History of St. Joseph Church


History of St. Joseph Parish of Salix, Iowa

(written in 1927 by Fr. J.J. Ryan)

The Genesis of St. Joseph’s Parish, of Salix, Iowa and its gradual development and growth, will form the subject of this brief paper. Out of the past the chronicler finds but a few isolated facts and incidents that have been handed down to us.

The Pioneers were a hardy and rugged race. They brought with them from the older and more settled parts of the country, and from other lands, a staunch Catholic faith that ennobled their lives and inspired them in their labors and privations. Their religion was their most prized possession, and they handed it down undiminished to their children.

Religious privations were many. Without priest, or sole sanctuary available for the worship of the living God. That there might be no defections from the Faith, the parents sedulously instructed and trained their children in the way of the Catholic belief and life. With means of conveyance and transportation most primitive, the staunch pioneers traversed great distances that they might assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

St. Mary’s Church in Sioux City, was the first religious structure erected in these parts. Thither, at frequent intervals, the early settlers of the Salix district made their way to receive the blessings of priest, church and sacraments.

The entire history of St. Joseph’s Parish, as a distinct entity, is comprised in the brief period of half a century. Though northwestern Iowa had been purchased from the Indians in the year 1847, and shortly thereafter thrown open for settlement by the white man, the influx of settlers was very slow. In 1869 there were but fourteen Catholic families in the present confines of the Salix parish. In the summer of that year Rev. John Hayes, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Sioux City, visited the scattered flock. Gathering them together at the home of John Harrington, northwest of the present town of Salix, he offered up for them the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in this private dwelling.

More than a year elapsed before Mass was again said here, at the home of Edward McDonnell, by Rev. James McNulty, on September 18, 1870.

Rev. B. C. Lenihan succeeded Father McNulty at St. Mary’s Church, and assumed the spiritual care of the Catholics of this section. He visited them as frequently as his many duties in Sioux City would permit, and often said Mass for them at the home of Joseph Small.

It was in 1872 that Rt. Rev. John Hennessey, Bishop of Dubuque, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation in St. Mary’s Church, Sioux City, to the first class from the Salix territory.

As the parish grew in numbers, the need of a church building became apparent. Out of their small means, the people, in 1875, erected a simple and primitive structure on a lot donated by the railroad company, and located directly north of the public school site. Scarcely was the building completed when it was totally wrecked by a violent windstorm.

In no way disheartened by this calamity, the congregation then rebuilt the church in 1880, larger and more substantial than before. So well was it constructed that it was in service as a church for a period of forty-five years.

Owing to the rapid growth of St. Mary’s parish in Sioux City, which now required all his efforts, Father Lenihan was relieved of his many missions by Bishop Hennessey, who appointed Rev. James Barron first pastor of Salix, to assume the care of these scattered congregations. Owing to the number of his missions, Father Barron was obliged to stay with Father Lenihan, at Sioux City.

The memory of Father Lenihan is still cherished by the pioneers of this parish. He was a man of unusual mental attainments, and was gifted with a rare eloquence which made him one of the outstanding citizens of Sioux City. He was later appointed by Bishop Garrigan Vicar General of the Diocese of Sioux City, and was honored by the Pope by being made a member of the papal household.

Under the zealous care of Gather Barron, St. Joseph’s parish grew rapidly, and soon required the personal supervision of a resident pastor. Accordingly, Rev. M.C. Daly was appointed pastor in 1883, and took up his residence here in the fall of that year. In 1884 a rectory was purchased, located directly west of the church. For a period of approximately four years Father Daly ministered to the faithful of this parish. He was then appointed to organize a new parish in Sioux City.

In July 1887; Rev. J.A. Griffin came, beginning a pastorate unprecedented in its duration and exceeding fruitful in spiritual and material results. Exercising rare foresight, Father Griffin, in 1889, acquired two blocks of ground in the south part of town, as the site of the future parish buildings. He then proceeded to move the church to these grounds, enlarging and furnishing it for the needs of the parish.

Realizing the urgent need of a parochial school for the education of the rising generation, Fr. Griffin took steps to erect a suitable building. In December 1890, the first move was made to found a school. At the first meeting held for the purpose, the sum of $3,000 was subscribed. The following year, as soon as a religious community was found to conduct the school, the erection of the building was begun, to be completed the following spring. The school opened on Monday, May 9, 1892, for a two months’ short course, with an enrolment of 127 pupils.

Since its beginning, the school has received the whole-hearted support and cooperation of the members of the parish. It has been a most potent factor in assisting the parish and the parents to develop religious and civic virtues in the children. To the school is due, in great part, the permanency of the parish and its healthy spiritual condition.

At the time of the establishment of the school, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny assumed charge, under the capable leadership of Mother Emilien. Their years of service in the school has enshrined them in the affections of their former pupils. In the year 1899 they were called by their superiors back to France.

Another order of Sisters of St. Joseph was then secured from New Orleans. They remained for a period of eight years. In 1907 their many duties elsewhere necessitated the withdrawing of the Sisters from Salix.

In September of the same year, the Servants of Mary assumed charge of the school. For twenty years they have worked with the pastor and parents, training the children in the way of right living and of religious practice. Their efficiency and devotedness as teachers have won for them the unqualified esteem of all.

Having provided church and school buildings, Fr. Griffin then erected a substantial and commodious rectory.

With a view to securing a more suitable cemetery site, a rectangular plot of ground consisting of three acres was purchased in March 1908. Rt. Rev. P.J. Garrigan, Bishop of the diocese, assisted by the pastor and several visiting priests, solemnly blessed the cemetery on October 8, 1908.

For well nigh a third of a century, St. Joseph’s parish was favored with the prudent and zealous direction of Fr. Griffin. In 1918, Bishop Garrigan selected him as Vicar General of the diocese to succeed the late Rt. Rev. James T Saunders, and appointed him to the important parish of Corpus Christi at Fort Dodge.

Rev. J. J. Ryan, who had been pastor of St. Michael’s Church, Sioux City, was appointed to succeed Fr. Griffin at Salix on July 1 1918.

The urgent need of a new and permanent church building to replace the humble frame structure of pioneer days, was soon evident. Fr. Ryan therefore, set about the collection of a fund to defray the expense of the building. At first his efforts met with varied success. Post-war deflation and financial stringency, joined to local crop failures, retarded the project. For some years the high cost of building was prohibitive. It was not until 1924 that the project finally became feasible. In December of that year the contract for the construction of the building was made with Riesche and Sanborn, of Sioux City.

