Bishop Accountability
  Our Lady of Lourdes History

Downloaded October 17, 2004

The history of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church can be traced to 1902 when eleven families in Gibertville (forerunner of Bettendorf) petitioned the Bishop to send a priest to say Sunday Mass. This was occasioned by the transportation difficulties in reaching Davenport St. Joseph's 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 Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1903. 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. In 1928, under the direction of Farther Thomas P. Coleman, property on the south side of Brown Street was traded for land on the north side. The church was moved across the street, sawed in half, and extended to provide more seating.

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 the dedication of the new facility on May 30, 1963 by the Most Reverend Ralph L. Hayes, Bishop of Davenport. Father William Wiebler was appointed pastor in 1971. He directed the construction of the bell tower 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. Father Wiebler was also instrumental in landscaping the grounds and commissioning the church's stained glass windows. In addition, he was also responsible for establishing our annual Ecumenical Way of the Cross walk on Good Friday. It continues to be a Bettendorf tradition.

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.

Father Thomas Spiegel came to Our Lady of Lourdes in 1992. He has 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 resurfaced.

In 1997, construction began on The Gathering Space and Eucharistic Chapel in the church, as well as four new classrooms and the fine art area at the school. Construction was completed 1998, with a dedication by Bishop William Franklin on January 31, 1999.

Most recently, Father Spiegel 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.

The Endowment Fund continues to be a focus at Our Lady of Lourdes. Through Father Spiegel's guidance, the initial goal of the Endowment Fund of "2 million by 2000" was achieved. Every fundraising activity contributes to the Endowment Fund to help ensure that the next 100 years will continue the Lourdes tradition of Faith, Love, and Community.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.