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Our Lady of Seven Dolors
Chronological History

this site was last updated on Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Chronological history of Our Lady of Seven Dolors

Notes: 1833 St. Raphael's in Dubuque founded and in 1847 it became the Cathedral
1846 Iowa became the 29th state. 1863 Homestead Act brought many settlers to the "Neutral Ground".

Rev. Joseph Cretin1843"Old Mission Church: Our Lady of the Wilderness" renamed by Fr. Cretin because of the hardships endured in establishing the mission parish. The Catholic Almanac of 1846 lists the parish- Winnebago Mission, Our Blessed Lady of the Seven Dolors.
Rev G.H. Plathe (Conducted services every three months).1849-511848-1849 Neutral Ground opened up for settlement. Frank & Mary Huber donated 20 acres to the diocese for the Church which is the present site of the "Smallest Church". A statue of Sorrowful Mary marks the center of the original church.
Rev. M. Lentner1851
Rev. M. Remsen1852Regular monthly services began.
Rev. Schwaiger Rev. W. Emonds1853-55The church burned between Christmas and New Year's 1853. Arson was suspected. All church records were lost. In 1854 a new log church was built in "Twin Springs" where there was less chance of flooding and a majority of the settlers lived. It was rebuilt twice as large on 100 acres of donated land. And, a good school was begun.
Rev. Philip Laurent (First resident pastor)1855-56

Catholicity grew so rapidly that in 1855 four log churches were erected in the neighborhood: St. Clement south of Spillville, St. Lucas built St. Luke (first service October 1855), St. Terence in Fayette County and St. Rose in Chickasaw County. Rev. Laurent was the first resident pastor in Festina. Since Fr. Laurent, was the only priest serving the wide area, "Our Lady" became the "mother church,"

Rev. Louis Decailly1856
Rev. J. M. Flammang1857-58Rosary Society Started
Rev. H. Fedderman1858-61Plans for church began.
Rev. Frederick Hannasch1861-671861 construction of stone church began. Completed in 1863 at the cost of $7,000. Bernard Lutkenhause and sons supervised the project with help from parish members. The Lutkenhauses were ship builders and, influenced by theirbackground, the church was constructed of two walls of stonewith and air space between.
1866 Schoolhouse completed.

"Twin Springs" changed its name to "Festina". Latin derivative from Catholic Vesper "Deus, in adjutorium meum intende R Domine, adjuvandum me F E ST IN A. (Festina - make haste slowly"). This Post Office was established in 1863.

Rev. Conrad Schulte1867-70
Rev. John Urbany1870-77Parsonage and Sisters' house built 1875. Franciscan Order of LaCrosse, Wl, took charge in 1875 and conducted school.
Rev. Augustine Sauter,
Rev. J. Anler
Rev. J. Racke
Rev. B. Albers
Rev. J. Schleuter
Rev. H. Gehling
Rev. J.P. Hoffman
Rev. B. Forkenbrock
Rev. B. Haubrich
Rev. G. Ehl
Rev. J. H. Friedmann
Rev. Winneke
1877-19051878 school house was enlarged
1879 church tower remodeled and clock placed therein
1880 Stations of the Cross in Cemetery; 10 decorated glass windows installed along with 2 church bells (total of 3).
1885 West wing: dedicated to Mother of Perpetual Help added Picture was obtained direct from Rome in 1883
1888 construction of new school house
1890 East wing: dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory added and the parsonage enlarged and remodeled
1893 Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapel in cemetery donated by Fr. Sauter
1893 Steeple added to church tower.10 stain glass windows, presently in church, installed Grotto of Lourdes in cemetery constructed
1900 Parsonage renovated and expanded1901 New residence for Sisters' erected, warm air heating plant installed in the basement of the church and new pews.
Rev. Andrew J. Rubly (died inl950-buried by Sacred Heart Chapel1905-19461911 School enlarged to 8th grade (High German official language of church and school until onset of World War 1) 1932 New school built for expansion through high school. Chapel and Parish Hail were part of the school.
Rev. Henry P. Nosbisch.1946-51High school had grades 9-10; 11 only for one year.
Rev. H. Nees1951-57
Rev, John P. Smith1957-60New Hammond Organ in church School hot lunch program started, parent-teacher conferences initiated, and audio visual aids purchased. Kitchens in school and rectory modernized. High school transferred to DeSales.
Rev. William C. Kunsch1960-19661960, after 14 years of existence the high school was transferred to Ossian DeSales. The high school students were bused to St. Francis DeSales in Ossian until 1969 when DeSales closed and the students began to attend South Winneshiek.

