Bishop blesses Mary statue during visit to Farmer City

By: By Sarah B. Williams, for The Catholic Post

FARMER CITY — A spring break youth group project of cleaning the rectory attic to remove old boxes and unwanted belongings led to the purchase of a new Mary statue for Sacred Heart Church in Farmer City.

After cleaning that morning, the teens sat down for lunch, brainstorming ways to help the church. That lunch led to talk about the parish’s Mary Garden, located on the south of the side church, which needed a new Mary statue.

“We asked the parish council if we could connect a new Mary statue with rebate money from the Annual Diocesan Appeal (ADA) funds and they said yes,” said Father Jim Henning, OFM Conv., pastor. “This little parish is so involved and helps to support ADA as part of the bigger whole, the Diocese of Peoria.”

And those funds were put to use to purchase a new Mary statue that was blessed by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at Sacred Heart on Aug. 11.

“We are a rural parish but strong in our faith,” said Ron Coit, parish council president, in welcoming Bishop Jenky and the faith community. “You are our shepherd. We are your flock. Please lead us in prayer. And, thank you for coming today and for blessing our statue.”

During the Mass, Bishop Jenky thanked the parishioners for their faith and their continued service to the church and said he was honored to “bless the beautiful statue.”

In his homily, the bishop spoke about having faith in God — remembering faith that he had as a 7-year-old when he locked himself in the bathroom and had to jump out of a window into his father’s waiting arms.

“I knew Dad was going to catch me in his arms,” he said. “And we need to remember that our Father is always there for us. Through the eyes of faith you are God’s children,” he added, and there is no need to be afraid.

As a special thank you, the children of Sacred Heart presented Bishop Jenky with original artwork to hang on his refrigerator door.

And, before the closing of Mass, Father Henning recognized several longtime parishioners including Don and Mary Olson of Farmer City who are both 97 years old and celebrated their 79th wedding anniversary this year, as well as Mildred Clifford who will turn 100 in March 2014.

Father Henning expressed his gratitude to Bishop Jenky for visiting Sacred Heart. He also acknowledged those who helped to support the ADA, planted and designed the Mary Garden, and everyone who made the day memorable for the parish.

During the sign of peace, Bishop Jenky told Father Henning that he had a wonderful parish. “I am very proud to be their pastor,” Father Henning replied. “But you, Bishop Jenky, have a wonderful parish that is part of the diocese. This is your church.”

PHOTO: Shown with Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, following last Sunday’s blessing of the Mary statue outside Sacred Heart Church in Farmer City are, from left: Jacob Strutner, Deacon Scott Whitehouse, Cassie Meier, Father John Grigus, OFM Conv., Brittney Meier, Father Jim Henning, OFM Conv., Bishop Jenky, Msgr. Albert Hallin, PA, Father Anthony Labedis, OFM Conv., Deacon Pat Comfort, Ben Umland and Quinten Butson. Provided photo/Greg Taylor

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