Jun 292017
 

Contributed
Bishop Thomas Zinkula, back, left, poses with his family for a portrait with his siblings and their parents for a family portrait.

Jerry Zinkula describes his brother as approachable, a good listener

What is your first memory of your brother? Wow, this is a hard one. I was 4 years old and remember Tom and my older sisters waiting for the yellow school bus each morning and wishing I could join them. However, I wasn’t old enough.

What was his nickname?
Zink. All the boys had this nickname going through school. It started with Tom. I was “little zink” for a while.

How would you describe your brother?
Quiet, athletic, smart, curious, restless, hardworking and adventurous. He also was a little mischievous. An example — one time he rigged up a doorbell in the basement by interconnecting wires. Somehow he figured this out. He would then occasionally push the button and the doorbell would ring. When Mom would answer the door, no one was there! Occasionally we would break a window in one of the farm buildings. Rather than tell Dad, he would spend hours cutting glass and reframing the window, fixing it so we wouldn’t get in trouble. There are many stories like this…

What was your reaction when he told you he was entering the seminary?
Very surprised, but happy for him. However, he told me while visiting me at graduate school. I had no money and was tired of the academic life. With that background, I had a little trouble understanding why Tom, a successful lawyer at the time, wanted to leave his law practice and go back to school.

Where were you when you received the email that your brother had been named a bishop?
In bed, checking my email at 6 a.m. Tom had sent an email to all his siblings earlier that morning.

What was your reaction when he told you he had been named bishop?
I was very proud and happy for him. Tom will be a very good bishop for the Diocese of Davenport. However, I did experience a little sadness as well. I hope his new position will continue to allow time with family. His influence on my children, and his other nieces and nephews, is very positive. My wife Connie and I truly enjoy the time we spend with Tom.

What can the people of the Davenport Diocese expect from their new bishop?
An approachable person, who listens well, is thoughtful, open to growth, and honest.

How do you refer to him? Father Tom, Msgr. Tom, Bishop Tom?
Just Tom.

What is one of your favorite memories of your brother?
We’ve done a lot together over the years: farm work, many trips, and biking along Iowa county roads. I would say visiting him multiple times in Washington, D.C., while he was studying at Catholic University. It was a cultural and learn­ing experience for me as we walked and explored the city. I also loved watching him play football. Tom was an outstanding D3 football player.

What advice would you offer your brother as he becomes a bishop?
To continue to be open to growth and listen to the people he will serve. Basically, to continue to do what he has always done.

 

Sharon Zinkula says her brother is a listener, follower of church teachings

What is your first memory of your brother? 
What comes to mind is when he or one of the siblings broke a window. Mom and Dad weren’t home. Tom had watched Dad “make” a window, so he proceeded to cut some glass to size and created a new “window” that he installed. Mom and Dad never knew.

What was his nickname? 
The same as it was for most of us: Zink.

How would you describe your brother? 
Tom is funny and smart. He’s very interesting and loves to learn. He’s honest. He’s very open to new experiences and challenges. His musical tastes could improve but that’s the worst I can say about him.

What was your reaction when he told you he was entering the seminary? 
I think I said “Cool!” I was in my early 20s and admired anyone who dedicated their profession or life to help others — especially when not paid a big salary. That Tom would make this decision at that point in his life — that was cool.

Where were you when you received the email that your brother had been named a bishop? 
I had just gotten up and was waiting for the coffee to brew.

What was your reaction when he told you he had been named bishop? 
Initially — stunned. Then I was very happy, very humbled, and I wanted to protect him.

What can the people of the Davenport Diocese expect from their new bishop?
Sincerity, compassion, humor. He’s a listener, and a follower of church teachings. He loves the Catholic faith and wants others to realize how rich it is in so many aspects if you’re open to it. He meets people where they are and journeys with them.

How do you refer to him? Father Tom, Msgr. Tom, Bishop Tom?
Tom — unless he irks me — then he is Thomas. I will often refer to him as Fr. Tom when talking about him to others.

What is one of your favorite memories of your brother? 
Probably it is of watching him play football at Cornell. I was in junior high/high school, and the teams were pretty good with a lot of passing, so games were exciting. But I would zero in on Tom and watch him maneuver to get a tackle. He was quick and smart and there were many amazing plays. I loved those fall Saturdays.

What advice would you offer your brother as he becomes a bishop? 
To not be too hard on himself. And to remember to take time for himself.

 

Mark Zinkula reflects on his brother, the bishop

What is your first memory of your brother?
I have several early memories but don’t recall the first one. Tom is 10 years older than me and he taught me how to ride a bike, throw a football, shoot a gun, etc. My parents also give him credit for being the person who taught me how to talk. I just remember him being very family-oriented and always fun to be around. He had a wide range of interests and was always busy, always doing something. You rarely saw him wasting time. He was a wonderful big brother.

What was his nickname?
No special nickname in the family. Others referred to him as Zink, like the rest of us.

How would you describe your brother?
Reflective, disciplined, caring, humble, industrious, mentally and physically strong.

What was your reaction when he told you he was entering the seminary?
I was a freshman in college and he called me. I vividly remember the conversation. He said I was the first person that he was calling and I thought it might be a practical joke and he was recording the conversation to play back to the family. I thought it was probably true but I wanted to err on the side of caution and not act in a way that I would regret later if it was indeed a joke. He then followed up with a letter explaining his decision and I called him back immediately. He completely understood my initial reaction because he’s definitely the type of person who would play a joke like that. Once I knew it was indeed true, I was filled with joy.

Where were you when you received the email that your brother had been named a bishop?
Of all places, we were in the middle of a family road trip and walking through Gauja National Park in Latvia, which has a few castles and we were walking towards one of them when I saw the email. I immediately called him.

What was your reaction when he told you he had been named bishop?
I was extremely happy for him, as well as the people in the diocese. On a personal level, I’m glad he will still be close by. Although I live in England now, I make it back to the area on a regular basis and get to see Tom often, and I’m glad that will still be possible.

What can the people of the Davenport Diocese expect from their new bishop?
You won’t find anyone who is more caring and more committed. He’s extremely humble and always maintains a proper perspective on life.

How do you refer to him? Father Tom, Msgr. Tom, Bishop Tom?
Tom.

What is one of your favorite memories of your brother?
I have so many memories of adventures with Tom. He really instilled in me an appreciation for nature and a willingness to take risks and seek adventure. When I was fairly young, maybe 8 or 9, I remember he took me on a long hike through the forest during a snowstorm late at night. There are several memories like this.

When I was in my early 20s, we went hiking for a couple of weeks in Montana and, although I was fairly fit back then, I could barely keep up. He was keeping track of total miles hiked and altitude gained. I’m a fisherman and Tom isn’t, and I had been carrying a pack rod, reel and selection of fly patterns and had barely used them since it would have required us to slow down and would have impacted our total distance and altitude gained. Finally, on the last day, I wanted to spend the day fishing but instead we hiked 16 miles to reach some milestone Tom had in his mind. Tom has since learned to chill a bit more on trips like this, but with a book rather than a fly rod. There are many stories from this trip. In hindsight, I’m just glad I survived it.

What advice would you offer your brother as he becomes a bishop?
Just be you. You will make a wonderful bishop and will provide strong leadership to the diocese by simply maintaining the same characteristics that you’ve always had.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebooktwittermail

 Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)

Copyright © 2009-2017 The Catholic Messenger
Site Map
Send feedback to messenger@davenportdiocese.org. All rights reserved. This material may not be broadcast, published, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.