Father Thomas Royer has been the pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Champaign, Illinois since 1973 and also of St. Boniface, a rural parish. In addition, he serves as a chaplain at a local Catholic hospital.
He completed a master’s degree in radio/television and journalism from the University of Illinois. In 1972 he served as the Director of Communications for the diocese. Father Royer produced a film that year about the war in Bangladesh and the plight of the refugees. He has been a board member and founder of various peace initiatives at home and abroad in Guatemala, Honduras and Cuba.
The committee chose Father Royer for his outstanding leadership as a parish priest and in particular for his work since 1989 in establishing a sister-parish relationship that provides medical, educational and spiritual assistance to Calavera, a group of five settlements in El Salvador. His parishioners support these efforts through funding and annual volunteer delegations to the region.
Father Gregory Skrypek has been the chaplain of the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater for 15 years. Prior to that assignment he served as chaplain to Hennepin County Court Services from 1978-1987. Father Skrypek also gives presentations to high school and college youth groups about drugs, prison reform and restorative justice.
Following ordination, he served as associate pastor at his home parish of St. Columba. From 1976-1978 he was associate pastor and administrator of the Basilica of St. Mary.
The committee chose Father Skrypek for his long and dedicated service of bringing hope to prisoners and their families through his ministry at the prison and his exceptional example of servant priesthood.