With the coming of the spring of 1925, the excavation for the foundation and basement was done by volunteer labor of the parishioners. Building operations were begun on March 20, and progressed rapidly. Right Reverend Bishop Heelan blessed and laid the cornerstone on Palm Sunday, April 5, assisted by Rev. Martin T. O’Connell, Rev. J.J. Murphy and Rev. J.J. Ryan.

Throughout the summer and fall the work continued without interruption. In October the basement was occupied for the first time as a parish hall, the Tabernacle Society holding in it a bazaar of two days’ duration. Finally, the entire the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated in it for the first time.

A day that will ever be memorable in the minds of the parishioners is the fest of the Patronage of St. Joseph, April 21, 1926, the day of the dedication of the church to the service of God. Pontifical High Mass was celebrated by Bishop Heelan, assisted by the following ministers: Rt. Rev. J.A. Griffin, V.G., Arch-priest; Rev. D.L. Clark, Deacon; Reve. J.J. Murphy, Sub-Deacon; Rev. A.E. Zimmerman and Rev. E.F. Casey, Deacons of Honor; Rev. N. Flanagan and Rev. J.P. McGuire, Masters of Ceremonies. The dedication sermon was preached by Rev. Martin T. O’Connell, Chancellor of the diocese.

Among the clergy who were present at the dedication of the church, were the following: Rt. Rev. Edmond Heelan, Bishop of Sioux City; Rt. Rev. J.A. Griffin, V.G., of Fort Dodge; Rt. Rev. W.A Pape, of LeMars; Rev. Martin T. O’Connell, of Sioux City; Rev. R.M. LeCair, of Sioux City; Very Rev. T.J. McCarty, of Sioux City; Rev. Newman Flanagan, of Sioux City; Rev. Alphonse Bergener, O.F.M., of Sioux City; Rev. L.J. Cooper, of LeMars; Rev. Joseph Wolf; of Early; Rev. H.A. Janse; of Sioux City; Rev. George Cesna; of Sioux City, Rev. A.J. Arndorfer; of Ledyard; Rev. D.K Hurley; of Anthon; Rev. M.C. Wendl, of Spencer; Rev. Reichard Graf, of Oto; Rev. M. Marx, of Kingsley; Rev. James Greteman; of Struble; Rev. William Desmond, of Fort Dodge; Rev. J.J. Murphy of Sioux City; Rev. L.J. Savage, of Onawa; Rev. E.A. Dunn of Manila; Rev. J. Francis O’Leary, of Schaller; Rev. J.J. Dalhoff, of Sanborn; Rev. Thos. Parle, of Humboldt; Reve A.E. Zimmerman, of Sioux City; Rev. George Cooke, of Marcus; Rev. Francis S. Guenbeck, of Platte, South Dakota; Reve John Kelly, of Graettinger; Rev. C.P. Sweeney, of Whittemore; Rev. William Veit, of Maryhill; Rev. E.F. Casey, of Akron; Rev. P.M. Costello, of Ida Grove; Very Rev. F.J.Brune, of Alton; Rev. E. Meyers, of Milford; Rev P.J. Murphy, of Jefferson; Rev. Thos. Coleman, of Scranton; Rev. J.D. Fisch, of Bancroft; Rev. H. Rolfes, of Oyens; Rev. D.L. Clark, of Fort Dodge; Rev. Thos. Davern, of Algona; Very Rev. Stephen Butler, of Carroll; Rev. R.F. Salmon, of Elk Point, South Dakota; Rev. R.T, Lynch, of Manson; Very Rev. F. McNeill, of Danbury; Rev. J.G. Berger, of Arcadia; Rev. A.J. Foerster, of Merrill; Rev. A.H. Ocken, of Carroll; Rev. T.M. Coghlan, of Sioux City; Rev. T.J. McKenna, of Sioux City; Rev. Charles O’Malley, of Manning; Rev. J.J. Sullivan, of Vail; Rev. E.J. Smith, of Ayrshire; Rev. James Slattery, of Wall Lake; Rev. J.P. McGuire, of Sioux City; Rev. Daniel Tewell, of Sac City; Rev. C.P. Conway, of Estherville, and Rev. D. Lehane, of Batavia, Illinois.

In the afternoon, at 3:30 o’clock, Right Reverend Bishop Heelan administered the sacrament of confirmation to seventy-two persons.

The day’s activities were brought to a close with a parish banquet held in the new parish hall. The pastor, Rev. J.J. Ryan, presided as toastmaster. Addresses were made by Rt. Rev. J.A. Griffin, present Vicar General of the Sioux City Diocese, and pastor of the parish at Salix from 1887 to 1918; also by Very Rev. T.J. McCarthy, pastor of Epiphany Cathedral, Sioux City; Rev. J.J. Murphy pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church, Sioux City; Rev. D.L. Clark, chaplain of mercy Hospital, Fort Dodge; Rev. D. Lehane, of Batavia, Illinois; A.J. Granger and N.I Duhaime, of the Salix parish.

The new church building is a splendid adaptation of local conditions of a modification of the Roman basilica type of architecture. It is built of vitrified red brick, trimmed with grew Bedford stone, and roofed with red tile. The front of the edifice is especially interesting, having an overhanging Roman arch of stone surmounted by a corbelled gable, which is also stone, crowned and topped by a golden cross. Beneath the arch is a deeply recessed rose window, characteristic of Roman architecture. The Roman cross is the fundamental or ament of the window. Beneath is a frieze of craved stone as a lintel of the ample portals of the entrance.

On the north side of the church is a unique belfry suggestive of the mission style, combining beauty and utility. The entrances to the building are carefully planned to afford easy and convenient access to all parts of the structure.

The vestibule extends the full width of the interior to prevent any undue congestion as the congregation enters and leaves the building. It also serves as a “mother’s room” provision being made by means of glass partitions to enable hearing Mass without mingling with the congregation.

The interior of the church expresses the organic unity and symmetry of the edifice. The sanctuary is amply large and well proportioned. Set upon a platform of Georgian marble is a high altar of Roman style, specifically designed for the church. On each side of the altar kneel adoring angels, raising aloft candelabra to light the mensa. The two side altars are the gifts of Bishop Heelan and Father Ryan, respectively. The art glass with appropriate emblems. In the ten large windows of the nave are portrayed some of the most important mysteries of the life of our Lord, Jesus Christ, as follows: The Annunciation, The Nativity, The Epiphany, The Finding In the Temple., The First Miracle of Jesus at Cana, Jesus and the Rich Yong Man, Jesus Blessing the Children, Gethsemane, The Resurrection of Jesus, The Divine Commission to St. Peter. All the art glass if from the Munich Studio in Chicago.

The basement of the structure is a parish hall, specially planned for social and business activities. It has complete stage and kitchen appointments.

