Information complied by Dianne Schons and Bob Gardner
St. Patrick Parish came into existence in 1885 when Father F. Richardson was appointed pastor of the territory covering the west side of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Father Richardson built the first church on the corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street West. Celebration of the first baptism in the new church took place on April 14,1886. The first marriage ceremony was held on June 24,1886.
The second pastor, Father Michael J. Quirk, remained for only one year. Father Timothy J. Sullivan became pastor in 1889 and purchased the property on First Avenue and Fifth Street West. Father Sullivan built the new church in 1891. Father Sullivan had the old framed church from Second Avenue moved to a site behind the new church so that it could be used as a school. St. Patrick School opened officially in September of 1892. Sister Adrian Miller, BVM was the first principal with other Sisters of Charity serving as teachers. The enrollment at the opening of the school was approximately 100 students. In 1896 the first graduates of St. Patrick School were Frances Hines McCabe and Nellie Christopher.
About ten years later, in 1902, a new modern school building was erected during the pastorate of Father Sullivan. Father Sullivan passed away in 1914 and Father Thomas W. Drumm arrived at St. Patrick in February of 1915. Sister Renata Colvin, BVM was then named principal of the school. Father Drumm remained only four years and in 1919 was consecrated a Bishop for the Des Moines, Iowa diocese.
Father Daniel J. Lenihan came to St. Patrick in 1919. Seeing that the school was overcrowded he began remodeling the building, converting the old auditorium into classrooms. Sister Grace OConnor, BVM in 1920 and later in 1925 Sister Dolores Shaffner, BVM were principals during this time of remodeling. This remodeling temporarily took care of the overcrowded classrooms.
In 1929, ten years later, ground breaking took place for a new school which accommodated an enrollment of around 150 high school students and 400 elementary students. Sister Carlino Guyton, BVM was principal for the new school.
Father Lenihan remained pastor until 1960 with Father Donald Peters as assistant pastor from 1930-1960. Many BVM Sisters were principals during the span of Father Lenihans pastorate. Sister Grace OConnor came back as principal in 1941, followed by Sister Thomas OConnor in 1947, Sister Ann Michele Shay in 1953, and Sister Clarona Frommell in 1959. During this time with numerous sisters as part of the teaching staff, the convent was built for their living quarters in 1956.
After Father Lenihan left St. Patrick, Father Robert J. McDonald was appointed pastor of St. Patrick. He took on the large task of planning a new parish and a new Catholic high school for the west side of Cedar Rapids. St. Jude Parish opened as a daughter parish of St. Patrick in 1962, and a year later LaSalle High School opened. This allowed the needed space at St. Patrick School for a K-8 program to remain as the high school moved to the LaSalle building.
Between 1969-1983 St. Patrick Parish and school had many pastors and principals who helped bring about many new developments. In 1967 the first school board was formed. During this time, Sister Mary St. Richard Curoe was principal. In 1969 Father Paul Maguire became pastor and the students from St. Patrick in Fairfax joined the students at St. Patrick School. Sister Anina Allen was principal at this time. In 1973 Father Martin Laughlin became pastor. In 1975, for the first time, the principal at St. Patrick was not a BVM. Sister Rita Maire Thissen, LSSJ, arrived as principal in 1975. Father John Dalton was appointed pastor in 1979 and a year later Sister Kathleen Morrissey, BVM, was named principal. In 1982, under the directive of then pastor Father Robert Hirsch, remodeling took place and new windows were added to the school.
In 1986 the parish celebrated its Centennial. Father John Hemann was pastor at this time. It was also at this time the sisters left the school and the first lay principal was hired, John Krumbholz. A preschool was added to the education program in 1987 and a day care program followed in 1988. Also that year a new gym floor and roof were added to the school building and a playground was built with the closing of A Avenue.
Father Philip Recker spent 1990 as pastor, followed by Father Joseph Schneider from 1991 to 1996. During Father Schneiders pastorate while John Krumbholz was still principal, a school consolidation took place. With the consolidation of St. Patrick, St. Ludmila, and St. Jude Schools in 1994, St Patrick became a middle school for these parishes. Grades six,seven,and eight were located in the St. Patrick facility. The new venture was named the Holy Family School system. Father Schneider along with Father Don Bruggeman from St. Jude, Father Harry Koelker from St. Ludmila, and Father Thomas Schwinn from St. Patrick in Fairfax, helped to implement the new educational system. Each of these parishes consolidated their parish boards of education as well.
Under the strong guidance and vision of John Krumbholz, St. Patrick became the first and only Catholic middle school in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The building houses 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who come primarily from the west side of Cedar Rapids. St. Ludmila remains an elementary school , with preschool to fifth grade programming. St. Jude is presently a preschool to second grade program, and the former LaSalle High School contains third grade to fifth grade programming. La Salle and Regis high schools also consolidated to form the new Xavier High School, which opened its doors in the fall of 1998.
Father Steve Rosonke has been the pastor of St. Patrick Parish since 1996, and Rick Laue has served as principal at St. Patrick Middle School since 1998. The St. Patrick preschool in the fall of 1999 was closed, and a new preschool program was developed at the St. Patrick center in Fairfax.
St. Patrick is proud that it espouses the middle school philosophy and provides a wholistic education for its students through opportunities for spiritual, academic, social, and extra-curricular growth. Currently there are 182 students enrolled in the school with a professional staff of 20 lay people.
St. Patrick School has had a long and rich history, and hopefully will continue to provide an excellent Catholic education for many young people far into the next century… and beyond.