Priests marking milestone anniversaries are thanked, thankful at Jubilarian Mass

In his homily, Msgr. Dale Wellman, a senior priest of the diocese, said his 55 years of ministry have made for a "happy, long life" and that he has "lived and loved being in the service of God's people." (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

When Jesus talked to the disciples about offering his flesh and blood for the life of the world, they found it hard to accept and some walked away. But Simon Peter remained and said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Msgr. Dale Wellman has found truth in those words – and the Eucharist – for 55 years, and at the Jubilarian Mass on June 20, he gave thanks on behalf of himself and the other priests celebrating milestone anniversaries this year.

The new priestly ministry of Father Daniel McShane was also recognized at the Jubilarian Mass, which was celebrated on June 20 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. It was his first gathering with the priests of the Diocese of Peoria since his ordination on May 25. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“It’s been a happy, long life,” he said during his homily to his brother priests and their guests at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. “I’ve lived and loved being in the service of God’s people.”

A senior priest who lives in Port Byron, Msgr. Wellman was among 21 priests being honored. The Mass also recognized the new ministry of Father Daniel McShane, who was ordained on May 25.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, the principal celebrant for the Mass, said he was happy to welcome all of them to the celebration.

“I stand up here, representing the diocese that is so thankful for the commitment, the zeal, the love of God of our jubilarians,” he said as he greeted them. “So let us, as we begin our worship in thanksgiving, together blow the jubal, be happy and rejoice for God’s grace in serving his people.”

PRAYING FOR LIVING, DEAD

As he prepared to read the names of those being honored, Msgr. Paul Showalter said he enjoyed listening to the conversations of the priests as they arrived for Mass and talked about who had ordained them. Noting that many had been ordained by Bishop Jenky, he asked those present to pray for Bishop Jenky and the deceased bishops of the Diocese of Peoria, too.

They also remembered Father Dale Maloy, who celebrated his 65th anniversary of ordination on June 6 and died on June 17. His funeral Mass was planned for Saturday, June 22, at Holy Cross in Mendota.

Observing anniversaries in 2019 are: Father Dennis O’Riley, Father Robert Schladen and Father Harold Schmitt, 60 years; Father Ronald Enderlin, Father Edward Harkrader, Father Paul Meismer, and Father James Rickey, 50 years; and Father Stephen McKinley, OFM Conv., 25 years.

In addition to Msgr. Wellman, Father Patrick Collins is celebrating 55 years of priestly service.

The priests of the Diocese of Peoria gather around Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, to celebrate the milestone anniversaries of 21 of their brother priests and the new priestly ministry of Father Daniel McShane at the annual Jubilarian Mass. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Also recognized were Father Donald Levitt and Msgr. Gerald Ward, 40 years; Father Raymond Guthrie and Father William Miller, 35 years; Father Patrick Fennell, OSB, 30 years; Father Charles Klamut and Father Robert Rayson, 20 years; Father Ghislain Inai, SMA, 15 years; and Father David Sabel and Father Adam Stimpson, 10 years.

GIVING GLORY AND PRAISE

Msgr. Wellman said that when he moved to his second assignment, everything he owned fit into his car. Over the years he accumulated so much that he had to hold a rummage sale before he could move.

One thing that remained, however, is the memory of “the wonderful people you meet . . . the saints that make up the church. We are called to lead people in prayer on their journey of faith.”

He said that even though he and his brother priests have strived to serve the Lord “faithfully and wisely,” they must continue to recognize their weaknesses and gather strength from the lives of the holy men and women who have gone before them, such as Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Msgr. Wellman said one of the blessings of his life was serving as the archbishop’s driver for a day.

Kind and courteous, Archbishop Sheen would open the door for others rather than let them open the door for him, Msgr. Wellman recalled.

“May his example and the example of others help us to be good servants of one another and God’s people,” he said. “May God fulfill our prayers well as we give him glory and praise for the vocation he has called us to share.”

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