Bishop Tylka begins ‘Welcome Tour’ with liturgies in Bloomington and Pontiac

Kelly and Kel Krenz and eight of their 10 children and two grandchildren visit with Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka in the parish center of St. Mary Church in Pontiac. The opportunity to meet people followed the Mass for the Pontiac Vicariate on Aug. 2. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka started to get acquainted with his new diocese last weekend by celebrating Masses at St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington on Aug. 1, and at St. Mary Church in Pontiac on Aug. 2. He drew a joyful response by calling them the first stops on his “Welcome Tour.”

“I think we should start producing t-shirts,” he said with a smile at the beginning of the liturgy in Bloomington.

He went on to call the celebrations “a new moment of grace” for the Diocese of Peoria.

“It is certainly a moment of grace in my own life, to be called by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to serve as a bishop and in particular to come to the Diocese of Peoria and be with all of you — to walk with you, to grow with you, and celebrate the gift of our faith in Jesus together,” Bishop Tylka told the 230 people representing the 14 parishes of the Bloomington-Lincoln Vicariate on Saturday afternoon.

Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka encourages people to use their gifts, despite their feelings of inadequacy. God will always use what we bring him to enable us to do his work, he said at the Mass at St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington on Aug. 1. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

He would get that relationship started with short, personal visits with those who attended the Mass in church and in the parking lot. The priests of the vicariate got a chance to talk to Bishop Tylka over dinner in the parish hall.

His trip to Pontiac included a Mass for the people of the 11 parishes in the Pontiac Vicariate, followed by an opportunity to “meet and greet” them in the parish hall of St. Mary Church. The priests of the vicariate were invited to have lunch with Bishop Tylka.

Handshakes and photos would have to wait for another time due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Bishop Tylka promised to return.

“This is the first of what I hope will be many, many visits to all the parishes of the diocese,” he said at the Mass in Pontiac.

“I’m sure all of you have the same sentiment that’s in my heart and mind that we’re very blessed to have you and look forward to getting to know you and see how the Holy Spirit works in your episcopacy in the Diocese of Peoria,” said Father Dustin Schultz, vicar forane of the Bloomington-Lincoln Vicariate. He is pastor of St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington and St. Mary in Downs.

In his greeting, Father David Sabel, vicar forane of the Pontiac Vicariate, said parishioners will be praying that Bishop Tylka would be “joyful and fruitful” as the next bishop of the Diocese of Peoria.

“Our humble vicariate will continue to pray, be obedient and supportive in helping build the kingdom of God within our Pontiac Vicariate and the Peoria Diocese,” he assured Bishop Tylka.


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