Writings

Centenary

May 29, 1917
The One Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
May 29, 1917-November 22, 1963
Our First and Only Catholic President of the United States

  “Fifty Autumns Later”
-From, “An Autumn Reflection”
By Bishop Edward K. Braxton
November 28, 2013
THANKSGIVING DAY

This year, Thanksgiving Day comes just days after the anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963, fifty autumns ago. On that terrible day a half century ago, the world was shaken by a cruel and shocking act. The Chaplain of the Senate prayed, “Our Father, Thou knoweth that this sudden almost unbelievable news has stunned our minds and hearts. We gaze at the vacant place against the sky, as the President of the Republic goes down like a giant cedar, green with boughs.” I hope the late president was remembered in the prayers of many on All Souls’ Day.

When he was elected in 1960, many Americans were surprised that a Catholic could be elected in a country where there was a considerable anti-Catholic bias, including an unfounded fear that a Catholic president’s judgments and policies might be somehow controlled by the Holy See.  Catholics were generally proud that a member of the Church had been chosen to lead the country at a critical juncture.

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Bishop Braxton Reflects on the Museum of African American History and Culture in Essay

We, Too, Sing America:
The Catholic Church and the Museum of
African American History and Culture
January 15, 2017

An Essay Written in Commemoration of the
88th Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 15, 1929 — April 4, 1968

By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

 I. The Bishops’ Meeting, the Election, and the Museum

(1) The new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture has stirred a great deal of interest. As an African American and as a Catholic Bishop, I have looked forward to visiting the Museum and examining its treatment of the Church.

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A Prayer of Praise For Thanksgiving Day

A Prayer of Praise For Thanksgiving Day

By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

 

We give thanks to You, O God Almighty, for Your wondrous creation: the millions of galaxies; the billions of glittering stars in each galaxy; our own galaxy, The Milky Way; for our star, the life sustaining sun; for earth’s companion, the moon, with its soft and lovely light.

O God, we thank You and we praise You!

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There Are No ‘Minority’ Voters

There Are No 'Minority' Voters 

By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville 

As Election Day approaches, commentators are speculating about the impact the “minority” vote will have on the outcome. Can Mrs. Clinton win even if she does not receive as high a “minority” vote as President Obama did? Can Mr. Trump win without a significant number of “minority” votes? The “minority” voters they are speaking of are almost always African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans. Occasionally, Asian-Americans are mentioned. However, they never mention Jewish-Americans, Irish-Americans, or German-Americans. Why is this? A common definition of the word minority is “the smaller number or part, especially a number that is less than half the whole number.” Nothing about this definition can be used to argue that African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are the only “minority” groups in this country.

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Moral Leadership in Action: All Lives Really Do Matter

Moral Leadership in Action: All Lives Really Do Matter
July 20, 2016

By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

As a citizen of this country, as a Catholic Priest and Bishop, and as an African-American, I am deeply distressed by the recent violent eruptions of the racial divide in the United States. Last week, I served as the Catholic Chaplain during Week Three of the nine-week summer session at the historic Chautauqua Institution. Moral Leadership in Action was the week’s theme. There could not have been a more urgent topic considering the presidential election, young people slaughtered in an Orlando club, People of Color killed in encounters with law enforcement, and the assassination of police officers by deranged gunmen.

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"Even Their Virtues Were Being Burned Away"

“Even Their Virtues Were Being Burned Away”

Homily for the Closing Mass of the National Catholic Media Association

June 3, 2016

The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

(Ez 34:11-16, Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6, Rom 5:5b-11, Lk 15:3-7) The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
(The Old Cathedral)

By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.

