Our new Question Box columnist, Fr. Thom Hennen, is ready for your questions!


By Father Hennen
Question Box

Who are you and why are you the new Question Box guy? Excellent questions! This week the much-loved Question Box returns to The Catholic Messenger and with a new writer: me.

Fr. Hennen

A couple of months ago, after longtime Question Corner columnist Father Kenneth Doyle passed away, a good friend said to me, “You should take over the Question Box in the Messenger.” (That was the name of the column when Father Ed Dunn, a diocesan priest and theologian, wrote it.) I laughed and quickly dismissed the idea, but it was one of those ideas that stuck with me in the days and weeks that followed. I thought about it, prayed about it, and eventually mustered the courage to go and bounce the idea off the Messenger staff. They loved the idea.

Then, I thought about my qualifications. To be sure, there are many more qualified people. While I have an undergraduate degree in history and philosophy from our very own St. Ambrose University in Davenport and graduate degrees in theology from universities in Rome, I do not have a doctorate (though, I am currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree). And while I like to think of myself as reasonably bright, I am by no means in the genius category. I suppose my principal qualifications are that I have always enjoyed doing this kind of thing and have been told I have a good way of explaining things. In all of my various assignments, whether in parish ministry, vocations work, teaching high school or working in college campus ministry, I relished doing Q&A sessions or “Stump the Priest” events. I am not scared of questions.


There are a few important caveats that I should mention. First, while I am not afraid of questions, I am also not afraid to say “I don’t know” (which would, admittedly, make for a very short column). I am, however, willing to find answers and share the fruits of my own knowledge and research to the best of my ability. Secondly, as I used to tell my high school students, I can’t make anyone believe or do anything, but when it comes to the various teachings and practices of our Catholic faith, I promise to do my best to faithfully represent the Church and not (at least intentionally) lead anyone astray. For that matter, I am also not afraid of being corrected. Lastly, my range of expertise is definitely more in the areas of theology, history and Catholic practice, so no questions about the newest pop culture craze or quantum physics please.

Starting immediately, you can submit your questions to messenger@davenportdiocese.org and please put “Question Box” in the subject line of your email. The Messenger staff will sort and vet questions and pass them along to me. I hope to answer one or two questions each week as they come in or as we feel answers may be timely based on what is happening in the world, liturgical seasons of the Church, etc.

I am excited to begin this new adventure to start answering your questions next week!

(Father Thom Hennen serves as the pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport and Vicar General for the Diocese of Davenport.)

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