The firm of Steele and Hilgers were the architects for the building. Great credit is due them for their artistic designing of the edifice, and for their efficient and conscientious supervision and cooperation during the period of construction.

The building reflects the honesty and ability of the contractors, Riesch and Sanborn. The installation of the steam heating plant was made by Marolf Bros., and the electric wiring and lighting by the H.J. Ryan Electric Company. The pastor and parish wish to express to both their appreciation of good work well done.

Included herein is a report of the financial contributions to the building fund for the new church. It is a record of generosity and sacrifice, and is evidence of the sincere interest and devotion of the contributors. But there is another record equally noble, that cannot be written in detail. It is the record of the personal service rendered by the directors of the church corporation, N.I Duhaime and S. Cleary, by the men of the parish in grading the terrace around the church building, of the officers and the members of the Tabernacle Society, and of the entire parish, whose generous cooperation made every social and religious event connected with the building a complete success. To the Tabernacle Society under the able leadership of Mrs. Anna Senecal, President, and Miss Anna McDonnell, Secretary, is due the complete furnishing of the church with main altar, railing, pews and confessional.

It has been the privilege of St. Joseph’s parish to number among its members several persons who were called to the service of God.

Rev. Dennis L. Clark, a member of the parish, received priestly ordination at the hands of Bishop Heelan, in the Cathedral of the Epiphany, in Sioux City, on June 10 1922. Having faithfully fulfilled various charges committed to his care, he has recently been appointed pastor of the parish at Manilla.

Several young ladies have forsaken the world at the call of the Master and have consecrated their lives to the service of God in religious communities. The first of these was Margaret O’Farrell, who, in 1883, became a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Dubuque. Ella St. Onge joined the Sisters of Mercy at Omaha; Ida Jauron became a Sister among the Servants of Mary at Cherokee; Ellen Rohan and Mary McGivern became Sisters of Mercy, and Helen Harrington recently made her profession among the Sisters of St. Dominic, in Chicago. The latest to hear and answer the call of a religious vocation is Minnie Weedin, who, on December 8, of last year, received the veil among the Sisters of Mercy at Dubuque.

There are one hundred and five families in the parish, numbering about five hundred souls. The parochial school has an enrollment of one hundred and fifty pupils. It offers a full course of twelve grades, the high school being preparatory to college.

The above narrative of the history of the parish evidences the fact that God has abundantly blessed it during its half century of existence. It is our hope and prayer that St. Joseph’s Parish of Salix may long continue to promote the kingdom of God in the hearts of men.


Memories and Impressions as Depicted By a Layman

A Retrospective View of a Great Undertaking Which Has Culminated In the Erection of a Fine Structure Dedicated to the Service of Almighty God-a Monument to “Man’s Devotion to an Ideal”

(Reflection at the time of the dedication of St. Joseph Church – 1926)

Remember how it was before? The sway-back lot, with its perennial crop of disheveled, bob-haired grass? The few scrub trees, and the giant poplar at the corner of the old church? Sure, we all remember it! That little bit of landscape, so familiar to us all. It seemed so permanent. It was almost a necessary part of our lives.

But look! The big tree has gone! And there on the edge of the lot a plowshare flashes on the green, and one of our stalwart pioneers, with a hand to the plow and a lash to the team, is turning the first furrow!

What a thrill! The black dirt of that first furrow, tearing a big gash in the soil! There it was to be! From that gap in the turf we could now picture the dream of a rising edifice! And now more teams! And willing hands! From all directions they swarm! The task is on! Just a couple of days and a veritable mountain of earth has arisen at the west end of the lot.

Then, you remember how it took on shape? Here a hole was dug out for a pier; there was a square laid out for a buttress; every little detail, every turn and crook in the wall. It was all so very interesting. And the questions we asked! And the answers some very wise, some otherwise; but all, at least, very sincere. What a joy the whole thing was! And what cheer there was in the work! It was a very proper thing, of course, that the first shovelful of cement should be poured by our beloved pastor, Rev. J.J. Ryan. And so it was that, with little ceremony, but with much zeal and enthusiasm, he performed in a very serviceable manner this important function. And then the walls rose, as if by magic, and the building took on size, and it put on shape, and it grew rapidly to completion. And behold, it stands now, a thing of beauty, a masterpiece of architecture, reposing with a majesty of proportion and a solidity of structure that bid defiance to the ages.

Happy, indeed, is St. Joseph’s parish, that it had a pastor who could dream such a vision as this; an architect who could measure and design that vision, with such beautiful form and graceful proportion, revealing in every detail the highest art and craftsmanship, and a devoted people who could make the dream come true.

In the whole range of human activity, I cannot conceive of any achievement wherein were joined together endeavor and aspirations of a nobler type than that in which the people of St. Joseph’s parish have participated in this undertaking. The yielding of personal profit in sacrifice to common good is, indeed a worthy act. When coupled with an accomplishment so eminently successful, the action becomes most happy. But when, to this full measure, you add again devotion to Almighty God, then, indeed, you have attained without doubt the highest limit in the line of human endeavor.

In a review of an enterprise so remarkably successful, one contemplates so many worthy things that enter into it that it sometimes becomes difficult to make adequate analysis. Then, again, the finished work, in all its splendor and completeness, its fullness of accomplishment, blinds us to the vision of it composing factors. As I look back, in memory, these are the impressions that stand pre-eminent:

The first great obstacle that had to be overcome was the conflict of ideas and opinions. This was a community project. It required the cooperation and cash of a great number of individuals. Some were opposed, some were indifferent, and all seemed to have a different idea of just what should be done. That Father Ryan was able, in his own good way, to overcome this opposition, and to formally crystalize this chaos of ideas into one definite project, and, furthermore, to secure to himself, not only the cooperation, but also the enthusiasm of all concerned, is, to my mind, the outstanding achievement of the whole enterprise. I take off my hat to any general who has the ability to permeate his army with the morale that bears it on to victory.

The other major obstacle, obvious to all, of course, was the lack of funds, the limited source of supply, and the very precarious condition of these various sources. Ten years ago anyone would have laughed at the idea of collecting over sixty thousand dollars out of St. Joseph’s parish. That was impossible. We all had discussed it thoroughly, and we all knew that it could not be done. But, as was humorously remarked at the dedication banquet, “along came Father Ryan, who did not know it could not be done, so he just went ahead and did it.”

That is one way of solving the mystery. Here is another: “Man’s devotion to an Ideal.”-the strongest, most powerful influence that moves the soul of man. Here, indeed, was an Ideal, the very highest that human mind had ever contemplated. Here was devotion, indeed. Not only to an Ideal, but devotion to Almighty God.

