By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — The long awaited diocesan center at Sacred Heart Cathedral will be dedicated Sunday, Nov. 19, at 4 p.m. Bishop Thomas Zinkula will bless the center, which will be called the Pat and Weir Sears Center and the gathering space which will be named after Antoine and Marguerite LeClaire.
Father Rich Adam, the cathedral’s pastor, said the new center has an upper level and walkout lower level. The west side of the church, by the chapel, also has been made handicap accessible and connects to the new gathering space. The east entrance, completed in 2013, connects to the gathering space.
The Pat and Weir Sears Center is named after the couple who gave generously to the parish. The family pledged $1 million toward the project, which made ground breaking possible Sept. 11, 2016.
The hall, which has a full kitchen, will accommodate 350 people sitting at round tables. The hall will be used for gatherings, soup suppers, fundraisers, funeral luncheons and more, Fr. Adam said. Other uses for the diocesan hall are being explored. “We’ve talked about having Christian Experience Weekend (CEW), and even a Cursillo retreat,” he added.
Seven rooms for religious education and faith formation offices are located downstairs. The center section has room for additional uses. An elevator also has been installed. Much-needed restrooms are available in the upper and lower levels, Fr. Adam pointed out. The cathedral has only two restrooms, which means people wait in long lines when special events such as ordinations, Chrism Mass and Rite of Election are held.
The gathering space’s namesakes — Antoine and Marguerite LeClaire — donated the land and helped pay for St. Marguerite Church, the predecessor to Sacred Heart Cathedral. Antoine was a principal founder of the city of Davenport. Fr. Adam said the space will continue the couple’s legacy of hospitality and welcome to all who visit the cathedral.
The original bell that hung at St. Marguerite’s and in the cathedral steeple has been moved to the new hall’s porte cochere. A parking lot is being put into place in the space where the parish’s former school stood. That building was torn down this past summer.
Not related to the diocesan center construction but going on at the same time was installation of a new roof for the cathedral. Storm damage that occurred in October 2016 necessitated that project. A new cross will be installed at a later date.
Total cost for the diocesan center project is $7 million, of which $5.5 million has been raised. To make a donation, send checks made out to Sacred Heart Cathedral Foundation and mail to Sacred Heart Cathedral, 422 E. 10th St., Davenport, IA, 52803 or visit the website at