Bishop connects with teen confirmands

Bishop Thomas Zinkula speaks with confirmation students from Sacred Heart Parish in Newton and Immaculate Conception Parish in Colfax last year in Newton.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Each year, Bishop Thomas Zinkula travels throughout the 22 counties in the Davenport Diocese to administer the sacrament of confirmation to teenage Catholics. The bishop shared his thoughts about this experience in the latest Catholic Messenger Conversations podcast, recorded May 3 at St. Ambrose University’s KALA studios in Davenport.

He told host Barb Arland-Fye that his confirmation schedule is busiest during the Easter season, the “ideal time” to administer the sacrament. He sets aside about a half-hour before Mass to meet and speak with the confirmands, hoping to engage them in lighthearted conversation and put them at ease.

“I ask them to tell me something about themselves that they think I’d find interesting or that they want me to know.” Recently, a group talked about their favorite zoo animals. Another group talked about the well-worn cars they use to get around.


Once the students settle in, Bishop Zinkula shifts the focus to faith. He shares experiences he has had with the Holy Spirit, growing up and finding God in nature and at home with family and witnessing his parents’ active involvement in their parish.

He also explains the significance of the sacrament and what they can expect during the Mass. “Confirmation is a completion of baptism. You become better connected to the Church. You’re fully initiated! That’s a big deal! It’s a strengthening of the Holy Spirit within you” and a call to share in the mission of the Church. 

During the podcast, Bishop Zinkula shared some of the most popular confirmation names that teens have chosen over the past few years. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes, is a frequent choice. So are Cecelia, the patron saint of musicians, and Hubert, the patron saint of hunters and fishermen. Titles for Mary, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, are popular among Hispanics. Sometimes, teens choose a saint because “they like the name.”

It’s not unusual for teens to select Dymphna, the patron saint of mental health. He sees this as indicative of their openness to talk about and address mental health issues. In the podcast, Bishop Zinkula shared why he chose Joseph as his confirmation name.

He observes that some teens are excited about confirmation while others are receiving the sacrament because of their family’s expectation. He encourages all students to open the door just a crack during the Mass and to “give God a chance. Just be open to the Spirit in your life.”

Catholic Messenger Conversations is a monthly podcast that David Baker, KALA’s operations manager and program director, produces and records.

Catholic Messenger Conversations is available at and by searching for Catholic Messenger Conversations on your favorite podcasting app.

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