In this great accomplishment, the pastor and the people of St. Joseph’s parish, and their many friends, who have contributed to its success, have erected here a monument that will reflect upon them the respect and admiration of men for many generations, and also the eternal blessings of Almighty God.

This is contributed by one of the parishioners who feels a just pride in his membership.

–Armand J. Granger, author of this section


For a history of the town of Salix:


These are excerpts from:

Roder, Richard J., Frontiers of Faith, A History of the Diocese of Sioux City, Sioux City: Catholic Diocese of Sioux City, Office of Communications, the Globe, 2001:

Theophile Bruguier was one of the earliest residents and a Roman Catholic of the area (circa 1849). He first settled in the area known today as Riverside Park in Sioux City. “Bruguier lived at the site for about thirty years before moving to his large farm near Salix, where he died a wealthy and respected farmer.” (Pg. 50)

(Editor Note: His farm is southwest of the city of Salix.)

Some of the earliest celebrations of Mass in the area now known as the Diocese of Sioux City were presided over by Fr. Bart Lenehan. “His” starting points south of Sioux City were Salix and Onawa. In Salix Fathers Hayes and McNulty had assembled about fifteen families for Masses in 1869 and 1870. Father Lenehan continued the tradition, usually holding Mass in the home of Joseph Small. Two Holbrook families of Onawa donated lots for a church site in 1870. The people of Onawa followed through with the construction of the building. During the Christmas season of the year of Fr. Bart’s arrival, he dedicated the church with its first Mass. St. John became the early center for ministrations in Monona County, while the priests for some years to come still resided in Sioux city, and tended to the Catholics in the towns of Onawa, Salix, Whiting, Blencoe and Hornick.” (pg. 123)

“Father [James] Barron was a native of Providence, Rhode Island, and was ordained in 1880. He worked as an assistant to Father Bart Lenehan in Sioux City, and was responsible for Salix, Onawa, Whiting, Blencoe and Hornick (circa 1883). When he was sent to Le Mars, Father Michael C. Daly became the first resident priest at Salix. (pg. 139)

On June 13-14, 1885, a fierce wind storm with some tornadic activity destroyed several churches from Ellendate to Le Mars and then Remsen and Marcus. “[Father James Barron] had previously cared for Salix where he rebuilt their first church [1880]. It, too, had been destroyed by a windstorm shortly after it was completed, in the year of 1875.” (pg. 140).

“On All Saints Day, November 1, 1905, Bishop Garrigan announced a Committee on Diocesan Buildings consisting of Fr. Joseph Kuemper, Patrick Kenny, and Edmond Heelan. Their job was to review proposals for work on new or existing diocesan structures and to submit proposals to the bishop for approval. In May of the following year the bishop recommended William Steele, an architect from Sioux City, to the many pastors of the diocese who were contemplating new churches. Steele designed many churches in the diocese; Anthon, St. Joseph (1911), Onawa St. John (1913), Marcus, Holy Name (1914), Kingsley, St. Michael, (1915), Sioux City, St. Casimir (1915), St. Patrick’s-on-the-Cedar (1915), Milford, St. Joseph (1919), and Salix, St. Joseph (1926), among others.” (pg. 233)

“The dedication of St. Joseph’s new church in Salix on April 21, 1926, was indicative of the support system of the priests of the Diocese of Sioux City. Fifty-five priests were present for the ceremony, which was typical of dedications, funerals for priests and their family members, and other events.” (pg. 266)

“Monsignor James Griffin, a native of Lourdes, Iowa, died in 1931. Proficient in French, he was assigned in 1887 to Salix, St. Joseph where Theophile Bruguier and other Frenchmen had gathered to farm and live.” (pg. 286)

“The rapid growth of Sioux City’s southeast side, and projections of continued expansion, caused Bishop Mueller in 1966 to create Nativity Parish in the Morningside area. Generally, the new parish included the suburban area south of Glenn Avenue; specifically, it took existing parishioners and territory from Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph’s of Salix.” (pg. 379)

The Crash of United Airlines Flight 232, July 19, 1989:

At about 4 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, July 19, 1989, Fr. Raymond Wieling of St. Joseph’s in Salix received a phone call. It was a parishioner, the wife of a rescue worker. She had just heard on her police scanner that her husband’s rescue unit had been dispatched to an airport emergency in Sioux City. She suggested that Fr. Wieling get to the scene right away. The priest grabbed his sacred oils and hurried to his vehicle. The four-mile drive north to Sioux Gateway Airport gave him time to think, or at least to fear. He had no idea what awaited him at the scene.

What he encountered was a scene that no one could have been prepared to see, not even a veteran of the terrible Vietnam War. United Airlines Flight 232, a DC-10 jet carrying 296 people, lay fractured in pieces along the runway and in a cornfield. Fr. Frank Brady of St. Francis in Sioux City arrived at about the same time [with Msgr. Thomas Donahoe, Fr. Michael Erpelding and Fr. Terry Roder –this fact added by Fr. Erpelding]. He [Fr. Brady] looked out over the wreckage, made a sign of the cross over the scene and said, “Dear God, please bring your mercy upon these people.” (“Priests Minister at ‘Scene from Hell,” The Globe, July 27, 1989).  Father Wieling was waved through the police lines, then escorted to a triage area, where rescue crews and guardsmen from the local airbase were already at work. Having viewed the crash scene, Father Wieling was amazed to see that there were survivors,

In the triage area there were some that were alive, some pretty banged up, some obviously dead. I thank God for some of my parishioners, some of the rescue squad, who would call me over to people whom they thought I should anoint, those who were pretty bad. [One parishioner,] a man whom I had given [catechetical] instructions to…[helped] me find people because I was busy anointing. [We] started moving all over the airfield, cornfield, beanfield, what have you, and anointing them where I found them. (Father Raymond Wieling, “First Priest to Crash Site Recalls ‘Guardian Angels,’” The Globe, July 19, 1989).

One of the people Father Wieling anointed in the triage center was Captain Al Haynes, the pilot of United 232.

He was really blaming himself, saying, “I did it. I killed all those people.” [I said], “Now just a minute. You did everything you could to land that piece of junk, and people are alive on account of it.” I remember he just looked at me for a moment and then he quietly said, “Thank you.” (Father Raymond Wieling, “First Priest to Crash Site Recalls ‘Guardian Angels,’” The Globe, July 19, 1989).

