St. Joseph Parish Bode, Iowa

St. Joseph Parish

Bode, Iowa

St. Joseph, Iowa (generally called St. Joe and formerly known as Hale) is home to St. Joseph Parish. The Catholics living in this area in the early years were affiliated with Corpus Christi Church in Fort Dodge. The Fort Dodge priest, Father Butler, would come every few months to say mass in the homes of the settlers. In 1871 land donated by Gregory Hollenbeck and Margaret Schreiber Hollenbeck started the construction of a mission church, which was completed one year later. It was not until 1876 that St. Joseph got its first resident priest, Father Theobald Wegmann, who also supervised the building of the Livermore and Britt churches.

Construction on a new parish church started in 1892, and the church was dedicated June 14, 1895. The old building was sold to local farmers for a cooperative creamery , and the old school was sold and moved for use as a hardware store. A $1,000 altar was installed in the new church, along with the bell from the original church, which still hangs there today. A new school, rectory, and convent were build in 1930, and a larger convent that could accommodate ten sisters was opened in 1955.

Providing a quality Catholic education has been a fundamental goal of local residents since the arrival of the first Catholic settlers in the 1850s. Before the first church was built, children were educated at home and in various country schools. When the first parochial school was opened in 1886, children were not classified by grades, but advanced from book to book. Before they could receive communion, children were required to attend two years in the Catholic school system. The Sisters of St. Francis from Dubuque arrived in St. Joseph in 1890 and served the school for a century. Eight grades were offered at St. Joseph through the 1930s. A high school was added, with the first graduating class in 1940.

In 1959, the Diocese of Sioux City encouraged the formation of Bishop Garrigan High School, as a means of providing broader opportunities for area Catholic students. St. Joseph was one of five parishes that joined the Garrigan corporation, and it continues to be one of school's strongest supporters.

By 1970 it was no longer economical to operate St. Joseph as a K-12 school. Since St. Cecelia's in Algona was in need of classroom space, the two systems merged. St. Joseph housed grades six, seven, and eight, while the first through fifth grades were held in Algona. In 1991 an addition was made to the Seton school in Algona, and the St. Joseph facility ceased to be used as a school.

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