‘Consecrated Life’ is focus of Bishop Jenky’s new Festival Letter

Photo Caption: As the Year of Consecrated Life opened, Bishop Jenky — a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross — posed with consecrated women and men from 20 religious communities ministering in the diocese.

Citing the “irreplaceable role” men and women religious have played in the Diocese of Peoria throughout its history, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, has joined Pope Francis in calling for 2015 to be a special year to deepen understanding of and appreciation for their selfless witness and work.

“Consecrated Life” is the title of Bishop Jenky’s 13th annual Festival Letter to the diocese. Like the others, it is dated on the solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord and also includes a calendar of dates for various feasts and celebrations in the liturgical year.

The new teaching document is found in a pull-out section of the Jan. 4 print issue of The Catholic Post. It is also available online here.

In an introductory letter, Bishop Jenky notes that Pope Francis has asked all Catholics to consider “in a new and deeper way the vocation to Consecrated Life in the Church.” A “Year of Consecrated Life” opened in the diocese and throughout the universal church in late November.

“Like Pope Francis, I know this consecrated life from the inside,” writes Bishop Jenky, who is a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

“AN EXTRAORDINARY GIFT”
In his 2015 Festival Letter — among the shortest of his annual teaching documents at about 1,700 words — Bishop Jenky says that while God calls each of us to a particular vocation, those in consecrated religious life are “witnesses to a radical way of hearing and then living the Gospel.”

Acknowledging the diverse ways members of various religious orders and congregations do that, all embody an “utter dependence upon God and total commitment to neighbor,” writes the bishop.

Bishop Jenky cited a growing number of young religious serving in the Diocese of Peoria, calling it “an extraordinary gift for which we should all give special thanks to God.”

“It is something of a phenomenon and certainly a manifest grace that even today so many young people from our parishes, schools, and Newman Centers continue to enter the religious life, both in active and contemplative communities,” he wrote.

Bishop Jenky urged all Catholics to seek God’s will and “whatever our state of life, always love God with our whole heart, mind, strength, and soul, and love our neighbor as ourself.”

But in the coming year, he especially asks that we “honor the consecrated men and women who so selflessly minister in our midst and build up the entire Body of Christ by their public witness.” The bishop also encouraged prayers for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

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