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In 1933, a class of 181 children received the sacrament of confirmation administered by Archbishop Francis Beckman. The parish members who rendered services about the Archbishop's throne were: Francis Klein, Gregory Hemesath, Quentin Barthelme, Jack Collins, Lyle Holder and James Dessel.

The greatest event in the history of the church took place on May 1, 1938. The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese at Dubuque was celebrated at St. Francis. The crowd of 4000, attending this occasion, found Ossian decorated with the Papal colors of yellow, white and purple. A large banner, welcoming all, was suspended over Main St. A parade, comprised of 2500 Catholics led by the Decorah Drum and Bugle Corps, marched from the opera house to the church. His excellency, the Most Reverend Francis J. Beckman, reviewed the procession. It required twenty minutes for the parade to pass his stand at the rectory.

A pagent, Centennial Visions of De Sales, was held on the church grounds. A historical exhibit, at the school chapel, was viewed by more than 1000 visitors.

In 1939, Pope Pius XII appointed the Very Reverend M. J. Thilgen to the rank of domestic prelate with the title of Monsignor. Father Thiltgen had served two parishes, and was a professor at Columbia College, prior to his appointment to St. Francis. The new Monsignor was honored by the parish at a reception held in the opera house.

This same year, two local boys, Jerome Bohr and John Hemesath, celebrated their first mass as newly ordained priests at Saint Francis. The baccalaureate service for the de Sales graduates was conducted by another Ossian boy, the Rev. Raymond Etteldorf.

It was during Father Thiltgen's many years of leadership, that a large, 150' X 106', building was constructed for use as a combination school, gymnasium and auditorium. The Rev. E. J. Frost, assistant to the Monsignor, was instrumental in planning and designing this valuable addition to the parish school. The contract figures for the complex totaled $382,326. The cornerstone was laid on Sunday, May 25, 1952. It contains memorabilia of the parish.

After many years of meritorious service, Msgr. Thiltgen retired and was succeeded by Monsignor Vernon J. Peters. Under his administration, new quarters were constructed for the sisters who taught in the De Sales school.

This priest must be lauded, as well, for his leadership in building the Ossian Senior Hospice. This worthy project serves the needs of the elderly in our town.

Over the years, the Ossian Catholic Church has become one of the largest and most respected parishes of the Dubuque Archdiocese.

At the present time (1982) the Rev. Philip C. McDermott serves the Ossian Catholic Church.


We utilize the work of the Rev. I. O. Arnold written in 1950; Mrs. Hazel Schultz's "History of the Ossian Methodist Church"; and our own findings in this account.

Methodist services were first conducted in a one-room log school house that stood on a site catty-corned across the street from the present vacated church building. The Rev. John M. Wedgwood, Baptist minister, and the Rev. Mr. Young, Methodist, preached on alternate Sundays at 10:30 in the morning, and a United Brethren Clergyman held services two Sabbath afternoons a month.

The first Sabbath School, known as the Union Sunday School, was organized on May 7, I865. Classes were held in this same log house. The first officers were: Thomas Halvorson, superintendent; T. A. Hart, secretary; Charles Wood, librarian; and Michael Schaffer, treasurer. The following year, McKenzie Hall was elected superintendent with the following trustees: N. A. Drake, B. E. Bort, F. C. Wolfe, A. Patterson, Wm. Edgar, R. N. Sawyer and F. J. Dean.

A prominent pioneer merchant, Aaron Patterson, assumed the lead in raising funds to build a new brick church building. The erection of this edifice began in 1869. It was completed in 1870 and dedicated on June 19th of that year with

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