Mass and potluck with Archbishop-elect Zinkula Celebrating faith and ‘family’ with Iowa City Catholic Worker community

Barb Arland-Fye
Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula distributes Communion to one of the people who attended an outdoor Mass Aug. 18 at an Iowa City Catholic Worker House.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

IOWA CITY — From the front porch of an Iowa City Catholic Worker house of hospitality, Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula presided at Mass for a multicultural gathering that filled the front lawn and sidewalk on a pleasant summer evening. The rhythmic “rat-tat-tat” of construction work, a few doors away, provided unexpected accompaniment to the prayers, music and Scripture of the Aug. 18 Mass.

Marina Torres de Tirado of McAllen, Texas was among the attendees. A couple of hours before Mass, Archbishop-elect Zinkula visited her son, Miguel Tirado Torres, also of McAllen, at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was recovering from surgery. The 26-year-old father of two lost both legs above the knees as the result of a June 30 accident at an Iowa grain elevator. His mother traveled from Texas after the accident to be with her son.

A devout Catholic, she said she felt blessed by the archbishop-elect’s visit to her son’s hospital room. “She was really grateful he took time out of his busy schedule to see her son,” said Deacon Angel Hernandez, who interpreted for Torres de Tirado after Mass.


Gratitude is one of the elements essential to “how we should look at life,” Archbishop-elect Zinkula said in his homily during Mass. The first reading for the Aug. 18 liturgy (Joshua 24:1-13) provided the impetus for the homily in which the archbishop-elect identified the “Big G” (God) and the “little gs” (gift, gratitude, growth and generosity).

In fact, the “big G” is the foundation for all of the “little gs,” beginning with the first one: “Everything is a gift from God — our family, our faith, a place to live, food, the opportunity for education, healthcare, jobs. It’s really important to recognize that everything is a gift.”

The next “little g” is gratitude: “to be grateful, to be thankful, to say, ‘Thank you, God!’ The Eucharist is a prayer of thanksgiving.” Growth, the next “little g,” acknowledges “the gift of our talents, blessings and skills and our call to grow those gifts, to get educated, go through a training program or whatever we need so that we can use those gifts to the best of our abilities,” Archbishop-elect Zinkula said.

The fourth “little g” stands for generosity. “Share those gifts, give them away to others.” He cited as an example Iowa City Catholic Worker co-founder and trustee Emily Sinnwell, who also is a dual-certified nurse practitioner and an assistant professor (clinical) at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She has been named to the Corridor Business Journal’s 2023 “Forty Under 40 list.”

“She has compassion for people; she has deep faith, intelligence. She has the innate natural gift for teaching and for nursing and for language. She’s grown those gifts and she’s grateful. The reason people want to be around her and others who, in a spirit of gratitude, share the gifts they have received from God is because they exude joy,” Archbishop-elect Zinkula said. Sinnwell has “worked on developing those gifts and shares them so lovingly and readily. We’ve all benefited from her sharing her gifts in such a wonderful way,” he continued. “All of you, too — volunteers who work in some capacity with the Catholic Worker. You have and continue to share your time, talent and treasure — whatever that might look like for you. That’s the way to live our lives, to see all as gift.”

Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula visits with Miguel Tirado Torres at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City Aug. 18.

Miguel Tirado Torres, the injured worker from McAllen, Texas is thanking God for the gift of life, working through his recovery with an attitude that inspired Archbishop-elect Zinkula. Iowa City Catholic worker volunteer and advisory board member Jane Noble Davis had asked him a couple of weeks in advance of the Catholic Worker Mass if he could visit Tirado Torres. Noble Davis accompanied the archbishop-elect to the hospital and participated in the prayer service along with Tirado Torres, his significant other, his mother and one of his sisters.

“He was smiling. He’s hopeful. He doesn’t dwell on his injury. He said he told his two young daughters that he’ll have robot legs,” the archbishop-elect added, with a smile. “We talked about all kinds of stuff. We even talked about RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa).” Noble Davis thanked Archbishop-elect Zinkula. “You’re a rock star. I’m sure the family appreciated it.”

“In a similar spirit to that of Pope Francis, Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula paved his own way as Bishop of Davenport,” said David Goodner, who co-founded the Iowa City Catholic Worker with Sinnwell. The archbishop-elect did so by “accompanying refugees to ICE check-ins, attending meetings with immigrant workers and celebrating Mass in prisons, on RAGBRAI and at the Catholic Worker House. His support has meant the world to us and we congratulate him and pray for him as he transitions into his new role in Dubuque.”

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