1965-66: Second Major Renovation of the Church: The sanctuary was opened and new lower ceiling installed. All of the altars were taken out and the Last Super Sculpture from the main altar was incorporated into a new low mahogany altar. This was placed so Mass could be read facing the people. A new side altar was installed in the west wing as part of the Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Statues, stations and mission cross were all redone. The pews were removed and the ladies of the parish refinished them. After re-plastering, the entire Church was carpeted. During renovating, Church Services were held in the school chapel.

Rev. Joseph Heinemann1966Administrator
Rev. Peter Graff Died April 8,1976 and buried next to Fr. Rubly in front of the altar in the cemetery.1966-761968 Parish school consolidated with St. Aloysius of Calmar. Sisters moved to Calmar and Festina's convent was sold. 1971 Rosary Society expanded to family memberships, to include all members of the parish.
Rev. Leo Roethig1976-77Director of Family School of Religion and served as administrator of Our Lady of Seven Dolors until he left the priesthood in June of 1977.
Rev. Patrick G. Geary1977-801977 Repairs to rectory Introduction of "new sacrament of penance and study the option of Communion in the hand." 1979 formation of Eucharistic Ministers. Consolidation of Spillville into parochial school. Grades 1-2 met in Festina, 3-5 in Spillville and 6-8 in Calmar. 1979 Celebration of Rev. A. Elsbernds 50th jubilee. Celebrated 125th year of OLSD in Festina; history published.
Fr. Lloyd Paul Ouderkirk (left for mission in South America)1980-851984 Donation of new glass doors for entrance of church. 1985 Centennial mass at the Smallest Church.
Fr. Marvin Salz1985-19871986 repainting, new drapes and installation of fire alarm system in school. CFS schools continued use of 4 classrooms and library in St. Mary School. First pictorial directory.
Msgr. Donald Heineman1987-19961987 - After only a few interruptions in over 130 years OLSD was not assigned a permanent priest. Msgr. Heineman lived in Ft. Atkinson and served both St. Johns's and Our Lady of Seven Dolors. Lay ministers took communion to shut-ins. The Parish Council became more responsible for the day to day management of the parish. 1987-88 Renovation of the church steeple 1989 Alter in cemetery received new base, picture of Last Supper and fresh paint. New wider sidewalks installed. 1989 Rectory dismantled by Parish members. Contents and lumber were auctioned. 1990-91 School maintenance and improvements: new sinks in restrooms, countertops and sinks installed in the secondary kitchen. Computers and filing cabinets purchased. 1992 the last students left the halls of St. Mary's School. The decision was made to close the Festina attendance center in effort to save money for the CFS Schools. Grades 1-4 now attend school in Spillville, while grades 5-8 attend the Calmar center. 1993 -150 Year Anniversary Celebration of Our Lady of Seven Dolors as a parish. Interior of church repainted and carpeted. History and pictorial directory published. 1996 Msgr. Heineman's retirement mass and community celebration in Ft. Atkinson.
Fr. Richard Kuhn1996-1999OLSD parish affiliation changed to St. Francis DeSales in Ossian. Planning of demolition of St. Mary School and approval for the construction of the Parish Center on the school site in Festina. Feb-March of 1999 interior of school dismantled; razed April.
Msgr. Cletus Hawes1999-20151999 School site cleared in May. Parish Center footings poured and walls completed for 70x120 steel structure constructed in June and July. Parishioners used wheel barrels to pour cement floors the last week of July. Interior partially completed and fall picnic held in September. Building dedicated in 2000. 2001 Diocesan meeting to address priest shortages began. 2002 Golden Anniversary of Msgr. Hawes ordination. Tuck pointing of church and down spouts tiled for run-off. 2003 Carpet church steps; installation of ranges, exhaust fans and dishwasher in parish center. 2004 Shingling of church steeple, lighting of Crucifixion Alter, and water in cemetery. Parking lot extended and graveled. 2005 Industrial tile entry of Parish Center; painting of walls; decorative covering of the canopy entrance. Paving of parking lot and area behind the Parish Center. Pictorial Directory. 2006 Debt incurred for building the Parish Center retired. Playground installed and improvements to park area. 2011 Our Lady of Seven Sorrows wood carvings purchased and installed in the Narthex (entry) of the church. 2013 Air conditioning installed in church. 2015 Deanery meetings to address priest shortages and formation of parish clusters and linkages. Msgr. Hawes retirement celebration in July. 2015 Electronic Chimes Installed as Eagle Scout Project. 2017 Corpus Christi Chapels reroofed as Eagle Scout Project

