Discover the Diocese of Sioux City

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City (LatinDioecesis Siopolitanensis) is the Roman Catholic diocese for the northwestern quarter of the US state of Iowa. The diocese comprises 24 counties in northwestern Iowa, and it covers an area of 14,518 square miles (37,600 km2). The See city for the diocese is Sioux City. It is a suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The cathedral parish for this diocese is the EpiphanyR. Walker Nickless was ordained as bishop of Sioux City on 20 January 2006.

The Diocese of Sioux City was established by a decree of Pope Leo XIII on Jan. 15, 1902, by the separation of 24 counties in northwest Iowa from the territory of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. At the time of its establishment, the Diocese of Sioux City had a Catholic population of 50,000. There were at that time 95 priests in 84 parishes and 32 missions.
The Diocese of Sioux City belongs to the ecclesiastical Province of Iowa with Dubuque as the See City of the Archdiocese and with sister dioceses in Davenport and Des Moines. Each of these jurisdictions is a ‘particular’ or ‘local’ Church with an Ordinary, or bishop, appointed by the Pope.
Pope Leo XIII named Irishman Philip J. Garrigan, a priest of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, as first Bishop of Sioux City. At the time of his appointment Garrigan was serving as Vice-rector of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Following his installation in Sioux City on June 18, 1902, Bishop Garrigan named the former St. Mary’s Church in Sioux City as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese. With permission from the Holy See he renamed this church the Cathedral of the Epiphany. Bishop Garrigan carried on an extensive visitation of all the parishes of the diocese. When his health declined toward the end of 1918 he asked Pope Benedict XV for an Auxiliary or a Coadjutor Bishop; the Pope appointed Irishman Edmond Heelan as Auxiliary Bishop, ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, then serving as pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Fort Dodge. Following his consecration Bishop Heelan was named pastor of the Cathedral of the Epiphany and after the death of Bishop Garrigan Oct. 14, 1919, Bishop Heelan was appointed as the second Bishop of Sioux City.
During Bishop Heelan’s nearly 30 years as Ordinary of the Diocese, there was a time of economic depression, beginning with the breakdown of the farm economy in the 1920s, and continuing through the worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s. His tenure included the period of World War II. During this time Catholic education was extended in the diocese, and legislation was enacted by three Diocesan Synods.
In 1946 Bishop Heelan reported to Pope Pius XII that his health was failing. The Pope then sent Bishop Thomas L. Noa of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to be Coadjutor Bishop of Sioux City with the right of succession. One year later when the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, became vacant, Bishop Noa was transferred to that Diocese and the Pope appointed Bishop Joseph M. Mueller of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, to be Coadjutor with the right of succession. From the time of Bishop Heelan’s death, September 20, 1948, until Bishop Mueller’s retirement Dec. 8, 1970, Bishop Mueller carried out a program of expansion of diocesan activities. New schools, churches and other parish facilities were built, and existing schools were consolidated, increasing their capacity. Bishop Mueller died Aug. 9, 1981.
Upon the resignation of Bishop Mueller from active duty in December of 1970, Pope Paul VI appointed as his successor Frank H. Greteman, who had served for more than five years as Auxiliary Bishop, and was the first native priest of the Diocese of Sioux City to be named a Bishop. He died March 21, 1987. During his episcopate the Catholic schools in the diocese were maintained and increased enrollment.
On Jan. 25, 1983, Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation of Bishop Greteman as ordinary and named him apostolic administrator. On June 15, 1983, John Paul appointed Msgr. Lawrence D. Soens, pastor of St. Mary Church, Clinton, Iowa, as the fifth ordinary of the Diocese of Sioux City. His ordination and installation were held Aug. 17, 1983, at the Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City. During his period of tenure programs including Ministry 2000, Priests Retirement Fund, Youth Ministry Programs, Bishop Soens Youth Ministry Awards, and mandated Pastoral and Finance Commissions were established or expanded.
On Aug. 19, 1997, it was announced that John Paul had appointed Msgr. Daniel N. DiNardo, pastor of Sts. John and Paul Church, Franklin Park, PA, to be Coadjutor Bishop with right of succession. His ordination was held Oct. 7, 1997 at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Church, Sioux City. Bishop Soens’ retirement was effective Nov. 28, 1998 and Bishop DiNardo succeeded as Bishop of Sioux City on the same date. In 2004 Bishop DiNardo became the co-adjutor bishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas. At that time, the Diocese of Sioux City became a vacant see; Msgr. Roger Augustine was named the diocesan administrator.
On Nov. 10, 2005, it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had appointed Msgr. R. Walker Nickless of Denver as the seventh bishop of the diocese. His episcopal ordination was held on Jan. 20, 2006 at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Church in Sioux City.