Bishop of Belleville, Illinois Celebrant and Homilist


Dear People of God:

It is a joy for me to be with you in this historic Cathedral of St. Louis, where, many years ago, I celebrated my First Mass as a Bishop, the day after my Consecration as a Bishop for service as Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis. We gather to give thanks for God’s love for us symbolized in the burning heart of Jesus. Above the altar is the magnificent reproduction of Diego Velasquez’s masterpiece, “Christ Crucified,” which hangs in the Museao del Prado in Madrid. Our eyes are drawn to the milky white flesh of the dead Jesus suspended in the midst of the vast, empty darkness of the universe. The work is a towering achievement of Velasquez’s religious imagination.

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Bishop Braxton Publishes New Pastoral Letter

“The Catholic Church
and The Black Lives Matter Movement:
The Racial Divide in the United States Revisited”
By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

Bishop Edward K. Braxton has published a pastoral letter that builds on his previous pastoral letter published in 2o15. “This Pastoral Letter should be read as a companion piece to “The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection for the World Day of Peace 2015,” the bishop said. To read the pastoral letter, please click on the link: pdf Racial Divide Revisited (2.19 MB)

‘Happy Easter!’ A Christmas Reflection

Dear People of God:

Happy Easter! American culture has almost completely secularized the celebration of Christmas. Our commercialized society takes us from “Turkey Day” (Thanksgiving) to “the Holidays” with little or no serious attention given to the birth of the Messiah! As a result we easily overlook the very close connection between Christmas and Easter which, for many, has been reduced to brightly-colored boiled eggs, chocolate bunnies, and yellow marshmallow chicks! This should not be true for Catholic families. It is a very good thing that some families display a Christmas crèche in their homes. But we must remind ourselves that the birth of Jesus is past history. There is no baby Jesus lying in a manger today. We rejoice in the birth 2,000 years ago precisely because it was followed by a prophetic life and a redemptive death and resurrection. Indeed, the Paschal Mystery of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the origin of many of our most popular “Christmas” symbols.

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Body Of St. Maria Goretti Coming To Diocese Cathedral


BODY OF ST. MARIA GORETTI

COMING TO DIOCESE CATHEDRAL


Pope Francis has personally requested that the body of Saint Maria Goretti -- the popular "girl martyr" of the twentieth century -- be brought to the United States in preparation for the Year of Mercy.

The relic will be at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Belleville on Monday, October 19.

Maria Goretti is a young patron, not only of purity, but of "mercy" -- as Pope Francis has explained.  Her greatest virtue was her unyielding forgiveness of her attacker, even in the midst of her physical suffering. Her forgiveness would completely convert him and send him on a path to personal holiness.  From the time that she forgave her assassin, St. Maria Goretti has been heralded as a Patroness of Mercy.  This beloved girl, murdered at only eleven years of age, is widely known as "the Little Saint of Great Mercy."

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Bishop Braxton Writes a Letter on Racial Divide in the United States

Bishop Edward K. Braxton has written a pastoral letter on the Racial Divide in the United States for the World Day of Peace in 2015. The letter includes a study guide for participants.

The study guide also gives an outline of ways to share among participants. “This study-guide should be seen as a flexible resource that can be adapted for use by large or small groups. While the guide is arranged for the participation of members of a group, it can also be used by two people or by an individual. It is for all who, with Christian faith, would like to examine the complex racial divide in our country that is documented in each day’s headlines and the personal experiences of many people,” Bishop Braxton says in the guide.

pdf RACIAL DIVIDE STUDY GUIDE (1.16 MB)  Please click on the link at left for the pastoral letter with study guide.

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The Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring - The Vicariate Letters

The Vicariate Letters:

The Bishop’s Reflections on the Strategic Pastoral Models

of the Parish Partnerships

By

The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville 

"'A Time for Renewal: Bishop Braxton’s Introduction to The Vicariate Letters'
Dear People of God,
May the Grace and Peace of Jesus Christ and the Power of the Holy Spirit be with you! 

