Persons, places and things: a wedding album


By Barb Arland-Fye

If a bishop’s ordination is like a wedding ceremony, then this special edition of The Catholic Messenger is the wedding album. It is filled with stories, photos and congratulatory ads that our new bishop can cherish for years to come.

Anne Marie Amacher
Bishop R. Walker Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, lays his hands on Bishop Thomas Zinkula June 22.

Bishop Thomas Zinkula loves the church’s nuptial imagery and has applied it to his ministry as a priest for 27 years, as he shared with me during an April 19 interview.

“This is a marriage,” he said, reflecting back on parish ministry. “That’s how I see it, and I’m going to give myself totally to these people. I’m going to lay down my life for them.” He echoed that sentiment in closing remarks at his ordination Mass.


The ordination liturgy reminded the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the Divine Teacher of their liturgy for the profession of final vows. “It was like a marriage,” said Mother Susan Rueve, Superior of the religious community based in Davenport. “That was how we felt when making our vows.” She found herself fighting back tears in the reception line after the liturgy, she told me. “It was neat to be invited,” added Sister Seraphin, OSF. She believes Bishop Zinkula is “down to earth and will be a good bishop.”

“This is a wonderful experience for your new bishop and he will never forget it. That’s what I remember about my ordination,” said Bishop R. Walker Nickless, Bishop of the Sioux City Diocese and a concelebrant at Bishop Zinkula’s ordination Mass on June 22 at St. John Vianney Church in Bettendorf.

The Sioux City bishop said he was struck by the fact that Bishop Zinkula had just turned 60 when he learned he would become a bishop. “I was named Bishop of Sioux City when I was about his age,” added Bishop Nickless, now in his 11th year as Sioux City’s bishop. Bishop Zinkula “is young and full of enthusiasm … he’s so down to earth. That’s the kind of bishop Pope Francis wants — a pastor; bishops need to be pastors more than anything.”

“He’s an excellent communicator. You could see that at the end (of the liturgy) as he spoke,” said Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. “The pope wants (bishops) who are able to communicate the Good News and accompany the people, who have compassion for the people. I think he (Bishop Zinkula) is that kind of man. He’s a son of a farmer; he has a lawyer’s background. He knows the culture. It’s important for bishops to understand that,” the nuncio said.

Anyone who creates a wedding album knows that it requires thoughtful choices about what images and words to capture for posterity, what gives viewers the best sense of the ceremony and its significance. Our staff sought to do just that in this 38-page keepsake edition. We fretted over photos — was this one too grainy, or did that one appropriately capture the emotion or the sacredness of the moment? What about the stories? Did the quotes we chose to use from concelebrants, people in the pews and family members give a better sense of our new bishop and how he will lead us as church?

Perhaps more importantly, this “wedding” album serves as a reminder that we are church, Christ’s bride, embarking on a commitment of love and fidelity that draws us ever closer to our loving God.

(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at

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