town of Imogene was incorporated in March of 1879 and the town was
platted in November of 1879. Captain
Anderson took out the township papers and named the town Imogene in
honor of his daughter. In
June of 1880, Father Gerald Stack organized the Imogene St. Patrick
parish as a mission of Shenandoah.
Ground for the first church was purchased on June 17, 1880.
The final papers were signed on June 21, 1880.
There were 11 families with 120 members.
A cornfield in the NE part of the new town was selected as the
site for a small frame church that cost $1,800.
The church was built on the SE corner of the property.
Wagon seats were brought into the church each Sunday for services
until the church was completed.
1882, there were 150 people in Imogene.
Father John Ryan ministered to the people in Imogene.
He purchased land one half mile south of the church for the Mount
Calvary Cemetery. In
February of 1884, he was on a sick call from Shenandoah to Imogene when
he fell into the frigid waters of the Nishnabotna River.
Despite being soaked and freezing, he completed his sick call.
Tragically he died of pneumonia two days later and was one of the
first to be buried in the cemetery.
He was followed by Fathers Schiffmacher (six months), Peter
Clark (one year) and John Cook.
Edmund Hayes came from Melrose, IA in 1888 to become our first permanent
pastor. He inherited wealth
and made more in California gold and Nevada silver mines. He was a world traveler and an eloquent speaker.
He enlarged the frame church shortly after he arrived in Imogene.
By 1892, the town of Imogene had grown to 500 people. The
original frame church was too small and was moved to the NW corner of
the property. It was used as the parish hall.
Father Hayes was able to raise $14,000 to build a larger brick
church on the SE corner of the church property.
The church was made of pressed brick with granite trim in the
Gothic style of architecture. The
focal point of the church was the life-sized crucifix behind the altar
rail. Father Hayes brought
it to the church directly from the Chicago Worlds Fair.
1901, two teenage girls walked through the fields and streets of Imogene
collecting enough money to purchase a church bell.
The bell was dedicated on May 27, 1901.
The parish rectory, directly west of the church, was built in 1904 at a
cost of $3,000. All
suitable lumber from the original frame church was used in its
Patrick Academy was located on the area now serving as the north church
parking lot. It opened on
September 9, 1907. It was
staffed by Mercy Sisters ( 1907 1918) and Dominican Sisters ( 1920
1969). The Academy closed in May of 1969 and was demolished in 1972.
The Sisters remained in Imogene one more year in order to start a
2 ½ ton Pieta statue arrived in Imogene on June 22, 1910. It was originally ordered as a tombstone.
For some unknown reason Father Hayes ended up purchasing it for
the church. It was placed
in front of the second churc
wedding was held in our second church early in the morning on February
12, 1915. Around 1PM,
schoolchildren spotted smoke coming from the church.
The janitor discovered flames in the basement.
Father Hayes raced to save the Blessed Sacrament and a few
vestments before being overcome by smoke.
Schoolchildren across the street could hear the thud of the bell
as it fell into the church basement.
It was feared that the frame rectory would also go up in flames.
People threw furniture, artwork, items Father Hayes collected on
his world travels and church records out the rectory windows.
Much of this was destroyed by water and mud. Although the rectory did not burn, the church was in ruins by
following Sunday, services were held in the nearby Hibernian Hall.
Plans were made to build a church to seat 600.
Work on the current church began on August 20, 1915.
Harry Lawrence was the architect and Ed and Jack Sprague of
Omaha, Nebraska were the contractors.
The church is made of black Hylex brick.
It measures 65x130x65 with an 80 foot bell tower.
It is built in the English Gothic style. The supporting walls in
the basement are five bricks thick.
The ceiling is made of oak panels with steel beams covered in
oak. This was a very
unusual type of construction for that time.
bell from the second church was retempered and hung in the new church.
The Pieta statue can now be seen in the SW corner of the church.
Our present church was built around it. One of the marble altar
gates ordered for our present church ( they never shut properly) is
cemented to the front. If
you look closely, you can still see part of the tombstone inscription
behind the altar gate.
church was built and furnished largely through the wealth of Father
Hayes and the generous donations of groups and individuals.
Father Hayes went to Pietrasanta, Italy to personally order the
altars he was donating in memory of his family.
The altars left Italy on November 1, 1916 and now lie at the
bottom of the Mediterranean. The
ship carrying them was torpedoed in WWI action.
The altars in our church today were his second choice.
Similar altars can be found in the Denver, Colorado Cathedral and
in St. Louis, Missouri.
altars are of polished Carrara marble.
For contrast, the statues have a dull finish.
The altars came in thousands of pieces, on several boxcars, over
many months. Italian
sculptor, Enrico Tomegetti, assembled them.
