Priests Attending to the People of Onawa
The priests that came to minister before St. John’s Parish was established:
Fr. Bartholomew Lenehan - 1872-1881 – Pastor (From Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Mary, Help of Christians (later known as the Cathedral of the Epiphany Parish in Sioux City)
Monsignor Lenehan was born in New York City in 1843. He was the first priest of the newly established Diocese of Sioux City to be appointed Vicar General and be raised to the monsignorial rank. He was greatly esteemed by all – bishops and priests, religious and laity, Catholics and non-Catholics alike; his death at the age of 66 was a great loss to all concerned. He served at St. Mary Parish in Sioux City (now the Cathedral of the Epiphany) as well as Immaculate Conception in Sioux City. He was also assigned to meet the needs of the people of
Fr. James Barron – 1881-1883 - Pastor (From Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Mary, Help of Christians (later known as the Cathedral of the Epiphany Parish in Sioux City)
Fr. Barron was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1855. He was the first Chancellor of the Diocese of Sioux City and, prior to that, the founding pastor of St. James Parish in Le Mars. As assistant pastor of St. Mary Parish in Sioux City, Fr. Barron had the responsibility of caring for Catholics in those missions then attached to it (including being the administrator of Catholics of Onawa). He traveled extensively – by horse and buggy – forming still more congregations and building several churches.
Fr. Michael C. Daly – 1883-1887 – Administrator (From St. Joseph, Salix)
Fr. Michael Daly was born in Ireland in 1844. The future Father Daly found it necessary to pursue his seminary studies abroad, largely due to his firebrand of an Irish mother, Kate, who, it is reported, once “took a hay-pike to a contumelious neighbor.” In those days, any aspirant to the priesthood had to be above the slightest reproach, and as his mother’s impulsive behavior had apparently “blotted the family honor,” he was obliged to leave Ireland in order to be “raised to the altar” in Rome. Father Daly was a very industrious priest. Upon assignment to St. Joseph Parish in Salix he was also given responsibility for all Catholics living “on the Iowa side of the Missouri in the Missouri Valley area.” After constructing the original rectory in Salix, Father Daly was asked by the Bishop of Dubuque to organize a “new English parish” in Sioux City, which he originally named “St. Rose of Lima.” He labored long and hard, so much so that his health broke and he was obliged to return to Ireland, where he convalesced for a year. During his absence, his successor renamed the new parish “St. Joseph.” At Manson, Fr. Daly erected the original rectory and rebuilt the church, which had fallen into disrepair. And at Pomeroy, it is said that he “worked a whole week without sleep” while alleviating the suffering that accompanied a tornado that devastated the town and destroyed the church. He built a new church in Pomeroy and did the same in Barnum.
Fr. John Bowen – 1887 - Pastor (From St. Mary, Help of Christians (later known as the Cathedral of the Epiphany Parish in Sioux City)
Very little is recorded about Fr. Bowen. He was born in 1860, location unknown. There is one quote that said he was an “eloquent speaker.” He died in 1914 and is buried in Asbury, Iowa.
Fr. Thomas Reynolds – 1887 - Administrator in Residence (From St. Mary, Help of Christians (later known as the Cathedral of the Epiphany Parish in Sioux City)
Fr. Reynolds was born in Ireland in 1860. Very little has been written about him. It was noted that he purchased the land in Cherokee where they built the local church. He also built a parochial school at Holy Cross School at Keystone, Iowa, around 1889. He died in 1906 and is buried in Fairfax, Iowa.
Fr. James Griffin – 1887-1897 - Pastor (From St. Joseph, Salix)
Monsignor Griffin was born in Lourdes, Iowa, in 1859. While pastor of St. Joseph, Salix, the then Father Griffin served a very large territory that extended as far south as Missouri Valley (including Onawa and Blencoe); and he had to cover that territory by horse and buggy. At the time of his death from pneumonia, Monsignor Griffin was “the most esteemed of any priest in the diocese.” He built a rectory for Corpus Christi Parish in Fort Dodge.
“Father Griffin did not parade his virtues; rather by the power of truth and simplicity and humility he endeavored to reproduce the life of Christ before men in his own life. A man of prayer, a pious priest, he hid himself, hoping and intensely desirous that his deeds might produce fruits under the sanctification of men, willing himself to be forgotten” (from the sermon preached at his funeral).
