Stops in Ottawa, Oglesby end vicariate phase of Bishop Tylka’s “Welcome Tour”

As Father John Bosco Mujuni (left) looks on, Father Gary Blake welcomes Coadjutor Louis Tylka to the LaSalle Vicariate Oct. 4. The celebration was held at Holy Family in Oglesby, where Father Blake is pastor. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

With joy and some sadness, Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka brought his “Welcome Tour” to an end with Masses of Thanksgiving at St. Columba Church in Ottawa on Oct. 3 and Holy Family Church in Oglesby on Oct. 4. The Ottawa and LaSalle vicariates were the last of the Diocese of Peoria’s 12 vicariates to host liturgies and receptions to help him get acquainted with his new diocese and its people.

Bishop Tylka emphasized that these are just the first of many visits.

“I’m not sure how realistic it is, but it is my goal within the first two years — it may take three years — to get to every parish” in the diocese, he said as the Mass in Oglesby concluded. “It is my intention to make visits to them as quickly as possible.”

He asked people to be patient since “there’s about 160 parishes and there’s one of me, so I know that it will take some time to get around.”

Resting on a table between the altar and the ambo at St. Columba Church in Ottawa is a portrait of Archbishop John J. Myers, who was a native of the Ottawa area and was remembered as a “good servant of the church” by Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka on Oct. 3. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“It’s been such a joy to do this and I look forward to the future visits, as well,” Bishop Tylka said before offering the final blessing.

After being welcomed to St. Columba in Ottawa by Father David Kipfer, pastor, the bishop said it was providential that he should be there so soon after sending “home to the Lord” Archbishop John J. Myers, whose funeral was Sept. 30 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. A picture of the archbishop, surrounded by candles, could be seen on a table in the sanctuary, near the ambo.

Born in Ottawa and raised in Earlville, Archbishop Myers was “a good servant of the church, a good bishop, and certainly we continue to mourn his loss and pray for his family as they continue to grieve their loss,” Bishop Tylka said. “But we do so with a lot of hope and gratitude because of his leadership and his service to the church.”

ALL IS GIFT

In his homily at both Masses, Bishop Tylka said we must not overlook what God has done first for us and what we have been given.

“God, in fact, has given us the very breath of life and therefore it is sacred and should be respected in all its stages,” he said.

Oct. 4 was Respect Life Sunday and began a month of observances in support of the sanctity of life around the Diocese of Peoria and the nation. (See the letter from Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, on page 2.)

Bishop Tylka smiles at the rhyming welcome message on the St. Columbua Church sign in Ottawa. (Photo by Ben Wilson)

In the parable from Matthew’s Gospel, the tenants of a vineyard forget what has been done for them and instead think they are owed something more. Bishop Tylka said we may lose perspective and take things for granted, too.

“Perhaps in our selfishness from time to time we no longer look at everything as a gift from God. Rather, we think more of ourselves,” he said. “We think first of not how we can share, but how we can obtain. Rather than seeking the ways of the Lord, we seek the ways of the world.”

When we have the perspective that all is gift, we can not only appreciate what we have but share those gifts with others, according to Bishop Tylka.

“Perhaps it will shape our minds and our hearts to live differently, to live more of these values of Jesus’ message of the kingdom of heaven, to recognize that the gift is not given to be hoarded but is given to us to be given to others. If we do so, I think it is then that we truly live as Jesus’ disciples, that we bear fruit,” he said.

SEEING BISHOP “IN REAL LIFE”

Dr. Dan Fuertges of St. John the Evangelist in Walnut was chosen to represent his parish at the LaSalle Vicariate Mass and was humbled by that honor.

“I wanted to meet the bishop and wish him luck,” Dr. Fuertges said. “I just have a love of my faith and the church and this is important to me.”

Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka laughs at someting said by Neven McCoy, 5, after the LaSalle Vicariate Mass at Holy Family in Oglesby. With the shy young man (center) is (from left) his brother Owen, sister Lenee, grandmother Candy Alleman, baby sister Kaylinn and mother Jillian. Not pictured are his father Willis or older brother Mason, who was a server. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Jillian and Willis McCoy of Holy Family in Oglesby said they haven’t missed a Mass since the church reopened, but meeting the bishop on Oct. 4 made it “extra exciting.”

“I think it was awesome,” Jillian said.

It was the first time Willis had met a bishop, “so it was pretty neat for me.”

The same was true for the VanWiggeren family of St. Columba in Ottawa, who came straight from soccer practice to the Mass and reception that followed in the cafeteria of Marquette Academy’s elementary school campus. The family welcoming committee included father David and children Ella, Lucas and Emmy Kate.

“I never got to see a bishop in real life. I go to this school and see pictures of him, but I wanted to see the real one,” said young Emmy Kate. “It’s very cool to see him in real life. It’s cool to see him in person.”

The tour of the vicariates may have ended, but Bishop Tylka will continue his travels with visits planned at St. John Paul II Catholic Newman Center at Illinois State University on Oct. 11, St. Joseph Catholic Newman Center at Bradley University on Oct. 18, and St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois on Nov. 8.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from Bishop Tylka’s visits to Oglesby and Ottawa have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.  

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