DAVENPORT — For years Wilma Hauser complained about not being able to hear what was being said during Mass at St. Anthony Church. Occasionally she would apologize to the pastor or pastoral associate that her hearing aid batteries had died, so the acoustics weren’t quite as bad as she thought.
Pastor Father Apo Mpanda said Hauser “was constantly after me to fix the sound system. I told her she would have to wait as we did not have the money.”
Divine inspiration appears to have resolved the issue. Hauser, who went on vacation to the Galapagos Islands last July, died while snorkeling. Her sister Sandy Possehl of California, who was on that trip, contacted Fr. Mpanda about fulfilling Hauser’s wish for a new sound system for the church.
For the past six months, Fr. Mpanda and Pastoral Associate John Cooper worked with Possehl on acquisition of a new sound system. She made one stipulation: the parish would contract with Communication Engineering Co. in Davenport, where Hauser’s son, Mike, works.
Fellow parishioner and friend Barb Shaw said Hauser did a lot of volunteer work in the parish and community and was a very thrifty woman. “If anyone needed help, she’d try her best to help them out.”
Shaw also remembered that Hauser always complained after Mass “about the lousy sound system. She’d try to go up front, but it didn’t help.”
Shaw said Hauser would be “thrilled to death to hear this new system. You can hear all over the church. It has brought a smile to so many people. We didn’t realize how much better a system could be until we got a new one. This makes me really happy.”
Fr. Mpanda said the donation in memory of Hauser is a welcome gift to the parish. Hauser’s daughter, Mary Lamb, visited from Kentucky recently to hear the new system, which was installed shortly before Holy Week.
The former sound system was likely installed in the 1960s, said Cooper.
Bernie Millage, primary foreman with Communications Engineering Co., was at St. Anthony’s tweaking the sound system in early April. It offers 180-degree projection. Parishioners seated in the two side wings (and everywhere else) can now hear clearly. Computer software allowed Millage to adjust the sound so that it can be heard clearly front to back. He also was making adjustments for Fr. Mpanda’s microphone for the best projection of his voice.
Millage said St. Anthony’s is the first church in the United States to have a three-tier Bose system installed. The two speakers, located in the front of the church, are 9 ½ feet tall, 5 inches wide and only 6 inches deep. Workers from New York helped install the system.
In addition to the speakers, a processor and wireless system were installed. The parish paid for the accessories, such as new microphones at the altar and ambo and wireless microphones and lavalieres. “If you’re going to do it right, you need to do it all at once,” Fr. Mpanda said. The sound is super clear now,” Cooper said.
The various parish choirs held a concert to show off the new sound system, Cooper said. During times when confessions are being heard, he now turns on pre-recorded music to play in the background.
The memorial of $25,000 in honor of Hauser paid for the main system. The parish paid about $6,000 for the additional equipment.
-By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger