Celebrating 60th anniversary priestly jubilarians May 31

Continuing with the jubilarian recognitions that began with Bishop Jenky’s 50th anniversary of ordination on April 6, May 31 marks 60 years of priesthood for Father Dale Wellman, and Father Patrick Collins.

Please note: significant content in these profiles is borrowed from 50th anniversary jubilarian profiles of Msgr. Wellman and Father Collins published in The Catholic Post in 2014.


Msgr. Wellman was born in Quincy on Nov. 10, 1938, and grew up in St. Mary Parish in Moline. He became aware of a desire to be a priest in grade school, and his vocation was further encouraged by the Benedictine Sisters who taught at St. Mary.

He is also grateful to his pastors, Father Enos Barnes, Msgr. J.B. Reidy and Father Thomas P. Kelly, for their strong examples of faith.

After Alleman High School in Rock Island, he want to St. Bede Academy in Peru and on to St. Bede Junior College. It was while studying philosophy at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., that he encountered a new level of certainty about his calling to the priesthood.

As Msgr. Wellman recalled for The Catholic Post on the occasion of his 50th anniversary in 2014, “I said, ‘Lord, I’m here. If you don’t want me you have to let me know, but I plan to stay,’” He added, “Everything seemed to fall into place.”

Lord, I’m here. If you don’t want me you have to let me know, but I plan to stay.” — Msgr. Dale Wellman, on his vocational epiphany


After ordination he served as parochial vicar at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Galesburg (1964–68) and St. John in Peoria, where he also acted as vicar of education (1968–69).

Starting in 1969, he began to provide pastoral care for a new parish that would become St. Anthony in Bartonville, in addition to serving as chaplain at Peoria State Hospital. He would eventually move from administrator to pastor at St. Anthony as the Catholic community built a multipurpose center/worship space, and a rectory.

He described it as a special time of sharing among the parish community. “We had no paid staff, except for myself,” he related.

His pastoral path next led to St. Patrick in LaSalle in 1983, where he helped the parish celebrate its 150th anniversary, and oversaw renovations to the rectory and church, and then it was on to St. Ambrose in Milan in 1990.

When people are sick, whether they’ve been going to church or not, they want the church present in their lives.” — Msgr. Dale Wellman, on the ministry to the sick

In 1993, he was granted the title of prelate of honor, which comes with the formal designation of monsignor.

Msgr. Wellman served as pastor at Sacred Heart in Moline from 2001 to 2017.

Although he established a reputation as a parish builder and renovator, Msgr. Wellman was ever-attentive to the spiritual needs of his flock — in particular the sick and dying.

As he told The Post in 2014, he made a pastoral habit of going to the hospital daily. “You not only meet some of the parishioners, but some of the people who are inactive,” he said, adding, “When people are sick, whether they’ve been going to church or not, they want the church present in their lives.”


Msgr. Wellman served as spiritual adviser to the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (PDCCW) for nearly half a century 1974–2023. The PDCCW “recognizes the gifts and talents of women in the church,” he affirmed.

“I have met so many wonderful people, so many ‘saints.’” — Msgr. Dale Wellman (reflecting on 60th anniversary — May, 2024)

Granted senior status in 2014, Msgr. Wellman became vicar for senior priests in 2017.

He lives in Port Byron, Ill. He will have a mass of Thanksgiving on June 2 at Sacred Heart Church, Moline. Msgr. Wellman’s favorite quote from Scripture is John 6:68: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”


Father Collins wasn’t even a Catholic when he first felt the pull of a priestly vocation. As he shared with The Catholic Post in 2014, he was drawn by the authentic living witness of a family with the appropriate name of Real who lived in Wyoming, IL, where he was raised.

“There was a joyfulness at their house — all of us kids liked to go and play there,” he remembered. Father Collins added that two of John and Catherine Real’s six children would become priests and one daughter a nun.

He was born on Dec. 1, 1936, in Peoria, and brought up in the Congregational Church. Later, living in Wyoming with his family, he came to play the organ for Masses at St. Dominic Church, and began to learn more about the Catholic faith.

There was a joyfulness at their house — all of us kids liked to go and play there.” — Father Patrick Collins, on the inspiration of a Catholic family


He was also attracted, as many were in the 1950s, by a magnetic presence on television, as he described in an opinion piece that appeared in the Peoria Journal Star in 2019:

“As a Protestant high school boy in the early 1950s, I was drawn toward Catholicism by (Venerable Fulton) Sheen’s programs. One night I remember being so moved by his  remarks that I walked to St. Dominic’s Church and knelt before the shrine of the Virgin Mary. Tears began to roll down my cheeks as I felt a desire not only to become a Catholic but also to become a priest.

“When I spoke of this Sheen-inspired feeling to the local pastor, Father Edmund J. Bratkowski, he let me know — with a bit of tongue-in-cheek wit of his own — that, before becoming a priest, I would, of course, have to be Catholic!”

He became one in 1954 after receiving instruction from Father (and future bishop) Edward W. O’Rourke at The Newman Foundation at the University of Illinois.

Father Edmund J. Bratkowski, he let me know . . . that, before becoming a priest, I would, of course, have to be Catholic!” — Father Patrick Collins

Following graduation from U of I with a Bachelor of Music, he studied for the priesthood at St. Bede College and St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.


Ordained in 1964, music continued to be part of Father Collins’ path as he served as parochial vicar and music director at St. Mary’s Cathedral from 1964 to 1967. He continued as music director at St. Mary’s after becoming assistant chancellor of the diocese (1967–69).

After attending Fordham University in New York and earning a doctorate in historical theology (1969–72), he came back to central Illinois as director of campus ministry at Bradley University (1972–76).

Continuing to combine faith and academia, he served as adjunct professor of theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and vice president of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association (1976–79). He then returned to the Diocese of Peoria as director of the Office of Worship (1979–87), while also obtaining a Master of Music from Bradley University.

Father Collins served as rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral and pastor of St. Peter Parish (1987–1990).

“It has been a joy and a privilege to serve these 60 years as an ordained ministerial priest of Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the light of Vatican II.” — Father Patrick Collins (reflecting on 60th anniversary — May, 2024)


In 1990, Father Collins was released to pursue roles as varied as summer school professor: (University of Notre Dame, Catholic Theological Union and St. Michael’s College in VT.), preacher (Food for the Poor, 1993–1999), and occasional cruise ship chaplain.

Granted senior status in 2006, he has served as an outreach preacher for the relief and development ministry Cross Catholic Outreach since 2007.





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