Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque (Latin: Archidioecesis Dubuquensis) is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the northeastern quarter of the state of Iowa in the United States.

It includes all the Iowa counties north of Polk, Jasper, Poweshiek, Iowa, Johnson, Cedar, and Clinton counties, and east of Kossuth, Humboldt, Webster and Boone counties. The archdiocese has an area of about 17,400 square miles (45,000 km2).

Archdiocese of Dubuque

Archidioecesis Dubuquensis
St Raphael Dubuque 4855a
St. Raphael's Cathedral
Coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Dubuque
Coat of arms
Country United States
Territory30 counties in Northeastern Iowa
Ecclesiastical provinceDubuque
Coordinates42°29′06″N 90°40′31″W / 42.48500°N 90.67528°WCoordinates: 42°29′06″N 90°40′31″W / 42.48500°N 90.67528°W
Area17,400 sq mi (45,000 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
200,588 (20.1%)
DenominationCatholic Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedJuly 28, 1837 (181 years ago)
CathedralSt. Raphael's Cathedral
Patron saintSt. Raphael
St. John Vianney
Current leadership
ArchbishopMichael Owen Jackels
Bishops emeritusDaniel Kucera, O.S.B.
Jerome Hanus, O.S.B.
Archdiocese of Dubuque


The seat of the archdiocese is St. Raphael's Cathedral, Dubuque, named in honor of the Archangel Raphael.

The twelfth and current archbishop is Michael Owen Jackels.[1]

Jackels completed a Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome in 1989.

On April 4, 2005, he was consecrated bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita, USA.[2]

The Archdiocese of Dubuque is unique as it is the only US archdiocese not based in a major metropolitan area. The archdiocese contains 199 parishes, three Catholic colleges in the archdiocese: Loras College and Clarke University in Dubuque, and Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids. A number of religious orders maintain a presence in the archdiocese.

Notable orders include the Trappist monastery New Melleray Abbey (male) southwest of Dubuque, and the Trappistine monastery, Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey (female) south of Dubuque. The archdiocese is also home to the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Basilica of St. Francis Xavier is located in the archdiocese, located in Dyersville, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Dubuque.


Prior to the founding

During the years prior to the founding of the Dubuque Diocese, the area was under the jurisdiction of a number of Bishops. Many of these were purely academic as no Catholic presence yet existed in the area. Most notable among these was the St. Louis Diocese under Bishop Rosati. During the early 1830s it was under his jurisdiction that the early missionaries arrived in what would become the state of Iowa.

In the 1830s, the church studied how to address the expansion of the United States into the western frontiers. Those conducting the study recommended to the Pope that three new dioceses be created, one of which was the Dubuque Diocese. Father Charles Fitzmaurice established the Saint Raphael's parish at Dubuque in 1833. This was the first church of any Christian denomination in the territory that would become the state of Iowa.

Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli was one of the most famous missionaries to work in the Dubuque area. He established a number of parishes in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin several were named after the Archangels: Saint Raphael's in Dubuque, Saint Michael's at Galena, Illinois, and Saint Gabriel's at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Pope John Paul II declared Father Mazzuchelli Venerable in 1993, and his case for sainthood is pending.

Early years

Pope Gregory XVI created the Dubuque Diocese on July 28, 1837, and named Bishop Mathias Loras as its first bishop. Loras gathered funds and personnel for the new diocese, and he arrived in 1839. St. Raphael's became the cathedral parish in August of that year. He oversaw the expansion of the church in the early years of the diocese, first in the Iowa territory, then after 1846 in the new state of Iowa.

Bishop Loras encouraged immigration to the area, especially German and Irish settlers. He oversaw the creation of new parishes, and also he invited several religious orders to the area. This included a Cisterian order that built the New Melleray Monastery south of Dubuque. Shortly before his death, he directed the construction of the third structure to house St. Raphael's Cathedral which remains today.

A second catholic parish was planned as the Uptown Catholic Parish to be located on the west side of Main Street between 7th and 8th streets in Dubuque. Loras planned the parish due to crowded conditions at the Cathedral. A cornerstone was laid for the parish church, but construction work never proceeded past the laying of the foundation. In 1850, Pope Pius IX separated territory from the Diocese of Dubuque to form the new Diocese of Saint Paul, serving Minnesota Territory (later Minnesota and the Dakotas).

Expansion and elevation

In 1858, Bishop Smyth established Saint Francis Catholic Church in Balltown. Rev. Clement Smyth, OCSO served as bishop from February 1858 to September 1865 and oversaw continued expansion of the Catholic Church in the diocese. During his episcopacy the German Catholics of the city of Dubuque began construction of a new Saint Mary's church to replace the too-small Church of the Holy Trinity.

