Persons, places and things: church is family


By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

On summer evenings working in my office on the second floor of the Chancery I’d occasionally hear laughter from down below in the patio of Bishop Martin Amos. The outdoor grill was on and Bishop Amos was enjoying the company of Msgr. John Hyland as they waited for their steaks to be done. They talked about who knows what, just simply enjoying each other’s friendship. Then my phone rang — and I heard Bishop Amos’ voice on the other end. “Barbara, what are you still doing at the office? Steve (my husband) is waiting for you at home to make dinner!”


The phone calls made me laugh. I don’t cook and I had been “caught” staying late at the office. Sometimes I miss those occasional phone calls because they added a boost of humor to my day. Now retired, Bishop Amos spends most of his time in his home state of Ohio, so that summertime ritual has become a pleasant memory.

Last week, Bishop Amos returned to Davenport for the Red Dinner, the annual event that celebrates the cathedral as the mother church of the diocese. Cardinal Timothy Dolan presided at the Mass. Bishop Amos and his successor, Bishop Thomas Zinkula, and Bishop Richard Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines concelebrated.


Weather played havoc the day of the Red Dinner with intermittent freezing rain, sleet and ferocious winds. Looking to carpool with someone to the cathedral, I received an offer to ride with Msgr. Hyland and Bishop Amos. They planned to pray Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours before heading to the cathedral and invited me to join them. I love praying the Liturgy of the Hours and do so daily, morning and evening.

Six years ago, I had the privilege of praying Morning Prayer daily with Bishop Amos during our visit to France. We were there to present the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award to Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, an international federation of people with and without disabilities who share life together. The bishop and I prayed Morning Prayer in a L’Arche garden. What a wonderful way to start the day!
Praying Evening Prayer with Bishop Amos and Msgr. Hyland last week centered me. I invited God into my space for the rest of the night. The rituals, the music, the Eucharist, the people gathered together at the Votive Mass for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus heightened my love of the Catholic Church.

In a brief interview with Cardinal Dolan after Mass, I asked how he deals with the adversity impacting our church. He reminded me that challenges and problems have been around since the Agony in the Garden. St. Paul tells us in Second Corinthians that “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” “What family doesn’t have problems?” the cardinal asked rhetorically.

I needed that reminder that as a church, we are family during and outside of Mass. I felt like part of the family when Bishop Amos teased me about working too late and when he and Msgr. Hyland invited me to pray Evening Prayer with them. Yes, families have problems, but at their essence they love and care for one another. And that’s something I choose to remember above all else.

(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at

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