Blessed Sacrament Parish in Waterloo is a faith community of 2511 Catholics in 1,124 households, located in a residential neighborhood about three and a half miles northwest of the city's central business district and near the city's western boundary with Cedar Falls. [map]
Blessed Sacrament Parish was formed in 1947, with a population of 723 people in 200 households. The new parish celebrated its first Mass in the small theater of Edison School on January 4, 1948. In July of that year, a temporary church building was completed on Falls Avenue; First Communion for 38 boys and girls was celebrated in June and Confirmation for 21 children and 32 adults was celebrated in November.
In December 1948, seventeen acres of land were purchased at the present site on Stephen Ave. The cornerstone was laid on September 17, 1950 for the first building--a combination of church and school in which the basement served as the church and the first floor as the school. The first Mass in the new building was celebrated on December 1, 1950.
The School Sisters of Notre Dame arrived from Mankato, Minnesota, to begin classes for 130 children in September, 1951. The first addition to the school, providing a total of 12 classrooms for over 300 students, was added in 1951. A second addition in 1961 connected the school and the convent in order to accommodate 570 children.
Continued growth demanded a larger space for worship, and permission to build a separate church was given in December 1964. Construction of the new church and rectory began in July, 1965, and the cornerstone was laid on March 21, 1966. The first Mass was celebrated in the new church on Thanksgiving Day, 1966; the new church was dedicated on April 9, 1967. In 1991 the parish completed the Anne Sulentic Parish Center to serve as both a parish center and gymnasium.
In the first 21 years the parish increased from 200 families to 564. Over the next five years the parish grew to 660 households. An associate pastor assisted the pastor until 1974, when a Franciscan Sister was hired as pastoral minister. A director of religious education joined the staff in 1975. The parish’s first permanent deacon was ordained in 1979 and was joined over the years by three additional permanent deacons. By 1993, parish members numbered over 2,500 souls in 906 households.
Blessed Sacrament Parish is currently served by Fr. Thomas McDermott, who was appointed pastor in 2011, and four permanent deacons: Norman Schauls, Jim Freet, John Herman and Bob Stirm. John Herman also serves as Music Director. Sr. Madonna Friedman OSF serves in a parttime capacity as Pastoral Minister. Barb Duggan is the Director of Faith Formation; Lori Zabler is the Faith Formation Coordinator. The parish participates in adult formation and youth ministry provided by the Catholic Parishes in Waterloo.
Blessed Sacrament Parish Mission
Because our hearts are burning within us, we the Community of Blessed Sacrament are disciples of Christ, witnessing the love of God through worship, service and lifelong faith formation.
Queen of Peace Parish in Waterloo is a faith community of 2,295 Catholics in 984 households, located on the east (north) side of the Cedar River in downtown Waterloo. [map]
Queen of Peace Parish was established on July 1, 2002, following the merger of four of existing local parishes: St. John, St. Joseph and St. Mary Parishes in Waterloo and St. Nicholas Parish in Evansdale. (SeePrevious Parishes below.)
The merger of these historic urban parishes required many difficult choices, including the decision to close some existing church buildings. During the first year a decision was made to use the former St. Joseph Church in downtown Waterloo as the main worship site for the new parish; the buildings and grounds of the other parishes were subsequently sold. Elementary schools at St. John, St. Mary and St. Nicholas sites were merged into a single facility at the St. Mary site in 2001, and incorporated into the Cedar Valley Catholic Schools system in 2003. The Queen of Peace attendance site was closed in 2005. The former St. Joseph rectory, adjacent to the church on Mulberry Street, currently houses the parish offices as well as offices for the Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry, the Episcopal Vicar of the Waterloo and the Director of Adult Faith Formation for the Catholic Parishes in Waterloo.
