But he’ll still keep an eye on chancery through work with maintenance department
By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Asked to describe Msgr. John Hyland in one word, the people who reported to the vicar general of the Diocese of Davenport offered these
responses: loyal, unselfish, committed, supportive, kind-hearted, diligent, peaceful, thoughtful, considerate, servant.
The staffers illustrated these traits in the stories they shared June 15 during a retirement party for Msgr. Hyland at St. Vincent Center, headquarters for the Diocese of Davenport. The priest appeared contemplative, listening to it all, seated in a new high leg recliner. Light from a St. Louis Cardinals-decorated lamp glowed on the cabinet beside the chair, all farewell gifts.
Msgr. Hyland actually retired from active status July 1, 2015, but continued to serve as vicar general and Moderator of the Curia (leader of the bishop’s staff). In January, he began sharing the role of vicar general with Father Tony Herold, whom Bishop Martin Amos appointed. Fr. Herold, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, will succeed Msgr. Hyland on July 1, 2016, while remaining pastor of St. Paul’s. Bishop Amos will assume duties as Moderator of the Curia, but appointed Deacon David Montgomery to serve as his chief of staff.
The retiring vicar general isn’t cutting ties with diocesan headquarters. He’ll supervise maintenance and housekeeping staff, accommodate guest stays, and assist student priests from Tanzania and retired priests in residence. His new furniture has been moved to a downstairs office so he’ll feel right at home.
In an interview with The Catholic Messenger, Msgr. Hyland reflected on his 48 years of ministry, the first 22 of which were spent in parish and school ministry in the Fort Madison area. Moving on to Burlington, he became pastor of St. John Parish, which had been served 100 years by Benedictine priests. “I was the first diocesan priest to serve St. John’s,” he recalled. When the pastor of St. Paul Parish in Burlington retired because of illness in 1987, the two parishes were clustered and later consolidated.
“The consolidation was tough at first; there were people who didn’t want the change, but that’s inevitable when you do strategic planning,” Msgr. Hyland observed. He also led the steering committee to build a new elementary school on the Notre Dame High School campus.
Bishop William Franklin, then leading the Davenport Diocese, asked Msgr. Hyland to serve as part-time vicar general in 2003. A year later he became full-time vicar general and part-time pastor at Ss. John & Paul in Burlington. He left the Burlington parish to concentrate full-time on vicar general duties in 2005, during one of the most challenging periods of diocesan history: the clergy sexual abuse crisis and bankruptcy.
The retirement of Bishop Franklin led to the appointment of a new bishop for the diocese: Bishop Martin Amos of Cleveland, Ohio, in fall 2006. “He asked me to continue being vicar general, and we agreed that after a year either one of us could decide whether to continue to work together,” Msgr. Hyland recalled. “Obviously, being here 10 years is evidence we did work together.”
“I have always held that the vicar general should know everything I know,” Bishop Amos said. “And so professionally that is what I have done. Msgr. Hyland has been a sounding board offering great advice and suggestions and, beyond that, he has become a very good friend.
“He has a love for the church and a wonderful understanding of parish life having been a pastor so many years. I know he has the respect of the diocesan staff and the priests of the diocese. These are great gifts in his role as vicar general. He is a great worker and a great collaborator.”
“Through the years, I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve established with students, parishioners and chancery staff,” Msgr. Hyland said.
What other leaders had to say about Msgr. Hyland
Deacon Montgomery observed that “Msgr. Hyland has provided wise and steady leadership to the chancery staff and to the many parishes, schools and other organizations throughout the diocese. His calm approach, regardless of the circumstances, was reassuring to all those involved.”
Bernard Hardiek served on the St. Ambrose University Board of Trustees, the Academic and Student Affairs committee of the St. Ambrose Board and the Diocesan Review Board with Msgr. Hyland. Hardiek said “Msgr. Hyland brought his years of experience as the principal of a Catholic high school and practical knowledge of education in a Catholic environment to these boards. He knew firsthand the benefit of a Catholic education to the students and their families. As a result he was able to bring practical, real-life perspective to the issues discussed at these board meetings.
“He was always a practical person looking for answers that would benefit the students. He was on the St. Ambrose board during a period of significant growth in the number of students and some major building programs to cope with that growth.” Hardiek also noted that Msgr. Hyland “led the Review Board during a period of considerable turmoil in the diocese in dealing with the abuse cases, aiding those people who had suffered abuse and helping the diocese to recover from those difficult times.”
Sister Laura Goedken, OP, said “Msgr. Hyland was a great guide for me when I first started at the diocese in 2008. He was quite involved with our capital campaign and with the diocesan parish planning. He was perceptive and sensitive in dealing with both our prospective donors and also with our parishes in the planning process. As the remodeling of St. Vincent Center got underway in 2010, he looked at the needs of our offices and consulted with an interior designer. We now have a functional useful center done in good taste.”