Ordinaries of the diocese

The following men have served as Bishops of this diocese:

Diocesan priests who became bishops

High schools

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless

Bishop of Diocese of Sioux City

Bishop R. Walker Nickless was named the 7th Bishop in the 108-year history of the Diocese of Sioux City on November 10, 2005.  His selection as Bishop was one of the first appointments made by Pope Benedict XVI, following the death of Pope John Paul II.
Bishop Nickless was born in Denver, Colorado, one of ten children born to R. Walker Nickless and E. Margaret McGovern Nickless. He has four brothers and five sisters. His mother died in early 2006, shortly after her son's ordination as Bishop.
Bishop Nickless was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Denver on August 4, 1973. Before his appointment as Bishop, then Monsignor Nickless served as pastor of Our Lady of Fatima parish in Lakewood, Colorado and as Vicar General of the Archdiocese.  He was nominated as Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) by Pope John Paul II in 1996.
Bishop Nickless graduated from Bishop Machebeuf High School in 1965. He attended St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, the University of Denver and the Gregorian University in Rome. 
When he received notice of the appointment in a phone call from Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the Papal Nuncio in Washington, that Pope Benedict XVI had appointed him to be the Bishop for the Diocese of Sioux City, then Monsignor Nickless said he was surprised but very excited.  “In addition to the immediate sensation of unworthiness, I consider it a great honor to come to serve the people of the Diocese of Sioux City,” said Bishop Nickless.  “I want to be a good pastor, a good father and a good Shepherd and intend to work very closely with the priests of the Diocese to do the work of the Lord.”
Nickless was formally installed and ordained as Bishop on January 20, 2006 in a ceremony at the Church of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ in Sioux City. Archbishop Jerome Hanus of the Archdiocese of Dubuque was the principal consecrator as the Dubuque Archdiocese is the metropolitan diocese for the state. The co-consecrators were Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput of Denver and Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island.
Under the guidance of Bishop Nickless, a Strategic Planning Task Force was established in 2007.  The bishop endorsed a five-year long range plan for the reorganization of parishes in October 2009.  Later that month, Bishop Nickless distributed his first pastoral letter, Ecclesia Semper Reformanda (The Church is Always in Need of Renewal), throughout the diocese.
Bishop Nickless leads by example. He celebrates Mass on Sunday at the Cathedral of the Epiphany when available. He has a strong prayer life. He has asked all the churches in the diocese to have time set aside for Adoration.  He is a strong leader and always speaking out about Pro-life, Dignity of all human beings, 40 Days for Life, Healthcare, Marriage, and Family. Under his leadership the Diocese of Sioux City began providing a Hispanic Catholic Globe newspaper. He promotes the joy of priesthood to all and is planting seeds for the vocation. He encourages the faithful to listen to His call for them.
Budget cuts may save money, but for the diocesan ministries it also means losing funds that help them perform our mission more effectively. To help make up the difference, a new fundraising campaign called The Bishop’s Circle, established by Bishop Nickless  to boost the ministries in need.
Totus Tuus has begun in the Diocese thanks to Bishop Nickless for his help and support getting it started as a diocesan program that gathers college students and seminarians onto teams of four and sends them out to parishes to spread the GOOD NEWS of our LORD among children and youth. For grade school children the program consists in catechetical instruction, songs, games, daily Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, lunch, recess and more. 
The high school program has catechetical instruction, a night of Adoration and Reconciliation, and a night of fellowship with the team. The goal of both programs is to help them to know the LORD and love him more deeply. Because of the youthfulness and energy of the teachers the children and youth have FUN as well!
Theology on Tap is a program for Catholic young adults and their friends, in their 20s and 30s, married and single. Bishop Nickless started this program in the Diocese of Sioux City.  They meet in parish halls, coffeehouses, restaurants, or local bars to listen to a speaker, share in conversation and fellowship, and to gain new insights of faith. Sessions begin with 30 minutes of presentation on a topic relevant to young adults, followed by reflection and conversation. The rest of the evening is set aside for fellowship.
Theology on Tap in the Diocese of Sioux City engages and enriches the lives of many young adults throughout the area. This year's sessions will cover a range of topics from building faith communities to the Blessed Mother. Thoughts and ideas backed up by the energy of youth have the potential to bring about positive change.

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