850 pray with Bishop Jenky at Catholic Schools Mass

By: By Jennifer Willems

Editor’s note: Photos from the event may be viewed by clicking on either the Post Photos camera icon at left or by visiting the Catholic Post’s Facebook site.

With the first few days of school behind them, 850 Catholic school students came from all four corners of the Diocese of Peoria to St. Mary’s Cathedral last week to pray and sing with Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and receive his blessing for the new school year.

The Catholic School Mass, held on Sept. 15, filled every available space in the cathedral — including the Thomas More Chapel, the Lady Chapel and the lower balcony — with representatives from 44 of the diocese’s 48 schools.

Occupying the top balcony were the fifth-graders from St. Mark’s School in Peoria and the choirs from Bloomington Central Catholic High School and Peoria Notre Dame High School, who provided musical leadership with the help of Dr. Sherry Seckler, cathedral organist and director of sacred music for the Diocese of Peoria.

Also involved in ministry at the liturgy were Margaret Wenzel of Marquette Academy in Ottawa, who served as lector, and Alice Roate from Carroll Catholic School in Lincoln and Christina Jones from St. Mark’s School, who were the gift bearers.

Joining Bishop Jenky as concelebrants were the pastors, parochial vicars and chaplains of parish schools and Catholic high schools throughout central Illinois.

At the beginning of Mass, the young people heard about another Catholic school student who sat in the same pews and is now being considered for sainthood in the Catholic church — Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

Msgr. Stanley Deptula, director of the diocesan Office of Divine Worship and executive director of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation, said that Archbishop Sheen was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria in St. Mary’s Cathedral and went on to be a TV star, write dozens of books and travel the world to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“He died a very holy man,” Msgr. Deptula told them. “One day we may have a saint from one of our Catholic schools who prayed in this very cathedral.”

Before the final blessing at Mass, each principal was invited to come forward with one of their students to receive cards with prayers for the canonization of Archbishop Sheen and to obtain a favor through his intercession. The students are being asked to pray throughout this academic year that he will be proclaimed a saint.

In his homily, Bishop Jenky also recommended prayers to the Blessed Mother, “that woman of valor, to strengthen our own faith.”

“We try to believe the way she believed. We try to pray the way she prayed. We try to love and serve the way she did because she teaches us about Christ,” he said. “She introduces us to him. She actually shows who he is and what he’s about.”

The bishop told them that Mary’s determination and strength “gets us through tough times and helps us enjoy the good times more than ever before.”

“The face that most resembled Jesus Christ was the face of Mary,” he said. “We can trust in the power of her prayer. We can never ever ever be afraid to ask for her help.”

After Mass, Bishop Jenky greeted the students from each school and posed for photographs with them.

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