Upon the retirements of Msgr. Cletus Hawes serving Our Lady of Seven Dolors and St. Francis DeSales in Ossian and; his brother, Fr. Donald Hawes serving St. Aloysius in Calmar and St. Wenceslaus in Spillville, a linkage was to be formed between these four parishes and served by one priest. July of 2016, Fr. Robert Gross became the firstpriest in the newly formed CFOS (Calmar, Festina, Ossian, Spillville) Linkage. St. Aloysius's rectory was centrally located and in the best repair. Thus it became the home of the pastor. The CFOS Linkage office and priest office were established in the Neumann Hall, formerly the convent in Calmar.

Fr. Robert Gross2016-present2016 Church roof replaced with steel shingles. Water leak and condensation ruined the ceiling in the Parish Center. Ceiling was replaced and the interior repainted. 2017 two separate storms severely damaged the tower and steeple of the church, destroyed the Lourdes Grotto and fell many trees in the cemetery and church property. Parishioners cleaned the storm damage, engineers determined the steeple and tower structurally sound and repair bids were obtained. September 15, 2017 Feast Day of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, Seven Sorrows Rosaries were distributed to all parish members. This rosary prayed before weekly mass for the year prior to the 175th celebration of the beginning of the parish. 2018 Repairs to steeple and tower completed; Lourdes Grotto relocated from northwest corner to west end of sidewalk and rebuilt; interior of church repainted, new carpeting installed; stain glass window maintenance and glass storms installed. Sacred Heart Chapel, re-shingled and tuck pointed. Memorial to Msgr. Donald Heineman and prayer garden constructed in conjunction with the rebuilding of Lourdes Grotto.

Msgr. Donald Heineman passed away on July 21, 2016. Proceeds from Monsignor's estate were generously bequeathed to several schools and parishes. Our Lady of Seven Dolors was informed that a sum of $262,000 was left to the parish. Part of the funds was used for the 2018 upgrades to the church and cemetery. After careful consideration by Fr. Gross and the Parish Council, it was decided Monsignors generosity would provide the seed money to establish an endowment fund. Monsignor Heineman's gift has provided a means to ensure a degree of financial stability as the torch of faith is handed to future generations.

In 1993, Msgr. Heineman wrote in the Our Lady of Seven Dolors 150th Anniversary Celebration Booklet:
"The parishioners of Our Lady of Seven Dolors Catholic Church, Festina, Iowa, celebrate the one hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the parish.

We hail with respect and gratitude the faith of our predecessors who walked through the doors of our parish church and knelt here in prayer. We note the admiration and sacrifice and love of former parishioners who built and maintained this parish. We acknowledge the priests and sisters who left from this parish to serve God and church in other parishes. And we deeply appreciate those who came to us from elsewhere to serve.

We thank those before us who handed us the torch of faith. We promise to treasure this gift of faith, and we pledge to hand it to those who will follow us."

Monsignor Donald P. Heineman, Pastor

It is with deepest appreciation we acknowledge all who have kept the gift of faith alive in Festina.
Our Lady of Seven Dolors Parish 175th Anniversary Celebration
September 15, 2018.

Draft 2/27/18

Source: Our Lady of Seven Delors 175 year celebration booklet - Submitted by Linus Cremer

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this page was last updated on Wednesday, 31 March 2021