By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Two priests will retire from active ministry, one will be heading overseas and a handful of other priest changes will take place throughout the first half of 2015 in the Diocese of Davenport. For the first time, Bishop Martin Amos will implement assignments “in solidum” (see separate story) for three Scott County parishes.
On Jan. 7, Father Paul Appel became the judicial vicar for the diocese. He remains in his parish assignments at St. Alphonsus in Davenport and St. Peter in Buffalo, and continues serving as vice chancellor and delegate for the bishop in matrimonial matters.
Father Joe Wolf was appointed as a judge for the tribunal and an ecclesiastical notary. He remains pastor of Our Lady of the River in LeClaire and Church of the Visitation in Camanche and a delegate for the bishop in matrimonial matters. He has been released from the office of judicial vicar and of vice chancellor.
Effective Jan. 14, Father Michael Volkmer, C.PP.S., moves from pastor to administrator at St. Mary in Albia. The change is due to Fr. Volkmer reaching age 75. As administrator he continues with all the rights and duties of pastor.
Father William Kneemiller, 64, will head overseas for a one-year military deployment to the Middle East effective April 1. This will be his third assignment overseas as a chaplain in the Army Reserves. Since 2012, he has served as pastor of Ss. Philip & James in Grand Mound, Sacred Heart in Lost Nation, Sacred Heart in Oxford Junction and St. James in Toronto. He also served at the Lost Nation, Oxford Junction and Toronto parishes from 2004-10.
Assignments effective July 1
• Fr. Appel, along with Father Christopher Young and a third priest to be named, will minister “in soldium” to St. Alphonsus in Davenport, St. Peter in Buffalo and St. Mary in Davenport. Fr. Appel will serve as moderator of the parishes and continue to serve as judicial vicar, vice chancellor, and as a delegate to the bishop in matrimonial matters.
Fr. Appel, 37, grew up in Ottumwa and attended schools there, graduated from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, and completed theology studies at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mudelein, Ill., and canon law studies at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. On June 14, 2003, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop William Franklin at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. Fr. Appel served as a parochial vicar at St. Paul the Apostle in Davenport from 2003-06, Our Lady of Victory in Davenport from 2004-06, and at Ss. Mary & Mathias in Muscatine and St. Joseph Parish in Columbus Junction from 2006-08. He was administrator, then pastor of St. James in Washington from 2008-2010. Returning from advanced studies in 2013, Fr. Appel was appointed a judge and vice chancellor for the diocese and pastor of St. Alphonsus, Davenport, and St. Peter, Buffalo.
• Father Jeffry Belger, 46, will become parochial vicar of St. Mary in Iowa City and campus minister at Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City. He grew up in Burlington and graduated from Southeast Iowa Community College in West Burlington and Western Illinois University. He completed theology studies at St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind. On June 14, 2003, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Franklin at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He was a parochial vicar at Prince of Peace in Clinton from 2003-05 and St. Mary in Iowa City from 2005-10. He also was a campus minister at the Newman Center. He was administrator, then pastor of St. Mary in Pella; pastor of St. Mary in Oska-loosa; and administrator, then canonical pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Colfax since 2010.
• Father Corey Close, 30, will be a parochial vicar at St. Mary in Iowa City and campus minister at Newman Center. A native of Illinois, he graduated from the University of Iowa. He studied pre-theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary and completed theology studies at the North American College in Rome. On June 23, 2012, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Martin Amos at Sacred Heart Cathedral. After assisting at parishes that summer, Fr. Close completed advanced studies on marriage and family life at the John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C. He has served as parochial vicar at Prince of Peace in Clinton since 2013.
• Father Edward Fitzpatrick, 69, will retire, but remain a judge for the diocesan tribunal. After graduating from high school in Burlington, he graduated from Regis College in Denver, Colo., and completed theology studies at the North American College in Rome. On Dec. 18, 1970, he was ordained to the priesthood by then-Bishop James Hickey, rector of the North American College, at St. Peter’s Basilica. Fr. Fitzpatrick was associate pastor at St. Paul in Burlington from 1971-74 and Our Lady of Lourdes in Bettendorf from 1974-78. He was spiritual director of St. Ambrose Seminary in Davenport and director of vocations for the Davenport Diocese from 1978-84. He has served as director of the Newman Center since 1984. He also served as administrator of St. Thomas More (then in Iowa City), St. Peter in Cosgrove, St. Mary in Oxford and St. Mary in Solon.
• Father Edward O’Melia, 72, will retire in July. An Illinois native, he graduated from St. Mary College in Winona, Minn. He completed theology studies at St. John University, Collegeville, Minn., and advanced studies at University of Iowa. On May 28, 1977, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Gerald O’Keefe, at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Fr. O’Melia was an associate pastor at the cathedral from 1977-78. He served as a missionary vicar at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Muscatine from 1978-83, on faculty at Aquinas High School in Fort Madison from 1983-84 and as parochial vicar at St. Mary in Iowa City from 1984-85. After taking a leave of absence to be with the Universal Brothers of the Word, he served as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Cathedral from 1986-90. Fr. O’Melia was pastor of St. Joseph in Fort Madison from 1990-96, St. Mary in Augusta from 1991-96, St. Joseph in West Liberty and St. Bernadette in West Branch from 1996-2003, and St. James in Washington from 2003-08. He has been pastor of St. Mary in Davenport since 2008.
• Father John Spiegel, 64, will become pastor of St. Mary in Pella, St. Mary in Oskaloosa and priest moderator of Immaculate Conception in Colfax. A Burlington native, he graduated from St. Ambrose College, completed theology studies at the Catholic University of Lourvain in Belgium and advanced studies at St. John University in Collegeville, Minn. On June 26, 1976, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop O’Keefe at St. John the Baptist Church in Burlington. He was an associate pastor at Sacred Heart in Fort Madison from 1976-78 and Our Lady of Lourdes in Bettendorf from 1978-80. He served on faculty at Assumption High School in Davenport from 1980-86 and as chaplain at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Clinton from 1986-91. He served as pastor of St. John in Houghton and St. James in St. Paul from 1991-99, St. Mary Magdalen in Bloomfield and St. Patrick in Ottumwa from 1999-2010, and as parochial vicar, then pastor of St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa from 1999-2004. He has been pastor of St. Mary in Iowa City since 2010.
• Father Stephen Witt, 66, will become administrator of St. Mary in Iowa City and campus minister at the Newman Center. A native of Clinton, he graduated from St. Ambrose College and the University of Iowa. He married Patricia Finkenhoefer in 1974 and was in the workforce for 45 years. He was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Davenport in 1982 and served at parishes in Clinton before moving to Grinnell and serving at St. Mary Parish there. After the death of his wife in 2001, he discerned a calling to the priesthood. He completed theology studies at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisc. On Dec. 15, 2012, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Amos at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Fr. Witt has been parochial vicar at St. Mary’s and campus minister at the Newman Center since 2013.
• Father Christopher Young, 54, will minister “in solidum” with Fr. Appel and another priest to be named at St. Alphonsus in Davenport, St. Peter in Buffalo and St. Mary in Davenport. He will be relieved of his assignment as a part-time teacher at Assumption High School in Davenport. A California native, he graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and University of Arizona at Tucson. He completed theological studies for the Anglican Church at St. Joseph of Arimathea Anglican Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif., and received an advanced degree from Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisc. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Church. Later, he converted to Catholicism and entered a Catholic studies program for former Episcopal priests at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in East Orange, N.J. He was ordained a priest for the Catholic Church by Bishop Amos on June 7, 2014. He has served as parochial vicar at St. Alphonsus and St. Peter and teacher at Assumption since ordination.