Fr. George Cooke – 1897-1898 – Pastor (From St. Mary, Mapleton)
Although officially assigned as an assistant to Fr. Meagher in Danbury for two years, Fr. Cooke spent all of his time there tending to the needs of the growing number of Catholics living in and around Mapleton, so that by the time he was officially appointed its first resident pastor in 1897 he was already well acquainted with the people and was hard at work building the first church. At the time of his death many years later, Fr. Cooke was the oldest priest in the diocese in terms of years ordained, sixty-three. Besides his pastoral responsibilities, Fr. Cooke also served as leader of the Northeast deanery of the diocese and a judge on the diocesan marriage tribunal. Upon retiring in 1953, he continued to live at St. Patrick’s in Sheldon with the title of “Pastor Emeritus.”
“While pastor of St. Mary’s (Mapleton), Fr. Cooke also attended to the spiritual needs of the people of Blencoe, Onawa, Whiting and Hornick. These widely separated stations, together with the increasing needs of the home parish, put the zeal and generosity of this young priest to a severe test. It was a test that was well and successfully met. And, although Fr. Cooke remained, as pastor, but one year, the memories which Mapleton pioneers hold of Fr. Cooke, are vivid and lasting. He is revered by those who knew him for his zeal, his ability…his kindness…and his genuinely priestly spirit.” (History of St. Mary Parish in Mapleton)
Fr. Gustav Wienhold – 1898-1900 – Pastor (From St. Mary, Mapleton)
Fr. Wienhold was born in Germany in 1872. At both Mapleton and Odebolt, Fr. Wienhold’s youthful energy and drive led to notable successes. He constructed the original rectory in Mapleton and saw to it that the two downstairs rooms were made available to serve as a makeshift parochial school until such time as finances permitted construction of the real thing. His death at the young age of 40 was considered a great loss.
“Fr. Wienhold was a very popular priest and tried to do his duty at all times to the best of his ability. The parish grew steadily and many improvements were made to the church property. It is to be regretted that his career closed so early in life…after a long illness. His funeral was attended by Bishop Garrigan…and about 90 percent of the priests from the diocese. Many mourn his early demise for he was still in the prime of his years. (The History of St. Martin Parish, Odebolt, Iowa)
Priests of St. John Church, Onawa, Iowa
Fr. Denis Hurley – 1900-1902 - Pastor
Fr. Hurley was born in Ireland in 1872. Fr. Hurley was a very active and industrious priest, who labored long and well in all the parishes he served. He supervised the construction of churches at Hornick, Rolfe and Laurens and may well have been among the first pastors of the diocese to publish a thorough financial report to his people, doing so at Akron and Westfiedl in 1907. Because of his long service-62 years-Fr. Hurley was frequently consulted by Fr. George Benjamin while the latter was compiling information for the first edition of “Benjamin’s Bible” of 1953. That document gave much biographical information of and for the priests of the Diocese of Sioux City. Fr. Hurley spent the last years of his life at St. Anthony’s Home in Sioux City.
“Fr. Hurley was a priest’s priest. He enjoyed the company of his fellow priests whom he was always quick to engage in lively conversation. A prodigious reader, he was well versed in matters of theology and on the news of the day. [D]eath came as a mercy. To have known this priest [and] to have watched him as his sight left him and magnifying glasses were no longer strong enough to allow him the pleasure of reading-to have seen his hearty laugh slowly disappear-to have seen his strong memory slowly fade away-these are the physical losses that makes death a mercy…. When all else had left him…he clung to the Rosary beads. One could walk in on him at almost any time of the day and find him in his favorite chair almost audibly reciting  the Rosary.” (The Globe, October 2, 1958)
Fr. Joseph Murtaugh – 1902 – priest in residence
Fr. Murtaugh was born in Ireland in 1869. He was the first chaplain to the newly formed Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, having previously served in a number of parishes in the diocese. During his term of office as pastor in Emmetsburg, Fr. Murtaugh is noted to have added a gymnasium to the parochial school and to have greatly increased enrollment.
