IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.
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Church Index

St. Mary's Catholic Church
Strawberry Point

Note: the information was contributed by Reid R. Johnson unless otherwise credited


From the 'History of Clayton County, 1882'; Chapter XXII ..........

St. Mary's Catholic Church. In the spring of 1878 Father John Hacket was appointed by Rt. Rev. Bishop Hennessey, of Dubuque, to organize a congregation and build a church in the town of Strawberry Point, for the Catholics of the locality. They had been accustomed previously to attend mass at Cox Creek church, about five miles north of the point. The church was completed in 1879. It is a frame building, 30 x 60, and is well located on West Mission street. A parochial residence, adjacent to the church, was purchased in 1880. But few members of the congregration live in Strawberry Point; the majority live west and southwest. The Catholics of the town helped most liberally, however, in building both the church and the parsonage. The church was dedicated Sunday, May 23, 1880. Rev. Father Quigley, of Elkader, officiated, assisted by Father Coyle, of Elkport. Rev. Dr. Dailey of Richardsville, Dubuque County, preached the dedication sermon. Father Hacket was removed by the Bishop to Clermont, in the summer of 1881. He is a young priest of great promise, and is now conducting the building of a $10,000 church at Clermont. He was succeeded by Father Rowe*, of Dubuque, who now has charge of this mission, together with those of Cox Creek and Greeley. Mass is celebrated every third Sunday at 10:30 A. M. Sunday-school services are held immediately after mass.

*Father Thomas Rowe biography & obituary


Transcribed by S. Ferrall from an article in the Oelwein Daily Register, Friday, August 19, 1955 ......

St. Mary's parish of Strawberry Point was established in the year 1878 by the Rev. John Hackett who served here for about three years. He was appointed by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Hennessey of Dubuque for the purpose of organizing a congregation and building a church in Strawberry Point for the Catholics of the locality. The church, a frame building 30X60 feet in size, was completed and dedication took place on May 23, 1880.

Catholocism, however, dates back to about 1870 in the area. The Rev. M. Quirk, pastor of the church at Elkport, established the Sacred Heart parish of Cox Creek about five miles north of town and masses were read in the house of M. Bartholomew Dillon until the church was built. Construction was begun in 1873 and the church was dedicated in June of 1876. Members of that parish were instrumental in organizing St. Mary's parish and the two churches worked together until February of 1946 when the church at Cox Creek was destroyed by fire and was not rebuilt. Members of Sacred Heart transferred their membership to St. Mary's or to the church at Volga, so the mother congregation has been absorbed now by its daughters.

Two sons of the congregation have entered the priesthood: the Rev. Father Julius Olinger celebrating his first mass here on June 4, 1931, and the Rev. Father John Barnes celebrating his first mass on June 9, 1952. Nine young women of the parish have consecrated their lives to work in the religious orders of the church.

The original church building was razed in 1953 to make room for a new and larger building. Construction began in August of 1953 and the first mass was celebrated in the new church basement worship center on the Sunday before Christmas in 1953. While definite plans have not been announced it is expected that the superstructure will be built within the next few years.

The present pastor of St. Mary's, the Rev. Father Robert L. Palen, came to Strawberry Point on December 1, 1952. He was born in Minneapolis but received his grade school education at Dubuque and then attended Loras Academy and Loras College in the same city. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Loras in 1937 and spent the next three years in Europe, receiving his theological training. First he attended the University of Innsbruck in Austria, being there at the time of the "Anschluss" or annexation of Austria by Hitler's men. He and other residing at the college were allowed to continue their studies for about a year after the anschluss, but then were forced to leave the country. "Evacuated," Father Palen says, "was the polite term they used when they kicked us out." A pontifical institute was set up in a hospital building in Sion, Switzerland and he continued his studies there until returning to America in May of 1940. He then spent a year at the Catholic University of America at Washington, D.C., and was ordained a priest in 1941. Father Palen then served as assistant pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Dubuque for seven years. He served congregations at Parkersburg and Harpers Ferry as pastor before coming to Strawberry Point.


The Lady Foresters met at the John ? (looks like Quinn) home last Wednesday afternoon and elected the following officers for the ensuing year:
Chief Ranger - Mrs. Dell Connors
Vice Chief Ranger - Miss Kate Anton
Recording Treasurer - Mrs. Jennie Behrens
Recording Secretary - Mrs. Martin Hennessey
Treasurer - Mrs. J. M. Henry
The delegate to the state convention which is to be held at Ft. Dodge is Mrs. Dell Connors and the alternate, Mrs. Mike Leonard.
~Elkader Register, Thur., 24 Mar. 1921. Strawberry Point columns

The Alter Society of St. Mary's church met last Thursday and elected the following officers for the ensuing year:
President - Mrs. R. Laity
Vice-President - Mrs. C. O. Hebron
Treasurer - Miss Eunice Byrnes
Secretary - Mrs. J. P. Hurley
~Elkader Register, Thur., 12 Jan. 1922. Strawberry Point column

The Woman's Catholic order of Foresters met at the home of Mrs. Martin Hennessey last Wednesday afternoon. Twenty-five were present. After the regular business meeting was held the following officers were installed for the coming year:
Chief Ranger - Mrs. Julia Olinger
Financial Secretary - Mrs. Margaret Henry
Treasurer - Mrs. Mabel Robinson
Recorder - Mrs. Zelda McTaggart
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 26 May 1927. Strawberry Point columns

The Lady Foresters met with Mrs. Martin Hennessey last Wednesday afternoon. The regular routine business was transacted and election of officers took place, as follows:
Chief Ranger - Mrs. Julia Ivory
Vice Chief Ranger - Miss Laura Anton
Recording Secretary - Miss Mary Hanson
Financial Secretary - Mrs. Margaret Henry
Treasurer - Mrs. Mary O'Brien
Convention Delegates - Mrs. Margaret Henry, Mrs. Mabel Robinson
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 28 Mar. 1929. Strawberry Point column

Strawberry Point: The Women's Catholic Order of Foresters at the St. Mary's chapel Tuesday afternoon elected officers for the year as follows:
Chief Ranger - Mrs. D. J. Ivory
Vice Chief Ranger - Mrs. Elmer Scheckel
Recording Secretary - Mrs. Leon Olinger
Financial Secretary - Mrs. M. Henry
Treasurer - Miss Mary Hanson
Trustee - Mrs. Kate Hennessy
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 26 Apr. 1934


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