Discover the Archdiocese of Dubuque

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque (LatinArchidioecesis Dubuquensis) is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of theRoman Catholic Church in the northeastern quarter of the state of Iowa in the United States. It includes all the Iowa counties north ofPolkJasperPoweshiekIowaJohnsonCedar, and Clinton counties. It also includes the counties east of KossuthHumboldtWebsterand Boone counties. The Archdiocese has an area of about 17,400 square miles (45,000 km2).


The headquarters of the Archdiocese of Dubuque is in the city of DubuqueSt. Raphael's Cathedral in Dubuque is the Cathedral parish for the Archdiocese, and is named after the Archangel Raphael.
The Archbishop of Dubuque is Michael Owen Jackels. Jackels completed a Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome in 1989. On 4 April 2005 He was consecrated bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita, USA.
The Archdiocese of Dubuque is unique in several ways. It is the only US Archdiocese outside a major metropolitan area. Also, theBasilica of St. Francis Xavier is located in the Archdiocese, ocated in Dyersville, about 25 miles west of Dubuque.
There are 199 parishes in the Archdiocese. There are three Catholic colleges in the Archdiocese: Clarke and Loras Colleges in Dubuque, and Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids. There are a number of religious orders with a presence in the Archdiocese. Notable orders include the Trappist monastery New Melleray Abbey (male) southwest of Dubuque, and the Trappistine monastery, Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey (female) south of Dubuque.


Prior to the founding

During the years prior to the founding of the Dubuque Diocese, the area was under the jurisdiction of a number of Bishops. Many of these were purely academic as no Catholic presence yet existed in the area. Most notable among these was the St. Louis Diocese under BishopRosati. During the early 1830s it was under his jurisdiction that the early missionaries arrived in what would become the state of Iowa.
In the 1830s the church studied how to address the expansion of the United States into the western frontiers. Those conducting the study recommended to the Pope that three new dioceses be created, one of which was the Dubuque Diocese.
Father Charles Fitzmaurice established the Saint Raphael's parish at Dubuque in 1833. This was the first church of any Christiandenomination in what was to become the state of Iowa.
Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli was one of the most famous missionaries to work in the Dubuque area. He established a number of parishes in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. He founded parishes named after each of the Archangels: Saint Raphael's in Dubuque, Saint Michael's at Galena, Illinois, and Saint Gabriel's at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Father Mazzuchelli was declared "venerable" in 1993 by Pope John Paul II, and his case for sainthood is pending.

Early years

The Dubuque Diocese was created on July 28, 1837 by Pope Gregory XVIBishop Mathias Loras was named the first Bishop of the Dubuque Diocese. Loras gathered funds and personnel for the new Diocese, and he arrived in 1839. St. Raphael's became the Cathedral parish in August of that year. He oversaw the expansion of the church in the early years of the diocese, first in the Iowa territory, then after 1846 in the new state of Iowa.
Bishop Loras encouraged immigration to the area, especially German and Irish settlers. He expanded the Catholic Church in Dubuque by overseeing the creation of new parishes, and also he invited several religious orders to the area. This included a Cisterian order that built theNew Melleray Monastery south of Dubuque. Shortly before his death, he directed the construction of the third and present St. Raphael's Cathedral building.
The second catholic parish was planned to be located on the west side of Main Street between 7th and 8th streets in Dubuque. Bishop Loras planned the parish due to crowded conditions at the Cathedral. A cornerstone was laid for the parish church, but construction work never proceeded past the laying of the foundation. It's unclear what the parish would've been named if the parish had been completed as planned. An early map of the city of Dubuque which included the church buildings of the local Christian denominations included the proposed church building as the Catholic Cathedral.
In 1850, territory was taken from the Diocese to form the new Diocese of Saint Paul, serving Minnesota Territory (later Minnesota and the Dakotas).