Their cost then was estimated at $60,000-$90,000. The main altar
is 29 feet high by 28 feet wide. The
side altars are 18 feet high by 8 feet wide.
altar rail is of marble and is 2 feet 4 inches high.
The gates are bronze trimmed in gold and cost $1,000.
stained glass windows came from Munich.
They are 15 feet high. Each
window shows three stories
in the creation, fall and redemption of
#1 Creation, Adam & Eve in Paradise, God admiring His
works of creation
Satan tempting Adam & Eve, Annunciation, Visitation
Nativity, Adoration by the Magi, Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Jesus talking to the Temple priests, Baptism of Jesus, temptation of
Jesus by Satan
Transfiguration, Jesus blessing the little children, Mary Magdalene
washing the feet of Jesus
Last Supper, Agony in the Garden, Peters denial of Jesus
Pilate washing his hands of Jesus, Jesus carrying His cross,
Jesus is taken down from the Cross, Resurrection, angels tell the
women of Jerusalem Jesus has risen
Risen Jesus ( as a gardener) appears to Mary Magdalene, Jesus gives
Peter the keys to His kingdom( the first St. Patrick Church is in the
Descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary & the Apostles, Assumption,
Coronation of Mary as queen of Heaven.
large St. Patrick window in the choir loft was returned three times
before Father Hayes was satisfied with the face of St. Patrick.
Workmen finished installing the windows on April 1, 1918.
windows over the sanctuary are of the Blessed Virgin (west side) and Our
Lord ( east side). The
windows by the Pieta are those of St. Bridget & St. Agnes.
The window behind the baptismal font is of St. John the Baptist.
The vestibule windows are the Greek Alpha (beginning) and Omega (
end) signs. The window over
the west confessional is a symbol of Jesus as the Lamb of God.
The window over the east confessional is the Pelican in her Piety
a symbol of Jesus sacrificing Himself on the Cross for us.
mosaic Stations of the Cross each have a Cararra marble frame.
They came from Venice. Mr.
Tomegetti spent a year assembling them much like a jigsaw puzzle.
Father Hayes was an optimist and wired the new church for
electricity before electricity came to Imogene.
The new church was built for $125,000.
The church was not dedicated until March 17, 1924 when it was
April of 1926, Father Hayes entered St. Joseph Hospital in Omaha,
Nebraska. He would remain
there until his death on February 8, 1828.
St. Patrick Church is his memorial.
Francis Doyle was his assistant and became pastor upon his death.
Shortly after becoming pastor, he acquired old cobblestones from
Broadway in Council Bluffs, Iowa and used them to build a retaining wall
around the church property. Seventy
eight years of service by only two priests came to an end with his
death on September 30, 1966.
parish was then served by a succession of priests including Fathers John
Cunningham, James Stessman, Gordon Gittens, Daniel Delehant, Albert
Wilwerding, James McIlhon and James Radde, S.J.
John Clarke came to the parish in June of 1981.
He completed 19 years of service to us with his retirement on
July 12, 2000. A ramp and
air-conditioning are some of the many improvements made during his stay.
Father James Kleffman became our pastor on July 13, 2000. At the
same time our parish became a mission of St. Mary parish in Red Oak.
Father maintained his residence in the St. Mary rectory. He
started the well-attended Thursday evening Mass, communion under both
species, the practice of blessing little children at communion and
periodically having the little children raise their voices in song to
God after communion. The Board of Education became a reality and
our parish began to actively participate in Southwest Iowa Parishes
With his encouragement, the rectory was remodeled into a family dwelling
and the parish office was moved to the sacristy and updated. A
consecrated wine purification area was installed in the sacristy.
The parish website was established. Repairs were made on the
church roof and water-damaged interior of the dome, the front doors were
restored and the church lighting was updated. The beautiful
stained glass windows began to be restored. Land to the south was
purchased for additional parking. Father was an avid photographer
and took many beautiful pictures of our church.
He retired on July 10, 2003 after 43 years of active ministry.
Twenty of those years were spent as a chaplain in the United States
Upon Father Kleffman's retirement, Father Kenneth Gross became
our new pastor.
there are about 60 residents in Imogene less than 10 are members of
our church. Around 150 families are members of our church.
They come from a twenty- mile radius and their children attend
school in six separate school districts.
We have a large number of guests attending our services each
weekend. Our church
continues to prosper thanks to the leadership of our pastor, the
Council, Altar Society and CYO. The church is maintained through the
generous support of our parishioners and by memorial gifts from former
parishioners, relatives and friends.
An Irish blessing - May the power of god uphold
you, his wisdom guide you, his hand guard you, his path lie before you,
and his shield protect you as you journey today and throughout your life