Widowed and divorced assured of Christ’s love at annual Mass

Photo Caption: Msgr. John Prendergast accepts the hosts during the annual Diocesan Mass for the Widowed and Divorced from Carol Tyra of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton.

Protocol required Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, to be with Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, who was making a pastoral visit at St. Sharbel’s Church in Peoria last Sunday, but his message of care and support for the widowed and divorced persons of the Diocese of Peoria was still clear.

“It’s his desire to send a strong message that the church understands, Christ understands, that to be separated, to have lost one that we loved, one that loved us, regardless of how that separation took place, is always a very difficult step,” said Msgr. John J. Prendergast, who served as Bishop Jenky’s delegate for the annual Diocesan Mass for the Widowed and Divorced at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

It is often said that there is a season for everything under heaven, he told them from the steps of the sanctuary, where he shared his homily, “but there never really seems to be a good time to lose a spouse.”

“So the bishop calls you here to the heart of the church of Peoria to assure you that there’s one love that lasts forever, one love from which none of us can be separated. That, indeed, is the love of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Msgr. Prendergast, who is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Washington.

“It says in Scripture there aren’t mountains high enough, there are no rivers wide enough, there are no valleys deep enough to keep us from the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is always there, always nurturing us,” he said.

Widowed and divorced persons gathered at the cathedral were assured of that love again before the Mass ended, when Msgr. Prendergast offered a special blessing for them.

“Lord, look kindly on your servants who have come here seeking your healing. Send them forth as messengers of salvation and peace,” he prayed. “With the power of your grace strengthen them with your spirit so that they may not falter. Make their words echo Christ’s voice so that those who hear them may also find healing.”

They also were invited to the nearby Spalding Pastoral Center for a light lunch and fellowship before returning to their homes around central Illinois.

The Mass and reception are sponsored by the Widowed and Divorced Diocesan Advisory Board, which is part of the Office of Family Life. Assisting during the liturgy were board members Linda Nicholls of St. Anthony’s in Hoopeston and Colleen Gratton of Holy Family in Peoria, who served as lectors, while Carol Tyra of Blessed Sacrament in Morton and Karen Biggs of St. Joseph’s in Pekin were gift bearers.

For more information about the Widowed and Divorced Diocesan Advisory Board or the diocese’s ministry to widowed and divorced persons, call the Office of Family Life at (309) 671-1550 or visit the website of the Diocese of Peoria at cdop.org and follow the links for “Ministries,” “Family Life” and “Pastoral Services.”

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