By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Sacred Heart Cathedral is the spiritual home of all parishioners of the Diocese of Davenport. “It’s the bishop’s church and mother church of the diocese,” said Father Rich Adam, the cathedral’s pastor and rector. “When you are baptized, you are tied to the mother church of your diocese. You are welcome here no matter what parish you belong to or whoever your pastor is,” Fr. Adam said. “This is also your home.”
The weekend of Feb. 10-11 is Cathedral Sunday, during which a diocesan-wide collection will be held to raise funds for the cathedral’s maintenance and upkeep. This year’s collection follows the November dedication of the cathedral’s new gathering space and diocesan hall. Fr. Adam appreciates seeing the expression on people’s faces when they come to the cathedral. With the new addition — which includes a larger parking lot, more handicap-accessible spaces and exterior lighting — the atmosphere is “really special and welcoming when you come here.”
Inside the gathering space, a large screen monitor displays activities happening at the cathedral and in the hall and also broadcasts the Mass. Families with small children who choose to take crying children out of church still have the opportunity to participate in the Mass. “They really watch it,” said Marianne Bell-Overholt, a cathedral parishioner who has been in the gathering space herself during Mass. “I never pictured this,” she said of the new diocesan hall, a dream years in the making.
Trien Martin Ngo of the cathedral’s Vietnamese Catholic community said the cathedral is “very important because many diocesan services and events are held at the cathedral with members of churches within the diocese coming to attend such services and gatherings.” It is also a blessing for the Vietnamese community, he said, which looks forward to holding its events there. The old school, which previously served as the parish hall, could not accommodate large crowds and lacked accessibility.
The new hall “allows for greater attendance and provides better structure to serve as the diocese’s center of worship that will stand up over time,” Ngo said.
Cathedral parishioners Mark and Mary Bernhard said the cathedral, dedicated in 1892, now has a “beautiful 21st century diocesan hall that is very welcoming and inviting.” It enables all to “strive to continue Bishop Henry Cosgrove’s vision and legacy of Sacred Heart being the ‘mother church’ of the Davenport Diocese.”
Parishioners Karen and Jim Collins said they are proud members of Sacred Heart Cathedral. They are also proud of people throughout the diocese who have given of their time, talent and treasure to provide, for the first time since the diocese’s founding, “a formal diocesan hall for the hosting of so many celebrations at the mother church of the diocese.”
The couple stressed the importance of all in the diocese being able to use and support the cathedral to celebrate the mission of the church and to “build up the Kingdom of God for generations to come.”
The late Msgr. Marvin Mottet, who served as pastor and rector of the cathedral for more than a decade prior to his retirement, also welcomed the addition of a new diocesan hall even though he did not live to see it. “It’s something he always wanted to do,” Fr. Adam said.
The first diocesan-wide event to be held since the diocesan hall’s dedication will be the Diocesan Scouting Mass reception, scheduled this weekend. Next will be the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, scheduled Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. That ceremony will also be held the following weekend in Ottumwa, to accommodate people who may not be able to travel to Davenport in the winter months.
The annual Chrism Mass will be held March 19 at 5 p.m. at the cathedral. An ordination Mass is scheduled June 30 at 10 a.m. for Deacon John Lamansky (to the priesthood) and seminarian Terry Ball (to the diaconate).
Other events are also hosted at the diocesan hall. Father Thom Hennen, director of campus ministry at St. Ambrose University in Davenport and diocesan director of vocations, held a retreat at the cathedral last month. “Some of the peer ministers said they had never been to the cathedral before. I said ‘we need to fix that.’” He arranged for a tour of the cathedral and new hall during the daylong retreat in a meeting room there. Parishioners were trying out the new fryer in the kitchen to make doughnuts for the Sunday gathering. “We got to try them out,” Fr. Hennen said.
Miguel Moreno, diocesan coordinator of multicultural ministry, has booked the cathedral for a concert with Tony Melendez on May 12. “I booked the cathedral because it is the mother church of the diocese. Everyone is welcome here and I want people to know their home church. Everyone should take a pilgrimage here at some time.”
Keith Nester, a former Baptist youth minister and preacher, will give a presentation Feb. 21 at the cathedral to share his journey to Catholicism. On March 8, composer Father Michael Joncas will give a presentation for an event sponsored by Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat.
“The people of God need a spiritual home that speaks of the central importance of worship as the organizing principle of people’s lives,” Ngo said. “Sacred Heart Cathedral is the spiritual home for all the people of to gather in prayer as the Diocese of Davenport.”