Bishop’s 2010 Festival Letter a reflection on vocations

Photo Caption: It is “an awesome privilege to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as a Catholic priest,” Bishop Jenky writes in his 2010 Festival Letter, “Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me.”

By: By Tom Dermody

In a Festival Letter to the Diocese of Peoria on the theme of vocations, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, writes that “the most important thing for any believer to discover is the will of God.”

Dated Jan. 3, 2010, this year’s letter is titled “Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me: A Reflection on Vocations.” It is published in its entirety in this week’s issue of The Catholic Post and is available online at (click on “Bishop’s Letters.”)

Defining a vocation as “something God calls us individually to live,” Bishop Jenky said that while culture often encourages people to “do their own thing,” Christianity asks that we “do God’s thing.” He urged believers to listen for God’s call throughout their lives, believe that God loves us and only desires our good, and then “courageously embrace what God lovingly inspires” — a life that reflects Christ’s own example of self-giving.

It is the eighth such annual letter Bishop Jenky has penned to the diocese. Always dated on the Feast of the Epiphany, the bishop’s Festival Letters serve as a teaching tool as well as announce the Catholic feasts of the coming liturgical year.

THIS YEAR’S letter, written during the Year for Priests declared by Pope Benedict XVI, asks that all Catholics “pray daily for an increase in vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate, and the religious life.” Bishop Jenky describes not only those vocations but also Christian marriage, the single life, and the role in the church of the divorced, widowed, and bereaved.

He also called for vocational discernment to become “an even more visible aspect” of parishes, schools, ministries, and family life in the diocese.
Regarding the priesthood, Bishop Jenky called it “an awesome privilege to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as a Catholic priest.”

“By serving rather than being served,” he wrote, “priests may experience on a daily basis all the rich blessing by Jesus for those who imitate his love and generosity.”

While the Diocese of Peoria is “blessed with a very strong culture of vocations,” Bishop Jenky said all Catholics should do their part.

“God often speaks to us through the witness and the invitation of others,” wrote Bishop Jenky. “If a moment or a given occasion seems right, every believer should be willing to invite others to hear God’s voice, be strong in their faith, and then to answer God’s call.”

It is only by seeking and living God’s will that we find true happiness, wrote Bishop Jenky, whose writing reflected his episcopal motto of “His Will Is Our Peace.”

FOLLOWING are selected quotes from the various vocations profiled by Bishop Jenky:

Christian marriage — “In the sacrament of matrimony, a man and woman become a living sign of God’s wonderful and transforming love. . . . Husbands and wives imitate the good Lord’s love when they prefer one another, defer to one another, and become one another’s best friend.”

The divorced — “Do these folks, both the innocent and the guilty, still have a vocation in the church? The simple answer is yes! Jesus Christ always wants to heal us from our sin, our brokenness, our pain, and our weakness.” Bishop Jenky also briefly explains the annulment process, which he said is “easily misunderstood” and not as “complicated and protracted as some folks seem to presume.”

The widowed and bereaved — “With thankfulness for the time shared together, with longing for eternal fellowship in the Kingdom of Heaven, a surviving spouse may hear God’s voice in a new way and accept God’s will with even deeper faith. Widows may powerfully witness for the entire Church our shared conviction that Christ is the resurrection and the life.”

The single life — “The single life can make space in the lives of individuals for richer friendship and creativity. (It) is a true vocation from God with its own special blessings, gifts, and dignity.”

The consecrated religious life — “Sustained by their vows, consecrated
religious try to live entirely for the Lord who lived entirely for our salvation; the Lord himself has promised them a hundred fold in this life and in the world to come.”

Permanent deacons — “In many significant ways, deacons are the ‘hands of the bishop,’ feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the afflicted, and teaching the faith. . . . The loving support of their wives and families is an essential aspect of this vocation.”

The Priesthood — “The Servant of God, Fulton J. Sheen, once observed that no life is more adventurous than serving as a priest, ‘for every moment, like a trapeze artist, he is swinging between time and eternity.'”

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