By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — When St. Margaret Parish was deemed to be too small to be the newly formed Diocese of Davenport’s cathedral, work began to build a new church.
In 1889, Bishop Henry Cosgrove announced the new cathedral would cost between $80,000 and $100,000. Sacred Heart Cathedral church was built with financial help from parishioners throughout the Diocese of Davenport.
Today, cathedral supporters are in the midst of a $6 million capital campaign to build a new parish center with a gathering space, much needed restrooms, handicap-accessible entrance on the west side of the church, a reception hall and classrooms in the lower level. This project follows construction of the handicap-accessible east entrance to the cathedral in 2013, funded by the Diocese of Davenport’s capital campaign. “This is not only a parish, but the bishop’s church,” said Jim Collins, co-chair of the cathedral campaign. The cathedral serves as the center of diocesan events such as the Chrism Mass and ordinations to the priesthood and diaconate. The new addition will benefit all who attend special events of the diocese and pilgrims to the cathedral, too, supporters say.
Those who have attended Mass at the cathedral are aware of the need for more restrooms, noted campaign co-chair Jim Tiedje. There’s just one toilet on the main level and one in the basement, which is not handicap-accessible. He also pointed out that access to the old school building that serves as the present parish hall is not accessible for all. Those challenges will be eliminated with construction of the new addition that will replace the old school building. The improvements are vital, because “this is the mother church for the whole diocese,” said Father Rich Adam, the cathedral’s pastor and rector.
During a capital campaign meeting Jan. 13, Fr. Adam said more than $3 million has been raised by Sacred Heart Cathedral parishioners alone. “They exceeded their goal,” Collins noted. “This parish stepped up and continues to do so.” Ongoing fundraisers at the cathedral parish include an annual steak dinner. This year’s will be held Feb. 13 in the school gym/parish hall. Isabel Bloom crosses with the Sacred Heart Cathedral logo are for sale and the Vietnamese Catholics sell homemade egg rolls about once a month as a fundraiser. “But we can’t do it alone,” Collins said.
Overall, $4.25 million has been secured for the campaign, Fr. Adam said. “We hope to break ground this spring.” Mark Miller, the addition’s architect, said several contractors have reached out to him and the committee members, asking to be considered for the bidding process.
Aside from the capital campaign, the second annual Cathedral Sunday collection will be held in all parishes Feb. 13-14. “This is for support and maintenance for the cathedral church itself. We need to keep it stately,” Fr. Adam said. “For a church of this size and age there are a lot of needs.” Cathedral parishioners help pay for the day-to-day needs of the parish and as much maintenance as possible.
To make a contribution online to the capital campaign visit the cathedral website at http://shcdavenport.org/, click on the “capital campaign” button, then the “donate now” button. Or send checks SHC Foundation, 422 E. 10th St., Davenport, IA 52803. For more information on the capital campaign, Cathedral Sunday or to schedule a visit or holy year pilgrimage, call (563) 324.3257.