Davenport to host ordination of its own bishop for first time in a century


By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

No one alive today remembers the Diocese of Davenport hosting the ordination of its own bishop. That’s because it’s been more than 100 years since that last occurred.

Lindsay Steele
The miter of Bishop-elect Thomas Zinkula, shown from the back to display the detailing on the lappets, sits on the cathedra at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.

“It’s been a bishop from somewhere else,” said Deacon Frank Agnoli, diocesan director of liturgy. “That’s what everyone remembers.”

That will change June 22, when Msgr. Thomas Zinkula is ordained and installed as the Ninth Bishop of Davenport at St. John Vianney Church in Bettendorf. While attendance at the Mass is by invitation only, the public will be able to watch the ordination and installation live on the Diocese of Davenport’s YouTube channel.


The last bishop ordained for the Diocese of Davenport on home soil was James Davis in 1904. A priest of the diocese, he served as coadjutor bishop and succeeded Bishop Henry Cosgrove upon his death in 1906. At the time, it was customary for bishops to be ordained in their diocese of origin and then installed in the Diocese of Davenport shortly after. Subsequent bishops were either from other dioceses or were already ordained at the time of appointment to the Davenport Diocese.

Ordinations of bishops did occur in the Diocese of Davenport after 1904, with Davenport-natives Bishop William Adrian in 1936 and Bishop Maurice Dingman in 1968. However, they were ordained to serve in Nashville and Des Moines, respectively.

The tradition of ordaining a bishop in his diocese of origin —at least for the Diocese of Davenport — changed sometime between 1968 and 1983, according to Father George McDaniel, a historian and professor emeritus of St. Ambrose University. That opened the door for a priest of another diocese to be ordained in the Diocese of Davenport. However, the bishops installed after that time — Bishop Gerald O’Keefe, Bishop William Franklin and Bishop Martin Amos, were already ordained and serving in auxiliary bishop positions at the time of appointment.

While a Mass in which a bishop is ordained and installed may be foreign to most people in the Diocese of Davenport, Deacon Agnoli said the celebration of the Rite of Ordination of a Bishop will have a familiar feel. Structurally, it is similar to the ordination of a priest.

During the Mass, Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels will serve as the consecrating bishop. His predecessor, Archbishop Emeritus Jerome Hanus, OSB, and Bishop Amos will serve as principal co-consecrating bishops.

After the Gospel, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, will read the mandate by which Thomas Robert Zinkula is named the Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport. The College of Consultors then verifies the information.

Following Archbishop Jackels’ homily, Bishop-elect Zinkula will make his promises to uphold the faith and to discharge the duties of a bishop with constancy and fidelity. Then, all bishops present will lay hands on the bishop-elect as the “Veni Sancte Spiritus” is sung.
Afterwards, the Book of the Gospels is placed over the head of the ordinand and the Prayer of Ordination is said.
The bishop-elect’s head will be anointed with sacred chrism and he will be presented with the Book of the Gospels. Deacon Agnoli said this combination is unique to a bishop’s ordination, as deacons receive the Book of the Gospels during ordination, and priests receive anointing of the hands; neither receives both.

The newly ordained Bishop Zinkula will be invested with the Episcopal ring, the miter and the crosier – signs of the Office and Ministry of Bishop. Archbishop Jackels will lead Bishop Zinkula to the cathedra, the bishop’s chair, which is a sign of his teaching office and pastoral ministry in the local church. Being seated in the cathedra is a sign of his being installed as the Bishop of Davenport.

Fr. McDaniel said the installation itself is simple and subtle. “I think it’s a wonderful symbol of taking possession.”

While all ordinations are special, Deacon Agnoli said he looks forward to the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport experiencing the ordination and installation of their new bishop for the first time in generations. “It’s a profound experience in the life of a diocese.”


While the Ordination and Installation of Msgr. Thomas Zinkula is by invitation only, the public is invited to view the Mass live on YouTube or watch the video at a later time. The link is www.youtube.com/user/dioceseofdavenport/live.

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