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Westgate Herald

Thanksgiving Day 1905

Contributed by Roger Maddigan <rfm104@msn.com>

From the records of Roger's Grandmother Maddigan


History of St. Patrick's Parish

Westgate, IA.

St. Patrick's congregation was organized eighteen years ago (1887). Up to that time the Catholics of Westgate attended divine worship in Fairbank and Independence.

St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Westgate, Iowa


The first priest to attend the Westgate congregation was Rev. John Hagan, who was for some years assistant to Rev. Father Martaugh, in Fairbank. When he first attended Westgate services were held in the old Maddigan school house east of town. There was then no Catholic church at Sumner and no parochial residence.

Father Hogan, aided by some of the good old settlers, started a subscription paper for a church at Westgate. The people were liberal and enthusiastic, and in a short time St. Patrick's church arose, modest and humble indeed, but an object of pride to the infant congregation.

Then a committee of three, one from each of the three parishes -- Westgate, Sumner and Pinhook -- bought a small house for Father Hagan at Sumner on the spot where the Catholic parsonage now stands.

For thirteen years Father Hogan labored hard and zealously among the three congregations. There was also attached to these missions another, six miles north of Sumner, called Christian Prairie which ceased to exist when the present Catholic church was built at Sumner, the congregation agreeing to attend services at Sumner and Pinhook.

During Father Hogan's pastorate the cemetery was purchased which is known as Mount Calvary cemetery.

After these years of successful work Father Hogan moved to Fairfax, Iowa. Father Brogan succeeded him.  [Submitter's note: Father Hogan served the parishioners of St. Patrick's church  for thirteen years from 1882 -1895.]



Rev. E. J. O'Hagan

During Father Brogan's pastorate the church grew to its present proportions to meet the needs of the growing congregation, and the spire which now crowns St. Patrick's was erected. He bade good bye to his flock at Westgate on the 1st Nov., 1900, after five years of successful work, to become pastor of the congregation at Placid, Iowa. He was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. J. M. Molloy, who has been directing the spiritual affairs of the congregation for five years.

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Like his predecessors, Father Molloy is a son of the Emerald Isle. He received his primary education in the national schools of his native land. He completed his classical course in the celebrated Seminary of St. Ailbe, Emily County Tipperary.  He pursued his philosophical and theological studies in St. Patrick's College, Carlow, the first theological college opened in Ireland after the Reformation. Among his professors was the Rev. Patrick Foley, now Bishop of Kildare and Loughlin, and one of the leading lights in the Hierarchy of Ireland. Father Molloy completed his studies in Carlow College and distinguished him-self by taking first prizes in Theology and Sacred Scripture. He had the satisfaction of receiving holy orders from Bishop Foley, his old beloved professor.

After a brief vocation among his relatives he crossed the Atlantic and came to the Archdiocese of Dubuque, then under the spiritual sway of the late lamented Archbishop Hennessy, under whose magic power the Diocese of Dubuque reached the importance it now holds in the church of the United States. After a cordial greeting from the great archbishop he was sent to take charge of the congregations at Allison, Dumont and Hampton for a short time. He was then appointed to Villanove, Clinton county, thence to Parkersburg, and after successful pastorates among these congregations, he was sent by the present Archbishop, Rt. Rev. John J. Keane, to take charge of the congregations at Sumner, Westgate and Pinhook.

During his five years administration all the indebtedness on the various church properties has been solved. Artistic stained glass windows have replaced the old, the interior and exterior of St. Patrick's have been renovated and painted, the roof has been reshingled, and many improvements made which add to the dignity and solemnity of divine worship.

Father Molloy is a man of strong personality, high ideals and eloquent speech, whose worth is approached by non-Catholics as well as by the people of his own church fellowship, and it is confidently expected that future years will find him invested with higher dignities. His efforts have always met with the generous and enthusiastic co-operation of the members of St. Patrick's congregation, in speaking of which he feelingly gave utterance to this benediction: "God bless them, may they grow and prosper."

[Transcriber's Note: Rev. Msgr. John M. Molloy, P.A., V.F., Immaculate Conception church at Cedar Rapids, died July 28, 1951.]


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