In 1863, Smyth learned of the existence of the pro-Southern Knights of the Golden Circle, with headquarters in Dubuque. He gave members who might be Catholic two weeks to withdraw from the organization or be automatically excommunicated.[3]

After Bishop Smyth died in 1865, John Hennessey succeeded him as Bishop of Dubuque. During Hennessey's tenure, the population of Dubuque exploded as the Milwaukee Railroad Shops came to the city. Hennessey created several parishes in Dubuque: Sacred Heart, Holy Ghost, St. Anthony's, and Holy Trinity to deal with this population explosion. During this time, Bishop Hennessey proposed separating territory from the diocese to create a new diocese for southern Iowa. While he proposed Des Moines as the seat of the new diocese, Pope Leo XIII selected Davenport as the site.

Nicholas E. Gonner (1835–1892), a Catholic immigrant from Luxembourg, founded the Catholic Publishing Company of Dubuque. His son Nicholas E. Gonner (1835–1892) took over in 1892, editing two German language weeklies, an English language weekly, and the Daily Tribune, the only Catholic daily newspaper ever published in the United States.[4]

On June 15, 1893, Pope Leo XIII elevated the Dubuque Diocese to an archdiocese, and Bishop Hennessey became the first archbishop. Archbishop Hennessey died in 1900 and was buried at the cathedral.

Early 20th century

After the death of Archbishop Hennessey, Archbishop John J. Keane led the archdiocese for eleven years until poor health forced him to retire in 1911. During his tenure, the archdiocese lost its western territory to form the Diocese of Sioux City and achieved its current size.

Archbishop John Hennessy, became third Bishop of Dubuque in 1866, and its first archbishop upon elevation of Dubuque to an archdiocese in 1893.

The Great Depression and World War II

During the years of the Great Depression and World War II, Archbishop Francis J.L. Beckman occupied the see. In the years leading up to the war, Beckman opposed military action. A collector of fine art pieces, he had placed a number of art pieces in a museum at Columbia (now Loras) College and perhaps, thinking he could gain funds to further his collection, involved the archdiocese in what turned out to be a dubious gold mine scheme. Beckman had signed notes on behalf of the archdiocese, which suffered a loss of more than $500,000 when the scheme fell apart and the perpetrator of the scheme was arrested. President Roosevelt directed the FBI to investigate Beckman to determine his role in the financial scheme. Most of Beckman's collection was sold to pay the notes.

Because of Beckman's troubles Bishop Henry Rohlman returned from the Davenport, Iowa diocese to become coadjutor archbishop in 1944. Beckman was allowed to retain his office, but was informed that Rohlman now led the archdiocese. Beckman retired in 1947, and left Dubuque for Cincinnati.

On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. One of the casualties in that attack was Father Aloysius Schmitt, who was serving on board the USS Oklahoma. The boat capsized during the attack, leaving Schmitt and other men trapped below with only a small porthole for escape. Schmitt declined to be pulled from the ship, and instead helped other men, twelve in all, to escape, but perished himself. Schmitt was the first chaplain of any denomination to die in World War II. For his actions, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and a destroyer was named in his honor.

Postwar era

Soon after the war, Admiral Byrd led an expedition to the Antarctica. The chaplain on his flagship, Fr. William Menster, was a priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Menster became the first priest to set foot on the continent, and later consecrated Antarctica in 1947. One of the effects of the post war baby boom was an increase in the number of students at some of the Catholic schools. In Dubuque, the Sacred Heart parish school had the largest student population of such schools in the midwest. On December 2, 1954, Archbishop Leo Binz succeeded Archbishop Rohlman as Archbishop of Dubuque and served in that capacity until December 16, 1961, when he became Archbishop of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Second Vatican Council and the aftermath

James Byrne was named the next Archbishop of Dubuque on March 7, 1962 and was formally installed at St. Raphael's on May 8, 1962. He attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Byrne implemented the changes brought about by the council in the Archdiocese of Dubuque and quickly established the Priests Senate, a clergy advisory board, as well as another advisory board dealing with assignment of priests. These were among the first such boards founded in the United States. Archbishop Byrne retired from office on August 23, 1983, and remained in Dubuque until his death August 2, 1996.

Late 20th-early 21st centuries

On February 23, 1984, Daniel William Kucera, OSB was installed as the tenth bishop and eighth archbishop of Dubuque. Archbishop Kucera had earned a doctorate in education. At 36, he had become the youngest president of St. Procopius College (now known as Benedictine University). His background on education has led Vatican officials, including the Pope, to seek his advice.

