After a year apart, PDCCW gathers volunteers for Mass, awards for service
While the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women was forced to cancel last year’s Volunteer Appreciation Mass and Luncheon due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the good work done by women around the Diocese of Peoria continued. That service was recognized at a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on April 29.
Certain aspects of the celebration had to be modified due to lingering concerns about COVID-19 — those who attended received box lunches to take with them rather than continuing the festivities with a luncheon and program at the Spalding Pastoral Center, for example. That didn’t put a damper on the joy of being able to pray with and enjoy one another again, however.
Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka presided at the liturgy and presented the certificates of appreciation to the volunteers as they were called forward by Mary Ann Hughes, PDCCW president. Assisting was Msgr. Dale Wellman, longtime spiritual adviser to the women’s organization.
While not all of the honorees could be present, the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women recognized 25 outstanding volunteers at the Mass. (Short profiles of the recipients can be found below.)
There was also a surprise in store for Kim Padan of Danville, who completed four years as president last fall. She received a framed image of Our Lady of Good Counsel, patroness of the National Council of Catholic Women, which was given to her by the PDCCW board.
“The way she has brought us into new technology — we’re able to reach more people because she just knows so much about that sort of thing. She’s done the blog for us,” Hughes told The Catholic Post. “She’s just done so many things to lift us up.”
Not long after she returned to Danville that afternoon, Padan posted a photo on Facebook to show that her gift was already hanging above the fireplace of the home she shares with her husband, Bruce, who accompanied her to many PDCCW events.
SETTING THE WORLD ON FIRE
Bishop Tylka said it was good to be with them as he offered his thanks for their service.
In his homily, he said he felt some kinship to St. Paul, who also did a lot of traveling as he spread the Gospel. As of April 29, Bishop Tylka had been to 47 parishes around the Diocese of Peoria and said he would be visiting several more to administer the sacrament of confirmation in the weeks ahead.
He said the first thing Paul did when he reached a new destination was to go to the synagogue and preach about the ways God had been active in their lives.
“I think it’s important for us to see that this is our calling,” Bishop Tylka told them. “All of us have a calling to share the story of our faith. All of us have a calling to give witness to our belief in Jesus Christ. This is what it means to be a disciple of the Lord, to continually deepen our relationship with Jesus and learn from him.”
When people see that witness of Jesus in our lives, they become curious about how to make that happen in their own lives, he said.
The Mass fell on the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena, who said, “If you are truly what God wants you to be you will set the world ablaze.”
“Again, that’s a calling for us, from the pope to the bishops to the priests to the lay people and religious,” Bishop Tylka said. “Everyone is called to set the world on fire because of the love of Jesus.”
His travels around the Diocese of Peoria have shown him that the people of central Illinois love the Lord and want to share that love. He said this gives him hope and courage.
“I encourage you in your own parishes and in your own life to continue to set the world on fire by sharing your faith in Jesus,” Bishop Tylka said. “Like Paul, tell the story of how God has been working in your life.”
LIST OF HONOREES, EXAMPLES OF SERVICE
For their many hours of service to their parishes and communities, the following 25 women have been recognized by the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women:
- Julie Bonar, St. Anthony: Does the bulletin, maintains social media sites, leads the youth group, and will be involved in music ministry for the upcoming parish mission. “She is a servant leader who helps the parish in countless other ways.”
- Geralene O’Neill, St. Anthony: Active in the Women’s Club, teaches second grade religious education, serves on the parish council, and is a key member of the garage sale team twice a year. She was also coordinator of the COVID-19 safety protocols for the church. “She is a servant leader whose longtime service to the parish can never be measured.”
- Doris Bogner, St. John the Baptist: Started the parish nurse program at St. John, and implemented the Mass greeters and parish prayer list there. For many years she delivered poinsettias to the elderly and shut-in members of the parish. Worked as a nurse at OSF HealthCare for 40 years while raising six children.
- Valerie Hickey, St. John the Baptist: Was Altar and Rosary Society president for four years. Has organized parish funeral dinners for 20 years, as well as Christmas decorating and pork dinner fundraisers.
- Gloria Duvall, St. Edward: One of three “Sweet Treat Ladies” who have raised $21,925 for the parish by baking and selling sweet treats after Mass once a month since June 2015. Serves on the liturgy committee, helps to decorate the church, schedules special Masses and is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Longtime volunteer at the school, the Women’s Care Center and Evergreen Assisted Living.
