St. Mary-Davenport discussions: Bishop hears from group that attends Latin Mass


By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Bishop Thomas Zinkula met Oct. 29 with the third of three groups representing St. Mary Parish to discuss the parish’s future. Each group shared what the parish means to them, and the bishop listened.

Lindsay Steele
Members of St. Mary Parish in Davenport gather outside the church during the parish’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2017.

Meetings were held at diocesan headquarters Oct. 18 with Spanish-speaking Catholics, Oct. 23 with Anglo parishioners and Oct. 29 with Catholics who attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (also known as the Latin Mass).

Seven representatives of the Latin Mass group attended the Oct. 29 meeting. Father Paul Appel, who previously served as St. Mary’s pastor, also attended. He now serves as pastor of Holy Family and St. Alphonsus parishes in Davenport, St. Peter Parish in Buffalo and as the diocese’s judicial vicar.


Other diocesan leaders present were Dan Ebener, diocesan director of parish planning; Father Tony Herold, diocesan vicar general and pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport; and Deacon David Montgomery, diocesan communications director and chief of staff.

Bishop Zinkula opened the meeting with prayer and summarized the situation including the parish’s history, the diocese’s need for pastoral planning, shifting demographics, fewer priests and the need to think ahead.

“What we want to hear is your vision for us,” one of the Latin Mass representatives said. The bishop referred to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter (2007) on the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. The diocese provides for the extraordinary form to be celebrated in Davenport and in Iowa City because those cities represent the main population areas in the diocese.

“Wherever you decide we go, all we are looking for is stability. We want a home, a place to grow,” one of the Latin Mass representative said. Father Chris Young, the parish’s pastor, has provided that stability and opportunity for growth, the representatives said.

Catholics who attend the Latin Mass tend to have large families, the group said. Average attendance at Mass is around 120 adults and children. Most of the children who attend the Latin Mass at St. Mary’s range in age from infants to sixth-graders and make up the largest percentage of the congregation. The sons in those families are blossoming in their role as altar servers, they noted.

The group discussed possible options for parishes to receive the community. Part of the discussion focused on potential changes, such as location of the tabernacle. They also talked about Mass times and the need for priests who celebrate Mass in Latin, a need that would increase as the community grows.

Bishop Zinkula emphasized that the Latin Mass should not overtake the Ordinary Form of the Mass, which is the standard in the universal Church. He asked the representatives to consider how they view the ordinary form and how they relate to the other two communities represented at St. Mary Parish. The representatives said they respect both forms of the Mass and the Spanish-speaking and Anglo communities at St. Mary’s.

The bishop assured the group that the Latin Mass will continue to be celebrated in the diocese. He reiterated his priority for unity in the diocese. Among the ways to create unity is to embrace the Vision 20/20 initiative, to evangelize and bring the joy of the Gospel to others within and outside the church walls, he said. “It’s a top priority for me.”

He encouraged the group to help build unity in the parish. Fr. Appel said that when the Latin Mass was celebrated at St. Alphonsus it did not create a source of division, but the church building is too small. Whether Mass is celebrated in English, Spanish or Latin, “in my experience, it’s always been a mark of diversity.”

Like the groups that spoke to Bishop Zinkula previously, the Latin Mass group expressed a need to feel welcome and accepted wherever they might relocate. That remains a priority for the bishop, he said. The meeting concluded in prayer.


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