By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport serves as the Mother Church of the Davenport Diocese in addition to its role as a parish. Because of its importance in the liturgical life of the diocese, its renovation and maintenance are of special concern to Bishop Martin Amos.
In response, Father Rich Adam, pastor and rector of Sacred Heart, recently introduced to parishioners a 10-year vision “to secure the future of Sacred Heart’s viability and structural security.”
He outlined the vision following Mass and a pancake breakfast served March 25 in the aging school building that functions as a parish hall. More than 250 people attended the breakfast and town hall meeting.
“When I was first assigned to Sacred Heart last summer, I sat down with Bishop Amos to hear what he desired for the cathedral. First and foremost, he expressed the need for good liturgies. I pray that Mass is indeed spiritually fulfilling and spirit-filled to bring God’s family closer to each other and to the Lord,” Fr. Adam said. Parishioners responded with applause.
“Next Bishop Amos explained the cathedral’s need for handicap accessibility, additional restrooms and a parish hall. After I picked myself up off the floor and caught my breath, I immediately said ‘Sure Bishop!’” Over the past eight months Fr. Adam has observed how Sacred Heart could flourish and grow with greater handicap accessibility, additional restrooms and a more economical parish hall physically connected to the church.
The vision’s initial step —demolition of the convent and a small garage west of the church — will occur after the City of Davenport grants a demolition permit and the cathedral accepts a bid for demolition, Fr. Adam told the gathering. Then a ramp and stairway will be built leading to the breezeway and creating a handicap-accessible entrance into the east side of the cathedral. Together, these projects constitute Phase I; funding will come from the Diocesan Capital Campaign.
Phase II calls for a parish hall to be built northwest of the cathedral with an arcade connecting the buildings on the west side (Iowa Street) of the church. A structural engineer from McClure Engineering Associates, Inc. was hired to make certain the cathedral was structurally sound before any construction occurs. The engineer looked at the church’s crawl space, basement, bell tower, east tower, attic, narthex, nave, sacristies, chapel, exterior and arcade and found all to be in very good condition. He said the church was soundly constructed and will be fine with a few minor repairs.
Fr. Adam noted that plans for a new parish hall have been discussed for some time. “Building upon these plans will give us an idea of what our new hall should look like.” His vision for the building would include a lower level with adequate classrooms for religious education, a music room, conference rooms and storage. He’ll form a 12-member committee to study the parish’s needs and develop a plan for the best possible hall. He invited potential committee members to contact him.
Mark Miller, a parishioner and architect, showed a PowerPoint presentation pertaining to the school building, which now serves as parish hall and would cost from $2.67 million to $3.3 million to renovate. He estimated additional costs for an elevator, windows, roof, boiler with controls, as well as tuck pointing, Fr. Adam said. Future heating costs also factor into questions about whether to renovate the building or build new. If the school were to be removed, approximately 70 additional parking spaces could be added using areas where the school and convent presently stand. “However, there have been no decisions made regarding the school at this point.”
Phase III would concentrate on the cathedral: first, a new roof; second, tuck pointing; and third, painting and other needs on the inside of the church.
“Obviously, this is a long-term plan, but having a sense of direction will help in planning and investing wisely toward a positive goal; a goal that secures the future of Sacred Heart in a viable way,” Fr. Adam said.
Bishop Amos agrees. “Besides hosting many of our diocesan liturgical functions, Sacred Heart Cathedral is also a vibrant parish. To have a vision of making the facility more user friendly for all who come here is wonderful,” he told The Catholic Messenger.
Pastor addresses questions about vision for Sacred Heart
During a town hall meeting at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, parishioner Mike Hoenig said he’s excited about a 10-year vision for the cathedral. He also asked Father Rich Adam, the pastor, about addressing accessibility needs from a broader perspective. Fr. Adam, who is recruiting members for the project’s planning committee, told Hoenig: “You’d be a perfect person to be a part of that committee.”
Another individual asked about ease of use of a new ramp that is included in the plan. She said an existing ramp at the cathedral is difficult to use. Fr. Adam assured the questioner that the new ramp would use the standard slope for wheel chairs. He told another questioner that a new location would be found for the existing Memorial Walk, which will have to be moved because of future demolition. One light-hearted question addressed the cathedral’s bat control issue. Fr. Adam told a well-known joke about confirming bats and then they’d never be seen again.
He encouraged people to share concerns and input as the planning process continues and promised to keep everyone apprised of developments.
“As I’ve told Bishop (Martin) Amos, this is his Church, but it is our parish and I promise, with God’s help and grace, to keep the strong tradition of our cathedral parish alive and well!