“Present at the funeral in the Cathedral of the Epiphany…for Fr. Murtaugh, chaplain of Briar Cliff College, were priests from nearly every parish in the diocese. The faculty and students of the college attended the funeral…. The body of the departed chaplain, who also was instructor in religion, lay in state in the college chapel…with students and faculty members keeping a guard of honor.” (The Sioux City Journal, March 20, 1935)
Fr. Terence Smith – 1903-1905 – Pastor
There is little written about Fr. Smith. He was apparently ordained for the Diocese of Hartford, Connecticut. After serving there for a few years, he returned to that diocese where he presumably lived out the remainder of his priestly career.
“Fr. Smith saw the need of a larger church in Blencoe to accommodate the growing congregation and immediately made plans for its construction. By May of his first year in the parish these plans were complete, and the Onawa Democrat for May 14, 1903, carries the following: ‘The contract for a new Catholic Church has been awarded to J.F. Patterson, a contractor of Council Bluffs…. If everything is satisfactory, work will commence at once. The contract calls for a $2,250 structure, not including windows and furnishings. The size of the building is 50 X 32 feet 16 foot posts and a 44-foot steeple.’” (The Church in Western Monona County, 1870-1960).
Fr. Francis McNeill – 1905-1908 – Pastor
Fr. McNeill was born in Ireland. He was originally a religious priest of the Congregation of the Missions (Vincentions) who then became a priest for the Diocese of Lead, South Dakota, and was subsequently invited to the Diocese of Sioux City by Bishop Garrigan in 1905. He served a number of parish assignments, most notably-and lengthily-at St. Patrick’s in Danbury. His retirement was the end of an era…and would soon result in the merger of the two Danbury parishes. He often referred to St. Patrick’s as “heaven on earth.”
“The life of Rev. Francis McNeill forcibly illustrates what energy, integrity and a fixed purpose can accomplish when animated by noble aims and correct ideals. In 1899 Father McNeill went to the Black Hills…and did mission work on the prairies. He lived with cowboys and miners and led an outdoor life such as they live. He made a home at St. Onge…where he attended a circuit of one hundred miles. A severe bout of rheumatism took him out of this field [and] he came to the Sioux City Diocese. Fr. McNeill is a very companionable man and has his heart in his work, serves faithfully his Master, and the good will he does will never receive its full reward on earth.” (History of Sac County, Iowa, 1914)
Mgsr. Edward Neppl – 1908-1909 – Pastor
Fr. Neppl was born in Roselle, Iowa, in 1879. Msgr. Neppl was a priest whose success reflected his own goodness. At a time when it was not unusual for parishioners to seek the removal of their pastor, Msgr. Neppl was blessed with parishioners who never wanted him to leave. Even after 14 years in Pomeroy, it appears as if virtually every member of that parish petitioned Bishop Heelan to retain him there rather than transfer him to Ashton. It was not to be, but Pomeroy’s loss would be Ashton’s gain…for 35 years.
“Those who knew Msgr. Neppl recognized in him a priestly piety always. There never seems to have been a time when his energies and interests were not priestly. For 54 years Msgr. Neppl prayed daily for the extraordinary graces which a priest needs. God heard his prayers.” (The Globe, July 24, 1958)
Fr. Albert Zimmermann, M.S.C. – 1909-1911 – Pastor
Fr. Zimmermann was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1880. He began his priestly ministry as a religious priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, and along with Fr. John Ryan came to the Diocese of Sioux City for service. Fr. Zimmermann was notable for his talents as an artist and poet. Regarding the former, he copied the “Old Masters” such as Rubens, Titian, Raphael and Van Dyke, frequently delivering learned lectures on their work. When he died, there were 137 such reproductions-all of them deemed to be of outstanding quality-which he generously bequeathed to the Diocese. As the other talent, he penned both religious and secular verse, sometimes serious and sometimes humorous, sharing and fruits of his artistic endeavors with many of his brethren courtesy of special Christmas mailings.
Fr. Michael Erpelding notes that Fr. Zimmermann’s handwriting was difficult to read and when he was preparing to send out sacramental records from St. Joseph Church, Sioux City, from Fr. Zimmermann’s time, he would say unkind words under his breath because the records were difficult to read.
