New fund helps parishes come to the aid of another

November 17, 2021

Girl at Saint Mary Church in Hamburg, Iowa

The faithful in the Diocese of Des Moines are generous in helping others around the state, country and world when disaster strikes.

Now, the Diocese is establishing a way for the faithful to help their fellow CatholicsChildren from Saint Mary Church in Hamburg and parishes when one faces a major struggle.

The Parish Solidarity Fund serves the people of God in the 23 counties of the Diocese of Des Moines when a need arises and the most local parish or faith community has exhausted resources and abilities to meet the need.

The most current need is at St. Mary Parish in Hamburg in the far southwest corner of the Diocese. Sandwiched between the Missouri River and the Nishnabotna River, the church experienced a major flood in 2019. The area has seen minor flooding in the past but nothing as damaging as what happened in 2019.

Boy from Saint Mary Church in HamburgThe Flood of 2019 significantly damaged the church hall and the basement of the rectory, where religious education classes occurred. Insurance covered the repair and remodel of the church hall. The rectory, built in 1895, posed a problem. The cost to repair and bring it up to code was too extensive.

Earlier this year, St. Mary Parish tore down the rectory and still hopes to build a Religious Education Center.

The parish has been saving for this project for years but kept suffering setbacks. Despite significant fundraising efforts (more than $700,000 in cash and pledges), unavoidable delays due to the 2019 flood and 2020 pandemic resulted in higher construction costs and delays due to supply shortages.

The Diocese is committed to seeing this mission territory of the state flourish and to constructing the Religious Education Center so that all might be nurtured in their faith. The Diocese has committed $100,000 to support the project and seeks $300,000 from the 79 parishes and faith communities to be contributed to the Parish Solidarity Fund to support St. Mary Parish.

“We have a long history of helping fellow parishes in our diocesan faith family,” said Maureen Kenney, director of Stewardship.

  • Parishes and parishioners rallied behind Holy Family Catholic School in Des Moines when it faced closure.
  • Sacred Heart in West Des Moines and St. Pius X Parish in Urbandale provided substantial support for the start of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in West Des Moines.
  • Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Parish in Ankeny offered substantial support upon the start of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, also in Ankeny.
  • The faithful contributed $50,000 during the height of the pandemic to help the parishes most affected by the virus. Grants of various sizes were made to 10 parishes or schools within the Diocese, including St. Mary Parish.

“We are asking the faith community to take St. Mary Parish under their wing, and adopt this sister parish in our Diocese much like we might contribute to a special mission project in a sister parish in a different part of the world,” said Kenney.

In the coming weeks, each parishioner will be invited to support the effort and stand in solidarity with the people of Hamburg and their desire to form their young people in our faith. Some parishes are already leading the effort by making five-figure financial commitments alongside the diocesan commitment of $100,000.

“The people of Hamburg have proven their resilience and faith in God’s provision time and time again. Our support makes present our care for a member of the Body of Christ,” said Kenney.

Find more information and online giving to the fund at