEIGHTS — It was attending Emmaus Days, a vocations awareness program sponsored by the Diocese of Peoria, that drew Msgr. Jason Gray to the priesthood. “This retreat was important in helping me realize that praying, ‘Thy will be done’ in the Our Father really means that I should want to do God’s will over […]

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Fr. Dittmer’s vocation benefited from ‘fertile soil’ at home, Emmaus Days

Father Antonio Dittmer raises the monstrance during Benediction at the Spanish Father-Son Encounter April 9 at the Sacré-Coeur Retreat House in Magnolia. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

MOLINE — Father Antonio Dittmer credits his parents, Ramona and the late Richard Dittmer with creating the “fertile soil” for his vocation. Attending Emmaus Days in 1985 nurtured the seeds that had been planted. “I think Emmaus Days taught me that God has a will for me and if I am faithful to prayer, he […]

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Community important for Fr. Roszkowski, who needs and wants to be a companion

Father Don Roszkowski said he finds joy in those moments that God uses him, such as when he's preaching "and all of a suddenn you can just feel the Holy Spirit." (Provided photo)

When Father Donald Roszkowski needs inspiration, he looks to Luke 5:17-39, the story of the paralytic man who was lowered through a hole in the roof by four friends so he could see Jesus. “All of us are broken in some way, somehow,” he said. “I can really feel my brokenness and the things that […]

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Fr. Schmitt credits Mary for making his vocation to the priesthood apparent

Father Bowan Schmitt presides over the Graduation Mass for Schlarman Academy on May 22. He serves as chaplain of the Danville school. (Screen grab)

DANVILLE — Father Bowan Schmitt said having a Marian devotion is essential for Christ’s followers and he credits Mary for making him aware of his vocation to the priesthood. “Our Blessed Mother helps us to draw close to Jesus, and she assists us in our efforts to follow His will,” he said. “Our Lady’s prayers […]

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For Fr. Whiteside, joy comes from witnessing hearts, lives touched by God

Father David Whiteside said leading pilgrimages has been a big part of his priesthood. Here he is ona pilgrimate to Israel in 2012. (Provided photo)

HAVANA — Growing up in a Catholic home and attending St. Philomena School in Peoria, Father David Whiteside said he thought about priesthood occasionally. But when he attended Emmaus Days for the first time, “the Lord revealed himself to me most powerfully.” “I could feel the love of God and the presence of God so […]

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Fr. Nelson: Goal must be helping others grow in faith, encounter the Lord

Father Greg Nelson, pastor of St. Mary Parish and School in Bloomington, shows that school lunches can be fun with the right companion. Provided photo

BLOOMINGTON — Father Greg Nelson was interested in many types of work, but realized he was only going to be happy if he served God as a priest. The son of Carl E. and Cheryl G. Nelson, he was born in Peoria on Oct. 25, 1967. Father Nelson earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from […]

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Ministry to elderly, dying provides memorable moments for Fr. LoPresti

Father Carl LoPresti poses with octogenarian Maria Palafox, now deceased, who touched his soul with her love and joy of life. He called her "Mamasita di mi corazon" or "little sweet mother of my heart." (Provided photo)

FAIRBURY — Observing the power and effect of the sacraments has been the biggest influence on Father Carl LoPresti, especially those he administered to the elderly, sick and dying over the course of his priesthood. “These privileged experiences are also among my most memorable, and grateful moments,” he said. Father LoPresti was born in Indiana, […]

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Fr. Haake seeks to offer ‘meaningful fatherhood’ through his priesthood

Father Christopher Haake leads a eucharistic procession around St. Patrick Church in Dwight. One of the greatest lessons he has learned over the last 25 years is to be faithful to daily prayer and eucharistic adoration. (Provided photo)

DWIGHT — Father Chris Haake started thinking about the priesthood when he was 6. His pastor at St. John the Apostle in Woodhull, Father Arnold Klauer, was a friend of the family and planted a seed from which his vocation would grow over time. The son of James and Bernice Haake, Father Haake was born […]

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Six silver jubilarians celebrating anniversary of ordination on May 24

Ten priests serving in the Diocese of Peoria are marking their 25th anniversary of ordination this year. Six of them were ordained on May 24, 1997, by Bishop John J. Myers at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. They are Father Christopher Haake, Father Carl LoPresti, Father Gregory Nelson, Father Donald Roszkowski, Father Bowan Schmitt and […]

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