Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque

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Archdiocese of Dubuque

Archidioecesis Dubuquensis
St Raphael Dubuque 4855a.jpg
St. Raphael's Cathedral
Coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Dubuque
Coat of arms
Country United States
Territory30 counties in Northeastern Iowa
Ecclesiastical provinceDubuque
Coordinates42°29′06″N 90°40′31″W / 42.48500°N 90.67528°W / 42.48500; -90.67528Coordinates: 42°29′06″N 90°40′31″W / 42.48500°N 90.67528°W / 42.48500; -90.67528
Area17,400 sq mi (45,000 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
200,588 (20.1%)
DenominationCatholic Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedJuly 28, 1837 (182 years ago)
CathedralSt. Raphael's Cathedral
Patron saintSt. Raphael
St. John Vianney
Current leadership
ArchbishopMichael Owen Jackels
Bishops emeritusJerome Hanus, O.S.B.
Archdiocese of Dubuque.jpg

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque (Latin: Archidioecesis Dubuquensis) is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the northeastern quarter of the state of Iowa in the United States.

It includes all the Iowa counties north of Polk, Jasper, Poweshiek, Iowa, Johnson, Cedar, and Clinton counties, and east of Kossuth, Humboldt, Webster and Boone counties. The archdiocese has an area of about 17,400 square miles (45,000 km2).


The seat of the archdiocese is St. Raphael's Cathedral, Dubuque, named in honor of the Archangel Raphael.

The twelfth and current archbishop is Michael Owen Jackels.[1]

Jackels completed a Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome in 1989.

On April 4, 2005, he was consecrated bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita, USA.[2]

The Archdiocese of Dubuque is one of only a handful of US archdioceses not based in a major metropolitan area. The archdiocese contains 199 parishes, three Catholic colleges in the archdiocese: Loras College and Clarke University in Dubuque, and Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids. A number of religious orders maintain a presence in the archdiocese.[citation needed]

Notable orders include the Trappist monastery New Melleray Abbey (male) southwest of Dubuque, and the Trappistine monastery, Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey (female) south of Dubuque. The archdiocese is also home to the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Basilica of St. Francis Xavier is located in the archdiocese, located in Dyersville, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Dubuque.[citation needed]


Prior to the founding[edit]

During the years prior to the founding of the Dubuque Diocese, the area was under the jurisdiction of a number of Bishops. Many of these were purely academic as no Catholic presence yet existed in the area. Most notable among these was the St. Louis Diocese under Bishop Rosati. During the early 1830s it was under his jurisdiction that the early missionaries arrived in what would become the state of Iowa.

In the 1830s, the church studied how to address the expansion of the United States into the western frontiers. Those conducting the study recommended to the Pope that three new dioceses be created, one of which was the Dubuque Diocese. Father Charles Fitzmaurice established the Saint Raphael's parish at Dubuque in 1833. This was the first church of any Christian denomination in the territory that would become the state of Iowa.

Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli was one of the most famous missionaries to work in the Dubuque area. He established a number of parishes in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin several were named after the Archangels: Saint Raphael's in Dubuque, Saint Michael's at Galena, Illinois, and Saint Gabriel's at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Pope John Paul II declared Father Mazzuchelli Venerable in 1993, and his case for sainthood is pending.

Early years[edit]

Pope Gregory XVI created the Dubuque Diocese on July 28, 1837, and named Bishop Mathias Loras as its first bishop. Loras gathered funds and personnel for the new diocese, and he arrived in 1839. St. Raphael's became the cathedral parish in August of that year. He oversaw the expansion of the church in the early years of the diocese, first in the Iowa territory, then after 1846 in the new state of Iowa.

Bishop Loras encouraged immigration to the area, especially German and Irish settlers. He oversaw the creation of new parishes, and also he invited several religious orders to the area. This included a Cisterian order that built the New Melleray Monastery south of Dubuque. Shortly before his death, he directed the construction of the third structure to house St. Raphael's Cathedral which remains today.

