The Diocese of Des Moines
July 2012

July 30, 2012
Written By: Peter Johnson

Dr. Eileen Burke-Sullivan from Creighton University will be on site teaching the course, "Eucharist: Liturgical Theology and Practice." For more information, please visit or contact Dr. Cheryl Fournier at or 515-237-5006.

July 27, 2012
Written By: Laura Downey

Bishop Pates and Laura DowneyA Vocation Story by Laura Downey



“I am answering what I believe to be a call from God to the religious life.”



This past February I went on a discernment retreat in Ann Arbor, Michigan hosted by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. While there, after spending a night in Adoration with the Blessed Sacrament, I decided to talk with the Vocations directress in order to possibly come home with papers in my bag (side note: “papers” is the code for “an application to enter to the convent”). 


It was no small feat to make it into the Vocations directress’s office.  There was A LINE of girls waiting to talk with her, although she had already met one-on-one with each of us—almost 160 women within the last 36 hours. I waited for 4 hours in that line to talk with her on the last day of the retreat because there were so many others who wanted to do the same thing, either to receive spiritual direction or their own applications.  The waiting surprisingly felt natural, normal, and peaceful.


Thoughts of religious life captured my heart when I was about seven years old, but I entered into more serious discernment of religious life about five years ago when I went to college and attended my first “nun run.”  I did not always desire the path towards which it seemed God was leading me.  I think I’ve been a pretty slow mover in this regard, even after it became clear to me a couple of years ago that Jesus does want me for Himself.Parents Bob and Susan Downey


Looking back on my journey and on the work I had to let God do in my heart before I said Yes, I am convinced that prayers (of those whom I know, of those whom I don’t know, of those who don’t know me, such as those around the world who pray during every Mass for an increase in religious Vocations) played a part in bringing me to a point where it seemed like the most natural thing in the world for me to apply to enter a convent.  I did not do that in my own heart.  That openness, those moments of clarity, and those Yes’s along the way were purely grace.  Prayers for Vocations in this diocese have played a part in priming my heart for all the construction God has to do in there and in asking for those graces on my behalf.


Vocations to the priesthood, the religious life, to consecrated life of some sort . . . they are alive and well. There are 21 young women who are planning to enter the Dominicans Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan with me in August.  That community has grown from 4 sisters to more than 100 in a matter of 15 years. The average age of the sisters is 28. Sarah Nesbit, now Sr. Mary Ignatius, who graduated from Dowling Catholic High School the year before me, entered this same community about four years ago.


I have about 11 friends currently in formation in religious orders.  In addition, two friends are in formation to become consecrated lay women. Two friends plan to enter religious orders either this Fall or when their college debts are paid off.  These are primarily young women I met at Benedictine College in Kansas.  Many left after their sophomore year to enter convents because they heard a call to religious life so strongly that they felt they were not supposed to wait. The same is true of a lot of young men I met at college.  There are groups of men and women “dropping out” of college every year in order to begin formation in seminaries or convents. I also know of high school students who have experienced a draw towards the religious life or who are considering the seminary.


Seminarian James Downey, Bishop Pates, and Laura DowneyIn my own family, this past year, I have seen the joy, fullness, and growth my younger brother James is experiencing in the seminary for this diocese. On a much broader level, there is an immense number of young people who strive after Christ, love the Church, and desire to follow whatever good plan God has for them.  God seems to be growing a remnant for His Church who would much rather be faithful, radical, humble, and generous, than merely comfortable.


Please continue your prayers.  Thank you for continuing your ongoing support for Vocations in this diocese.  God is using them.  He is using you.  Thanks for allowing Him to produce all of this good fruit through you—I’d guess this is just the beginning of that fruit.  Thank you.~ Laura


July 27, 2012
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

Bishop Richard Pates is on his way to Africa for a visit of solidary with the bishops of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He makes this visit in his role as chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. He will also visit Nigeria, a country from which we have several priests serving in our diocese. Bishop Pates will attend the ordination of several priests with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit.

