Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, celebrated 20 years as bishop last month. On February 12, 2002, he was appointed as Peoria’s eighth bishop by Pope St. John Paul II, according to the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Post. Prior to his appointment to that post, Bishop Jenky served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend from 1997 until 2002.
While auxiliary bishop, he worked alongside the late Bishop John M. D’Arcy, who promoted Bishop Jenky to rector of South Bend’s St. Matthew Cathedral and as the parish’s pastor, the Diocese of Peoria’s website explains.
The Catholic Post also states that his episcopal motto, “His Will is Our Peace,” was developed during his time as auxiliary bishop. Though his term only lasted for five years, his familiarity with the diocese – particularly the South Bend area – was profound well before his installment.
In 1965, as a college freshman, he attended the University of Notre Dame and returned to the same university a couple years later to study at the Moreau Seminary. Eventually, he was named Associate Director of Campus Ministry and Rector of Dillon Hall upon rejoining the Notre Dame family in 1975, just one year after his priestly ordination in 1974.
Two years later, he became rector of Sacred Heart Parish, located on the Notre Dame campus, and in 1985, he was named Religious Superior of the Holy Cross priests and brothers at Notre Dame. Of the many prestigious titles Bishop Jenky has held throughout the years, he can list teacher among them, as he also taught the Spirituality and Theology of Prayer graduate course as a Notre Dame professor.
In addition to his current and long-standing residency as Bishop of the Diocese of Peoria, he further fosters his Fighting Irish spirit as a Notre Dame trustee and fellow emeritus.
He is notably recognized for his advancement of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen’s cause for canonization, begun shortly after he was appointed to the position of bishop. Venerable Fulton Sheen was a native of the Diocese of Peoria.
Bishop Jenky has certainly left a lasting impression on his contemporaries and colleagues; those who worked with him in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend have nothing but compliments with which to shower him. Cathy Bracht, Benefit Administrator for the diocese for 37 years, remembers him fondly, calling him “very personable” and “outgoing.”
Current Notre Dame President Emeritus Father Edward A. Malloy, CSC, who served as Notre Dame’s president for 18 years and is approaching 52 years as a Holy Cross priest, similarly described Bishop Jenky as “friendly, sociable, and respected.” He worked alongside him while Bishop Jenky was rector of Sacred Heart, and he called the bishop “a great pastoral presence.”
Father Peter Rocca, CSC, was Notre Dame’s Assistant Vice President for Student Services at the time Bishop Jenky worked as rector of Sacred Heart. Father Rocca overtook Sacred Heart’s rectorship when Bishop Jenky was promoted to bishop. Father Rocca said that he and Bishop Jenky are “the best of friends” and further characterized him as “genuine, forthright, and down to earth” with “a wonderful sense of humor.” He stated, “Bishop Jenky is one of the finest preachers I know.”
Current Academic Dean and Director of Intellectual Formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary Monsignor Michael Heintz worked closely alongside Bishop Jenky. When Monsignor Heintz was parochial vicar of St. Matthew Cathedral, Bishop Jenky acted as its pastor. He called the bishop “a great homilist” and said that working with him was a blessing.
Bishop Jenky will retire this year at the age of 75, as all bishops are obligated to present to the pope their resignations upon reaching that age. Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka, enlisted by Pope Francis nearly two years ago to aid Bishop Jenky in his bishopric duties, will succeed him upon his retirement. In his reflection on the bishop’s tenure in Peoria, Coadjutor Bishop Tylka, speaking to The Catholic Post, said, “I hope he truly finds peace in knowing that the Lord says, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant!’ And we agree!”
There is no doubt that Bishop Jenky’s legacy will leave a lasting impact on his community. To commemorate his time, talent and the love that he has shared with all, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend thanks Bishop Daniel R. Jenky for all he has done, congratulates him on 20 years as Bishop of the Diocese of Peoria and wishes him a very happy and blessed retirement.
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