By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Construction of the new diocesan hall at Sacred Heart Cathedral progresses. The cathedral is the spiritual “home” of the diocese and is the bishop’s church, but at present lacks the amenities needed for diocesan-wide celebrations.
During the weekend of Feb. 11-12, a diocesan-wide Cathedral Sunday collection will be held. Father Rich Adam, pastor and rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral, said this yearly collection was established to help “maintain the integrity, viability and beauty of our diocesan home.”
The cathedral has few restrooms and they are not handicap accessible; space in which to gather, greet and meet people is limited; and a reception hall for diocesan celebrations is also lacking, Fr. Adam said. Step by step, things are changing. The east side of the cathedral was made handicap accessible in 2013. Ground was broken and work began on construction of a new diocesan hall in September 2016.
The cathedral’s regular Sunday collection “is for the sake of the parish itself,” Fr. Adam said. It funds staff, utilities and maintenance; the cathedral’s financial obligation to All Saints Catholic School and Assumption High School; the food pantry and clothing center; and other missions of the parish.
Cathedral Sunday “will be primarily for the maintenance and overall preservation and upkeep of the cathedral once the diocesan hall is finished. It is a monumental task for Sacred Heart to build this diocesan hall and it needs the support of the entire diocese,” Fr. Adam said.
Changing demographics and former parishioners moving to newer neighborhoods means that the collaborative support of everyone in the diocese is necessary to keep the cathedral as “the jewel of the diocese,” he added, “with appropriate facilities
and accommodations for diocesan events.”
Funds from the cathedral’s ongoing capital campaign go into a foundation dedicated to the new diocesan hall. That project features a gathering space, kitchen, classrooms, handicap-accessible restrooms and more.
Steven Swanson of Swanson Construction said weather conditions have been pretty good so far since work began in late September. Work was set back a week after a storm rolled through the area and damaged some construction material. One other challenge the contractor has run into is a high water table in the basement area. “Nonetheless, we are getting through the foundation phase and gearing up to start coming out of the ground this month.”
He hopes to have the building enclosed by late April and for site work to begin in May. Overall completion is set for August. Jim Carter, the cathedral’s buildings and grounds maintenance engineer, noted in the parish newsletter that about 600 loads of dirt were excavated from an area where the lower level of the diocesan hall will be constructed. The dirt is being stored on cathedral property.
“It would have cost perhaps $75 per load to haul off campus, only to have to be purchased again when fill is needed for the back fill of the basement,” Carter said. The excess dirt will also be used to fill the hole following the demolition of the former school. Estimated cost saving for keeping the dirt on site is $80,000.
Mark Miller of BHMM Architects said the west cloister component of the construction project will be similar to the east cloister completed in 2013. The two cloisters will connect to the new hall. Miller noted in the parish newsletter that a surprise was found during excavation for the west cloister. “We found the water service for the old St. Marguerite School building (1871) that was torn down around 1914 was still active after all these years. Unfortunately it was not disconnected in 1914, causing us to complete the work properly now.”
To see the construction project, visit the website: http://shcdavenport.org/diocesan-hall-construction.
Total cost of the diocesan hall construction:
Gathering space, hall, kitchen, restrooms: $2,951,900
Lower level classrooms: $2,712,800
Renovations to cathedral: $241,300
The annual Red Dinner has become an important fundraising event for Sacred Heart Cathedral’s maintenance and day to day operations. This year’s event will be held Feb. 14 at the Rogalski Center on the St. Ambrose University campus in Davenport. Cocktails will be served at 6 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $65 per person.
Sponsor a table of eight for $1,250 and receive: four tickets to a cocktail reception with Bishop Martin Amos in the cathedral rectory Feb. 11 at 5 p.m.; prime seating for the Feb. 14 dinner; featured billing of your business in the dinner program; and public acknowledgement by Father Rich Adam at the event.
If you are unable to attend, sponsor a member of a religious community or a retired priest for $65 per person.
For more information on the Red Dinner or to reserve tickets, go to the cathedral website at www.shcdavneport.org or call the parish office at (563) 324-3257.