Diocesan Year in Review: 2010

Deacon Frank Agnoli, director of liturgy for the Davenport Diocese, lights candle lighters held by parishioners during the dedication Mass for St. Mary Church in Fairfield Jan. 31, 2010.

By Anne Marie Amacher

Throughout 2010, parishioners took a larger stake in the future of the Diocese of Davenport by participating in diocesan-wide planning and contributing toward a capital campaign goal of $22 million.

Five parishes piloted the capital campaign in 2009, followed in 2010 by the remaining 75 parishes and the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City.

The $22 million was raised by fall to support clergy of the diocese, seminarians, deacons, Catholic schools, faith formation for children and adults and other diocesan ministries. A portion of the money was used to purchase and renovate diocesan headquarters at St. Vincent Center in Davenport.

Of the 81 entities that participated in the capital campaign, 52 exceeded their individual goals. A 20 percent rebate to parishes was an attractive incentive during the campaign. Parishes reported they planned to use their share to do repairs, maintenance or expansions of facilities. One parish planned to purchase property and another planned to hire a parish nurse and enhance its wellness program.


Also in 2010, parishioners from around the diocese met at the deanery and parish levels to begin planning for future ministry with fewer priests to serve parishes. Parishioners were asked to look at which parishes they may consider collaborating with in the future. The Catholic Messenger ran a series on collaborative efforts already under way in each of the six deaneries of the diocese. The planning process continues in 2011.

Here’s a look at other highlights from the last year:


• St. Mary Parish in Fairfield dedicated its new 26,000-square-foot church Jan. 31.

• St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville moved its religious education classes in March from offsite locations to the new church building dedicated in 2009. The lower level was completed for classes and other uses.

• St. Anthony Parish in Davenport dedicated its 7,200-square-foot parish hall and office building.

• Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton donated two lots on the site of the closed St. Irenaeus Church to Habitat for Humanity.

• Prince of Peace Parish burned the mortgage for its new church dedicated in 2009.

• St. Mary Parish in Riverside broke ground for a $1.3 million building to hold classrooms, offices and space for meetings, retreats and social outreach.

• St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City built a new rectory, a year after finishing its new church building.

• Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish dedicated its $1.8 million, 14,000-square-foot Mazzuchelli Center, which will house all faith formation classes at one site and is attached to the parish school.


• Keokuk Catholic Schools dropped its middle school grades 6-8 following the 2009-10 school year. Now the school serves preschool through fifth grade.

• Regina Catholic Education Center in Iowa City contracted its bus service for the 2010-11 school year, a move that was required after the public school district decided it could no longer afford to bus Regina students.

• Seton Catholic School in Ottumwa dropped its sixth grade class and continues to serve preschool through fifth grade. Terri Schofield, Seton’s principal, resigned to take another position in Centerville. Duane Siepker was hired as principal at Seton.

• Bishop Hayes Catholic School in Muscatine was renamed Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School.

• Sharon Kokemuller was named assistant principal at Keokuk Catholic Schools.

• Mold delayed the start of school in 2010 for Regina Catholic Education Center. The school also implemented a new dress code.

• St. Ambrose University in Davenport dedicated the St. Ambrose University Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis. The two-story, 40,000-square-foot building is located on land donated by Genesis Health Systems.

• Enrollment was up overall in preschool through high school at Davenport Catholic schools.

• St. Ambrose University received $1 million from the estate of the late Father Joseph Kokjohn. The money will be used to establish an endowment to further peace and justice education.

• Enrollment at St. Ambrose University is steady.


• Father Eugene Benda, 75, a retired priest of the diocese, died Sept. 21.

• Father William Kneemiller returned from duty as a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves serving in Afghanistan. He is now pastor at parishes in Hills, Lone Tree and Nichols.

• Father Joseph Nguyen was ordained a priest of the diocese May 22 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

• Priests of the Grinnell Deanery concluded the Year for Priests with a Mass at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton.


• Deacon Adrian Panther, 83, died Jan. 19.

• Deacon Juan Leza, 95, died Feb. 25.


• Lee Morrison joined the diocese as superintendent of Catholic schools. He succeeded Mary Wieser, who continues to serve as director of faith formation.

• The Dominican Sisters of the Roman Congregation left the Diocese of Davenport after nearly 40 years of service here.

• The Sisters of Humility purchased 9 acres of land on which their motherhouse sits from St. Ambrose University, which had acquired the property previously owned by the Davenport Diocese. The Sisters had entered a 99-year lease agreement with the diocese in 1981. But the diocese turned over the property in bankruptcy proceedings. The Sisters paid fair market value.

• Father John Dear, SJ, received the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award Oct. 31 at St. Ambrose University’s Christ the King Chapel in Davenport.

• Several Knights of Columbus honors were bestowed in 2010. The Dohmen family of Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire was named Iowa Knights of Columbus Family of the Year and later fourth runner-up for International Family of the Year. Father Michael Phillips of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City was named Diocesan Chaplain of the Year for the Diocese of Davenport. Deacon Bob Gengenbacher of Fort Madison was awarded the Iowa Knights Religious of the Year award. Other awards went to Wiley Plummer of Our Lady of the River Parish, Bernard Lammers of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton and Barry McNulty of St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg.

• Sister JonFe Marie de Torres professed solemn vows June 26 at St. Ann Parish in Long Grove for the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Eldridge.

• Sister Sarah Martz, OSF, professed first vows as a Clinton Franciscan at Prince of Peace Parish.

• The School Sisters of Notre Dame marked 150 years in the Diocese of Davenport.

• Six people were commissioned at the Ministry Formation Program graduation ceremony.


• More than 450 people attended the Junior High Youth Rally at Regina Catholic Education Center in Iowa City.

• Nearly 650 people attended the Diocesan High School Youth Rally in Coralville.


• Various groups — from parishes to youth to schools throughout the diocese — held fundraisers to benefit the people of Haiti after a devastating earthquake in January.

• Catholic Charities was formed in the diocese. It will focus on enhancing services in the diocesan immigration office, assisting with local disaster response, working collaboratively with community partners, supporting and promoting local ministries in place such as parish health ministry, and supporting jail ministry.

• Michael Gayman, a former seminarian for the Diocese of Davenport, opened a Catholic Worker house in Davenport.

• The diocese sought input on special needs ministry.

• Mercy Medical Center in Centerville marked its 100th anniversary.

• A Vigil for Nascent Human Life was held Nov. 27 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.

• The first Servant Leadership program concluded Dec. 3 in Iowa City.

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