Bishop proposes a deal at Polka Mass during Oktoberfest

Photo Caption: Terry Bredenberg of St. Joseph Parish in Pekin plays accordion during a Polka Mass celebrated along the Peoria riverfront on Sept. 22 by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, during Oktoberfest 2013.

A huge white tent became the “Cathedral of the Riverfront” in Peoria last Sunday as hundreds of people came together for a Polka Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, as part of Oktoberfest 2013.

“Here in Peoria the German American community and their many friends get together every year for good food, good music, good beer, good dancing and for a very good time,” he said. “But I’m also happy to say that a part of this annual weekend always includes the celebration of holy Mass.”

Every Mass is an opportunity for renewal — a renewal of our faith and a renewal of our relationship with Jesus Christ — and it’s not just the bread and wine that are supposed to change, Bishop Jenky reminded those gathered in the cool autumn air.

“Jesus asks . . . us to be his disciples, not marginally but radically and completely,” he said. “Jesus wants all of us to be at least as bold as sinners, ready to risk everything the way sinners do, but for the sake today of a much richer treasure, for the sake of paradise and seeing our God face to face for ever and ever.”

Bishop Jenky urged them to beg God to wound their souls with the gift of his love and to fill their hearts with the love of the Holy Spirit, “so that for the rest of our lives we will choose the right path and make the right choices.”

“What we trade away are sin, sadness and death,” he said. “What we find is a full and meaningful life in this world and then the bliss and beatitude of paradise without end. Let’s make the deal — and what a deal it is.”

While not everyone who came to Mass was of German heritage or even Catholic, the accordion music of Wilanna Vogel and Terry Bredenberg, both members of St. Joseph Parish in Pekin, made many toes tap along to the polka music. Inviting them to sing were cantors Antonia and Natasha Rupert of Sacred Heart and St. Jude Parish in Peoria, who wore cultural garb.

The first reading from the Book of Amos was proclaimed in German by Ingrid Ruscheinski, a member of St. Mark Parish in Peoria.

The collection received during Mass was for the benefit of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria.

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