Rock Island church as an edible edifice

ROCK ISLAND — The bricks, mortar, and stained glass of Sacred Heart Church here were replaced with gingerbread, frosting, and crushed lollipops in a tiny replica that may go a long way to help fix a boiler at the 106-year-old church.

The edible edifice was a part of the Gingerbread Village at this year’s Festival of Trees in downtown Davenport, Iowa. It was entered by Jordan Catholic School in Rock Island and dedicated in loving memory of Msgr. Ambrose Cunningham, the former pastor of Sacred Heart who died two years ago after 23 years of service to the parish.

“We wanted to pay tribute to Msgr. Cunningham, a wonderful servant and friend who was so dear to the children of Jordan Catholic School,” said Angela Cook, chairman of the school’s marketing committee who was chiefly responsible for crafting the replica.

She told The Catholic Post the gingerbread church took about 36 hours to complete, with the first dozen hours spent building the pattern. She was aided in her efforts to build the church true to scale by blueprints of the original church design provided by parishioner Chris Mandle.

It marked the third church that Cook has designed on behalf of Jordan Catholic School for the annual festival. She created a “generic church” in 2005, and in 2006 a replica of her home parish church, St. Pius X in Rock Island, earned first-place honors in judging.

“We didn’t get into it for the competition,” said Cook, but rather for fun, exposure for Jordan Catholic School, and to add another religious symbol to the festival, held at the RiverCenter in downtown Davenport. In addition, Jordan Catholic’s second grade class designed a children’s tree for the event, adorned with gingerbread decorations and red ribbon.

Principal Mike Daly also got involved, donning a clown costume — as did seven junior high students — to take part in the festival’s Christmas parade on Nov. 22. The students, selected on the basis of winning essays, were Sean Wetherell, Delia Dockery-Jackson, Kelsey Ethington, Anna Wetherell, Sam Lootens, Kevan O’Hanon and Brandon Strang.

The Sacred Heart Church replica, however, will have a life beyond the closing of the festival this Sunday, Nov. 30. Cook plans to purchase it back — the Gingerbread Village pieces are regularly sold to support Quad City-Arts — and donate it to Sacred Heart Parish, which will use it as a fundraiser to repair a faulty boiler that can’t be fixed with frosting or jelly beans.

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