Saying goodbye to Sacred Heart School


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — More than 500 people — former students of Sacred Heart School, family members and former teachers and principals — paid tribute June 24 to the school that soon will exist in memory only.

Anne Marie Amacher
Father Rich Adam, pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, pulls out contents of a time capsule held by Pat Costello. A reunion for Sacred Heart School students, teachers and others was held June 24.

The guests attended Mass, watched the opening of the 1914 time capsule, toured the school, which was dedicated in 1915, reminisced and ate together on the parish grounds at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The reunion was organized to give former students and others one last chance to see the school building before it is demolished later this summer. The site will be made into a parking lot for the new parish center, which is under construction.


Bishop Thomas Zinkula celebrated the Mass. Concelebrants were Father Rich Adam, the cathedral’s pastor, and retired priests Msgr. James Parizek and Father John Hynes. Following Mass, people stayed in their pews for a brief presentation and the opening of the time capsule.

Mary Schepker Kellenberger, class of 1958, and co-chair of the reunion committee, welcomed everyone in attendance. She asked students who graduated in the 1940s to raise their hands. Then she asked former teachers to raise their hands, and administrators, too.

Sister Teri Hadro, president of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa, gave an account of the involvement of the congregation at Sacred Heart School. She brought blessings from the 350 religious sisters who make up the BVM community. The BVMs are still ministering in 14 states and two foreign countries.

In 1843, five BVMs came up the Mississippi River from St. Louis, passing Davenport, and arriving in Dubuque. They had been invited to teach by Bishop Mathias Loras. In 1859, some sisters journeyed to Davenport. Sisters continued to teach at Sacred Heart and other parishes and schools in the Diocese of Davenport for more than 100 years. “There are memories and stories of experiences at Sacred Heart shared by the sisters,” Sr. Hadro said. “These are lasting memories.”

Fr. Adam and Pat Costello opened the time capsule that was in the cornerstone of the school building. Inside was a copy of The Catholic Messenger, The Davenport Democrat and the Daily Times. Later, a piece of paper sealed in a glass tube was pulled from the tube when tools were available to open it.

The tube contained a hand-written letter from Father John Flannagan of the cathedral. The letter identifies the individuals present at the laying of the cornerstone on July 5, 1914. Following a blessing by Bishop Zinkula, people headed out for tours of the school, to look at memorabilia, share stories and eat a meal together on the cathedral grounds.

Alexis Olsen, who attended preschool through grade five at Sacred Heart in the 1990s, said she came to see the building one last time, along with her sister. “Everything is the same.” She pointed to the different classrooms saying which grade was where and who taught the class.

Fred Harris, Class of 1940, said the school is a great building and in good shape. He is disappointed it will be torn down. He attended first through eighth grade at Sacred Heart. “We didn’t have kindergarten back then. We were too smart for that,” he laughed.

Jack Clark, Class of 1942, said he and Fr. Hynes attended Sacred Heart together for first through eighth grades. “This is a great turnout,” he said. “It was a great school and academy,” Clark added.

He thinks the school building was solidly built as it still stands today. “That says something.” When he was in school, Clark said, not many schools had a lunch room, gymnasium, library and auditorium as did Sacred Heart. “My heart is still here at Sacred Heart.”

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