Bishop reflects on first year


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(Editor’s note: Bishop Thomas Zinkula was ordained and installed as the Ninth Bishop of Davenport on June 22, 2017, at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Bettendorf. In the following Q&A, he shares his thoughts on his first year as a bishop.)

Q. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your first year as a bishop?

A. I’ve discovered that the grace of the sacrament of holy orders and the prayers of the people, especially at Mass during the Eucharistic Prayer when the assembly prays for their bishop, are tangible and fruitful. They are holding me up in this challenging role. I’ve discovered that the Holy Spirit is present and alive in the Diocese of Davenport.

Barb Arland-Fye
Bishop Thomas Zinkula poses for a picture with Fatima Cabrera and Hugo Chavez during the diocesan Encuentro in March at St. Vincent Center in Davenport.

Q. What is the greatest challenge you have experienced as Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport?

A. Juggling everything. This has been a very busy first year for three reasons. First, much of what I have been doing is new to me so it takes a little extra time to figure things out. Second, there have been numerous “inaugural events” in which people and groups want to meet with me and bring me up to speed on their ministry, and perhaps celebrate Mass together, visit their facility or give a talk. Third, I am intentionally doing more than I need to do in order to get to know the people and the diocese. I know I need to slow down a bit and find a better rhythm if I am going to “last” for 15 years.

Q. What is the most amazing experience?

A. Ordaining transitional deacons shortly after I was ordained a bishop. Celebrating the Chrism Mass this year as the presiding bishop.

Bishop Thomas Zinkula greets a man after Mass at St. Mary Parish in Davenport in August during the parish’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Q.  What is the funniest experience?

A. Looking in the bathroom mirror when I get up in the morning. Looking in a sacristy mirror while wearing the miter (tall, pointy hat).

Q. How do you deal with the “celebrity” status people place on you?

A. It makes me a little uncomfortable. But I know it isn’t about me. I’m the same person I was prior to being ordained a bishop, other than now having the fullness of the sacrament of holy orders. It is about people’s respect for the role of bishops in the church as successors of the apostles. That — respect for the role — is a good thing.

Q. How has your prayer life been impacted by your new role as bishop of a diocese?

A. I had many assignments as a priest and it always took me a while to find a new prayer rhythm when I began a new assignment because of the new routine. My personal prayer life is still in transition and it definitely could be better. My spiritual director is helping me with this.

Anne Marie Amacher
Bishop Thomas Zinkula lays hands on deacon-elect Mike Snyder during deacon ordination at St. John Vianney Church in Bettendorf in July.

Q. What are your hopes for the Diocese of Davenport?

A. I hope that Vision 20/20 will be life-giving, faith-renewing and impactful. It is vital that we all embrace more fully the joy of the Gospel, that we all seek to grow more deeply as disciples of Jesus Christ, and that we all lovingly invite others to join us on the journey. I hope that our participation in the liturgy may become more full, conscious and active. I pray that at Mass we all work more fervently on hospitality, music and preaching. I hope that we all pray more ardently that those who are being called to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life will hear the call and respond to it affirmatively and graciously. I hope that we all invite promising candidates to consider the priesthood, diaconate and religious life.

Q. Is there anybody you’d like to trade places with?

A. The priests of the diocese. Sometimes people ask me what I like most about being a bishop, and I tell them it is doing what priests do. That was my calling from the very beginning – to be a parish priest. So I enjoy very much spending weekends in parishes, confirming young people, celebrating school Masses, visiting clergy and others who are in a hospital or care center, and hearing confessions at communal reconciliation services, especially first confessions of second-graders.

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1 thought on “Bishop reflects on first year

  1. A year already – hear nothing but good things about you – but I didn’t expect to, You are an inspiration to everyone who knows you – I am so blessed to have had you in my life- God bless you and I am keeping you in my prayers every day.

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