A second catholic parish was planned as the Uptown Catholic Parish to be located on the west side of Main Street between 7th and 8th streets in Dubuque. Loras planned the parish due to crowded conditions at the Cathedral. A cornerstone was laid for the parish church, but construction work never proceeded past the laying of the foundation. In 1850, Pope Pius IX separated territory from the Diocese of Dubuque to form the new Diocese of Saint Paul, serving Minnesota Territory (later Minnesota and the Dakotas).

Expansion and elevation[edit]

In 1858, Bishop Smyth established Saint Francis Catholic Church in Balltown. Rev. Clement Smyth, OCSO served as bishop from February 1858 to September 1865 and oversaw continued expansion of the Catholic Church in the diocese. During his episcopacy the German Catholics of the city of Dubuque began construction of a new Saint Mary's church to replace the too-small Church of the Holy Trinity.

In 1863, Smyth learned of the existence of the pro-Southern Knights of the Golden Circle, with headquarters in Dubuque. He gave members who might be Catholic two weeks to withdraw from the organization or be automatically excommunicated.[3]

After Bishop Smyth died in 1865, John Hennessey succeeded him as Bishop of Dubuque. During Hennessey's tenure, the population of Dubuque exploded as the Milwaukee Railroad Shops came to the city. Hennessey created several parishes in Dubuque: Sacred Heart, Holy Ghost, St. Anthony's, and Holy Trinity to deal with this population explosion. During this time, Bishop Hennessey proposed separating territory from the diocese to create a new diocese for southern Iowa. While he proposed Des Moines as the seat of the new diocese, Pope Leo XIII selected Davenport as the site.

Nicholas E. Gonner (1835–1892), a Catholic immigrant from Luxembourg, founded the Catholic Publishing Company of Dubuque. His son Nicholas E. Gonner (1835–1892) took over in 1892, editing two German language weeklies, an English language weekly, and the Daily Tribune, the only Catholic daily newspaper ever published in the United States.[4]

On June 15, 1893, Pope Leo XIII elevated the Dubuque Diocese to an archdiocese, and Bishop Hennessey became the first archbishop. Archbishop Hennessey died in 1900 and was buried at the cathedral.[citation needed]

Early 20th century[edit]

After the death of Archbishop Hennessey, Archbishop John J. Keane led the archdiocese for eleven years until poor health forced him to retire in 1911. During his tenure, the archdiocese lost its western territory to form the Diocese of Sioux City and achieved its current size.

Archbishop John Hennessy, became third Bishop of Dubuque in 1866, and its first archbishop upon elevation of Dubuque to an archdiocese in 1893.

The Great Depression and World War II[edit]

During the years of the Great Depression and World War II, Archbishop Francis J.L. Beckman occupied the see. In the years leading up to the war, Beckman opposed military action. A collector of fine art pieces, he had placed a number of art pieces in a museum at Columbia (now Loras) College and perhaps, thinking he could gain funds to further his collection, involved the archdiocese in what turned out to be a dubious gold mine scheme. Beckman had signed notes on behalf of the archdiocese, which suffered a loss of more than $500,000 when the scheme fell apart and the perpetrator of the scheme[who?] was arrested. President Roosevelt directed the FBI to investigate Beckman to determine his role in the financial scheme. Most of Beckman's collection was sold to pay the notes.

Because of Beckman's troubles, Bishop Henry Rohlman returned from the Davenport, Iowa diocese to become coadjutor archbishop in 1944. Beckman was allowed to retain his office, but was informed that Rohlman now led the archdiocese. Beckman retired in 1947, and left Dubuque for Cincinnati.

On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. One of the casualties in that attack was Father Aloysius Schmitt, who was serving on board the USS Oklahoma. The boat capsized during the attack, leaving Schmitt and other men trapped below with only a small porthole for escape. Schmitt declined to be pulled from the ship, and instead helped other men, twelve in all, to escape, but perished himself. Schmitt was the first chaplain of any denomination to die in World War II. For his actions, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and a destroyer was named in his honor.

