Priests help establish scholarship in memory of their friend and mentor


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Father John Hynes was a devoted alumnus of St. Ambrose College in Davenport, a pastor, an advocate for the liberal arts and a well-rounded man. He had a creative mind, chose his words carefully and was very close to his friends, said Father Robert McAleer, who was one of them.

Father McAleer, a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport, started an endowment scholarship at St. Ambrose University in honor of his good friend. To date, $85,000 has been raised with help from the family of the late Father Hynes and from parishioners of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf and St. Ann Parish in Long Grove.

Pastors Msgr. Drake Shafer of St. Ann and Father Jim Vrba of St. John Vianney “were instrumental in endorsing this effort to honor a fellow priest who had served their parishes and had a positive impact throughout the diocese during his lifetime. Father McAleer has championed this initiative from the beginning and SAU thanks him for his leadership. It is a wonderful legacy and beautiful tribute to Father Hynes,” said Sally Crino, the university’s associate vice president for advancement and capital initiatives.


Father Hynes attended Sacred Heart Cathedral School and St. Ambrose Academy in Davenport before entering St. Ambrose College. He completed his theology studies at St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore. On June 4, 1955, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Ralph Hayes. His assignments included St. Mary Parish-Ottumwa, St. Boniface Parish-Clinton, St. Joseph Parish-DeWitt, St. Joseph Parish-Davenport, St. Ann Parish-Long Grove, St. Paul the Apostle Parish-Davenport and Our Lady of the River Parish-LeClaire. In retirement, he assisted at St. John Vianney Parish for 13 years. He died in 2018.

Father Hynes “was such a thinker, a radical and yet not a radical,” Father McAleer said. During the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, Father Hynes obtained documents approved at the Council well ahead of others because of connections in Rome. He read the documents thoroughly and studied Scripture.

When Father Hynes was assigned in the Davenport area, he got involved in ecumenical work. When he transferred to St. Ann in Long Grove, Father Hynes led the parish in designing and building the present church building.

“When St. John Vianney was remodeled, he was my mentor behind the scenes,” said Father McAleer, who previously served as the parish’s pastor. “He celebrated morning Mass (at SJV) and we had coffee and talked each day.”

Both Fathers Hynes and McAleer were two of the founders of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, the largest association of priests inspired by the teaching of Vatican II to support the continuing pursuit of its implementation. “John was extremely accepting of people where they were at,” Father McAleer said.

Crino said students will be considered for the scholarship as part of their application for admission and financial aid. Preference will be given to students who are members of St. John Vianney or St. Ann parishes and those majoring in philosophy, theology, sociology or social work. The scholarship is renewable for students who maintain a 3.0 or higher grade point average.

“One $2,000 scholarship will be awarded for the academic year of 2020-21, thanks to a donor who made a gift so that the scholarship could be awarded now, rather than having to wait one year or more until earnings have accrued,” Crino said. Because it is an endowed fund, this means the principal gifts are held in perpetuity. Only a portion of the earnings is available to award annually. “As the fund grows, there will be an opportunity to award more scholarships.”

If you would like to contribute to the Father Hynes endowment scholarship, send a check to St. Ambrose University Advancement, 518 W. Locust, Davenport, IA 52803, noting Hynes endowed scholarship in the memo line of the check. Or, make a donation online at or contact Crino at or (563) 333-6080.

“He was my mentor,” Father McAleer said. “This is the least I could do for him.”

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