By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — A larger venue and having captains to get the word out about the annual Red Dinner to benefit Sacred Heart Cathedral drew a large crowd Feb. 14 at the Rogalski Center on the St. Ambrose University campus.
Father Rich Adam, pastor and rector of the cathedral, said the event’s first two years had to be limited to 175 people at each dinner because of the venue — the former school, which served as a parish hall. Construction at the cathedral currently underway for the new diocesan hall required the Red Dinner to be moved.
Andy Gaertner, director of development for the Diocese of Davenport, served on the committee for the Red Dinner, which drew 350 people. “We had 20 tables sponsored and 13 table captains. The addition of sponsorship and captains got people more involved. They encouraged people to come.”
Fr. Adam added that a good number of attendees who are not members of the cathedral wanted to support “their cathedral. They have as much of a connection as others. We are building a diocesan home.” The Red Dinner “was amazingly awesome,” he noted. Gaertner’s help and ideas and an expanded agenda made the event a big success.
A silent auction and raffle were added to this year’s event. “This event was more than I dreamed it would be,” Fr. Adam said.
One feature of the night was home-brewed Cathedral Beer made by Jim Carter, Frank Cincola and Fr. Adam. Carter said craft brewing has been growing and the three men have been doing this for a while. After trying different methods and types of beer, they decided to make 40 gallons of beer for the event — at no charge to the event or attendees. A stout and wheat beers were offered.
“We first tried it at the Oktoberfest,” Carter said. After receiving positive feedback, they decided to make beer to serve at the Red Dinner.
“We hope in the future we could make a Cathedral Ale that we can sell to benefit the cathedral.” He said they are looking into the possibility of creating a 501c3 charitable organization so that the cathedral benefits from the sales. “Monks were the first to brew beer. This is something we hope we can do to benefit the cathedral for its future.
Bruce and Marlene Lunardi, members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf, heard about the event through the Assumption High School (Davenport) newsletter and decided to help support the cathedral. “It also doubled as a Valentine’s dinner together,” Marlene added.
Tom and Patty Mahalia, members of St. Ann Parish in East Moline, Ill., came because Tom works for Swanson Construction, which is the contractor for the diocesan hall project. Company owner Steve Swanson invited his staff to attend. “I was honored to come,” said Tom Mahalia, who added that he put together the successful bid for the project and has enjoyed visiting the cathedral.
Swanson said work is progressing, and the weather has been very helpful. Weather pending, and no big surprises, the diocesan hall should be completed in August. He noted that passers-by should start seeing more vertical construction in the next few weeks.
As to where the event will be held next year, Fr. Adam said to sit tight. It’s too early to decide. It was such a success that the committee needs to decide whether to cap seating to about 350 people or add to the number. With such a large crowd, adding more social time is something that Fr. Adam hopes to offer next year, no matter where the venue is held.