Bishop Tylka’s ‘Welcome Tour’ resumes with Masses in Champaign and Danville

Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka distributes Communion during the Champaign Vicariate Mass Sept. 19 at St. Matthew Church in Champaign. Assisting is server Veronica Schuchart from St. Matthew Parish. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

After a two-week pause, Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka resumed his “Welcome Tour” across the Diocese of Peoria with visits Sept. 19-20 to the Champaign and Danville Vicariates.

On Saturday, representatives of 16 parishes in the Champaign Vicariate joined Bishop Tylka for a 5:15 p.m. Mass at St. Matthew Church in Champaign.

Priests of the Danville Vicariate concelebrate Mass with Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka on Sunday morning, Sept. 20, at Holy Family Church in Danville. From left are Father Dennis O’Riley, Father Thomas Gibson, Father Deusdedit Byomuhangi, Father Timothy Sauppe, Bishop Tylka, Father Bowan Schmitt, Father Robert Hoffman, Father Steven Loftus and Father Ted Pracz. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The following morning he was the principal celebrant of a Mass at Holy Family Church in Danville that drew members from that vicariate’s five Vermilion County parishes.

“It’s a great joy to begin to get to know the diocese,” Bishop Tylka said at the close of the Mass in Champaign. Noting the Diocese of Peoria is the largest geographical diocese in Illinois, he acknowledged “I’ve already put a lot of miles on my car, and I look forward to putting on many more. I enjoy coming out to the parishes.”

And judging from the lines to greet and be photographed with Bishop Tylka after each Mass, it’s obvious that the regions’ Catholics are enjoying these getting-to-know-you visits.


“He’s very personable,” said Alan Schwenk, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Tolono, after introducing his wife Christine and children Anne and Joe to Bishop Tylka following the Mass in Champaign.

“We like his sense of humor,” added Christine.

That sense of humor was evident at both stops last weekend. After receiving gifts of apparel from The High School of Saint Thomas More and the University of Illinois at the close of the Mass in Champaign, Bishop Tylka quipped “By the time I finish this Welcome Tour I’m going to look pretty good!”

In Danville, he told the assembly that he is “a huge fan” of singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffet.

“I have a t-shirt from every concert I’ve ever gone to,” he said. “I feel I should have ‘Bishop Lou’ t-shirts to mark these days of the Welcome Tour.

“This has been such a wonderful opportunity and a blessing to begin to get to know the wonderful life of faith that marks our diocese,” Bishop Tylka continued, “as well as a great opportunity to be with the priests — the bishop’s closest collaborators,” he said. At both sites, he pledged to return to the area and celebrate Masses at every parish.


In welcoming Bishop Tylka to the Champaign Vicariate, Msgr. Stanley Deptula — pastor of St. Matthew Parish — noted how the visit connected the region’s Catholics as a vicariate and also linked them to  Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, the past bishops of the diocese, and the Archbishop of Chicago.

“As a successor of the apostles, perhaps most profoundly you connect us to the successor of St. Peter — our Holy Father, the pope,” said Msgr. Deptula.

Members of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George from St. Matthew School and The High School of Saint Thomas More greet Bishop Tylka after the Champaign Vicariate Mass. From left, they are Sister Mary George Brown, Sister Mary Francis Goodson, Sister M. Bridget Martin, and Sister M. Jacinta Fecteau. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

At both Masses, Bishop Tylka said that when he reflects on Scripture readings, he asks himself two questions: “What does the reading say about me, and more importantly, what does it say about God?”

Last Sunday’s Gospel on the parable of the generous landowner — in which laborers who went into the fields late in the day were paid the same as those called first — is an example that “our thoughts are not God’s thoughts and God’s ways are not our ways.”

“Thank God for that,” said Bishop Tylka. “The parables shake us from our own narrowmindedness to think as God does” — emphasizing justice, compassion, mercy, and love.

“They are a reminder that I have to lift up my ways and my thoughts to encompass the way God sees it, not as I see it,” he said in Danville. “I have to set aside the values of this world for the values of the Kingdom of Heaven.”


The Mass at Holy Family in Danville was concelebrated by eight priests of the vicariate and those attending included a Spanish-speaking contingent. Father Thomas Gibson, pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Hoopeston, offered welcoming remarks in both English and Spanish; Santiago and Tina Castaneda of Holy Family Parish sang a Communion meditation in Spanish; and Bishop Tylka offered greetings and gratitude in Spanish at the close of Mass.

Lizzie Lerner and Joe Lerner lead the Responsorial Psalm during the Danville Vicariate Mass at Holy Family Church in Danville on Sept. 20. The psalm setting in two-part harmony was composed for the occasion by Jonathan Myers, organist and director of music at Holy Family Parish. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The Danville Mass also featured a sung Responsorial Psalm setting composed for the occasion by Jonathan Myers, organist and director of music at Holy Family Parish.

“We’re so honored to have (Bishop Tylka) here,” said Myers. “I wanted to do something special for his visit.”

Using the proper texts from Psalm 145, including the refrain “The Lord is near to all who call upon him,” Myers composed two-part harmonies sung by cantors Lizzie Lerner and Joe Lerner.

“They made it sound better than it probably is,” said Myers, who has served at Holy Family for 10 years and was at neighboring St. Paul Parish for five years before that.

The Champaign and Danville stops were the seventh and eighth on Bishop Tylka’s tour of the diocese’s 12 vicariates. The Welcome Tour continues this weekend with a 4:30 p.m. Mass for the Peoria Vicariate on Saturday, Sept. 26, at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Peoria, and an 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27, hosted by St. Joseph Church in Pekin for Catholics of the Pekin Vicariate.

The vicariate tour concludes the weekend of Oct. 3-4 with visits to Ottawa and LaSalle. Bishop Tylka then plans to visit the Catholic Newman Centers on college campuses in the diocese.

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


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