Bishop Jenky opens 2021 by urging all to draw nearer to, and then proclaim, Jesus

"In this Year of Grace 2021 and for the rest of our lives, let us all in various and individual ways, try again to make room in our hearts for Jesus," writes Bishop Jenky in his 2021 Festival Letter. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, opened 2021 by encouraging everyone in the Diocese of Peoria to renew their faith in Jesus and then “boldly share this faith with everyone they meet.”

In his 19th and what is expected to be his final Festival Letter, titled “Jesus,” the bishop counters “these days of COVID, confusion, quarantine, and fear” by urging all Catholics to draw nearer to the Risen Christ, who is “alive, present, and available to us in our world today.”

“In this Year of Grace 2021 and for the rest of our lives, let us all in various and individual ways, try again to make room in our hearts for the Lord,” Bishop Jenky writes.

Faith in Jesus, he said, “must always be foundational for who we are and how we try to live.” The name of Jesus “must always remain the very heart and soul of everything that we as Catholic Christians know and believe.”

The 2021 Festival Letter is printed on pages 10 and 11 of the Jan. 3, 2021 issue of The Catholic Post and is also available online at cdop.org. Like the majority of Bishop Jenky’s annual teaching documents, it was dated on the Solemnity of the Epiphany near the start of the calendar year.

RETURN TO THE FOUNDATION

Bishop Jenky opens this year’s Festival Letter by acknowledging it will be his last.

“As some degree of physical infirmity has now limited my ability to preach and personally minister across the 26 counties of our diocese,” he writes, “I have decided to send this one last Festival Letter to you in this year and some months before I officially retire.” Bishop Jenky turns 75, the age when bishops must submit their resignations to the pope, on March 3, 2022.

His first Festival Letter in 2003 was devoted to prayer. Bishop Jenky sees this final one as a return to the foundation of our faith by sharing the ways we can encounter the Son of God, our Savior — including through the Scriptures, the needs of our neighbor, the Eucharist and other sacraments, and in the community of the church.

“Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can actually meet him, learn from him, be helped and comforted by him, follow him, be challenged and changed by him, even be ‘born again’ in him,” the bishop writes.

“If we possess Jesus we are truly rich beyond all compare,” he said, even in days of pandemic, change, scandal, and persecution.

Like all previous Festival Letters, “Jesus” includes a calendar of the fasts and feasts of the liturgical year. But this year’s calendar has a necessary clarification.

“While during this time during the COVID pandemic there is currently no obligation to attend Mass, we hope that the new year brings a return to our normal liturgical practice,” notes Bishop Jenky. “Some dates may be subject to change to accommodate changes due to the pandemic.”

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