Special collection Feb. 14-15 will help support your cathedral
(Editor’s note: In an effort to create greater awareness of and appreciation for the seat of the Davenport Diocese — Sacred Heart Cathedral — The Catholic Messenger is publishing a brief series of articles about the home of our diocese. Bishop Martin Amos has designated the second weekend of February as Cathedral Sunday.)
By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — When 14 deacons were ordained at Sacred Heart Cathedral in the summer of 2013, the reception afterwards was held a 20-minute drive away because the cathedral lacks a suitable parish hall. The old school across the parking lot from the cathedral is not handicapped accessible and has limited seating in the antiquated lunchroom. When visitors arrive for diocesan celebrations, Father Rich Adam, the rector and pastor, worries about people having to wait in long lines to use the limited number of restrooms. He wonders whether the aging plumbing will hold up.
Sacred Heart Cathedral is the mother church of the diocese, the place that Bishop Martin Amos calls home. “While it is a parish with its own congregation, it is also the parish church for the whole diocese,” the bishop said. That’s why he has designated the second Sunday in February (Feb. 15 this year) “Cathedral Sunday.” During that weekend, the diocese’s 79 parishes will take up a special collection designated for the cathedral.
“The cathedral has 600 families that take care of the day-to-day responsibilities of their parish church, but many diocesan functions take place at the cathedral. There needs to be a focal point where we can bring people together for the Rite of the Elect, ordinations of deacons and priests, the Chrism Mass. It’s also the place where Holy Hours are held when the Holy Father calls us to do that.
“Sometimes for diocesan events people travel two-and-a-half hours or more to get here and there aren’t even enough bathrooms. That’s not very welcoming,” Bishop Amos added.
“Sacred Heart Cathedral represents southeast Iowa’s Catholics; this is the home, the face of our diocesan Catholics,” Fr. Adam said. Cathedral Sunday is meant to “make people aware of the jewel we have and the theology of a cathedral,” the bishop observed.
Four specific funding needs have been identified for the cathedral:
• Church maintenance and upkeep. Parishioners provide for everyday maintenance and upkeep, but additional funds are needed to maintain the dignity and attractiveness of the building and property that a cathedral deserves, Fr. Adam said.
• Hosting diocesan events.
• Construction of a gathering place, dining hall, restrooms, offices and classrooms.
• Demolition of the old school building to provide greatly needed parking.
A $5.5 million capital campaign is underway to raise money for construction of the gathering facility, to be built onto the north side of the cathedral, facing the old school.
“Of the $5.5 million needed, $3 million has been secured, mostly by Sacred Heart itself. The parish has embraced this project wholeheartedly,” Fr. Adam said. “But it’s a daunting task and needs more support than from just the parish.”
Two years ago, with proceeds from the diocesan capital campaign, the cathedral completed a handicapped accessible entrance on the building’s east side for about $700,000. Parishioner and architect Mark Miller designed the addition to complement the existing cathedral. He is with Bracke.Hayes.Miller.Mahon, Architects in Moline, Ill., which will also design the gathering space.
The east entryway has become a mini-gathering space, Fr. Adam said. “There’s more activity and life taking place in that little handicapped-accessible vestibule than anywhere else in the church. The conversations, decisions and meetings that take place there are an indication of what a true gathering place will provide,” he noted. “The proposed gathering space will be built from the same kind of stone to maintain the dignity of the cathedral.”
Diocesan policy requires 60 percent of funding to be secured before major construction projects begin. “We want to get started immediately, but it’s all dependent on the support of people throughout the diocese,” he continued.
Bishop Amos stressed the importance of having a gathering space attached to the cathedral. “If people have to cross the parking lot to get to the parish hall, they’ll most likely get in the car and drive home instead. “People come to church to be fed at the altar table; they build community over coffee and doughnuts after Mass and then they go out into the world to nurture others and in turn bring others back to the altar table.”
Pilgrimage to Cathedral
Every other year, second- and third-graders at Saints Mary and Mathias School in Muscatine make a pilgrimage to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. “It’s really important for them to know the mother church of the Diocese of Davenport, where Bishop (Martin) Amos says Mass in his church,” explains Sister Cheryl Demmer, PBVM, director of religious education for Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish. Pat Sheets, an educator at the school in 2000, said she’d read an article in The Catholic Messenger about the pope encouraging Catholics to make pilgrimages to churches of significance in their lives. She and Sr. Demmer devised three separate pilgrimages for the school’s children, and now it’s become a tradition.
Growing up in the Dubuque Archdiocese, Sr. Demmer said she developed a great appreciation for St. Raphael Cathedral, the mother church of the archdiocese in Dubuque. She feels compelled to share that sense of church with her students. “It was how I grew up.”