Postwar era[edit]

Soon after the war, Admiral Byrd led an expedition to the Antarctica. The chaplain on his flagship, Fr. William Menster, was a priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Menster became the first priest to set foot on the continent, and later consecrated Antarctica in 1947. One of the effects of the post war baby boom was an increase in the number of students at some of the Catholic schools. In Dubuque, the Sacred Heart parish school had the largest student population of such schools in the midwest. On December 2, 1954, Archbishop Leo Binz succeeded Archbishop Rohlman as Archbishop of Dubuque and served in that capacity until December 16, 1961, when he became Archbishop of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Second Vatican Council and the aftermath[edit]

James Byrne was named the next Archbishop of Dubuque on March 7, 1962 and was formally installed at St. Raphael's on May 8, 1962. He attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Byrne implemented the changes brought about by the council in the Archdiocese of Dubuque and quickly established the Priests Senate, a clergy advisory board, as well as another advisory board dealing with assignment of priests. These were among the first such boards founded in the United States. Archbishop Byrne retired from office on August 23, 1983, and remained in Dubuque until his death August 2, 1996.

Late 20th-early 21st centuries[edit]

On February 23, 1984, Daniel William Kucera, OSB was installed as the tenth bishop and eighth archbishop of Dubuque. Archbishop Kucera had earned a doctorate in education. At 36, he had become the youngest president of St. Procopius College (now known as Benedictine University). His background on education has led Vatican officials, including the Pope, to seek his advice.

During Kucera's tenure as archbishop, he remodeled St. Raphael's Cathedral, revised and published the guidelines for the sacrament of Confirmation, reduced the number of deaneries from 16 to 14, reorganized the structure of the archdiocese and created an archbishop's cabinet to coordinate administration of the archdiocese.

In 1987, Kucera also launched a plan that divided the archdiocese into three regions with a resident bishop in each. The Dubuque Region was served by retired Archbishop James Byrne and Archbishop Kucera; the Cedar Rapids Region by Bishop Francis Dunn, and Waterloo Region served by Fr. William Franklin, who was consecrated as a bishop in April 1987. However, Bishop Kucera eventually dropped the plan after the death of Bishop Dunn in 1989 and Bishop Franklin's nomination as the head of the Diocese of Davenport.

In 1986 the archdiocese celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding. Archbishop Kucera also received an honorary degree from the University of Dubuque. On October 16, 1995, Archbishop Kucera retired, and moved to Aurora, Colorado, and then subsequently returned to live in Dubuque.


Bishops of Dubuque[edit]

  1. Mathias Loras (1837–1858)
  2. Clement Smyth, OCSO (1858–1865)

Archbishops of Dubuque[edit]

  1. John Hennessey (1866–1900), elevated to Archbishop in 1893
  2. John Keane (1900––1911)
  3. James Keane (1911–1929)
  4. Francis Beckman (1930–1946)
  5. Henry Rohlman (1946–1954)
  6. Leo Binz (1954–1961), appointed Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
  7. James Byrne (1962–1983)
  8. Daniel Kucera, OSB (1983–1995)
  9. Jerome Hanus, OSB (1995–2013)
  10. Michael Owen Jackels (2013–present)

Coadjutor Archbishops[edit]

Auxiliary bishops[edit]

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops[edit]

Recent events[edit]

Sexual abuse crisis[edit]

The Dubuque Archdiocese has not been immune to the sexual abuse crisis affecting the church.

Priest shortage[edit]

The archdiocese has also felt the effects of the priest shortage that has affected the church in recent times. In recent years many smaller rural parishes have had to close and their congregations had been absorbed into other nearby parishes. Some rural parishes have been clustered together where one priest will serve two or more parishes. Some parishes have no resident priest.

