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Beyond the Boardroom: Bishop-elect Lou Tykla

‘Papa Lou’ Tylka places a flower lei around his son’s neck. The flowers represent a promise from the parishioners of St. Julie Billiart in Tinley Park to Bishop-elect Louis Tylka that they will continue to plant seeds of faith in his honor.

“Flabbergasted” was the first word that came to mind in May when Tinley Park Pastor LOUIS TYLKA got the message from the Vatican:

Pope Francis himself would like for the 49-year-old Chicagoland native to succeed the Rev. Daniel Jenky as the bishop of the Catholic diocese of Peoria.

“It’s a good thing I was sitting down,” says the bishop-elect, who come 2022 will head up a diocese with about 150,000 Catholics in 26 counties, including Champaign, DeWitt, Piatt and Vermilion.

Given the strange times we live in, Father Lou didn’t get the grand rollout that usually follows a promotion like his — he was introduced via video, not at a press conference, and will be ordained and installed next week at a Mass with limited attendance in Peoria, where he’ll learn on the job from Bishop Jenky for the next two years.

The one-time Purdue undergrad, passionate Blackhawks fan and proud owner of two Yorkshire terriers took time out to answer a few questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 32nd installment of our weekly speed read spotlighting leaders of organizations big and small.

My one unbreakable rule of the workplace is … respect everyone. Appreciate everyone for their unique gifts and talents.

Everyone has a role to play, so show respect for each individual’s contribution to the whole.

The worst jobs I ever had ... were both in high school.

One was packing boxes at a catalog company at Christmas time. I appreciate this hard work, but it wasn’t for me. I like to interact with people, not with boxes, so I found it very difficult to just be in front of a packing table for eight hours a day with very little human interaction.

My second worst job: trying to be a caddy. I discovered I’m allergic to fresh-cut grass — and they’re constantly cutting the grass on a golf course.

Needless to say, I only lasted a few days.

My philosophy on meetings is ... they’re necessary, but should have a purpose and limited to a time frame — usually no more than 90 minutes at most.

When it comes to my exercise routine … exercise? What’s exercise?

The hardest thing about being a leader is … letting go and trusting others. So often I/we think we can do it better. I/we can’t.

A good leader surrounds himself or herself with good people, and that enables the leader to let go and allow others to flourish.

I can’t live without my ... prayer life — especially the Eucharist/Mass; car; vacations — this is when I really recharge my batteries; Chicago Blackhawks; and pizza.

My professional role models are … Pope Francis, who shows that renewal is a constant calling and emphasizes the call of discipleship; Cardinal Blasé Cupich, who demonstrates good leadership in setting priorities, trusting processes and staying committed to the vision that has been set forth; and Betsy Bohlen, who demonstrates a deep commitment to the church while emphasizing the excellence required in the business aspect of the church.

I’m up and at ’em every day by … 6 a.m. Time for prayer to center the day on the Lord.

On a 1-to-10 scale, the impact of the pandemic and stay-at-home order on my job has been a … 10. The pandemic has impacted our lives in so many different ways. Attempting to see the good from it, I am hopeful that it has taught us the lesson to care for each other better.

Perhaps we’ve learned to prioritize things in our lives in a way that values our relationships as family and community to carry forward. We’ve also needed to learn how to ‘stay connected’ in ways that are new and exciting.