Fun and faith mix with diocesan presence at West Peoria Fourth of July Parade

The Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Heading Avenue Franciscans, wave to their neighbors in West Peoria who lined the city's streets for the 51st annual Fourth of July Parade. The banners on their trailer reminded people that they seek to be "a caring, praying presence" in the community. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

WEST PEORIA — People filled the streets of West Peoria for the 51st annual Fourth of July Parade, which celebrated the 247th anniversary of the birth of the United States and those who have served her. But first, they remembered that we are “one nation, under God.”

Bishop Louis Tylka gave the invocation for the parade and then walked before the Diocese of Peoria’s entry, which featured a variety of holy men and women. Among them was Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, whose legacy is one of the bishop’s Five Foundations of Growing Disciples.

“Although we gather in celebration, we know there is much more to be do so that the promise of our nation may truly be the beacon of hope and peace we are called to be,” Bishop Tylka prayed, imploring the Lord’s grace for “the work that lies ahead.”

“Heal our wounds of division. Instill in us a commitment for justice. Show us the path of true peace,” he said. “May we shoulder the burden of creating a ‘more perfect union,’ so that generations to come may share in the blessings of the freedom that was granted to all and that promise to the world to be a witness of charity, respect and liberty.”

Noting that the United States is one nation formed from many peoples, Bishop Tylka added, “May we embody the hopes and dreams of all our brothers and sisters, so that America may shine forth as a symbol of your eternal kingdom.”

Also proclaiming their faith with entries in the parade were St. Mark School and its Marksmen, and the Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception. The diocesan religious community is based in West Peoria and seeks to be “a caring, praying presence.”

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