Three priests celebrating silver jubilees in 2019

Three priests serving the Archdiocese of Dubuque are celebrating the 25th anniversary of ordination in 2019: 

Father Ray Atwood, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Oelwein, and Immaculate Conception Parish, Fairbank, marks his 25th year as a priest.

Father Atwood was born on Oct. 23, 1966, in Waterloo to Ron and Karen (Frantzen) Atwood.

He attended Sacred Heart Grade School and Columbus High School, both in Waterloo.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communication from Drake University in 1989 and attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, earning a Master of Arts degree in 1993 and a Master of Divinity degree in 1994.

He was ordained on May 28, 1994, at the Cathedral of St. Raphael in Dubuque by Archbishop Daniel Kucera, OSB.

Father Atwood was the associate pastor of Holy Ghost Parish, Dubuque, 1994-97, and the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Dyersville, 1997-2000.

He was the pastor of St. Stephen Parish, Chester, 2000-05, and Immaculate Conception Parish, Riceville, and St. Peter Parish, New Haven, 2000-12. He served as pastor at St. Bernard Parish, Alta Vista; Immaculate Conception Parish, Elma; and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Lourdes, from 2005-2012.

He served as the pastor of St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Parish, Eagle Center; Sacred Heart Parish, La Porte City; and St. Paul Parish, Traer, from 2012-17.

In 2017, Father Atwood became the pastor of the parishes in Oelwein and Fairbank.

Father Atwood is author of three books, “Masters of Preaching” (2 vols.) and “Precious in the Eyes of the Lord.” These books are unique contributions to the church’s literature on preaching and martyrdom. He has traveled extensively and continues to apply his experiences to his preaching and other ministries. Preaching, he said, is one of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of his priesthood.

The celebration of Father Atwood’s 25th anniversary will be held at Immaculate Conception Parish, Fairbank, on Sunday, June 2. Mass will be celebrated at 4 p.m., followed by a dinner in the parish hall. All are welcome to attend this celebration of priestly ministry.

Joyfully celebrating his 25 years as a priest, Father Paul Attah-Nsiah is happy to share with his “home parishes,” St. Columbkille’s and St. Joseph the Worker in Dubuque, in giving thanks to God for the abundant blessings of his life. Born in 1963 in a small town called Ejisu-Besease, in Ghana, Father was one of nine children who lived a most humble life with his mother, who raised the children alone after his dad’s death in 1972, when Father Attah-Nsiah was just 9 years old. Many graces accompanied the large family beginning with Father Attah-Nsiah’s mother raising the children Catholic as his father wished, even though she herself was Methodist. As they became young men, the expectation and responsibility for the boys in his family was to assist all the other children (and relatives) continue their education.  It was no small effort, and without his family’s blessing (for several years), that Father Attah-Nsiah persevered in following the call he felt God had given him.

Many years of education in Rome, Canada and Ghana led to Father Attah-Nsiah receiving his doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, master’s and licentiate degrees in canon law from Ottawa University and St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, as well as religion and sociology in his undergraduate studies in Ghana.

Father Attah-Nsiah has enjoyed many pastoral assignments over his 25 years, all of which have allowed him to share and expand his knowledge of and love for his faith in Jesus Christ through the people he has encountered. Whether as a seminary formation director, administrator, pastor, vicar, or now as an associate pastor at St. Joseph the Worker and St. Columbkille’s, while also assisting as a judge for the Archdiocesan Tribunal in Dubuque, Father Attah-Nsiah’s love for people and joy in living the Gospel have brought him great fulfillment as a priest and unworthy servant to God’s people.  Experiencing the broad spectrum of church throughout the world and coming to understand how culture impacts faith’s practice have become significant teachers and an immense blessing.

Father Attah-Nsiah’s personal mission, from the time he understood his own family’s plight, has been to improve Catholic education in Ghana for everyone by establishing schools. Notable among them: St. Mary Girls Senior High School at Konongo and an ultramodern senior high school, student population of 800, at Mamponteng, called Our Lady of Grace Senior High School with funding support coming from Our Lady of Grace Parish in Edina, Minnesota. It is Father’s hope now, to inspire people to assist him in providing seed money to construct a new elementary school replacing the dilapidated building which he himself attended some 50 years ago. Brick by brick, it will be a great gift and blessing just to begin.  Catholic education is the best vehicle for deepening faith, diminishing poverty and forming individuals who can become strong moral leaders for their people.

Father Attah-Nsiah invites everyone to share with him this mile marker on his journey. Please pray for his continued service to God and God’s people. If possible, join him July 13-14 at St. Joseph the Worker – after Masses, or at St. Columbkille’s on July 20-21 – after Masses. Thank you in advance for any support you can offer toward assisting in the education of children in his homeland.

Father Phillip Gibbs (Fr. Phil) currently serves as pastor of Church of the Resurrection Parish in Dubuque.  He celebrates 25 years as a priest this May.

Father Gibbs was born on June, 28, 1967, the son of Harold and Joyce (Shanahan) Gibbs of Bernard. He is the fourth of six children. St. Patrick Church in Garryowen is his home parish. He attended Western Dubuque School (Bernard Elementary) and Cascade High School. He graduated from Loras College, Dubuque, in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion. He attended St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland, from 1989 to 1994, graduating with a master’s in divinity and a bachelor’s in sacred theology.

He was ordained by Archbishop Daniel Kucera, OSB, on May 28, 1994, at the Cathedral of St. Raphael in Dubuque.

From 1994-97, Father Gibbs served as the associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Marion, and St. Isidore Parish, Springville. He was associate pastor at St. Pius X Parish, Cedar Rapids, from 1997-99. During two summers (1996 and 1997), he attended an immersion school in Mexico to learn the Spanish language. He helped to establish an outreach program while also serving in sacramental and pastoral ministry to Hispanics in the Cedar Rapids Deanery and the Anamosa State Penitentiary, 1998-99.

He was the director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, 1999-2007, and vice rector for St. Pius X Seminary, Dubuque, 2003-07. During this time, he attended summer school at Creighton University in Omaha where he received his master’s degree in Christian spirituality as well as his credentials to be a certified spiritual director.

He was pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Decorah, 2007-18, and dean of the Decorah Deanery from 2013-18. He was also priest supervisor for St. Mary Parish, Dorchester; St. Mary Parish, Hanover; and St. Patrick Parish, Waukon, 2014-16.

Father Gibbs became the pastor of Church of the Resurrection Parish in Dubuque in 2018. It is here that there will be a celebration of his 25th anniversary on Sunday, June 9 at the 11 a.m. Mass. A reception and social will follow in the school gym from 12-3 p.m.

“I am eternally grateful to God for the gift of this beautiful and humbling vocation,” Father Gibbs said. “Much credit goes to my parents, family and parish community of St. Patrick in Garryowen for being the fertile soil of my Catholic faith as well as the seedbed for my vocation. I am also filled with gratitude for my former pastors and all other priests that have been a positive influence in my formation. These holy, healthy and joy-filled men not only provided me with constant support but also with the blessed assurance of their brotherly love. I continue to experience and appreciate that fraternal spirit of joy among many of my brother priests.

“God has been good to me in so many ways but most especially by gifting me with wonderful and faithful people over the course of these 25 years. I have had the privilege of serving many of them as their priest or pastor. I also have had the blessing of knowing them not only as a spiritual father but also as a special friend. I have experienced the true presence of Jesus by loving them and being loved by them. I am blessed, indeed. God is good, and the name of Jesus be praised for the continual challenge he offers all priests in being faithful, kind, loving and joyful shepherds.”