Retired priest, friends install new greenhouse


By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Since his retirement from active ministry, Msgr. Marvin Mottet has dedicated his time to growing produce for the Sisters of the Humility of Mary and Café on Vine in his garden behind the St. Vincent Center. After finding his greenhouse to be less than reliable — it was damaged in a wind storm last year — he decided to install a more permanent greenhouse that will allow him to extend his growing season.

Lindsay Steele
Msgr. Marvin Mottet, center, smiles as he observes Dean Ehrecke, left, and Father Bill Kneemiller measuring the base framework of Msgr. Mottet’s new greenhouse behind the St. Vincent Center in Davenport on July 2.

He just needed a little help from some old friends.

On July 2, Father Bill Kneemiller, Deacon Dan Huber and three laymen with whom Msgr. Mottet is acquainted, arrived at the garden to begin construction of the greenhouse. They tilled the soil and then laid the framework. Mary Costello, a parishioner at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, brought food and offered fellowship. Msgr. Mottet supervised the project — rarely without a smile on his face — and participated in some of the less-strenuous tasks.


Fr. Kneemiller, pastor of parishes in Grand Mound, Toronto, Lost Nation and Oxford Junction, and Msgr. Mottet, 84, have long shared a friendship founded in their mutual passion for gardening. Fr. Kneemiller said he wanted to assist Msgr. Mottet “because it is truly amazing to see someone in his 80s who ventures out to build a greenhouse and builds a garden when most people his age would be content to watch someone on TV do things. It is also a statement of doing a healthy hobby that is truly practical, growing fresh veggies in the fresh air and sunshine.”

The completed greenhouse

Deacon Huber of Sacred Heart Cathedral and laymen Dean Ehrecke, Craig Jarvis and Patrick Greenlee know Msgr. Mottet from when he celebrated healing Masses at the cathedral. They said they consider “Marv” a friend, and were glad to be able to help with his mission.

Msgr. Mottet said the new greenhouse, completed in three days, is beautiful and much more useful than the old one. He anticipates the greenhouse will allow him to produce more lettuce and spinach in the fall and winter.

The priest was effusive in his gratitude for the help and fellowship he received during the greenhouse’s construction. “I was very impressed with their willingness to help. I could never have put that thing together by myself. When they finished, I called it a miracle.”

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