Father Louis Tylka appointed coadjutor bishop of Peoria

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Father Louis Tylka elevates the host during the Eucharistic Prayer as Deacon Ed Pluchar pours wine into chalices during a 2018 Mass. (Karen Callaway /Chicago Catholic)

Pope Francis appointed Father Louis Tylka, pastor of St. Julie Billiart Parish in Tinley Park, to be the coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Peoria and to succeed Bishop Daniel Jenky when he retires.

The announcement was made early in morning of May 11, a week after Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, called Bishop-elect Tylka to ask him to accept the appointment.

“We welcome the appointment of Bishop-elect Tylka as coadjutor of the Diocese of Peoria and are pleased he will join the bishops of Illinois in working cooperatively to serve the faithful in our state,” said Cardinal Cupich. “He has proved himself to be a compassionate and inspiring pastor and a strong advocate for priests and the priesthood.”

“I am humbled and honored by this appointment,” said Bishop-elect Tylka, who has served as pastor of St. Julie Billiart since 2014. “I am grateful to the Holy Father and encouraged by his confidence in me. I am looking forward to serving alongside Bishop Jenky and learning from the priests, leaders and faithful in the church of central Illinois.”

On May 18, Bishop Jenky announced that Bishop-elect Tylka will be ordained and installed in Peoria on July 23 at a  Mass with limited attendance.

In a video message to the Diocese of Peoria, Bishop-elect Tylka said he was “flabbergasted” by the appointment.

“It’s a good thing I was sitting down,” he said.

As coadjutor, Bishop-elect Tylka, 49, will serve alongside Bishop Jenky, who has led the Peoria diocese since 2002.

“It’s a great opportunity to come into a diocese where there is a built-in mentor,” Bishop-elect Tylka said.

Usually, when a new bishop is appointed, the announcement is made with a press conference in the diocese where the new bishop will serve. The stay-at-home order means that Bishop-elect Tylka introduced himself by video — a video recorded by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s radio and television staff in the early hours of the morning May 8.

“The first thing I’ll do when I get to Peoria? I would certainly like to pray with Bishop Jenky,” he said. “Going there is going to be a whole new experience, because I haven’t been there before. There is so much more to learn about myself, about being a bishop, about the diocese I am being called to. It’s a time to listen and to learn.”

Bishop Jenky, who was born and raised in Chicago before becoming a Holy Cross priest, said the people of Peoria will welcome their new bishop with open arms.

“The diocese is a bigger version of any parish,” said Bishop Jenky, who requested a coadjutor in advance of submitting his resignation at age 75 because arthritis has limited his mobility. “He’ll have to come meet everybody. It’s 26 counties, with about 150,000 Catholics spread across a large territory.”

While the diocese faces similar challenges to most Midwest dioceses, it has good priests and seminarians and is “blessed with a virtual army of religious women,” Jenky said.

In his video message, Bishop-elect Tylka, who has served as the chairman of the archdiocesan Presbyteral Council, addressed the priests of the Peoria Diocese.

“I ask that you welcome me as a brother,” he said. “You can teach me about the parishes of the diocese, the cities and towns and the spaces in between.”

Bishop-elect Tylka was born in Harvey, into a family with five older sisters. He told them and his father about his appointment over a Zoom call the evening before the news became public. His mother died around the time he entered the seminary.

He was ordained in 1996 and served as associate pastor of St. Michael Parish, Orland Park, and Sts. Faith, Hope and Charity, Winnetka. He was pastor of Mater Christi Parish and Shrine of Mary, Mother of Mothers, North Riverside, before being named pastor of St. Julie Billiart.

“I’m very sad to be leaving St. Julie Billiart,” he said. “It’s a wonderful parish with wonderful people. We’ve been doing a lot of good work to move us forward under the guiding principles of Renew My Church. They’ll always be in my thoughts and prayers, along with the other parishes I’ve served.”


  • bishops

Related Articles