Diocese looks forward to ‘Rediscovering Sunday’

Ximena Montiel Cordova receives first Communion from Father Guillermo Trevino at St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty on May 9.

By Ryan Burchett
For The Catholic Messenger

Churches around the Diocese of Davenport have experienced a welcome sight this Easter season. More and more parishioners are returning to worship in person at Sunday Masses.

“We are so happy to see the faithful returning to Mass as our comfort level increases in accord with the increase in vaccinations,” said Bishop Thomas Zinkula. “This has been a year of great struggle, but hopefully of great growth and introspection as well.”

As society slowly opens back up, Bishop Zinkula says he is glad to see restrictions easing in our churches. “We hope to gradually keep moving forward. We’re working in concert with the best scientific data. We are hopeful that the day we will be able to worship with no restrictions will be here in the not-too-distant future.”


With that in mind, parishes across the Diocese of Davenport will be emphasizing the importance of our Sunday worship as we work on “Rediscovering Sunday” in our parishes and our culture. Bishop Zinkula has appointed a committee in connection with Vision 2020’s evangelical focus to help Catholics experience the joys of Sunday with the Lord more fully.

“In many ways, we are all rediscovering Sunday as we venture back to Mass,” said committee co-chair Father Thom Hennen. “We know what it is like to be without Mass. As we return, I think we enter into the mystery with a new appreciation. Hopefully that can lead us to really take a look at how we live our lives as a reflection of what we experience during the Mass.”

The committee is working on plans for the diocese to help invite people back to Mass as restrictions are lifted and also to help people and parishes find new ways to make Sundays a day for the Lord.

Keeping the calendar clear on a Sunday continues to be challenging. Sports and social events drive Sundays; it is less about quality time. We hope we can provide opportunities in our parishes to think about how we approach Mass and our time outside of Mass as well.

Rediscovering Sunday will begin with a focus on hospitality across the diocese. “We’re excited to see people coming back organically,” said diocesan Director of Evangelization Patrick Schma­d­eke. “We want to make sure our parishes are a place of hospitality and welcome.”

Aside from offering ideas and help with hospitality in the parishes, the committee will begin collecting data through a diocesan-wide survey to assess where our parishes are after a year of closures and restrictions. “We know that not everything is just going to snap right back into place,” said Father Hennen. “We all have to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves how we can get better at what we do as clergy and laity. The future of our church depends on it.”

The committee will be issuing a short, anonymous survey for parishioners across the diocese to fill out, asking them how they perceive what is going on at their parish and how it might improve. Survey data will be used to guide diocesan and parish leadership constructively in renewing their parishes.

This effort of renewal requires some vulnerability. We must accept with humility that we are looking at a new age of Christianity in America. We have to ask ourselves what we can do to gradually adjust and respond every day as a church to this new reality.

Survey data will be collected for a period of several weeks. The plan is to publish a summary of the diocesan-wide survey results this fall. Individual parish feedback will be provided privately to pastors and parish leadership in the hopes that it can give focus to areas where parishes can grow.

This Rediscovering Sunday effort does not end with the post-COVID-19 return to Mass. “We want to help parishioners develop a new appreciation for the uniqueness of Sunday for Christians,” added Schmadeke. “The day continues after we leave Mass. Let’s explore the ways grace can inform all of our activities — be it work, time with family, experiencing creation or service to others. When we have a more integrated vision of the way grace changes every dimension of our lives, we are better able to connect others to the way we experience the Lord’s Day as spiritually enriching.”

“None of us does church perfectly,” Bishop Zinkula said. “The beauty is that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can always experience Christ more personally and profoundly. Despite the challenges of COVID, there is great opportunity for renewal. I look forward to walking and working together to present Christ to the world in new and fresh ways.”

(Deacon candidate Ryan Burchett of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport co-chairs the Rediscovering Sunday committee.)

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