Sacred Heart welcomes newest Belgian blessing

Posted Online: Aug. 08, 2014, 11:40 am
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By Leon Lagerstam,
MOLINE -- A sacred Belgian heart is back at Moline's Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

The Rev. Mark DeSutter, 59, is the "first Belgian priest" since the Rev. John Baptist Culemans was assigned in 1906 to create Sacred Heart.

"It's nice to be mentioned in the same breath as Father Culemans," Rev. DeSutter said. "I told parishioners that I'm 100 percent Belgian, meaning I'm extremely frugal."

Parishioners also discovered a couple of other details about him they found interesting.

"People tend to find it funny that I'm a White Sox fan in Cubs country, and that I'm from the hog capital of the world -- Kewanee," Rev. DeSutter said.

White Sox fans are like celibates, he joked. "They're very few and wear black and white."

Ironically, the White Sox beat the Cubs in the 1906 World Series -- the year Rev. Culemans created the parish.

Rev. DeSutter called it a privilege to be assigned to Sacred Heart to replace Monsignor Dale Wellman, who retired earlier this month. Monsignor Wellman left the same day Rev. DeSutter arrived.

"I've heard a lot of good things about Sacred Heart," Rev. DeSutter said. "It's been considered one of the premiere parishes in the Peoria Diocese, so if I had to be reassigned, this was the best option."

He had been a priest at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton since 2000.

"I really wasn't looking to move, but I had been in the area as a priest before, so it did feel like coming back home to me," he said. "I also have relatives here. So it wasn't like some of the other assignments I've had, where I moved to cities that were brand new to me."

Rev. DeSutter once was a parochial vicar at St. Pius X Catholic Church, and is well-known and liked by the sisters at St. Mary Monastery, both in Rock Island.

People have responded positively to his homilies, he said. "I try reflecting on Scriptures in a way that identifies with how people live their lives," Rev. DeSutter said.

A Presbyterian pastor once told him to "have something to say, believe it, say it, and know when to shut up," he said.

His other tasks include church administration, liturgy, leadership, counseling, education, visits and "starting new programs to help people get closer to Jesus Christ," Rev. DeSutter said.

Yet, he knows it's not all on his own.

"I'm cognizant of making this a community approach, so it's not just my parish, my plan or my goals," Rev. DeSutter said. "It has to be our plan, and the Holy Spirit's plan.

"You have to discern what the Spirit is saying, and let people respond to it and take ownership of it," he said. "'Stand out of the way, and let the Spirit through' is something a mentor once told me, so I'm here to listen and then orchestrate."

The Rev. Mark DeSutter
Address: Moline.
Birth date: May 25, 1955.
Education: Bachelor of Arts, St. Meinrad, Ind., Master of Divinity, St. Meinrad School of Theology, Master of Arts, Creighton University, Omaha, Neb.
Experience: Blessed Sacrament Parish, Morton, since 2000; ordained 1982; past parochial vicar at St. Pius X, Rock Island, and Holy Trinity, Bloomington; former chaplain at the St. Francis of Assisi Newman Center in Macomb and assistant at St. John's Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois.
Hometown: Kewanee.
Family: Sister in Quincy.
Favorite Scripture: Jeremiah 1.
Favorite Biblical character I'd like to meet: St. Peter.
Hobbies: Working out, running, lifting weights, reading, watching sports.
One thing I feel strongly about: "As a pastor, I'm kind of like a conductor of an orchestra, tapping into the talents of all those around me, and making a beautiful symphony together."
I wish I knew how to: "Repair my car, and program a cellphone."


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