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Thursday, May 18, 2023
9:30 - 10:30 am (Central time)
Thursday, May 18, 2023
10:30 - 11:30 am (Central time)
Gerald J. "Jerry" Wilwert, 88, of Davenport, died Sunday, May 7, 2023 at Good Samaritan Society, Davenport. A Memorial Mass will be held at St. Anthony's Catholic Church on Thursday May 18, 2023 at 10:30 a.m. with visitation prior from 9:30-10:30 a.m. The Mass will be livestreamed by clicking the following link : St. Anthony's YouTube Page Burial will be in Holy Family Cemetery, Davenport. Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Anthony Catholic Church, Cecilia Allbaugh Education Fund, or a charity of your choice.
Jerry was born on December 20, 1934, to parents Stella and Clarence in Bankston, Iowa. Jerry recalled his mother saying the water froze on the kitchen table that morning. His farm family had no electricity or running water. At age seven, he was one of five children who had their tonsils removed, and four of them, including Jerry, contracted the polio virus while in the hospital. He was left to walk in leg braces.
Jerry grew up living close to and serving Mass at St. Anthony's in Dubuque. Later while at Loras College, Jerry entered the St. Bernard Seminary and was ordained in 1960. Talking about his decision to leave the priesthood in 1969 wasn't easy for Jerry. He said, "I don't know why I left. Change was the name of the game in those years. Life became less "black and white" in the 1960s. Jerry loved the Church so much that he was careful not to draw attention to his leaving the priesthood.
Instead, Jerry embraced the renewed emphasis that the Vatican II Council placed on the role of the laity. Jerry saw himself as having left the formal service of the Catholic Church and entered the laity. God called Jerry to serve students as a guidance counselor in 1969 at JB Young School in the Davenport Community School District until his retirement in 2001 after 32 years of service.
One of the best decisions he made as a layperson was to find a wife who would be a partner in faith. Before online dating apps like CatholicMatch.com or CatholicSingles.com, there was the St. Dominic Club. You had to be Catholic, single, and open to marriage to participate. Jerry and a pretty young nurse named Mary Agnes Sinnott met those requirements, and they became a couple at a Halloween Party sponsored by the club! They were married at Sacred Heart Church in Moline, Illinois on December 26, 1973. They had their first child Monica in 1977 and their second child Nick in 1979. He was happy that his children are still practicing their faith.
When they joined St. Anthony Church in 1975, Jerry was asked to serve as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Not knowing he was a former priest, the person asked, "Do you know how to minister communion?" Jerry responded, "I think I can figure that out." Realizing the importance of what he was being called to do as a layperson, Jerry kept and would proudly show you the letter of appointment he received to be a Eucharistic minister.
The lay ministry role that Jerry and Mary did as a team was leading RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) for 18 years at St. Anthony's while touching many faith lives. Jerry and Mary are lifelong learners of the faith, so it was only natural for them to want to share books, articles, and videos as part of their RCIA classes. The couple loved watching, learning, and praying with EWTN. Jerry and Mary led a petition drive many years ago to get EWTN broadcast 24/7 on Mediacom television.
Jerry and Mary, like the scripture from 1 Thessalonians 5:16, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you." That's how Jerry tried to live till the end, donating his body to science. And Jerry would quickly tell you that it's OK with the Church for him to do that. He hoped his body would help others.
He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Mary, daughter Monica (Judd) Allbaugh, son Nicholas Wilwert, granddaughter Cecilia Allbaugh, all of the Quad Cities, sister Darlene Bickford, Chandler, Arizona, and brother-in-law Pat Sinnott of Melrose, Iowa and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by a sister Rosemary Ariagno, brothers-in-law Ron Bickford, Frank Sinnott, and Dr. Richard Ariagno, sisters-in-law Shirley Sinnott and Mary Sinnott, and nephew Brian Sinnott.