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McCoy to mark 40 years as a priest

Holy Trinity pastor was ordained in 1981

-Messenger file photo by Kelby Wingert
Monsignor Kevin McCoy, of Holy Trinity Catholic Parish of Webster County, stands in the new Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

Monsignor Kevin McCoy was seated at the front of Holy Trinity Church on a recent Sunday, facing the congregation as the Scriptures were being read, when he spotted a couple of young brothers taking a roundabout way back to their family’s pew after a trip to the bathroom.

Instead of heading right to the spot where their parents were sitting, the boys turned down the center aisle. Then they waved to him. He waved back.

During his nearly 40 years in the priesthood, McCoy has experienced many small, uplifting moments like that within the big family that is a Catholic parish.

McCoy, who has been in Fort Dodge since 2008, has been with the people of the parish in good times and bad. He has celebrated weddings and baptisms. He has also presided over the funerals of people with whom he had been good friends.

He has seen a generation of students pass through St. Edmond Catholic School. And he led the congregation through the construction of its new church on Sixth Avenue North.

”You know that you are not worthy to do it, but you know that is what you were ordained to do — bring Christ to people and bring people to Christ,” he said.

McCoy actually has two roles. He is the pastor of Holy Trinity Parish. He is also a vicar general for the Diocese of Sioux City. In that capacity he helps to administer the diocese.

His path to those roles began on July 25, 1981, when he was ordained at St. Joseph Church in his hometown of Jefferson.

”One’s as nervous as you can ever be,’ ‘McCoy said, recalling how he felt on the day of his ordination.

He said his ordination became a ”real community event” that brought friends and relatives to Jefferson. He said two high school classmates who are not Catholic came back to town to play music during the ceremony..

McCoy said he had very little to do with organizing the service.

”I just kind of had to show up,” he said.

The next day, he celebrated his first Mass.

”It was quite emotional in the sense that for the first time you are offering this most important prayer of all summoning the Holy Spirit to transform the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ,” he said.

”It’s a pretty awesome moment,” he added.

As a boy, some of his inspiration for joining the priesthood came from an uncle who was a priest and by his parish priest at St. Joseph, the Rev. J.P. McGuire.

McCoy earned a bachelor’s degree at Loras College in Dubuque before going to seminary at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

”The bishop asked me if I would accept an appointment there and I thought that would be great,” he said.

That college is on a hill overlooking Vatican City. McCoy arrived there in the fall of 1977 and spent the first month learning Italian. He can still speak that language, but says that his Italian is ”rusty.”

The following summer, he and other students at the college were on vacation in Europe when they saw a newspaper headline indicating that Pope Paul VI had died. They quickly returned to Rome.

At that time, most people in Rome went on vacation in late summer to escape the city’s heat. With most of the Vatican’s civilian staff gone, the students were put to work. McCoy manned the Vatican switchboard and answered calls from, among others, CBS newsman Dan Rather..

During that summer of 1978, McCoy was in Rome for the funeral of Pope Paul VI, the election of Pope John Paul I and his funeral a little over a month later and the election of Pope John Paul II. He was standing in the crowd in St. Peter’s Square when Pope John Paul II made his first public appearance from a balcony above.

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