July 25, 2012
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

Is your parish doing any special prayers, rosaries, novenas or other activity related to the drought? If so, contact The Catholic Mirror at

July 24, 2012
Written By: Kyle Lechtenberg

Prayers for farms and farmers are a part of life here in Iowa. This year, with conditions now at the worst in nearly 25 years, those prayers are more persistent. NOAA recently declared that conditions around the nation are at their worst since 1956. We've received a few requests for prayers in time of drought, and here is one option that pastors and parishioners may find helpful. This was composed by the Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. 



Blessing of the Parched Earth


Blessed are you, O God, king of the universe.
You made the whole earth for your glory
and nurture it with sun and rain and the passing seasons.
We lift our voices in praise and sing with all creation to give you glory. 


Bless + now our parched earth.
Open your heavens wide
and send forth the rains that nurture the earth,
the fields and their crops,
your people and all your creatures.
Make the earth to break forth in abundance,
so that the harvest from your hand may enrich our lives,
and all people see the greatness of God.


Bless also those who are in any distress from this hot dry season:
the elderly, the poor, the homeless,
the industries and people who depend upon the land.
Save us all by your gracious hand.

Heal us and bind us up in faith.

To you be honor and glory and praise,
with the Son and Holy Spirit, now and in all ages to come.

All respond:  Amen


July 24, 2012
Written By: Peter Johnson

"Art for Vocations," organized by the Serra Club of Des Moines, will be held August 12 at St. Francis of Assisi in West Des Moines, catered by Christiani's. Dinner and auction will be held at 5:30 pm, with prayer and praise at 7 pm. For ticket information, contact Jeanne Wells at 515-237-5010 or Ticket order form and details at

July 16, 2012
Written By: Peter Johnson

Bishop's Catholic Charities Golf Classic is scheduled for August 27th. Sign up your foursome today to participate in this fundraiser for Catholic Charities programs such as the St. Joseph Family Shelter, and pregnancy counseling. Learn more at or call (515)237-5078 for more details. Spots are limited so sign up today!

July 12, 2012
Written By: Peter Johnson

NOVOS on High, a vibrant community of Catholic young adults in the Des Moines area will meet tonight at St. Ambrose Cathedral at 6 pm. Confession will be offerred at 6 pm with a rosary beginning at 6:30, followed by Mass at 7 pm. For more information, contact Tessa Schaeller at 515-309-1936 or

July 10, 2012
Written By: Peter Johnson

You can now follow the latest news, updates, and information on the new diocesan Twitter at

July 8, 2012
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

Bishop Richard Pates ordained Father Chori Seraiah on Sunday, July 8, to the priesthood for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which is the equivalent of a diocese. The ordinariate was created on Jan. 1 and is composed of parishes, groups, religious communities and invidiuals of the Anglican heritage. The members of the ordinariate include "those faithful, of every category or state of life, who, originally have belonged to the Anglican Communion, are now in full communion with the Catholic Church, or who have received the sacraments of intitiation within the jurisdiction of the ordinariate itself, or who are received into it because they are part of a family belonging to the ordinariate" (Decree of Establishment, 1). Joning the new pilgrims may also be the clergy and people of the Anglican use parishes, who have been the pioneers in the noble work of living out the Anglican heritage within the Catholic Church.

July 2, 2012
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

   The diocese's Independence Celebration Walk & Picnic, held Sunday, July 1, was a success, drawing thousands of people to the east lawn of the Capitol for barbecue food, music, prayer and speakers talking about religious liberty.

   The Independence Celebration was the Diocese of Des Moines' primary activity during the Fortnight for Freedom, a two-week period ending on the Fourth of July. The Fortnight was called for by the U.S. bishops as a way of raising awareness, education and prayer for religious liberty.

   To see the full article come to the News section of our website. The diocese posted 64 photos on its Facebook page at