PDCCW honors, thanks 44 faith-filled women for volunteer service to the Lord

The women being honored for their service to the Diocese of Peoria gather around Bishop Louis Tylka for a photo after the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women's Volunteer Appreciation Mass on April 29 at St. Mary's Cathedral. They would be recognized individually at the luncheon that followed. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

As the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, a faithful woman who “raised her eyes” and saw the people in need around her, the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women honored 45 faith-filled women who looked at the need in their parishes and communities and also served the Lord and his people.

Linda Leifeld pins a corsage to Dolores Sheen’s jacket as the Volunteer Appreciation Mass, sponsored by the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, is about to begin April 29. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The PDCCW’s Volunteer Appreciation event started with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Louis Tylka at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. As those present prayed the rosary, the honorees and their families and friends placed flowers in a basket before the Blessed Mother under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe at one of the cathedral’s side altars.

At the luncheon that followed at the nearby Spalding Pastoral Center, women from 24 parishes received certificates of appreciation from Msgr. Dale Wellman of Port Byron, spiritual adviser to the PDCCW for 47 years. In addition, the group presented its Diocesan Award to Jon Kroepel for his service as organist at St. Mary’s Cathedral since 2015 and director of sacred music in the Office of Divine Worship since 2017.

“You don’t usually see him because he is up in the choir loft,” said Nympha White of Grand Ridge, a member of the Cathedral Schola and director of the Chicago Province of the National Council of Catholic Women. “But when the music plays we know it is Jon who gives us this beautiful and heavenly music.”


During his homily, Bishop Tylka noted that St. Catherine of Siena had been promised in marriage but had a great desire to serve the Lord. Her parents relented and while she intended to live the rest of her life in solitude, God had another plan.

Joyce Miller of St. Mary of the Fields in Grand Ridge accepts a certificate of appreciation from Msgr. Dale Wellman at the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“She realized she had to change what she had expected, the way she was going to spend her life, to respond now to a different way of being,” he said. “The same calling to be close to the Lord, to love the Lord, and to serve the Lord, but now in a different manner.”

Going out into the world, she opened her eyes to see what was before her — the needs of the poor, the needs of the sick, and the needs of those with a spiritual hunger who needed to be fed with wisdom, grace and teaching, Bishop Tylka explained.

In the day’s passage from St. John’s Gospel, Jesus also raised his eyes to see the multitudes that had followed him and responded by feeding them spiritually as well as physically, Bishop Tylka said.

“Let us raise our eyes, open our eyes, and see the way God is calling us today, at this time, this moment, reading the signs of the times, so that we can be effective in our discipleship and sharing the love that God has given us,” he said.

A brief listing of the many ways this year’s PDCCW honorees have served others follows. More photos from the event have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.


  • Lynne Bonnell, St. Patrick: “Lynne volunteers much of her time, talent and treasure to the church.”
  • Ann Hunter, St. Patrick: “Ann has dedicated so many years volunteering for the church.”
  • Lauren Koch, St. Patrick: “Lauren volunteers much time to the church, grounds, committees and activities.”


  • Sue Floming-Deskin, St. Anthony: Altar and Rosary Society, CCD teacher, money counter at church, choir, member of Circle 4.
  • Theresa Peterson, St. Anthony: Lector, cantor, choir, mother-daughter banquet coordinator, CCD teacher.


  • Dolores Sheen, St. Anthony: Faith Community Nurse, parish council, adult ministry leader, lector.
  • Mary Withrow, St. Anthony: Faith Community Nurse, Women’s Club vice president, grounds maintenance worker, garage sale worker.


  • Carol Lauer, Holy Trinity: “Carol dedicates much of her time, talent and treasure helping in all areas inside and out for the church.”
  • Nancy Lowry, Holy Trinity: “Nancy has spent many years volunteering in many areas of the church.”


  • Mary Jean Goodrick, St. Thomas More: “Mary Jean has given much of her time, talent and treasure to the church for many years.”
  • Jyll Pozzi, St. Thomas More: “Jyll has dedicated many years of volunteering at the church. She helps in all areas, wherever she is needed.”


  • Judy Ciecka, St. Paul: Altar and Rosary Society president, parish nurse, parish council, organized Schlarman cookbook fundraiser, St. Paul School and Schlarman High School nurse. While serving as Altar and Rosary Society president she helped organize the parish’s day of remembrance for 15 years.
  • Faye Williamson, St. Paul: School nurse at St. Paul School and Schlarman High School (1969-81), served on committees for school fundraisers, bishop’s clothing drive, parish nurse (1999-2021), Share Food program, made altar linens and embroidered purificators. As Altar and Rosary Society treasurer she organized the parish’s day of remembrance for 15 years.


  • Lucy Twait, St. Luke: Cited as being the first one there when work needs to be done and helping without being asked. “Her faith, generosity and humility are a great blessing to the parish.”


  • Pam Kennedy, Corpus Christi: Manages the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry inventory; Altar and Rosary Society; assists with funeral luncheons, parish receptions and special events. Vacation Bible School teacher and volunteer. Helps to clean church and parish hall and maintain the grounds.
  • Ruth Dieterich, Immaculate Heart of Mary: Treasurer for the Ladies of Mary, helps with Vacation Bible School, works at funeral luncheons. Volunteers at the parish spaghetti dinner and bakes for Right to Life sales.
  • Peggy Libby, Immaculate Heart of Mary: Volunteers for flower and bake sales, funeral luncheons and spaghetti dinner, and helps to send cards to shut-in parishioners and assemble goodie bags at the holidays.