Another effect is that some duties that a priest would have performed in the past are performed by either religious (Sister or Deacon) individuals, or by the laity.

Education issues[edit]

In recent years, many questions have been raised of the future of Catholic schools. With parishes closing or combining services, schools were also combined together. In recent times, schools in a given geographical area have all been joined together into a school system.

In Dubuque, the Catholic schools are all part of the Holy Family system. There has been much controversy recently about how to best run the schools. The administrators of the system had recently made plans to reorganize the schools. This was due to factors such as a declining number of students attending Catholic schools. An especially controversial move that was proposed was to turn St. Anthony's school into a central school for certain grades. Parents of the parish felt that their concerns were being ignored. Eventually, the Archdiocesan Board of Education vetoed the plan, and told the school system to continue work on planning the system's future.

Controversy over The Passion of the Christ[edit]

The Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ once caused controversy in the archdiocese as well. That controversy has long since passed.

One of the main issues raised by the film was an editorial cartoon on the movie that the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald published in its editorial section.  

This cartoon featured a nun using corporal punishment. Some in the community have felt that this was a slight against the nuns and all their years of hard work. Others, mainly middle age to older adults, have said that this was representative of the nuns who taught them while they were in school.

Early parishes[edit]

Saint Francis Catholic Church[edit]

Saint Francis Catholic Church is located in Balltown. As of 2006, the church did not have a resident pastor. The parish is part of a cluster of several other rural parishes in northern Dubuque County, Iowa that share a pastor and other facilities.

The parish traces its history back to 1858. A number of area residents had petitioned Bishop Mathias Loras to establish a Catholic parish in the Balltown area. Loras came to the area, and offered Mass in a log cabin near Balltown. Residents gathered the funds to build a church and a school in the area.

In 1891, local resident Andreas Rapp and his wife donated some land, which allowed for the construction of a brick building containing a school and a convent for the Sisters, as well as the establishment of a cemetery. The school opened in September of that year, and there were 45 children attending the school. Another local resident, Peter Cremer, donated land for a new church, and in 1892 the cornerstone for the second St. Francis Church building was laid.

The second St. Francis Church building would serve the parish until August 27, 1976. During a storm that took place on that day, lightning struck the steeple, which caused a fire. The church building was destroyed by this fire. In the aftermath a new St. Francis Church was constructed. At the same time, the old convent building was torn down to make room for the new church.

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church[edit]

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church is located in Peosta on Sundown Road, just to the north of U.S. Highway 20. The church building is a newer structure, having been built in the late 1980s. As a result, it reflects some of the more recent trends in the church, including having the congregation arranged in a semicircle around the altar.

Currently, the pastor of St. John the Baptist Church is Father Richard Kuhn. The parish is affiliated with Holy Family Catholic Church, which is located about three miles away. Both parishes share a pastor, and the offices for both parishes are located at St. John's. The archdiocese has indicated that when Fr. Kuhn retires that this arrangement will probably be changed due to the priest shortage, that St. John's would be clustered with several other nearby parishes.

The parish has recently grown to the point where the parish is considering expanding or replacing the current church building.

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church[edit]

Side view of Saints Peter and Paul Church, from the cemetery.

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church is the parish for the Dubuque County town of Sherrill. It is part of a cluster of rural parishes that share a pastor and other facilities.


Panel in the church's window donated by Catharina Gansemer (1824–1904), an early parishioner and area pioneer. "Geschenk von" means "gift of." Photo by Joe Schallan, 2003.

The parish was founded in 1852 as St. William's. Prior to this, residents living in the Sherrill area needed to travel to Dubuque to attend mass. This was about 15 miles one way—a considerable distance at the time. In response to the need for a local church and to heavy German Catholic immigration to the rural districts surrounding Sherrill, Dubuque Bishop Mathias Loras established the parish.

