The Diocese of Des Moines
January 2017

January 30, 2017
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

Bishop Richard Pates named Adam Storey as the new diocesan vice chancellor effective Jan. 15. He will serve part time as vice chancellor while continuing in his full-time role as diocesan director of the Marriage and Family Life Office.

“I am grateful to Adam for accepting this additional responsibility and am confident he will fulfill well all of our expectations,” said Bishop Richard Pates.

In his new role, Storey will be a member of the diocese’s Executive Committee, an advisory group to the bishop, and will undertake administrative projects as assigned by the bishop.

Storey has served as the diocesan director of the Marriage and Family Life Office since January 2012. Prior to serving the diocese, he was a theology teacher at Dowling Catholic High School, in West Des Moines, from 2009-2011. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas and a master’s degree in theology from the Augustine Institute. He served the U.S. Marine Corps and is a former diocesan seminarian. He and his family belong to the Basilica of St. John Parish in Des Moines.

January 26, 2017
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

Iowans for LIFE is taking about 150 people on three buses to Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life.

                On Jan. 22, 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal throughout the United States through its decision in Roe v Wade. Each year since then, a peaceful demonstration calling for the protection of life is held on the anniversary date.

                This year, the march will be Jan. 27, five days after the anniversary date, due to the presidential inauguration.

                Lauren Cornelius, of St. Albert School in Council Bluffs, will be going for the first time to see what her friends experienced when they went.

                “I wanted to go because I am pro-life and I want to march for what I believe in,” she said.

                “I hope my presence at the march will change at least one person's mind about abortion when they see how many people are at the march and standing up for the lives of people who aren't even born yet,” she said.

      Fellow student Caitlin Shugart said she wanted to go not only because it’s her senior year, but because she’s experiencing a growth in her faith life.

      “I’ve really started to discover what it means to be Catholic, and to have that faith,” she said.

      “I hope that being at the march will show that abortion isn’t just a political issue, that people of all ages from all places are fighting to give a voice to those who do not have one,” she added. “here are plenty of youth in America that share my belief and that will go on this march, and I think it’s extremely important for people to see how unifying and important this issue is to youth as well.”

      Cornelius and Shugart will join mostly youth mixed with some adult chaperones, families and individuals on the buses, a trip organized by Iowans for LIFE for the past 35 years.

                The March for Life, and all events and activities at IFL, are aimed toward three goals:

  • Prayer. The pilgrims will pray to Washington, D.C. and back.
  • Education. In between prayer, there is literature to read, pro-life movies to watch and opportunities for discussion.
  • Action. Those who attend are encouraged to take what they learned and witnessed back to their schools, churches and communities and so something.

“Everyone has a piece in the puzzle and everyone must do their part to help create a culture of life,” said Maggie DeWitte, executive director of IFL. “We hope the march is a springboard for more things to come within that person’s life, family and community.”

January 26, 2017
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

Bishop Richard Pates issued the following statement Thursday following President Donald J. Trump's Executive Order "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements."
I join the voice of Bishop Joe Vasquez, Chair of the Committee of Migration and Refugees for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by stating that I am very disheartened by the action of President Trump in prioritizing building a wall on the Mexican-U.S. border.
Bishop Vasquez stated: “ . . . my brother bishops and I will continue to follow the example of Pope Francis. We will “look to build bridges between people, bridges that allow us to break down the walls of exclusion and exploitation.’”
Bishop Vasquez further stated: “The announced increase in immigration detention space and immigration enforcement activities is alarming. It will tear families apart and spark fear and panic in communities. While we respect the rights of our federal government to control our borders and ensure security for all Americans, we do not believe that a large scale escalation of immigrant detention and intensive increased use of enforcement in immigrant communities is the way to achieve those goals. Instead, we remain firm in our commitment to comprehensive, compassionate, and common-sense reform.”
I have been personally informed, in the present immigration context, of many people in our community living in fear, families who are struggling to maintain stability and family life, and children being traumatized in our schools. As the shepherd of all of our people of Catholic faith, I assure those under present threat that they will not be abandoned by me or the Diocese of Des Moines. They can be assured of my loyalty and support.

Por el Obispo Richard E. Pates

Diócesis de Des Moines

Me uno a la voz del Obispo Joe Vásquez, Presidente del Comité sobre Migración y Refugiados de la Conferencia Episcopal Católica de los Estados Unidos, declarando que estoy muy decepcionado por los actos del Presidente Trump al hacer prioridad la construcción de un muro en la frontera de México con los Estados Unidos.

El Obispo Vásquez declaró: “... mis hermanos obispos y yo continuaremos siguiendo el ejemplo del Papa Francisco.  Buscaremos el “construir puentes entre las personas, puentes que nos permitan derribar los muros de la exclusión y la explotación.’” 

