Catholic Schools Week bestows mid-winter blessings across diocese
PHILO — In the midst of winter, blessings were abundant in the Diocese of Peoria during Catholic Schools Week (Jan. 28 — Feb. 3). To cite just a few examples:
Students at St. Thomas School in Philo made thank you cards for local first responders, as well as cards for elderly parishioners and community members who are ill or homebound. Members of the youth group at St. Mary Parish in Pesotum also participated.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our school and parish and to fulfill the school’s mission to Live, Love, and Serve as Christ,” said St. Thomas School principal Jean Holmes. “We hope to bring some cheer to members of our parish who are not able to get out, as well as show our gratitude to all of the first responders who help keep our community safe.”
“A fantastic team effort,” is how parent teacher organization (PTO) co-president Sara Lane described it. “Parents donated supplies to make the cards. Parish volunteers delivered the cards to elderly parishioners who are sick or homebound, and school families delivered cards to first responders and a local nursing home,” she said.
1,300 pack pews in Bloomington
Elsewhere in the diocese during Catholic Schools Week, upwards of 1,300 students packed the pews of St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington on Friday, Feb. 2 for an all-area schools Mass with Bishop Louis Tylka. Pre-K through grade eight students converged from Corpus Christi School and St. Mary School in Bloomington, and from Epiphany School in Normal. Central Catholic High School in Bloomington was also well-represented.
Although parents were unable to attend due to space limitations, Father Dustin Schultz, pastor of St. Patrick Church of Merna and vicar of the Bloomington-Lincoln Vicariate, reminded students that, “it is good for us to recognize that they do sacrifice to send you to Catholic schools.” Applause from students and teachers lasted for the better part of a minute.
In his homily, Bishop Tylka recalled that in the first parish he served as a newly ordained priest, upon entering the parish school there was a sign above the door that read “Enter to learn Christ.” There was a flip side to that message, he said, “When you left each day you would see the words, ‘Leave to serve Christ.’”
As this Mass was being held on the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, Bishop Tylka noted the gospel speaks of how Simeon rejoiced to see Jesus: “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples.” (Luke 2:30-31)
“Ultimately, you enter a Catholic school to encounter Jesus . . . . to bring others that same encounter.”
St. Malachy 100th anniversary
The spirit of Catholic Schools Week spilled over into Sunday, Feb. 4 in Geneseo, where Bishop Tylka celebrated Mass at St. Malachy Church and attended an open house on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of St. Malachy School.
A century of service — of providing daily encounters with Christ — was also a theme reflected at St. Thomas School in Philo by alumna and parent Jamie Kleiss Boas regarding their community appreciation card campaign. “As a graduate of St. Thomas School, it warms my heart that my children can continue the tradition of service that has been the pillar of the St. Thomas community for more than 100 years.”