Priests share thoughts on new assignments

Fr. Adam

By Barb Arland-Fye

Several priest leadership positions will experience a changing of the guard this summer because of Bishop-designate Robert Gruss being named bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D. Now serving as rector and pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, he will be relieved of that responsibility July 21 and be ordained a bishop July 28 in Rapid City.

Father Richard Adam will become rector and pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral beginning Aug. 1 after serving nearly 10 years as pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, Richmond, St. Mary Parish, Riverside, and St. Joseph Parish, Wellman. He also served as dean of the Iowa City Deanery, a regional group of parishes.

Father Martin Goetz, the Davenport Diocese’s vocations director for the past four years, will vacate that post to serve as pastor of the parishes Fr. Adam is leaving. 

The new vocations director will be Father Thomas Hennen — the youngest priest in the diocese — who now serves half-time as parochial vicar of St. Mary Parish, Iowa City, and half-time as priest campus minister at the Newman Catholic Student Center, Iowa City. 


Father Richard Beyer will take Fr. Hennen’s place at St. Mary’s and the Newman Center in Iowa City. He has recently returned to the Davenport Diocese after serving for a number of years in Texas.

And Father James Vrba, while remaining pastor of St. Mary Parish, Solon, will become dean of the Iowa City Deanery.

Choosing priests to fill assignments

Bishop Martin Amos made the changes in consultation with the Priests’ Personnel Board and after talking with the priests chosen for new posts.

“Fr. Adam relates very well to people and brings a lot of good experience as a pastor that I think will help him at the cathedral, which is the mother church of the Davenport Diocese and a very important ministry to me,” the bishop said. He looks forward to working with Fr. Adam as the pastor strives to “continue to make the cathedral a center of good liturgy, spirituality and service to others.”

The bishop praised Fr. Goetz for his service as vocations director. “I think everyone is aware of the wonderful job he’s done. He’s been very visible throughout the diocese promoting vocations and inviting us to join him in encouraging vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life. He has an outgoing personality and the ability to engage young people. He probably has planted  many more seeds than even he’s aware of.”

Fr. Hennen is the right choice to assume the role of vocations director because “he brings to this position a wealth of ability and talent, most recently through his work with young people at the Newman Center,” Bishop Amos said. “I think he has the kind of personality that will be very engaging for youths and young adults.”

The bishop welcomes Fr. Beyer back to the diocese to fill the positions Fr. Hennen leaves behind. Fr. Beyer had been serving at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Waco, Texas, for a number of years. His return to the Davenport Diocese coincides with the openings at St. Mary’s Parish and the Newman Center in Iowa City.

Priests react to new assignments

Of his selection as rector and pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral, Fr. Adam said, “I was deeply honored that the bishop would ask me to take this assignment.  Of course I said I would do what the bishop asked me to do, but in the same breath my mind was racing about the many projects taking place here in the cluster parishes. We’re planning the 100th anniversary of St. Joseph Parish in Wellman and the dedication of the new office/retreat center and newly remodeled hall at St. Mary’s in Riverside. Then I thought of Betty Kaalberg.  Betty was an active person on St. Mary’s Parish Council who also served on the Diocesan Pastoral Council as well as the Riverside City Council.  Betty always had her plate full and had so many things she wanted to do. Her untimely death reminds us that our plans are not always God’s plans … and we move on.  I guess, with God’s help, I’m willing to move on as well.  Saying goodbye is going to be very difficult.”

Fr. Goetz said he is looking forward to being a pastor again. “I missed parish life. I missed being with people and celebrating all the moments in their lives  — baptisms, weddings and funerals — and presiding at Mass each week. But that’s why I was vocations director — so we would have priests to serve people at all the times of their lives.”

He’ll miss walking the journey with candidates for priesthood, permanent diaconate and deacon formation program. “In a way, they were my parish for four years and so anytime you leave a parish there’s always sadness there. But I also know they are in very good hands. Fr. Hennen loves the priesthood and he’s going to do a great job. He’s going to do things I didn’t do and I look forward to working with him.”

Fr. Hennen said he feels honored that the bishop and Priests’ Personnel Board “have the confidence in me to do this job. And, frankly, I’m a little frightened.” But, “I’m also confident that this work and the success of this work is not my work alone. It really is more primarily the work of the priests in the parishes throughout the diocese. It’s through their example, their preaching and their encouragement that vocations are born.”

