An all-school Mass was held Wednesday at Peoria Notre Dame High School after its principal, Randy Simmons, was found dead in his home Tuesday.
The hundreds of students were joined by Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, who reminded them about Simmons’ love for the school and its students.
“This is a great school, but I really do believe he brought it to a new level, a higher level of excellence, of community, of friendship,” Jenky said. “He was always cheering you guys on. He wanted you to be your best academically, in sports and in your faith. And that is a gift you will carry with you the rest of your lives.”
The bishop reminded the students that “Notre Dame” in French means “Our Lady.”
“This is the school of Our Lady and in this school and in our diocese, we offer every kind of praise and honor to the mother of Christ,” he said. “Think about it. He whom the whole universe could not contain, God, was sheltered once in her womb. The Son of God, who sustains all things and beings, was nursed at her breast. Her face was the closest to our Savior, because everything human in him came from her. So we cannot give her enough honor.”
He said he believed Simmons was “pulled out to sea by a huge riptide.”
“He was a strong man in every way, but in personal pain and great suffering, he could not handle that riptide. I say to you, with the authority of being a bishop and as your unworthy though I am chief teacher, that there was no sinful rebellion in Randy when he died,” he said. “He was being pulled.”
Officials have not specified the cause of death.
“I believe that Randy died of personal pain,” the bishop said.
Simmons became principal in 2014 and was named Distinguished Principal of the Year by the Office of Catholic Schools.
To read the full homily, visit https://cdop.org/2019/02/bishop-jenkys-homily-at-peoria-notre-dame-feb-20-2019/.