Five transitional deacons who are being ordained to the priesthood May 25 at the Cathedral of St. Raphael in Dubuque. All are recent graduates of Mundelein Seminary in Illinois and will start serving in archdiocesan parishes very soon.
By Jill Kruse-Domeyer
Witness Editorial Assistant
WATERLOO — “I want my future parishioners to know that I am there to serve them, as Christ served others during his life,” Deacon Tom Heathershaw recently said as he reflected on his upcoming priestly ministry. “I want to be a part of people’s lives and share and help them grow in their faith.”
The 30-year-old future priest is the son of Donna Heathershaw and Bill Koch and is a native of Waterloo. Deacon Heathershaw grew up a member of St. Edward Parish in Waterloo and attended the parish’s grade school. He graduated from Columbus High School in 2007.
Deacon Heathershaw studied at the University of Iowa for three years before transferring to the University of Northern Iowa, from which he graduated in 2013 with a degree in religion. That fall, Deacon Heathershaw started in the St. Pius X Seminary program at Loras College. In 2015, he began courses at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois.
An avid Chicago Cubs fan, Deacon Heathershaw took advantage of Mundelein’s close proximity to the city of Chicago, attending several games at Wrigley Field while he was in seminary. He said he enjoyed being in the area when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016.
Looking back at his formation, Deacon Heathershaw said he was greatly impacted by the time he spent during his final year in seminary working on the weekends at an area parish. He said he was able to preach and baptize babies and “get a small preview of what priestly ministry will be like.”
Deacon Heathershaw said several members of the clergy have been helpful to him on his journey to the priesthood and have served as role models to him through the years, including: Father Jerry Kopacek, who was pastor of St. Edward Parish when he was in grade school and first beginning to think about the priesthood; several associate priests who served at St. Edward Parish when he was growing up; and also Father Dave Ambrosy, who he said has been a supportive friend.
As Deacon Heathershaw anticipates his own priesthood, he said he is looking forward to serving the people of the church, even those not actively practicing their faith.
“I want to reach out to those who have maybe fallen away from their Catholic faith and let them know the church is always here for them,” he said. “Bringing the sacraments to God’s people will be an awesome experience to have.”
Deacon Tom Heathershaw (left) is pictured with Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago (center) and a fellow seminarian from Mundelein. The future priest ran into the cardinal by chance during a walk. (Contributed photo)