FORT DODGE, Iowa — The pews at Sacred Heart Catholic Church are all gone now, placed in storage to be used inside the new Holy Trinity Church under construction.
Marks on the stone floor show where their legs sat bolted down since the structure was built in 1922.
The last words of the last Mass have echoed away. That was almost two months ago, and the building’s future is unclear.
It’s cold, the heat is off. There’s a mummified bat on the stairs leading to the choir loft.
Then the voices sing out, in praise, in a song of blessing and for a few moments, the old building with its beautiful architecture and acoustics is alive again.
The students, members of the Iowa Central Community College Choir, some shivering in jackets, were there to record on video and audio a gift to the community: The song “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”
Will Lopes, director of vocal music at Iowa Central, led the ensemble.
“It is a gift to the community,” he said. “We absolutely love Sacred Heart Church, to have the chance, for the last time, to create some music. It’s an honor and a privilege. It’s a very special church to the community. I hope we capture a memory that will last a lifetime.”
The Iowa Central Television and Radio Production students did the film work.
Myles Molette, of Chicago, was among the crew. He was not the least bit surprised at the number of takes and practice runs the choir did.
“People think it’s a quick process,” he said. “In reality, it takes some time.”
The cold in the building was really felt after rehearsal when the students took off their jackets to reveal their matching blue T-shirts.
“It’s cold, I know,” Lopes said. “Two years from now you’ll see the video and you’ll say ‘I was fine.’ ”
To prove the point, Lopes took his jacket off, then a few minutes later, exercised the executive right of being director and put it back on.
“What is that?” one student asked.
After several takes, with tape and audio running, Lopes almost was satisfied.
“Very nice,” he said. “Now one more time.”
“Nooooooooo,” they responded, on key and in unison.
After the final take, he had high praise for the students.
“That was awesome,” he told them.
For students Brooklin Border and Zoe Assadipour, emotions were mixed at the end of the filming.
“It brings back memories,” Border said. “There’s a little sadness, it’s the last time we’ll be here.”
Both are St. Edmond Catholic High School alumni.
“We grew up here,” Assadipour said.
“Singing in this location is so special,” Border said. “We’re giving all we have to God and this place.”
The project is a joint venture with the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Association. Last year, the group did a video where they performed inside a grain silo, also a joint project.
Shelly Bottorf, executive director of the Fine Arts Association, was on hand to watch the filming. She also brought along plenty of warm coffee.
“We are creating something for the community,” she said. “There were a lot of memories made here. Now they’ll have something to remember it by.”
She was enjoying the performance.
“They’re such a good mix,” she said. “This also gets the students off campus, that’s a huge asset to our community.”
The video will debut at the Iowa Central Holiday Concerts Dec. 4-6, then be shared on social media.