2008: Diocesan year in review

Youths from St. Mary Parish in Albia participate in the Catholics in Action service retreat this summer.

By Anne Marie Amacher

2008 was a year to further healing as the Diocese of Davenport emerged from bankruptcy with the approval of a $37 million settlement with victims of clergy sexual abuse.

A reorganization plan was filed in January 2008 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Iowa. The disclosure statement followed, which included how the diocese would distribute the $37 million settlement and implement 17 non-monetary measures intended to help foster healing.

After the first disclosure statement was rejected, a revised statement was filed. Of the 165 ballots that creditors submitted on the revised plan, 164 supported it. In June 2008, the diocese emerged from bankruptcy.

In the summer, the diocese announced a schedule to begin atonement services in which Bishop Martin Amos would visit all parishes where clergy sexual abuse had occurred or where a perpetrator had served. Those visits began in the summer and continue this year.


To begin anew, the diocese hired Community Counseling Services (CCS) of New York, to conduct a feasibility study to determine support for a major capital campaign.

Interviews were conducted last fall with clergy and laity from throughout the diocese for their input and results will be announced early this year. The campaign would help replenish the diocese’s financial resources.

Here are some other highlights that occurred in the Diocese of Davenport during 2008:


• Holy Family Parish in Davenport dedicated a nearly $1 million project featuring a youth center, parish administration center and expanded parking lot.

• St. Mary Parish in Tipton added geothermal heating to its church and parish hall.

• St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City sold its property to Iowa City for $3.05 million, blessed the ground for its new church site and broke ground for the building project. Total cost is expected to be $11 million.

• The Muscatine Catholic Community kicked off a $2.25 million capital campaign to build a 14,000-square-foot facility for Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish and Bishop Hayes Catholic School.

• St. Thomas More Parish in Iowa City moved its religious education program from Centro in North Liberty to the Education Station Child Development Center in North Liberty to accommodate growth. In the spring, the parish agreed to sell its existing property for $2.2 million upon relocating to a new church to be constructed in Coralville. Ground was broken for the $4.5 million church complex.

• St. Anthony Parish in Davenport kicked off a $2.1 million capital campaign for a new parish center, office and McAnthony Window.

• St. Mary Parish in Pella broke ground for a $3.2 million, 18,000-square-foot hall, which will serve as its sanctuary until a new church is built.

• St. Alphonsus Parish in Davenport celebrated its 100th anniversary.

• St. Mary Parish in Fairfield celebrated the 100th anniversary of its existing church.

• St. Irenaeus Church, part of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton, held its closing Mass.

• St. Joseph Parish in East Pleasant Plain and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Richland merged to form Ss. Joseph and Cabrini Parish.

• Ss. Peter & Paul Church in Clear Creek, part of Holy Trinity Parish in Keota, celebrated its 150th anniversary.

• Immaculate Conception Parish in Colfax dedicated its new gathering space, which cost $700,000.

• St. James Parish in Washington broke ground for a 10,000-square-foot center to include a hall, offices and meeting rooms. Cost is estimated at $1.3 million.

• Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport kicked off a capital campaign for $2.4 million to build a new gathering space and new classrooms at John F. Kennedy Catholic School.

• St. Boniface Church, part of Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton, closed.

• Ss. Mary & Joseph Parish in Fort Madison named its parish hall after Father Robert McAleer, a former pastor of the parish.

• Ss. Mary & Joseph Parish and Sacred Heart Parish, both in Fort Madison, merged to form Holy Family Parish.

• Celebration of the Tridentine Mass (commonly referred to as the Latin Mass), began at several locations in the Diocese of Davenport. Masses are held weekly at St. Anthony Church in Davenport and St. Wenceslaus Church in Iowa City. Masses are held twice a month at Ss. Mary & Joseph Parish in Sugar Creek.

People in the news

• Father Anthony Farrell, 69, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Davenport, died Jan. 10.

• Deacon Joe Demeter, 75, died Jan. 8.

• Shirley Van Dee was installed as parish life administrator for St. Joseph Parish in East Pleasant Plain and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Richland. Those parishes were later merged to form Ss. Joseph and Cabrini Parish.

• Father Christopher David, 42, died March 21.

• Father Hai Dinh and Father Joseph Sia were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Amos at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

• Bishop Amos celebrated 40 years in the priesthood.

• Carol Trueg was named the first president of Regina Inter-Parish Catholic Education Center in Iowa City.

• Father Ernie Braida retired effective June 29 after 44 years of priestly ministry in the diocese.

• Msgr. Marvin Mottet, a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport, received the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award.

• Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, marked her first year as president of St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

• Sister Laura Goedken, OP, was hired as the first development director for the Diocese of Davenport.

• Father James Lawrence, 83, died Sept. 12.

• Msgr. Michael Morrissey, 69, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Davenport, retired early due to health reasons.

• Msgr. Leo Feeney, 67, pastor of Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire, died Oct. 6.

• Deacon Ted Mueller, 98, died Nov. 17.

• Twenty men began their journey as aspirants seeking to become permanent deacons.

• Msgr. Philip Reilly, founder of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, visited the Diocese of Davenport and met with pro-lifers.

• Loxi Hopkins, a volunteer in the diocese’s social action department, was named the diocese’s director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

• Msgr. Drake Shafer, a former vicar general, was exonerated by the Vatican of an accusation of clergy sexual abuse. He is to return to active ministry in the diocese.


• St. Mary Catholic School in Centerville closed at the end of the 2007-08 school year.

• Choirs from Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in Burlington and Holy Trinity Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Fort Madison traveled to Rome in April to sing.

• St. Ambrose University in Davenport blessed and dedicated “New Hall,” which is a combined classroom and residence hall.

• St. Paul the Apostle School and parish in Davenport were vandalized, sustaining more than $30,000 in damage in September.

• Regina schools in Iowa City celebrated their 50th anniversary.

• Assumption High School in Davenport celebrated its 50th anniversary.

• Funding from the state of Iowa allowed free preschool to be offered at many Catholic schools in the diocese.

• St. Joseph Catholic School in DeWitt opened a preschool.


• St. Alphonsus Early Childhood Center in Davenport expanded its daycare and preschool center to accept infant daycare.

• Assumption High School in Davenport opened Villa Maria daycare, which accepts infants through school age.

Diocesan activities

• The Diocese of Davenport and St. Ambrose University in Davenport announced a collaborative effort to offer deacon candidate education.

• Msgr. John Hyland presided over the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion in Davenport. Bishop Amos, who was recovering from the flu, was in attendance and participated in some of the activities. Inclement weather prevented the bishop from presiding at the rite the following week in Ottumwa. 

• Diocesan support days were held in Richmond and Davenport.

• Training was offered to selected individuals so that they could lead a Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest, if the need arises.

Other events

• Muscatine Knights of Columbus celebrated its 100th anniversary.

• Flooding devastated parts of Iowa. Hardest hit in the diocese were Iowa City, Wapello and Oakville.

• The dioceses of Sioux City and Des Moines made financial contributions to the Diocese of Davenport to help with flood recovery efforts, which continue today.

• More than 400 junior high students and chaperones attended the Junior High Youth Rally.

• More than 800 high school students and chaperones attended the Diocesan High School Youth Rally in Coralville.

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