By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
“Did you see the email?” exclaimed my coworker, Anne Marie Amacher, the afternoon of April 18. “No, why?” I asked. But, I knew I needn’t have asked. I had a pretty good idea what the email would be about.
Indeed, it was the big announcement — the one we’d been anticipating for months. With Bishop Martin Amos’ pending retirement, we knew it was only a matter of time before a new bishop would be announced. The name of the new bishop was still classified information on April 18, but Bishop Amos planned to introduce us to the new bishop during a staff meeting the next day.
For me, that announcement was bittersweet. I’ve enjoyed working under the leadership of Bishop Amos. He leads by example, and he’s humble, a true servant leader. I’ve always felt comfortable talking to him. He’s been a great supporter of The Catholic Messenger.
When I got to work April 19, Ana Maria Shambaugh from the Office of Multicultural Ministry asked me how I was feeling. “Estoy nerviosa” I replied, expressing my uneasiness about the day. Change is always a little scary, she said.
That nervousness turned to excitement once Bishop Amos introduced the Chancery staff to Msgr. Thomas Zinkula, our bishop-elect. When everyone stood up and cheered for him, Bishop-elect Zinkula didn’t take a bow and smile for the cameras. Clad in black pants, black shirt, a clerical collar and a black sport coat, he seemed to be surprised by the applause. I had a feeling, then, that he could be a great successor to our modest bishop.
While Bishop-elect Zinkula admitted to being a little uneasy by all the attention, he was open to God’s call and was eager to begin learning more about the people of the Davenport Diocese.
As he continued to tell us more about himself and ask us questions, I observed that Bishop-elect Zinkula seemed to have many of the other qualities I admire most about Bishop Amos — his honesty, his desire to collaborate and his willingness to crack a joke.
Later that day, I told my grandmother, Pat Schoon, about the new bishop over the phone. She and my grandfather live in Anamosa, Iowa, but attend Mass in Mount Vernon, which happens to be our future bishop’s hometown. Excitedly, she told me Bishop-elect Zinkula celebrated Mass there on Easter. At the time, he would have known he was to become bishop of Davenport, but he wasn’t allowed to say anything. “We really like him,” she said.
I’m anxious to get to know our future bishop. I realized while reading his bio that he played football with my dad at Cornell College in Mount Vernon. He was also an advisor in my dad’s freshman-year residence hall. I’ll be interested to hear if Bishop-elect Zinkula has any stories to share about my father, who passed away 10 years ago.
I wish Bishop Amos all the best in his retirement. I will miss him terribly, but I am excited for Bishop-elect Zinkula and look forward to supporting him as he gets ordained, installed and settled in.
(Editor’s note: Lindsay Steele is a reporter for The Catholic Messenger. Contact her at email@example.com or by phone at (563) 888-4248.)