$3 million capital campaign to fund improvements at St. Columba, Ottawa

OTTAWA — With exterior renovations to its historic church complete, St. Columba Parish here has entered a second phase of church preservation and restoration with the launching of a $3 million capital campaign.

“This is truly an exciting time for St. Columba,” wrote Father David Kipfer, pastor, in a letter included in family campaign packets distributed after all Masses the weekend of Dec. 8-9.

The campaign comes in a year that saw St. Columba Church, a Gothic edifice built in 1882, named among “200 great places across the state” by a committee of architects as part of Illinois’ bicentennial celebration.

“Supported by the Past — Building for the Future,” is the theme for the new campaign, which was preceded by a feasibility study last spring that sought parishioners’ input regarding the parish’s long-term needs.

As a result, the new campaign will fund improvements including:

  • the addition and installation of an elevator on the church’s northwest corner to provide handicap accessibility;
  • a new heating, venting, and air conditioning system, and
  • an energy-efficient electrical service.

In addition, the worn front entry doors will be replaced and the church’s lower level will be improved and waterproofed.

The campaign follows another major project, begun in 2013, that saw the parish replace the church’s slate roof, restore its stained glass windows, and remove a gray, stucco-like exterior to reveal and restore the original red brick exterior.


Father Kipfer thanked those who have sacrificed for the faith in Ottawa through the years. St. Columba, which traces its history to 1838, is the city’s oldest parish and is among the oldest parishes in the Diocese of Peoria.

“With God’s help we have continued that tradition of supporting the faith and caring for the future of our parish church,” wrote Father Kipfer in seeking support for “the next step in caring for our church and making it accessible to all our parishioners and visitors.”

Longtime parishioner Pat Graham shared similar thoughts when nearly 300 people gathered Nov. 18 for the official launch of the new campaign during a program and lunch at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

“I have seen the commitment and dedication so many have to the Church and to this parish,” said Graham, the program’s keynote speaker. “This church is ours. We are responsible for it, and we have a responsibility to those who came before and passed it on to us.”

The launch program also included a project overview by Carson Durham of BLDD Architects and endorsement talks by three parish families. Entertainment was provided by the combined adult, men’s and children’s choirs under the leadership of Joanie Resendiz.

St. Columba’s new capital campaign is being managed and directed by Joseph Consulting of Bettendorf, Iowa.


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