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City of Cascade

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St. Matthias Church

St Mary Parish, Cascade was established in 1857, to care for the German speaking Catholics who had been members of St Martin Parish, Cascade, along with their Irish neighbors. Construction began on a stone church, where Mass was offered for the first time on Christmas 1859.

St Martin Parish began in 1853. Ironically, St Mary and St Martin were established after a fire destroyed the first Catholic Church in Cascade, St Matthias. This original St Matthias Church began in 1848, and burned after only four years of existence. St Mary and
St Martin existed as separate parishes only a few blocks away.

Language and ancestry was a divisive factor in the Cascade community for many decades. It delayed the merging of the schools years after the needs of the German speaking population increased. The concern appeared more in the pastors’ minds than the people’s.

St Mary Parish maintained a school from its very beginning. The Catholic Almanac of 1857 mentions two schools in Cascade, one German and one Irish. At first there were lay teachers, then Sisters of Charity (BVM) who also cared for the school at St Martin. After more lay teachers, the Franciscan Sisters came from Dubuque in 1883 and continued for over a century. Aquin High School opened in 1961 and closed in June 1976.

St Mary Parish was known for its many religious vocations. Over 55 women entered religious communities, and at least 17 men have been ordained priest. St Martin Parish had over 40 young women of the parish enter religious life, over half of them are Sisters of Charity (BVM). At least fourteen men of the parish have been ordained priests. One of them, Loras T Lane, was an auxiliary of the Archdiocese and later the Bishop of Rockford, Illinois.

In July of 1991, St Mary and St Martin were linked together with one pastor. They remained linked until July 1995, when after much discussion, the parish council and the parishioners voted to merge. At this time it was decided that the new parish would go back to the original roots of the Catholic Church in Cascade, and again become St Matthias Parish.

St Matthias Parish clustered with Sacred Heart, Fillmore, St Patrick, Garryowen, and St Peter, Temple Hill to form the St Thomas Aquinas Pastorate and is part of the Aquin School System.

Many renovations have taken place over the years to maintain and enhance the beauty of this Church building. Most recently, a major renovation, inside and out, was completed in late fall 2013. A rededication Mass was held in December of that same year. St Matthias Parish is located at 410 3rd Ave NW, Cascade, Iowa. 

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