During Kucera's tenure as archbishop, he remodeled St. Raphael's Cathedral, revised and published the guidelines for the sacrament of Confirmation, reduced the number of deaneries from 16 to 14, reorganized the structure of the archdiocese and created an archbishop's cabinet to coordinate administration of the archdiocese.

In 1987, Kucera also launched a plan that divided the archdiocese into three regions with a resident bishop in each. The Dubuque Region was served by retired Archbishop James Byrne and Archbishop Kucera; the Cedar Rapids Region by Bishop Francis Dunn, and Waterloo Region served by Fr. William Franklin, who was consecrated as a bishop in April 1987. However, Bishop Kucera eventually dropped the plan after the death of Bishop Dunn in 1989 and Bishop Franklin's nomination as the head of the Diocese of Davenport.

In 1986 the archdiocese celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding. Archbishop Kucera also received an honorary degree from the University of Dubuque. On October 16, 1995, Archbishop Kucera retired, and moved to Aurora, Colorado, and then subsequently returned to live in Dubuque.


Bishops of Dubuque

  1. Mathias Loras (1837-1858)
  2. Clement Smyth, OCSO (1858-1865)

Archbishops of Dubuque

  1. John Hennessey (1866-1900), elevated to Archbishop in 1893
  2. John Keane (1900-1911)
  3. James Keane (1911-1929)
  4. Francis Beckman (1930-1946)
  5. Henry Rohlman (1946-1954)
  6. Leo Binz (1954-1961), appointed Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
  7. James Byrne (1962-1983)
  8. Daniel Kucera, OSB (1983-1995)
  9. Jerome Hanus, OSB (1995-2013)
  10. Michael Owen Jackels (2013-present)

Coadjutor Archbishops

Auxiliary bishops

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops

Recent events

Sexual abuse crisis

The Dubuque Archdiocese has not been immune to the sexual abuse crisis affecting the church.

Priest shortage

The archdiocese has also felt the effects of the priest shortage that has affected the church in recent times. In recent years many smaller rural parishes have had to close and their congregations had been absorbed into other nearby parishes. Some rural parishes have been clustered together where one priest will serve two or more parishes. Some parishes have no resident priest.

Another effect is that some duties that a priest would have performed in the past are performed by either religious (Sister or Deacon) individuals, or by the laity.

Education issues

In recent years, many questions have been raised of the future of Catholic schools. With parishes closing or combining services, schools were also combined together. In recent times, schools in a given geographical area have all been joined together into a school system.

In Dubuque, the Catholic schools are all part of the Holy Family system. There has been much controversy recently about how to best run the schools. The administrators of the system had recently made plans to reorganize the schools. This was due to factors such as a declining number of students attending Catholic schools. An especially controversial move that was proposed was to turn St. Anthony's school into a central school for certain grades. Parents of the parish felt that their concerns were being ignored. Eventually, the Archdiocesan Board of Education vetoed the plan, and told the school system to continue work on planning the system's future.

Controversy over The Passion of the Christ

The Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ once caused controversy in the archdiocese as well. That controversy has long since passed.

One of the main issues raised by the film was an editorial cartoon on the movie that the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald published in its editorial section.  

This cartoon featured a nun using corporal punishment. Some in the community have felt that this was a slight against the nuns and all their years of hard work. Others, mainly middle age to older adults, have said that this was representative of the nuns who taught them while they were in school.

Early parishes

Saint Francis Catholic Church

Saint Francis Catholic Church is located in Balltown. As of 2006, the church did not have a resident pastor. The parish is part of a cluster of several other rural parishes in northern Dubuque County, Iowa that share a pastor and other facilities.

The parish traces its history back to 1858. A number of area residents had petitioned Bishop Mathias Loras to establish a Catholic parish in the Balltown area. Loras came to the area, and offered Mass in a log cabin near Balltown. Residents gathered the funds to build a church and a school in the area.

In 1891, local resident Andreas Rapp and his wife donated some land, which allowed for the construction of a brick building containing a school and a convent for the Sisters, as well as the establishment of a cemetery. The school opened in September of that year, and there were 45 children attending the school. Another local resident, Peter Cremer, donated land for a new church, and in 1892 the cornerstone for the second St. Francis Church building was laid.

The second St. Francis Church building would serve the parish until August 27, 1976. During a storm that took place on that day, lightning struck the steeple, which caused a fire. The church building was destroyed by this fire. In the aftermath a new St. Francis Church was constructed. At the same time, the old convent building was torn down to make room for the new church.