I am writing to you about the PASTORAL PLAN FOR PARISH RENEWAL AND RESTRUCTURING. In my letter introducing the PASTORAL PLAN, I wrote “Jesus Christ is the reason the Catholic Church exists and He is the reason why we are working to renew our Local Church…" +Edward K. Braxton

To read the Vicariate Letters, click on this link: The Vicariate Letters

The Diocese Of Belleville Announces A Dinner June 27, 2014 To Benefit Catholic Education To Commemorate The Bishop's 70th Birthday


THE DIOCESE OF BELLEVILLE ANNOUNCES A DINNER JUNE 27, 2014

TO BENEFIT CATHOLIC EDUCATION TO COMMEMORATE
THE BISHOP’S 70TH BIRTHDAY

 

(During the months of May and June, Bishop Braxton marks significant anniversaries. He was ordained a Priest on May 13, 1970 and consecrated Bishop on May 17, 1995. He was born on June 28, 1944 and installed as 8th Bishop of Belleville on June 22, 2005. On June 27, a dinner will be held in his honor to raise funds for Catholic education in the Diocese. Liz Quirin, editor of The Messenger invited him to reflect on these milestones in the following interview conducted at his residence.)

A Messenger Interview with Bishop Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.

 

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Bishop Braxton Ordains Six Priests for the Archdiocese of Onitsha

Bishop Braxton Ordains Six Priests for the Archdiocese of Onitsha

A Total of Twenty-Six Priests Ordained
By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

 
I. The Ordination

I had the privilege of being the ordaining prelate for six men to the sacred Priesthood of Jesus Christ on Saturday morning, July 13, 2013, in the historic Cathedral-Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity in the Archdiocese of Onitsha in Nigeria. The liturgy was the second part of a larger ordination for the Archdiocese. I am very grateful that this pastoral visit to the Archdiocese of Onitsha, like my previous visits, was made possible without any expense to the Diocese of Belleville.

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Messenger Article on Deacon Formation Board


On June 20, 2013,
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton,
appointed (or reappointed) members to the Deacon Formation Board,
based on the recommendation of
The Very Reverend Eugene H. Wojcik, V.F., Director of Deacons. 



Permanent Deacons have made, and continue to make, important contributions to the work of the Church in the Diocese of Belleville. During the past eight years, Bishop Braxton has made Deacon Candidate selection and formation a high priority. He personally meets with them quarterly throughout their program to oversee their formation.  The Bishop’s appointments are for a period of five years and are effective July 1, 2013.

Those Board members reappointed are the Reverend Kenneth J. York, Deacon Robert J. Lanter, Deacon Ronald Karcher, and Ms. Sue Huett.

Those Board members newly appointed are the Reverend Monsignor William P. McGhee, Reverend Robert J. Zwilling, Reverend Nicholas G. Junker, Sister Carol Karnitsky, SSCM; Sister Mildred Gross, ASC; Deacon Arthur L.  Hampton, Deacon Steven M. Pautler, Deacon Glennon J. Netemeyer, Mrs. Robbin Netemeyer, Deacon Thomas J. Helfrich, and Mrs. Dawn Helfrich.

The Bishop sincerely thanked the members for their generosity in serving the church and the Permanent Deacons in this important capacity.

ECCE SACERDOS MAGNUS! "Behold a Great Priest!"

ECCE SACERDOS MAGNUS!

“Behold a Great Priest!”

By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

 The Reverend Henry J. Fischer
(June 26, 1945- June 3, 2013)

 

The startling news of the sudden death of the Reverend Henry J. Fischer, Pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Bartelso, Illinois, has been the source of a profound experience of sadness and grief in the Diocese of Belleville. This grief has been most acute for the members of his family: his brothers, Fr. Adrian Fischer, OFM; David and his wife, Bonnie; Paul and his wife, Linda; his sisters, Rita and her husband, Frank; and Joan; and his many nieces and nephews. His parishioners at St. Cecilia Parish and in all of the parishes where he has served have an extraordinary love and devotion for him that was only surpassed by the deep love and pastoral concern that Fr. Fischer had for them. Many of his fellow priests have gone out of their way to express to me how much they appreciated his thoughtfulness and his quiet example as a zealous and completely unselfish priest.

