PDCCW recognizes 43 women for their service to 27 parishes around the diocese

The Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women honored 43 women for their volunteer service to their parishes on April 26. The day began with Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria and included a photo with Bishop Louis Tylka. A luncheon followed at the Spalding Pastoral Center. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Wiillems)

In a day filled with thanksgiving, the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women recognized 43 women for outstanding service to their parishes, bid a fond farewell to Msgr. Dale Wellman, their longtime spiritual adviser, and welcomed his successor, Deacon Ed Mallow Jr.

It all started with the ultimate sacrament of thanksgiving, the Eucharist, at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Louis Tylka on April 26 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. While they were there, the women honored the Blessed Mother by praying the rosary and presenting so many flowers they filled a large basket to overflowing.

“Always make sure the women in your parish are truly, truly honored. . . . Please make sure they know how valuable they are to you.” — Mary Ann Hughes

In his homily. Bishop Tylka shared that in the previous week he had celebrated Mass for 1,800 students at the first-ever High School Eucharistic Conference in Peoria, at five churches in the Quad Cities for confirmation, and by himself in his personal chapel. While vastly different, there was something similar about all of them, he said.

“In each of those situations it is the same celebration,” Bishop Tylka explained. “It is the recognition that Jesus is truly present to us, feeding us with his body. That is, for us, not only a moment of grace here, but it is a promise and foretaste of what he has prepared for us in heaven.”

That makes it all the more important to truly appreciate the gift that the Eucharist is, he told the women and their guests.

“Jesus came to do the will of the Father — that is, not to lose anyone, but rather to bring them to the table, where he feeds us with his body and blood,” Bishop Tylka said. “For he has told us, ‘I am the Bread of Life.’”


At the luncheon that followed at the nearby Spalding Pastoral Center, Mary Ann Hughes, PDCCW president, became emotional as she honored Msgr. Dale Wellman for all that he had shared with them over 48 years.

Msgr. Dale Wellman, who has retired as spiritual adviser to the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women after 48 years, receives a framed image of Our Lady of Good Counsel from Mary Ann Hughes, president. With them is his successor, Deacon Ed Mallow Jr. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“I don’t have enough time to tell all the wonderful things I want to say about him,” she said. “He has been a rock whenever we had any issues at all. He’s just always been there to lead us and advise us. I know we will miss him dearly.”

Msgr. Wellman, a senior priest of the Diocese of Peoria who lives in Port Byron, received a standing ovation when he came forward to receive a framed image of Our Lady of Good Counsel, patroness of the National Council of Catholic Women.

“I got this appointment in 1974 for six years,” he said as the group before him laughed. “Succeeding bishops have said, ‘Stay on until I can find someone to replace you.’”

While serving in the role of what was first called spiritual moderator and then spiritual adviser, Msgr. Wellman said he received many gifts from God. Among them was meeting “such wonderful women and their husbands and families serving throughout the diocese.”

Deacon Mallow, his successor, was ordained to the permanent diaconate on May 20, 2017, and serves at St. Thomas the Apostle in Peoria Heights and assists with pontifical liturgies at St. Mary’s Cathedral. (See his profile in the issue of April 16, 2023.)

Before she recognized 43 of the “wonderful women” Msgr. Wellman spoke of, Hughes presented the PDCCW’s Imperative Award to Laurie and Bill Ullrich for their service to the Diocese of Peoria. Laurie worked in the Office of Divine Worship and for Bishop Emeritus Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and Bishop Louis Tylka for 23 years, while Bill worked on maintaining the grounds at the Spalding Pastoral Center, as well as the interior there and at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Laurie Ullrich currently serves as an ecclesiastical notary for the Diocesan Tribunal.

Hughes thanked everyone for coming and paying tribute to the honorees, whom she called the backbone of the parishes.

“Always make sure the women in your parish are truly, truly honored, whether it’s this award or however you do it in your parish,” she said. “Please make sure they know how valuable they are to you.”

Meet the 2023 honorees

Following is the list of the 43 women who were recognized for their service to 27 parishes around the Diocese of Peoria by the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women on April 26. More photos of the event can be found on The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.


  • Linda Beattie, St. Patrick: Leads the rosary before Mass, lector, helps with fundraisers, and is a money counter.
  • Robin Lovgren, St. Patrick: Helping with the religious formation program and church fundraisers, and serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.


  • Valerie Plumley, St. Anthony: Altar and Rosary Society treasurer and family affairs chair, parish bookkeeper and works in the office, choir member, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, confirmation teacher, former CCD coordinator.
  • Bonnie Van De Velde, St. Anthony: CCD coordinator for 12 years, circle chairman, choir member, cemetery caretaker, parish secretary since 2018.


  • Linda Phillips, St. Anthony: Co-chair of Trivia Night and the parish Easter egg hunt, member of the Resurrection Choir, assists with funeral lunches, parish liaison to the Catholic Women’s League, has helped with fundraisers for the Women’s Club.
  • Margaret Roe, St. Anthony: Kitchen helper at fundraisers, garage sale worker, cleaned the entryway of the original church building as a volunteer.


  • Angie Stange, St. John the Baptist: Serves as a “Sunshine Person,” volunteers for funeral dinners and Altar and Rosary Society committees, helps with Christmas decorating, updated the church sign.
  • Patricia Woodford, St. John the Baptist: President and treasurer of the Altar and Rosary Society, responsible for altar cloths and flowers, helps to decorate the church, sings in the choir.


  • Nancy Floroplus, Holy Trinity: Longtime volunteer who has worked many fundraisers, is a money counter, and cleans and decorates the church.
  • Judie Hahn, Holy Trinity: Helps with fundraisers, is a money counter, cleans the church and rectory.


