Father Dole new Jesup priest
By Cheryl Parker

Father Jeffrey Dole is in town! This passionate man of unlimited energy arrived July 11, and was formally installed at Saturday night services, July 22, as the pastor of St. Athanasius Catholic Church in Jesup and St. Francis Church in Barclay.

Dole was born in Pella, Iowa, the middle child of three children. He graduated from Pella High School and went on to Iowa State University where he graduated in 2008 with a degree in civil engineering. Dole remembered his college days as a time when all students ask themselves “what do I want to do?” It was during that time his faith “determined more who I am.” The question changed to “What does God want from my life?” This question “is both helpful and scary. Helpful, because God knows me better than anyone, and scary, because, you don’t know His plan for you.”

He reflected a bit on the difference between “work” and “vocation.” He could have found work as a civil engineer, but the vocation as a priest had deeper meaning in life, to do what we are called to do every day. He described the three vocations that are available to Catholics: The first is the priesthood, where a man “falls in love with the church,” and the missions of the church, that were demonstrated by Jesus. The second vocation is the consecrated life, where people are witnesses to God’s eternal kingdom, such as monks or nuns. The third vocation is a commitment to family, including spouse and children. All vocations are always a challenge, and always a blessing. That is when love and sacrifice come in. He quotes Mother Teresa “Love without sacrifice is not love at all,” and points to the love of Christ and the sacrifice of Christ in his crucifixion.

He enrolled at St. Pius X Seminary at Loras College in Dubuque. As each day passed, his call became more real, and his heart became more at peace and less distracted. Yes, this was without a doubt the right decision. He spent four years in Rome at the Pontifical North Americas College. While there he pursued the Pillars of Formation, consisting of an intellectual piece, a pastoral piece, and a human piece. He served the poor at St. Vincent de Paul, and also worked at the Naples Navy base, assisting with chapel on base and providing catechism instruction for families stationed there. He says the Lord calls each of us in faith to a vocation, and until we take that leap of faith we don’t know the opportunities and challenges that await us. When we say “yes” and leap, God reveals more of his plan for us. This is the time to “prayerfully weed out doubts and fears, and hold on to God’s love.” Dole says life has been a blessing to him ever since, and he is thankful for his calling.

He was in Rome from 2010 – 2014. It was during his time in Rome that he was ordained a Deacon, and took his vows.

On June 28, 2014, he was ordained to serve the Spires of Faith Cluster, which consists of five churches in and around Dyersville. He was an associate pastor, and along with two other priests served 2700 families. His duties included being the chaplain to Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville.

His move to Jesup will be his first experience as the sole “shepherd for the flock.” He values the opportunity to learn from people, and cherishes sharing their joys as well as their difficult times. We are each called to do our own thing, and learn from each other, while “loving as Christ loved us.” When asked if he had a particular program he would like to emphasize, he said, “I don’t have an agenda, other than that of Christ and his disciples…to bring encounter with God to the people.”

When he’s not active doing the work of the church, he enjoys reading, board games, and movies. He likes puttering in the kitchen, but really appreciates a trip to Culvers for a butter burger! He likes all sports, but these days he is more apt to be running or swimming. So, if he runs in your direction, give him a warm welcome to the community.
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