In 1858, the Saint Francis Catholic Church was established in Balltown.
From 1859 to 1865, the Bishop of Dubuque was Clement Smyth, OCSO. He oversaw continued expansion of the Catholic Church in the diocese. It was during his reign that the German Catholics of the city of Dubuque began construction of a new Saint Mary's church because they outgrew their previous Church of the Holy Trinity.
In 1863, Smyth learned of the existence of the pro-Southern Knights of the Golden Circle, with headquarters in Dubuque. He gave members who might be Catholic two weeks to withdraw from the organization or be automatically excommunicated.
After the death of Bishop Smyth in 1865, John Hennessey was named the Bishop of Dubuque. During his tenure, the population of Dubuque exploded as the Milwaukee Railroad Shops came to Dubuque. Hennessey created several parishes in Dubuque: Sacred Heart, Holy Ghost, St. Anthony's, and Holy Trinity to deal with this population explosion.
During this time, Bishop Hennessey proposed taking territory from the Diocese and creating a new Diocese for southern Iowa. While he proposed Des Moines for the headquarters of the new Diocese, Davenport was the site chosen.

Elevation to an Archdiocese

On June 15, 1893 the Dubuque Diocese was elevated to an Archdiocese by Pope Leo XIII. Bishop Hennessey was elevated to become the first Archbishop of Dubuque at that time. In 1900, Archbishop Hennessey died; he is buried at the Cathedral in Dubuque.

First part of the 20th century

After the death of Archbishop Hennessey, Archbishop John J. Keane was chosen to lead the Archdiocese. He served for eleven years until poor health forced him to retire in 1911. During his tenure, the western territory of the Archiocese was taken to form a new Diocese, which was based in Sioux City. As a result, the Archdiocese's territory was reduced down to its current size.

The next Archbishop to serve was named James John Keane. Although he and his predecessor shared the same last name, the two men were not related, and they both had very different personalities. The first Archbishop Keane was well liked in the community, and was known as "Sugar" for his kind and generous nature. The second Archbishop Keane was known as "Hickory" for his stern manner.

The Great Depression and World War II years

During the years of the Great Depression and the Second World War, the Archdiocese was led by Archbishop Francis J.L. Beckman. In the years leading up to the war, Beckman was an opponent of military action. Beckman also was a collector of fine art pieces. He had placed a number of art pieces in a museum at Columbia (now Loras) College. Archbishop Beckman, perhaps thinking that he could gain funds to further his collection, involved the Archdiocese in what turned out to be a dubious gold mine scheme. Because Beckman had signed notes on behalf of the Archdiocese, this caused financial problems for the Archdiocese when the scheme fell apart and the individual who created this scam was arrested. President Roosevelt directed the FBI to investigate Beckman. It was to determine what his involvement would have been in this financial scheme, not Beckman's opposition to the President as some believed. Most of Beckman's collection was sold to pay off the notes. The cost to the Archdiocese was over half a million dollars.
Because of Beckman's troubles Bishop Henry Rohlman returned from the Davenport, Iowa diocese and was installed as Coadjutor Archbishop in 1944. Archbishop Beckman was allowed to retain his office, but was informed that Rohlman now led the Archdiocese. Beckman retired in 1947, and left Dubuque for Cincinnati.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. One of the casualties in that attack was Father Aloysius Schmitt. He was serving on board the USS Oklahoma at the time. The boat capsized during the attack. Father Schmitt and other men were trapped below with only a small porthole for escape. Father Schmitt declined to be pulled from the ship, and instead helped other men to escape. In total he saved 12 men, but he drowned. Father Schmitt was the first chaplain of any denomination to die in World War II. For his actions, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and a destroyer was named in his honor.

Post War Era

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

Second Vatican Council and the aftermath

James Byrne was named the next Archbishop of Dubuque on March 7, 1962. On May 8, 1962 he was formally installed at St. Raphael's by the Apostolic Delegate. He attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Byrne implemented the changes brought about by the council in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The Priests Senate—the clergy's advisory board—was soon established, as was another advisory board that dealt with assignment of priests. These boards were among the first such boards founded in the United States.
Archbishop Byrne generally kept a low profile in the community. He did encourage Catholics to pray daily before the news. Archbishop Byrne retired from office on August 23, 1983. After retirement, Byrne remained in Dubuque until his death on August 2, 1996.