By the 1860s the name of Saints Peter and Paul had been adopted, and in 1889 the original wooden church was replaced by a large, brick and stone Romanesque Revival structure, which remains in use today. During the 1970s, the church's original carved wood altars were removed and its 19th-century wood trim was painted over. Recently parish members completed a renovation of the building that restored the wood trim and added decorative details suggestive of its past. Inscriptions on the church's stained glass windows and on the older headstones in its adjoining cemetery are in German, reflecting the culture of the parish's founding members.

For well over 100 years the parish school was operated by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and many girls of the parish who felt a calling to religious life joined that order. The school is still operated on the premises of the parish by the Archdiocese of Dubuque, as a consolidation of the original school and the Catholic school which once served the nearby community of Balltown, Iowa.


Other early parishes in the diocese include Saint Mary's, Sacred Heart, Holy Ghost, and Saint Anthony's.

High schools[edit]

School Location Mascot
Beckman Catholic High School Dyersville Trail Blazers
Columbus High School Waterloo Sailors
Don Bosco High School Gilbertville Dons
Marquette High School Bellevue Mohawks
Newman Catholic High School Mason City Knights
Wahlert Catholic High School Dubuque Golden Eagles
Xavier High School Cedar Rapids Saints

Former High Schools[edit]

School Location Mascot Fate
Aquin Catholic Cascade Tomahawks Absorbed by Beckman Catholic, Dyersville in 1976
Assumption Cresco Crusaders Succeeded by Notre Dame, Cresco in 1950
DeSales Ossian Falcons Closed in 1969
Holy Family/Holy Name Mason City Maroons Consolidated with St. Joseph's, Mason City to form Newman Catholic, Mason City in 1960
Holy Rosary La Motte Unknown Absorbed by Marquette, Bellevue in 1965
Immaculate Conception Academy Elma Knights/Saints Absorbed by Notre Dame, Cresco in 1968
Immaculate Conception Cedar Rapids Greyhounds Merged with St. Wenceslaus, Cedar Rapids and St. Patrick's, Fairfax tor form Regis, Cedar Rapids in 1958
Immaculate Conception Charles City Wildcats Closed in 1968
Immaculate Conception Fairbank Rockets Closed in 1965
LaSalle Cedar Rapids Lancers Merged with Regis, Cedar Rapids to form Xavier, Cedar Rapids in 1998
Lenihan Catholic Marshalltown Lions Closed in 1970
Leo Catholic Holy Cross Rockets Absorbed by Wahlert Catholic, Dubuque in 1989
Loras Academy Dubuque Gubs Merged with St. Clement, Bankston and St. Columbkille, Dubuque to form Wahlert Catholic, Dubuque in 1958
Marian (Visitation) Stacyville V-Hawks Closed in 1968
Notre Dame Cresco Titans Closed in 1989
Our Lady of Lourdes Paris Trojans Consolidated with Immaculate Conception Academy, Elma in 1967
Our Lady of Victory Academy Waterloo Bluejays Merged with St. Mary's, Waterloo and Sacred Heart, Waterloo to form Columbus Catholic, Waterloo in 1959
Regis Cedar Rapids Royals Merged with LaSalle, Cedar Rapids to form Xavier, Cedar Rapids in 1998
Rudolphinum Protivin Rudohawks Absorbed by Notre Dame, Cresco in 1968
Sacred Heart Monticello Eagles Closed in 1969
Sacred Heart Oelwein Tigers Closed in 1972
Sacred Heart Waterloo Cardinals Merged with St. Mary's, Waterloo and Our Lady of Victory, Waterloo to form Columbus Catholic, Waterloo in 1959
St. Athanasius Jesup Wildcats/Angels Consolidated with Don Bosco, Gilbertville