He’s also depending on God to provide the grace that Fr. Hennen believes he will need to help promote vocations.

Background information on priests

Bishop Martin Amos has announced several new assignments in the Diocese of Davenport effective July 21 and Aug. 1.

Effective July 21, Bishop-designate Robert Gruss will be relieved of his assignment as rector and pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. He will become bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D.

Four priests of the Davenport Diocese are receiving new assignments and one is receiving new duties effective Aug. 1.

Father Richard Adam, 52, will become pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.

A native of Richland, he graduated from St. Ambrose College in Davenport with a bachelor’s degree in music education and from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, with a master’s degree in counseling. He completed his theology studies at St. John Seminary in Collegeville, Minn.

On June 17, 1988, he was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Sioux City at Sacred Heart Church in Fort Dodge by Bishop Lawrence Soens. In the Sioux City Diocese Fr. Adam was associate pastor at Corpus Christi Parish in Fort Dodge from 1988-90 and Blessed Sacrament Parish in Sioux City from 1990-92. He then served as pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Duncombe and on faculty at St. Edmond High School in Fort Dodge from 1992-97.

During a leave of absence, Fr. Adam was a counselor at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs from 1997-2001. In 2001 he began his ministry in the Diocese of Davenport. Since that time he has been administrator, then pastor, of Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond, St. Mary Parish in Riverside and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. Fr. Adam was incardinated into the Davenport Diocese in 2008.

Father Richard Beyer, 61, will become part-time parochial vicar for St. Mary’s in Iowa City and part-time campus minister at the Newman Catholic Student Center.

He has returned to the Davenport Diocese after working as a chaplain in Waco, Texas, since 1993. A native of Burlington, Fr. Beyer graduated from Burlington Junior College and the University of Iowa. He then attended St. Ambrose College and completed theology studies at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. On June 6, 1981, Fr. Beyer was ordained at St. John the Baptist Church in Burlington by Bishop Gerald O’Keefe.

Fr. Beyer’s first assignments were assistant pastor/parochial vicar at Holy Family Parish in Davenport from 1981-84 and Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport from 1984-85. He then served as chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Davenport from 1985-89. He was pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Hills and provided pastoral care for St. Mary parishes in Lone Tree and Nichols from 1989-90. He was temporary administrator of St. John the Baptist Parish in Burlington and St. Joseph Parish in Fort Madison in 1990. He returned to Sacred Heart Cathedral as a parochial vicar until he took a leave of absence in 1991. During that time, Fr. Beyer did research for a book. He had been a chaplain at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Waco, Texas.

Father Marty Goetz, 44, will become pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond, St. Mary Parish in Riverside and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman.

A native of Keokuk, Fr. Goetz attended Southeastern Community College in Keokuk and graduated from St. Ambrose University. He completed his theology studies at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill. On May 29, 1992, he was ordained at All Saints Church in Keokuk by Bishop O’Keefe.

Fr. Goetz served as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City from 1992-93, Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport from 1993-97 and Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton from 1998-99. After a leave of absence from 1999 to 2001, Fr. Goetz worked at St. Vincent Center in Davenport and then served as administrator, then pastor, of Holy Trinity Parish in Keota from 2001-2008. He also served as pastor at St. Mary Parish in Sigourney from 2006-08 and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Keswick from 2006-07. He has been director of vocations for the Davenport Diocese since 2007 — at first part-time, and then full-time beginning in 2008.

Father Thom Hennen, 32, will become director of vocations.

He is a native of Ottumwa and graduated from St. Ambrose University with bachelor’s degrees in history and philosophy. He completed his theology studies at the North American College in Rome. On July 10, 2004, he was ordained to the priesthood at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport by Bishop William Franklin.

Fr. Hennen assisted throughout the diocese after ordination and then did graduate studies in Rome from 2004-05. After returning to the diocese, he served as parochial vicar at Prince of Peace in Clinton from 2005-10. He has been part-time parochial vicar at St. Mary in Iowa City and part-time campus minister at the Newman Catholic Student Center since 2010.

Father James Vrba, pastor of St. Mary in Solon, will become the dean of the Iowa City Deanery.

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