By Barb Arland-Fye
People formed two lines stretching to the back of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport for the opportunity to receive a blessing from Father Terry Ball or Father Scott Foley after their ordination June 1. So what’s a good interviewer to do while waiting to talk with each of the new priests? Interview the people in line. And that’s what I did!
Actually, one of the first people I interviewed was Deacon James Flattery, also ordained during the Mass that day. He didn’t have a line of people waiting to receive his blessing; that won’t come until next year, when he’s ordained a priest, God willing.
After interviewing him, I approached Cheryl Schropp and Lila Scott of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City who gushed with excitement after being blessed by Fr. Foley. They took him under their wing during his internship at the parish during 2017-18. “He’s like our baby,” said Lila, who served as office manager at the time.
“I told Father Scott I’ll always remember his ordination because it’s my birthday,” said Cheryl, the parish’s events coordinator. “My job was to teach him patience and parties,” she laughed. The parish’s central location and large campus make it a great place to hold all kinds of events. Lila’s job was to instill an important point about parish life: “It’s always the same, unless it’s different.”
Both women appreciate having seen him “as a young man and a seminarian and now ordained as a priest.” The ordination Mass, Cheryl said, “was very emotional.” Completing each other’s thoughts, Lila said, “I know in my heart he will make a good priest.”
Finally, the blessing lines ended (or so it seemed) and I took the opportunity to ask Fr. Foley for a blessing before my interview with him. He graciously agreed, asking me my confirmation name. For a brief moment, I forgot it! “Catherine,” I said. “Which one?” he asked. “It’s been too many years, I don’t remember,” I confessed. So he gave me a blessing invoking the names of all saints named St. Catherine. Then he made time for a short interview. I tried to keep my eye out for Fr. Ball because he has a habit of slipping away when someone grabs his attention.
Just as I was about to ask Fr. Ball a question, someone came running into the church and told him he needed to go outside to wave goodbye to a busload of supporters from St. Joseph Parish in Hills, his home parish. He ran outside and I ran after him, with his blessing. All 36 well-wishers piled out of the bus to say goodbye and then asked me to take a photo of their group!
“Tell us how you want us to line up!” said the cheerful Carol Kaalberg, cluster coordinator for Ss. Mary and Joseph parishes in Hills, Lone Tree and Nichols. Everyone lined up as instructed. I snapped a couple of photos and then prepared to ask Fr. Ball a question as the bus pulled out of the cathedral parking lot.
Not so fast. Fr. Ball spotted a group of people he knew from childhood. He’d been in 4-H with a couple of the friends and made his first Communion with another one. They began to exchange memories before I interrupted, politely. I had been standing too long in my ill-fitting Sunday shoes and had another commitment at my own parish later that afternoon. Fr. Ball asked his friends to wait a minute and then he turned his full attention to my questions. This interviewer got far more than she bargained for — some rib-tickling interviews, a blessing and goodbye waves from new friends on the bus.
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)