The Queen of Peace parish community is a diverse mix of Anglo and Hispanic families, including immigrant families from five different indigenous cultures in Mexico, Central and South America. For many of these Hispanic Catholics, their native language is their first language, Spanish their second and English their third. Integration of these immigrant families is facilitated by a Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry, who collaborates with other parish ministers, other local parishes, and local social service agencies.
Fr. James Goedken and Fr. Kenneth Glaser were appointed the first pastor and associate pastor when Queen of Peace Parish was formed in 2002. Fr. Dennis Colter was appointed pastor when Fr. Goedken died in 2003; Fr. Jose Luis Comparan served as pastor and vicar for Hispanic Ministry from 2008 to 2013.
Queen of Peace Parish is currently served by Fr. David Ambrosy, who was appointed pastor in 2013, and two permanent deacons, Ed Weber, and Rigoberto Real. Rev. Mr. Real also serves as Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry; Bev Byford is the Director of Faith Formation. The parish participates in adult formation and youth ministry provided by the Catholic Parishes in Waterloo.
Queen of Peace Parish Mission
We, the Queen of Peace Community, believe our Mission is to serve God and to worship together. We are committed to promoting unity, while bringing peace, acceptance and justice to those we meet. We seek to live our faith and to become a healing community that is open to change and growth with respect to one another’s heritage.
Sacred Heart Parish in Waterloo is a faith community of 2,603 Catholics in 957 households located on the south side of the Cedar River, several blocks from downtown Waterloo [map].
Sacred Heart Parish was the first Catholic parish established on the west (or south) side of the Cedar River in Waterloo. Until the parish was founded in 1909, Catholics living on that side of the river had to cross the Cedar by fording, ferry or bridge to worship at St. Joseph Church on the east (or north) side of the river
In 1908, Catholics living on the west side met to discuss founding a new parish. Fr. John J. Hanley was appointed founding pastor of the new parish in January, 1909 and pledges were sought to provide funds for building a new church. This resulted in over $15,000 from 47 Catholic and 67 non-Catholic citizens. The Pickett residence at the corner of West 4th and Randolph Sts. was purchased to serve as the rectory and land was acquired for a new church adjacent to the rectory. Mass was celebrated in the Knights of Pythias Hall during construction of the new church, designed in the Lombardic Romanesque style and considered at the time one of the first of that style constructed in the United States. The first Mass was celebrated in Sacred Heart Church at 5:00am on Christmas Day, 1909; the church was formally dedicated on October 8, 1911.
Sacred Heart School opened in August, 1909, and was staffed for many years by Sisters of Mercy from Cedar Rapids. Additions to the school, a gymnasium and convent were completed in 1931. The church was renovated in the early 1970s to accommodate the liturgical changes which followed the Second Vatican Council and an elevator was installed in the church in 1988. A major renovation of the church, including a new, enclosed entrance, was begun in 1988 and completed in 2000.
At present the Sacred Heart community is comprised of almost 2,400 members in over 975 households. Parish members consider themselves to be a warm and welcoming community of faith, which is open to Catholics of diverse backgrounds. Sacred Heart is a stewardship parish which is actively involved in social concerns and social justice. The parish works closely with other churches in the "Church Row" neighborhood to reach out to those in need in the neighborhood and the city. Since 2010, the parish has made a special effort to welcome Burmese Catholic families who have left Myanmar as political refugees and are settling in the neighborhoods near Sacred Heart.
Sacred Heart Parish is currently served by Fr. Kenneth Stecher, who was appointed pastor in 2012, and a permanent deacon, Al Weber. Nancy Rigel serves as Pastoral Associate, parish nurse and health minister. Sr. Kathleen Grace OSF serves as Pastoral Associate for Immigrant Ministry and John Lazum serves as Outreach Coordinator to the Burmese Catholic community. Bev Byford is the Interim Director of Faith Formation; Cathy Mills is the Faith Formation Coordinator. The parish participates in adult formation and youth ministry provided by the Catholic Parishes in Waterloo.
