It's an exciting couple of days for eastern Iowa's more than 200,000 Catholics, as the Archdiocese of Dubuque installs its new archbishop, Michael Jackels, Thursday afternoon.
The Archdiocese of Dubuque covers 30 eastern Iowa counties, including Dubuque, Black Hawk and Linn Counties.
Wednesday evening, the archdiocese held a prayer service, in which Jackels led and delivered a message for the first time as archbishop. It was at the archdiocese' mother parish, St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque.
The ceremony began with Jackels knocking on the door and kissing the cross before proceeding in. More than 400 people turned out to meet the 59-year-old archbishop.
"I like the fact that he's younger," parishioner Arnie Honkamp said. "I have nothing against older people because I'm getting there myself, but I think with that youth we'll have new vigor, higher interest from our younger folks, better church attendance."
As a seminarian, Jacob Rouse is studying to be a priest and looks to the archbishop as a leader.
"We're all very excited here, obviously," Rouse said. "As our vice rector said at seminary, 'We're getting a new dad.' That's what he said. So it's very exciting to have a new leader."
In April, the archdiocese announced now-bishop emeritus Jerome Hanus was retiring. Jackels was born into a military family and ordained a priest in 1989 in Lincoln, Neb. He served eight years as bishop of the Wichita Diocese.
Officials expect some 1,200 people for this event that typically comes about once every few decades.
"We just ask people to pray for us and to pray for our archbishop so that Archbishop Jackels may be able to begin his term with grace and peace," Dubuque Archdiocese director of worship Peggy Lovrien said. "These are days of high festivity for the Catholic community of Dubuque and the Archdiocese of Dubuque because this is a moment in history that comes only in certain decades, and so we're all really happy to be part of this time."
Thursday's 2 p.m. installation ceremony is taking place at Dubuque's Church of the Nativity, but it's not open for the public.
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