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church is located in Peosta on Sundown Road, just to the north of U.S. Highway 20. The church building is a newer structure, having been built in the late 1980s. As a result, it reflects some of the more recent trends in the church, including having the congregation arranged in a semicircle around the altar.

Currently, the pastor of St. John the Baptist Church is Father Richard Kuhn. The parish is affiliated with Holy Family Catholic Church, which is located about three miles away. Both parishes share a pastor, and the offices for both parishes are located at St. John's. The archdiocese has indicated that when Fr. Kuhn retires that this arrangement will probably be changed due to the priest shortage, that St. John's would be clustered with several other nearby parishes.

The parish has recently grown to the point where the parish is considering expanding or replacing the current church building.

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church

Side view of Saints Peter and Paul Church, from the cemetery.

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church is the parish for the Dubuque County town of Sherrill. It is part of a cluster of rural parishes that share a pastor and other facilities.


Panel in the church's window donated by Catharina Gansemer (1824–1904), an early parishioner and area pioneer. "Geschenk von" means "gift of." Photo by Joe Schallan, 2003.

The parish was founded in 1852 as St. William's. Prior to this, residents living in the Sherrill area needed to travel to Dubuque to attend mass. This was about 15 miles one way—a considerable distance at the time. In response to the need for a local church and to heavy German Catholic immigration to the rural districts surrounding Sherrill, Dubuque Bishop Mathias Loras established the parish.

By the 1860s the name of Saints Peter and Paul had been adopted, and in 1889 the original wooden church was replaced by a large, brick and stone Romanesque Revival structure, which remains in use today. During the 1970s, the church's original carved wood altars were removed and its 19th-century wood trim was painted over. Recently parish members completed a renovation of the building that restored the wood trim and added decorative details suggestive of its past. Inscriptions on the church's stained glass windows and on the older headstones in its adjoining cemetery are in German, reflecting the culture of the parish's founding members.

For well over 100 years the parish school was operated by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and many girls of the parish who felt a calling to religious life joined that order. The school is still operated on the premises of the parish by the Archdiocese of Dubuque, as a consolidation of the original school and the Catholic school which once served the nearby community of Balltown, Iowa.


Other early parishes in the diocese include Saint Mary's, Sacred Heart, Holy Ghost, and Saint Anthony's.

High schools


Colleges and universities

Suffragan sees

Ecclesiastical Province of Dubuque
Ecclesiastical Province of Dubuque


  1. ^ Uebbing, David (April 8, 2013). "Pope appoints Bishop Jackels to lead Dubuque archdiocese". Catholic News Agency.
  2. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine: Nomina dell'Arcivescovo Metropolito di Dubuque (U.S.A.)" [Waivers and Nominations: Appointment of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Dubuque (U.S.A.)] (PDF). Daily Bulletin. Holy See Press Office. April 8, 2013.
  3. ^ Keller, Rudi (June 13, 2014). "Knights of the Golden Circle".
  4. ^ Adam, Thomas, ed. (2005). Germany and the Americas. 2. ABC-CLIO. p. 458. ISBN 978-1851096282.


  • Hoffman, Rev, Mathias M., Centennial History of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Columbia College Press, Dubuque, Iowa, 1938.

External links

Beckman Catholic High School (Dyersville, Iowa)

Beckman Catholic High School is a private, Roman Catholic high school in Dyersville, Iowa. It is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque.

Daniel Mary Gorman

Daniel Mary Gorman (April 12, 1861 – June 9, 1927) was an American clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Boise from 1918 until his death in 1927.

Divine Word College

Divine Word College is an undergraduate Roman Catholic seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. It educates students for missionary service in the Catholic Church as priests, brothers, sisters, and laypersons. It is owned and operated by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). The college offers three baccalaureate degrees as well as English as a second language (ESL) classes to other Catholic religious missionaries and those aspiring to Catholic lay ministries.

During their final semester of undergraduate studies at Divine Word College, young men who choose to continue with the SVD may apply for the Society's one-year novitiate program at the Chicago Province Headquarters in Techny, Illinois. These men may then apply to profess first vows as members of the Society near the end of the novitiate program and continue with seminary studies at the Chicago Theologate.

Edward Aloysius Fitzgerald

Edward Aloysius Fitzgerald (February 13, 1893 – March 30, 1972) was an American bishop of the Catholic Church. He served as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Dubuque from 1946 to 1949, and as the fourth Bishop of Winona from 1949 to 1969.

Edward Howard (bishop)

Edward Daniel Howard (November 5, 1877 – January 2, 1983) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Portland from 1926 to 1966.

