Diocese welcomes resiliency in 2023

Barb Arland-Fye
Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula sprinkles holy water as he blesses Catholics during his vespers service prior to installation as the Archbishop of Dubuque last October at St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

From Bishop to Archbishop

Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula teared up during a news conference July 26 announcing his appointment as 11th archbishop of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, where he began his priesthood 33 years ago. “I have been praying that I will be the kind of bishop the archdiocese needs and wants: a priest of deep and true prayer, a teacher of loving heart and firm resolve, and a shepherd of joy and peace who desires above all to do God’s will.” Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, installed Archbishop Zinkula during a liturgy Oct. 18 at Church of the Nativity in Dubuque.

Waiting for a new bishop

Fr. Kuntz

As the Diocese of Davenport waits for Pope Francis to appoint a new bishop, no new policies, procedures, projects or initiatives can begin. New building projects and mergers of parishes must await consideration by the next bishop. Projects already underway do continue. Only a bishop may ordain priests and deacons. However, a bishop from another diocese could ordain seminarians preparing for ordination this summer. Mean­while, a diocesan administrator is overseeing the diocese’s administration. The diocesan Coll­ege of Con­sultors elected retired diocesan priest Father Ken Kuntz to serve in that capacity.


Fathers Isaac Doucette and Duoc (Dominic) Nguyen were ordained to the priesthood and Deacon Dane Dickinson to the diaconate June 3 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport by then-Bishop Thomas Zinkula.

Synodal Summit

The Diocese of Davenport began a three-year journey to “reflect together on how the Holy Spirit is calling us to be better missionary disciples in our living, celebrating, teaching and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ,” then-Bishop Zinkula said in his January 2023 Epiphany letter.

Parish councils and school boards had prioritized three themes among 11 that emerged from more than 470 Synod listening sessions across the diocese: welcoming and belonging, youth and family engagement, and Church teaching and tradition. Each theme, one per year, will be the focus of efforts in parishes, schools and other diocesan entities.

The welcoming and belonging theme launched in conjunction with the diocesan Synodal Summit June 17 at St. Ambrose Uni­versity in Davenport. Parish, school and diocesan representatives from across the diocese listened to speakers and participated in discussions about how to make their communities more welcoming.

Gender document released

The Davenport Diocese released a document, “Guidelines for Pastoral Accompaniment of Sexual and Gender Minorities” on Oct. 4 in response to sexual and gender identity issues that were beginning to arise in schools and parishes. Then-Bishop Zinkula formed a committee in January 2021 in hopes of creating such a document. Committee members identified, read and discussed theological, medical and human resource articles; attended on-line webinars; and reviewed statements and policies promulgated by other dioceses, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Vatican. “All along, we have been seeking to find a balance in addressing the real pastoral needs of sexual and gender minorities and their families, while remaining true to the teachings of our Catholic faith,” the bishop said upon the document’s release.

Youths gather at state, national level

A group of 250 middle school students and parents assembled at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids for the Iowa Catholic Youth Conference March 26. The Davenport Diocese and Archdiocese of Dubuque organized the conference, titled “You Matter, You Belong, You Are Loved,” to help youths in eastern Iowa recognize their value as children of God and as members of the Catholic Church.

In November, nearly 440 youths and adults from the Davenport Diocese traveled to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the three-day, biennial National Catholic Youth Conference. “NCYC was a great trip, presenting us with the opportunity to grow in our local community but then recognizing that we’re a part of something much larger,” said Father Andrew Rauenbuehler, parochial vicar of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport. “This was evidenced with our diocesan-wide Mass upon arrival and then throughout the weekend at the keynotes, evening of adoration, and closing Mass.”

Diocese sees the light

The diocese is making progress on its Laudato Si’ Action Platform. After replacing 1,400 incandescent light bulbs with 1,400 energy efficient LEDs at diocesan headquarters in the summer and fall, Facilities Manager Rich Hatfield and co-worker David Houdyshell look forward to not replacing another light bulb for at least 10 years. Central control of thermostats has replaced individual control by diocesan employees; employees working from home on Fridays also saves energy costs. Diocesan leaders anticipate the move to more hybrid vehicles, followed by fully electric vehicles when the necessary public infrastructure is in place to safely reach and return from all locations in the diocese. They are also exploring geothermal heating and cooling and solar energy.

Pope Francis initiated the Laudato Si’ Action Platform (LSAP) two years ago to encourage Catholics worldwide to respond to the ecological crisis that is harming the planet and threatening people’s lives and livelihoods.

“Our goal is for chancery operations to be carbon neutral by 2050,” said Deacon Kent Ferris, diocesan director of the Social Action Office, who oversees the LSAP in collaboration with other diocesan department leaders. “The Church is challenging us to be leaders in society when it comes to caring for Creation.”

Retirements and senior priests

Fathers Tony Herold, Timothy Regan, David Wilkening, Stephen Witt and Richard Okumu entered retirement effective July 1. The diocese began offering retired priests an opportunity to serve parishes as senior priests in 2023. The new position is similar to that of a parochial vicar, but with more flexibility. Two priests currently serve as senior priests: Father Herold at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf and Father Robert McAleer at St. Anthony Parish in Davenport. “Acknowledging senior priests recognizes the desire of some priests to continue ministry for parishes after retirement in a new way,” said Deacon David Montgomery, diocesan chancellor and chief of staff. “It benefits the priest by responding to the call to serve others and benefits the parish he serves by sharing the good work that only a priest can provide.”


The Catholic Messenger earned six awards in this year’s Catholic Press Association Awards competition. Editor Barb Arland-Fye and Diocesan Reporter Lindsay Steele earned first-place honors for a series of stories in the “Best Coverage-Immigration” category. Arland-Fye topped the “Best Editorial on a local issue-weekly” category for her editorial “Economic justice for all.” Arland-Fye was runner-up in the “Best Reporting on Vocations to Priesthood, Religious Life or Diaconate” category with a series of articles on African-born priests serving the Davenport Diocese. The Messenger received honorable mentions in the following categories: “Best regular column-Family Life,” “Best report on the celebration of a sacrament” and “Best newswriting on a regional event.”

The Catholic Messenger also won an award in the 2023 Iowa Better Newspaper Contests, which received approximately 2,500 entries in dozens of categories. Editor Barb Arland-Fye earned third-place honors in the Best Personality Features category for Weekly Class III papers for a story titled “Escape from Afghanistan,” which profiled the experiences of an Afghan family who fled grave danger in their homeland and demonstrated courage and resilience in rebuilding their lives in the U.S.

In memory

These clergy and women religious with ties to the Davenport Diocese died in 2023: Msgr. John Hyland; Father Thomas Stratman; Father William Wiegand; Father John Emanuel; Sister Darlene Hoch, SSSF; Sister Anita Schuman, OCD; Sister Kayleen Heffron, CHM; Sister Helen Strohman, CHM; Sister Miriam Ehrhardt, CHM; Sister Patricia Miller, CHM; Sister Claudellen Pentecost, CHM; Sister Rosalia Riedel, CHM; Sister Jeanne Miller, BVM and Deacon Joseph Rosenthal. Lay diocesan employee Laurie Hoefling passed away after 35 years of service to the Diocese of Davenport.

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *