Bishop Orders All Tabernacles Returned to Center of Sanctuary

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC sent a letter to the priests and faithful of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois informing them that the Blessed Sacrament is to be returned to its rightful place in the center of the sanctuary within five years.

“The Mass . . . is our most important act of worship, the very source and summit of all we do as a Church,” Bishop Jenky said in the letter which was promulgated on Holy Thursday.

“A profound reverence for the Reserved Sacrament is also intrinsically related to the Eucharistic liturgy. The Reserved Sacrament must therefore be treated with the greatest possible respect . . . . The Sacrament is reserved not only so that the Eucharist can be brought to the dying and to those unable to attend Mass, but also as the heart and locus of a parish’s prayer and devotion.”

Therefore, he continues, “I am asking that those few parish churches and chapels where the tabernacle is not in the direct center at the back of the sanctuary, that these spaces be redesigned in such a way that the Reserved Sacrament would be placed at the center.”

After acknowledging that design restraints and financial concerns might make this difficult to accomplish, Bishop Jenky is allowing parishes to draw up plans and submit them to him at any time within the next five years. Monastic communities with semi-public oratories are exempt from the rule, as are small chapels where such changes would be impossible. However, an exemption must be requested in writing.

“A gift in the bishop’s letter is that he is giving people five years,” said Msgr. Stanley Deptula, director of the diocesan Office of Divine Worship. “Some of those parishes, for architectural, financial and catechetical reasons, will need to take some time to revisit the Eucharist. . . . They have five years to pray over this moment of renewal.”

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