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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Holy Trinity Church. Photo courtesy: Archdiocese of Dubuque and Telegraph Herald

HOLY TRINITY CATHOLIC CHURCH. Holy Trinity Catholic Church, known as the "Rock Church," was begun as a small stone church on the northeast corner of 8th and White. Constructed in response to the overcrowding of ST. RAPHAEL'S CATHEDRAL and its inability to accommodate the large number of new German speaking families, Holy Trinity was Dubuque's first German Catholic church and also Dubuque's second Catholic church. The site was donated by Senas Huegel who came to Dubuque around 1835 and purchased large amounts of land. (1)

Construction of the church began with the cornerstone being laid in May 1851. Festivities included music by the German band and a sermon by Father Samuel MAZZUCHELLI. The building was designed by H. V. Guildea, a close friend of Bishop Mathias LORAS. When finished the facade of the church faced west. (2)

A parochial school in the basement was taught by laymen speaking German. They were gradually replaced by SISTERS OF CHARITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (BVM). One unique event took place on Christmas Eve, 1856. A midnight service at the Catholic church was disrupted by two shotgun blasts going through the church windows. No one was ever arrested. (3) On May 28, 1861 (May Feast) a reenactment of public processions on feast days which were common in Europe was held. Between 900 and 1,300 children from the Sunday schools of St. Raphael's, St. Patrick's, and Holy Trinity marched downtown after meeting at St. Raphael's. The GERMANIA BAND led the procession along Bluff Street and then up Lorimier (University) Avenue to the home of General George Wallace JONES. (4)

The church was used for worship until February 1867 when ST. MARY'S CATHOLIC CHURCH was completed. The former church was then used as a parochial school until again it proved too small. The building was then renovated for use as ST. MARY'S ORPHAN HOME until it was sold to J. P. Schroeder. (5)

On September 6, 1894 a guard at FARLEY AND LOETSCHER MANUFACTURING COMPANY noticed smoke coming from a building being used to store hay and feed. The fact that a steady rain fell prevented the blaze from spreading to other buildings in the area. The building owned by J. P. Schroeder was destroyed at a cost estimated at $3,000 with the contents valued at $4,000. (6)

Continued rapid growth in SACRED HEART CHURCH led Msgr. Arnold Boeding to ask Archbishop John J. KEANE to create Holy Trinity parish to serve the EAGLE POINT area. The cornerstone of the church was laid on May 22, 1910, and the completed church including classrooms was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day of the same year at Eighth and White STREETS. The parish had as its first pastor Rev. Joseph Dupont. (7)

The Franciscan Fathers of the Sacred Heart Province from St. Louis, assigned to the parish at the direction of Archbishop Keane, erected their friary adjoining the sanctuary. The new pastor, Rev. Philip Marke, directed the construction of the friary, a sanctuary, and the excavation of the church basement for a parish hall.

Holy Trinity Church

Due to the increasing enrollment of the school, a new building with a gymnasium and bowling alley was constructed and dedicated on Thanksgiving Day 1929. Rev. Terrance Thomas witnessed the removal of the western wall of the church to enlarge the worship area and the installation of new altars. (8) A two-story convent addition was dedicated by Archbishop Leo BINZ in February 1955 and property across the street was purchased in 1956 for a school playground. In that year, the school enrollment peaked at 455.

Laity participation in pastoral ministry increased in the 1960s and 1970s. A parish council was formed in 1973, the Saturday vigil Mass was introduced, and the fall festival was begun.

The last member of the Frairs Minor, Rev. Sylvano Pera, to serve as pastor left in 1986. In the following year the Conventional Franciscans provided a pastor and then the responsibility was filled by the Archdiocese. Rev. Daniel Krapfl was appointed in 1987, the year in which Holy Trinity and SACRED HEART CHURCH consolidated their schools renamed St. Francis using facilities at Sacred Heart. The renovated school building at Holy Trinity became the Trinity Square Day Care Center in 1989. It remained in operation for twenty years before combining with the program at HOLY GHOST CATHOLIC CHURCH. (9)

By 2004 the decreased enrollment at St. Francis School led to a merger with the schools at Holy Ghost. Holy Trinity, Holy Ghost, and Sacred Heart which merged their parishes in July 2007 to become Holy Spirit Pastorate. This was renamed Holy Spirit Parish in July 2011. The centennial of Holy Trinity parish was celebrated with a Mass and open house in May, 2010. (10)

The 1987 through 1993 Dubuque City Directory listed 1700 Lincoln.



1. Meyer, Jeff, "Looking Back at Holy Trinity Catholic Church," Telegraph Herald, December 20, 2014, p. 23

2. Ibid.

3. "The Old Stone Church," Dubuque Daily Herald, September 8, 1894, p. 4

4. Meyer

5. Ibid.

6. "Luck Was With Us as Usual," Dubuque Daily Herald, September 7, 1894, p. 4

7. Riehl, Christian (Director of Publication), Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa 1837-2012, France, Éditions du Signe, 2011, p. 164

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.