“Witty and yet always kind, cordial and hospitable, Fr. Zimmermann typified a background which is, to a great extent, regrettably passing from our way of life. In conversing with him, in reading his poetry, one was immediately aware of his knowledge and assimilation of the Greek and Latin classics. He knew and loved classical literature and music. The paintings of the great masters were familiar to him. Fr. Zimmermann was a poet and an artist in his own right. His paintings were often of religious subjects as were many of his poems. Devotion to the Blessed Mother was a central point in his life. His poetry and paintings testify to this.” (The Globe, December 16, 1954)
Msgr. John Joseph Ryan, M.S.C. – 1909-1910 – Assistant Pastor
(See below in 1911, when Msgr. John Joseph Ryan became Pastor)
Fr. F. Bormann, M.S.C. – 1911 – priest in residence
There is no written information about this priest.
Msgr. John Joseph Ryan – 1911-1915 - Pastor
Monsignor Ryan was born in Lewiston, Maine, in 1885. He came to the Diocese of Sioux City by way of a religious order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. During his years of service he constructed St. Joseph Church in Salix and Sacred Heart School in Boone; the latter was subsequently renamed Ryan High School in his honor. Interestingly, he and his fellow Sacred Heart Missionary, Father Albert Zimmermann, came to the Diocese together and were appointed as a “team” to minister to Catholics in the far southwestern portion of the Diocese of Sioux City, as the following quotation makes clear:
“The late Msgr. T.J. McCarty, V.G., of the Sioux City Diocese tells of their appointment in The Sioux City Journal of July 25, 1929: ‘I was present at their (Frs. Ryan and Zimmermann) reception by Bishop Garrigan and at the inception of their work in the diocese. The Bishop had in mind the project of a mission center at Onawa which would attend to the spiritual needs of that and neighboring missions and, with an extra priest, could supply, as occasion demanded, the help needed elsewhere. It was a worthy project, the expression of his zeal for the needs of the Diocese of Sioux City, but it was ahead of its time. The first winter in Onawa, in quarters that were not to say luxurious, was made bearable by the proximity of a new and well stocked public library on which the Fathers drew for their profit and edification. [But] the time came when the missionary project had to be abandoned, and the first one and then the other was called to service of the Cathedral in Sioux City’” (History of St. John Parish in Onawa, Iowa).
(There appears to be a short period of time in 1915 when the priests from Trinity College, Sioux City, were attending to St. John, Onawa)
Fr. Michael Hetherington – 1916 – priest in residence
Fr. Hetherington was born in Ireland in 1864. There is little known about him notwithstanding his several assignments within the Diocese of Sioux City. He obviously took several leaves of absence, apparently for reasons of health, but was a faithful priest withal, who served in whatever capacity was available to-or possible for-him at the time.
Msgr. Edmund Casey – 1916-1918 – Pastor
Fr. Casey was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1887. Fr. Casey served the Diocese of Sioux City for many years. He served 37 years in Denison.
Fr. William Humphries – 1918 – priest in residence
Fr. Humphries came to the Diocese of Sioux City from Baltimore, Maryland, courtesy of Cardinal Gibbons who asked Bishop Garrigan to find a place for him. Bishop Garrigan readily acceded to this request; and for five years Fr. Humphries performed excellent ministry both in parish and hospital settings. He apparently hoped to be made a permanent priest of the Diocese of Sioux City, but that request did not come to fruition. He eventually returned east and may have completed his priestly career in Florida.
Fr. Humphries wrote, “The time has come for me to take advantage of your good offer…to get established in another diocese. As you said, I did good work while in Sioux City; you were well disposed to me. In view of all this, knowing as I do your disposition to help any priest as much as you can, I am now asking you to send me the best letter of recommendation you can, in regard to my conduct and work in Sioux City. I am anxious to be on duty….” (from a letter to Bishop Heelan, November 2, 1923)
Fr. Thomas Coghlan – 1918-1919 – Pastor
Fr. Coghlan was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1883. He served the Diocese of Sioux City as founding pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Sioux City. His unexpected death from a heart attack was a great loss for the diocese as he was so well-versed in matters both theological and canonical. He was highly educated. Msgr. T.J. Davern preached at his funeral and said, “I found him strong of mind, manly of habits and with a great apostolic spirit.” He said “The cathedral pastor was superbly obedient and zealous at Morningside, Onawa, Whittemore and Blessed Sacrament parishes…. he sought no worldly honors, he despised fame, perishable gain, and the foolish praise of men.” (The Sioux City Journal, February 25, 1942)
Msgr. Edward Smith – 1919-1922 – Pastor
Fr. Smith was born in Lindsey, Nebraska, in 1889. He was of special value to Bishop Mueller during the latter’s early years as the bishop. In 1945 Msgr. Smith, as an honorably discharged member of the armed forces, was also elected National Chaplain of the American Legion, an office that required him to travel a great deal and to deliver many speeches. He was also a central figure in the development of the Blue Cross Health Insurance program and served on its board of directors.
