Cardinal Burke visits diocese; students attend cathedral Mass

By: By Jennifer Willems

More than 380 students from 35 Catholic schools in central Illinois formed an enthusiastic welcoming committee for Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who was the principal celebrant and homilist for a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on Oct. 28.

Concelebrating with him were Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and the priests of the Diocese of Peoria, who were beginning two days of meetings as part of the annual Priests’ Assembly Days. Cardinal Burke was one of the keynote speakers for the clergy gathering.

Noting that he had known Cardinal Burke since they were both “happy priests,” Bishop Jenky said the cardinal “truly has a pastor’s heart” and led the applause for his longtime friend as Mass began.

Cardinal Burke was ordained in Rome by Pope Paul VI on June 29, 1975. He served as bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., from 1995 until 2003, when he was named archbishop of St. Louis.

He was appointed prefect of the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, and became a cardinal in 2010.

Wearing his ornate miter and leaning on his crosier as he gave his homily, Cardinal Burke said it was fitting that the priests would gather for Mass on the Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude.

“Recalling the memory of the holy Apostles and asking their intercessions, we adore our Eucharistic Lord under his title of Eternal High Priest,” he said. “Recalling that all graces, including the great gift of the Holy Eucharist and the gift of the ordained priesthood, inseparably connected with it, flow from the glorious pierced heart of Jesus, we are reminded that His heart is always priestly, always disposed to pour forth in abundance the grace of the Holy Spirit into our souls for our eternal salvation.”

Cardinal Burke quoted a beloved son of the Diocese of Peoria, the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who said, “There is nothing that God could not do without me. But there are many things that He has elected to do through me, provided that I am a supple instrument in his hand. The true continuation of the priesthood is, therefore, the giving of ourselves so completely to the great High Priest that we have no other feelings or emotions or desires than Christ Himself.”

The cardinal encouraged those present to “renew our love of Christ in His priests, and we ask Him to make them priests after His own heart.”
“Placing our hearts securely into His Sacred Heart, may we find peace and strength,” Cardinal Burke said. “From His priestly heart may we bring the gift of pure and selfless love to our neighbor.”

Joining Dr. Sherry Seckler, diocesan director of music and cathedral organist, in the choir loft were students from Peoria Notre Dame High School and The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign.

After Mass, Cardinal Burke stood in the vestibule of St. Mary’s Cathedral to personally greet the students from around the diocese and pose for pictures. One of the servers, Nathan Brose of St. Jude Parish in Peoria, asked the cardinal to bless his rosary.

“We were very honored and pleased to receive an invitation from Bishop Jenky for all of our diocesan schools to attend the celebration of Holy Mass with Cardinal Burke,” said Dr. Sharon Weiss, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Peoria. “I was quite proud of the children for their excellent behavior, and I could feel the excitement in the air as the students waited in line to shake His Eminence’s hand as they left the cathedral. What fun!”

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