By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Hundreds of people packed Sacred Heart Cathedral to witness the ordinations of Father Terry Ball, Father Scott Foley and Deacon James Flattery on June 1. Each of the newly ordained men engaged in secular careers before discerning a religious vocation. Years of human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation in the seminary led them to the cathedral’s sanctuary on a sunny Saturday morning to voice a resounding “yes” to God’s call.
Bishop Thomas Zinkula ordained the men during the Mass; 55 or so priests concelebrated. Father Dan Dorau, parochial vicar of Divine Mercy Parish, Burlington-West Burlington, was among them. “I got choked up a few times. It was a herald call for me to remember my call,” he said. The prayers of ordination reminded Fr. Dorau “to get back to the root of what priestly ministry is all about.”
The ordination Mass occurred just weeks before Bishop Zinkula’s second anniversary as Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport and was his second opportunity to ordain clergy for the diocese.
“Being a deacon, priest or bishop is analogous to being a parent,” he later told The Catholic Messenger. “When a man is ordained, he experiences an ontological change; there is a change in his very nature. When a child is born, the parents experience a dramatic change in their lives as well. But in both cases, they become who they are by ministering or by parenting. Kind of like the nature/nurture thing. The doing draws forth the being.”
“The more I do bishop things — like celebrating the Chrism Mass, ordinations and confirmations — the more I feel like a bishop, the more I feel like the shepherd of this diocese. It grows on me. The reality sinks in. We are on the cusp of the Vision 20/20 convocation. Missionary discipleship operates in a similar fashion. Baptism seals Christians with the indelible spiritual mark of their belonging to Christ. They become adopted children of God and disciples of Christ. But in a significant manner, one truly becomes a disciple by evangelizing, by sharing the joy of the Gospel, by going and making disciples of all nations.”
‘Are you humble enough?’
Fortified with the gift of the Holy Spirit at their ordination, Fathers Ball and Foley and Deacon Flattery look forward to sharing the joy of the Gospel and going out and making disciples. But the bishop also asked them, during his homily preceding ordination, whether they were weak enough, humble enough, to allow the power and strength of God to be displayed through them in that ministry. “Terry, Scott and James, are you humble enough so that you, like Jesus, can relate in a sensitive and compassionate manner to the pains and joys of the people you serve?”
Fr. Ball said afterwards that the bishop’s question impacted him. “I realize I am all of those things (humble enough, broken enough and weak enough) and I sure need the grace from the Holy Spirit.” The new priest said he experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence most keenly during the Litany of Supplication and when Bishop Zinkula and the priests of the diocese laid hands on him. “I very much felt peace, love and joy and that’s what I’ve been praying for throughout my life.”
He also spoke of feeling the presence of his late wife, Mona, who died of leukemia when he was discerning a call to the permanent diaconate. The couple had been married 39 years. “Mona brings me the grace to go forth to minister to each person with a loving heart,” Fr. Ball said. He said also felt the presence of his deceased parents, both of whom advised him to “pray at all times.”
Fr. Foley had been focused on practicing what he was supposed to do during the ordination Mass. Then, during the second reading (Hebrews 5:1-10), the verse “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” sank into his mind. The priesthood, he said, “is permanent and will never go away. It’s a wonderful gift to serve the church, what the Lord desires me to do.”
He said he felt confirmation of that calling while on pilgrimage after his first year in seminary. Before then, he thought God was giving him the opportunity to choose either a vocation to marriage or to the priesthood. During vespers one night on pilgrimage, the verse about Melchizedek appeared. “That’s the moment I knew.” It was the strong consolation he needed to continue his journey to the priesthood, he said.
As a priest, he said, “I get to offer the sacrifice of the Mass. Regular bread becomes the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ in these regular hands,” he said, looking at his own hands. “These regular hands are now sacred because of ordination.”
Deacon James Flattery said he experienced pure joy seeing the cathedral full of people, of the diocesan church coming together to celebrate the ordinations of two priests and a deacon. A special moment for him: “Standing next to the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer, next to the bishop and the two newly ordained priests and the body and blood of Christ.” Earlier in the Mass, he watched in rapt attention as Fathers Ball and Foley were ordained. It made him think, “God willing, that will be me, next year.”
Family, friends rejoice
Of all of the special moments during the ordination Mass, the singing of the hymn “O God, Beyond All Praising,” best captured what Terry Foley felt as he witnessed the ordinations of his son, Fr. Scott Foley, and Fr. Terry Ball and Deacon James Flattery.
“Being a seminarian is a long process,” Terry Foley said after the ordination Mass. “You grow with him; our whole family has grown through this whole process.”
His wife, Dianne Foley, said: “I thought about today. This is special because we gave Scott back to the Lord. His hands have been consecrated to administer the sacraments and that’s wonderful. This is a wonderful gift to the diocese and to the universal church.”
Angi Nespor, the sister of Fr. Ball’s late wife, Mona, said she and her family are thrilled about his ordination to the priesthood. “God has taken a situation that was totally out of our control (the illness and death of Mona) and made it into a beautiful development.” Nespor said she and Terry were at Mona’s beside during her final days. He talked with Mona about the possibility of pursuing a call to the priesthood. “She gave him her blessing. I know she was here with Terry in spirit.”
Deacon Flattery’s mother, MaryDell Flattery, described the ordination Mass as overwhelming. “I’m so proud of him,” she said of her son, the youngest of four. “When he was little, he would come home after Mass and hide behind the drapes and he would say the words the priest would say at Mass.” The new deacon corroborated his mother’s story. “I played as a priest after I made my first Communion.”
“Next year, it will be his turn,” his brother, Jacob Flattery said.
Deacon Joe Dvorak vested Deacon Flattery and served as deacon at the Mass. “I’ve known James all his life. When he was in high school, I took him to Andrew dinners (for young men with an interest in the priesthood).” But James pursued other interests before returning to talk with Deacon Dvorak about the priesthood.
During the ordination Mass, Deacon Dvorak said he felt “the joy, the continuation of everything … the sense of passing it on. I’m about to retire and he’s just starting.”