New Catholics joyful, ‘closer to God’ as they join Bishop Tylka for Pentecost Mass
Pentecost Sunday was special for Pat Corrigan of Mendota in more than one way. Not only did it mark the “birthday of the church,” but it gave her an opportunity to celebrate being received into that church at the Easter Vigil.
Corrigan, who attends Sts. Peter and Paul in Peterstown, was one of many new Catholics to join Bishop Louis Tylka at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria for Mass on Pentecost, June 5. The first time she visited, it was for the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion as Lent started and she began her final preparation for confirmation and receiving the Eucharist for the first time.
“It’s been fantastic,” she said of being Catholic and going to Communion, which she loves. “I just feel closer to God, I think. I feel closer to heaven.”
That’s a prayer answered for Bishop Tylka.
In his homily he welcomed the new Catholics and said, “I pray that you truly still feel the great joy of the church and your own heart, knowing that you are not just one with the church, but you are one with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and he has given to you the gift of the Spirit to live out your faith.”
That gift is given in a powerful way in the sacrament of confirmation, one he enjoys celebrating with young people around the Diocese of Peoria.
“In my homily I remind those to be confirmed that this is not their first experience or encounter with the Holy Spirit,” he said. “The Spirit has been present to them from the moment their life was conceived. Closer than the breath we take is God’s Spirit to us.”
Bishop Tylka confessed, however, that it can be tiring. Since the Saturday after Easter, he has had 30 confirmations and had three more planned in the week to come. In addition, he has put about 4,000 miles on his car.
“But I have had so many wonderful experiences that are just, for me, a gift and a privilege as a bishop to witness when I celebrate the gift of confirmation with these young people,” he said.
One of those privileged encounters was with a young woman who chose St. Joan of Arc for her confirmation name. When he asked why, she said, “She was a strong woman. She loved the Lord. And I want to be the same.”
He reminded those who filled St. Mary’s Cathedral that the same Holy Spirit that was given to the disciples on Pentecost is given to us today.
“We are called, then, to use that gift to go and preach the Gospel, to go make disciples, to go change the world,” Bishop Tylka said.