Priests hold convocation in Omaha Oct. 23-26
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
Nov. 2, 2006
Priests of the diocese gathered in Omaha for a convocation held Oct. 23-26.
Father Paul Eisele, pastor at St. Cecelia Church in Algona, was the main
organizer he was assisted by Father Jerry Feierfeil, pastor at Nativity Church
in Sioux City. Both of these priests are members of the Priests Continuing
The organizers agreed that it is good for priests of the Diocese of Sioux
City to come together for education, prayer and socialization.
"This was the fourth time to offer a convocation," noted Father
Eisele. "The first convocation was presented in 1999. It provides an
opportunity to be with each other as a presbyterate and to share some things
with each other that we don't get a chance to on a regular basis - liturgy,
meals and time, along with time for a presenter to give us new insights."
He suggested the topic of Unity of the Priesthood for the convocation after
attending a national convention for the National Organization for the Continuing
Education of Roman Catholic Clergy with that same theme. That is also where he
discovered the speaker who delivered the sessions to the priests of the diocese.
Father Ron Knott, a priest of Louisville, Ky., who presently serves on the
staff of St. Meinrad Seminary, presented a series of five talks related to Unity
in the Priesthood. The priest has written extensively on the ministry of
diocesan priesthood - its challenges, opportunities and ways to adapt to
"They were very valuable talks," said Father Feierfeil. "They
led to a lot of discussion at the tables, a lot of discussion outside of the
time he was with us. He touched upon some issues that are very sensitive and he
did that very well."
Father Larry Burns, pastor at parishes in Early and Schaller, found the
gathering to be excellent.
"The speaker was tremendous - very practical, very inspiring," he
said. "His theme was the unity of the priesthood so he talked about the
importance of the presbyterate and working together with the bishop."
It was also a time for the priests to get to know the bishop better.
"We were all looking forward to some time with Bishop Nickless,"
noted Father Feierfeil. "We've met him on different occasions such as at
the Chrism Mass and he has visited some of the parishes for confirmations and
other activities but this is the most extended time we have had for him to get
to know us better and us to get to know him."
The bishop also had the opportunity to discuss close to 20 different items or
topics where he could communicate his views and the diocesan policy as he sees
"It gave us a sense of his style of leadership and gave him a sense of
how we are as presbyterate - how we see some of the same issues," said
Father Feierfeil. "The communication was very important."
Father Burns liked the fact that the bishop was open to listen to what the
priests wanted to discuss.
"It was good to hear his viewpoint on things and to receive an update on
things that are happening in the diocese," he said.
Msgr. Mark Duchaine, vicar judicial of the diocesan tribunal, also presented
a session to review diocesan policies relating to marriage preparation and
insights into annulments.
"It was a wonderful social and spiritual occasion. We prayed together
everyday and had Mass together, prayed the Liturgy of the Hours together - both
morning and evening prayer," said Father Feierfeil. "We also had time
to socialize. We had an afternoon and evening to ourselves so we hit shopping
centers, went out to eat or to a movie. It had so many different dimensions - it
was really good for us."
If he had to select one word that summed up the priests convocation he said
he would choose reaffirming.
"It was good to be away and be together," said Father Burns.
"The sharing between the sessions was good, too. It was really excellent
all the way around."
Father Eisele said it was important the priests had the opportunity to gather
without all of the usual interruptions of the daily work as priests - so they
could pray, eat and merely have time together as priests.