Diocesan year in review

Bishop Martin Amos and priests of the Diocese of Davenport pray the Eucharistic Prayer during the consecration at the Mass of Thanksgiving for the priests of the diocese, held Oct. 29 at St. Mary Catholic Church in Iowa City.

By Anne Marie Amacher

The Diocese of Davenport made many strides during 2009 and looks to strengthen its support in 2010 through a capital campaign.

In 2009 the diocese saw the unprecedented dedication of four new churches as well as other parish-level capital campaigns and dedications of building projects.

Here are some highlights of what happened in the Diocese of Davenport in 2009:

Diocesan news


• A study showed support for a $22 million capital campaign to strengthen the church of the Diocese of Davenport. Funds for the campaign, which kicks into high gear in 2010, also will support clergy and seminarians, reach out to people of the diocese and assist diocesan parishes.

• The Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Davenport  was established to accept charitable contributions on behalf of the diocese.

• The Diocesan Planning Commission began planning for the future with fewer priests.

• Diocesan Support Day focused on planning for disasters including weather-related and illnesses such as the seasonal flu or H1N1 flu.

• The Annual Diocesan Appeal kicked off in September with a goal of $2.9 million.

• The first phase of the diocesan Capital Campaign kicked off in five pilot parishes in the diocese.

• Father Paul Turner spoke to priests, women religious and parish leaders on the changes anticipated in the new English translation of the Roman Missal, which is awaiting Vatican approval. Deacon Frank Agnoli, the diocese’s director of liturgy, began a series in The Catholic Messenger on the New Roman Missal that explains the expected changes.

• The Ministry Formation Program (MFP) announced it will offer sessions in Spanish beginning in 2010.


• A closing Mass at St. Mary Church in Clinton was held March 8.

• Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton dedicated a new, $7.1 million church and offices March 14.

• Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City celebrated the retirement of its $3.18 million campaign begun in 2005. The money raised was used to purchase the center from the Diocese of Davenport and to fund other projects for the center that serves students at the University of Iowa. The center also celebrated 20 years at its current site in 2009.

• Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish and Bishop Hayes Catholic School in Muscatine broke ground May 30 for a 14,000-square-foot faith formation center to be used by the parish and school.

• St. Joseph Parish in Parnell was closed and a final Mass was held June 28.

• St. Mary Parish in Pella dedicated its new, 18,000-square-foot worship space July 19. Total cost was $4.3 million.

• St. James Parish in Washington dedicated its 12,000-square-foot parish hall July 26, which cost $2.2 million.

• Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton received a $1.4 million bequest from longtime parishioner Clair Adams, 95, who died earlier in the year.

• St. Mary Parish in Riverside launched a $2.2 million campaign in September. The money will be used  to build classrooms, offices and to meet additional space needs. The current parish center will be remodeled as a gathering space and additional parking will be created.

• St. Elizabeth Church in Harper, formerly part of Holy Trinity Parish in Keota, closed its doors with a Mass on Oct. 18.

• St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville dedicated it new, $5 million church Nov. 14. It includes 13,500 square feet on the main level and 10,000 square feet in the lower level. The parish was relocated from Iowa City.

• St. Patrick Church in Iowa City dedicated its new, $13 million church Nov. 29. The parish relocated to the east end of the city following a tornado that destroyed most of the church and rectory in 2006. The new, 49,000-square-foot church includes a chapel, bell tower, classrooms, rectory and offices.


• Father Daniel Kelly, 75, died Jan. 23.

• Father Joseph Kokjohn, 80, died May 21.

• Father Harry Linnenbrink, 78, died June 17.

• Father William Kneemiller was deployed to Afghanistan.

• Father Marty Goetz donated a kidney to his sister, Martha.

• Year for Priests began. A Mass of Thanksgiving for Priests of the Diocese of Davenport was held Oct. 29 in Iowa City.

St. Ambrose University, Davenport

• A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in February at a new downtown Davenport site that houses the university’s Master of Organizational Leadership and other MBA programs.

• Ground was broken for the new Health Science Education Center on Genesis Medical Center’s west campus.

• The new Center for Communication and Social Development was dedicated Sept. 4. The center, located in the former Humility of Mary Convent, houses social work and speech-language pathology departments.

• St. Ambrose purchased the St. Vincent Center property, diocesan headquarters in Davenport, for $3.35 million.

Catholic schools

• Total enrollment in Catholic schools was down slightly for the 2009-10 school year compared with the previous school year.

• The Iowa City School Board voted in December to end bus service for Regina Catholic schools starting next school year because of budget constraints.

• Notre Dame Catholic School in Burlington moved its sixth grade from the elementary to junior high building.


• Kent Ferris joined the diocesan staff as social action director. He replaced John Kiley, who died Feb. 14.

• Five diocesan women were re-approved in November to serve as lay preachers.

• Seventeen men in diaconate formation for the diocese participated in the Rite of Admission to Candidacy on July 12 at St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant.

• Hildegard Goss-Mayer, an Austrian peacemaker, received the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award Sept. 20 at St. Ambrose University.

• Joseph Nguyen was ordained a transitional deacon in October and anticipates ordination to the priesthood in spring 2010.

• The newly formed Diocesan Ensemble presented Advent lessons and carols at St. Mary Church in Riverside in December.


• The Junior High Youth Rally drew more than 400 people to Regina Catholic Education Center in Iowa City on March 29.

• About 650 youth attended the Diocesan High School Youth Rally in Coralville on Oct. 4.

• More than 700 youth and adults from the diocese attended the National Catholic Youth Conference in Kansas City, Mo., in November.

Bankruptcy follow-up

• St. Vincent Center, the diocesan headquarters, was placed on the market in February with an asking price of $3.5 million.  St. Ambrose University purchased the center and its property for $3.3 million in September.

• The diocese filed its first annual report on compliance with the non-monetary agreement of its $37 million bankruptcy settlement with victims of clergy sexual abuse.

• Atonement services concluded in June. Fifty-four services were held across the diocese.

• The diocese was found to be compliant with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

• The diocese asked the bankruptcy judge to reconsider a decision to release the names of priests who have not been credibly accused of abuse.

• Bishop Martin Amos asked the Iowa Catholic Conference to support elimination of the criminal statute of limitations for sexual abuse of children by clergy and others in a position of authority.


• The Catholic Messenger won an honorable mention for best front page from the Catholic Press Association.

• Choices Medical Clinic, a pro-life center in Iowa City, opened June 1.

• Twenty-four hours of prayer for vocations were celebrated in each deanery throughout a portion of 2009.

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