By Celine Klosterman
CLINTON — Less than a week before moving into their new church, Prince of Peace parishioners bid farewell to an old one.
Catholics celebrated a closing Mass March 8 for St. Mary Church, the third Clinton church for which they’d celebrated a closing liturgy in 10 months. Prince of Peace’s new church will be dedicated March 14 at 10:30 a.m.
“Change is never easy, but our lives are changing every day,” Msgr. John Hyland, vicar general for the Davenport Diocese, said in his homily at St. Mary Church. “How many of us still live in the homes we were born in?” Just as we move on from those homes, so do Clinton parishioners move from former spiritual homes to a new one, he said.
St. Mary Parish merged with four other parishes in Clinton to form Prince of Peace in 1990, but the church building had stayed open since then.
“Think of the countless baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals” celebrated at St. Mary’s over the 125 years it has stood, Msgr. Hyland said.
Parishioner Ed Kross looked back to the church’s beginning. Imagine Clinton parishioners’ anticipation, he said, as they waited for St. Mary Church’s dedication — which took place four years after the cornerstone was laid in 1884.
A bell was added in 1891, and St. Mary’s rectory was built in 1897. A school followed in 1906. “It takes time to meet all our needs,” he said.
Kross recalled receiving his sacraments and serving as an altar boy at St. Mary’s, and coming to the church to pray with classmates after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
But “what I remember most of all is the support and mentoring of the members of this parish through all stages of my life.” He said he looked forward to making such memories in the new church, but admitted “it will be hard to walk out the doors today for the last time.”
“Life has come full circle,” he said. Clinton Catholics are once again one parish.
“It’s a big change to see this go,” said Patricia Outzen, former St. Mary parishioner. She married Arnold Outzen at St. Mary’s in 1950, and all nine of her children were baptized — and some married — there.
“This is very traditional,” she said, pausing from taking photos of the church’s stained glass windows. But “the new church is very beautiful.”
“It’ll hit you when you leave,” said former St. Mary parishioner John Sullivan, also lingering after Mass to take a few, final photos. “It’s got a lot of memories.” He and his wife wed at St. Mary’s 44 years ago, and his children were baptized there.
St. Mary Church will be torn down, hopefully by August, said Father Tony Herold, Prince of Peace’s pastor. But elements of it were incorporated into Prince of Peace’s new church, as were elements from the other church buildings. St. Mary’s confessional doors were worked into the church’s interior walls, and St. Mary’s pew ends were refurbished to use as pew ends in the new building.
“I think of St. Mary’s as the giving tree,” said Fr. Herold, referring to the children’s book in which a tree offers a boy every part of itself for different uses.
Of the remaining Clinton Catholic churches, Sacred Heart will be known as a “chapel” and continue to serve Prince of Peace schools and religious education program, said Fr. Herold. Prince of Peace is trying to sell St. Irenaeus, and St. Boniface is serving as a Catholic Historical Center. St. Patrick Church was torn down several years ago.