- Debbie Fennell, St. Edward: One of three “Sweet Treat Ladies” who have raised $21,925 for the parish by baking and selling sweet treats after Mass once a month since June 2015 and has served as the group’s bookkeeper and record keeper. Worked at St. Edward School for 18 years and continues as a substitute teacher. In addition to being an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, she has helped with auctions, funeral dinners and other parish functions.
- Lynn Wyzgowski, St. Edward: One of three “Sweet Treat Ladies” who have raised $21,925 for the parish by baking and selling sweet treats after Mass once a month since June 2015 and handles the group’s publicity. Has been a teacher at St. Edward School for 38 years and helped with Market Day fundraisers for many years.
- Marylee McConville, St. Theresa of Avila: Takes care of the altar linens and flowers, and works at all of the funerals and fundraisers. Community service includes helping the homeless and underprivileged.
- Patricia Duffield, St. Mary of the Fields: Volunteer director of religious education and teacher, lector and secretary of the parish council. She and her family maintain the rosary garden. In addition, she is involved in activities for Marquette Academy in Ottawa and area public schools.
- Sue Hughes, St. Mary of the Fields: A floral designer by trade, she decorates the church for no charge for all the major holidays. She also works on the parish’s rosary garden and serves on the parish council. In addition, she is involved in activities for Marquette Academy in Ottawa and area public schools.
- Dana Derry, St. Paul: Assists with the semi-annual rummage sale and Decorate-a-Table event. For many years, she was the primary decorator for the church and helped to clean up the parish rose garden in 2014. Her service to the Women’s Guild includes updating the group’s membership directory.
- Cynthia Sullivan, St. Paul: She is “ever present” when there is work to be done for Women’s Guild activities, such as Decorate-a-Table or the semi-annual rummage sale. With another member of the guild, she developed the “prayer hankie” tradition, which ensures that prayers are being said for parishioners who are experiencing a hardship in their life through loss, illness or some other personal difficulty or who are celebrating baptisms or marriages. She also makes baptismal garments and rosaries, and recently assumed responsibility for the altar cloths. She serves on the parish’s building commission.
- Teresa Dittmer, St. Joseph: Started teaching religious education classes after being confirmed six years ago. She also serves as a lector, and sings in the choir, as well as for Stations of the Cross.
- Deborah Woodyer, St. Joseph: President of the Altar and Rosary Society, oversees the altar server schedule, and is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. In addition, she serves as sacristan and director of religious education.
- Mary Adams, St. Mary: Outstanding member and volunteer of the Altar and Rosary Society, serving in almost every capacity.
- Cindy Poplette, St. Mary: In charge of the altar decorations and has served on the Altar and Rosary Society board in several different roles.
- Charlotte Blair, St. Patrick: Charlotte and her husband, John, are in charge of maintaining the church. A lifelong member of St. Patrick Parish, she frequently substitutes as sacristan.
- Anne Hrasko, St. Patrick: Anne volunteers as the sacristan for St. Patrick Church.
- Laura Bilot, St. Patrick: Bilot and her daughters are dedicated to singing in the parish choir “with voices like angels.”
- Cathy Erickson, St. Patrick: A longtime member of the Altar and Rosary Society, she helps with fundraising and has served as sacristan, lector and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.
- Irene DeClercq, Our Lady of Guadalupe: A part of the Women’s Club, she has helped with Vacation Bible School and the Autumn Dinner. She takes Communion to shut-in members of the parish, and is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and lector.
- Cindy Hallmark, Our Lady of Guadalupe: A cantor, she also works with the choir and sings for funerals. She brings Communion to those in the hospital and cleans the church after Mass.
- Sharon (Sheri) McMasters, St. Mary: Former secretary at St. Mary School, Westville, and then Schlarman Academy, Danville. Active in organizing the Altar and Rosary Society Christmas bazaar many years ago, which became their main fundraiser, and is one of the original “Noodle Ladies.” She is a money counter and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and takes Communion to shut-in parishioners, as well as helping with funeral dinners, parish dinners and all Altar and Rosary activities, among other things.
- Alyce Schifo, St. Mary: An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion to homebound parishioners and those in nursing homes. Monthly money counter, one of the “Heavenly Dusters” and helps with funeral dinners. With another parishioner she made a quilt of the history of Westville that is now displayed at the Westville Library.
- Becky Campbell, St. John the Apostle: Has served as vice president and secretary for the Altar and Rosary Society, and chaired spring cleaning and monthly cleaning committees. Taught religious education classes for three years. On the chicken dinner committee and has cooked and baked for funeral dinners. Made gifts and helped plan the mother-daughter banquet. Cooked for Meals on Wheels and provides transportation for the elderly to doctor appointments and the grocery store.