Holy Family Catholic Schools

Holy Family Catholic Schools (HFCS) is a Roman Catholic school system based in Dubuque, Iowa (USA). Holy Family, which operates schools in eastern Dubuque County, is a part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque. As of the 2011–2012 school year, HFCS has 1,837 students enrolled in its schools (excluding preschools).

John Patrick Carroll

John Patrick Carroll (Dubuque, Iowa, 22 February 1864 – Switzerland, 2 November 1925) was an American Catholic priest, who became the second Bishop of Helena, Montana, U.S.A. He was ordained a priest on 7 July 1889 and was consecrated the second Bishop of Helena on 21 December 1904.

Justin Albert Driscoll

Justin Albert Driscoll (September 30, 1920—November 19, 1984) was an American Roman Catholic clergyman. He served as President of Loras College (1967-1970) and Bishop of Fargo (1970-1984).

Louis Benedict Kucera

Louis Benedict Kucera (August 24, 1888 – May 9, 1957) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Lincoln from 1930 until his death in 1957.

Mathias Clement Lenihan

Mathias Clement Lenihan, (October 6, 1854 – August 19, 1943) was a 20th-century archbishop in the Catholic Church in the United States. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls in the state of Montana from 1904-30.

Sacred Heart School (Dubuque, Iowa)

Sacred Heart School is a historic building in Dubuque, Iowa, United States. Completed in 1915, the building replaced Marquette Hall near Sacred Heart Church that had been built in 1888. It was designed by the Dubuque architectural firm of Fridolin J. Heer & Son. While the firm has several of its designs represented on the National Register of Historic Places, this is the only school building. The Sisters of St. Francis from Dubuque and lay teachers taught in school, which had 640 students when it opened. Its early principals were laymen until 1952 when a Sister became the principal. A ninth-grade class for boys was begun in 1930 and tenth grade was added two years later. The high school program was discontinued in 1949 due to a teacher shortage. Enrollment in school was 900 in 1953 and 1,020, excluding the kindergarten, in 1956. The kindergarten program was discontinued the following year because of a lack of classroom space. Eventually, the school itself was closed.

The former school building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018. It is being converted into moderate-income housing.

Saint Joseph's Catholic Church (Key West, Iowa)

Saint Joseph's Catholic Church is a Roman Catholic parish located south of Dubuque, Iowa in the community of Key West, Iowa. The parish is part of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

The church is across from Mount Olivet Cemetery, one of two main Catholic cemeteries for Dubuque-area Catholics. While people from St. Joseph's parish are often buried at Mount Olivet, the cemetery is not part of the parish.

Saints Peter and Paul Church (Petersburg, Iowa)

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church is a parish church in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The church is located in the unincorporated community of Petersburg, Iowa, United States. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

St. Luke's School and Recreation Center

St. Luke's School and Recreation Center is a historic building located in St. Lucas, Iowa, United States. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

St. Pius X Seminary (Dubuque, Iowa)

St. Pius X Seminary is associated with Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, and run under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The seminary prepares Minor (College) Seminarians for the priesthood, specifically preparing candidates for entrance into Major Seminary & Theological studies. Through Loras, the seminary provides full training in Philosophical studies, while giving students the necessary religious studies courses required for entrance into Major Seminary. Founded in 1839 by Bishop Mathias Loras as St. Raphael Seminary, the seminary has operated under various names and conditions at Loras College until adopting its present name in 1954. St. Pius X has prepared countless Seminarians across Iowa & surrounding states for the priesthood, counting over 30 Bishops as alumni. Currently, the seminary is housed at the Vianney House and serves Seminarians of the Archdiocese of Dubuque and the Diocese of Des Moines. The current rector of St. Pius X Seminary is Fr. David Schatz and the spiritual director is Fr. Tom McDermott.

Thomas Mathias Lenihan

Thomas Mathias Lenihan (May 21, 1843 – December 15, 1901) was a late 19th and early 20th century bishop in the Catholic Church in the United States. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne in the state of Wyoming from 1896–1901. He was an older brother to the first bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls, Mathias Clement Lenihan.

Thomas William Drumm

Thomas William Drumm (July 12, 1871—October 24, 1933) was an Irish-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Des Moines from 1919 until his death in 1933.

Thomas Zinkula

Thomas Robert Zinkula (born April 19, 1957) is a bishop of the Catholic Church in the United States. He was a priest in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa until he was named the ninth bishop of Davenport, Iowa in 2017.

Wahlert Catholic High School

Wahlert Catholic High School is a private Roman Catholic high school in Dubuque, Iowa, United States, in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque.

Places adjacent to Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque
Auxiliary Bishops
Religious Orders
Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical Province of Dubuque
Higher Education

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