Approximately ten diocesan priests were on the crash site and bravely approached ghastly scenes of human suffering and death and dangerous wreckage to conditionally anoint all the people they could reach. Fr. Frank Brady worked his way to the place the jet had first touched down. He saw about thirty bodies (“Priests Minister at ‘Scene from Hell,” The Globe, July 27, 1989). Fr. Wieling went into the fuselage after the fire and smoke had been cleared to anoint the dead. (Father Raymond Wieling, “First Priest to Crash Site Recalls ‘Guardian Angels,’” The Globe, July 19, 1989). He also anointed body parts along the way, unsure to where some bodies lay. He recalled learning in seminary that a person could be anointed for up to eight hours after apparent death. (“Salix Pastor Arrives Early at the Crash” The Globe, July 29, 1999, pg. 6). Meanwhile, medical professionals, spiritual personnel, relief workers, and many others throughout the Sioux City area mobilized to care for victims.

One of the most important physicians for the casualties of United 232, though few, if any, of them would ever know it, was Dr. William Jepson. In 1890 Doctor Jepsen had asked Bishop John Hennessey for a band of Sisters of Mercy, renowned for their skill in hospital administration and nursing, to open St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital in Sioux City. The sisters’ skill ran like a continuous thread through the history of the hospital. Marian Health became a Regional Trauma Center in 1981, and had progressed to the point in 1989 that it was a superior facility with personnel sufficiently trained and talented to handle a major medical emergency. Marian Health Center was rapidly approaching its centennial anniversary on the fateful day that United 232 crashed.

Doctors Mike, Bill, and John Wolpert, brothers and parishioners of Blessed Sacrament Parish, were on hand to treat victims of United 232. Dr. Bill was to have had a meeting with a Marian Center representative and, after Dr. Mike called him about the impending plane crash, he called her and asked if she could get word to the Queen of Peace Apostolate to dedicate their daily rosary to the occupants of the jet. Dr. Mike prayed the Hail Mary on his drive from his office to Marian, where he was director of the Trauma Center. Upon arrival, he was proud to see the priests on hand. He was also astounded at the medical personnel that had gathered so quickly. On had before the first patient arrived by helicopter at 4:17 were four anesthesiologists, five trauma surgeons, and fifty to sixty family practice physicians. The family doctors brought with them valuable laboratory and x-ray technicians and nurses (“Physicians Share Horror, Relief of Crash” The Globe, August 3, 1989). Most of the critically injured were sent to Marian, which handled eighty-five victims of the disaster. Seven died in the hospital, forty were treated and hospitalized, and thirty-eight were treated and released. St. Luke’s Medical Center, which did not have a trauma center, treated 108 victims. Two died, nineteen were hospitalized, and eighty-seven were released after treatment. (“Physicians Share Horror, Relief of Crash” The Globe, August 3, 1989).

Father Kevin McCoy, the Chancellor of the diocese, was already calling area priests to alert them of the impending disaster when he received a call from United Airlines asking him to get priests to the airport. He ensured United that there would be sufficient help at the hospitals. He assigned three priests to each of the chaplains at Marian and St. Luke’s. Fr. Robert Schimmer, the chaplain at Marian, worked in the Trauma Center, anointing and absolving the critically and seriously injured. Most of the other priests and ministers helped with patients in post-operative care, or in hospital rooms. (“Physicians Share Horror, Relief of Crash” The Globe, August 3, 1989). Bishop Soens was attending meetings in Illinois, but returned home immediately to be with his flock. He was back in Sioux City in time to assist with the prayer response to the United crash. An Ecumenical Prayer Vigil was held at the Cathedral on Wednesday evening with about 900 eople in attendance. Bishop Soens presided and preached at a Mass on Thursday at noon. (“Community Responds at Mass, Prayer Service, The Globe, July 27, 1989).

Much of the mental anguish and shock occurred at Briar Cliff College. On the night of the crash, fifty-five survivors were housed at the college, assisted by nurses, clergy, and counselors. At five o’clock Thursday morning families of the victims began to arrive. They were assigned a United representative and a helping person from among the various support personnel on hand. Many of the people at Briar Cliff awaited word on whether loved ones had lived or died. By Friday night the college housed 200 survivors and family members, and 200 support personnel. Priests, sisters, Catholic Charities workers, and Briar Cliff students, along with a multitude of non-Catholic helpers, all joined as a community to help deal with the anguish and the many physical needs. Many people commented on the peaceful setting at the college, high on the hills and away from the main part of the city, and how it assisted them in dealing with their grief and shock. (“College Exemplifies Tradition of Service, Caring, Openness, The Globe, July 27, 1989, pg. 8).

Many fascinating and illuminating incidents were described later. Father Charles Yetmar, who was pastor of the Cathedral Parish, was assigned to the airport to counsel survivors. He began by entering the National Guard lunchroom where some survivors had started to gather. Father Yetmar was taken aback when he recognized the first survivor he saw. Though he could not remember the man’s name, he approached him anyway. It was Tom Engler, a former student of Father Yetmar at Our Lady of Good Counsel School in Fonda. Engler had been flying home to Chicago. He was unhurt, and was so unscathed, in fact, that National Guard personnel on the crash scene did not believe at first that he was a survivor. Engler was a veteran of the Vietnam War, and said, “I saw a lot of action [in Vietnam], and some devastation, too, but never so many people at one time.” (“Tom Engler, Former Fonda Man, Survives Crash”, The Globe, August 3, 1989).

As the Catholics of the Diocese of Sioux City counted their blessings at Christmastime in 1989, they used the unifying aspect of their diocesan newspaper to prayerfully recount the many positive aspects of the crash of United 232. They were thankful that Captain Al Haynes, a thirty-three year veteran of the skies, was the pilot that day. They were thankful that Captain Haynes and his crew had the presence of mind to give almost a half hour’s warning that an emergency landing was imminent. They were thankful for the foresight of the rescue agencies of Woodbury County and Sioux City, who ran a drill two years prior, in which they simulated an airliner crash with 150 survivors. They were thankful that the crash occurred at four o’clock, near a shift change, when hospital and emergency workers from both shifts were near at hand. They were thankful that Briar Cliff was not in session, making its dormitories available to house the survivors and families. They were thankful that Briar Cliff was somewhat ready for guests as the

College prepared for freshman orientation, using as their theme “hospitality.” (“College Exemplifies Tradition of Service, Caring, Openness, The Globe, July 27, 1989, pg. 8). Lastly they were thankful that the tragedy of United 232 occurred in a place where Briar Cliff’s orientation theme was considered a hallmark of everyday life. (“Plane Crash Top Story in 1989, The Globe, December 21, 1989, pg. 1).

Roder, Richard J., Frontiers of Faith: A History of the Diocese of Sioux City: Catholic Diocese of Sioux City, 2001, pgs. 465-466.