“The Sioux City Journal noted that in the death of Msgr. Smith ‘his church has lost a man of high character and exceptional strength and Sioux City one of its most respected citizens.’ Chaplain on the battlefields of France in one war, national chaplain of the American Legion at the height of the organization’s influence in another, civic-minded as pastor, solicitous for the oppressed in his post as director of Catholic Charities, loyal to his bishop and serving as his vicar, Edward J. Smith proved again and again that a good Catholic is a valuable citizen.” (The Globe, March 9, 1967).
Fr. Michael Kolvek – 1922-1923 – priest in residence
Fr. Kolvek was born in New York, New York in 1891. He studied to be a religious order priest with the Redemptorist order. He changed his mind and went west to the Sioux City Diocese. Bishop Garrigan accepted the young man and thus gained for the diocese an excellent priest. It was Fr. Kovek’s arduous task to follow Fr. George Costello as Pastor in Lohrville; the latter having served there for 53 years. Fr. Kolvek helped make a smooth transition, so much so that he remained there himself for the next 20 years.
Fr. Louis Savage – 1923-1930 – Pastor
Fr. Savage was born in Plattville, Wisconsin, in 1891. He served in a number of parishes during the course of his priestly career. Poor health caused him to leave parish ministry behind and become a hospital chaplain in 1951; and it was after celebrating Mass one morning that he was stricken with a stroke, which two weeks later ended his life.
“While in Wall Lake in 1944 [Fr. Savage] created a desire in the parish for a new church. Quotas were assigned to the parishioners to pay when they were able. Fr. Savage prided himself in bringing fallen away Catholics back to the church. While in Wall Lake he brought many former Catholics back into the church, none of whom ever left the Church except by death.” (History of St. Joseph Parish in Wall Lake)
Msgr. Percy Gearen – 1930-1940 – Pastor
Msgr. Gearen was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1897. He served as a priest of the Diocese of Sioux City for nearly 45 years and enjoyed only a brief retirement of several months before his untimely death. He was especially gifted in his ability to draw out from parishioners far more than they believed themselves capable of accomplishing. Most noteworthy in this respect was his leadership in Algona, where he convinced his people to renovate and enlarge their grade school, bear their share of the costs in constructing Bishop Garrigan High School, build the present church, and provide a spacious convent for the Presentation Sisters. He was a man of deep faith, and at his funeral Mass he was remembered as a priest who loved the Church and served well our Lord.
Msgr. Bernard Greteman – 1940-1962 – Pastor
Msgr. Greteman was born in Willey, Iowa, in 1909. He was the younger brother of Bishop Frank Greteman, as well as of Fathers Lawrence and James (a half-brother). As pastor, he constructed both churches in Onawa and Blencoe. He was also the author of a book entitled, The Catholic Church in Western Monona County 1870-1960, which contains a most valuable summary of the early Catholic history in that portion of the Diocese. He left his parishes in Onawa and Blencoe after 22 years of service, doing so in order to take the pastorate of Halbur, which had been left vacant by the death of his brother Fr. Lawrence. Another point of interest is Fr. Greteman’s interest in coin collecting; in 1971 he won first place in the U.S. Coins classification of the American Numismatic Association.
Fr. Thomas Molloy – 1962-1976 – Pastor
Fr. Molloy was born in Emmetsburg, Iowa, in 1912. Fr. Mallow is another of those “unsung” priests who performed excellent ministry but receiving little in the way of accolades. As he was a quiet and self-effacing man, this was all to his liking. Fr. Molloy was the younger brother of Fr. William Molloy, who also served the Diocese of Sioux City as a priest.