Sacred Heart Parish Mission
We the faith community of Sacred Heart Parish, are a beacon of hope, reaching out and welcoming people of all ages and cultures. We worship and minister in the heart of Waterloo, offering our gifts of acceptance, care, and formation in the Catholic Faith.
St. Edward Parish in Waterloo is a faith community of 3,936 Catholics comprising 1,587 households, located in a residential area about one and a half miles south of the city's downtown business district. [map]
The parish was established in the mid-1940s in response to the growth of the Catholic community on the west (south) side of the Cedar River. In 1944 Archbishop Henry Rohlmann appointed Fr. John M. Fischer to secure a location for the establishment of a new westside parish. Five acres of land known as Longwood, the Bickley Estate, were purchased at the corner of Kimball and Mitchell Avenues, and the new parish was founded in January, 1945.
The first Masses in the new parish were held in the gymnasium of Kingsley School until space could be converted in the Bickley home for a temporary church. Five Franciscan Sisters from Dubuque arrived in the summer of 1945 and St. Edward School opened that fall. Construction of St. Edward Church, located in front of the Bickley home, began in 1946; within a year the basement of the new church was completed and Masses were celebrated there until the new church was finished. Over 1,000 worshippers celebrated Mass in the newly completed church on Christmas Eve, 1948 and the new church was formally dedicated in 1949.
A new school building was built behind the Bickley home in 1953 and a rectory was constructed north of the church in 1957. The original Bickley home, which served for many years as the convent, now serves as the parish's New Life Center containing a preschool, daycare center and meeting rooms. St. Edward Church was renovated in the early 1970s to accommodate the liturgical changes which followed the Second Vatican Council; a second major renovation of the church was completed in 1996.
Over the years, the St. Edward community has developed a commitment to active lay leadership, full and active liturgical participation, stewardship of time and talent, and support for social justice activities and organizations. The parish has maintained sister-parish relationships with St. Theresa Parish in Okolona, Mississippi since 1992 and St. Therese de'enfant Jesus Parish at Grison-Garde, Haiti since 1999. Volunteers from the St. Edward community make regular mission trips to both sister parishes.
St. Edward Parish is currently served by Fr. Scott Bullock, who was returned to the parish July 8, 2014, after previously serving as an Associate Pastor in the 1990's. The parish is served by two permanent deacons: Ray Larsen and Rick Lynch. Toni Pint-Burke is the Pastoral Associate and Anastasia Nicklaus is the Liturgy and Music Coordinator. The parish participates in adult formation and youth ministry provided by the Catholic Parishes in Waterloo.
St. Edward Parish Mission
An Evangelizing Community by Faith, with Love, in Hope.
• St. John Parish in Waterloo was founded in 1923 to serve members of St. Mary Parish who found it difficult to travel when St. Mary's moved from downtown Waterloo to a residential neighborhood on the city's north side. Property for St. John's was purchased in the Linden residential area east of downtown Waterloo, adjoining the Rath Packing Co. plant and near the city's affluent Highland neighborhood. A vacant store was rented and used as a chapel until a church and school could be built in the 1700 block of Mulberry St. [map]. The new church was dedicated on Sept. 1, 1924. Under the leadership of the founding pastor, Fr. Nicholas Lentz, the parish founded a credit union in 1930 and provided low-cost life insurance through the Family Benefit Society, founded in 1936. St. John Church was enlarged in 1932 and redecorated in 1940 and 1966. It was renovated in the early 1970s and again in 1984 to accommodate the liturgical changes which followed the Second Vatican Council. The original school building was constructed in 1924 and enlarged in 1927; a new school and auditorium opened in 1963. In 1971 a team ministry consisting of priests, religious sisters and lay ministers, was appointed to serve both St. John Parish and St. Nicholas Parish in Evansdale. The team ministry served the two parishes until 1987, when separate pastors were appointed for each parish. The St. John and St. Nicholas Schools, served by the Sisters of Mercy from Cedar Rapids, were consolidated in 1975; the schools were combined with St. Mary School in 2001 to form Queen of Peace School, which was incorporated into the Cedar Valley Catholic School system in 2003. Queen of Peace attendance center was closed in 2005. St. John Parish closed in 2002 when it was merged into Queen of Peace Parish.
