Bishop blesses ‘wonderful gathering space’ at Sacred Heart in Moline

The new Gathering Center at Sacred Heart Church in Moline adds 5,000 square feet to the century-old church. It was dedicated by Bishop Louis Tylka on March 18. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

MOLINE — For many years, Msgr. Dale Wellman dreamed of having a place where people could gather and welcome others to Sacred Heart Church here. On March 18, the retired pastor saw his dream come true as Bishop Louis Tylka blessed the parish’s new Gathering Center.

Bishop Louis Tylka makes his way through the people who attended the blessing and dedication of the new Gathering Center at Sacred Heart in Moline so he could sprinkle holy water on them and the building. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The $2.3 million project adds 5,000 square feet to the century-old church and includes a covered, handicapped accessible entrance, accessible restrooms, a bride’s room/lounge, a holding kitchen, a gift shop, and a confessional.

Parishioners and guests made good use of every inch of that space after Bishop Tylka’s blessing as they lingered over hors d’oeuvres and conversation.

“It took many years to get here. It was a long and winding road,” said Father Mark DeSutter, the pastor since 2014, as he welcomed people to Mass that afternoon. “We give thanks to almighty God for bringing us this day.”

Msgr. Wellman and Father DeSutter concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Tylka, as did Father Matthew Cole, SMA, parochial vicar at Sacred Heart.


During his homily, Bishop Tylka said the new facility was a “wonderful gathering space” that would help to build up the church and welcome people into Sacred Heart’s community of faith for many years to come.

Playing the bagpipes, Bill Sterba leads the way to the new Gathering Centerat Sacred Heart in Moline for a blessing. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The bishop said the Lord would certainly look at the new gathering space and say, “It’s very beautiful. Well crafted. Well built. It certainly fits in well.” But beyond four walls and a roof, the Lord would want to see what happens inside, he said.

“Just as he looks into our hearts, he looks at us from the inside out. He looks at our hearts, our desire to love, our desire to be his disciple, our desire to live out our faith and make a difference,” Bishop Tylka said.

It will be important in the days and weeks to come to show “how our faith and our love and our witness to Jesus will, in so many ways, impact those who come in from the outside to see the heart of Jesus there,” he said.

After Communion, parish trustees Connie Morris and Jim Watson called forward members of the building and capital campaign committees to be recognized for their work.

As they received a gift commemorating the day, they were thanked by Bishop Tylka.


Before the Mass ended, a brief history of Sacred Heart was given by Fred Julius, a member of the capital campaign committee. He recounted how the church campus had been expanded and refreshed with help from the Today Tomorrow Together campaign.

“Today, we sit in our church where the roof has been renewed. The limestone exterior has been tuck pointed, cleaned and waterproofed,” he said. “The windows have been disassembled, cleaned and rebuilt, and reinstalled, ready for the next century.”

Stephen Illichmann, who is preparing for his First Communion in May, signs his name to a scroll that will be included in a time capsule marking the completion of the new Gathering Center at Sacred Heart Church in Moline March 18. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

In addition, the parish priests have a safe new residence. The Gathering Center was built on the site where the old rectory had stood, Julius said.

He also thanked Streamline Architects and Hodge Construction Company, Inc. for their work on the project.

“As we move forward today, we are thankful to God for all the gifts he has given us,” he said. “Look around. See the beauty of this sacred building and the reflection of Christ in all the people,” Julius said.

Playing the bagpipes, Bill Sterba led Mass-goers into the new Gathering Center for the blessing and dedication. Joining him at the front of the procession were a Knights of Columbus Honor Guard from Father Bader Assembly 1922 and 30 children who will be making their First Communion on May 7 and 14.

The children were invited to sign their names to a scroll that would be included in a time capsule and buried near the church. Bishop Tylka’s signature could be seen among them.

Before sprinkling holy water on the people in front of him, the bishop received the keys to the building from Tony Hodge and held them up high for all to see.

“Give yourselves a round of applause,” Bishop Tylka said to the people.

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