“Fr Molloy seemed to possess a marvelous blend of a serious nature tempered by that true Irish wit and humor. People loved him to ask him a question and watch him reflect for about ten seconds and then listen to the well-chosen words always filled with charity. Being truly humble he could and frequently did laugh at himself. Fr. Molloy was loved by his fellow priests and he counseled and guided many when they needed advice…seem[ing] to understand their problems. He loved all his people and his Church. He was well-liked and respected by members of other religions as well.” (The Globe, October 1976)
Fr. Donald Smith – 1977-1986 – Pastor
The following article is from The Globe, March 17, 2011:
Father Donald Smith, who died at his winter home in Apache Junction, Arizona, on February 22, 2011, at the age of 86, had been a priest of the Diocese of Sioux City for over fifty-three years.
He was a product of the Great Depression, having been born in Bradgate, Iowa, in January 1925, the youngest of eight children. No doubt, it was because of this upbringing that Father Don maintained a simple and rather frugal lifestyle throughout his many years; he understood the value of money and came to know early on that happiness in life is not the result of either accumulating it or spending it.
Father Don was also a member of “The Greatest Generation,” as described by Tom Brokaw in his book of the same title. At an early age—just seventeen—Father Don was called to serve his country as a soldier; four of his brothers did the same, with one of them giving his life on the battlefield. Father Don was himself seriously wounded a few weeks after the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and it was during his lengthy rehabilitation that the seed of a priestly vocation, long since planted at home, began to germinate. After two years of study in preparation for a career as a mining engineer, he came to the conclusion that God was calling him to the priesthood; from that moment on he never wavered from the path that had been marked out for him.
As a priest, Father Don spent most of his life ministering to the faithful in smaller parishes; he was well-suited for that kind of service: at Fonda from 1957-1964, at Ogden from 1965-1970, at Laurens from 1970-1976, at Merrill and Ellendale for one year, 1976-1977, at Onawa and Blencoe from 1977-1986, and at Rock Valley and Alvord from 1986 until his retirement in 1995. At each parish where he ministered, Father Don brought the same fine qualities: a commitment to his people, a joy in celebrating the sacraments for and with them, a dedication to prayer, fasting and penance, and a great sense of humor.
No commentary on Father Smith would be complete without at least some reference to his great love of the game of golf. As Father Gary Snyder, friend and homilist at Father Don’s funeral Mass noted: for Father Don, a day without golf was like a day without sunshine … and vice versa. Even when seriously ill with heart disease, Father Don could still summon the strength to at least participate in some “pitch and putt” matches, and his golf clubs were with him in Arizona when he died.
Father Snyder summed up Father Don’s life most aptly by noting that he was “a good man, a good friend, and a good priest.” A humble man who never sought the limelight, a gracious man who always accepted assignments in a spirit of gratitude, and a generous man who especially loved the Church in its missionary efforts, Father Don Smith represented all that is good about priesthood. May God now bless him with the gift of everlasting life.
“Lord God, you chose our brother Donald to serve your people as a priest and to share the joys and burdens of their lives. Look with mercy on him and give him the reward of his labors, the fullness of life promised to those who preach your holy Gospel. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(Monsignor Mark Duchaine is Vicar General/Vicar Judicial of the Diocese of Sioux City and the author of Living Stones: Priests in the Diocese of Sioux City: 1856-2004.)
Msgr. Richard Zenk – 1986-1995 – Pastor
Former missions and cemetery director, Msgr. Richard Zenk, dies at age 89 (The Globe, December 8, 2016)
Msgr. Richard E. Zenk, who served the longest tenure of a diocesan priest in some capacity at the chancery offices, died Nov. 15, 2016, at a Sioux City hospital. He was 89.
Services were Nov. 18 at Cathedral of the Epiphany with Bishop Walker Nickless officiating. Burial was in Calvary Mausoleum under the direction of Larkin Chapel, Christy-Smith Funeral Homes.
Richard E. Zenk was born May 10, 1927, to Michael and Margaret (Engeldinger) Zenk, in Alton. He received his early education at St. Mary’s Academy in Alton, graduating in 1944. After working on the farm for three years while his brothers were in the service, he entered St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and was then sent to the North American College Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy.
Msgr. Zenk was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 8, 1954 at the North American College Chapel in Rome by Bishop Martin O’Connor. He celebrated his Mass of Thanksgiving, July 12, 1955, at St. Mary Church in Alton. Bishop Joseph M. Mueller assigned him to another three years in Rome to study canon law. He was awarded a J.C.D. degree from Pontifical Gregorian University in 1958. Pope Paul VI named him a chaplain of his holiness in 1972 with the title monsignor.
