History of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
The history of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church can be traced to 1902 when eleven families in Gilbertville (forerunner of Bettendorf) petitioned the Bishop to send a priest to say Sunday Mass. This was occasioned by the transportation difficulties in reaching St. Joseph’s in Davenport, the nearest Catholic Church.
Although the masses were originally held in the Siebengartner home (the former Gilbert home), plans were quickly put in place to build a new church. A frame building was constructed on the corner of 15th and Brown Street at a cost of $3,000 and the first Mass was offered on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1903.
In 1908, under the direction of Father Thomas P. Coleman, property on the south side of Brown Street was traded for land on the north side. Parishioners Pius Mohr and Joseph Kehoe sawed the church in half, and it was moved across the street and extended to provide more seating.
The history of the School closely parallels that of the church. The original home of the church, the Siebengartner home, on February 11, 1919, also became the original Our Lady of Lourdes School. In the first year there were 67 students taught by the Sisters of Humility. Enrollment doubled in the second year.
Work on the current school began on March 17, 1952, was completed in May 1953, and was named Lourdes Memorial School. At that time, there were about 330 students. Due to the rapid growth in the area, school enrollment projections increased much more than were ever anticipated. In November 1955, the recently completed school was expanded by adding four classrooms on the east end.
In 1956, the old wooden church was vacated, and masses were held in the basement of the Lourdes Memorial School (today’s Media Center). The old church was then used as a parish hall until razed in 1961.
In 1961, Father H.J. Toher initiated a development to build a new church, rectory, and offices at a cost of $473,000. This effort culminated with the dedication of the new facility on May 30, 1963 by the Most Reverend Ralph L. Hayes, Bishop of Davenport.
The bell tower was constructed to house the original bell from the church, which had been restored in memory of Peter Freund. The bell tower itself was built in memory of Mark Struve. Landscaping of the grounds and commissioning of the church’s stained glass windows was done at this time as well.
In 1980, Father Thomas Stratman came to Lourdes. The church mortgage was retired on September 13, 1981. With Father Stratman’s leadership, the laity organized efforts for construction of the church’s parish center, which was dedicated in November 1984. (The parish center was also used to meet the school’s need for lunchroom facilities and an area for physical education activities.) In 1991, the school was renamed Lourdes Catholic School to better identify our Catholic values and traditions. To ensure the continued operation of the church and its programs, Father Stratman was instrumental in officially establishing the Endowment Fund in April 1992. In November 2004, the Catholic Endowment of Bettendorf, Iowa, Inc. was incorporated as a separate organization to continue the mission of the original Endowment Fund.
Father Thomas Spiegel came to Our Lady of Lourdes in 1992. He initiated many projects to accommodate growth of the parish and encourage community fellowship. In 1994 – 1995, an addition was added to the church offices. School office space was expanded, a storeroom was added to the Parish Activity Center and the parking lot was resurfaced.
In 1997, construction began on The Gathering Space and Eucharistic Chapel in the church, as well as four new classrooms and the fine arts area at the school. Construction was completed in 1998, with a dedication by Bishop William Franklin on January 31, 1999.
Father Spiegel also secured funding for a new church roof with the “Raise the Roof” fund drive. Parishioners developed unique and creative methods of fundraising activities, which generated over $70,000 for the new roof.
In 2004, Father Timothy Sheedy came to Our Lady of Lourdes and in 2006 celebrated his 30th anniversary as a priest. Father Sheedy began restructuring the Pastoral Council and Faith Formation Board, encouraging goal setting and strategic planning.
In 2009, altar railings were installed to comply with safety guidelines required by Our Lady of Lourdes’ insurance company. They provide a safe, yet welcoming addition to the sanctuary.
In 2014, Father Jason Crossen became Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes.