Diocesan year in review: 2011


By Anne Marie Amacher

In a laying on of hands ritual, Archbishop John Nienstedt, archbishop of the St. Paul/Minneapolis Archdiocese, calls down the Holy Spirit on Bishop-designate Robert Gruss during his ordination to the episcopate July 28 in Rapid City, S.D. Bishop Gruss, who previously served as a priest of the Davenport Diocese, is now the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City.

One of the biggest news stories of 2011 in the Diocese of Davenport was the naming of diocesan priest Msgr. Robert Gruss as the new bishop of Rapid City, S.D.
Bishop Gruss was serving as rector and pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport when he received the call asking him to lead the people of the South Dakota Diocese.

On July 19 he took an oath of fidelity at Sacred Heart Cathedral and on July 28 he was ordained a bishop at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. The new bishop returned to the Davenport Diocese and celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving on Sept. 4 at the cathedral.

Here are some other 2011 news highlights from around the diocese:


Strategic planning

Bishop Martin Amos accepted a strategic plan Oct. 16 created with input from the diocese’s 80 parishes. The diocese initiated the planning process three years earlier to envision what the future might look like 10 years from now with fewer priests, and a continuing need to assure the sacraments throughout the diocese and wise management of resources. In accepting the document from the Diocesan Planning Commission, Bishop Amos described it as a great beginning, but also noted that the process continues. Some parts of the plan may need tweaking, follow-up or change. Altogether, the grassroots planning process resulted in 28 clusters among the 80 parishes.


• Five priests died: Father Ronald Young, 61, Jan. 11; Father Martin Manning, 93, May 24; Father Joseph Khan, in his 80s, Nov. 3; Father William Dawson, 84, Dec. 13; and Father Ted Borger, 56, Dec. 16.

• Father Ron Hodges, OSB, who is discerning a call to parish ministry after ministry in a monastery, began serving Jan. 3 at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport and now serves as parochial vicar at St. Mary parishes in Pella and Oskaloosa.

• Father Richard Beyer returned to the diocese after serving as a hospital chaplain in Texas. He currently serves as part-time parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Iowa City and part-time campus minister at the Newman Catholic Student Center, also in Iowa City.

• Father Tom Spiegel retired from active ministry in the diocese.


• Bishop Martin Amos celebrated the 10th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop, fifth anniversary as the bishop of the Diocese of Davenport and reached another milestone — his 70th birthday. The bishop also became a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus.

• Sister Lynn Mousel professed final vows as a Humility of Mary Sister on May 7 in Magnificat Chapel at the Humility of Mary Center in Davenport.

• Deacon Bob McCoy retired as director of the diaconate for the diocese, a position he held since 2000. His successor, Deacon David Montgomery, also serves as the diocese’s communications director.

• Thirteen deacon candidates were installed to the Ministry of Lector on July 10: Mark Comer of St. Joseph Parish, DeWitt; Derick Cranston of Holy

Deacon candidate John Osborne of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell receives the Bible from Bishop Martin Amos on July 10 at St. Mary Church in Riverside. Osborne was among 13 deacon candidates of the Davenport Diocese who were installed into the Ministry of Lector. Standing next to Bishop Amos is Deacon Bob McCoy, recently retired director of the diaconate, and seated next to Bishop Amos is Deacon Frank Agnoli, director of deacon formation.

Trinity Parish, Richmond, St. Mary Parish, Riverside and St. Joseph Parish, Wellman; Daniel DePuydt of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish, Muscatine; Robert Glaser of Ss. John & Paul Parish, Burlington; Mitchell Holte of St. Mary Parish, Solon; Daniel Huber of Sacred Heart Cathedral, Davenport; Edwin Kamerick of St. Patrick Parish, Melrose; David Krob of St. Mary Parish, Solon; Dennis McDonald of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish, Muscatine; John Osborne of St. Mary Parish, Grinnell; David Sallen of Holy Family Parish, Fort Madison; Robert Shaw of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Davenport; and John Wagner of Our Lady of Victory Parish, Davenport.

• Deacon Anastacio Ponce Vidaña was ordained to the diaconate Aug. 20 at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa.

• Twenty-six lay ministers were commissioned Oct. 1 at St. Patrick Church in Iowa City. This included 10 individuals who graduated from the first class of the Spanish-speaking Ministry Formation Program.