Msgr. Zenk’s ministry had been diverse, with service as parish pastor, chaplain, and work at the diocesan chancery office, including duties with the missions, the tribunal, and Calvary Cemetery. As part of his mission work, he traveled to many places including India, Africa, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Peru.
Diocesan assignments included: temporary assistant at St. Mary Parish, Willey, 1958; special assignment chancery office, 1958-1964; chaplain at St. Anthony’s Home, Sioux City, 1959-1960; chaplain at St. Vincent Hospital, Sioux City, 1960-1964; diocesan vice chancellor, 1964-1975; director of Society for the Propagation of the Faith, 1964-2013, while overseeing Papal Volunteers for Latin America, 1964-68, executive secretary-treasurer Calvary Cemetery, Sioux City, 1964-2013; defender of the bond for the tribunal, Diocese of Sioux City, 1966-1975, pastor of St. Mary Parish, Rock Valley, 1968-72, while attending Sacred Heart Parish, Alvord, 1970-1972; chaplain at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Sioux City, 1972-1975; pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Sioux City, 1975-1986; officialis for the tribunal, Diocese of Sioux City, 1975-1988; national board for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, 1978-2012; pastor of St. John Parish, Onawa, while attending St. Bernard Parish, Blencoe; 1986-1995; defender of the Bond, 1988-2013 and pastor/administrator of St. Patrick Parish, Akron, 1995-2011. Msgr. Zenk retired from parish ministry in 2011 and from diocesan offices in 2013, when he took up residency at Holy Spirit Retirement Center’s assisted living unit.
Survivors include a brother, Don (Viola) Zenk of Alton, a sister-in-law, Catherine Twombley of Ankeny, Iowa and 30 nieces and nephews.
Fr. Alfred McCoy – 1995-1998 – Pastor
Obituary from The Globe, September 20, 2012:
Father Alfred E. McCoy, 83, of Sioux City passed away Sept. 13, 2012, at a Sioux City hospital.
Services were Sept. 19 at the Cathedral of the Epiphany Catholic Church in Sioux City, with Bishop Walker Nickless officiating. Father McCoy’s nephew, Msgr. Kevin C. McCoy, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish of Webster County, gave the homily. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery at Pocahontas.
Alfred Emmanuel McCoy was born on Dec. 15, 1928, in Emmetsburg, to James and Mary (Hand) McCoy. He attended Catholic schools in Emmetsburg. Following his graduation from Emmetsburg Catholic High School, he continued his education at Loras College in Dubuque, after which he did his theological training at the St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. In addition to his theological degree, he completed a master's degree in education at St. Thomas College, St. Paul, Minn.
On May 5, 1954, he was ordained a priest at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City, with Bishop Joseph M. Mueller as ordaining prelate. Father McCoy’s priestly assignments in the Diocese of Sioux City were: 1954-57, Assistant Pastor, Cathedral of the Epiphany; 1957-61, Assistant Pastor, St. Mary, Storm Lake; 1961-65 Pastor, St. Mary, Pomeroy and St. Joseph, Palmer; 1965-67, Pastor, Holy Family, Lidderdale; 1967-68 Pastor, St. Brigid, Grand Junction and St. John, Paton; 1968-69, Pastor, Holy Name, Rock Rapids; 1969-71, Pastor, Sacred Heart and Ss. Peter and Paul, Pocahontas; 1971-72, Pastor, St. Thomas, Manson; 1972-75, Pastor, St. Joseph, Jefferson; 1975-83, Pastor, Immaculate Conception, Cherokee and St. John, Quimby; 1983-86, Pastor, St. Mary, Ashton; 1986-1988, St. Joseph, Wesley; 1988-1991, Pastor, Sacred Heart, Ida Grove; 1991-1994, Rector, Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City; 1994-1995, Senior priest, Blessed Sacrament, Sioux City; 1995-1998, Pastor, St. John, Onawa and St. Bernard, Blencoe while serving as president of Bishop Heelan Catholic High School (1996-98); 1998-2002, administration, Bishop Heelan Catholic High School and chaplain at Briar Cliff University, Sioux City.
In addition to these priestly responsibilities, Father Al enjoyed assisting with sacramental ministry to the Carmelite Monastery and the Iowa Air National Guard in Sioux City. He will long be remembered for his wit, his “Heelan announcements,” as well as his foray into local politics as mayor of Cherokee.