St. Boniface Ionia Unknown Consolidated with area parishes to form St. John's, New Hampton in 1968
St. Boniface New Vienna Bonnies/New Hawks Merged with Xavier, Dyersville and St. Paul's, Worthington to form Beckman Catholic, Dyersville in 1966
St. Clement Bankston Unknown Merged with Loras Academy, Dubuque and St. Columbkille, Dubuque to form Wahlert Catholic, Dubuque in 1958
St. Columbkille Dubuque Co-Dukes Merged with Loras Academy, Dubuque and St. Clement, Bankston to form Wahlert Catholic, Dubuque in 1958
St. George Lansing Knights Closed in 1973
St. John's Independence Blue Eagles/Johnnies Closed in 1989
St. Joseph's Bellevue Saints Merged with area parishes to form Marquette, Bellevue in 1957
St. Joseph's Elkader Rams/Cagers Closed in 1958
St. Joseph's Farley Johawks Closed in 1974
St. Joseph's Mason City Jo-Hawks Consolidated with Holy Family, Mason City to form Newman Catholic, Mason City in 1960
St. Luke's Saint Lucas Saints Closed in 1967
St. Martin's Cascade Tigers Merged with St. Mary's, Cascade and St. Patrick's, Gerryowen to form Aquin Catholic, Cascade in 1961
St. Mary of Mount Carmel Eagle Center Tigers Closed in 1956
St. Mary's Cascade Blue Jays Merged with St. Martin's, Cascade and St. Patrick's, Gerryowen to form Aquin Catholic, Cascade in 1961
St. Mary's Guttenberg Wildcats Closed in 1968
St. Mary's Marshalltown Irish Succeeded by Lenihan Catholic, Marshalltown in 1965
St. Mary's New Haven Unknown Merged with Visitation, Stacyville to form Marian, Stacyville in 1965
St. Mary's Waterloo Cubs Merged with Sacred Heart, Waterloo and Our Lady of Victory, Waterloo to form Columbus Catholic, Waterloo in 1959
St. Patrick's Cedar Rapids Shamrocks/Irish Merged with area parishes to form LaSalle, Cedar Rapids in 1963
St. Patrick's Dougherty Irish Merged with Newman Catholic, Mason City in 1964
St. Patrick's Fairfax Irish Merged with St. Wenceslaus, Cedar Rapids and Immaculate Conception, Cedar Rapids to form Regis, Cedar Rapids in 1958
St. Patrick's Garryowen Shamrocks Merged with St. Martin's, Cascade and St. Mary's, Cascade to form Aquin Catholic, Cascade in 1961
St. Patrick's Ryan Fighting Irish Closed in 1967
St. Patrick's Waukon Wildcats Closed in 1969
St. Paul's Worthington War Hawks Merged with Xavier, Dyersville and St. Boniface, New Vienna to form Beckman Catholic, Dyersville in 1966
St. Wenceslaus Cedar Rapids Red Hawks Merged with St. Patrick's, Fairfax and Immaculate Conception, Cedar Rapids to form Regis, Cedar Rapids in 1958
St. William's Alta Vista Unknown Closed in 1967
St. Xavier Manchester Saints Closed in 1952
Xavier Dyersville Cardinals Merged with St. Paul's, Worthington and St. Boniface, New Vienna to form Beckman Catholic, Dyersville in 1966


Colleges and universities[edit]

Suffragan sees[edit]

Ecclesiastical Province of Dubuque


  1. ^ Uebbing, David (April 8, 2013). "Pope appoints Bishop Jackels to lead Dubuque archdiocese". Catholic News Agency.
  2. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine: Nomina dell'Arcivescovo Metropolito di Dubuque (U.S.A.)" [Waivers and Nominations: Appointment of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Dubuque (U.S.A.)] (PDF). Daily Bulletin. Holy See Press Office. April 8, 2013.
  3. ^ Keller, Rudi (June 13, 2014). "Knights of the Golden Circle".
  4. ^ Adam, Thomas, ed. (2005). Germany and the Americas. 2. ABC-CLIO. p. 458. ISBN 978-1851096282.


  • Hoffman, Rev, Mathias M., Centennial History of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Columbia College Press, Dubuque, Iowa, 1938.

External links[edit]