1,000 students at cathedral for All Schools Mass

Welcoming students, teachers and administrators from Catholic schools around the diocese to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on Wednesday, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, quipped that he was probably the last person to say, “Welcome back to school.”

And yet every time they come to church for Mass, he said, they are entering “the school of Jesus Christ.”

“It is here that he teaches us by the love we see in the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist,” Bishop Jenky told them.

As they prepared for another lesson in that love, the students prayed together, sang together and served one another by taking roles in the All Schools Mass on Sept. 10. Patrick Kelley, a student at Schlarman High School in Danville, proclaimed the first reading, while the gifts of bread and wine were presented to Bishop Jenky by Cassidy Pflibsen of St. Anthony’s School in Streator; Sam Armetta of Jordan Catholic School in Rock Island; Megan Considine of St. Bede Academy in Peru; and Tucker Nichols of Visitation School in Kewanee.

More than 20 priests came with their students to concelebrate the Mass with Bishop Jenky.

This was the first All Schools Mass to be held at St. Mary’s Cathedral since 2005. For the last two school years, Bishop Jenky has traveled to the four corners of the Diocese of Peoria during Catholic Schools Week to celebrate regional Masses.

In the future, the regional Catholic Schools Week Masses and the Catholic Schools Mass in September will be celebrated in alternate years.

This year it was Bishop Jenky’s turn to play host and students from 46 schools accepted his invitation. They filled St. Mary’s Cathedral to the rafters, literally, as they used every available space — including the Lady Chapel, the St. Thomas More Chapel and both choir lofts.

After Mass, the bishop invited the representatives from each school to join him on the front steps of the Chancery — his office and home — for pictures.

Father Stanley Deptula, director of the diocesan Office of Divine Worship, also encouraged the students to walk through “your cathedral” to get to know the mother church of the Diocese of Peoria while they were there.

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