Bishop-elect Tylka begins journey of faith with priests of Peoria Diocese at Vespers
Leaning on the history of his new diocese and looking to the future, Coadjutor Bishop-elect Louis Tylka formally began his journey of faith in the Diocese of Peoria on July 21 with Vespers at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.
He said that journey seemed improbable a little more than two months ago, when Pope Francis named him to assist Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and eventually succeed him. But it was God who “placed before us this wonderful opportunity of faith and friendship, of brotherhood and spiritual fatherhood, of priesthood and most importantly discipleship.”
Bishop-elect Tylka was the homilist for the Vespers, which anticipate his episcopal ordination on Thursday, July 23. Representing Bishop Jenky was Msgr. Philip Halfacre, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria, who presided over the service of sung psalms and Scripture. Assisting him were Deacon Austin Bosse and Deacon Nic Wilson.
The full text of his homily is published here.
Vespers offer an opportunity for the bishop-elect to talk to the priests of his new diocese and join them in prayer. About 60 priests and seminarians from the Diocese of Peoria were present, along with a few of Bishop-elect Tylka’s priest-friends from the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Also present were his father, Louis M. Tylka, and sisters Linda Tylka, Therese Dunning and Brenda Landau. Their sister, Mary Lou Bryant, who passed away in June, was remembered in a special way with photos placed on top of the pew railing.
While safe social distancing was observed, those who attended wore masks at all times.
WORKING, PRAYING TOGETHER
Bishop-elect Tylka embraced the Diocese of Peoria by donning the stole believed to have been worn by Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette when he brought the Gospel to what is now Illinois. He also wore the pectoral cross that belonged to Archbishop John Lancaster Spalding, the first bishop of the Diocese of Peoria.
The reading he chose was Luke 24:13-35, which tells of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. As they walked, Jesus joined them and they eventually knew him in “the breaking of the bread.”
“We must be disciples in order to make disciples,” Bishop-elect Tylka said. “These two had committed themselves to the path of following Jesus, and so must we. . . . Discipleship is a way of life — it is a commitment to deepen our relationship with Jesus and to always seek more from Him who is our way, our truth, and our life.”
He acknowledged that this concept of discipleship was something that has developed over time, as he began to acquire the language around his lived reality.
“We have the great task of helping the People of God understand this calling of discipleship — to help ‘interpret’ as the Lord does for these two on the way, the language and heart of our calling so that we can more fully take up our identity as missionary disciples,” Bishop-elect Tylka encouraged the priests sitting before him.
As the disciples on the road to Emmaus demonstrated as they continued to talk about what they had seen and heard, our journey of faith cannot be a solitary one, he said, noting, “We need to learn and grow together.”
“As bishop I don’t know all the answers — I barely know all the questions. What I do know is we can only be successful in our ministry if we do it together,” Bishop-elect Tylka said. “We must rely on each other to assist in building up God’s Kingdom.”
He pledged to be “a faithful disciple with you — being taught by Jesus how we are to live a life of faith, together.”
The Eucharist is the source and summit of Catholic Christian life and was given to us by Jesus to sustain us, to nourish us, to heal us and to unite us, Bishop-elect Tylka said. As they seek to bring holiness to the world, it is important to return often to “this great source of life.”
“Let us commit ourselves to worthy celebrations of this great encounter with Christ in which all are invited and all feel welcome,” he said.
Calling to mind one of the Diocese of Peoria’s “greatest sons,” Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Bishop-elect Tylka also encouraged his brother priests to have a regular Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament and to live a life of prayer to keep the fire of faith burning in their hearts.
Another good example of someone who did this was the Blessed Mother, whom he called the first disciple. With her heart aflame with love for God, she was able to say “yes” to God’s plan for her life, he said.
“Brothers, sons, family and friends — as on that first day of the week, that day of new life, ‘two of them,’ two disciples, got on the road together. They walked with Jesus, they broke Bread with Jesus, they had their hearts set on fire by Jesus,” Bishop-elect Tylka said. “Let us do the same.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Vespers have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.