Fr. Robert Reynolds dies at 83; memorial Masses in Peoria, Rushville

A MEMORIAL Mass will be offered at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria for Father Robert E. Reynolds, 83, a senior priest of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.

Father Reynolds died Monday, Oct. 26, 2009. at South Central Rehabilitation Center in Rawlins, Wyo., where he had been living since 2006.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, was to be principal celebrant of next Wednesday’s Mass. A second memorial Mass will take place at St. Rose Church in Rushville at a date and time to be determined.

Father Reynolds served as pastor in Rushville during two separate assignments in the 1960s and 1990s. He founded Catholic Worker Houses in Rock Island and Peoria and was co-creator of the “Graffiti from Cathedral Walls” cartoon strip that appeared in The Catholic Post for 16 years.

BORN Nov. 13, 1925, in Oak Park to Leo and Agnes (Shomer) Reynolds, Father Reynolds was graduated from Ascension School in Oak Park and Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago.

After attending St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, he completed studies for the priesthood at St. Meinrad’s Seminary in Indiana. He was ordained on July 6, 1952, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

Following ordination, Father Reynolds served as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Parish in Rock Island, St. Mary’s, Champaign, and St. Philomena’s, Peoria. In 1962, he was named pastor of St. Rose, Rushville, where he would serve until 1971.

DURING THE 1970s, Father Reynolds was engaged in ministry on Peoria’s South Side, first serving as pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish from 1971 to 1974, and then as part of a team ministry serving all South Side Catholic parishes. In 1976, he was named the first pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish, Peoria, formed from a merger of St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s parishes.

The following year he founded the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Rock Island, where he served as director for two years. He also established a Catholic Worker House in Peoria in 1979 while parochial vicar at St. Peter’s Parish. He was named pastor of St. Peter’s in 1980.

From 1985 to 1992, Father Reynolds served as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, Canton, before returning to Rushville as pastor in 1992. After being granted senior status in 1996, he continued to serve St. Rose as administrator for several years. In 2006 he moved to Rawlins, Wyo., to be near his sister, where he continued his ministry of compassion and comfort to the other residents in the nursing home.

He is remembered by readers of The Catholic Post, the newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, as co-creator with Father George Wuellner of the “Graffiti from Cathedral Walls” cartoon strip and calendar that humorously drew attention to events of the diocese. It appeared weekly from 1973 to 1989.

His survivors include his siblings: Marty Sallade of Rawlins, Wyo.; Father George Reynolds O.P., of Albuquerque, N.M., and Sandy DeBlaker of Glenrock, Wyo.; foster sons Hoc Vu, Khoa Ha, Dang Le, Phuong Le, and John Tran; eight nieces and nephews, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Services will be held in Rawlins, Wyo., and San Diego, Calif., on a date and time to be announced. Father Reynolds asked to become a tissue donor in the hope that someone might benefit.

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