By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
The ordinations of two men, Deacon James Flattery to the priesthood and Andrew Rauenbuehler to the diaconate, will be celebrated with few people in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bishop Thomas Zinkula will ordain the two men in separate, livestreamed ceremonies in their hometown parishes on Saturday, June 6.
Deacon Flattery will be ordained at his home parish, Immaculate Conception Parish in Colfax, and Andrew Rauenbuehler will be ordained at his home parish, Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine.
“I first felt the call to priesthood after receiving my first Communion,” Deacon Flattery, 31, said. “I would go home and play Mass with my older brothers.” In high school, he attended a Project Andrew dinner for those interested in the priesthood, accompanied by Deacon Joe Dvorak of the Colfax parish. “After dinner I felt that God wasn’t calling me to the priesthood because the other men at the dinner were holier than I was,” Deacon Flattery said.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from AIB College of Business in Des Moines and went to work for Target Corp. in Altoona and Ankeny. After college, he became more involved in his home parish and the idea of the priesthood returned. He met with Father Thom Hennen, director of vocations at the time, during Holy Week and “made the decision to give seminary a shot.”
Deacon Flattery earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophical and theological studies from Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri and completed his theology studies at University of St. Mary of the Lake–Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois.
He completed his pastoral clinical education at UnityPoint Trinity in Rock Island, Illinois, in 2018 and an internship at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf the same year. He was ordained a deacon on June 1, 2019, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport by Bishop Zinkula.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Deacon Flattery finished his seminary studies at home in Colfax. “I have been attending Mass virtually with the seminarians living at the chancery. With the COVID-19 guidelines from the diocese, I unfortunately have not been able to help at my home parish.”
He looks forward to being ordained in his home parish, “but it will be bittersweet. I think about all the people who have journeyed with me these last six years that unfortunately will not be able to attend. He hopes many will be able to watch the ordination Mass livestreamed on Facebook.
“I’m looking forward to my first assignment being announced on ordination day.” Following ordination, the new priest will celebrate his first Mass on June 7 at Immaculate Conception. “It will definitely be strange celebrating Mass in an empty church, but I look forward to the day when I will be able to celebrate Mass” with the public present.”
Deacon Flattery asked for prayers for Rauenbuehler and himself and said he prays for all in the diocese, especially everyone who is suffering due to COVID-19.
Rauenbuehler, 29, was born and raised in Muscatine. He previously worked at Central State Bank in Muscatine and as an emergency medical technician (EMT) at Medic in Davenport. He earned a BA in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is continuing his theology studies at St. Paul Seminary, also in St. Paul.
Rauenbuehler has completed internships at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport and Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton. The thought of priesthood entered his mind when he was a young boy, he said. Over the years, the sense of a calling fluctuated.
“But even when I wasn’t thinking all that much about it, the thought would always find its way back into my mind and from there, prayer. After having pursued the call for a couple years, I took time away from seminary formation. During this time, I went to school and worked. In the couple years leading up to entering St. Paul Seminary, I was working as an EMT in Davenport.”
Rauenbuehler spoke to priests while in high school and some priests approached him about the priesthood, he said. “After high school I decided to spend some time with a religious community in Rome. I have two cousins who are missionaries in the community of The Family of Mary. It was a time to grow in prayer, experience missionary life and discern God’s call for my life.”
He chose to study for the priesthood because “I feel God calling me to it. Even when I’ve stepped away, discerned, and done other things with my life, God has always had a roundabout way of showing me his will that I become a priest. It’s hard to know why and it isn’t always easy to cooperate with God’s will but ultimately I know that his plan is always one that is geared towards our peace and joy and one that allows us to play a role in it.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, he stayed at the seminary to continue his studies and formation. Classes were online.
To view both ordinations, Rauenbbuehler’s at 10 a.m. and Deacon Flattery’s at 3:30 p.m., visit https://www.facebook.com/diodav