• Bishop Alvaro Leonel Ramazzini Imeri, bishop of San Marcos, Guatemala, received the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award on Oct. 2 in the Rogalski Center at St. Ambrose University.

• Deacon Corey Close was ordained a deacon Oct. 6 at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

• Sister Teresa Susan of Jesus made her final profession as a Carmelite on Oct. 22 at St. Ann Church in Long Grove.

• The Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Eldridge celebrated 100 years in the Diocese of Davenport with a Mass Oct. 29 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.


• Prince of Peace Schools in Clinton began offering free tuition to kindergartners from parish families this school year. The school hopes to eventually

offer free tuition to all K-12 students from  parish families.

• St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Davenport was honored as a National Blue Ribbon school in September — one of only seven schools out of

Second graders Shannon Bush and Andrew Goldermann write spelling words during class Sept. 19. St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Davenport had recently been recognized as a National Blue Ribbon school.

1,633 in Iowa and one of 304 schools out of 132,656 nationwide selected for the honor. Gov. Terry Branstad congratulated the school during a visit in November.

• Overall enrollment in diocesan schools remained steady for the 2010-11 academic year at 5,218 students.

• Lee Iben was named interim president and then permanent president of the Regina Catholic Education Center in Iowa City.

• New principals serving this academic year are Jeanne VonFeldt at All Saints Catholic School in Davenport, Sharon Roling at St. Joseph Catholic School in DeWitt, Richard Facciolo at Holy Trinity Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Fort Madison, Theresa Twaddle at Holy Trinity Catholic Elementary School in West Point and the early childhood centers in Fort Madison and St. Paul, and Teresa Beenblossom at St. James Catholic School in Washington.

St. Ambrose University

• The school purchased Orthopaedic Specialists Sports Complex, often referred to as the Brady Street Bubble, on March 31 for $450,000. It will be used as a practice field for several of the university’s sports teams.

• The Graduate Center moved its offices to St. Ambrose Downtown Education Center in June.

• A recipient of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, St. Ambrose was among 511 honor roll colleges and universities nationwide that President Barack Obama commended for engaging students, faculty and staff in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community.

• St. Ambrose and the City of Davenport completed a $1.9 million storm water project to stop flooding of the Cosgrove parking lot and along Locust Street in Davenport.

• An assistive technology house, located near campus, was dedicated Oct. 8 by Bishop Amos.

• St. Ambrose honored Fathers William Dawson and Ed Dunn and Dimitri and Kathy Papageorgiou with the McMullen award.


• Parishes throughout the diocese received their first check rebates from the diocesan-wide capital campaign. Around $1.5 million was distributed to the 80 parishes.

• Ground breaking for a new gathering space at Our Lady of Victory Parish and John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Davenport took place March 12. Bishop Amos dedicated the new additions Dec. 18.

• St. Mary Parish in Riverside dedicated a new 9,800-square-foot education and conference center Aug. 14.

• The new Roman Missal was implemented in parishes the first Sunday of Advent — Nov. 27.

Other events

• A diocesan program for adults with special needs called Special Faith Saturdays began. The first class was confirmed by Bishop Amos on Pentecost Sunday, June 12, at St. Ann Church in Long Grove.

• Bishop Amos blessed the renovated diocesan headquarters Jan. 19. He blessed the new chapel at the center on March 4.

• The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion was held March 13 at St. Patrick Church in Iowa City. This was the first time the event was held on one day and at one site. More than 260 youths and adults joined the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Davenport from Pentecost 2010-11.

• The junior high youth rally was held March 20 at Regina Catholic Education Center in Iowa City.

• Catholic Charities, through a collaborative effort with its counterpart in the Peoria Diocese, began offering counseling service for residents of the Davenport Diocese at diocesan headquarters in May.

• A ground blessing for a new Kahl Home for the Aged and Infirm took place May 12 in Davenport. The $39 million project is expected to be completed in 2012.

• The Catholic Messen­ger and Dan Ebener won third-place awards from the Catholic Press Association. The Messen­ger awards were for best front page and best news writing categories. Eben­er’s was for his book “Servant Leadership Models for Your Parish.”

• Students from the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City attended World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, with Father Thom Hennen in August.

• The statewide Institute for Social Action was held in Iowa City and focused on unity in respect life efforts.

• The diocesan high school youth rally was held Oct. 23 at the Marriott Conference Center in Coralville.

• Humility of Mary Housing, Inc., moved into a larger facility in Davenport.

• Around 700 youths and adults from the diocese attended the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis in November.

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