Theology on Tap brews up a fun conversation with Bishop Zinkula

Bishop Thomas Zinkula talks to Catholics during a Theology on Tap session on Facebook Live April 16.


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Bishop Thomas Zinkula was put in the hot seat April 16 during a Facebook Live presentation of Theology on Tap.

The young adult gathering typically meets in person at a bar each month. Young adult ministers from the Bettendorf, Davenport and Muscatine parishes organize the now-weekly Theology on Tap sessions online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Once the quarantine went into effect, we decided to try it out online and to our surprise it was easier than we thought and quite successful. From there we made the decision to try them out weekly,” said Tommy Fallon, young adult minister at Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine.


He and Luke Ebener, the young adult minister at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, hosted from their homes for the session with Bishop Zinkula, who responded to questions at his  office in the St. Vincent Center. Viewers chimed in with the chat feature, typing comments or questions.

To begin, the youth ministers set a timer for three minutes and peppered the bishop with questions about his favorite things. Favorite flavor of Whitey’s ice cream? Graham central station with some chocolate and peanut butter added to it, the bishop said. Beach or mountain? Mountain. Cats or dogs? The youth ministers warned the bishop his answer might stir controversy. Dogs, he responded. Which breed of dog would you be? A yellow lab. Favorite saint? Thomas More. Cookies or brownies? Cookies. First car? A blue Camaro. Which is more annoying — tie dye shirt or Hawaiian shirt? Hawaiian. Favorite youth minister in the diocese? Pass. Do you regret being here? No.

Following the hot seat session, Bishop Zinkula talked about growing up on a farm near Mount Vernon, Iowa, his education at  Cornell College in Mount Vernon, law school at the University of Iowa, his law career and discerning a vocation to the priesthood. He also talked about his  assignments as a priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque where he served before becoming Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport in 2017.

The bishop touched on the Vision 20/20 initiative for the diocese, which calls for a revitalization of faith and renewal of grace in the spirit of Pentecost. “This is my top priority, to share the Good News,” he said. While Vision 20/20 has been slow going, “it gives me motivation.”

He also talked about the need for the church to adapt during this time of the coronavirus. “It’s a tough time right now, but we still have the Gospel message.” Ebener asked Bishop Zinkula how he keeps motivated during this time.

One way is celebrating Mass daily with three seminarians and a priest of the diocese whose studies outside of the diocese were interrupted by the coronavirus. They are living temporarily at the Chancery and continuing their studies. The bishop prefers celebrating Mass with others rather than alone. He also is taking walks and riding his bike when he can.

During the Q&A, Fallon shared questions from the comment feed. He merged several questions related to curiosity about the bishop’s family. One of nine children, Bishop Zinkula joked about the ordeal of having to share one bathroom, especially with two older sisters and one younger sister in close age range. “It was hell getting ready in the morning!” But he said all his sisters were wonderful. His sister Donna, attending Theology on Tap online, tried to get the bishop to identify her as his favorite.

At the audience’s request, he shared a memory of one of the craziest things he did growing up. One time he drove a Honda 90 bike to the top of the hill on the farm, cranked up the bike’s engine and headed downhill as his brothers threw apples at him. “There are so many stories. We are lucky we survived,” he laughed.

A listener wanted to know about the bishop’s travels. He is “curious about everything” so he has been around the world to experience different cultures. He has traveled to the Czech Republic (formerly Bohemia, where his family traces its roots), the Holy Land, Europe, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, India, Ghana and Latin America.

His hobbies include hiking, bicycling, cross country skiing, canoeing, reading and hanging out with family and friends, he said in response to another question. He ended the Q&A with a prayer and a blessing for those in attendance.

Theology on Tap Facebook Live has also hosted talks with Father Nicholas Akindele on prayer, fasting and almsgiving; John Donahue Grossman; a campus ministry clash with Father Thom Hennen and Father Jeff Belger; an interview with Doug Tooke on reflections of St. Thomas; and Mike Patin, a Vision 20/20 speaker on “Whine and Geez.”

Theology on Tap airs Thursdays at 7 p.m. at stpauldisciples/ and will be shared by other parish young adult ministers.

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