Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., serves as both a fellow and trustee of the University of Notre Dame. Appointed bishop of Peoria, Illinois, by the late Pope John Paul II in 2002, the bishop has a long-standing relation with the university.
Bishop Jenky was elected to the Board of Trustees in October of 2003. Upon his election, he stated, “This new responsibility will allow me once again to serve the University, collaborate with many others in promoting the Catholic character of Our Lady’s school, and to assist in the continuing role of the Holy Cross priests as educators in the faith.”
He joined University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., in February 2006 in presenting addresses on Catholic higher education in a ceremony at the Pontifical Lateran University, at which time Bishop Jenky made the comment that Catholic schools “should never choose between being excellent or being Catholic.”
In April of 2009 prior to Notre Dame’s commencement exercises, Bishop Jenky wrote a letter in addition to his usual Easter address entitled, “The Right to Life and Easter.” In the letter, he reiterated the Catholic Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life, writing that “the most fundamental of all human rights is the right to life” and that “any cooperation with the grave sin of abortion is intrinsically evil and would certainly imperil one’s eternal salvation.” Bishop Jenky expressed his wish to “strongly reassert our Faith’s unshakeable commitment to the Gospel of Life” with the caution that “for practicing Catholics, loyalty to Jesus Christ must always supersede all other loyalties, including our ties to political parties, elected officials, schools, other institutions and organizations, even families and friends.”
Although Bishop Jenky authored this letter, he offered no public comments on the university’s decision to invite and honor President Obama at the 2009 Commencement.
Jenky first came to Notre Dame in 1965 as a freshman undergraduate. In 1966 he entered the Holy Cross Father’s novitiate, and shortly after his first profession of temporary vows, he entered Moreau Seminary where his studies earned him a bachelor’s degree in history in 1970 and a master’s degree in theology in 1973.
In the same year, Jenky made his perpetual profession of vows before being ordained as a deacon, after which he served on the Flanner Hall residential staff and ministered at Sacred Heart Parish. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1974.
After a short period of teaching religion and social studies at Bourgade Catholic High School in Phoenix, Arizona, Jenky returned to Notre Dame where he was appointed Rector of Dillon Hall and associate director of Campus Ministry, overseeing liturgical and pastoral duties for Sacred Heart Church. Jenky continued his ascent when he was appointed rector of Sacred Heart Parish in 1977, director of Campus Ministry in 1984, and finally, religious superior of the Holy Cross Priests and Brothers at Notre Dame the following year.
In 1991, Jenky was assigned rector of the Fischer O’Hara Grace graduate student residential complex. He also taught graduate-level courses on spirituality and theology of prayer, while remaining deeply involved in liturgical organization.
Bishop Jenky is the only bishop in the United States who is a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. He initiated the canonization cause for Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and continues to advance Sheen’s cause.
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