Diocese of Davenport welcomes two newly ordained priests

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Anne Marie Amacher
Newly ordained priests Father Mike Snyder, left, and Father Dane Dickinson, right, pose for a photo with Archbishop Thomas Zinkula after the ordination Mass June 1 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — As each of the 50 priests laid hands on priest-elects Dane Dickinson and Mike Snyder during their ordination Mass on June 1, a memory resurfaced for Teri Dickinson, the mother of now-Father Dickinson. When he was a child, Teri and her husband, Ed Dickinson, were preparing to adopt a child. They had the opportunity to choose a boy or a girl. “I really want a brother,” Dane told his parents. During the Mass of Ordination, Teri turned to Ed and said, “Now Dane has a lot of brothers.”

Across the aisle, Allison Yoder, one of two daughters of now-Father Snyder, reflected on “the journey that had to take place for him to get here.” Father Snyder, a convert to Catholicism, discerned a vocation as a (permanent) deacon while married to his late wife, Patty. After her death and while serving as director of the diocesan diaconate, Deacon Snyder sensed God’s call to the priesthood. “I’m sure Mom was right there alongside him,” Yoder said. “This was her desire (for him) after she became sick. She would be so proud. I could see her beaming from ear to ear.”

Archbishop Thomas Zinkula, who ordained Fathers Dickinson and Snyder, played a significant role in their journey to the priesthood during his ministry as Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport. Shortly after being ordained to lead the Davenport Diocese in 2017, Bishop Zinkula ordained Snyder and the other members of Deacon Class VII. He also had the opportunity to visit with Deacon Snyder and Patty at their home during her illness.

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Eight months ago, he left the Davenport Diocese to become Archbishop of the Dubuque Archdiocese. Only bishops have the authority to ordain priests so Archbishop Zinkula returned to the Davenport Diocese, which is without a bishop until the Vatican appoints a successor.  “What a blessing to come back and be with both of them (Fathers Dickinson and Snyder). Our stories intertwined for a significant period of time,” Archbishop Zinkula told The Catholic Messenger.

The Mass began with a procession of servers, seminarians, deacons, priests and Archbishop Zinkula, who walked toward the sanctuary as the congregation sang, “Gather the People.” The Diocesan Ensemble led the hundreds of faithful in song that pulled on the congregation’s heartstrings and inspired them

Anne Marie Amacher
Newly ordained priests Father Mike Snyder and Dane Dickinson assist during the ordination Mass June 1 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.

 

Chosen for priesthood

Following the Liturgy of the Word, Father Jake Greiner, diocesan vocations director, testified that the priest-elects were found worthy of ordination to the priesthood and Archbishop Zinkula responded, “We choose these men, our brothers, for the Order of the Priesthood.” “Thanks be to God!” the congregation responded, with applause.

At that moment, facing the assembly for the first time, “I saw everyone here who has supported me and been a big part of my life, which has led me to this point,” Father Snyder said. Later during the Mass, he felt the Holy Spirit’s presence as the archbishop and each priest laid hands on his head, making a powerful connection with his brother priests with whom he now journeys. “I felt that same feeling at the Sign of Peace,” he said.

Earlier in the morning, as he prayed before Mass, he thought about “my life with Patty, our marriage, our faith together,” which shaped his journey to the priesthood profoundly. She asked him before she died whether he would become a priest. He didn’t know. However, he knows that if it is God’s plan, “God’s plan is going to be good.” He imagines Patty is “pretty happy and pretty proud.”

Father Dickinson said the Litany of Supplication made an indelible impression on him. As he listened to the congregation ask the saints to intercede for the priests-elect and for the needs of all the faithful, it “reminded me that it’s not about me,” Father Dickinson said. “It’s about service. I’m not doing this for me. My life is given, always, in service to the Church.”

The prayer of consecration during the Liturgy of the Eucharist marked another pivotal moment for Father Dickinson. Standing at the altar with Archbishop Zinkula, Father Snyder and other priests and the deacons who assisted, he thought to himself, “This is real. It’s really happening. This is the culmination of six years (of studies and discernment).”

In prayer in the chapel before Mass, Father Dickinson said the Lord reminded him of “all the people who have been a big part of my life and some of the people who couldn’t be here today.” He thought about his friend, the late Jim Cutsforth of Ottumwa, and Father Bob Busher, a retired diocesan priest, “whom I’ve gotten to know through this process.”

