Stained glass window at the entrance of St. Patrick Catholic Church
St. Patrick Parish was organized in 1854. The first Mass in Cedar Falls was celebrated by Fr. Patrick McGinnis in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Mullarky in January 1855. Mr. and Mrs. Mullarky purchased the property at 8th and Washington Street and donated it to the church.
In 1856, a little brick church measuring 20 feet by 40 feet was built on the property making it the oldest parish in Black Hawk County. Until 1867, missionary priests served Cedar Falls.
Father Thomas Gunn was appointed the first resident pastor in 1867 and enlarged the church to twice its size to accommodate the worshipers. In 1876 the church was torn down because it was not large enough and Fr. P. Smith erected a new church.
While pastor from 1878-1896, Fr. Charles McCabe purchased property and built a Catholic School. Finished in October 1891, the school was known as St. Mary’s and was staffed by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Its believed the name was changed to St. Patrick’s School sometime in 1938.
In 1896, Fr. B. W. Coyle came to St. Patrick’s. He added a steeple, furnace, and Stations of the Cross as well as getting painting and fresco work done. Fr. Coyle died while serving as pastor and was the first person to be buried in the Catholic cemetery of Cedar Falls. In succeeding years, Fr. Donlan installed new pews to accommodate the increasing number of parishioners.
This building was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1913. Until the new church could be built, Mass was held in the school.
Emmanuel L. Massqueray, who designed the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis and the Cathedral of St. Paul, was commissioned to design a new church. The new church was built in 1914 while Fr. John C. Wieneke served as pastor. St. Patrick's now served a parish of about 60 families. This is the same church we use today, but our numbers have grown to approximately 3,000 parishioners from 1250 households.
In 1938, while Fr. S. J. Mauer was the pastor, much needed refurbishing and stained glass window repair was accomplished through donations. A new school was built in 1951. However, in 1953, while Fr. John Mayer served, the size of the school was doubled.
Fr. Maurice A Mullan was pastor during the many changes of Vatican II.
Fr. Paul Grace arrived in 1972 and oversaw many remodeling projects in the church, as well as the installation of air conditioning and an elevator.
During Msgr. Daniel J. Tarrant’s time of service, St. Patrick’s built the current rectory. It was named in honor of Fr. Paul Grace, which is how it became known as Grace House
Fr. Richard Funke came to St. Patrick’s in 1984 and the school acquired a new addition, which included classrooms, a multipurpose room, a resource room, and offices.
Under the direction of the Msgr. Paul Steimel, pastor, a "needs assessment" was commissioned, accomplished and approved by the Parish Council. Three neighborhood properties were acquired. In the spring of 1996, a fund drive resulted in pledges totaling 2.1 million dollars towards the building project, which included three phases. Phase I, the building of the parish center, offices, gym, and church refurbishing began.
Fr. Jim Secora became pastor in July 1997 and the project moved forward. More property was acquisitioned and the official ground breaking occurred on Easter Sunday, April 4, 1999.
In early 2000, the interior of the church was painted and new (donated) statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph were installed. On May 6, 2000 the new Parish Center was commissioned by Archbishop Jerome Hanus.
In July of 2009, Rev. Everett Hemann, who served as an associate pastor back in the early 1970's was assigned to return to St. Patrick once again as pastor. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in the spring of 2011, and died in April of 2012.
Fr. Dennis Colter, who had already retired from full-time ministry, graciously agreed to be the Parochial Administrator at St. Patrick until a priest could be assigned. As luck would have it, he enjoyed serving this community so much that he asked to be assigned as St. Patrick's pastor and was appointed as such on March 1, 2012.
Shortly after his appointment, he graciously tackled the project of church renovation. On June 16, 2012, the task of removing pews, carpet, and wall hangings was done by volunteers and the complete renovation of the interior of the church began.
The parish cares for the needs of the parishioners with the help of our clergy and many volunteers. The assembly of the faithful is assisted by a full slate of liturgical ministers during the Sunday Masses: cantors, lectors, musicians, ushers, and communion ministers.
Our parish has also enriched the lives of others because at least eight women have entered the convent and seven men have been ordained to the priesthood.
We ask God to continue to bless us as we look to the future.