Whittemore - St. Michael
WHITTEMORE - The first Mass in what is now Whittemore was celebrated on Sept. 19, 1880, in the Whittemore Public School. St. Michael's Parish did not yet exist, so the Mass was celebrated by Father Dennis McCaffrey, the pastor of St. Cecelia Parish in Algona.
The people of the Whittemore area continued to be served by the pastor in Algona until 1887 when a committee was appointed to raise funds to build a new church in Whittemore. At that time, Father Michael Nichols was the pastor in Algona and he took care of the needs of Whittemore's Catholics. The first church was completed in the spring of 1889, and Catholics in the Whittemore community continued to be served by the pastor of St. Cecelia's.
As Whittemore continued to grow and the number of Catholics grew with it, the need for a resident pastor became apparent. In 1897, Father Tierney was appointed the first resident priest of St. Michael's Parish. Father Tierney spoke both English and German, which was helpful because at that time Whittemore was equally divided between English and German speaking people.
In 1898, when Father Edmund Dullard was appointed as pastor to St. Michael's, there were 95 families in the parish. By that time the church had been enlarged once and the pastor lived in a rented home. The parish was incorporated in 1912 and Holy Michael the Archangel was designated the patron saint of the parish.
The number of parishioners and the physical plant of the parish continued to grow while Father Dullard was pastor. A parish rectory was constructed in 1900 at a cost of $2,500 and a parochial school was also built. The first classes began in October 1903. The Presentation Sisters of Dubuque taught at the school and were a presence in Whittemore until 1999. Only eight grades were taught at first, but in 1917 ninth grade was added and an additional grade was added each of the next three years.
As the parish continued to grow, plans were made for a new parish church, but before construction of the church began, the school was destroyed by fire in 1920. This fire left the sisters homeless because they had occupied a portion of the school, so the parish purchased a house in Whittemore for the pastor's residence and the old rectory became the sisters' convent.
After the school burned down, the plans to erect a new church were put on hold and attention was turned to constructing a new school. It was completed in 1921 and was named Presentation Academy in honor of the Presentation Sisters.
Father William Viet (1930-1957) came and construction of the new church finally began in 1951. The first Mass in the new church was offered on Easter Sunday 1952. On Oct. 20, 1952 the new church was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Joseph M. Mueller.
Presentation Academy was remodeled in 1960 and turned into St. Michael's Grade School after the construction of Bishop Garrigan High School. In 1990 a decision was made to close St. Michael's Grade School due to declining enrollment.
A parish center was built in 1995 at a total cost of $319,705.67. The parish center was dedicated on Jan. 14, 1996, by Bishop Lawrence Soens.
Father Edward Murray (1992-1999) and Father Victor F. Remaeker (1999-present) served their pastorate at St. Michael's Parish.
At least 13 priests and 21 sisters can trace their roots to St. Michael's Parish.
St. Michael's Parish currently consists of 225 registered households with 562 members.