Two priests to get new assignments; one priest to retire

Father Jeffry Belger baptizes Keith Jones during the Easter Vigil at St. Mary Parish in Pella. Fr. Belger will step up from administrator to pastor of St. Mary Parish, and will also become pastor of St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa and serve as canonical pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Colfax beginning July 1.

By Anne Marie Amacher

DAVENPORT — Three priest assignment changes will happen July 1.

Father Jeffry Belger, 43, will step up from administrator to pastor of St. Mary Parish in Pella, and will also become pastor of St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa and serve as canonical pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Colfax.

A native of Burlington, Fr. Belger graduated from Southeast Iowa Community College in West Burlington and Western Illinois University. Before entering the seminary, he worked at several YMCAs and served as a teacher and youth minister. He completed theology studies at St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind. On June 14, 2003, he was ordained by Bishop William Franklin at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.


Fr. Belger served as parochial vicar at Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton from 2003-05. He served as a parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Iowa City and as campus minister at the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City from 2005-10. He has been serving in Pella and Colfax since 2010.

Father Ron Hodges, OSB, who has been serving in part-time diocesan service and as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport, will become parochial vicar at St. Mary parishes in Pella and Oskaloosa.

Fr. Hodges, 46, grew up in Indianola. He graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in hotel restaurant management. He worked for Marriott Corporation in the healthcare division before entering the seminary for the Diocese of Davenport. After pre-theology studies at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, he began major seminary studies at St. Meinrad and while there entered monastic life. He entered the novitiate of the Order of St. Benedict at St. Meinrad Archabbey in 2001, professed simple vows in 2002 and received the title Brother and the name Gabriel. In 2004 Br. Hodges earned his master of divinity degree from St. Meinrad and professed final vows in 2006. He was ordained a priest June 4, 2006, by Archbishop Daniel Buechlein at St. Meinrad Archabbey. In late 2010 he left the monastery in order to serve in the Davenport Diocese.

Father Tom Spiegel, 69, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa, will retire July 1. A native of Burlington, he graduated from St. Ambrose College in Davenport and completed his theology studies at Mt. St. Bernard Seminary in Dubuque. On June 3, 1967, he was ordained by Bishop Gerald O’Keefe at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as an assistant or associate pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Fort Madison from 1967-72 and St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City from 1972-76. He served as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Kinross and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman from 1976-82; and St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant from 1982-91. Fr. Spiegel took a one-year sabbatical during which he traveled and enriched his spirituality and his knowledge of the Catholic Church. He then served as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf from 1992-2004. The next year he took a sabbatical with his brother, Msgr. Bob Spiegel. Since 2005 he has served as the Oskaloosa parish’s pastor.

Fr. Spiegel also served in the National Guard and Army Reserves during much of his priesthood. He joined the National Guard in 1970 and served as a chaplain not just for Catholics, “but for all men and women of that unit. It made me a better pastor. I didn’t realize that at the time.”

In his retirement, Fr. Spiegel plans to remain in Oskaloosa and purchase the rectory he resides in and make some renovations. In the future he hopes his brother, Msgr. Bob, will reside with him and down the road that their brother, Father John Spiegel, will live with them.

Fr. Tom Spiegel also plans to assist and support Fr. Belger and Fr. Hodges. But, “I’m not going to be in charge.”

Fr. Spiegel said he has really enjoyed being a priest and has been very fulfilled serving others. He believes the priesthood has helped shape and form who he is today. And his two sabbaticals also enriched his priesthood and gave him spiritual direction.

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