Diocese celebrates canonizations of John XXIII, John Paul II

Photo Caption: Pilgrims kneel before images of newly canonized St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII following a diocesan Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral celebrating the April 27 canonizations.

By: By Tom Dermody

Newly canonized St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II are presented by the church as models of holiness so that we all might “accept our vocation to be saints of God,” said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC.

Bishop Jenky was principal celebrant of a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on April 27 that served as the diocesan celebration of the canonization in Rome hours earlier of the two modern popes by Pope Francis.

“Let us begin our worship with hearts full of thanksgiving — thanksgiving for those two holy, great popes,” said Bishop Jenky. Likewise, he offered deep gratitude for the hundreds of new Catholics who entered the church at Easter Vigil liturgies around the Diocese of Peoria. Several were in the assembly for the April 27 liturgy.

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CNS report of canonization ceremony at Vatican

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Images of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II placed in the cathedral sanctuary were blessed with incense by Bishop Jenky at the start of the Mass. Following the liturgy, many in attendance came forward to kneel before the images in prayer.

Among them was Sharon Hovland, a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton.

“This is a rare opportunity to celebrate the canonization of two saints,” said Hovland, whose husband Bob took part in the Mass as a Fourth Degree Honor Guard member of the Knights of Columbus. “It’s a day I’ll always remember,” said Sharon.

It was the second visit to the cathedral in five months for Dave Washkowiak, a member of St. Mary’s Parish in Granville. He was also present Nov. 18 when a relic of St. John Paul II’s blood was venerated here.

“I’m Polish,” said Washkowiak, explaining both his spiritual and national bond with the Polish pope who he saw in person at Grant Park in Chicago in 1979.

In his homily, Bishop Jenky noted that the day also celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast instituted by St. John Paul II. He called Divine Mercy Sunday, observed on the Second Sunday of Easter, an invitation “to let go of the burden of our past sins” and accept God’s love, forgiveness, and the power of Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Dozens of parishes around the Diocese of Peoria observed Divine Mercy Sunday with special prayer events.

“May we all, all our lives long, believe in Jesus and may we all be blessed beyond compare in the gift of his love and mercy, which are everlasting,” said Bishop Jenky.

Gift bearers at the cathedral celebration were Ray and Jenny Chumney of St. Anthony Parish, Bartonville, representing all new Catholics of the diocese. Ray entered the church through a profession of faith and reception on the sacraments of confirmation and the Eucharist on April 19.

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