Gratitude behind bars

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

CORALVILLE — As part of his ongoing commitment to visit the imprisoned, Bishop Thomas Zinkula spent time on Aug. 6 with inmates at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center (IMCC). He celebrated Mass with them, heard confessions and engaged in casual conversation.
He describes ministry to those who are behind bars as a corporal work of mercy, and one that he has been drawn to throughout his priesthood. “Pope Francis says to go to the peripheries; this is one of those peripheries.”

During his visit to the IMCC, the inmates, as always, “were appreciative of the bishop wanting to celebrate Mass with them,” the bishop said. “One guy in particular probably told me this about a half a dozen times. And they are VERY appreciative of the lay group that comes every week to minister to them, and Father Chuck (Adam) coming once a month to celebrate Mass.”

“They are desperate for contact with people from the outside world. My admiration for those who quietly and faithfully engage in jail and prison ministry grows and deepens every time I visit a jail or prison. They are a tremendous witness of the faith for me,” the bishop said. “At the beginning of Mass, I told them that I hoped my presence would demonstrate that they are a part of the Diocese of Davenport as well as the universal Church. They are members of the Body of Christ.”

Fr. Adam, pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville, said “Bishop Zinkula made himself very present to the incarcerated men who attended the Mass and they responded to him with gratitude. It meant so much to them that he took the time to pray with them and it was especially moving for me to see them stick around after Mass was over to speak casually with him and express their thanks.”

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