Pope Francis appoints Father Louis Tylka as Coadjutor Bishop for Diocese of Peoria

Coadjutor Bishop-elect Father Louis Tylka

Pope Francis has appointed Father Louis Tylka, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Peoria.

A coadjutor is an assistant bishop with the right of succession.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who has shepherded the Diocese of Peoria since 2002, will continue as diocesan bishop. When Bishop Jenky retires, Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka, now 49, will automatically succeed him and become the ninth Bishop of Peoria. Bishop Jenky turns 75, the age when bishops are required to turn in their resignation to the pope, on March 3, 2022.

The appointment was announced May 11 in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic and state restrictions surrounding it, the date of Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka’s episcopal ordination at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria may not be known for some time.

 SENDS GREETINGS BY VIDEO

“I am both overwhelmed and humbled by the Holy Father’s faith in me and in that spirit I accept this calling from the Lord and His Church,” said Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka (pronounced TIL-kuh) in a video message posted on the Diocese of Peoria’s website.

“Under other circumstances, I would be there in person to meet you and properly introduce myself,” he said. “However, until we can do that safely, let me offer this video by way of greeting and introduction.”

Since 2014, Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka has served as pastor of St. Julie Billiart Parish in Tinley Park. For the past five years, he has also chaired the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

A news release issued by the Diocese of Peoria said the bishop-elect is known as “a man of holiness and prayer, generous in service, who knows how to encourage the talents of others in collaborative ministry.”

RELATED STORY: The Catholic Post’s first interview with Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka reveals his pastoral style, some favorite things.)

REQUESTED BY BISHOP JENKY

“I know that I speak for all the priests, deacons, consecrated religious, and faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria who join me in giving heartfelt thanks to Almighty God and to our Holy Father Pope Francis,” said Bishop Jenky of the appointment of Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka.

Bishop Jenky said in recent years he has experienced “growing mobility problems” because of arthritis and spinal issues. About a year ago, he petitioned Pope Francis for help in the administration of the 26-county diocese, and “I am extremely grateful to the pope for granting my request and sending us this good shepherd.”

Noting that Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka has served in parishes since his ordination in 1996, Bishop Jenky said “he will bring enormous talent, zeal, and a warm personality to the service of God and neighbor here in central Illinois.” He will receive an enthusiastic welcome when he arrives, the bishop predicted, and “we look forward to his pastoral ministry and leadership.”

“Upon my retirement,” added Bishop Jenky, “I will be happy to know that he will become the ninth Bishop of Peoria.”

Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka will be the second coadjutor bishop in the Diocese of Peoria’s 143-year history. In 1987, Bishop John J. Myers was ordained in that role, serving with Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke for three years and then succeeding him.

PARISH PRIEST SINCE ORDINATION

A native of Harvey, Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka was born on May 26, 1970. He is the youngest of six children of Louis and the late Norma Tylka and has five older sisters. The family eventually moved to Hazel Crest and became members of St. Joseph Parish in Homewood.

He attended St. Joseph Grammar School and is a 1988 graduate of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights. After a year of studies at Purdue University, he transferred to Niles College Seminary of Loyola University in Chicago, and completed his preparation for the priesthood at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary.

Following his ordination as a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 18, 1996, by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, he served for six years as pastoral associate of St. Michael Parish in Orland Park. After a year at Sts. Faith, Hope, and Charity Parish in Winnetka, he was named pastor in 2004 of Mater Christi Parish and the Shrine of Mary, Mother of Mothers, in North Riverside. He would serve that faith community for a decade until his appointment to guide St. Julie Billiart, a parish of 2,600 households in Tinley Park.

PLEDGES TO LISTEN AND LEARN

In his video message, Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka said he was “flabbergasted” when Archbishop Pierre called to inform him of the appointment to Peoria.

“I pray the Holy Spirit will continue to sustain me so that I respond generously to the Lord’s call,” he said.

He spoke of his family as “a source of strength in my years of ministry” and said that his parents “instilled great values in us — the importance of family and of faith, and the freedom to chart our own course in life and the courage to go after those dreams.”

His mother died just as he was entering seminary 30 years ago.  His father now resides close to St. Julie Billiart Church.

Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka asked for prayers for his youngest sister, Mary Lou, who is battling terminal cancer. “May Jesus keep her and all those sick and suffering close to His heart,” he said.

Expressing gratitude to Bishop Jenky for his warm welcome and encouragement, Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka also had a message for the priests of the Peoria Diocese.

“Brothers, I pledge to listen to you, to respect your lived experiences of pastoring your people, and I look forward to ministering and working alongside you in the coming years,” he said. The same commitment, he added, goes to the women and men religious, deacons, and other ministers, and he expressed an eagerness to meet the diocese’s seminarians.

“I so look forward to being with the People of God in Peoria soon,” said Coadjutor Bishop-elect Tylka. “You can teach me about the parishes of the diocese, its cities and towns and the spaces between.”

Until that time, he said, “let us pray for one another.”

“In this moment of trial for the entire world,” he said in conclusion, “let us call on the intercession of Our Lady, to whom our cathedral is dedicated, so that the Lord will deliver us from this pandemic, strengthen and preserve all front line workers, give an added portion of wisdom to all our leaders, comfort those who mourn and bring the dead to eternal life.”

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