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1856 - 1981

Information source - The 100th Celebration Booklet 
Celebration - June 14, 1981

Submitted by the
Webster County Genealogical Society

The beginning of Corpus Christi Parish was the beginning of Catholism in Northwest Iowa. Corpus Christi was the mother Church for this whole section. It was the first parish in what is now the Souix City Diocese, comprising twenty-four counties with an area of 14,519 square miles.

Pastors Serving the Parish
1856 - 1981

The Rev John Vahey 1856 - 1857
The Rev H D McCullough 1857 - 1857
The Rev J J Aylward 1857 -1859
The Rev John H Marsh, C.P. 1859 - 1865
The Rev Patrick M Delaney 1865 - 1869
The Rev Joseph Butler 1865 - 1870
The Rev T M Lenihan 1870 - 1897
The Rev Patrick J Burke 1897 - 1903
The Rt Rev Msgr B C Lenihan, V.G. 1903 - 1909
The Rt Rev Msgr James T Saunders, V.G. 1910 - 1918
The Rt Rev Msgr James A Griffin, V.G. 1918 - 1931
The Very Rev Edward Masterson, V.F. 1931 - 1937
The Rt Rev Msgr T J Davern, V.G. 1937 - 1951
The Rt Rev Msgr E L McEvoy, V.F 1951 - 1972
The Rt Rev Louis J Lynch 1972 - 1974
The Rt Rev J L Bauer 1974 - 1978
Father Armand J Elbert 1978 -

Bishop Matthias Loras, D.D., Bishop of Dubuque promised a Church for Fort Dodge in the year 1856. That spring, Father John Vahey was sent to Fort Dodge.

According to Webster County Court House, the first piece of real estate purchased by Corpus Christi was made up of Lots 1 and @, in Block 59, in the original Plat of Fort Dodge, which is the tract on which the church and the former rectory now stand. These two lots were conveyed to Bishop Loras by Jesse Williams on January 28, 1857 for the price of $200. The construction of the first Church began in the fall of 1856 prior to issuance of the original deed.

Father Marsh was 41 years of age when he came to Fort Dodge in 1859. Father Marsh moved into the rectory and his board was given by John Haire, who lived at the corner of sixth street and First Avenue South. Under his direction the first school in the diocese for Catholic education was begun.

Seminary Square was the piece of property just north of the church and rectory. Records show that in the original plat of the town of Fort Dodge, a reservation of certain land was made to be donated to a religious denomination for school purposes, and that this tract was withheld from sale and sub-division and called Seminary Square. Seminary Square was to be given to the first religous denomination making use of it for a school site. Seminary square became the property of Corpus Christi on April 18, 1862.

The Men and Women from Corpus Christi Parish
who answered the call of the Master to a vocation to the religious life.

The First Priest
Father John A O'Reilly

Father John A. O'Reilly was the first boy from Webster county and Corpus Christi Parish to be ordained a priest. He was the son of Patrick and Anne O'Reilly, early settlers who emigrated from Illinois. Born at Dixon, Illinois, April 23, 1855, John O'reilly came to Webster County with his parents. He left the community to begin his clerical studies at St. John's College in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. After completing his seminary work in Niagara Falls, N.Y., he was ordained there by Archbishop Ryan on the fifth of June, 1879. Father O'Reilly said his first Mass in the old Corpus Christi Church during the pastorate of Father T.M. Lenihan. After more than fifty years in the priesthood, Father O'Reilly died during the January of 1930. 

The First Sister
Miss Elizabeth Noonan

Miss Elizabeth Noonan was the first girl from Corpus Christi Parish to be professed. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Noonan, and entered the Sister of Charity, BVM at Dubuque in 1861 at the age of fourteen years and nine months. She taught music, and was stationed for a time at Council Bluffs. She died in 1874. Her name in religion was Sister Mary Philomena. 

