Bishop Zinkula: ‘Be specific in telling people what you want them to do’


By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — All of those who gather around Jesus – laity, priest and deacons — are members of the flock and in need of shepherding, even bishops. That observation came from Bishop Thomas Zinkula during his homily at Mass on the second day of the annual June Institute last week.

Bishop Zinkula

The annual gathering of diocesan priests and deacons included on June 5 parish staff and lay leaders participating in a conference on strategies to revitalize parish life and ministries.

Bishop Zinkula shared with the congregation an Ethiopian legend about a shepherd boy who was forced to spend the night on a bitterly cold mountain. He had only a flimsy piece of clothing to wear. But to the surprise of the villagers, he survived the ordeal and returned home alive and well. When asked how he made it through the night, the boy replied: “The night was bitter. When all the sky was dark, I thought I would die. Then, far off in the distance, I saw a shepherd’s fire on another mountain. I kept my eyes on the red glow and I dreamed of being warm. And that is how I found the strength to survive.”


“There are times when all of us — priests, deacons and laity — are like that shepherd boy. We feel far away from God, lost and alone, cold and afraid, confused, tired and discouraged. We feel a little like Job,” Bishop Zinkula said.

“For priests, maybe we feel this way when staff or parishioners are irrational and unreasonable; for staff and parishioners, perhaps it is when priests are irrational and unreasonable. For everyone, maybe it’s when the bishop is irrational and unreasonable!

“It is at times like these that we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Good Shepherd who loves and cares about us so much that he lays down his life for us. It is at times such as these that it is vitally important that we keep our eyes fixed on the Shepherd’s fire (the Holy Spirit), even though sometimes it may seem to be very far away. If we keep our eyes on Jesus, he will help us survive, keep us warm and get through the difficult situation. And by the light of the Holy Spirit, we will find our way back home.

“Be very specific in telling people what you want them to do. I would like to ask all of us to keep our eyes fixed on the Holy Spirit as we prepare for and enter into the Vision 20/20 initiative. Pray that during this process we may stare steely-eyed at the fire of the Holy Spirit so that we might have the strength not only to survive, but to thrive as the Church of Davenport.”

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