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DiNardo is among 23 new cardinals

Locals reflect on archbishop’s service in Sioux City Diocese

October 18, 2007
By JESSE HELLING, Messenger staff writer
Those who worked with Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo during his time in Iowa recall a man of talent and wisdom, possessing a sometimes wry sense of humor.

One of 23 new cardinals named by Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday, DiNardo served as bishop of the Sioux City Diocese, which encompasses 24 counties in northwest Iowa, from 1998 until 2004.

The Rev. Brad Pelzel, vocations director for the diocese, was ordained by DiNardo in August 2002.

Pelzel, who served as a priest in what is now the Holy Trinity Parish in Webster County for four years until last summer, said he experienced DiNardo’s generosity literally from the beginning of his priesthood.

‘‘At the time of my ordination, my mother was ill with cancer and had been hospitalized the night before,’’ Pelzel said. ‘‘The bishop delayed the start of my ordination almost an hour so that my mom could come. That doesn’t often happen.’’

Before Pelzel was ordained, he said, DiNardo shared some of wisdom that he had gained over the years.

‘‘He told me that, if I was going to make a mistake in my priestly duties to err on the side of compassion,’’ Pelzel said.

Jason Swedlund, who became acquainted with DiNardo as director of music at Sacred Heart Church, characterized the cardinal-elect as very generous and very humble.

‘‘My impressions were that he was a very gifted man pastorally,’’ Swedlund said. ‘‘He is very good with children. ... He believes a lot in our youth.’’

According to Swedlund, when a friend of his was having difficulty getting into graduate school, DiNardo took the time to write a letter of recommendation.

Prior to his Iowa assignment, DiNardo served in the Pittsburgh, Pa. Diocese.

The Rev. Ed Girres, one of four priests currently serving the Holy Trinity Parish, remembers how DiNardo adjusted to the Midwest after life on the East Coast.

‘‘I think he really got to know us and came to appreciate us and our gifts,’’ said Girres.

Both Pelzel and Girres expressed some surprise that DiNardo’s archdiocese, Galveston-Houston, was selected by the pope to be a cardinal.

‘‘The tradition is that cardinals come within particular archdioceses,’’ Girres said. Galveston-Houston was elevated in status to an archdiocese in 2004 by Pope John Paul II.

But Girres said he was glad DiNardo will be serving as a top leader in the Catholic Church.

‘‘I think he’s a good, solid man,’’ he said.

Contact Jesse Helling at (515) 573-2141 or />



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