Ida Grove Sacred Heart sets Dec. 18 dedication for new church and hall
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
Father David Hemann, pastor, said the construction crew is putting in long hours to get the church done in time for the dedication.
“It will be right down to the wire,” he acknowledged. The priest is confident, however, that the majority of the work will be done before the dedication with possibly some minor details finished afterwards.
Originally they had hoped for an October dedication but it had to be pushed back and if it didn’t now, in mid-December, Father Hemann said it probably would not have happened until mid-January. A long time coming, they wanted to be in their new cruciform, Romanesque church for Christmas. The next liturgy to be celebrated there is Christmas Eve.
With Christmas approaching, Father Hemann noted that they are looking forward to the extra space that the new church will provide. The former church held about 290 and the new one will seat 400-plus.
“What a great Christmas present to have the bishop come a week before to dedicate it,” he said.
David Forbes, a church director and member of the finance and building committees, couldn’t pinpoint one part of the church that was his favorite, “it’s really beautiful, has a very sacred feel. It is awe-inspiring.”
Since they have been working at this for a number of years, he called its completion a big relief.
“It is exhilarating to have the church finished, but we have a long way ahead of us to finish paying for it and we realize that,” Forbes said.
Peter Goldsmith, chair of the building committee, said the church turned out better than what they expected and “you’d have to see it to really appreciate it. We wanted the church to have the ‘wow’ effect and I think we succeeded.”
Parishioner Lenee Sinnott, a member of the building committee, also described the church as beautiful and said it was overwhelming to see it.
“When you walk into the church,” she said, “it almost takes your breath away.”
A new setting
From the beginning, the plan was to use some elements of the old church in the new one and thus the theme of “Diamonds in a New Setting” was adopted for the concept as well as the capital campaign. As the church nears completion, the theme is visually coming to life.
Father Hemann said getting all of the valuables out of the church was one of the big challenges they faced this fall.
“We had a work day where everyone came to help get the pews out and so on,” he said. “Moving from the 1899 church to the new facility was huge.”
The last Mass was celebrated in the old church on Oct. 9 and included an extensive litany, thanking God for every dimension of worship, formation and sacramental life that happened there. The next weekend, Mass was celebrated in the new parish hall which was mostly finished at that time.
Some of the gems from the old church such as the stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross and high altar were restored prior to placement in their new home.
“Right now we have all of the major stained glass windows refurbished, cleaned, the edges re-leaded and placed back in the new facility,” said Father Hemann, who commended the work of Kountry Glass out of Albert City. “When people walk in, they almost cry and sparkle with delight.”
Goldsmith said the windows make the new church look expansive, bright and colorful.
An extra special old gem was a stained glass window that came from Visitation Church of Maryhill. The window features the Sacred Heart appearing to St. Margaret Mary that is placed in the reconciliation chapel.
Several other gems from the old church like statues and holy water fountains are now at home in the newchurch. Other items from the old church such as the pews and lighting fixtures have been sold.
The church will feature new pews and the floor will be stamped and stained concrete, creating a marble look. The floor also includes 12 medallions with the 12 apostles. A small courtyard will welcome church-goers and upon entering church there is a more substantial gathering space than was offered in the former structure.
10 Commandment Walk
At the suggestion of architect Brad Mollet, Sacred Heart Church houses a 10 Commandment Walk. The commandments are chiseled in stone on the base of 10 pillars throughout the church, ending near the confessional.
The 10 Commandment Walk was just one more thing that sold Father Hemann on the work of Mollet, whom the priest said “doesn’t just put together buildings but puts together theological works of art.”
“It will be a catechetical church,” said Father Hemann, who noted that they may develop a booklet and give tours.
Besides some of the old gems, new jewels include liturgical furniture and baptismal font from the Trappist Monks at New Melleray Abbey, under the direction of Larry Smith who is the main woodworker.
The left transept of the cruciform-style church has a Nativity chapel. In the center is an imported life-size corpus mounted on a cross made by the monks. Eventually the right transept will house a pieta. The back window features Jesus the Good Shepherd.
“Around the back altar will be a private chapel where people can adore the Lord and the Sacred Heart will be there with his arms extended,” Father Hemann said.
Other features of the new church and hall on a practical level are its handicap-accessibility, restrooms and hearth room. The hearth room is multi-functional and can be used as a mourners’ room, bride’s room and even cry room given that it has a large window with view into the church.
“One thing I’ve always said is that in building the church, you build up the people,” Father Hemann said. “I must admit that I’m looking forward to getting back full focus on the people because this has been extremely time-consuming. It’s every moment of every day.”
Forbes also spoke of the many hours and committee meetings devoted to this project.
“Sometimes we felt that we were spinning our wheels, but the final product is beyond my wildest dreams,” he said.
Sinnott said they talked about it and spent time planning it for so long that to see it in its final stages is overwhelming.
“It totally met our expectations and beyond,” she said.
For Goldsmith, the end of this project is bittersweet.
“People always say we are building a church and when they say it they are referring to the physical building but for me it’s the community, the work, the cooperation and talents – that’s building the body, the people of the church,” he said.
Many parishioners have commented that they have made new friends through this process.
Goldsmith said he will miss this aspect of the building up of the church and it makes him almost sad to see it end.
“Except with the new church and hall, it will be easier to maintain that community,” he said.
Hughes offered great insight and was instrumental in the process.
The celebration will conclude with a catered meal.
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