By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — St. Patrick’s parishioners will soon have to reacquaint themselves with kneelers, Dan McGivern joked.
On Nov. 29, members of the Iowa City congregation will leave behind the padded chairs in their parish hall to worship someplace they haven’t since April 2006 — a parish church, complete with brand-new pews.
“It’s getting exciting,” said McGivern, a building committee member. Bishop Martin Amos will preside at the dedication Mass, slated for 2 p.m. at 4330 St. Patrick Drive, off Lower West Branch Road in east Iowa City.
“The coolest place is the day chapel,” McGivern said, referring to a 120-person worship area in which daily Masses will be celebrated, saving the expense of heating or cooling the main worship space. In the chapel, pews, bricks, chandeliers and the altar from St. Patrick’s old church, destroyed by a tornado in April 2006, found a new home. Stained-glass windows from the church will be refurbished and installed in the chapel, McGivern said. “You get chills walking into it.”
Catholics will be able to judge for themselves Nov. 29. The chapel is one area that may hold overflow seating during the Mass, for which McGivern said more than 1,000 people have accepted invitations. The main worship area seats 940.
Audio from liturgical celebrations can be piped into the chapel, and long-term plans call for video and audio feed to the 250-seat social hall as well.
Other features of the 49,000-square-foot church building include an adoration chapel, prayer garden, two-level recreation space, bell tower, youth room, classrooms, rectory and offices. The bell tower, which McGivern said is visible from a mile away, holds the two-ton, 1919 bell that rang at St. Patrick’s former church. The entire new facility will use geothermal heating and cooling and include energy-saving lighting features.
Funds for the $13 million building have come in part from the sale of St. Patrick’s church and rectory property to Big Ten Rentals in Wisconsin, which has built apartments on the church site; and parish hall property to Iowa City, which has been using the hall parking lot for city parking on weekdays.
Insurance funds, a $1.5 million, 15-year loan and parishioner pledges will cover remaining expenses. McGivern said St. Patrick’s hopes its relocation and new church will inspire new members to join and support the parish, too.
“This is a great opportunity for stewardship,” he said.