Newest Catholics share lunch, prayer, conversation with Bishop Jenky

Many people have an opportunity to get a foretaste of the heavenly banquet with Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, when he celebrates pontifical Masses at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Sharing an informal lunch and having time to ask questions doesn’t happen every day, however.

Forty new Catholics and members of RCIA teams from around the Diocese of Peoria accepted an invitation to do that last Sunday and spent the afternoon getting to know their chief catechist better over a simple meal at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria. In addition to talking to them about a variety of subjects, Bishop Jenky prayed with them, closing their time together with Benediction.

The first of its kind, the event was sponsored by the diocesan Office of Catechetics. Director Vincent McClean said his office would continue to look for ways to help those who have been received into the Catholic Church grow in their love and understanding of the faith.

“We’re more ‘kitchen people,'” said Kathy Livingston, who helps with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at Corpus Christi Parish in Galesburg. She explained that sometimes the best dialogue happens not in a formal setting, but over a cup of coffee.

“It was nice to be able to sit and have lunch with the bishop,” she told The Catholic Post. “He was so approachable. People felt like they could ask anything.” And they did.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Bishop Jenky addressed questions about how to get young people involved and keep them involved, the best resources for learning more about the Catholic faith, stoking the fire of faith in Catholic adults, and why the Catholic Church teaches that the priesthood be reserved to celibate males.

Regarding what is happening to the young and how their faith is being fostered, for example, the bishop said every segment of the faithful is needed to counteract society’s message that autonomy is the highest value there is.

“Our faith has an authority — God. The Scriptures have authority,” Bishop Jenky said. “There is beatitude in being there for the other person. There is joy.”

In addition to getting involved in food pantries and other service opportunities, he said he would like to see Catholics of all ages take part in a consistent program of spiritual growth. High school retreats and Teens Encounter Christ should lead to Koinonia retreats in college and Cursillo, “one of the greatest resources of renewal in the local church,” Bishop Jenky said.

Bishop Jenky said he would be looking to the new Catholics to add vigor to their faith communities and help the Diocese of Peoria explore new ways to bring people into the church.

Joe Simpson, who came into the Catholic Church at Corpus Christi Parish in Galesburg, said he and his wife, Sydney, came to last Sunday’s lunch out of respect for the bishop and they wanted to get to know him better.
“Knowing the faith and being able to defend it is important,” he told The Post.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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