By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — Bishop Thomas Zinkula met with the Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) for the first time Nov. 11 and explored how the council can best serve its role as an advisory body to him. The resulting discussion led to a homework assignment intended to build effective communication between parishes and the DPC.
Deacon David Montgomery, the diocese’s Chief of Staff, provided a review of the DPC and its structure during the two-hour meeting at St. Patrick Parish. Mandated by canon law, the DPC serves at the will of the bishop and assists him and the rest of the diocese in their efforts of evangelization by planning, overseeing and evaluating these efforts. DPC members represent multiple parishes in the Davenport Diocese. Twenty-three members, three ex-officio members and two staff members comprise the DPC.
The DPC discussed advantages and disadvantages of the current structure and how the mission and structure address a 2016 analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the diocese.
“How do you communicate back to your clusters?” DPC Chairman Ken Miller asked council members.
Some admitted it’s challenging to coordinate with leadership in multiple, spread-out parishes. T Waldmann-Williams represents parishes in Knoxville, Melcher, Oskaloosa and Pella. She’s been sharing information with the priests in the cluster because they prefer it that way, she said.
Carol Kaalberg represents clusters in Hills, Lone Tree, Nichols, Richmond, Washington, Riverside and Wellman. The parishes work well together, she noted. They share ministries across the cluster. “We’re trying to be a good model, the ordained and the non-ordained working together to build up the kingdom of God.” But, she added, each cluster is unique. What works for one cluster might not work for another.
Clarence Darrow represents St. Anthony, St. Mary and St. Alphonsus parishes in Davenport, St. Andrew Parish in Blue Grass and St. Peter Parish in Buffalo. He asked about the possibility of inviting Dan Ebener, diocesan director of Stewardship and Parish Planning, to sit down with pastors in a cluster to facilitate communication and sharing opportunities. “There’s a lot of competition among parishes,” Darrow added.
Janice Crall, who recently concluded her DPC term, filled in for Sharon Crall, representing parishes in Albia, Georgetown and Lovilia – the far southwest corner of the diocese. Janice reminded the council that priests who serve those parishes are religious order priests who could be called to serve somewhere else. The distance between the parishes and diocesan headquarters is also challenging in terms of a sense of belonging, she added. Bishop Zinkula later recognized Janice with a certificate of appreciation for her DPC service.
“Clusters look great on paper,” observed Father Tony Herold, the diocese’s vicar general and pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport. But if there’s no structure in place for sharing to occur, “that can be frustrating.” He added that “it is also harder to share resources when you have multiple pastors as opposed to one pastor.”
Bishop Zinkula, recognizing the challenges, posed these questions to DPC members: “How do we decide what we’re going to talk about? … If you’re representing a cluster, how do you pull that together? Who are we? How do we function? How do we make this work?”
Fr. Herold said that the DPC, like all diocesan councils, is involved in planning and that the emphasis ought to be on finding ways to cooperate rather than compete, and to focus on evangelization – “something that is not an option as we look at trends in our society.”
Wrapping up discussion, Miller issued a homework assignment. “How about we go back to our parishes and establish that conduit of communication with the local pastoral council? We may not all do that the exact same way. Loop in the pastors.” As an example, Miller, who represents St. John Vianney and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes in Bettendorf, plans to maintain communication with leadership in the parishes through email and other means.
The mention of St. John Vianney, which hosted Solemn Vespers and the Ordination Mass for Bishop Zinkula in June, prompted an expression of gratitude. “St. John Vianney did a lot for our diocese,” said Patti McTaggart. “I think our DPC should say how much we appreciated the work and organization that went into that.” She represents the Coralville and Iowa City parishes and Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City.
“Not only were we happy to do it, we were proud,” Miller said.