| By Maureen Kenney |

It might go without saying that the need for a new public address system at St. Clare of Clarinda, Iowa did not fall on deaf ears.

“The old system, had many ups and downs and challenges. Sometimes when we’d be celebrating Mass, you’d get echoes, deafening echoes, from nowhere. People would be closing their ears because the sound was jarring,” said Reverend Eze Venantius Umunnakwe, Pastor at St. Clare’s.

Paul Fahey has been a parishioner of St. Clare’s for 68 years and can recall similar experiences with the old public address system.

“A lot of the time Father would be talking and it would just cut out. Or you would get a lot of feedback with it... It short-circuited a couple of times,” said Fahey.

The older public address system was cause for greater concern beyond issues of basic functionality. Wires and cables signifying pre-wireless era technology ran up the altar and church walls posing dangers to Umunnakwe and parishioners of St. Clare.

St. Clare of Clarinda's Pastor, Reverend Eze Venantius Umunnakwe, shows the set-up of the new public address system.

“You could trip over and get injured and the church would be in trouble,” said Umunnakwe.

In spring of 2017, Umunnakwe brought his parish’s need to the Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa and was granted $5,000 to update the public address system. St. Clare is now equipped with eight new speakers spread throughout the upper and lower levels of the church along with wireless microphones.

“We don’t need to be carrying equipment to install and then disentangle again. All we need to do is to hook up the auxiliary to the system and then the microphone should be able to work,” said Umunnakwe.

Fahey is one of the parishioners trained to manage the levels of the new sound system from a tablet that came with the installation.

“When I come in for Church, I have to turn the system on. It’s regulated with a tablet and it’s really neat. You can turn it on and take it to the pew with you and sit there,” said Fahey.

The installation of the public address system was started in September of 2017 and completed by the following month.

“We are happy with the results. So are our ears.” said Umunnakwe.

For more information about the Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa or grants available go to https://catholicfoundationiowa.org/grant-opportunities/. 2018 grant requests are due by Friday, April 20th at 4:00 p.m.