Two priests will take leaves from their current assignments Jan. 1, four priests will retire June 30 and one pastor has been assigned a new parish effective July 1, said Bishop Martin Amos.
This is the first round of assignment changes that will take place for the 2014 year. (Read the Diocese of Davenport’s official announcement). Other assignment changes will be released at later dates.
Father Joseph Nguyen requested, and was granted, permission to seek ministry outside the diocese. Fr. Nguyen, 39, was ordained May 22, 2010, and serves as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport. (Read his farewell letter).
Father Joseph Sia, 39, will take up to a six-month leave of absence to return to the Philippines to help with family needs and illnesses. He is administrator of St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty and St. Joseph Parish in Columbus Junction.
The four priests who will retire are Fathers Stephen Ebel, David Hitch, Robert McAleer and John Stecher.
Fr. Ebel, 69, graduated from Regina High School in Iowa City, St. Ambrose College in Davenport, and did theological studies at Mt. St. Bernard/Aquinas Institute of Theology in Dubuque and St. John Seminary in Collegeville, Minn. On June 6, 1970, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Gerald O’Keefe at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.
Fr. Ebel served as associate pastor at St. Mary Parish in Clinton from 1970-73, Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport from 1973-78 and Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport from 1978-82. He served as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Pella from 1982-86. After taking a sabbatical for studies, he was temporary administrator, then pastor of St. Malachy Parish in Ardon and St. Joseph Parish in Columbus Junction from 1987-1991 and St. Mary Parish in Nichols from 1987-88. He served as pastor at St. Mary Parish in Wapello from 1988-91, St. Ann Parish in Long Grove from 1991-2007, and Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire from 1998-2001. He has served as pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville and Sacred Heart Parish in Melcher since 2007.
Fr. Hitch, 72, graduated from Aquinas High School in Fort Madison, attended Iowa State University and the University of Iowa and graduated from St. Ambrose College. He completed his theology studies at Mt. St. Bernard Seminary in Dubuque. On June 1, 1968, he was ordained by Bishop O’Keefe at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Fr. Hitch was an associate pastor at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport from 1968-72. He was co-pastor at St. Boniface Parish in Farmington and St. Mary Parish in String Prairie and director of religious education at Cardinal Stritch High School in Keokuk from 1972-74. He served as acting chaplain at University Hospitals in Iowa City from 1974-75. He took advanced studies in clinical pastoral education from 1975-77 and returned to University Hospitals from 1977-86. Fr. Hitch was administrator of St. Bridget Parish in Nolan Settlement and St. Bernadette Parish in West Branch in 1983. He then served as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Hills from 1983-89 and St. Thomas More Parish in Iowa City from 1989-2000. After taking a leave of absence he was administrator, then pastor, of St. Joseph Parish in North English and St. Joseph Parish in Parnell from 2001-04. Fr. Hitch has been pastor of St. Mary Parish in Tipton since 2004 and St. Mary Parish in Mechanicsville since 2012.
Fr. McAleer, 68, graduated from St. Joseph High School in DeWitt, St. Ambrose College, the University of Notre Dame, and did theology studies at Mt. St. Bernard in Dubuque and St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. On May 29, 1971, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop O’Keefe at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
He was associate pastor of St. Mary Parish in West Point from 1971-75, and served on faculty at Notre Dame High School in Burlington and as administrator of St. Mary Parish in Augusta from 1975-76. He served as associate pastor of St. Mary Parish in Fort Madison from 1976-78, pastor of St. Elizabeth Parish in Harper from 1978-84, administrator of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Clear Creek from 1979-84, the pastor of St. Mary Parish in Fort Madison from 1984-96, St. Joseph Parish in Fort Madison in 1996 and the newly formed Ss. Mary & Joseph Parish in Fort Madison from 1996-99. Fr. McAleer has been pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf since 1999.
Fr. Stecher, 69, graduated from St. Joseph High School in Farley, Loras College in Dubuque and did theology studies at Mt. St. Bernard Seminary in Dubuque and St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore. On Jan. 29, 1972, he was ordained by Bishop O’Keefe at the Carmelite Monastery in Bettendorf.
He was associate pastor at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport from 1972-77, on faculty at Assumption High School in Davenport from 1977-82, took a leave to teach at St. Francis College in Fort Wayne, Ind., from 1982-84, and served on faculty at Mount St. Clare College in Clinton from 1984-89. Fr. Stecher was on staff at the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City from 1989-2006, and served as sacramental priest at St. Mary Parish in Iowa City from 1998-2000, and at St. Patrick and St. Wenceslaus parishes in Iowa City from 2000-06. He served as chaplain at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne from 2006-12. He has been chaplain at The Kahl Home in Davenport since 2012.
Father Jim Vrba, 62, will become the new pastor of St. John Vianney in Bettendorf on July 1.
He graduated from Central Community High School in DeWitt and St. Ambrose College. He did theology studies at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. On May 28, 1977, he was ordained by Bishop O’Keefe at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
He was associate pastor at Holy Family Parish in Davenport from 1977-79, on faculty at Assumption High School in Davenport from 1979-84, served as parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Clinton from 1984-86, pastor at St. Mary Parish in Pella from 1986-93, and then parochial vicar at St. Mary in Pella, St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville and Sacred Heart Parish in Melcher from 1993-94. Fr. Vrba did graduate studies at Notre Dame University from 1994-95. Upon his return he was pastor at Ss. Philip & James Parish in Grand Mound from 1995-96 and St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City from 1996-2004. He took a leave of absence from 2004-06. When he returned he was parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton in 2006, administrator at St. Mary Parish in Wilton from 2006-07, sacramental minister of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine from 2006-10, and pastor of St. Mary Parish in Wilton from 2007-10. He has been serving as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Solon since 2010.