• St. Joseph Parish in Waterloo was founded in 1861 when Catholic residents in Waterloo purchased land on the east side of the Cedar River in the downtown district for construction of the city's first Catholic church. Prior to that time Mass was celebrated in private homes and the Catholic community was served by missionary priests from St. Mary Parish in Waverly. In 1863 a small frame building was constructed on Third Street [map] and served as the parish's worship space until a larger facility was completed in 1880. The community's first resident pastor, Fr. Nicholas Scallan, arrived in 1869 and initiated the construction of Our Lady of Victory Academy on property adjoining the church. The academy opened in 1872 and was staffed by Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Dubuque. The present church on the corner of East Third and Mulberry Sts. [map] was begun in 1900 and dedicated in October, 1901. The current rectory was built in 1909. The church was renovated in the early 1970s to accommodate the liturgical changes which followed the Second Vatican Council and refurbished in 1997. A new building for the Academy was completed in 1911 and East Second and Mulberry Sts. and served as a K-12 facility until grades 9-12 were transferred to Columbus High School in 1959. The Academy closed and the building was demolished in 1968. Under the leadership of Msgr. Duane Brady, who served as pastor from 1955 to 1968 and again from 1977 to 1987, St. Joseph Parish was well known in the 1950 and 60s as a center of Catholic evangelization, social justice and civil rights. A Noon weekday Mass has been celebrated in St. Joseph Church since 1955. St. Joseph Parish ceased to exist in 2002 when it was merged into Queen of Peace Parish.
• St. Mary Parish in Waterloo was founded in 1898 and originally located at Park and Lafayette Streets in downtown Waterloo [map]. At the time St. Mary's was the second Catholic congregation in Waterloo and consisted primarily of German immigrants; its location on the site of the present YWCA, was only a block from St. Joseph Church. Franciscan Sisters from Dubuque arrived in the fall of 1899 to staff a parish school and the first services were held in the basement of the unfinished church in January, 1901. The original St. Mary Church was dedicated on October 27, 1901. A school building was completed and the church enlarged in 1906. In 1917 the Franciscan Fathers of the St. Louis province took over pastoral care of the parish and guided the search for a new location in the city's growing north side residential neighborhood. In 1917 land was purchased at the corner of East 4th and Parker Sts. [map] and construction began on a new combination church and school in 1922. The new church was dedicated on Nov. 12, 1922 and renovated in the early 1970s to accommodate the liturgical changes which followed the Second Vatican Council. An addition to the school, a new convent and rectory were completed in 1955. Over the years the St. Mary community exhibited a strong commitment to Catholic education, hospitality for racial and cultural minorities, and a desire for good liturgical music. St. Mary School was consolidated with St. John and St. Nicholas School in 2001 and incorporated into the Cedar Valley Catholic School system in 2003. St. Mary Parish closed in 2002 when it was merged into Queen of Peace Parish. Queen of Peace School closed in 2005.
• St. Nicholas Parish in Evansdale was founded in 1951 by parishioners from St. John Parish in Waterloo living in Evansdale, a residential community adjoining Waterloo which grew rapidly in the post-World War II building boom. Construction of a combination church and school building at the corner of Roosevelt Road and Central Ave. [map] began in 1951 under the direction of Fr. Alvan Heuring; much of the construction, finishing work and landscaping was done by the pastor and volunteers from the new parish community. The first Mass was celebrated in St. Nicholas Church on Easter, 1952 and Fr. Heuring was appointed the first resident pastor shortly thereafter. A rectory was built in 1955 and a new convent was completed in 1961. A team ministry consisting of priests, religious sisters and lay ministers, was appointed to serve both St. Nicholas Parish and St. John Parish in Waterloo in 1971. The team ministry served the two parishes until 1987, when separate pastors were appointed for each parish. St. Nicholas School opened in the fall of 1952 and was staffed by Sisters of Mercy from Cedar Rapids. The school was consolidated with St. John School in 1975 and both schools were combined with St. Mary School in 2001 to form Queen of Peace School. Queen of Peace School was incorporated into the Cedar Valley Catholic School system in 2003 and closed in 2005. St. Nicholas Parish closed in 2002 when it was merged into Queen of Peace Parish. The former site of St. Nicholas Parish is now occupied by Poyner Elementary School.
