Week of pro-life efforts in diocese culminates with ‘spiritual warfare’

A statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe is brought forward at the start of the diocese-wide Mass and Holy Hour of Reparation and Healing at St. Joseph Church in Peoria on Jan. 22. Our Lady's intercession was frequently asked in prayers seeking an end to abortion and encounters of mercy for mothers and fathers of aborted children. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

A week of pro-life activities culminated in the Diocese of Peoria with hundreds joining Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at St. Joseph Church in Peoria for two hours of “spiritual warfare” that included a declaration that “we are not in a battle with those who have had an abortion.”

“That may be stating the obvious, but unfortunately it’s not obvious to those on the outside,” said Father William Miller, IC, homilist at the Mass celebrated on the evening of the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion. “Our battle is for them and for all who have been wounded by abortion to be healed and freed of this burden by the mercy of God.”

Father William Miller, IC, chariman of the diocesan respect life board, blesses the assembly with the Blessed Sacrament during Benediction at the close of the Holy Hour of Reparation and Healing. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Father William Miller, IC, chariman of the diocesan respect life board, blesses the assembly with the Blessed Sacrament during Benediction at the close of the Holy Hour of Reparation and Healing. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The Mass — a Holy Year of Mercy event in the diocese organized by the Respect Life Ministry of Catholic Charities — was followed by a Holy Hour of Reparation and Healing that included a recitation of the rosary with pro-life meditations in both English and Spanish.

The opening procession included the carrying of a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose intercession on behalf of the cause of life was invoked frequently during the evening.

Bishop Jenky then welcomed those who filled “the oldest Catholic church in Peoria” to take part “in spiritual warfare between light and darkness  .  .  .  between God and the devil.”

The bishop assured the assembly that “we do not need to fear. Christ always triumphs.”

“MESSENGERS OF MERCY”

In his homily, Father Miller — chairman of the diocesan respect life board — continued the themes of battle, hope and mercy in confronting the “ongoing moral disaster” of legal abortion..

Lisa and John Weber and Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, pray the rosary during the Holy Hour of Reparation and Healing at St. Joseph Church in Peoria on Jan. 22. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Lisa and John Weber and Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, pray the rosary during the Holy Hour of Reparation and Healing at St. Joseph Church in Peoria on Jan. 22. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“We are in an epic battle with the abortion industry and all of its cronies who are in many spheres of influence,” said Father Miller, who is also pastor of Corpus Christi and St. Patrick parishes in Galesburg as well as Sacred Heart, Abingdon. “We are in a battle to win minds and hearts, one person at a time, to the saving truth of the God-given worth of every human life from the moment of conception until natural death.”

Noting we are all sinners in need of God’s mercy, Father Miller urged all to “seize the moment” during the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis and Bishop Jenky to “pray like you have never prayed before.”

“Don’t despise those who don’t get (the sanctity of human life) yet,” said Father Miller. “We are messengers of mercy to them also as we persevere in speaking the truth with love.”

Like Bishop Jenky, he assured the victory will be Christ’s.

“God revives the spirits of the dejected and the hearts of the crushed,” he said. “The Almighty wants to heal our land and to give full comfort to those who mourn, including those who mourn the loss of so many innocent lives ended by abortion in numbers beyond our capacity to comprehend.”

ASSEMBLY FILLS CHURCH

Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Jenky and Father Miller were Father John Cyr, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, Bradford, and St. Dominic, Wyoming; Father Daniel Ebker, pastor of St. Mary Parish, Canton, and St. Michael Parish, St. David; Father Thomas Otto, parochial vicar of Immaculate Conception, Monmouth, St. Patrick, Raritan, and chaplain of the St. Augustine Newman Club at Monmouth College; and Father Jeffrey Stirniman, pastor of St. Louis Parish, Princeton.

Father Miller presided at the Holy Hour of Reparation and Healing that followed the Mass. It included recitation of the rosary with intentions including an end to abortion, the respect of life from conception to natural death, the protection of the identity and mission of all families, and that all who suffer may encounter God’s merciful love.

Among those leading the rosary in English and Spanish were Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF; John and Lisa Weber, Sister Marina Ramirez Meza, HSCP; Shirley Plaag; Micaela Juan and Jorge Martinez; and Vicki Waldschmidt.

The assembly included dozens of women religious representing several communities, as well as many college students from Catholic Newman Centers around the diocese.

Editor’s Note: More photos from the evening have been posted to an album on The Catholic Post’s Facebook page.

Concelebratands and deacons at the pro-life themed Mass with Bishop Jenky on Jan. 22 at St. Joseph Church in Peoria were, from left: Father John Cyr, Father William Miller, IC, Father Jeffrey Stirniman, Deacon Roger Hunter, Deacon Bob Sondag, Father Thomas Otto, and Father Daniel Ebker. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Concelebrants and deacons at the pro-life themed Mass with Bishop Jenky on Jan. 22 at St. Joseph Church in Peoria were, from left: Father John Cyr, Father William Miller, IC, Father Jeffrey Stirniman, Deacon Roger Hunter, Deacon Bob Sondag, Father Thomas Otto, and Father Daniel Ebker. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

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