Don't Just Go to Church, Be Church!

History - St. Mary

Bishop John Hennessy established a parish at Strawberry Point, Iowa in 1878. Before this time the area Catholics were served by missionary priests in family homes.  Father John Hackett purchased property in Strawberry Point and built a 30 x 60 church that was completed in 1880 and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 23rd, 1880.

Father Thomas Rowe directed the building of a rectory in 1886 and established Saint Mary's Cemetery in 1892. In 1902 he enlarged and refurnished the original church because of the growing Catholic population. Father Rowe also served Sacred Heart parish of Cox Creek and Saint Joseph parish in Greeley. Mass was celebrated every third Sunday at each of the parishes. During his score of years at Strawberry Point, Father Rowe founded two more parishes, Sacred Heart Parish Volga City and Saint Mary's Parish of Lamont.

Father J. Valentine Casey came to Strawberry Point and was remembered for bringing community respect for the Catholic congregation.  After serving for 10 years, Father Casey moved to Dubuque to become director of Saint Raphael Cathedral.  In 1946, the Sacred   Heart church at Cox Creek was destroyed by fire. The decision was made not to rebuild and it was united with Saint Mary's of Strawberry Point. 

In 1952, the St. Mary’s congregation was growing and there was a need for a larger church. The basement was built in 1953 and Mass was held there until the church dedication on May 12th, 1953.  Additions have included a new rectory and educational unit in 1970, a shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1976, expanded educational space in 1981 and stained glass windows in the 1980’s.

In the late 1990's the church was remodeled by having the sanctuary enlarged, and space for the musicians was added in front of the church.  Also at this time the sanctuary and front entrance were made handicap accessible, a handicap accessible bathroom was added to the main floor of the church, the sound system was updated and a gathering space was provided at the entrance of the church.

A stairway platform lift was installed in 2009 to make our church basement, which serves as our parish social hall, handicap accessible.  Memorial contributions have allowed us to provide hearing devices in the church. Sidewalks with a railing have replaced steps to ensure that people can move easily from the parking lot to the front entrance of the church.  We also provide valet parking at Mass time. 

When Catholics from Bohemia, Germany and Ireland originally settled in the Lamont area visiting priests would celebrate Mass in the homes.  St. Albert’s cemetery, located five miles east of Lamont was blessed by Fr. Rowe in 1890.  Subsequently, the faithful people gave money, lumber and donated their labor to build a church, which was blessed in 1896.  In 1898, Fr. M.M. Grady became pastor at Hazelton and Lamont became a mission parish, with Mass offered one week in Hazelton and the next in Lamont.  In 1917, a house for the pastor was purchased and in 1923 Fr. Joseph Linkenmeyer became the first resident pastor.  In 1950, St. Mary’s Community Hall was completed, all being done with donated labor.  For over 100 years, St. Mary’s in Lamont was a vibrant community of faith.  In 2005, the Archdiocese closed Saint Mary’s in Lamont due to the shortage of priests.  With the closure of St. Mary, Lamont records were all transferred to St. Mary’s, Strawberry Point.  The altar and tabernacle from Lamont were moved to St. Mary’s in Strawberry Point to show unity in this painful time of transition for the parishioners of Lamont.  The faith community of St. Mary’s Strawberry Point welcomed the people of Lamont and many transferred membership there while others moved their membership to Winthrop, Masonville, Independence, Oelwein or Manchester.

Six women entered religious life and two men were ordained to the priesthood from the Lamont St. Mary parish.  Seven women have entered religious life and two men have been ordained to the priesthood from the Strawberry Point St. Mary parish.

St. Mary Strawberry Point currently has 230 household memberships.   August 2010, St. Mary’s Strawberry Point hired Sister Carla Popes to serve as a part-time pastoral associate.  Father John Haugen is our priest serving St. Mary in Strawberry Point, St. Joseph in Elkader, St. Mark in Edgewood, St. Patrick in Colesburg and Sacred Heart in Volga.