By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — Fifty years ago, St. John Vianney Parish began with 238 families. Today it is the largest parish in the Diocese of Davenport with 1,956 families. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the parish held a variety of activities starting last year and culminating with events on the anniversary weekend of Sept. 17-18.
Steve Wauer, co-chair of the 50th anniversary committee, said plans began a year ago for the celebration. He remembers the timing because he had just stepped down from the St. John Vianney Parish Men’s Fellowship committee and was immediately asked to co-chair the anniversary committee.
“We wanted to mix faith, fun and charity in our events” throughout the year, he said.
For the anniversary weekend, some of the priests who served St. John Vianney over the years returned to concelebrate Mass at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday. Earlier Saturday, a fun run was held in which 250 attended, Wauer said. Bishop Thomas Zinkula, just back from Rome, gave a “beautiful” blessing and participated in the walk/run. “He gave an amazing prayer and blessing for the runners,” Wauer said. The event fit the fun and charity categories. Café on Vine and Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. will benefit from funds raised at the walk/run.
Following the Saturday evening Mass, Wauer said about 250 people attended a wine and cheese event. “It was a great time for fellowship,” he added. The annual parish picnic, usually held in August, was pushed back to coincide with the 50th anniversary celebration on Sunday. St. John Vianney Men’s Fellowship Committee hosted the indoor/outdoor picnic. About 750 attended. Roxie Bailey and her daughters London and Anika said it was a perfect day and they enjoyed the picnic. The family has belonged to the parish for about 13 years.
One more 50th anniversary celebration event is scheduled — a trivia night, Wauer said. It will be held Oct. 28 from 6-10 p.m. at the parish. The event is sponsored by the Haiti commission. Proceeds from the night will go to the parish’s Haiti mission.