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Formal Response - The Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring

Formal Response:

By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

April 2, 2013

 

Today, the Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Bishop of Belleville, released his FORMAL RESPONSE to the information gathered from the parishes in THE PASTORAL PLAN FOR PARISH RENEWAL AND RESTRUCTURING which he initiated in his Pastoral Letter of August 6, 2011. In consultation with the PASTORAL PLAN COMMITTEE* established for this purpose and with other representatives of the Diocese, the Bishop has formulated a comprehensive reorganization of the Catholic Church in southern Illinois in order to strengthen the Local Church and assist the people of God as we continue to learn our faith, love our faith, and live our faith in the years to come.

To read the pastoral plan, please click on the link: Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring

We Must be Good Shepherds to One Another

“We Must be Good Shepherds to One Another.”

 By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

125th Anniversary Mass Homily
Cathedral of St. Peter

April 29, 2012

Good Shepherd Sunday (Acts 4:8-12, 1 John 3:1-2, John 10:11-18)

 


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Peace be with you!

Our story began with these words:

“Having in mind the greater good of souls and the progress of religion in the Province of Chicago, the Bishops of the aforesaid Province have proposed that since the Diocese of Alton in the United States is sufficiently large, it be divided into two parts and the other part be erected into a new Diocese….Moreover, it is our wish that the City of Belleville be constituted the See of the Bishop of the new Diocese and that the Diocese take its name from this city.”

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'Magnificat Anima Mea!' A Death in Advent

The Rev. Msgr. Donald W. Eichenseer
(Friday, May 3, 1935-Thursday, December 22, 2011)

 By

The Most Rev. Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

 

 

“Bishop, pray that the Lord will take me before Christmas. In Advent we prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming to us. However, this Advent, I have been preparing myself to go to Him!” These were more or less the last words that MONSIGNOR DONALD EICHENSEER spoke to me during our grace-filled last visit on Wednesday morning. Earlier that morning, I learned that he had been transferred from Memorial Hospital to St. Paul United Church of Christ Home in Belleville. He had been placed on hospice care. Initially, looking at a busy calendar, I thought I would visit him Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. Then, following an instinct almost every priest has experienced, I decided to drop everything and go see him at once.

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The Orchid Tender: An Appreciation of the Life and Ministry of The Reverend Donald E. Abell (1938-2011)

The Orchid Tender:
An Appreciation of the Life and Ministry of
The Reverend Donald E. Abell (1938-2011) 

By

The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

On Saturday, March 26, 2011, many members of the Church of Belleville gathered in the Church of St. Joseph in Ridgway to give thanks to God for the life and ministry of the Reverend Donald E. Abell and to pray for him during the celebration of the Liturgy of Christian Burial. We brought him back to the very sanctuary in which The Most Reverend Albert R. Zuroweste ordained him on May 1, 1976.

Father Abell was the eldest of seven children and so I took the opportunity to express to his sisters and brothers the prayerful support and profound sympathy of all the priests and Christian Faithful of the Diocese upon the death of their dear brother on March 24, the Vigil of the Annunciation of the Lord.

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He Has Kept the Faith, He Has Run the Race

He Has Kept the Faith
He Has Run the Race

An Appreciation of the Life and Ministry of

The Rev. Msgr. Paulin J. Dobkowski
(Monday, July 9, 1928 – Thursday, May 12, 2011)

 By

The Most Rev. Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

(On Monday, May 16, 2011, I was the Principal Celebrant and homilist for the Liturgy of Christian Burial for Msgr. Dobkowski. This reflection is based upon that homily.)

