Witness Editorial Assistant
DUBUQUE — Construction on the new Habitat for Humanity house on University Avenue in Dubuque will begin this spring, or, as Deacon Jim Schmidt of Resurrection Parish put it, “as soon as Mother Nature lets us get out there and get started.” The building project is a collaborative effort by the parishes of the Dubuque Deanery as a way of living out the corporal works of mercy, specifically the call to “shelter the homeless,” during this jubilee year.
In 2006, members of Resurrection Parish in Dubuque built a house through Habitat for Humanity for a family across town on Elm Street, a home parishioners still affectionately refer to as “ the house that Res built.” Last fall, Resurrection’s pastor, Father Joseph Hauer, approached Deacon Schmidt about the possibility of building another Habitat house in conjunction with the Year of Mercy in 2016.
But this time, Father Hauer wanted Deacon Schmidt to extend an invitation to the other churches of the Dubuque Deanery, which includes the parishes in the city of Dubuque, as well as those in Key West, St. Catherine, St. Donatus and New Melleray, to see if any of them wished to be part of the project. “The other churches were very receptive when they heard about the Habitat house,” Deacon Schmidt said. “We’re excited to have all of the parishes of the deanery on board.”
Parishioners across the deanery are supporting the Habitat house financially through their donations and also by volunteering their labor to physically build the home. Others will provide meals for those tackling the construction. The parishes will work on this project through the coming spring and summer months and hope to be finished with the house and ready to have a family moved in by late-fall.
“I’ve been involved in Habitat for Humanity for 10 years now, and it’s a great opportunity to help people,” Deacon Schmidt said. “And it’s just very rewarding when it’s all done and you’re with the family and you see the smiles on their faces and they know this is their home.”
While organizers of the project have enough parish volunteers signed up to help with the construction of the new house, additional funding is still needed. Donations can be made via Dubuque/Jackson Counties Habitat for Humanity. Anyone interested in learning more about this project can contact Deacon Schmidt at 563-588-0017.
(Photo by Dan Russo. Archbishop Michael Jackels congratulates Laura Brown and her family after handing them the keys to their new home at the dedication of the Pope Francis House in Cedar Rapids on Oct. 1, 2015. The Archdiocese of Dubuque, many Catholic parishes in Cedar Rapids, and multiple other institutions and churches helped fund and build the Habitat house. The Habitat for Humanity home that will be built in Dubuque this year will be called the House of Mercy.)