Looking back on 2021 in the Diocese of Davenport

Barb Arland-Fye
Bishop Thomas Zinkula celebrates Mass in El Paso, Texas, during a border immersion experience.

By Lindsay Steele and
Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Bishop Thomas Zinkula ordained Deacon Andrew Rauenbuehler to the priesthood June 5 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. The following weekend, he ordained seminarians Dale Mallory and Ben Snyder to the diaconate. God-willing, they will be ordained to the priesthood in 2022. Both liturgies were closed to the public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but could be viewed via livestream.

Delta extends pandemic
With the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, rates of illness and death began to drop dramatically during the first half of the year, leading the Davenport Diocese to relax some of its pandemic protocols. However, the emergence of the highly-contagious Delta variant led to a resurgence in mid-to-late summer. Bishop Zinkula urged the faithful to resume mask wearing indoors, regardless of vaccination status. He also encouraged the faithful to get vaccinated, especially to combat an uptick in children infected with COVID-19, many of whom were not old enough to receive a vaccine during the rise of the Delta variant. A state mandate prevented public schools and accredited non-public schools, including diocesan Catholic schools, from enforcing mask requirements for students or teachers during the surge in cases.

The bishop in late August issued a letter to priests and deacons urging them not to write or sign a “religious exemption” from employer-mandated vaccination. “Our Holy Father Pope Francis, the Vatican (Congre­gation for the Doctrine of the Faith), and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as numerous reputable Catholic organizations and moral theologians, have written and spoken consistently about the moral permissibility of any of the available vaccines,” he wrote.


Diocese forms Office of Evangelization
A desire to take evangelization to the next level led the Diocese of Davenport to choose Patrick Schmadeke as its first Director of Evangelization. “If we are going to be effective evangelizers, we need to be well-grounded disciples who know our faith and can talk comfortably about it with others,” Bishop Zinkula said in March. “There has been a growing awareness that if we want to take this process to the next level we need a fulltime leader. Otherwise, we will just limp along.” Schmadeke, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Master of Divinity graduate program, began work April 1.

Border Immersion Ex­perience
Five deacon candidates, their formation director and Bishop Zinkula participated in a border immersion experience Nov. 3-6 in El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to learn more about the situation on the border. The group participated in the Encuentro Project, a program that provides participants with new perspectives about forced migration and asylum seeking by vulnerable people. The program motivates participants to engage in peace, effective action for greater justice, and compassion for migrants and refugee persons as presented in Catholic Social Teaching. Bishop Zinkula concelebrated Mass with bishops who serve dioceses along the border.

National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) offered a hybrid event — in-person and virtual — Nov. 18-20. The Highlander Hotel in Iowa City was a site

Barb Arland-Fye
Youths offer a blessing for speaker Thad Collins during the virtual National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC 2.0) held Nov. 18-20 at The Highlander Hotel in Iowa City. Organizers synchronized the virtual event with the in-person event held in Indianapolis. Read about the in-person event in an upcoming issue.

for a virtual NCYC 2.0 in the Davenport Diocese. More than 200 youths and adults participated from six parishes. At the same time, about 400 youths, adults and diocesan team members participated in Indianapolis as part of the Diocese of Davenport’s official in-person contingent. Two additional parishes sent their own groups to Indianapolis. Holding an event as large as NCYC in the midst of a pandemic was challenging but the experience was “high quality, very well organized and touched people’s hearts,” said Don Boucher, director of faith formation and coordinator of youth and young adult ministry.

New faces in education
St. Ambrose University announced in February a successor for longtime, retiring president Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ. Amy Novak, president for the past eight years of Dakota Wesleyan University, assumed her role as the 14th president of St. Ambrose University in August. Sister Lescinski said of Novak, “She brings an innovative mind, a compassionate heart, and an innate understanding of this university’s character, capacity, and potential.”

Lee Morrison, diocesan superintendent of schools, also retired in the summer of 2021. His successor, Lynne Devaney, is a cradle Catholic and native of Cascade, Iowa. “She brings to this position considerable teaching and administrative experience in both Catholic and public schools,” Bishop Zinkula said. “She will hit the ground running. She has pretty much seen it all by now. Not only does Lynne have a diverse educational background, she also would like to make Catholic schools as accessible as possible to a diversity of families.”

Rediscovering Sunday survey
Bishop Zinkula invited parishioners in the Diocese of Davenport to offer feedback this past summer about their parish experience via an online survey. The “Rediscovering Sunday” committee designed the anonymous survey to get broad feedback on what people appreciate most about their parishes and where they would like to see focus for growth. Results are available on the diocesan website at https://www.davenportdiocese.org/sunday. Individual parish responses were sent to parishes.

