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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
Rev. Patrick S. O'Connor
A continuous pastorate of two decades, during which an upright, consistent life, devoted to the good of the community and the spiritual welfare of his parishioners, has won the sincere regard and high esteem of every one in the community, regardless of religious creed, has earned for Rev. Patrick S. O'Connor, of Oelwein, a widespread reputation as one of the most successful Catholic priests in northeastern Iowa. Coming to this point when the local church was in its infancy, he went to work with enthusiasm and his faithful and earnest labors have been abundantly rewarded, the present congregation being numbered among the most prosperous in this section of the country.
Patrick S. O'Connor was born at Castlelack, near Bandon, county Cork, Ireland, January 21, 1863, and is a son of John and Ann (Hurley) O'Connor. These parents, who were farming people and in fair financial circumstances, enjoyed the respect of the community and reared a family of nine children, of whom the subject of this sketch was the oldest. Patrick S. was reared under the parental roof and received his elementary education in the local national schools, which he attended until the age of fourteen years. He then studied classics in a private school at Bandon and later went to Skibbereen, in southwestern Ireland, to further pursue his classical studies.
After nine months at Skibbereeen, the Bandon Classical School was re-opened, and the subject pursued his studies there one and a half years longer. He then became a student in St. Finbarr's Diocesan College, Cork, where he graduated in the classical, literary and scientific courses. He had long previously determined to consecrate his life to the most sacred of callings--the ministry of his church--and to this end he entered the Theological Seminary of All Hallows, at Dublin, where the following four years were given to faithful and conscientious preparation. At the end of that period he was ordained priest and assigned to the diocese of Dubuque. After a vacation of eight weeks, he set sail from Queenstown September 14, 1889, and arrived at Dubuque, Iowa, September 22nd following. After a few weeks at Dubuque, Father O'Connor was appointed assistant at the Cathedral, under Archbishop Hennessey, where he remained about a year. In October, 1890, Father O'Connor was appointed the first resident priest at Oelwein, and has remained here ever since, his pastorate being remarkably successful in every way. When he came here the town had a population of less than a thousand persons and the Catholic church was a small structure, that would scarcely accommodate one hundred persons, while the ground now occupied by the church, school and parochial residence was a mere brush patch. However, the new pastor brought with him an enthusiasm and energy that augured well for the future and it was not many months before there were tangible evidences of the fruits of his labors. A year after his arrival a parochial residence was built, it being a large, well arranged and comfortable building, costing five thousand dollars. A year later the little church was superseded by a larger one, costing approximately eight thousand dollars and located immediately north of the parochial residence. This remained the church home of the congregation until July, 1908, when it was removed to First avenue, to make room for the magnificent building which is now in course of erection. The new church, which, when completed, will have cost fifty thousand dollars, has a fine, substantial stone foundation, and the iron work and girders of the first floor alone cost seven hundred dollars. When completed the building will be one hundred and thirty-five feet long, the transepts being thirty-two by seventy-five feet, and the building will seat one thousand persons comfortably and can accommodate fourteen hundred. The building will be heated by steam, supplied by two boilers. The basement will bee used for various purposes, a part being devoted to an auditorium seating four hundred persons, also a "work room" where the records, paraphernalia, etc., will be kept. There will also be toilet rooms and other accommodations in connection. It is the intention to install in the new building a library of at least two thousand volumes, which will be open to the use of all who may become members of the library association.
In 1904, the Sacred Heart school was erected on the church grounds, at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars. In this school, which has an average attendance of two hundred and sixty pupils, all grades are taught, from the lowest to the highest, the same standard of studies being maintained here as in the public schools. The school is free, being maintained by the generosity of the congregation. In connection therewith, there is also a musical directress, who gives instruction in both local and instrumental music. The congregation of the Sacred Heart at Oelwein numbers nearly twelve hundred souls, being by far the largest Catholic church in Fayette county, and it has exerted a strong and beneficent influence in the community.
Father O'Connor possesses marked business and executive ability and his material accomplishments here have been recognized by his superiors in the church. A polished gentleman, possessing a warm heart, broad views and generous impulses, he has won many warm and loyal friends among all classes, who have not been slow in recognizing his personal worth. In the pulpit, Father O'Connor has shown great strength, being a forceful and effective speaker and an able sermonizer. He has done great things in Oelwein and the future holds in promise still greater things for this congregation.
~transcribed for the Fayette Co IAGenWeb Project by Mary Fobian
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