In the midst of planning for the priests' workshop, the upcoming Mercy Summit and a variety of outreach initiatives, the staff of the Diocese of Des Moines based at the Catholic Pastoral Center is packing up and moving across the street to 1 Ruan Center (666 Grand Ave.) for a major rehab project on our building.
Sandy Riesberg, a longest serving diocesan staff member, reminisced about previous moves as staff prepares to shift services to new office space for a year.
As staff cleans out old material and boxes up needed books and files, Sandy smiled and said, “We can do this. It’s a little more complicated this time, but we can do it.”
When Sandy began as an administrative secretary in 1978, there were no computers, servers or printers. Just typewriters, which were easy to move.
She and other staff shared office space in a small house in the back of 2910 Grand Ave. Sometimes, she’d need to carry her umbrella to go to the main house, where she’d get the mail or make copies. Meeting rooms were in the bishop’s house on 37th Street. Catholic Charities and The Catholic Mirror had other office space in town.
In 1983, Bishop Maurice Dingman wanted diocesan staff, Catholic Charities and The Catholic Mirror to be under one roof. They moved to 818 5th Street in Des Moines.
There was a little stress, she said. To build camaraderie among the staff, the monthly First Friday donuts gathering began and popcorn was made for lunch nearly every day.
The building had no basement and no storage for items we use today, such as containers for Chrism Mass or storing vestments. Catholic Charities offered a clothes closet from the building because St. Mary Family Center hadn’t yet been established.
“Talk about space,” Sandy reminisced. “There was none! But we didn’t have things that we do now and need. We had typewriters but no printers.”
Ten years later, the staff moved to its current location at the Catholic Pastoral Center, 601 Grand Ave. Staff moved in March, and on July 9, 1993 the city lost water because of a flood.
It was summer and offices were asked not to use air conditioning during the flood crisis.
Sandy worked in a cubicle in the third-floor hallway where a coffee pot now sits outside the bishop’s corner office. She served the Communications and Worship Offices, which were along the wall by the Bishop’s office. The Catholic Mirror was in the St. Pius X room, where the large space could accommodate four staff members.
Today, many diocesan staff members have an office and others have office space a distance from coworkers. Some at Catholic Charities have offices while others work in cubicles.
Beginning Oct. 17, diocesan and Catholic Charities offices in Des Moines will operate out of 1 Ruan Center (666 Grand Ave.) on a temporary basis. Staff will share offices during this temporary move. Major rehabilitation work on the Catholic Pastoral Center can be done more quickly if staff are not in the building. The work is expected to take about a year.
The Ruan Center will be Sandy’s fourth office building in her 38 years with the diocese.
“I’m flexible. Do whatever you want with me,” she said. “I can work anywhere as long as I have a cubicle and a desk.”