Capital campaign goes over the top

Anne Marie Amacher
Retired priests are among the beneficiaries of the Upon This Rock capital campaign. Several live at St. Vincent Center in Davenport, including from left, Fathers John Stecher, William Kneemiller, Tom Doyle, Tony Herold, Patrick Lumsden and Mike Spiekermeier. They were preparing to celebrate Mass on Aug. 21.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger


The “Upon This Rock” capital campaign has reached its $28 million goal in pledges. Now Catholics throughout the Diocese of Davenport are encouraged to follow through on their payments over the three-year pledge period. The campaign’s threefold purpose is to aid priests with their retirement and health care costs, pay for seminarians’ education costs, and benefit parishes throughout the diocese.

As of mid-August, diocesan Catholics had made more than 7,700 gifts or pledges totaling more than $28.5 million, said Diocesan CFO Tom Tallman. “Of that, $11.1 million has been paid, or nearly 40%.”

The diocese spread the active campaign over three waves of parishes after conducting a planning study in the summer of 2021.

Abp.-Elect Zinkula

“The parishioners who contributed generously according to their means understand what it means to be a member of a local (dio­cesan) Chur­ch, which is so very important,” Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula said. “Given the results of the feasibility study, we stretched a bit in setting our goal and the people nonetheless came through. I am in awe of their sense of stewardship: responding joyfully and generously in gratitude for the many gifts God has blessed us with. This is a significant sign of a healthy, holy local Church.”

Archbishop-elect Zink­ula heads for the Arch­diocese of Dubuque in mid-October, after the campaign concludes. “By then, everyone will have made their pledge and will be making payments accordingly.”

Tallman added, “I am so proud and excited for the Diocese of Davenport to exceed the goal we had set for ourselves. It shows the Catholic Church in southeast Iowa is alive and our faith is burning in our hearts. Priest retirement and seminary education expenses will be on sound financial footing well into the future.”

Though the campaign has met its goal in pledges, “We would love to surpass the goal by about 4-5% to cover those life events that may affect some donors’ ability to fulfill their pledges,” Tallman said. “While it is great that we have met our initial goal, I keep reminding myself that the true intention of the campaign is to have the funds in hand to make a positive difference toward priest retirement and seminary education expenses.”

Priest retirement

“Although the number of men entering the priesthood has diminished, the number of retired priests has grown. Nearly half of all the living priests in our diocese are retired,” said Father Jason Crossen, president of the Priests’ Aid Society, which ensures that the diocese follows canon law requiring it to provide shelter and sustenance to priests who are elderly or infirm. “This makes it challenging for our current financial portfolio to maintain that needed shelter and sustenance for the foreseeable future. We certainly are hopeful for more men to enter the priesthood and at the same time we also are aware that we need to provide aid to all priests who serve the diocese today and tomorrow.” The capital campaign “is a vital necessity to provide for these needs.”  

Priests’ Aid provides health care and retirement benefits but “it is still much less than what an active priest receives,” he said. “Once a priest retires, housing is no longer provided by a parish. We encourage all priests to be mindful about providing for their retirement early on by enrolling in IRAs or other forms of retirement planning. There are no 401(k) or matching benefits for priests, so the charity stipend and health insurance provided by the Priests’ Aid Society have become a necessity for all our retired priests,” Father Crossen said.


Anne Marie Amacher
Deacons Mike Snyder, left, and Dane Dickinson talk before the Iowa seminarian convocation Aug. 7 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.

The Diocese of Davenport currently has six seminarians in various stages of formation. Father Jake Greiner, director of vocations, said, “God-willing, we could have as many as 10 seminarians studying for the diocese next year given current levels of interest. The financial support for seminarians and the prayers of the diocese are having a huge impact on vocations. It is an honor to serve as the vocation director for our diocese.”

Parish campaign

Father Nick Adam, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Fairfield, said he is very proud of his “generous parish,” which raised nearly $550,000, or almost 125% of its goal. It is one of 18 parishes so far to surpass their goal. Father Adam said parishioners have always been very supportive of the Annual Diocesan Appeal, local collections to the food pantry and for youths to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference. Supporting the diocesan campaign is no different.

“They felt this was a good cause.” He joked that some parishioners pointed out how they are helping him for his future retirement. Parishioners can also relate to the seminarian portion of the campaign because one of their own — Deacon Dane Dickinson — is preparing to enter the priesthood next June. The parish portion of the funds will go toward a new roof. “We’ve had problems with spots leaking,” Father Adam said. The parish is working on quotes for the project.

When the campaign kicked off, Father Thom Hennen, pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, informed parishioners that their parish portion would go toward “extraordinary capital projects that were otherwise not in the budget that are truly needed and need to be done right.”

New doors on the 10th Street side, designed and milled to look like the cathedral’s original doors, are in the process of being installed. Other projects include partial reconstruction of the window frame and protective cover for the sanctuary’s main stained glass window on the north side, and work on the parish hall’s lower level.

So far, the cathedral has received $71,419, which covers the door and window project costs. “We will still have plenty of ‘meat on the bone’ once we get the rest of our parish share. Another major project we are looking at is refitting the main interior lights in the church with LED lights, as we can no longer get the bulbs for those fixtures. We want, of course, to keep the lights themselves, but just replace the ‘guts.’ We do not have an estimate on this yet, but it will be substantial,” Father Hennen said.

“The whole process and outcome of the capital campaign has been great for us,” he added. Sacred Heart raised nearly $870,000, or 113% of its goal. “We know it was needed for our retired priests and for the seminarians, but these were major projects we might not have been able to accomplish for a while if we didn’t have this extra motivation and the money coming back to us in the parish share.”

For information about the campaign, contact your parish campaign team or Tom Tallman at (563) 888-4365 or

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