Parishioners celebrate as ground blessed, broken for new St. Jude Church in Peoria

Accompanied by Ana Rodas, his master of ceremonies, and Father Daniel McShane, parochial vicar, Bishop Louis Tylka sprinkles holy water throughout what will be the sanctuary of the new St. Jude Church in Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Just before he blessed the building site for the new St. Jude Church in Peoria, Bishop Louis Tylka said it was a proud day for parishioners and benefactors, “but also a proud day for your bishop.”

“I do realize that this project furthers the entire mission of the parish whether it be through meeting spaces for adult education, Bible studies, offices for religious education, and even providing space for organization meetings,” he said. “But at the heart of this project is a new church.”

Bishop Louis Tylka looks on as ground for the new St. Jude Church in Peoria is broken by (from left) Karen Flaherty; Phil Nelson; Ron Colgan, who is helping Jackie Kirchgessner; Father Patrick Henehan, pastor; Father Daniel McShane, parochial vicar; Karen Garst; Mead Babcock; Mike Kreutz and Scott Rinkenberger. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Everything we do is an extension of the altar and the Mass, Bishop Tylka said, and at the heart of everything we do is the Eucharist.

“It is at the Mass where we encounter the heart of Christ,” he told the school children, their families and longtime parishioners whose families had grown. “It is where we are fed and comforted, but it is also where we are sent out!”

And the world greatly needs the church and her mission, Bishop Tylka said.

“I commend you on your sacrifice and pray your efforts and generosity will inspire and enliven disciples for the mission of the church,” he said.

Then, accompanied by Father Daniel McShane, parochial vicar, and Ana Rodas, master of ceremonies, Bishop Tylka entered the space that would yield the new church and blessed the ground, sprinkling holy water as he went.

While parish representatives and construction officials took shovels in hand and prepared to turn dirt, Bishop Tylka climbed the stairs to a platform next to the back hoe that would also be breaking ground. They all commenced at his signal.

THANKS ALL AROUND

In his remarks, Father Patrick Henehan, pastor, offered thanks to Ron Colgan, building committee chair; Karen Garst and Mead Babcock, parish trustees; and P.J. Hoerr, general contractor, and CEO Paul Bright, Scott Rinkenberger, Mike Kreutz and Troy Wertz, who is supervising the project.

Architect James McCrery was not able to be present, but remembered by Father Henehan.

“I pray this church will be a sanctuary to those who long for the embrace and comfort of Our Lord, as well as a catalyst to send out missionary disciples to our community and our world proclaiming his kingdom,” he said.

Wertz said the footings are all done for the main sanctuary and they are starting to work on the foundation walls that come out of the footings. The masons will be onsite soon to start stacking the blocks.

“It’s going to move really fast,” Wertz said, adding that they hope to have the walls up and a roof in place by the time winter comes.

The $11.6 million building will include a rotunda with a baptistery, through which parishioners will enter the church.

Construction is expected to be complete by October 2023.

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