Bishop Jenky calls on Catholics to join him in Springfield Feb. 20

Photo Caption: “The sanctity and dignity of Marriage is under attack,” said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, of Peoria in asking Catholics to travel to the State Capitol on Feb. 20 for a “Defend Marriage” lobby day.

Saying “we can no longer sit silently, but rather we must stand together in solidarity,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, has encouraged Catholics of the Diocese of Peoria to join him and concerned citizens from throughout Illinois at the State Capitol in Springfield for a “Defend Marriage” lobby day on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

The Diocese of Peoria is chartering a bus to transport participants to the gathering, the bishop announced, adding that he hopes others will carpool or caravan together to Springfield. (See bus registration information below.)

The Feb. 20 event begins at the State Capitol at 10:30 a.m. It is being coordinated by the Illinois Family Institute and promoted by the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

State legislators are now considering a proposal that would change the definition of marriage from “between a man and a woman” to “between two persons.” The measure, which Bishop Jenky says if passed will result in “detrimental repercussions to traditional marriage, religious liberty, parental rights and society as a whole,” was approved by the Senate Executive Committee on Feb. 5.

The legislation — titled the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act — could be voted on by the full Senate by Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. House members are not in session until Feb. 19, making the Feb. 20 date an ideal day to lobby House lawmakers, according to the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

Bishop Jenky said the time for action is now.

“The sanctity and dignity of Marriage is under attack,” he wrote in a Feb. 6 letter to Catholics of the diocese, “and I am calling upon you, the Catholic faithful, to stand beside me in this important mission to defend, protect and uphold the institution of Marriage.”

He encouraged Catholics to “grab your rosaries” and travel to Springfield “in the prayerful spirit of pilgrimage.”

“As Christians, we know that the institution of Marriage was created by God Himself, and that He alone defines its nature,” wrote Bishop Jenky.

“For 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has passionately defended the doctrines of Jesus Christ,” he added. “It is now our time as the faithful of the Diocese of Peoria, to take a public stand to protect and uphold the sanctity and dignity of Marriage.”

The charter bus offered through the Diocese of Peoria will leave from the Spalding Pastoral Center, 419 NE Madison Ave. in Peoria.

The pilgrimage will open with a Mass at 8 a.m. in the pastoral center’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel. The bus will leave at 8:45 a.m., and participants are encouraged to bring a sack lunch, snacks and water.

“Our only stop will be at the Capitol Building in Springfield,” said Craig Dyke, director of the diocesan Office of Evangelization and Family Life. The return trip begins at 1 p.m. with a scheduled arrival in Peoria at 2:30 p.m.

Cost is $20 per person. Reservations must be made by Feb. 15, but Dyke said that because space is limited reservations should be made as early as possible.

Checks should be made payable to “Catholic Diocese of Peoria” and sent to Craig Dyke, Office of Evangelization and Family Life, 419 NE Madison Ave., Peoria, IL 61603. For more information, call Dyke at (309) 671-1550.

The “Defend Marriage” lobby day was the focus of a Jan. 24 dinner for religious leaders hosted by the Illinois Family Institute at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria.

“If we don’t respond — unless God works a miracle — same-sex marriage will soon be the law of your land here in Illinois,” said keynote speaker Joe LaRue of Scottsdale, Ariz., legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund).

The lobby day will give people of faith an opportunity to make their voices heard.

“We really need a big turnout at this rally,” LaRue told the pastors and church workers in attendance at the dinner. “These guys are counting votes. If we go there with 200 or 200 people, this thing’s over.”

He acknowledged that it’s a work day and some people won’t be able to make it, but said many can and should.

“This may be the most important thing for God that they get the opportunity to do,” LaRue said. “They get to stand for what represents the relationship between Christ and his church — marriage.”

Citing Hebrews 13:4, he said what they’re fighting for is that “marriage be held in honor among all.”

Marriage is the immediate focus, but what’s at stake in the long run is religious liberty, LaRue told The Catholic Post.

“As important as marriage is, it’s even more about whether the church is going to be allowed to be the church or not,” he said, explaining that churches may have to curtail some of their activities.

He said, for example, that if churches open their doors to outside groups they may not be able to deny same-sex couples from renting the hall for a wedding celebration.

LaRue urged the pastors to pray and set times for regular prayer about this issue for their congregations. Then they must share the truth about marriage as revealed in Scripture through their preaching.

Finally, they should encourage people to contact their state senators and representatives, he said. In addition to notifying their legislators that they are attending the rally in Springfield, people should let it be known that they will hold their representatives accountable for their votes on this issue.

The Illinois Family Institute was founded 20 years ago “to bring a biblical perspective to public policy,” according to executive director David E. Smith. The sponsors for the dinner were the Catholic Conference of Illinois, the Coalition of Concerned Citizens and the Evangelical Ministerial Association of Greater Peoria.


EDITOR’S NOTE: For an updated listing of state senators and representatives and their contact information, visit the website of
the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

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