Hundreds begin St. Patrick’s Day at cathedral Mass with Bishop Jenky

Students from Peoria Notre Dame High School carry a relic of St. Patrick into St. Mary's Cathedral at the start of the annual St. Patrick's Day Mass celebrated by Bishop Jenky. Truman Ralph is in the foreground, Andrew Winschel is to his left, Luke Shadid is in back and hidden in back is Luc Jackson. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

St. Patrick’s Day is “a festival of faith,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, reminded hundreds of Catholics who began the feast by joining him for an 8 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

“It is a day when we remember and give thanks for a heroic missionary and for Catholic tradition in Ireland,” said the bishop in welcoming an assembly clad mostly in green.

The annual Mass precedes the St. Patrick’s Day parade through downtown Peoria that organizes in the cathedral neighborhood.

Members of Flynn's Irish Dancers perform in the sanctuary of St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria prior to the 8 a.m. St. Patrick's Day Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC. The dancers are, from left, Ella Dotson, Meghan Willerton, Maddy George and Kate Sanderson. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Members of Flynn’s Irish Dancers perform in the sanctuary of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria prior to the 8 a.m. St. Patrick’s Day Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC. The dancers are, from left, Ella Dotson, Meghan Willerton, Maddy George and Kate Sanderson. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“Today will be filled with lots of marching, corned beef and cabbage, and maybe a little Guinness, but it’s good to begin the day remembering what it’s all about — St. Patrick,” said Bishop Jenky.

Before the Mass, a quartet of dancers from the Flynn School of Irish Dance in Peoria performed in the cathedral sanctuary. The processional was led by Heather Penne, a member of St. Jude Parish in Peoria, playing the bagpipes. Four students from Peoria Notre Dame High School carried in a relic of St. Patrick on a platform. The relic was available for veneration following the Mass.

In his homily, Msgr. Paul Showalter encouraged Catholics to emulate the prayer life and zeal to convert souls to Christ modeled in the life of St. Patrick as well as a priest from the Diocese of Peoria well-known in Ireland — Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

“Today, in the spirit of Patrick and our own Venerable Bishop Sheen, let’s think about the renewal of our own lives,” said Msgr. Showalter, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria. “How much prayer do any of us give to the Lord each day? On this St. Patrick’s Day, before the parade, I ask you to think about some specific way God has been with you.”

Msgr. Showalter spoke of traveling to Ireland several decades ago with his mother. He read from a card he purchased on that trip that bears the advice: “Get on your knees and thank God you’re on your feet.”

Bishop Jenky blesses the assembly at the close of the St. Patrick's Day Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria. The bishop also offered a traditional Irish blessing and the prayer "When you die, may you be in heaven a half-hour before the devil knows you're dead." (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Bishop Jenky blesses the assembly at the close of the St. Patrick’s Day Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. The bishop also offered a traditional Irish blessing and the prayer “When you die, may you be in heaven a half-hour before the devil knows you’re dead.” (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“Begin each day with a dependency on God,” Msgr. Showalter urged the assembly.

Following the Mass, a brunch was served in the Spalding Pastoral Center by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a Catholic organization that promotes friendship, charity, and seeks to perpetuate the history, tradition and culture of the Irish people. A second collection was received at the Mass to support the group’s charitable works.

Bishop Jenky, sporting a reddish fake beard over his own whiskers, took part in the parade riding in a golf cart. The parade featured many representatives of the Catholic community, including schools and organizations.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Mass have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook. 

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