Year of Mercy, Year of Consecrated Life part of 2015 events in diocese


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

As calendar year 2015 came to an end, the Catholic Church began not only its liturgical year with Advent but Pope Francis inaugurated the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In the Diocese of Davenport, Bishop Martin Amos opened the Year of Mercy with Masses for the Newton Deanery Dec. 7 and Davenport Deanery Dec. 8. The Iowa City Deanery held a penance service followed by the sacrament of reconciliation for 24 hours Dec. 14-15.

Anne Marie Amacher Bishop Martin Amos, center, opens the Year of Mercy during Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport Dec. 13. Holding the Book of the Gospels is Deacon Dan Huber.
Anne Marie Amacher
Bishop Martin Amos, center, opens the Year of Mercy during Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport Dec. 13. Holding the Book of the Gospels is Deacon Dan Huber.

Throughout the Year of Mercy, which continues until Nov. 20, Catholics are encouraged to make a pilgrimage through the holy doors at one of the nine designated parishes. Churches in each deanery and parishes where Blessed Father Samuel Mazzu­chelli built churches have been selected as pilgrimage sites in which indulgences can be received. Year of Mercy events will be held throughout the year.

The Catholic Messenger encourages Catholics to print out a “Flat Amos” and take him on pilgrimages. While on pilgrimage, pilgrims may take a photo with Flat Amos and submit it to The Catholic Messenger. Visit our website at to download Flat Amos and learn a number of ways to submit photos.


As 2016 begins, the Year of Consecrated Life, which concludes Feb. 2, enters its final full month. The Catholic Messenger published profiles of religious sisters throughout the year, along with one of a religious order priest, Father Michael Volkmer, C.PPS.

Prior to Pope Francis’ visit to the United States for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, The Catholic Messenger began a series on Marriage and Family. After the pope’s U.S. visit, Catholics from throughout the Davenport Diocese shared their thoughts on seeing or hearing the pope in Wash­ington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia.

Priest deaths

• Father Raymond Ruppenkamp, 88, died Feb. 23.
• Father Maynard Brothersen, 91, died Oct. 3.
• Father Richard Bevenour died in November.
• Father Thomas Mohr, 84, died Dec. 3.

Sports complex

Assumption High School in Davenport picked up the ball on a sports complex project that former mayor Bill Gluba vetoed for St. Ambrose University in Davenport. In March, the high school purchased the St. Vincent property from the university. The land does not include St. Vincent Center where the Diocese of Davenport and Catholic Messenger offices are located.

The city council and mayor, by law, could not block the high school from building a complex. However, plans and permits for the project do require city approval and phase one plans were successfully submitted by July. Work began on two multipurpose fields, a softball field and parking lot on the north and east side of the property. (See related story on Page 3 for an update.)

The diocese’s “mother church”

In an effort to educate people of the diocese about their “mother church,” Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, The Catholic Messenger published a short series that concluded in January. Bishop Martin Amos established Cathedral Sunday for an annual collection on behalf of the cathedral. It is held the second weekend of February in parishes throughout the diocese. A $5.5 million capital campaign also is underway to raise money for construction of a gathering space, classrooms, offices, dining hall and restrooms.


• St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City paid off its $14 million mortgage. The present church building was dedicated in 2009 and replaced the church building struck by a tornado on Holy Thursday 2006.
• Sacred Heart Parish in Lost Nation and St. James Parish in Toronto merged to form Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in August.
• Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton celebrated the 25th anniversary of its merger.
• St. Mary Parish in Grinnell announced plans for a new parish center.
St. Ambrose University
• The university sold the St. Vincent Center property to As­sumption High School.
• Father Conn O’Maol­d­hom­hnaigh, vice president of Carlow College in Carlow, Ireland, completed a presidential fellowship at St. Ambrose. He became president of Carlow College in September.
• Davis Hall was rededicated.
• A new Welcome Center at the corner of Harrison and Locust streets was dedicated. Pro­spec­tive students will now visit this center when interested in the university.
• Due to the generosity of the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the university’s wing that houses its Master of Physician Assistant Program (MPAS) was dedicated in his family’s honor.
• Msgr. John Hyland and Jim and Karen Collins received the McMullen Awards.


• Father Ed Fitzpatrick and Father Ed O’Melia retired from active ministry. Msgr. John Hyland retired from active ministry, but remains as vicar general for the diocese. Father William Kneemiller headed overseas to the Middle East as a chaplain in the Army Reserves before returning later in the year. Several priests received new assignments in 2015.
• Father William Roush and Father Guillermo Trevino were ordained to the priesthood and Deacon Ross Epping was ordained a deacon in his journey to the priesthood.
• Father Francis Odoom, a native of Ghana, Africa, was appointed administrator of parishes in Lost Nation and Grand Mound. He is also a student at St. Ambrose University.
• Father Steve Witt, administrator at St. Mary Parish in Iowa City and chaplain at the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City, served as an observer at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s annual meeting in November.


• Sister Kathleen Flynn took her first profession as a Sinsinawa Dominican in Sinsinawa, Wis.
• Sister Emily Brabham became a novice with the Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton.
• Sister Seraphin (Katrina Beck) professed first vows with the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the Divine Teacher in Davenport.
• Don Boucher was named director of the Office of Faith Formation for the diocese. He continues to serve as coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
• Mary Wieser retired as diocesan director of faith formation. She previously served as superintendent of Catholic schools.
• John Valenti was hired as diocesan coordinator of Lifelong Faith and Lay Ministry Formation.
• The diocese’s deacon candidates were installed in the Ministry of Lector.
• In the Ministry Formation Program (MFP), 17 people completed the Basic Hispanic track and four people completed the English track.
• Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh was named Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award winner. He was unable to accept the award in person due to illness. Bishop Amos presented the award to a designee at a monastery in California.


• The diocese eliminated annulment fees Feb. 2.
• Bishop Amos presented the first diocesan-wide Scouting Mass during Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
• Ground was broken for the Pope Francis Habitat for Humanity House in Davenport. The house is expected to be dedicated early this year.
• The first Blue Mass for first responders and dispatchers was celebrated at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport.
• The annual White Mass for medical professionals was celebrated at St. Ambrose University.
• Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School in Muscatine will add sixth grade in fall 2016.
• A Hispanic conference drew 1,500 people from throughout Iowa and the Midwest to Ottumwa.
• The Women’s Choice Center launched a $1.2 million capital campaign to purchase a mobile medical unit and to cover wages and expenses to operate it for five years. Money will also go toward an endowment for the center.
• Around 840 youths and adults from the diocese attended the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis.
• Enrollment at Catholic schools in the diocese continued its upward trend.

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