SAU CFDD
Jun 292010
 

Bishop Martin Amos says the prayers of consecration during the Year for Priests Mass celebrated June 24 at Sacred Heart Church in Newton. The Mass, concluding the Year for Priests celebration, honored the priests and deacons of the Davenport Diocese, said Father William Reynolds, pastor of Sacred Heart.

By Barb Arland-Fye

NEWTON — Catholics from the western end of the Davenport Diocese honored their priests and deacons June 24 in a finale to the Year for Priests that included Mass, dinner and fellowship.

Bishop Martin Amos presided at the Mass held in Sacred Heart Church in Newton and concelebrated by seven priests of the diocese.

“As we celebrate this Mass in the Year for Priests I wasn’t sure if I should talk primarily to the priests or to the people of God, but in a very real sense you can’t do one without the other,” Bishop Amos said in his homily. “We are bound together as brothers and sisters in the Lord through our common baptism and together we share in a common or universal priesthood.”

The ordained priesthood, Bishop Amos noted, is at the service of that common priesthood.

“In persona Christi, the person of Christ, the priest stands as mediator between God and us and us and God, bringing God’s grace, forgiveness and salvation to God’s people and in turn bringing the praise, thanksgiving and intercessions to the throne of grace.”

Making an analogy between married couples and ordained priests, the bishop observed that marriage is a life that “includes joys and rewards as well as heart aches and sorrows. Priestly life is no different. It is also a blessing and a challenge … But, at least for me, the difficulties of sacrifice and sorrow are far overshadowed by the joys and rewards of priesthood.”

It is essential for diocesan priests to spend time with people. “We do not carve our spirituality out of a busy day; the events of the day become part of how we experience God. We live our lives with people and each becomes a part of the other’s lives. We do not have a calling apart from you. We are with you in the routine parts of your lives and in the critical and major events — marriages, births, sickness, reconciliation, death. And most especially as we celebrate the sacraments, especially Eucharist with you.”

Bishop Amos expressed appreciation for “our co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord:” deacons, lay pastoral ministers, directors of religious education, youth ministers, catechists, liturgical ministers, teachers, support staff, lay friends and those people “who quietly raise us up in prayer.”

The bishop extended gratitude to those present for the Mass, a mix of parishioners from throughout the Grinnell Deanery. “Thank you for all you do for us and with us.”

Fifteen-year-old Timothy Stammeyer, who read one of the Scripture readings during the Mass, received compliments afterward from the bishop and others in the congregation. A youth representative on Sacred Heart’s pastoral council, he said he kept a copy of the reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, on the music stand in his room where he practices the trumpet. He’s been lectoring for about four or five months and feels privileged to do so, he said. “It’s really an honor, especially with the bishop being here.”

Jim McKinstry, also a member of Sacred Heart, thought having a Mass to honor priests was a great idea. “I think we should thank each priest personally,” he said.

Father Nicholas Adam, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell, was one of the seven priests who concelebrated Mass. “The liturgy was especially meaningful. The ministers and readers were excellent. It was a grand occasion.” 

After Mass, the bishop, priests, deacons and Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus joined the congregation for a chicken dinner served in the parish hall named after the late Msgr. Thomas McCann. The popular Irish priest, a posthumous honoree of the Year for Priests finale, arrived at the Newton parish 100 years ago — May 14, 1910 — and remained there for 63 years.

“I thought we should do something for the priests of the deanery and the deacons, too, and tie that in with the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Father (later Msgr.) McCann,” said Father William Reynolds, the parish’s pastor.   

Sacred Hear parishioner Mary Pritchard said Msgr. McCann was a wonderful person. “He was always telling stories and he was so good with the children.”

Jim McKinstry, also a member of Sacred Heart, thought having a Mass to honor priests was a great idea. “I think we should thank each priest personally,” he said.

Father Nicholas Adam, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell, was one of the seven priests who concelebrated Mass. “The liturgy was especially meaningful. The ministers and readers were excellent. It was a grand occasion.” 

After Mass, the bishop, priests, deacons and Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus joined the congregation for a chicken dinner served in the parish hall named after the late Msgr. Thomas McCann. The popular Irish priest, a posthumous honoree of the Year for Priests finale, arrived at the Newton parish 100 years ago — May 14, 1910 — and remained there for 63 years.

“I thought we should do something for the priests of the deanery and the deacons, too, and tie that in with the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Father (later Msgr.) McCann,” said Father William Reynolds, the parish’s pastor.   

Sacred Heart parishioner Mary Pritchard said Msgr. McCann was a wonderful person. “He was always telling stories and he was so good with the children.”

Msgr. McCann was involved in community, promoted ecumenism

John McNeer of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton and his late wife, Mary, were good friends of Msgr. Thomas McCann. He baptized Mary when she was a baby, gave her first Communion when she was a child and witnessed the couple’s marriage in 1954. John McNeer wrote a short biography commemorating the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the affable Irish priest to the Newton parish.

Ordained a priest in 1908, Father McCann served a short time as an assistant at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport before arriving by train May 14, 1910, in Newton to serve Sacred Heart Parish. Here are some excerpts from McNeer’s biography of the priest:

“In those days the Ku Klux Klan had quite a stronghold in this area and their activities were generally not of a pleasant nature. A large group of Klansmen met the passenger train pulled by a big steam locomotive as it approached the station, with three big strong men in front. As Father McCann started to exit down the steps one fellow says in a firm voice, ‘We don’t need your kind in our community. Just stay on the train and head west or you’ll be in big trouble.’

“With that, Father McCann replied, ‘I’m going to tell you once and once only to get out of my way.’ This didn’t seem to affect them at all, and they brazenly stepped closer. With that, this well-trained boxer from his younger days decks all three of them … This is what he used to refer to as Muscular Christianity!”

“One thing I always admired about Father McCann was his involvement in our community, going well beyond his own congregation. He was a good friend of the original Fred Maytag who among other things built the Maytag Hotel, the Salvation Army headquarters and helped found the YMCA. Maytag asked Father McCann to serve on the original board of directors. He also served a number of years on the Salvation Army Board … and was president of the Rotary Club in 1937 and 1938 … These activities and many more helped bring about a great ecumenical movement between the churches in our community, which lasts to this very day!”

“He was a man with a keen sense of humor — a laugh, a smile and a twinkle in his eyes … He was an excellent thinker and had the ability to give intelligent judgments. He also had an extreme love and understanding of children. They all loved and admired him.”

“ … The man later to be officially known as the Right Reverend Monsignor Thomas J. McCann was surprised by his first official ‘welcome’ when he stepped off the train in Newton, Iowa. But, forever after he surprised old and young alike with his love, affection and friendship … He indeed was a great man!”

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