By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Five years into the visioning process, ground was broken for the new diocesan hall at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sept. 11.
Following the 9 a.m. Mass, parishioners and guests gathered behind the church for the groundbreaking ceremony with Bishop Martin Amos.
Jim Collins, the building committee’s co-chair, said the $6 million project includes a handicap-accessible entrance on the west side of the church, a new parish/diocesan center with a gathering space, restrooms, reception hall and classrooms in the lower level. He said construction hopefully will be completed by the end of 2017.
Swanson Construction of Bettendorf is the main contractor and Steve Swanson said he hoped to begin work later this week, weather pending. He said when he learned about the cathedral project while attending a wedding at the cathedral, he knew he had to bid on it. “This is a great place and it is an honor to build your new center.”
Demolition of the former school building-parish hall is a separate project. Funds will be raised later to take down the building and add parking spaces.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Bishop Amos said, “The work we are beginning today should enliven our faith and make us grateful. We know the familiar words of the psalm: ‘If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor.’
“Whenever we look to the interests of our neighbors or the community and serve them, we are in a sense God’s own co-workers. Let us pray … that God will bring this construction to successful completion and that his protection will keep those who work on it safe from injury.”
Following readings and prayer petitions, the bishop blessed the site with holy water. He said it is wonderful to see the project moving along and that the new center will be a place for fellowship, education and gathering.
Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch said he met with Father Rich Adam, the cathedral’s pastor and rector, and Collins several times about the project. The mayor said the construction project has significance beyond the faith community. The cathedral is an important part of the city in its outreach to others.
The project kicked off five years ago with a $1 million gift from Patricia and I. Weir Sears, longtime parishioners and civic leaders. Their son Jim spoke on behalf of the family. “My memories go back as far as I can remember,” he told the gathering. The cathedral has been a place where the family experienced happy occasions and received support through sad ones. “Our family continues to come here together.” He noted that Fr. Adam approached the family about the project, which would benefit the whole diocesan community. “We couldn’t say no. We are so happy to see this vision become a reality.”
Fr. Adam concluded the ceremony by telling those in attendance to enjoy the beautiful day. “Can I have an Amen?” The community responded “Amen!”
Pat Buscher, Nan Murphy and Ruth Johnson were excited to see this day finally come. The ladies said talks about building a parish center have been ongoing since Msgr. Marvin Mottet was pastor more than a decade ago. Johnson said the new center will be a place for the whole diocesan community to gather for ordinations, Chrism Mass, weddings and funerals. A member of the cathedral’s cleaning committee, Johnson said she’ll probably be a little busier dusting with the construction, but it will be worth it.
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.