Kingsley St. Michael’s marks 125th anniversary
By JOANNE FOX, Globe editor
KINGSLEY – The present-day community of Kingsley is not all that different than the town of a century ago.
Those insights were penned 100 years ago by then-St. Michael pastor Father J.J. Murphy.
Bishop Nickless speculated today’s faithful were most likely similar to their predecessors as well.
“It struck me that people accepted the challenge to know, love and serve God better in this life so they could be with him in heaven,” he said. “I believe that is still the case today. The Gospel asks us to commit to follow Christ. We continue to be willing to pay the price to be God’s followers.”
Bishop Nickless presided at Mass that day with Fathers Mark Stoll and Thomas Topf concelebrating.
“There are many things to take into consideration today as we celebrate this anniversary,” Bishop Nickless pointed out. “It is Grandparents Day. Pope Francis has asked us to fast and pray for Syria. We are beginning memorials for 9/11. It is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s birthday. Priests are preaching on immigration reform this weekend and of course, it is the Lord’s Day when we meditate on the Gospel and Scripture.”
There is a commonality in all of these, the bishop noted.
“They are all about being good disciples of Christ,” he said. “They are also connected with the theme of a search for peace.”
For 125 years, St. Michael parishioners have strived toward embracing the lessons of discipleship, Bishop Nickless noted.
“Following Jesus always involves the cross,” he said.
“Are you prepared to make that sacrifice,” bishop asked. “I ask St. Michael the Archangel to intercede on your behalf and that God blesses you, so you may continue to grow in holiness.”
Following Mass was a catered dinner by Central Catering of Hawarden at the Kingsley Community Center.
An open house was held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the community center. Families had been invited to make displays of their family history for the open house, including St. Michael’s faith formation students’ art work and the high school classes’ compositions pertaining to St. Michael’s were displayed along with continuous videos of the parish’s 100th celebration.
Karen Malm’s great-grandparents Owen and Margaret Dugan and John B. and Ann Murray homesteaded near Kingsley. She made a tri-fold board depicting her family’s history from 1882 when the Dugans came and 1889, the Murrays, and showing five generations.
Judy Schroeder and her children Janet Schroeder and Jim Schroeder got a huge laugh over a book of school memories.
“These were created when the school closed and we all had to write a message to the cook,” Janet explained. “We were laughing so hard because my sister wrote, ‘You did the best you could.’”
Catholics of the thriving town of Kingsley and the vicinity were first served in 1884 by Father Gilchrist, who was a pastor at Marcus. The parish was created in 1888 with Father Michael M. Tierney as pastor. A frame church was built shortly thereafter. The present brick church was built in 1913.
A school was constructed in 1964 and opened the next year. St. Michael School closed in 1972. It is currently used for religious education and for preschool classes.
Attending the celebration – following a five-hour drive from Dubuque – were Sisters Davida Loosbrock and Virginia Heldorfer, both teachers at the school.
“I guess I opened and closed the school,” said Sister Davida, currently retired. “That’s not a great claim to fame, but I’ve really enjoyed seeing former students who I had in third and fourth grade. I don’t recognize them right away, but many of their parents are here and I do remember them.”
“You are always in love with places where you have taught,” said Sister Virginia, who presently serves on the Franciscan Charism team in Dubuque. “I was here three years, from 1969-72 and then in Remsen and Sioux City, so I’m thrilled to see many people I know.”
In 2008, Kingsley and Immaculate Conception in Moville were clustered and call themselves “West Fork Catholic Community.” The parish currently serves 162 families.
Malm reflected on the people who were influential for her in the life of the parish.
“Joann Boggs was head cook the first year of school and my mom, Dorothy Dugan, was head cook from 1966-1972,” she said. “Lunch was prepared in the basement of the church and we could smell the aroma of bread baking while attending. Former students still rave about her homemade pizza and cinnamon rolls. Then, there were extravaganza fundraisers at which Don Beelner and John Robinson did a harmonica duet. Dorothy Berens was our amazing organist for 60+ years and also directed the choir.”
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