Welcome Bishop-elect Walsh!

Anne Marie Amacher
Father Ken Kuntz, left, diocesan administrator, laughs with Bishop-elect Dennis Walsh prior to the announcement of the new bishop for the Diocese of Davenport June 25 at St. Vincent Center in Davenport. Bishop-elect Walsh is a priest of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, and will be ordained and installed as the 10th bishop for the Diocese of Davenport Sept. 27.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Bishop-elect Dennis G. Walsh, a priest of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, who believes that “before you can lead, people have to trust you,” will become the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport. Pope Francis announced the appointment today (June 25) and Diocesan Administrator Ken Kuntz introduced the future bishop to diocesan staff and the news media the same day. Bishop-elect Walsh, 59, will be ordained and installed Sept. 27 at a location and time to be determined, diocesan leaders said.

“Today is the day,” Diocesan Chief of Staff Deacon David Montgomery announced with gratitude to diocesan staff and volunteers gathered in the Chancery library. “Am I in the right place?,” Bishop-elect Walsh joked as he entered the room to the applause of diocesan staff.

His appointment, he said, “came as the shock of my life. There is nothing in my priesthood that has prepared me for the announcement I got from the (Apostolic) Nuncio on June 9. … In our diocese, if you would have imagined all the priests who are able to be bishops, my name would not be in that group at all.” He was surprised that his name survived the vetting process!


The future bishop said he had just finished celebrating Spanish Mass at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Delphos, Ohio, where he has served as pastor for 10 years. Initially, he mistook the voice of Cardinal Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, for that of a priest friend. He thought the friend was playing a joke. Then he realized the caller was not joking.

He accepted the appointment with humility and gratitude. As a priest for 32 years, he takes his promise of obedience to the bishop seriously. “I’ve always gone wherever the bishop asked me to go. Each assignment — even the most challenging — turned out to be grace-filled experiences,” he later told The Catholic Messenger.

Anticipating a long tenure as bishop, he told the Chancery gathering, “I’m very happy to be here with you. I have 16 more years until I am 75 years old, so I look forward to 16 years here as your bishop,” he said, before making a request, asking for their prayers for him.

Lindsay Steele
Bishop-elect Dennis Walsh takes questions from diocesan staff June 25 after his introduction as the new bishop for the Diocese of Davenport.

Chancery staffers and volunteers asked their future bishop about his family (his mother is 88 and healthy, he has an older sister and a younger brother, his dad is deceased), favorite movie (he was a Downton Abbey fan) and favorite cookie (peanut butter with a Hershey Kiss in the middle). Another staffer expressed appreciation that Bishop-elect Walsh speaks Spanish.

During the press conference that followed, Father Kuntz said, “For the past eight months we have prayed a Diocesan Prayer awaiting a new bishop. In part, we prayed for ‘a pastor who will please you by his holiness and will show us your watchful care.’ Today I can announce that our prayers have been answered. It is with joy and great pleasure that I introduce to you, Bishop-elect Dennis Walsh.”

During that press conference, Bishop-elect Walsh extended his heartfelt gratitude to Pope Francis for “this appointment, and I promise to be a shepherd who listens and leads with humility.” He pledged to serve the people of the Diocese of Davenport “wholeheartedly and tirelessly. I look forward to getting to know you, visiting your parishes and communities, being present to you in all aspects of parish life, sharing your joys and sorrows, and celebrating the beauty of our Catholic faith together.”
“Being a priest has been the greatest joy of my life, and I have cherished every moment of my priesthood. Each day, I thank God for the gift and privilege of this vocation.”

Recognizing that he has limitations and shortcomings, he said, “I know I cannot do it all alone even though I sometimes try. I am always inspired by the story of the Apostle Peter, who despite all his brokenness was chosen to shepherd the flock.”

Bishop-elect Walsh said the people of the parishes he has pastored, “taught me to be a pastor … I am confident that you, the people of this diocese will teach me to be a good bishop and shepherd.” He shared his gratitude for Father Kuntz, whose “leadership, steadfast commitment and his love for the Church has provided much needed stability and inspiration to this diocese since October,” when Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula became Archbishop of the Dubuque Archdiocese.

He also acknowledged appreciation for Archbishop Zinkula, Deacon Montgomery and Bishop Daniel Thomas of the Diocese of Toledo for their guidance. “As I prepare to be the next Bishop of Davenport, I am inspired by the fine work (Archbishop Zinkula) has begun here. I am committed to continuing this work with the same spirit of love and dedication that he exemplified.”

In a statement, Archbishop Zinkula said, “Based on my experience as the ninth bishop of Davenport, I assured Bishop-elect Walsh that he will find the clergy and laity of the Diocese to be welcoming and faith-filled. And, as the metropolitan archbishop of the Province of Dubuque [State of Iowa], it is a pleasure to welcome Father Dennis to the Hawkeye State as he departs from his no doubt beloved Buckeye State! May our prayers for Bishop-elect Walsh assist him in the transition to his new ministry, which we pray will be meaningful and fruitful.”

Bishop-elect Walsh said that Archbishop Zinkula has texted a few times, assuring the future bishop that “I’ll grow into the role.” He admitted to mixed emotions of grief — at leaving behind his diocesan family and biological family — and excitement about his future leading the Diocese of Davenport. “From this Buckeye and now proud Hawkeye, I ask for your prayers and your patience as I prepare to become your Bishop.”


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1 thought on “Welcome Bishop-elect Walsh!

  1. Congratulations, Bishop Dennis!

    I have posted the news of your appointment on the Saint Alphonsus College alumni group in Facebook.

    Have a good day,


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