Bishop Tylka continues Welcome Tour with Masses for Peoria, Pekin vicariates

Brian and Michelle Reynolds of St. Bernard Parish in Peoria were among those greeting Bishop Louis Tylka following the Peoria Vicariate Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Vincent de Paul Church on Sept. 26. Brian is in formation for the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

If “actions speak louder than words,” as Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka repeatedly reminded representatives of parishes from the Peoria and Pekin vicariates at separate Masses the weekend of Sept. 26-27, then this much is clear:

Bishop Lou loves his new diocese.

Bishop Tylka blesses the assembly as he processes from St. Joseph’s Church in Pekin at the close of the Pekin Vicariate Mass on Sept. 27. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The Masses on Saturday afternoon at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Peoria and on Sunday morning at St. Joseph Church in Pekin were stops nine and 10 on a “Welcome Tour” across the Diocese of Peoria that began on Aug. 1. The vicariate phase of the tour concluded Oct. 3 and 4 with Masses for the Ottawa and LaSalle regions.

“It’s been a wonderful blessing to make my way around the diocese,” said Bishop Tylka during the Peoria Vicariate Mass, which was concelebrated by nine priests including Father Stephen Willard, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish and vicar of the Peoria Vicariate. “What I have found is a people of great faith.”

In Pekin the following morning, Bishop Tylka told representatives from the vicariate’s 13 parishes that the Diocese of Peoria has quickly become “very much my home” after he served the first 24 years of his priesthood in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“I’m very grateful for the warm welcome that has been expressed to me,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to be with you for many, many years that God will hopefully give me to serve as bishop in Peoria.”


As at all previous stops, Bishop Tylka stayed after the Masses to personally greet the faithful. In both Peoria and Pekin, the greetings took place socially distanced and just outside the church entrance doors.

“He is very easy to talk to, very personable,” said Diane Willis of St. Ann Parish in Peoria after she and her husband Joe spoke with Bishop Tylka outside St. Vincent de Paul Church. “He seems so inspired by God and is lighting the fire in people. I think he’s going to make a big difference in the church.”

“It looks like great things are happening,” agreed Joe Willis.

In Pekin, Cindy Intravartolo of St. Mary Parish in Lewistown had a question ready for Bishop Tylka after the Mass at St. Joseph Church.

This summer, after reading in The Catholic Post that the newly appointed bishop’s favorite movies include the “Star Wars” series, Intravartolo sent a Star Wars-themed cloth face covering she had created to him via St. Julie Billiart Parish in Tinley Park. It was one of two she had crafted. The other went to Father David Whiteside, her pastor at the Lewistown parish who is also a Star Wars enthusiast.

Bishop Louis Tylka celebrates the Peoria Vicariate Mass of Thanksgiving. Nine area priests concelebrated the Mass on Sept. 26 at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Did the bishop receive it?

“Yes,” said Intravartolo, “and he said he enjoys wearing it.”


At both weekend Masses, Bishop Tylka’s homily focused on the Gospel parable from St. Matthew in which Jesus tells of the two sons of a vineyard owner. Asked by their father to go out and work, one son said “no” but changed his mind and worked, while the other said “yes” but did not go.

Bishop Tylka linked the parable to God’s individual call to each of us to follow Jesus, become his disciples, and “do the work of proclaiming the Kingdom.”

“Do I really believe and trust that Jesus knows me personally,” Bishop Tylka asked in Peoria, “that he looks in my eyes and my heart and calls me to be his disciple? Yes. Yes for all of us.”

He told both assemblies that his favorite musical is “Tick Tick . . . BOOM,” and that he especially admires a song near the end of the play called “Actions Speak Louder than Words.”

“Do we say ‘yes,’ we’re going to be disciples of the Lord and then not live that out in our actions?” he asked in Pekin. “Jesus says let your actions speak, for they are louder than your words. Let the world know you are my follower.”

Diane Intravartolo and her sister Cindy Intravartolo, both of St. Mary Parish in Lewistown, greet Bishop Tylka after the Pekin Vicariate Mass at St. Joseph Church on Sept. 27. Learning the Bishop Tylka enjoyed the Star Wars movie series, Cindy had sent Bishop Tylka a Star Wars-themed cloth face covering this summer. The bishop said he enjoys wearing it. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

In welcoming Bishop Tylka to St. Vincent de Paul Church, Father Willard noted that the visit coincided with the weekend the parish was celebrating its patronal feast.

He quoted St. Vincent de Paul that “If we are faithful to God, we will lack nothing” and thanked Bishop Tylka for his answer of “yes” to God’s will.

Bishop Tylka’s visit to St. Joseph Church in Pekin was his second within the week. He conferred the sacrament of confirmation there on Sept. 22.

“I’m humbled that in your first few weeks in your episcopal ministry you have been here twice,” said Father Michael Andrejek, pastor of St. Joseph Parish and vicar of the Pekin Vicariate. “What an honor to have you here to pray with us and be with us.”

Both Masses were livestreamed and may be viewed on either the parish websites or Facebook pages of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Joseph parishes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Vicariate Masses in Peoria and Pekin have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

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