Vatican City, May 11, 2020 / 05:18 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday appointed Fr. Louis Tylka, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Peoria to serve alongside Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC.
As coadjutor, Tylka will assist Bishop Jenky, 73, in the administration of the Illinois diocese and succeed him as bishop upon his retirement or death.
Bishop-elect Tylka, 49, is chair of the Chicago archdiocese’s priest council and pastor of St. Julie Billiart Catholic Church in Tinley Park since 2014.
In a statement May 11, Bishop Jenky explained that over a year ago he had begun to experience mobility problems because of arthritis and spinal issues and had asked Pope Francis to appoint a coadjutor to help in the administration of the diocese.
“I am extremely grateful to the Pope for granting my request and sending us this good shepherd,” Jenky said.
He also noted Tylka’s work in parishes for his entire 24 years of priesthood, saying he “will bring enormous talent, zeal, and a warm personality to the service of God and neighbor here in Central Illinois.”
Tylka introduced himself to the Diocese of Peoria via video message May 11.
The coadjutor bishop-elect said he was “flabbergasted” by the news of his appointment. “I am both overwhelmed and humbled by the Holy Father’s faith in me and in that spirit accept this calling from the Lord and His Church,” he said.
“My heart is also filled with gratitude to Almighty God for the gift of faith and the gift of the Church,” Tylka stated. “I pray the Holy Spirit will continue to sustain me so that I respond generously to the Lord’s call.”
According to the Diocese of Peoria, due to the strict quarantine imposed on Illinois during the coronavirus, the date of Tylka’s episcopal ordination and installation at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception “may be undecided for some time.”
Tylka was born on May 26, 1970 in Harvey, Illinois, the youngest, and only son, to a family of five sisters. He attended Catholic grade school and high school before entering seminary.
Since his ordination in May 1996, the bishop-elect has served in several parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He has been pastor of St. Julie Billiart since 2014.
In his video message, Tylka credited his parents with instilling “great values” in their children, as well as “the importance of family and of faith, and the freedom to chart our own course in life and the courage to go after those dreams.”
Noting the death of his mother, Norma, 30 years ago, just as he entered seminary, he said he is thankful for her encouragement to consider the priesthood.
Tylka also asked for prayers for his youngest sister, Mary Lou, who he said is fighting terminal cancer: “May Jesus keep her and all those sick and suffering close to His heart,” he added.
Addressing Catholics of the Peoria diocese, Tylka said “let us pray for one another, and in this moment of trial for the entire world, let us call on the intercession of Our Lady, to whom our Cathedral is dedicated, so that the Lord will deliver us from this pandemic, strengthen and preserve all front line workers, give an added portion of wisdom to all of our leaders, comfort those who mourn and bring the dead to eternal life.”
The Diocese of Peoria covers 26 counties in central Illinois, serving nearly 145,000 Catholics in 162 parishes.