Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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The year 1877 saw the beginning of the 40 year tenure of the Rev. Michael CAROLAN [at Saint Joseph's Parish in Mason City]. Each year, the St. Joseph's parish grew. It was at this time the seeds of the current parish festival were planted.

In 1883, St. Joseph's was officially out of debt. From here, grounds were purchased and plans were begun for a "Sister School." In 1890, St. Francis Academy was completed as a boarding school for girls and a day school for both boys and g irls, which was staffed by the sisters of St. Francis from Clinton, Iowa. First classes were held at St. Francis in 1891.

In 1899, Fr. CAROLAN was assigned his first assistant Fr. Laurence HAYES. By this time the congregation had grown so large that plans were started to build a new church. Construction was begun in 1901 and completed in 1903 on the same location as the old St. Joseph's. In 1908, fire destroyed the school. The school was then rebuilt with basically the same architecture and reopened in September of 1910 as St. Joseph's Academy. Beginning in 1912, high school classes were added a grade at a time.

During this time, St. Joseph's had grown so rapidly that it was decided to make a second parish in Mason City. In October of 1908, Holy Family held its first Mass in the Public Library. Fr. E. J. DOUGHERTY was the pastor.
St. Francis Academy burned down in 1908.

On December 30, 1917, Fr. CAROLAN passed away. During his time here, most of what we know today as St. Joseph's parish was built. In fact, it was under Fr. CAROLAN that the Parish was officially named St. Joseph's.

His successor was Fr. Patrick S. O'CONNOR. In 1933, Fr. O'CONNOR was made a member of the Papal Household and as a domestic prelate, was given the title of Rt. Rev. Monsignor, the first priest in Mason City to receive this honor. During his time, the school was renovated so that the high school could obtain accreditation with the Iowa committee on Secondary Schools. Msgr. O'CONNOR retired in 1943 at the age of seventy-nine.

St. Joseph's was served by Rev. Patrick J. BEHAN from 1943 to 1947. He was replaced by Fr. Patrick MALONE, who remodeled the convent section of the school in 1947 and purchased the DUFFIELD home adjacent to the public library as a new home for the Sisters. On September 1, 1949, Fr. MALONE was given the title of Monsignor.

In 1960, preparations were made for purchasing land for the new central high school. Monsignor retired in 1960 and was succeeded by Rev. Paul J. MAGUIRE. Fr. MAGUIRE presided over St. Joseph's parish from 1960 to 1969. Due to his efforts the school enrollment increased, and Newman High School opened in 1961.

In 1973, a Central Catholic Grade School was begun, with Kindergarten through grades five in the St. Joseph building and grades six to eight in the Holy Family building.

Rev. Carl A. RIES was appointed pastor of St. Joseph's in 1991 and served until 2003. Under Fr. Carl, the St. Joseph's thrived, including the renovation of the church and purchase of the Garfield School lot. In 1998, the parish celebrated 125 years. A new elementary school was completed on the Newman campus in 2003, and the St. Joseph building was closed.

Saint Joseph's Parish History
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, February of 2011



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