Father John O'Reilly Mr. and Mrs. Patrick O'Reilly
Father Charles O'Reilly Mr. and Mrs. Patrick O'Reilly
Father John Hallinan Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Hallinan
Father Walter Vaughan Mr. and Mrs. Henry Vaughan
Father Robert Kelley, S.J. Mr. and Mrs. Michael Kelley
Father Kerndt M. Healy, C.S.C Mr. and Mrs. Michael Healy
Father Eugene Ceperly Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Ceperly
Father Robert Condon Mr. and Mrs. Leo Condon
Father Thomas Donahoe Mr. and Mrs. James Condon
Father Kenneth Downing Mr. and Mrs. A.V. Downing
Father Mervin Hood Mr. and Mrs. George Hood
Father James McCormick Mr. and Mrs. Elmo McCormick
Father Thomas Munn Mr. and Mrs. M.F. Munn
Father Ronald J. Naser Mr. and Mrs. C.M. Naser
Father Thomas Nash Mr. and Mrs. C.J. Nash
Father David Hogan Mr. and Mrs. Austin B. Hogan
Father James Artzer Mr. and Mrs. John Artzer
Father E. Everett Apt Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Apt
Msgr. Leo McCoy Mr. and Mrs. Robert McCoy
Father James McAlpin Mr. and Mrs. P.J. McAlpin
Father William Schreiber Mr. and Mrs. Allan Schreiber
Elizabeth Noonan, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Noonan
Mary Eleanor Devine, R.S.M. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Devine
Mary Harrington, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Harrington
Annie Noonan, R.S.M. Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Noonan
Katherine Quinlan, R.S.M. Mr. and Mrs. John Quinlan
Annie Devine, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. Joesph Devine
Elizabeth Healy, Blessed Sacrament Mr. and Mrs. Michael Healy
Margaret McNamra, R.S.M. Mr. and Mrs. John McNamra
Mary Colford, B.V.M Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Colford
Verna M. Reardon, R.S.M. Niece of Mr. and Mrs. B. Gilleas
Anna Koel, R.S.M. Mr. and Mrs. Mathias Koel
Mary A. Collins, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. Michael Collins
Ruth C. Hogan, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. James J. Hogan
Catherine Mulhall, R.S.M. Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Mulhall
Alice C. Hogan, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. James H. Hogan
Mary Margaret McCarthy, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. Felix McCarthy
Mary Therese Ryan, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. T. J. Ryan
Margaret C. Paul, R.S.M. Mr. and Mrs. Jacob H. Paul
Hazel Marie Tuvell, R.S.M. Mr. and Mrs. T. W. Tuvell
Modesta Harrington, Dominican Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Harrington
Jean Kelly, Loretta Mr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Kelly
Sara McAlpin, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. P. J. McAlpin
Mary jane McDonnell, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. James A. McDonnell
Grace Nash, Franciscans Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Nash
Margaret Paul, R.S.M. Mr. and Mrs. John A. Paul
Mary Doris Simmons, Loretta Mr. and Mrs. Leo Simmons
Alma Tuvell, R.S.M. Mr. and Mrs. D. W. Tuvell
Frances Wohn, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wohn
Iva Healy, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. Robert B. Healy
Hedy Hedsell, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Helsell
Ann Stedman, Dominican Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hanson
Janet Hanson, B.V.M. Novitiate Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hanson
Marcia Bickford, B.V.M. Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Bickford
Nancy Bjerke, Mercy Novitiate Mr. and mrs. Paul Bjerke
Theresa Harris, Carmelites Mr. and Mrs. Dean Harris
Those who became Brothers
Brother Robert Joyce - Passionist Order Mr. and Mrs. Robert Joyce
Brother Robert Carberry
Holy Cross from Notre Dame
Son of Pauline Carberry
and the late Emmet Carberry
Brother Ronald Ehrhardt, C.S.C. Mr. and Mrs. Leo Ehrhardt
Brother John Kelly - Benedictine Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Kelly

"From the Rising of the Sun
Until the Going Down
My Name Shall Be Glorified."

The new Corpus Christi Church (1881) was a masterpiece in the world of liturgical architecture and construction. The quarring of stone was started in 1879 and construction was started in 1880. The architect for the project was Fred Heer from Dubuque. Mr. Heer stayed with Conrad Laufersweiler on his trips to Fort Dodge ti inspect constuction ...total cost was $37,892.59

First's for Corpus Christi

FIRST BAPTISM: The first child baptized in this church was Agnes Welch on April 20, 1856. Agnes was the daughter of William Welch and Catherine Graly. The sponsers were William Quinn and Bridget Murphy.

FIRST MARRIAGE: The first marriage in this parish, at which Father Vahey officiated, was on June 18, 1856, and united Richard Kelly and Catherine Knox in holy wedlock.

FIRST BURIAL: the first burial took place on December 29, 1859. On this date Father marsh buried John Thomas Furlong, infant son of Richard and Anastasis Furlong.

A Salute To Ursula Ryan

Corpus Christi Parish suffered a great loss in the death of Miss Ursula Ryan in 1949. Ursula had been the organist and singer for weddings and funerals for more than 40 years. She attended Mass daily and was an important person in the life of our parish for more than two generations. She held a Masters Degree in Music from the Bush Conservatory of Music in Chicago. When her sister died in 1905, leaving four children, she brought them to Fort Dodge and raised them in her home. They are Frank Burns of Fort Dodge, the late James Burns of Souix City, Jan Burns of Chicago and John Burns.

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