Diocesan Capital campaign
Encouraged by strong support expressed in interviews and surveys, the Diocese of Davenport will move forward with a capital campaign to raise $28 million for projects that could include vocations and seminarian formation, priest retirement/medical needs and individual parish needs. The Steier Group, the consulting firm that conducted a feasibility study for the diocese. The campaign’s Priests Committee, led by Fathers George McDaniel and Ross Epping, will recommend the final goals and their amounts to Bishop Zinkula, who will make the final determination. The first of three waves of the two-year campaign likely will take place in the first half of 2022, with the final parish campaigns occurring in 2023.

Pope Francis called all dioceses in the world to participate in Synod 2021-2023 to walk with one another and the Holy Spirit to read “the signs of the times” and discern how the Church is being called to respond. Bishop Zinkula opened the diocesan synod during Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport on Oct. 17. “Synod” is a Greek word that means, basically, “walk with,” or “journey together.” Throughout history, “synod” has referred to gatherings of the Church to “walk with” one another and with the Holy Spirit, to read “the signs of the times” and discern in a spirit of prayer how the Church is being called to respond. Listening sessions throughout the diocese take place this winter and spring.

Merger, retirements, new PLC
Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond, St. Mary Parish in Riverside and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman informed Bishop Zinkula in March of their desire to merge. The three parishes already shared staff, services and faith formation programs. The parishes officially merged to form Holy Family Parish on July 1.

Father Michael Spiekermeier, Father David Steinle and Father James Vrba retired from active ministry effective July 1.

Deacon Dan Freeman was assigned to serve as the parish life coordinator and deacon for St. Mary Parish, Wilton. He joined Deacon Terry Starns and Trevor Pullinger as diocesan PLCs.

The diocese welcomed Father Anh Le Khoa from Vietnam who is serving as parochial vicar at Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine.

Multicultural Ministry
The diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministry focused on virtual outreach this year by hosting a monthly series of reflections for the Year of St. Joseph on Zoom. The series included talks from clergy, faith-formers, professors and other well-known individuals in the Spanish-speaking community.

Seminarians, deacon candidates reach milestones
Diocesan seminarian Dane Dickinson was installed as an acolyte March 3 at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein,

Barb Arland-Fye
Angel Hernandez of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City receives a chalice with
wine to be consecrated from Bishop Thomas Zinkula. Hernandez and six
other men took another step toward becoming deacons for the Diocese of
Davenport on July 11 at St. Mary Parish in Dodgeville.

Illinois. Cardinal Blase Cupich, chancellor of Mundelein Seminary and archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, celebrated the Mass.
On July 11, Bishop Zinkula instituted seven deacon candidates as acolytes at St. Mary Catholic Church in Dodgeville, an important stage of their journey toward ordination to the diaconate, God willing. Ryan Burchett, Kent Ferris, Andrew Hardigan, Angel Hernandez, Gary Johnson, Michael Linnen­brink and Andrew Reif began this journey five years ago as inquirers.

In memory
These clergy and women religious with ties to the Davenport Diocese died in 2021: Father Joseph Miller, C.PP.S.; Father Vitolds Valainis; Father David Hitch; Deacon Thomas Sink; Deacon Donald Frericks; Sister Ludmilla Benda, RSM; Sister Kathleen Cleary, OSF; Sister Ramona Kaalberg, CHM; Sister Micheline Curtis, CHM; Sister Barbara Kopel, CHM; Sister Luz Marie Orozco, CHM; Sister Mary Ann Aman, CHM; Sister Rosalie Noder, OSF; Sister Catherine Patricia Ann Maloney, OSB; Sister Angela Donovan, OP; Sister Kathleen Hanley, CHM; Sister Ruth Ellen Doane, SP; Sister Terese Greiner, SSSF.

Facility updates
Assumption High School in Davenport played its first football game on its own turf on Sept. 2 at the newly constructed Jack and Pat Bush Stadium. Since 1958, the school had played football games off site.

St. Ambrose University broke ground Oct. 7 for renovations of LeClaire Hall, now known as Higgins Hall for Innovation and Human-Centered Design. The renovated building becomes home to the Institute for Person-Centered Care and the academic programs of social work (bachelor and master), and master’s in public health. The university also dedicated the expanded and remodeled McMullen Hall on April 8. It serves as home to the College of Business.

Messenger awards
The Catholic Messenger received four national awards in the 2021 Catholic Press Awards competition. Results were announced June 10 during the Catholic Media Conference, which took place virtually this year. Barb Arland-Fye earned first place in the Best Coverage of Local Politics category for a series on the restoration of voting rights in Iowa. Arland-Fye and Lindsay Steele received second place in the Best Coverage-Immigration category. Arland-Fye also received second place for Best Regular Column — Family Life. In the Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues — Life and Dignity of the Human Person category, Arland-Fye received third place for her article “Blessed are the Family Caregivers.”

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