• St. Peter Claver Parish in Waterloo originated in 1935 as an outreach mission to African-American Catholics supervised by the Franciscan priests at St. Mary Parish. In the fall of 1936 parish priests began celebrating Mass in private homes of African-American Catholics living in a residential neighborhood north of the downtown and within the boundaries of St. Mary Parish. Eventually planning began for the construction of a separate church for African-American Catholics. The church, named in honor of St. Peter Claver, was dedicated on Claver's feast day, Sept. 8, 1940. (Claver lived from 1581 to 1654; he was a Spanish Jesuit who ministered to African slaves in Cartegena, a Caribbean port in what is now Colombia which was the largest slave market in the New World.) The church was located in a predominantly African-American commercial district at 1112 Mobile St. [map]. The parish served the needs of African-American Catholics for over 20 years, until it was no longer morally or socially possible to defend the segregation of African-American Catholics from the white community. St. Peter Claver Parish was closed in 1965 and members of the parish were welcomed into other Waterloo parishes. The original church building was sold to the Jesse Cosby Community Center, a social services agency founded in 1966 in memory of a local musician, community organizer, and advocate for integration and social justice.
Waterloo Hispanic Ministry was created in 1993 when the Deanery Council voted to hire a minister to serve the growing population of Hispanic Catholics drawn to Waterloo by jobs in the meat packing industry. The first Hispanic Minister in Waterloo was Sr. Kathleen Grace, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis from Dubuque, who had served an immigrant community in Texas before coming to Waterloo. Sr. Kathleen provided spiritual care, sacramental preparation, religious education and social services for immigrant families from Mexico and Central America; she was assisted by Luisa Alvarado and Martha Real. In 1997 Fr. Leon Connolly, a native Iowan who served for 21 years in Latin American missions, was appointed pastor of St. Joseph Parish and Vicar for Hispanic Ministry. He was succeeded by Fr. Nils Hernandez, who served as associate pastor and Director of Hispanic Ministry from 2004 to 2006. Fr. Jose Luis Comparan was appointed associate pastor for the Hispanic Community in 2008 and pastor of Queen of Peace Parish and Vicar for Hispanic Ministry in 2009. During this time Martha Real and Glenda Cristiansen served as coordinators of Hispanic ministry. In 2009 Rev. Mr. Rigoberto Real, a member of the Hispanic community, was ordained as a permanent deacon. He was appointed Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry in 2010 and currently currently serves in that capacity. A Spanish Mass is celebrated each Sunday at noon and on major holy days in Queen of Peace Church; other opportunities for prayer and worship, sacrament preparation, faith formation, and leadership development are also provided to members of the Hispanic community in the city. The offices of Hispanic Ministry are located at 320 Mulberry St.
-- Centennial History of the Archdiocese of Dubuque by M.M. Hoffmann (Columbia
College Press, 1938);
-- With Faith and Vision--Schools of the Archdiocese of Dubuque by Msgr. Justin
A. Driscoll (Archdiocese of Dubuque Bureau of Education, 1967);
-- A series of parish profiles published by The Witness;
-- Archdiocese of Dubuque Iowa--175th Anniversary Memorial Edition (Editions du
-- Archdiocesan archives and parish records.
Compiled by Dave Cushing