Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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WHEELER, J.H. Vol. II. Pp. 481-82. Lewis Pub. Co. Chicago. 1910


Father Michael Carolan, dean of the St. Joseph's church at Mason City, is one of the influential and honored representatives of the priesthood of the Catholic church in Iowa, where he has labored with all of consecrated zeal and devotion for a period of more than thirty-three years and where his efforts have been potent in the upbuilding of the parish that is especially prosperous both in spiritual and temporal affairs. The original church of this parish was erected in 1871, by Rev. Father Feeley, of Charles City, Iowa, and occupied the site of the present substantial and beautiful edifice, which was erected in 1901 and which stands as one of the concrete results of the effective efforts of the present pastor. The first priest to assume regular charge of the parish was Rev. Father Daniel Flannery, who assumed the pastorate in 1873, and was finally succeeded by Rev. Father Thomas O'Reilly. The latter was succeeded by the present incumbent, Dean Carolan, in October, 1877, and during the long intervening years the latter has continued his zealous labors in the field, proving a faithful servant in the vineyard of the divine Master. At the time of Dean Carolan's assumption of the pastorate of this parish the membership comprised not more than seventy-five families and the splendid growth of the parish is shown in the fact that it now has a membership of more than three hundred families.

Dean Carolan was born in county Longford , Ireland, on the 2nd of December, 1844, and his parents Patrick and May (Werd) Carolan, passed the entire lives in the Emerald Isle. He was reared to maturity in his native land and there received his educational discipline, which included the classical and ecclesiastical courses in Carlow College, where he was ordained to the priesthood on the 26th of May, 1877. Immediately after his ordination Father Carolan came to America and made Iowa his destination. In October of the same year he assumed the pastoral charge of his present parish and here he has since remained, one of the valued and honored members of the priesthood of his church in this state. His zeal and self-abnegation have been equaled by his genial and courteous bearing in his associations with his fellow men and he holds the unqualified esteem of the community in which he has so long lived and labored as well as the affectionate regard of the members of his flock. In the early days the service of the church were attended to by none too many priests and thus Father Carolan found it incumbent upon him to administer, in addition to the work of his Mason City parish, to the church people at Rockwell, Sheffield, Dougherty, Plymouth, Grafton, Manly Junction, Kensett, Northwood, Bristow, Lake Mills, Forest City, Clear Lake and Garner. He thus found ample scope for his labors in holding services and attending to the spiritual needs of the settlers throughout a wide area of country. The first parochial school of his home parish was erected in 1878 and was in charge of the Sisters of St. Francis from the convent schools at Clinton. The parochial school building was destroyed by fire on February 28, 1898, and on the same site was erected the present substantial and commodious modern building, representing an investment of thirty thousand dollars. This building has been in practical use since the 1st of September, 1910. The present fine parochial church was divided in 1908 and Rev. Edward Dougherty, a native of Cerro Gordo county, is now pastor of the adjunct parish. Father Carolan has held the distinguished position of dean of the archdiocese of Dubuque since 1890, and he is one of the influential factors in the generic work of this state and is now an irremovable rector.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, January of 2014



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