Parish History

St. Anthony Parish History

The beginning of St. Anthony Parish is interwoven with the history of St. Anthony School. A small frame one room building was apparently constructed in 1868. The new parish evolved from the school and was known as St. Malachi until the year 1880. The first pastor was assigned in late 1875. In 1900, during the pastorate of Father O’Malley (1898 – 1952) the present church dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua was constructed. Up until that time, the parish had been known by four different names: St. Malachi, St. Aidan, St. Ambrose, and St. Anthony. Eleven pastors have administered to the spiritual needs of the parish in more than 100 years of existence. The Sisters of Charity, BVM were associated with the school program from 1917 to 1992.

The church structure is an example of the Gothic style of architecture. Like many of the beautiful cathedrals constructed in the Gothic style, one of the key design elements of our church is the beauty of the stained glass windows. These windows tell the story of the life of Christ and the establishment of the church. Another interesting feature of the church is the series of paintings adorning the walls. In the 1930s, Fr. O’Malley contracted with two artists from Italy. The painters came to Dubuque and lived in the homes of parishioners while creating the paintings. They worked in the old school building where they painted on canvases spread out on the floor. Once the paintings were completed, the canvases were hung on the walls of the church. During renovation of our church in 1996, the canvases were carefully removed, cleaned, and re-hung after the walls were painted.

The Second Vatican Council directed that the altar for the sacrifice of the Mass should face the people. St. Anthony Church, like many Catholic churches of the time, underwent a renovation in the 1960s to conform to this directive. The original altars and the main altar, along with the communion rail, were removed. A new altar, facing the people, was installed. In 1982, the church was redecorated and this altar was replaced. In 1988, the Parish Improvement Committee was established with the goal of assessing and prioritizing the needs of the parish, as they pertained to a major renovation of the church. The Church Improvement Committee was established in 1990, and in 1991 an architect was hired to plan the renovations. The church renovations were to reflect the history and profile of St. Anthony parish, follow the vision of the Church renewal liturgy, and make the church accessible for all people. Construction began on April 18, 1996. On September 1, a Transition Liturgy was held. Parishioners carried liturgical objects and the Blessed Sacrament to a temporary worship space in the school gym. On December 14, 1996, Archbishop Jerome Hanus rededicated the renovated church.

The renovated St. Anthony church was awarded the Archdiocesan Special Needs Award on April 25, 2000 in recognition of ministries to persons with disabilities in the area of properly providing greater accessibility to all.