The Catholic Pastors for Salix
St. Joseph Parish

Attended from Immaculate Conception/St. Mary, Help of Christians Parish (later known as the Cathedral of the Epiphany) in Sioux City

Rev. John Hayes, Pastor-1869-1870

Rev. Thomas Gunn, Pastor-1870

Rev. James McNulty, Pastor-1870-1872

Rev. Bartholomew Lenehan, Pastor-1872-1881

Rev. James Barrow, Administrator-1881-1883

St. Joseph Parish:

Rev. Michael C. Daly, Pastor-1883-1887

Rev. James Griffin, Pastor-1887-1918

Rev. John Ryan, Pastor-1918-1931

Rev. Edward Dunn, Pastor-1931-1936

Rev. Joseph Finnegan, Pastor-1936-1952

Rev. John Turza, Administrator-1952-1954

Rev. Norbert Boes, Pastor-1954-1968

Rev. James Fandel, temporary assistant-1955

Rev. Raymond Wieling, Pastor-1968-1990

Rev. Thomas Nash, Pastor-1990-1991

Rev. Bruce Lawler, Pastor-1991-1998

Rev. Donald Slaven, Pastor-1998-2005

Rev. Patrick O’Kane, Pastor-2005-2016

Rev. Michael J. Erpelding, Pastor-2016-present

1st Pastor of St. Joseph

Rev. John Hayes - 1869-1870

Fr. Hayes served in many places. It is unknown where he was ordained or what year. Thanks to the research of Msgr. Mark Duchaine, a native son of St. Joseph, Salix, we know a few facts. He was an assistant pastor of St. Gabriel Parish, New York, New York. After that he went to Nebraska as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Rulo, Nebraska. He took care of six other locations. From 1868-1870 he was the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Sioux City. In 1869 he was assigned to go to Salix and take care of their pastoral and sacramental needs. For this brief time the Vicariate of Nebraska was assigned the care of Immaculate Conception Parish in Sioux City. Bishop Hennessey of Dubuque decided in 1870 that Immaculate Conception would be again served by the priests of the Diocese of Dubuque.

Many saw him off when he left Sioux City and Salix:

"When Fr. Hayes took his seat there was not a dry eye in the knot of friends, each one felt as he were soon to be severed from a near and dear friend, and many were their regrets in the fate that sundered their pastor from them. Father Hayes left today on the 2:00 train for Plattsmouth, Nebraska. A vast crowd of his friends accompanied him to the railroad depot. At the latter place, the platform was crowded with a vast throng who had met there to give him a fervent parting, shake hands, and wish him a God speed to the end of his journey. Coming here about two years [ago, Father Hayes] found everything in chaos, with a very limited number of Catholics living up to the tenets of the Church. During his residence here he has made a large addition to the church and the parsonage, gathered within his folds of the Church backsliders and lukewarm members, and in fact, has converted a parish that previous to his coming was a burden to the diocese to be now one of the largest and most prospective in the state." (History of the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City)

Fr. Thomas F. Gunn - 1870

Fr. Gunn was born in Ireland in 1840. He was only in the area which is now the Sioux City Diocese for six months before being summoned back to Dubuque by Bishop Hennessey, whose prolonged absence in Rome for the First Vatican Council necessitated the former’s appointment as rector of the Cathedral. Nonetheless, in the brief time he served at Immaculate Conception Parish (with duties to the people of Salix), Father Gunn made great progress. He purchased 20 acres of land northwest of the city limits and this became our present Calvary Cemetery.

Fr. James Gill McNulty – 1871-1872

Fr. McNulty’s date or place of birth is unknown. He was assigned to Immaculate Conception Church, Sioux City, and was responsible for the Catholics in Salix.

He was a Union soldier in the Civil War, serving as a cavalry officer with General John Buford; if so, he was likely present on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, when Buford’s troops provided the initial resistance that kept the Confederate General Lee’s army from gaining the high ground, a decisive factor in the subsequent Union victory. He was injured during the war – perhaps at that same battle – and it was the lingering effects of that saber wound which caused his death a few years later.

“Fr. McNulty died…from effects of wounds and is buried near the church door in Decorah. The G.A.R. placed a small slab on this grave. He died penniless. Some [people] sold his coat at Court House square to pay debts. Father Brady attended him in his last sickness. He died in basement of church a mere hovel.” (from a letter to the Rev. P.J. O’Conner from the Rev. John Hawe, November 18, 1916)

Right Rev. Monsignor Bartholomew Clement Lenehan, V.G. – 1872-1881

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 Salix.

Fr. James P. Barron (administrator) – 1881-1883

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 Salix). He traveled extensively – by horse and buggy – forming still more congregations and building several churches.

Fr. Timothy Meagher – 1883-1884

Fr. Meagher was born in Ireland in 1854, and immediately after his ordination he spent a few months at the Cathedral in Dubuque. Then Archbishop Hennessey sent him to Danbury, Iowa as founding pastor of St. Patrick’s Church, where he remained until his death nearly forty-one years later. Upon his arrival, Father Meagher was responsible of Catholics in a four-county area (including the Catholics of Salix) and for many years thereafter “rode the circuit” to bring the sacraments to them.

Fr. Michael Charles Daly – 1884-1887

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.

Monsignor James A. Griffin, V.G. – 1887-1918

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).

Monsignor John Joseph Ryan – 1918-1931

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).

Fr. Edward Anthony Dunn – 1931-1936

Fr. Dunn was born in Gilmore City, Iowa in 1892. There is very little biographical information available about Fr. Dunn.  He bought the first football equipment for Corpus Christi Academy of Fort Dodge in 1922, and the school soon after added boys’ and girls’ basketball. (History of Corpus Christi Parish, Fort Dodge, Iowa: 1930). While pastor at St. Joseph, Salix, he brought about the fulfillment of all accreditation requirements for the parochial school, thus ensuring that its graduates would be able to enroll at the college or university of their choice.

Fr. Joseph Thomas Finnegan – 1936-1952

Fr. Finnegan was born in Carroll, Iowa, in 1885. He was one of the first priests of the Diocese of Sioux City to have been educated in Catholic schools in the diocese and then go on to serve the diocese as an ordained priest.

At the time that Bishop Garrigan purchased the original episcopal residence at 22nd and Nebraska Streets in Sioux City, he stepped down as pastor of the Cathedral Parish. Fr. Finnegan was then appointed as rector, the first priest of the Diocese of Sioux City to hold that office (1916). For reasons not made clear, he was apparently ordained at his home church of St. Joseph in Carroll, one of only a few priests until modern times to have been ordained outside the Cathedral.

