Bishop Tylka urges reliance on Holy Spirit during Mass at Peoria Notre Dame

In his homily at Peoria Notre Dame High School, Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka told the students that to live a life in the Holy Spirit means "to live a life that is not just about me, not just for ourselves, but to live a life for the Lord, for the Gospel, for the kingdom of heaven." (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Many firsts accompany the beginning of a new academic year and at Peoria Notre Dame High School that included a visit from Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka on Sept. 1. Not only was it his first official visit to a Catholic school in Diocese of Peoria, but it was the first school Mass there since the students returned in mid-August.

When he arrived, Bishop Tylka found the Peoria Notre Dame Marching Band waiting for him on the lawn in front of the school. A few minutes later, he would be treated to “a warm PND welcome” with Father Corey Krengiel, chaplain, leading the freshman and seniors gathered in the Kelly Needham Gym in a round of applause.

As is tradition in Catholic schools at the start of a new year, Bishop Tylka celebrated a Mass of the Holy Spirit and said it is appropriate to invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, especially during high school.

“We invite the Spirit to be our helper and guide so that we may respond to the call of Jesus each day,” he said.


As it turns out, this wasn’t the first time someone from Peoria Notre Dame had offered words of welcome. That came during Bishop Tylka’s second visit to Peoria on June 14, when he and his father, sister and a family friend ventured out for ice cream.

Senior Jack Hafner was behind the counter and told them he attended Notre Dame. They initially thought he meant the university but soon discovered he was referring to the Peoria high school.

“It’s great. I have great friends. It’s a great school. I’m learning a lot and I love the service trip,” Hafner said. He went on to tell the Tylkas about the trip and how important that was to him.

“It is with the gift of the Holy Spirit that we, indeed, have the strength, the courage, the wisdom, the passion to know that we live not for ourselves. We live for the Lord and with the Lord and serving the Lord, and that makes all the difference.” — Bishop Louis Tylka

When he found out that he was speaking to the man who would be ordained coadjutor bishop a month later, Hafner said, “Welcome. It’s great you’re coming to Peoria.”

“That brief encounter says something about who this school is,” Bishop Tylka said during his homily. “It has shaped a young man’s mind and heart already to be about service, to offer a genuine kindness and welcome, to put, from my judgment, the Spirit of the Lord in his mind and heart.”

He said that’s what Catholic schools are about.

“It’s about receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit that the world may say is foolish, but you and I know is the most important gift we’ve got,” Bishop Tylka said. “It is with the gift of the Holy Spirit that we, indeed, have the strength, the courage, the wisdom, the passion to know that we live not for ourselves. We live for the Lord and with the Lord and serving the Lord, and that makes all the difference.”

That service includes the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion who have been trained to distribute Communion during school Masses. Father Krengiel called them forward to be blessed and instituted in their role by Bishop Tylka for the coming year.

After Mass, Hafner and Bishop Tylka had a chance to meet again and exchange a few words.


Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka tells students in John Donnelly’s Spanish I class about his immersion trip to Texas while he was still a seminarian. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

In her welcome to “Our Lady’s school,” Sister Sara Kowal, SCTJM, principal, noted Bishop Tylka’s motto, “Go Make Disciples.” She said it was Mary who first brought the presence of Christ to others when she visited her cousin Elizabeth.

“That’s what you’re doing for us, too, coming here. You’re bringing Christ’s presence as his shepherd, as a father, and we thank you for being here with us today and living out that motto. We look forward to the many years to come in which we all, in union with you, make disciples of many men and women.”

Bishop Tylka’s visit didn’t end after Mass. Guided by Sister Sara, he walked through the halls of the school, dropping in to say “hello” to students in various classes.

Among them were two Spanish classes, where he spoke to the students in the language in which he hopes to become more fluent. At the prompting of teacher John Donnelly, Bishop Tylka talked briefly of his immersion experience in Texas with the students in Spanish I.

His tour ended in the campus ministry office and library, where lunch with a small group of administrators and faculty members awaited him. Bishop Tylka left with a tumbler with the Peoria Notre Dame logo and school pullover with his name embroidered on it. There was also a Peoria Notre Dame polo shirt for his father and mugs for his sisters.

The Mass is available on Facebook and may be viewed by clicking here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from Bishop Tylka’s visit to Peoria Notre Dame have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.


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