St. Anthony breaks ground for parish center

Parishioners of St. Anthony Parish in Davenport gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony June 14 for a new parish center. Breaking ground, from left, are Father Jack Gallagher, pastor; Tim Russell of Russell Construction; Joe O’Rourke, trustee; Sister Judy Herold, SSND, pastoral associate; Bill Lucas, president of the parish council; Leo Bressanelli, trustee; and Pat Peisch, member of the building committee. Also part of the ceremony were Chris Miclot and Father Brian Miclot. Father William Dawson, a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport, far right, attended.

By Anne Marie Amacher

DAVENPORT — Work is underway to build a 7,200-square-foot addition at St. Anthony Parish in downtown.

Last week the process to tear down the former rectory started. On June 14 ground was broken after the 11:30 a.m. Mass for a new multipurpose hall that will contain an education center, gathering center, parish offices and a warming kitchen, patio and distribution area for McAnthony Window. From the walk-up window a meal is served to the homeless and underprivileged five days a week.

In preparation for the work, items that could be salvaged from the former rectory were removed. A sycamore tree was trimmed and the trunk will be removed before construction starts, said Dennis Flaherty, the parish’s business manager.

Flaherty said Harlan Sundholm of G&H Construction donated his services to demolish the rectory and remove the tree. Flaherty estimates Sundholm’s services saved the parish about $60,000. Sundholm is not a member of St. Anthony’s; Flaherty noted, but has attended Mass there.


Flaherty said the Scott County Health Department gave the OK last week for the temporary McAnthony Window, which will be housed in the old garage until the new center is completed. Food will continue to be served during the destruction and construction phases. The window serves between 125-150 meals a day.

The cost for “Gathering Our Community — Continuing Our Outreach” campaign is $1.8 million. More than $1.5 million has been pledged so far.

At the groundbreaking, Jim Russell of Russell Construction spoke about growing as a parish and the works of St. Anthony Church. Father Jack Gallagher, pastor, blessed the building site before dirt was turned for the new project.

Father Brian Miclot, who has helped celebrate Mass at St. Anthony’s over the years, spoke about the history of his family in the parish and memories of when he attended the former school there. His family goes back to the 1850s at St. Anthony’s.

Scholtz Gowey Gere Marolf Architects & Interior Designers PC of Davenport is the project’s architect. Russell Construction of Davenport is the contractor.

Completion date is set for June 2010. Flaherty hopes it will be sooner. “What the good Lord gives us, we will take. He’ll give us the final say so,” Flaherty laughed.

It has been bittersweet watching the rectory come down, he said, referring to good memories. “But as you grow as a parish, there are changes,” he added.

With the addition, all of St. Anthony’s programs will be housed in “church square” as the area is called. Currently the church and McAnthony Window are located there. Parish offices and religious education classes moved off site many years ago. Many church groups meet off site as well. “This will bring us together,” Flaherty said.

St. Anthony Parish is the oldest in the Diocese of Davenport. It was founded in 1837 when the state had only one diocese, the Diocese of Dubuque. It is the second oldest parish in Iowa.

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