Late 20th-early 21st centuries

On February 23, 1984, Daniel William Kucera, OSB was installed as the tenth Bishop and eighth Archbishop of Dubuque. Archbishop Kucera had earned a doctorate in education. At 36 he had become the youngest President of St. Procopius College (now known as Benedictine University). His background on education has led Vatican officials, including thePope, to seek his advice.
During Kucera's tenure as Archbishop, St. Raphael's Cathedral was remodeled. The guidelines for the sacrament of Confirmation were revised and published. Kucera also reduced the number of deaneries from 16 to 14. He reorganized the structure of the Archdiocese and created an Archbishop's Cabinet to coordinate the running of the Archdiocese.
Kucera also launched a plan that divided the Archdiocese into three regions in 1987. These regions had a resident bishop in each of the regions. The three regions were Dubuque,Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo. Bishop Francis Dunn was named to head the Cedar Rapids area, and Fr. William Franklin was named to head the Waterloo area. Franklin was then consecrated as a Bishop in April 1987. Dubuque was served by retired Archbishop James Byrne and Archbishop Kucera. The plan was eventually dropped after the death of Bishop Dunn in 1989 and the naming of Bishop Franklin as the head of the Diocese of Davenport.
In 1986 the Archdiocese celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding. Archbishop Kucera also received an honorary degree from the University of Dubuque. On October 16, 1995, Archbishop Kucera retired, and moved to Aurora, Colorado, and then subsequently returned to live in Dubuque.
The archbishop-designate of Dubuque is Michael Owen Jackels, following the retirement of Archbishop Hanus.

Recent events

The Archdiocese undertook a number of activities in preparation for the year 2000, both before and after the beginning of 2000.

Priest shortage

The Archdiocese has also felt the effects of the priest shortage that has affected the church in recent times. In recent years many smaller rural parishes have had to close and their congregations had been absorbed into other nearby parishes. Some rural parishes have been clustered together where one priest will serve two or more parishes. Some parishes have no resident priest. Another effect is that some duties that a priest would have performed in the past are performed by either religious (Sister or Deacon) individuals, or by the laity.

Education issues

In recent years, many questions have been raised of the future of Catholic schools. With parishes closing or combining services, schools were also combined together. In recent times, schools in a given geographical area have all been joined together into a school system.
In Dubuque, the Catholic schools are all part of the Holy Family system. There has been much controversy recently about how to best run the schools. The administrators of the system had recently made plans to reorganize the schools. This was due to factors such as a declining number of students attending Catholic schools. An especially controversial move that was proposed was to turn St. Anthony's school into a central school for certain grades. Parents of the parish felt that their concerns were being ignored. Eventually, the Archdiocesan Board of Education vetoed the plan, and told the school system to continue work on planning the system's future.

Controversy over The Passion of the Christ

The Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ has caused controversy in the Archdiocese as well. One of the main issues brought up by the film was an editorial cartoon on the movie that the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald newspaper published in its Editorial section. This cartoon featured a nun using corporal punishment. Some in the community have felt that this was a slight against the nuns and all their years of hard work. Others, mainly middle age to older adults, have said that this was representative of the nuns who taught them while they were in school. They had said that some of the nuns freely used corporal punishment to enforce discipline.

2004 Presidential campaign

Both main American parties attempted to appeal to Catholic voters. Republicans tried to appeal to Catholics through their stance against abortion. Democrats tried to appeal through an "ethic of life" stance, and through appealing to the social justice concerns of Catholics. Both parties took out full page ads in local newspapers to convince Catholics of the need to vote for their party.
While Bush did enjoy some support due to his stance on abortion, others took an "anyone but Bush" attitude, and concluded that Kerry was the lesser of two evils in this case. Some people felt that the opposition some Bishops showed to Kerry as a supporter of abortion was a thinly disguised endorsement of the Republican party, even if that had not been the Bishop's intent.
On July 3, 2004, John Kerry visited the city of Dubuque as part of his presidential campaign. During the evening, he watched the fireworks from a private boat on the Mississippi River. On Sunday, July 4, he attended Mass at Resurrection Church in Dubuque, and received Communion during the course of this mass. Catholics in the Archdiocese have also expressed concern over his stance on certain issues, especially abortion.

Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission

In recent years, the Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission (LHTBM) has become the subject of much controversy in the Archdiocese. The Chicago, Illinois based organization had come to have a large presence in Dubuque and the surrounding areas. The group purchased numerous buildings in Dubuque and a farm that they currently use as a retreat center nearBellevue.
Supporters of the LHTBM claim that their association with the group has helped make their faith a more meaningful part of their lives. Opponents claim that the group is a cult due to a secretive and authoritarian nature, difficulty contacting relatives involved with the organization, and what they see as a questionable interpretation of church teachings.
The Dioceses of Rockford and Madison had both previously issued formal statements warning members not to associate with the group. On September 15, 2005 Archbishop Hanus issued his own warning regarding the LHTBM. This was partially in response to a young woman who was going to attend Loras College deciding only a short time before she was due to begin classes there to leave home and join the group.

Ordinaries of Dubuque

Auxiliary Bishops

Diocesan Priests who became Bishops


Saint Francis Catholic Church

Saint Francis Catholic Church is located in Balltown. As of 2006, the church did not have a resident pastor. The parish is part of a cluster of several other rural parishes in northernDubuque County, Iowa that share a pastor and other facilities.
The parish traces its history back to 1858. A number of area residents had petitioned Bishop Mathias Loras to establish a Catholic parish in the Balltown area. Loras came to the area, and offered Mass in a log cabin near Balltown. Residents gathered the funds to build a church and a school in the area.
In 1891, local resident Andreas Rapp and his wife donated some land, which allowed for the construction of a brick building containing a school and a convent for the Sisters, as well as the establishment of a cemetery. The school opened in September of that year, and there were 45 children attending the school. Another local resident, Peter Cremer, donated land for a new church, and in 1892 the cornerstone for the second St. Francis Church building was laid.
The second St. Francis Church building would serve the parish until August 27, 1976. During a storm that took place on that day, lightning struck the steeple, which caused a fire. The church building was destroyed by this fire. In the aftermath a new St. Francis Church was constructed. At the same time, the old convent building was torn down to make room for the new church.

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church is located in Peosta on Sundown Road, just to the north of U.S. Highway 20. The church building is a newer structure, having been built in the late 1980s. As a result it reflects some of the more recent trends in the church, including having the congregation arranged in a semicircle around the altar.
Currently, the pastor of St. John the Baptist Church is Father Richard Kuhn. The parish is affiliated with Holy Family Catholic Church, which is located about three miles away. Both parishes share a pastor, and the offices for both parishes are located at St. John's. The Archdiocese has indicated that when Fr. Kuhn retires that this arrangement will probably be changed due to the priest shortage, that St. John's would be clustered with several other nearby parishes.
The parish has recently grown to the point where the parish is considering expanding or replacing the current church building.

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church

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


The parish was founded in 1852 as St. William's. Prior to this, residents living in the Sherrill area needed to travel to Dubuque to attend mass. This was about 15 miles one way—a considerable distance at the time. In response to the need for a local church and to heavy German Catholic immigration to the rural districts surrounding Sherrill, Dubuque BishopMathias Loras established the parish.
By the 1860s the name of Saints Peter and Paul had been adopted, and in 1889 the original wooden church was replaced by a large, brick and stone Romanesque Revival structure, which remains in use today. During the 1970s, the church's original carved wood altars were removed and its 19th-century wood trim was painted over, in an effort to give the interior a more contemporary appearance. Recently parish members completed a renovation of the building that restored the wood trim and added decorative details suggestive of its past.
Inscriptions on the church's stained glass windows and on the older headstones in its adjoining cemetery are in German, reflecting the culture of the parish's founding members.
For well over 100 years the parish school was operated by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) of La CrosseWisconsin, and many girls of the parish who felt a calling to religious life joined that order. The school is still operated on the premises of the parish by the Archdiocese of Dubuque, as a consolidation of the original school and the Catholic school which once served the nearby community of BalltownIowa.


Other parishes in the diocese include Saint Mary'sSacred HeartHoly Ghost, and Saint Anthony's.

High schools




Our Sponsors

This site is sponsored by Mendicant Marketing, a Catholic company specializing in Internet Marketing: Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, and more.