“Msgr. Julius Berger, who was Chancellor to Bishop Heelan, told the story that when Fr. Finnegan was ordained, after the ordination it was discovered that wine and water had not been put in the chalice for the ‘traditio instrumentorum,’ and since the matter and form for the sacrament was not determined at that time-all the actions in the ordination, viz, imposition of hands, the tradition, etc., were all deemed necessary. Hence, Bishop Garrigan brought Fr. Finnegan to his chapel and ordained him conditionally” (from a recollection of Fr. Alfred McCoy)

Fr. John Turza – 1952-1954 (Administrator)

Fr. Turza was born in Obyce, Slovakia in 1911. He completed his education as a priest and received a law degree in Slovakia. He was drafted into the Slovakian army as a chaplain during World War II. He came to the United States as a refugee, fleeing from the communist authorities in his native Slovakia. When he first came to Sioux City, Bishop Mueller assigned him to be the chaplain for the inmates at the Woodbury County Jail. Once settled in as a pastor here, Fr. Turza was determined that other members of his family left behind should join him; after four years of continual effort he finally succeeded in bring his elderly mother and his sister over in 1966. A quick study, Father Turza came to this country without knowing a word of English: within two years he knew it passably well; within four years he was skilled enough to write what is quoted below:

“I was ordained to priesthood by Bishop Dr. Paul Jantausch for the service of the Diocese of Trnava-Slovakia. There I have served until 1948, three years as an assistant and then as pastor. In 1947 in my parish was an anti-communist revolution, by which several persons were hurt. The Communists accused me as a ‘spiritual leader….’ After three months of torture I ‘confessed’ my crime and I was condemned to slave work for six years. By the help of a smuggler team I got out from Czechoslovakia to Austria.” (from a letter to Bishop Mueller, February 18, 1952)

Fr. Norbert Boes – 1954-1968

Fr. Boes was born in Wall Lake, Iowa, in 1914. Msgr. Mark Duchaine stated that he “remembers him well from his years as a pastor of St. Joseph’s in Salix, where he taught the rubrics of serving Mass. No doubt, his influence had the effect of fostering another vocation.”

“During Father Boes’ pastorate, St. Joseph’s progressed and under his direction the church was redecorated in the interior [with] new light fixtures and stained glass windows as well as Stations of the Cross installed…. In 1960…a new convent was built at a cost of $40,000 and a new roof was put on the school….The rectory was re-shingled and painted, oil heat was installed in the church and school, a fire alarm system was installed and the church hall was rewired. The main steps of the church were completely repaired and the exterior of the church was re-shingled.” (History of St. Joseph Parish in Salix)

Fr. Raymond Weiling – 1968-1990

Fr. Weiling’s Obituary (The Globe, August 20, 2015):

The Lord has once again called one of our priests to his eternal reward. Your prayers are requested for Rev. Raymond P. Wieling, 90, of Sioux City, formerly of Danbury, whom God called to Himself on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, at Holy Spirit Retirement Home in Sioux City.

Services will be 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Danbury. Celebrating the Mass will be Rev. Daniel Greving and Bishop R. Walker Nickless with concelebrants being the Sioux City Diocesan priests. Burial will be in Danbury Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will be after 3 p.m. Wednesday, with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:30 p.m., the rosary for the Souls of Priests in Purgatory at 4:30 p.m. and the vigil wake service at 7 p.m., all at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Danbury. Arrangements are under the direction of Armstrong Funeral Home in Danbury and Mapleton, Iowa.

Rev. Raymond Paul Wieling was born on March 1, 1925, in Danbury, to John and Anna (Fleischmann) Wieling. He was the first born of five children. He attended rural public school, St. Mary's Catholic School and St. Patrick's Catholic High School, all in Danbury. As for his seminary education, he attended Trinity College in Sioux City, St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Md., St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and studied in Rome. He was ordained on June 7, 1949, at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City by Bishop Joseph M. Mueller of the Sioux City Diocese. Rev. Wieling was an assistant pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Le Mars, Iowa, from 1949 to 1954 and Immaculate Conception Parish in Sioux City from 1954 to 1957. He served as pastor at St. Mary Parish in Oto, Iowa (attending Hornick), from 1957 to 1959, St. Michael Parish in Kingsley, Iowa, from 1959 to 1967, St. Mary Parish in Alton, Iowa, from 1967 to 1968, St. Joseph Parish in Salix, Iowa, from 1968 to 1990, and St. Joseph Parish in Neptune, Iowa, from 1990 to 1995. He retired in 1995 from his pastoral duties but continued to provide covership on weekday and weekend Masses throughout the Sioux City Diocese until 2011.

The most important thing in Rev. Wieling's life was his Catholic faith. His greatest love was celebrating the Holy Mass each day. The love of his faith was seen and shared by those who were blessed to have known him. He had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Souls of Purgatory and was well known for the thousands of rosaries he made and distributed locally and throughout the world. The majority of the rosaries he made, were made of Job's tears, which he grew himself. He was also well known as a spiritual director for many pilgrimages to the Holy Catholic Shrines throughout the world, and his involvement in the Pro-Life Movement, the Blue Army. He was also an avid fisherman.

Rev. Wieling is survived by his sisters, Alice Boysen and Dorothy (Vince) Boyle, all of Danbury, and Marion "Cat" Trucke of Mapleton; a sister-in-law, Maria Wieling of Sioux City; and many, many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Anna Wieling; a brother, Edwin "Pood" Wieling; brothers-inlaw, Melvin Boysen and Edwin Trucke; and Mary Ellen Dahl, who was his administrative aide and most trusted confidant.

Fr. Wieling was one of the pioneers of the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine (CCD) program in the Diocese of Sioux City. It was introduced in the diocese in May 1962.

Fr. Wieling was key to ministry to the victims of the Crash of United Flight 232 (see above)

Msgr. Thomas Nash – 1990-1991

Msgr. Nash was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in 1925. He was a greatly esteemed and beloved priest of the Diocese, one who served in a variety of different assignments; teacher, school administrator, chaplain, pastor. Among his brother priests, perhaps his greatest role was that of mentor and spiritual director; any number of priests benefited from his gentle demeanor and thoughtful advice. His death came as a shock, for he was widely regarded as one who took exceptionally good care of himself; both diet and exercise were fundamentals within his daily lifestyle. The bishops he served were fulsome in their praise of Msgr. Nash’s ministry, which on one occasion took him as far as the missions of East Africa in 1987…by which time he was already 62 years of age. This wasn’t the first time he considered his talents on a larger scale, as the following quotation indicates:

“My preference, Bishop, would be to investigate working for a time in the Philippines. I was impressed by Mother Theresa’s plea to those attending the 1975 Rome Synod that they send priests to the poor. I was also very impressed by The Globe article last year which told us that 45% of the Catholics in the world are in Western Europe and North America with 76% of the priests. Another 45% are in Latin America and Philippines with only 7% of the priests. With your approval I would like to further investigate the possibility of working in the Philippines.” (from a letter to Bishop Greteman, March 24, 1981)

Fr. Nash led parishioners in Algona and Boone to take in refugees from the Vietnam War. One young man was Duc, Peter Nguyen, was ordained a priest on June 7, 1997, along with Fr. Daniel Greving. Bishop Lawrence Soens, who ordained the priests stated,

Today, a community of faith has gathered from many places to celebrate a wonderful moment in the history of the Diocese of Sioux City. It is the conferral of the ordained priesthood of Jesus Christ upon two men, chosen by God from diverse cultures, but one in the gift of faith.