  • Diane Stanek, St. Edward: Has served on the parish finance committee, education committee and auction committee, and was the Parents Club president. Classroom volunteer, cleaned the church, lector and music ministry, sacristan.


  • Sharon Schweickert, St. Thomas More: Helps with fundraisers, cleans and decorates the church and other areas as needed.
  • Judy Szymovicz, St. Thomas More: Helps with fundraisers, opens and closes the adoration room, lector.


  • Cathy Bott, St. Paul: Longtime volunteer has visited parishioners who are homebound or in the hospital, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, established and continues to organize monthly Freedom Years Luncheons for senior members of the parish.
  • Vera Huffman, St. Paul: Has helped in the school kitchen and as a room mother, sings in the choir, organizes funeral dinners, assists with senior luncheons.


  • Cathy Bilow, St. Luke: High school youth leader for many years. Takes care of all landscape projects.


  • Marti Gummerson, Immaculate Heart of Mary: Teaches religious education classes, co-chairs the annual spaghetti dinner, launders altar linens, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, takes Communion to homebound parishioners, involved in the Right to Life breakfast.
  • Linda Leafgreen, Immaculate Heart of Mary: Volunteer for St. Vincent de Paul food pantry, works funeral luncheons, serves on the bereavement committee.
  • Linda Haneghan, St. Patrick: Lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, takes Communion to homebound parishioners, taught RCIA and religious education classes, key parish leader for the Growing Disciples Pastoral Plan.
  • Irene Witherbee, St. Patrick: Co-leader of weekly rosary, auxiliary member of the Legion of Mary, weekly visitor to the nursing home and assisted living facility, volunteers at OSF HealthCare St. Mary Medical Center.


  • Faith DeDecker, St. Malachy: Has helped with the St. Mother Teresa collection, fair trade sales, WinterFest, and funeral luncheons, and continues to serve on the social justice committee.
  • Ruth Fleming, St. Malachy: President of Circle 14 for 29 years. Involved in funeral luncheons, lasagna suppers, WinterFest and bake sales.


  • Phyllis Durdan, St. Mary of the Fields: Longtime volunteer for church events and committees.
  • Monica Leskanich, St. Mary of the Fields: Volunteer who “makes life better for those who are in need.”


  • Mary Aurelio, St. Paul: Vice president of the St. Paul Women’s Guild from 2002 to 2004. Regularly participates in Bible studies, eucharistic adoration, and the rosary and invites others to join her. She has been a prayer partner for those making their First Communion, supported confirmands, and was involved in RCIA. In addition, she has been an usher and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at Mass and for homebound parishioners. Volunteers for many parish events.


  • Penny Carter, St. Joseph: Shares her time and talent by volunteering for church activities.
  • Ramona Dittmer, St. Joseph: Cited for volunteering selflessly, as well as the way she participates in the celebration of Mass.


  • Joan Anderson, Immaculate Conception: Lifelong member of Immaculate Conception Church. Organized the annual salad luncheon for more than 35 years and is cited for dedicating decades of service to the physical upkeep of the church and hall.


  • Jan Plaag, St. Ann: Lector, serves at funeral luncheons, contributes to bake sales, helps at parish socials and soup suppers.
  • Diane Willis, St. Ann: Lector, coordinates funeral luncheon ministry and bake sales, helps with parish socials and Lenten soup suppers. Laid the groundwork for the upcoming parish directory.


  • Diana Janda, St. Thomas the Apostle: Manages the food pantry and works with adult and student volunteers, provides filled backpacks to area schools, helps coordinate gifts to families and food boxes as part of the Christmas Giving Tree.


  • Jayne Corsini, St. Patrick: Volunteers in many capacities, including finance committee, Altar and Rosary Society, and church decorating.


  • Kay Monge, St. Joseph: Organizes church decorating and flower arranging, helping to focus attention on each liturgical season.


  • Donna Virgo, St. Patrick: Just retired from being “head sacristan.” Involved in the Altar and Rosary Society and orders needed items for the church.


  • Flora Cantu, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Served as co-president of the Woman’s Club. Counts the collection, inputs data for the church secretary, organized church cleaning, helps with several parish events, including the turkey dinner and the celebration for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
  • Mary Ann Ybarra, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Donates items for the raffle basket project, makes items for bake sales, sends greeting cards to elderly people.


  • Sally Czapar, St. Patrick: Coordinator of the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry for five years, keeping it going as an “essential service” even during the pandemic.
  • Toni D’Urso, St. Patrick: At 98 is still an active volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry “bread ladies” and funeral luncheon ministry.
  • Judy Lubben, St. Patrick: Volunteers with the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry “bread ladies.” Is credited as being the first to sign up for parish events.


  • Carol Larkin, St. John the Evangelist: Youth group co-leader, lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, donates food for parish events.


  • Kathleen E. Cross, St. Aloysius: Former president of the St. Aloysius Altar and Rosary Society, parish representative to Knox County Right to Life, volunteer at Costa Catholic Academy. Initiated a project to send rosaries to Tanzania. Provides baby supplies to the Women’s Pregnancy Center in Galesburg


  • Connie Maquet, St. Mary: Helps with funeral luncheons, church dinners and special activities. Is a member of the “Noodle Ladies,” who prepare homemade noodles for the Altar and Rosary Holiday Bazaar. Is part of a new parish group to make blankets for parishioners experiencing serious health issues, as well as people at nursing homes and women’s shelters.


  • Connie Cajigal, St. John the Apostle: Member of the Altar and Rosary Society. Packed boxes of supplies for people in need in the Philippines, hosted days of recollection at the church, is working to have a grotto for Mary constructed behind the church.
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