Jim and I just returned from a 3 day drive down the east side of Iowa. It is such a beautiful area – following the Mississippi river - I never get tired of driving it. And when we take these drives we become steeple-chasers. Now we aren’t on horseback and we rarely encounter hurdles but we do, as the name suggests, chase steeples. The Iowa country side is the best for seeking steeples; they dot most every country road.
Most often these country churches are Lutheran as the Scandinavians were major immigrants to the farmlands of Iowa. But closer to the River we found historically significant Catholic Parishes.
This church was the most interesting. St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the area of Garryowen, Iowa just south and west of Dubuque was established by Irish immigrants from County Limerick in 1838-1839. The parish was founded by the Father Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli, OP in 1840. (More on Father Mazzuchelli can be found here.)
We found St. Patrick’s only because we first saw the steeple of St. Lawrence Catholic Church. While stopping and admiring this church, a retired Pastor - and now caretaker of sorts - came out to visit with us. He gave us some history about both St. Lawrence and then he mentioned St. Patrick’s church and suggested that we search it out. We followed his directions and found the church nestled way off the beaten path. Mass is still offered in both churches. And both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Getting off the highways always provides interesting discoveries.