By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — The Bettendorf Catholic community launched its “One Faith – One Family – One Future” capital campaign last weekend, the centerpiece of which is a new Catholic school that responds to population growth in the city’s northeast and the faithful’s needs.
The $44.2 million project encompasses the future St. Joan of Arc Catholic School ($38.5 million); $2.1 million loan for land purchase; fulfillment of the diocesan “Upon This Rock” capital campaign ($3.2 million); and $400,000 for capital campaign expenses.
In a letter to the Bettendorf Catholic Community — St. John Vianney and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes — Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula praised them for “coming together to plan and build for the future,” which “brings me great joy! I sense the movement of the Holy Spirit when I think and pray about your joint venture and what it means for the Bettendorf Catholic community. Catholic education is a critical aspect of evangelization; this campaign will provide Bettendorf with a state-of-the-art education facility that will offer students a wonderful environment in which to learn and grow as Christ’s disciples.”
The campaign also includes the parishes’ commitment to the diocesan capital campaign, which provides resources for the diocese’s retired priests and education for seminarians, Archbishop-elect Zinkula noted. “This collaboration will set the stage for the new and vibrant future of one Catholic community in Bettendorf.”
Our Lady of Lourdes Pastor Jason Crossen said the Catholic community in Bettendorf began with 11 families in 1902 and has grown to more than 3,000 families in the Lourdes and St. John Vianney parishes. “We are being invited to build upon that legacy for future generations as we move toward building a new school that will educate children, build relationships and strengthen our community in Christ,” Father Crossen said.
Strategic planning began in 2016 at Lourdes, looking toward its future in a landlocked area. Archbishop-elect Zinkula asked Lourdes and St. John Vianney to explore a course of action together,
Father Crossen said. The two parishes formed a study committee, which examined previous strategic plans and studies. The process slowed down during the pandemic but picked up steam as the pandemic waned. The Iowa Legislature’s passage this year of the Educational Saving Accounts (ESA) program expanded the number of families having access to Catholic education. “That spurred us on.”
Lourdes Catholic School Principal Katie Selden said enrollment has grown 24% this academic year, due in large part to the ESA program. Enrollment in grades K-8 is 253;
enrollment in the Lourdes preschool is 80 and St. John Vianney preschool enrollment is 40. “The new building will be able to hold 450 students in K-8, plus preschool for nearly 140 students and 40 children for child care from birth to age 3. Our current building cannot house 450 K-8 students,” she said.
“This campaign is important because the two parishes are coming together to design and build a new Catholic educational facility. It will join both preschools programs. We will add an early childhood education center. It also is ADA accessible and offers classroom design that supports best practices for instruction,” Selden said.
The existing Lourdes School building is more than 100 years old and has several additions. Other challenges include water problems after heavy rains, a boiler system and no central air conditioning. Five sets of stairs and no elevator limit accessibility, she said.
The two parishes jointly purchased 65 acres of land at the northwest corner of Criswell Street and Hopewell Avenue for the school and for the future church of the Bettendorf Catholic community. An estate gift and cash reserves funded the land purchase.
St. John Vianney Parish Pastor Father Rich Adam said 35 acres of the property set aside for the new school is being farmed. After the fall harvest, dirt will be moved and allowed to settle. Groundbreaking is projected for 2024 and Father Crossen anticipates the school opening in the fall of 2025.
Diocesan capital campaign
The Bettendorf parishes have committed to raising $3.2 million for the diocesan capital campaign, of which a portion will return to the parishes when they reach or exceed that goal. The diocesan campaign’s threefold purpose is to aid priests with their retirement and health care costs, pay for seminarians’ education costs, and benefit parishes.
While the diocese has reached its $28 million capital campaign goal, the figure includes the Bettendorf parishes’ commitment. “We want to be clear with parishioners in Bettendorf that we still need their participation,” said Tom Tallman, the diocesan CFO.
St. Joan of Arc
The future education center will provide 79,550 square feet of space in a two-story building with two classrooms for each grade level, K-8. A separate wing with its own entrance will house four pre-kindergarten classrooms and five child care classrooms. Other features are a high-school-size gymnasium with bleachers to accommodate physical education and athletic games and school and parish events. A commons area and kitchen will serve student dining and other large event needs. A 60-seat chapel will be available for Masses, religious instruction, sacramental preparation and reflection. View updates, video and testimonials at https://onefaithfamilyfuture.com/
“This is an investment in our future. It is an investment in our youth, our Church, our faith,” Father Adam said. “I am really excited to be a part of something that helps families and children grow,” Father Crossen said. “As we ask the questions in the Synod on welcoming and belonging, youth and family involvement, and catechesis, the importance of excellent faith-based education in Catholic schools is vital. We have the opportunity to connect people to church through schooling and if we do it right, we can invigorate the faith and grow the Church. This is an opportunity to build up the body of Christ physically and spiritually and that is exciting.”