Priest Profiles: Father Ed O’Melia


Name: Father Ed O’Melia

Age: 67 

Years ordained: ordained presbyter in 1977, deacon in 1976, so 33 or 34 years this spring.

Current assignment: Pastor, St. Mary Parish, Davenport


How did you know you were being called to the priesthood?

I began saying Mass in about fourth grade with my sister as altar server and a bath towel as chasuble. Later, however, I entered the Trappists (1961) at New Melleray and when I found out that wasn’t for me I had to work for a living.  I came to Davenport to teach and joined the prayer group at St. Joe’s. I started thinking again of what God wanted of me and was chatting with then-Father Marv Mottet. Scriptures I was getting in prayer and hearing as I drove along moved me to think of priesthood, and Fr. Marv said: “Talk to the bishop,” which I did.

Aside from your ordination Mass, what was your most memorable Mass?

Probably a huge Mass at Notre Dame for a Charismatic Renewal Conference. All kinds of priests concelebrated.  Everyone sang.  It was so evident this was something that Jesus, the Lord, was doing.

What is most rewarding about being a priest?

I think it would be visiting and sharing the sacrament of healing with our elders. This is one thing I, as priest, can do that no one else gets to. I’d have to say Scripture study is a strong second.

What is most challenging about being a priest?

Funerals of young people.  One knows that there is nothing one can say that will take away the pain, so one does what one can and shares their pain.

What is your favorite Scripture passage?

I’d have to say Psalm 139, which recalls the presence of God in our life from before the beginning of it.

What is your hobby?

I like to make rosaries and rosary bracelets. Do some woodwork, but not so professional as the bishop.  I learn as I go. I’ve done some Bob Ross style landscape painting, but it’s been a while.  I like to read, also.

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