[We] have in one man the traditions and heritage of our rural diocese, faith born of the Catholic heritage of…rural Iowa, faith fostered in the strong life of the family farm and the rural parish.

In the other man, we have faith born in the culture of Southeast Asia, in the parish life of South Vietnam. We have a vocation which has been challenged by exile and immigration, tested by the new values of the western world.

In both men we have the combination of those cultures which have made the immigrant Catholic Church of our country strong and viable. We may also have…a foreshadowing of the future church of rural Iowa. (Bishop Soens, “Two ordained at Carroll,” The Globe, June 12, 1997, pg. 1).

Fr. Bruce Lawler 1991-1998

Fr. Lawler was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in 1953. He attended St. Matthew grade school in Clare, Iowa (his home town). He graduated from St. Edmund High School, Fort Dodge, Iowa. He graduated from college and minor seminary at Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa. He attended major seminary at the Pontifical Gregorian University-Rome. He was ordained a Catholic priest on July 5, 1980 at St. Matthew Church, Clare, Iowa. His present assignment is the Pastor of St. Mary Parish, Larchwood, Iowa.

Fr. Donald Slaven 1998-2005

Obituary from The Sioux City Journal, September 21, 2014:

The Rev. Donald Joseph Slaven, 73, of Sioux City passed away on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, at Holy Spirit Retirement Home in Sioux City.

Services will be 10 a.m. Monday at the Cathedral of the Epiphany Catholic Church. The Revs. Paul Kelly and Michael Erpelding will con-celebrate the Mass, along with many other priests and deacons from the Diocese of Sioux City. Graveside services will be 2 p.m. Monday in Calvary Cemetery at Laurens, Iowa. Visitation will be 4 to 6 p.m. today, with a vigil service at 7 p.m., at Meyer Brothers Colonial Chapel.

Father Donald Joseph Slaven was born Dec. 25, 1940, in Laurens, Iowa, to Donald and Vila (Dwyer) Slaven. He attended Laurens Consolidated School, St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and Mount St. Bernard Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He received an M.S. Ed. from Creighton University in Omaha, and a J.C.L. Degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He was ordained a Catholic priest on June 3, 1967, at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.

His assignments were St. Mary Parish and School, Remsen, from 1967 to 1976; Bishop Heelan High School, Sioux City, 1976 to 1979; Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Neptune, and Gehlen Catholic High School, Le Mars, 1979 to 1984; Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Dedham, 1984 to 1988; Pastor of St. Columbkille Parish, Churdan (attending Grand Junction, Paton and Cedar), 1988 to 1992; Chaplain of Sioux City nursing homes from 1993 to 1995; graduate studies in Washington, D.C. from 1995 to 1997; administrator of Sacred Heart Parish, Ruthven (attending Ayrshire) from 1997 to 1998; Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Salix from 1998 to 2005; Pastor, St. Mary, Dow City, St. Mary, Ute, St. Boniface, Charter Oak from 2005 to 2009. He was a judge in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Sioux City from 1992 until his retirement in 2009.

Upon his retirement from active priestly ministry, Father Slaven resided at Marian Hall in Sioux City. In 2010 he moved to Holy Spirit Retirement Home, where he maintained an active lifestyle, spending time with the many friends and parishioners he made over the years. He also concelebrated daily Mass at Holy Spirit and continued to minister to many of the residents there.

Survivors include his niece, Marjorie Baldwin of Larabee, Iowa; his aunt, Vivian Slaven of Des Moines, Iowa; and a special cousin, Betty VanHorsen of Laurens, 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)

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.

The Blessing of the new St. Joseph Parish Hall, The Globe, 8 December 2011, Pages 7 & 8. Please go to the links:

First link:


Second link:


St. Joseph, Salix, Iowa, North Cemetery


Location: three miles north of Salix, Iowa, on Benton Avenue


St. Joseph Catholic Parish in Salix, Iowa, started a cemetery three miles north of Salix in 1884. Many settlers of French and Irish descent, with names like Dunn, Lamoureux, LaCroix and Madden were buried there.


Theophile Bruguier, an early Sioux City settler and son-in-law of Chief War Eagle, was buried there.


In 1908, St. Joseph Church began using a cemetery on the western edge of Salix. Many graves in the North Cemetery were moved to town or to Calvary Cemetery in Sioux City.


Bruguier’s remains were moved and re-interrred near the grave of War Eagle in 1926.


Some families did not move their deceased loved ones from the tiny North Cemetery. The property was abandoned. By 1990, the old cemetery was covered with brush and trees. Headstones had been pushed near fence rows or broken by livestock. Farming boundaries overlapped cemetery boundaries.


A small group of locals reacted after reading a newspaper story about the rescue of abandoned rural cemeteries. Liberty Township trustees provided financial assistance. Ed McKenna of Salix applied for a grand to erect cement pads for the placement of headstones that remained.


The project proceeded with much volunteer help. Trees were planted. Regular maintenance began and continues today.


Nine neat rows of headstones stand facing west, a few showing their Old World influence with words “nee” and “mort,” French for born and died. One epitaph reads, “Death is eternal life, why should we weep!”


McKenna continued his work. He built and maintained a “Veterans Honor roll” at his garage in town, a sign upon which each military veteran who came from Salix is listed.


McKenna was not a veteran himself, having been exempted due to vision problems. A veterans’ wall, he said, represented a contribution he could make to honor their sacrifices. His work to improve the parish cemetery in town continued until his death.


Ed McKenna, retired farmer and longtime parishioner at St. Joseph Church, Salix, Iowa, died on December 29, 2006. He was buried that day in St. Joseph Cemetery, Salix. His children placed his rosary in one hand, and tucked next to his body a bottle of George Dickel No. 12. These were items, they said, to accompany him on a journey to the gates of heaven.