  • Donna Eechaute, St. Malachy: As an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, she leads prayer services at the assisted living facility and takes Communion to shut-ins. Plays piano at assisted living, sings in the funeral choir and serves funeral luncheons.
  • Ellen Scranton, St. Malachy: Secretary of the Altar and Rosary Society, works in the church gift shops, volunteers at the school, hospital volunteer.


  • Monica Leskanich, St. Mary of the Fields: Coordinates the lector and server schedules.
  • Joyce Miller, St. Mary of the Fields: One of the parish’s longest serving volunteers. Head money counter and keeps “excellent books and records.”


  • Sharon Hoffbeck, St. Paul: Active member of St. Paul Parish and the Women’s Guild for many years. Parish business manager, coordinates and participates in receptions, luncheons, and holiday gatherings at the rectory, and helps with seasonal decorations. Assists with school registration. She is a cantor and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and serves as an usher as needed. She and her husband, Mark, take care of landscaping around the rectory. Is organizing details for the 2022 parish directory, among other things.


  • Amy Rickey, St. Joseph: CCD teacher, member of the parish choir, assisted in renovating Altar and Rosary Society, helps with weekly soup supper after evening Mass.
  • Sheila Vicich, St. Joseph: CCD teacher, assisted in renovating Altar and Rosary Society, helps with weekly soup supper after evening Mass.


  • Chris Nauman, St. Mary: Lifetime member of St. Mary Church. Girl Scout leader at St. Mary School, taught CCD, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, money counter, Prayer Weavers, rosary leader, secretary of the Altar and Rosary Society, helps with all Women Connect events.


  • Patti Zehr, St. Mary: Church secretary and bookkeeper for 25 years and lector for more than 30 years. Serves on finance council and parish leadership team. Keeps track of all events for the pastor.


  • Annette Hulslander, St. Louis: Member of the parish for more than 55 years. Has worked on the funeral committee, collection counter, circle chapter chairman, teacher’s aide, donated many baked goods over the years.
  • Joanne Stocking, St. Louis: Member of the parish for more than 71 years and involved with the Altar and Rosary Society and Council of Catholic Women since she was 17. Has served as a trustee, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, collection counter, lector, secretary and treasurer and helps wherever needed.


  • Peggy Francisco, St. Patrick: Parish trustee and president of the Altar and Rosary Society.
  • Mary Ross, St. Patrick: Member of the Altar and Rosary Society, finance council and farm committee.


  • Lucy Carlton, St. Patrick: As the parish pro-life representative she is credited with increasing pro-life activities within the four parishes in the Ribourde Catholic Community and helping to coordinate individuals who had been working separately.
  • Nadine Maierhofer, St. Patrick: Active in the Altar and Rosary Society, maintains parish census list, edits monthly bulletin, safe environment coordinator for the parishes in the Ribourde Catholic Community.


  • Mary Lou Lohman, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Woman’s Club president, volunteer for the autumn dinner, lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, adorer, prayer chain captain, funeral lunches, Vacation Bible School, and CCD.
  • Marie Vallejo, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Extraordinary minister of Holy Communion for Mass and takes Communion to those in assisted living, nursing homes and residences. Weekly adorer.


  • Patricia Ewing, St. Michael the Archangel: Extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, takes Communion to homebound parishioners, coordinator of church decorating, registered nurse who works with the LaSalle County Visiting Nurse Association.
  • Beth Pleasant, St. Michael the Archangel: Extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, lector, visits homebound parishioners, helps with parish activities and church decorating, assists sacristan, St. Vincent de Paul Society coordinator, works with the community food pantry.


  • Marie Horn, St. Patrick: Parish nurse, usher for weekend Masses, funerals and holy days, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry.
  • Mary Long, St. Patrick: Former member of the parish staff, spiritual director who leads book studies and spiritual programs as needed, lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.
  • Diane Wilhelm, St. Patrick: Lector, coordinates extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, sacristan, co-coordinator of the parish consolation ministry.


  • Sandi Long, St. Mary: Livestreamed Masses during the pandemic, set up meals for the Friars, CCD teacher and director of religious education, coordinates First Communion and confirmation, schedules activities for children and families.
  • Beatrice Miller, St. Mary: Lector, provides baked goods for Altar and Rosary Society functions.


  • Beverly Brazas, St. Mary: At 95, she is the oldest parish volunteer. A member and avid supporter of Altar and Rosary Association activities. Pioneered the initial Right to Life Committee. Arranged and served funeral dinners.
  • Darla Cooke, St. Mary: Lifetime member of the parish. Active member of the Altar and Rosary Association and one of the “Noodle Ladies.” Serves as cashier at the Christmas bazaar, cleans the church, supports Labor Day fundraiser, centennial cookbook committee, choir member, co-parish council (with St. Isaac Jogues, Georgetown).


  • Mary Link, St. John the Apostle: CCD teacher, lector, helps with soup suppers, church cleaning, blood drive.
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