When he was a young man, his brothers, Theodore, Alphonse, Boniface, and Roman and his fellow seminarians at St. Henry Seminary and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary admired Monsignor Paulin J. Dobkowski’s physical strength and his athletic prowess. Tall and imposing, he was an agile athlete of outstanding ability. He was a great basketball player (with an excellent “jump shot”), an exceptional baseball player (with a strong pitching arm), an outstanding swimmer (whose diving was impressive), and a good golfer.

It is not surprising then that he took a special interest in the writings of his namesake, St. Paul of Tarsus, who often used images of athletic competition to convey the different challenges we all face if we commit ourselves to being disciples of Jesus Christ.

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The Reverend Msgr. Harry James Jerome: A True Man of the Church

The Reverend Msgr. Harry James Jerome: A True Man of the Church
(Saturday, August 10, 1935 - Friday, April 30, 2010)

By 

The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

From the day of his Ordination to the Priesthood by Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste on Saturday, May 27, 1961 until the day of his death, Friday, April 30, 2010, Msgr. Harry Jerome was always a Churchman, a man of the Church. This was apparent to me from my very first conversations with him during the summer of 2005. I asked him to share his impressions of the strengths and challenges of the Church in the Diocese of Belleville. In a quiet, forthright manner, he shared his insights and his considerable wisdom on Catholic life in southern Illinois. He was generous with his positive observations and unflinchingly frank in his assessments of challenges. His sometimes wry sense of humor was revealing. In the course of our conversations, he never belittled or undermined the reputation of a fellow priest. When I asked him to serve on the College of Consultors and as a member of the Presbyteral Council, Msgr. Jerome’s prompt response was, “I’ll do it, Bishop, if you think it would be good for the Church.”

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A Saint For Our Time: A Lenten Reflection The Servant Of God Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897)

A Saint for Our Time: a Lenten Reflection
The Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897)

By
The Most Reverend Bishop Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville


On Thursday, February 24, 2011, I returned to my home Archdiocese of Chicago to participate in a unique event. I returned to the magnificent Chapel of St. James with its splendid copies of the windows of La Sainte-Chapelle, built in Paris by Saint Louis IX, King of France, to house a relic of the Crown of Thorns. I prayed many times each day in this chapel as a high school student at Quigley Preparatory Seminary. The building, no longer a seminary, now houses the Archbishop Quigley Center, the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The chapel remains unchanged, the jewel of the Center. I returned to this spiritual center of my youth to participate in Mid-Afternoon Prayer during which His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago presided over the Proclamation and First Session of the Canonical Trial examining the life, virtues and reputation of holiness of Father August Tolton. This was the first public step in the Cause of his Beatification and Canonization.

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The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Source of our Hope A Pastoral Letter on the Meaning of Lent and Easter

The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Source of our Hope A Pastoral Letter on the Meaning of Lent and Easter

By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville

February 7, 2007

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Introduction

On Ash Wednesday, February 21, 2007 we will begin our Lenten days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are preparing to go up to Jerusalem with the Lord and to accompany our catechumens, our candidates for full communion with the Church, and our confirmandi to the Easter Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. We are looking forward with vibrant faith to celebrating the Paschal Mystery in the powerful liturgy of Holy Week. It is important for each of us to pause at the beginning of Lent to focus our awareness upon the Cross and the world-changing Christian mystery, which we are about to celebrate.

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"We are His Witnesses: Our Spirit-Filled Mission as the Church in Southern Illinois"


Pastoral Letter
By
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville
Pentecost Sunday, 2006

Jesus Christ has called us to be His witnesses! We are confident that the Holy Spirit truly will be our Advocate, our helper, so that we can be witnesses to Christ’s life, teachings, suffering, death, and resurrection as we carry out our mission as the Church in Southern Illinois, with confidence, with hope, and with joy.

To read this pastoral letter, please click on the link: We are His Witnesses

His Excellency,
The Most Reverend 
Edward K. Braxton,
Ph.D., S.T.D.