Practical advice

Both new priests appreciated Archbishop Zinkula’s homily, which applied the Scripture readings to a message providing “good, practical advice,” Father Dickinson said. In living out their priesthood, the archbishop asked them to consider three things. First, their mouths, through which the people listen for the voice of God; their hands, as a sacramental instrument; and their heart, which “pumps the blood of Christ, through the Body of Christ, the Church, keeping it alive.”

“Your words matter, Dane and Mike. It’s important not only what you say, but how you say it,” Archbishop Zinkula said. “Speak with thoughtfulness, speak with love, speak words of truth.” Their hands, anointed with the Oil of Sacred Chrism during ordination, “will baptize and confirm, bless and absolve sin, consecrate and offer the Bread of Life and the Chalice of Salvation to the faithful.” He quoted St. Teresa of Avila, who said, ‘“Christ has no hands on earth, but yours.’ Your hands are to bring comfort, compassion and peace to the people entrusted in your pastoral care.”

The heart of a priest, the archbishop said, has “no room for pride or greed. No room for anger or lust. No room for jealousy or addiction. No room for self-promotion or lording it over others. No room for ecclesiastical or political ideologies. No room for isolation, separation or distancing from one’s brother priests.”

“Mike and Dane, be men with a priestly heart so that the faithful will want to hear what you have to say and they will feel the closeness that comes from the ministry of your anointed hands.”

“Priests live in the sacred space between the love of God for his people and the love of people for their God. Always honor and protect that sacred space. Always keep and use it only for God and his children.”

As Mass concluded, Father Greiner announced the new priests’ first assignments as parochial vicars. Father Dickinson will serve Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf and Father Mike Snyder will serve Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport, beginning July 1.

No seminarians were ordained this year, so the diocese will not celebrate a Mass of Ordination to the priesthood in 2025. Father Greiner asked the gathering to pray for and encourage vocations to the priesthood so that next year will be the only year without this special celebration.

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‘What a blessing for us but also for the flock’

DAVENPORT — Father Lou Leonhardt, now the most senior priest of the Diocese of Davenport, has laid hands on new priests for decades since his own ordination in 1956. He was grateful to continue that tradition on June 1 for the ordination of Fathers Dane Dickinson and Michael Snyder at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.

Anne Marie Amacher
Father Lou Leonhart lays hands on newly ordained priest Father Dane Dickinson during the ordination Mass June 1 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.

He and his brother priests — from recently ordained to retired — prayed, invoking the Holy Spirit on the priest-elects. Later, thinking back to his ordination, Father Leonhardt said, “It’s totally changed since the Latin Mass. We had no idea what the future would hold.”

Fr. Snyder

Father Snyder certainly didn’t know what the future would hold when he entered the Catholic Church nearly 20 years ago. His daughter Allison was dating her future husband, David Yoder at the time. David Yoder has appreciated being a witness to his father-in-law’s journey to the priesthood. So have the couple’s sons, Jackson, 13, and Logan, 10. “He’s wanted to be a priest for a long time, so it’s great to see him get there,” Jackson said. Father Snyder’s daughter, Brynn and her family, who live out of state, attended the Ordination Mass but had to leave immediately afterwards.

Stephen Snyder of Kansas, Father Snyder’s brother, was among other members of the Snyder family who traveled from out of state to witness the ordination. “I am glad to see he’s chosen to serve the Lord,” Stephen Snyder said. “I know my parents would be very proud of him.”

Deacon Lowell Van Wyk of St. Mary Parish in Pella and a member of Deacon Class VII pointed out that Fathers Terry Ball and Mike Snyder both were widowers and members of that class before discerning a call to the priesthood. Some of the members of Class VII, who were ordained in 2017, were enjoying refreshments together after the June 1 Ordination Mass. “All of Class VII is as proud as can be of both of them,” Deacon Van Wyk said.

Tears of joy were flowing for Ed Dickinson as he and his wife Teri, members of St. Mary Parish in Fairfield, watched their son at the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Ed said he felt joy “that God called and (Father Dickinson) said, ‘Yes.’ … As a little tike in lower elementary school he would pretend to say Mass.” Asked what he plans to call his son, Ed said, “Father Dane. He has earned that and will continue to earn that every day.”

 

 


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