Consecration to Immaculate Heart of Mary unites Spanish-speaking of Peoria

Father William Miller, pastor, walks in the front of the procession from St. Joseph Church in Peoria as members of the Heart of Peoria Hispanic community travel to the Marian shrine to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Carrying the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe is Felipe Tepoz. Following with an offering of flowers is Teresita Moran. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

It is natural to grieve when someone you love moves away, so Spanish-speaking Catholics in the Heart of Peoria Catholic Community leaned on their devotion to the Blessed Mother and her Son as they prepared to say goodbye to Father Julio Faes, parochial vicar.

His new assignment would take him to Champaign on June 15, but priest and parishioners will continue to be joined in prayer through their consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Act of Consecration came after a rosary, Mass and procession with a pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Joseph Church in Peoria on May 31.

Father William Miller and Father Julio Faes offer a blessing to those gathered around the Marian shrine at St. Joseph Church in Peoria after the people consecrated themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on May 31. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Succeeding Father Julio will be Father Fabián Cabarcas Rúa, who has been ministering as parochial vicar at St. Mary in Bloomington.

“Whenever there’s a change it brings its challenges,” said Father William Miller, pastor of the Heart of Peoria Catholic Community, which includes St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sacred Heart, St. Bernard and St. Joseph.

“The community has really been built up over the last couple of years, so I could see that they were struggling and that this was a hard time,” he told The Catholic Post. “I thought it was important that we stay united and focus on what we have and our reasons for going forward.”

A SPECIAL GRACE

Before Mass began, the green scapulars of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were blessed and given to the people. They offered the prayer of consecration, which was adapted from the one Pope Francis used to consecrate the world to Mary on March 25, when the procession reached an outdoor Marian shrine a short walk from the church.

“I thought it would be a visible sign of our consecration,” Father Miller said.

“Our community, our Hispanic community, has a special love for Our Mother,” according to Father Julio, who came to central Illinois from Argentina about two years ago. “This was a special grace for their heart in this transition moment.”

In their remarks, Father Miller and Father Julio encouraged the people to pray together and strive for holiness in their lives.

Adding to their peace of mind is an assurance from Father Miller that the Mass schedule, programs and groups that are in place right now for the active Hispanic community will continue. In a letter that ran in the parish bulletin, he confirmed the parish leaders and their teams for the next 12 months.

“Our gratitude goes to all who generously serve our community by taking responsibility for these different groups,” Father Miller wrote. “I am counting on you to lead by being an example of goodness and kindness that will help to build up our Hispanic community, overcome fear, and invite others to join us in building up the Kingdom of God.”

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