Wednesday, August 31, 2016

EF Requiem for the First Bishop of Peoria

Last week, the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, marked on August 25th the 100th anniversary of the death of its first bishop, John Lancaster Spalding, who was appointed to the See in 1877, and retired in 1908 after suffering a serious stroke. He oversaw the construction of the cathedral of Peoria, St Mary of the Immaculate Conception, which replaced an earlier church and was completed after four years’ work and dedicated in 1889. The building has recently undergone a major restoration, and as part of a series of Founders’ Day events to mark its completion, four priests of the Diocese celebrated a Solemn Requiem for Bishop Spalding in the same Rite he celebrated in his years as a priest and bishop, and in which his first funeral was celebrated.

The Mass was celebrated by Fr Alexander Millar, assisted by Frs Kyle Lucas as deacon, and Michael Pica as subdeacon; since this was Fr Millar’s first Solemn Requiem, Fr Jacob Valle served as assistant priest. The current bishop of Peoria, the Most Reverend Daniel Jenky, attended from his episcopal throne; more photos can be seen at his blog. Music was provided by The Saints Gregory and Romanos Guild; the vestments which were used formerly belonged to H.E. Joseph Schlarman, who served as the Third Bishop of Peoria from 1930-51.

This reminds me of an event from two years ago in my home diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, where Bishop Thomas Tobin arranged for a Solemn Pontifical in the traditional rite to be celebrated for the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul. It is very heartening to see bishops not just taking care of historical church buildings, but also working to preserve the great liturgical patrimony for which they were created. For this, we offer our special thanks to Bishop Jenky. It should also be greatly encouraging to us all to note how young the clergy who actually celebrated the Mass are; all of them were ordained within just the last two years.

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