El Obispo Vásquez añadió: “El anuncio sobre el aumento en espacios de detención para inmigrantes y de actividades de reforzamiento de inmigración son alarmantes. Dividirá familias y creará temor y pánico en las comunidades. A la vez que respetamos los derechos de nuestro gobierno federal de controlar nuestras fronteras y proveer seguridad a todos los americanos, no creemos que un aumento a gran escala de detenciones de inmigrantes y un aumento intensivo de reforzamiento en las comunidades inmigrantes sean la forma de lograr esas metas. Al contrario, nos mantenemos firmes en nuestro compromiso con una reforma comprensiva, compasiva y con sentido común.”

Se me ha informado personalmente, dentro del presente contexto migratorio, sobre muchas personas en nuestra comunidad que viven con temor, de familias que están batallando para mantener una vida familiar estable, y sobre niños que están siendo traumatizados en nuestras escuelas. Como el pastor de todo nuestro pueblo de la fe Católica, les aseguro a aquellos que viven bajo una presente amenaza que ni yo ni la Diócesis de Des Moines los abandonaremos. Les aseguro mi lealtad y mi apoyo.

January 24, 2017
Written By: Adam Storey

       Now that we’re back in Ordinary Time, I thought it’d be worthwhile to write an article reflecting on the “ordinary” acts of love that are the foundation of marriage and family life.

      I’ve never met a person who didn’t want to love their spouse well. The real challenge is to recognize how to love each other well, and I’d argue that the most important love is in the ordinary acts that we can be tempted to forget about.

       These small acts aren’t showy but they’re powerful. In fact, I think they’re the foundation of any great marriage.

                Couples are often tempted to see their love primarily in the big moments: things like a 25-year anniversary trip, or the adventure of buying a new house, or watching our children graduate college.

                These are big moments. In fact, I’d call them mountain top moments for which we should really thank God.  

But what’s important to remember is that in order to have a mountain top, you need a mountain. In marriage, that mountain is built by countless small acts of love. These small acts are the stones that seem insignificant in themselves, but over a lifetime of piling them up they become truly a magnificent testament to the power of love.

                I know one of the best ways I can love my wife is to sit down every week and go over my calendar with her, talking about when I have meetings and seeing how I can support her in the work she has to do.

It’s not the most romantic conversation we have each week, but it’s deeply significant to helping our love thrive. And doing the dishes when it isn’t your turn or holding hands in the grocery store can be just as impactful.

I see this as a manifestation of St. Therese’s little way. God is most powerful in the small things done with great love! We’re all tempted to forget about how meaningful these things are, and so as we get used to ordinary time once again, let’s all get on with the business of loving our spouses and families in the most ordinary of ways.

Adam Storey is the diocesan director of Marriage & Family Life. He can be reached at 515-237-5056.

January 20, 2017
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

During the past summer we asked you, our readers, what you like and what we could improve upon in your diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Mirror.

You spoke clearly: You want the question and answer column back!

Years ago, we had a column provided by Catholic News Service written by the late Father John Dietzen, then Father Kenneth Foley. People sent in questions about why the Church teaches this or that, seeking advice for what they should do in certain situations and how they could encourage others to believe in Christ.

The Q&A was an important evangelization and catechetical tool.

We cut it for budgetary reasons. Now, we’re bringing it back with our own Father John Ludwig.

The pastor of St. John the Apostle Parish in Norwalk graciously agreed to help answer your questions and, in the process, explain why the Catholic Church teaches what it does, providing a greater understanding and context for Church tradition and practices.

Father Ludwig is a graduate of Dowling Catholic High School. He went on to study at Loras College in Dubuque and in Louvain, Belgium. Ordained in 1974 by Bishop Maurice Dingman, he has served in education and in parishes in and around Des Moines.

He was on the faculty at Dowling Catholic and served as the diocesan director of religious education.

He served the Des Moines parishes of Holy Trinity, St. Mary of Nazareth, St. Joseph and Drake Newman/St. Catherine of Siena.

He has been serving St. John the Apostle Parish in Norwalk since 2002 and is our diocesan ecumenical officer.

We welcome Father Ludwig to the pages of The Catholic Mirror and invite you to your questions to: Ask a Priest/The Catholic Mirror, 601 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50309 or

We’re grateful for the many people who completed the readership survey and continue to look at how your feedback can shape our communication plan. Thank you!

January 17, 2017
Written By: Christopher Grow

By Christopher Grow

                My original intention on going to Mexico was for language immersion; however, I gained so much more on my trip.

               First off, driving down to the little ranch of San Rafael in Jalisco, Mexico took over 30 hours because of the large amount of traffic. I did not realize how many thousands of people drive to Mexico every year for the Christmas season. Why? To visit their families! The familial pull on the Mexican population in the United States is strong. How fortunate I was to find myself experiencing that, even if I was not going to see my own family.

                Upon arriving at Jose Flores’ house, I was immediately welcomed by his family (in Spanish!) almost as one of their own.

                I spent most of my days either staying home and playing with the kids (the best way for someone at my level to learn Spanish) or traveling around to the nearby towns to visit the churches and experience the “plaza” life.

                Every little town had a church and a plaza, where street venders sold all sorts of food and items, where children ran around playing and where the locals spent a lot of time interacting. Compared to the Type-A, go-go-go atmosphere of even smaller towns in the United States, this more communal, leisurely pace was new to me because it happened every day.

