Hawarden - St. Mary
HAWARDEN - The beginning of the Catholic community in Hawarden goes back to 1872 when the first Catholic families in Calliope - the original town started in 1860 - were served by Father J. Phalen who served all of western Sioux County. The first Mass known to be celebrated in the city of Hawarden, which grew up half a mile south of Calliope on the Big Sioux River, in a furniture store in 1882.
In 1885, Father Phalen was appointed resident pastor and plans began for a permanent church building. This frame church was located on property purchased in the town of Hawarden near Calliope and erected to face west to the open country facing the distant Dakota Hills to "serve as a bond of union between two feuding towns." The first church was dedicated on May 21, 1887, at St. John's Church.
In 1899, under the direction of Father M. J. Quirk, St. Anthony's School, staffed by the Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton, was opened. It is not documented why both the church and the parish school patron names were changed to St. Mary's in 1903 during the pastorate of Father Ed Masterson.
On March 30, 1912, a new two-story brick school was dedicated and high school classes were added. The school was closed in 1969, when teaching sisters could no longer staff the school.
St. Mary's today takes up more than two city blocks of property for buildings, parking and landscaping. The present church was built in 1962 during the pastorate of Father Leander Friedman at a cost of $150,000. His successor, Father William L. Carel, directed the building of a new rectory costing $70,000 and the bell tower costing $23,000. The parish center and religious education classrooms were built in 1991 at a cost of almost $500,000.
In all, 17 pastors and several interim priests have served the Catholics of St. Mary's Church. One son of the parish, Father Alexander Lynott, has been ordained to the diocesan priesthood in 1918. Also, William McCarthy is attending St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana in preparation for ordination in a few years.
Eight young women have entered religious communities: Sisters Anna Schiefen, Cecilia McBride, Gertrude McBride, Rose McKeever, Gertrude McKeever, Loretta Burns, Jeanne Nolan and Margaret Nolan.
On May 24, 1980, Joseph Maher was ordained permanent deacon by Bishop Frank H. Greteman. A year later, "Deacon Joe" accepted a position in the diocese as general manager and editor of The Globe. He served at the paper until his loss to a battle with cancer last October.
The last three pastors of St. Mary's are Msgr. Michael Sernett (1994-1996), Father Kevin Richter (1996-1998) and Father LeRoy L. Seuntjens (1998-present). Father Seuntjens leads the 186 Anglo families in the parish plus the considerable Latino population that has arrived in recent years.
A Spanish Mass is celebrated each Sunday at noon, as well as on special occasions such as weddings, cultural fiesta and other events. About 25 percent of the grade school religious education classes are Latino children. St. Mary's Parish has welcomed and been hospitable to this minority and is being enriched by their faith and strong family values.