St Patrick Church
Located at 28914 46th Ave, Bernard, Iowa, St Patrick Parish is a part of the St Thomas Aquinas Pastorate along with St Matthias, Cascade; Sacred Heart, Fillmore; and St Peter, Temple Hill and is part of the Aquin School System.
The first Irish settlers ended up in Dubuque, Jones, and Jackson counties to start a new life in the late 1830s to early 1840s. Important in our history is Rev Samuel Mazzuchelli, OP, who was ordained a priest in 1830. His first assignment as pastor covered the area of upper Michigan to the Mississippi River, including the Wisconsin Territory. He offered Mass, administered the sacraments, and converted many. Bishop Loras came to Dubuque in 1839. Both he and Father Mazzuchelli continued working together, converting many and serving the Wisconsin, Illinois, and Dubuque areas. In 1843, under a doctor’s order, Father Mazzuchelli returned to Italy to take a year off to recover from illness and exhaustion. After the time away, he returned to the area of Garryowen, as he considered it his duty to come and do his utmost to build a church which was dedicated to St Patrick. Bishop Loras gave $600 for materials to build the first church. It was known by St Patrick, Makoqueti – various spellings – and change to Garry Owen around 1853, with it becoming Garryowen in 1865. Either Bishop Loras or Rev Joseph Cretin came two Sundays a month to offer Mass and baptize. We are currently repeating that history with our two Saturday nights a month Mass.
Our current stone church was constructed in 1854 with the foundation stone laid October 1853 and the cornerstone in March 1854. The stone was quarried and hauled by oxen to the site as was the lime used. Stone cutters and stone masons were hired and helped by parishioners. Early histories tell how money ran out before the roof was finished, so 18 farmers walked to Dubuque to borrow about $1,000 to finish the roof. They put up their farms and holdings as collateral, and the next day they returned to work.
All the early pioneers, religious, and parishioners didn’t just walk the path, they made their own path. We are beneficiaries of their dedication, hard work, sacrifices, wise decisions, financial support, and strong faith.