Survivors include his sister, Ruth (James) Wright of Des Moines, and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Mary (Hand) McCoy, and 15 of his siblings, sisters, Margaret McCoy, Kathryn Hermansen, Marie Hastings, Betty Kelly and brothers, John, Robert, William, Leo, Joseph, Peter, Gene, Walter, Richard, Gerald and James Jr.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be left to benefit tuition assistance needs at Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools, Sioux City.
Fr. Francis Nemmers – 1998-2002 – Pastor
BANCROFT – Father Francis J. Nemmers, 84, died June 13, 2016, at Good Samaritan Society, Algona. (The Globe, June 30, 2016)
Services were held June 20 at St. John Church, celebrated by Bishop Walker Nickless with concelebrants, Fathers Sunny Dominic, Donald Ries, Richard Ries and Eugene Murray. Burial was in the parish cemetery under the direction of Oakcrest Funeral Services of Bancroft.
Francis John Nemmers was born Feb. 6, 1932, in Bancroft, son of Lawrence and Hilda (Recker) Nemmers. He grew up in Bancroft graduating from St. John’s High School in Bancroft. Father Frank attended St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., Loras College in Dubuque and graduated from Mount St. Bernard Seminary in Dubuque. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Sioux City on June 1, 1957, at the Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City.
Father Nemmers’ assignments in the diocese included assistant pastor, Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City from 1957 to 1962; assistant pastor, St. Joseph Parish, Carroll from 1962 to 1964; faculty, Kuemper High School in Carroll from 1962 to 1964; pastor, St. Mary Parish, Dow City from 1964 to 1966; pastor, St. Mary Parish, Willey from 1966 to 1972; director of Office of Vocations for Diocese from 1970 to 1972; pastor, Holy Rosary Parish, Fort Dodge from 1972 to 1979; pastor, St. Joseph Parish, Granville, from 1979 to 1986; pastor, St. Lawrence Parish, Carroll, from 1986 to 1991; pastor, St. Mary Parish, Larchwood, from 1991 to 1998; and pastor, St. John Parish, Onawa, from 1998 to retiring in 2002.
Father Frank enjoyed athletics, especially tennis, which he played at the college level, and golf. He was a private pilot traveling the world, having his license to fly for 45 years and logging more than 5,000 hours in his plane. Father studied in Rome and enjoyed spending his winters in Lake Placid, Fla.
He is survived by a brother, Larry Nemmers of Bancroft and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by two sisters, Sister Michelle “Deloras” Nemmers, OSF, and Malverne Sullivan and her husband Phil; a sister-in-law, JoAnn Nemmers; and a nephew, Steve Nemmers.
Fr. Harry McAlpine – 2002-2005 – Pastor
Fr. McAlpine was born in Sheldon, Iowa, in 1935. He was educated in the Sheldon Public Schools, the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He finished seminary at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was ordained at St. Patrick Church in Sheldon in 1987. He is now retired and lives in Sioux City, Iowa.
Fr. Patrick O’Kane - 2005-2016
Fr. O’Kane was born in Sibley, Iowa, in 1949. He attended Gehlen Catholic Schools, Le Mars, Iowa, Pocahontas Catholic School, Pocahontas, Iowa, Trinity Preparatory High School, Sioux City, Iowa, and Savior of the World Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri. He attended minor seminary at St. Thomas College, Denver, Colorado. He attended major seminary at Kenrick Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. He was ordained a Catholic priest on June 4, 1977, at St. Joseph Church, Le Mars, Iowa.
Fr. Mark Stoll (priest in residence) - 2016
Fr. Stoll was born in Sheldon, Iowa, in 1966. He was educated in the Spalding Catholic School system in Granville, Iowa. He graduated from college and minor seminary at Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa. He went to major seminary at Kendrick Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He has a graduate degree from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is currently the pastor of St. Bernard Parish, Breda, Iowa.
Fr. Michael John Erpelding - 2016-present
Fr. Michael was born in 1962 at Algona, Iowa. He attended Algona Public Schools, Algona, Iowa. He also attended Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny, Iowa, Briar Cliff College, Sioux City, Iowa, St. Paul Seminary, School of Divinity, of the College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio and St. Paul University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.