Bishop challenges politicians, parents at Irish festival Mass

Photo Caption: “Your kids will not stay Catholic by accident,” said Bishop Jenky at the Erin Feis. “You must make it your vocation to give them the precious gift of life everlasting.”

By: By Tom Dermody

Legend has it that St. Patrick once drove the snakes out of Ireland. At an annual celebration of Irish heritage in Peoria, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, called on Ireland’s patron saint to help the church confront “modern-day serpents” who pretend to be Catholic only when convenient.

In his homily at the annual Mass during the Erin Feis along the Peoria riverfront on Aug. 24, Bishop Jenky recalled “heroic Irish Catholicism” that survived persecution and prejudice through the centuries.

“Given this history, how can some of today’s Irish-American politicians still dare to give lip service to St. Patrick on March 17, and to the faith of an island of saints and scholars, but who vote for abortion and other forms of godlessness in sheer contempt for Almighty God, while offering no right of conscious, no legal protection for God’s Holy Church that for better or for worse, taught many of them how to read and write?” he asked.

Nearly 500 attended the outdoor Mass, celebrated on a performance stage beneath a large tent. Music was provided by The Kells, a five-person Irish band.

As the Mass began, Bishop Jenky took note of many in the assembly fanning themselves on the hot and humid morning.

“If anybody wants to complain about the heat, I want to remind you of last winter,” he joked, adding that “as a precaution, during my homily the Guinness tent will be closed.”

The annual Mass is coordinated by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Those contributing canned goods for distribution to the needy receive free admission to the fairgrounds.

Politicians were not the only group challenged by Bishop Jenky. He called on all baptized Catholics to “rededicate our lives to the truths of Scripture and Tradition, and to the demands of Catholic practice.” The bishop posed a series of questions based on Jesus’ question in the Gospel, “Who do you say I am?”

“Is Jesus Christ the center of our existence? Is Jesus Christ our moral guide? Is Jesus Christ our Savior, our High Priest and our King? Is Jesus Christ our Lord and our God?” the bishop asked.

He urged parents and grandparents to utilize the power of the Eucharist to pass the faith on to their children, grandchildren, relatives, neighbors, friends, and even strangers.

“Your kids will not stay Catholic by accident,” he told parents. “You must make it your vocation to give them the precious gift of life everlasting.

“It is only in the awesome reality of the Blessed Sacrament that the Irish Americans of today will be able to live their faith, make their own contribution of time and talent, and give their witness to future generations,” said Bishop Jenky.

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