                The highlights of these excursions consisted of the beautiful old baroque Spanish churches and tacos. I would be in the wrong to not attempt to illustrate the seemingly indescribable deliciousness of the authentic tacos! If you haven’t had such adobada or chorizo tacos, they are in themselves worth the trip to Mexico.

                I was fortunate enough to be able to drive down to Zapopan, a suburb of the massive Guadalajara, to spend a couple of days with fellow seminarian Rodrigo and his cousins. We both look forward to the day when he can be united with the diocese and us seminarians.

                I grew a lot more comfortable with the little Spanish I know so far and gained a lot of insight into the Mexican culture, both of which I hope will better my formation toward the priesthood!

                Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

January 9, 2017
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

Seminarian Ben Baker, along with several others from St. John Vianney Seminary, is in India right now on a pilgrimage/mission trip to help the poor though the Missionaries of Charity sisters, founded by St. Teresa of Kolkata.  

They're keeping a blog during their trip. Here is Ben's first entry. You can read the rest here. 

Walking through the streets of Kolkata has been one of my favorite parts of this trip so far. On Tuesday and Wednesday my group of volunteers walks to our volunteer site. It’s about a 30-minute walk and it takes us through the heart of the Kolkata neighborhoods – the very streets that Mother Teresa herself used to walk. The best way to describe the walk is that the city assaults your senses. I’ve never encountered anything like this before. It truly is a whole new world. The sounds of the incessant honking, the street chatter, the barking dogs, and the roadside bargaining create a harmonious cacophony. The sights of the beautiful saris, people taking baths in the street, smiling faces, and the sun setting over the Hooghly (Ganges) River creates quite the collage. The smells of raw meat, curry, and garbage work together to sting the nostrils. Constantly bumping into people, and shaking hands with the men we are serving, adds a touch of humanity to the commotion. And the new foods are challenging the boundaries of what I thought my palate could handle. As I reflect on this “new world” that I’m encountering, I see that this is another expression of God’s heart. These people of Kolkata that he loves are not that much different than us, but the differences that do exist are simply a different part of God’s heart being expressed in this vast universe that he has created.

            In soaking in this new-found beauty of God I am filled with love and wish to do “something beautiful for Him.” Luckily, I can follow in the footsteps of the person who voiced these very words. Mother Teresa encountered God’s heart and this led her to minister to His forgotten children, those marginalized by society and she showed his love. She realized that God thirsted with love for her, but not just for her, but for every soul that He had created. In return she wished to satiate this thirst by showing his love to the poorest of the poor. This type of spirit is exactly what I wish to channel on this trip, and as I pray every day in front of Mother’s tomb I ask that I may be a worthy vessel of God’s love.

            Yet, like any good thing, this is not as easy as it seems. I have found it difficult to interact with the men that I am serving. I have served at Prem Dan (a home for men) and Kalighat (a home for the dying destitute). There is a language barrier and I feel awkward when trying to interact. I have this love built up inside my heart and wish to show God’s love to each and every soul I come in contact with, but I have no idea how. I’ve found it is easier to busy myself washing dishes, or ringing out laundry, rather than simply sitting in awkward silence with the men. Yet, I continuously feel the Holy Spirit pushing me out of my comfort zone and insisting that I simply be with the men.

            In talking to some of my brothers about this experience I’ve learned that some feel the same. In processing how we are feeling we’ve come to understand that many of us want to feel useful. As American males we want to know that we are doing something and fixing the problems. We see the streets of Kolkata and the people we are ministering to and some of us wonder if simply sitting with them in silence is doing any good at all. However, we did not come to Kolkata to fix problems. We did not come to Kolkata to be useful. We came to Kolkata because we have encountered God’s incredible and unconditional love and felt compelled to share that. We felt compelled to serve him, to serve him hidden in the poor. For truly God resides in each soul. And sometimes God may not want us to say beautiful things, or do great acts of service. Sometimes Gods just wants us to sit with him in silence.

            With this in mind the other day I was at Prem Dan. We had finished laundry for the day and were waiting for the food to arrive so we could serve lunch. I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to go interact with a specific man. Reluctantly I went over and said hello. His face lit up and he eagerly shook my hand. He traded some words in broken English. After a long pause in the conversation he patted to the spot on the cement that he was sitting on and invited me to sit down. We traded some more broken English. After a while of sitting in silence I was beginning to think I should go do something useful or at least go spend time with another resident. But just as I was about to get up I felt compelled to remain seated and as if reading my mind, the man motioned to me to stay put. Another few minutes of silence followed and all of a sudden the man began lovingly rubbing my back. I couldn’t believe it. Here is a man in destitute poverty that I should be serving. I want to show him the love of God, but here he is showing me the Father’s indescribable love. A love so indescribable that only a gentle rub on the back can truly begin to express this love. Sometimes God just wants to sit in silence with us and sometimes he thanks us by rubbing our back. Praised be Jesus Christ.