Buffalo Center, Iowa
Following the purchase of 6 lots of ground on April 26, 1899, in the name of John Hennessy, Archbishop of Dubuque, St. Patrick Parish was formally organized and became a mission of St. James Parish, Forest City. On the evening of April 27, Fr. Lynch met with the Catholic men of the area and a committee was appointed to conduct local church affairs and solicit funds.
A small church was built on the property purchased (on North Main St.) and was opened in July of that year. The parish was served every 3rd weekend by the Forest City priests who rotated between Forest City and Lake Mills. Traveling by train, they arrived on Saturday afternoon and returned to Forest City on Sunday afternoon.
Fr. Woerdehoff was appointed as St. Patrick’s first resident pastor in 1912 and was also assigned to Sacred Heart in Woden. In 1913, more land was obtained and a rectory was built. In 1916, the church was moved to its present site on 5th Ave. NW, at which time it was enlarged by adding the transept and sacristy.
The parish has been served by 21 priests throughout the years. Two pastors died while here, Fr. Demuth in 1934, is buried at Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, and Fr. Flood, who served here for 14 years and is buried in our local cemetery.
Prior to the establishment of the Parish Council, the pastors were assisted by 2 Trustees. In 1981, the Parish Council was established as the decision-making body of the parish.
On October 22, 1991, the Sacred Heart Parish in Woden went back to being a mission of St. Patrick Parish in Britt, as it had been originally. St. Patrick in Buffalo Center once more became a mission of St. James of Forest City, thus reuniting the three parishes of Winnebago County. Pastor Riley was transferred to residency at Forest City in charge of the three parishes.
On November 9, 1991, the rectory household items were sold at auction. The rectory is now utilized as a CCD center and parish office.
In 1996, the parish hired its first Pastoral Associate, Sr. Dolores Moes, whose services we share with Forest City and Lake Mills. Her duties include pastoral visits to the sick and homebound, RCIA program, baptismal preparation classes, helping with the CCD programs, and assisting the pastor in a variety of ways.
In the fall of 2001, with the Archdiocese of Dubuque facing a shortage of priests, our parish was told that we might be closed as part of a reorganization of the Mason City Deanery. Following an emotional parish meeting, it was decided that we would work together to try to find a better solution than closure or becoming an oratory. Many parishioners and their children took the time to write letters to the officials in Dubuque, explaining just what the parish meant to them personally and what effect closure would have on the Catholic population of this area. Following the letter writing and two meetings with officials from Dubuque, it was announced that our parish would remain open, for the time being.
St. Patrick then became part of a six-parish grouping consisting of the parishes in Winnebago and Hancock counties. These six parishes would be served by two priests and other staff persons in each parish.
In July of 2002, we began our new coalition with five other parishes. Masses were scheduled approximately twice a month in Buffalo Center with, Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest scheduled on the other weekends. Deacon Dennis Popowski of Garner and Jody Smith (Faith Formation Director/RCIA Coordinator/Pastoral assistant) share responsibilities for conducting the SCAP’s, while Fr. Schueller and Fr. Blake alternate as the celebrant at our Masses. While we miss the days when we had a priest living in our community, we are very grateful to still be able to worship in our own parish and maintain our Catholic identity within the community.
We continue to operate a Faith Formation program for 45-50 students from the surrounding area and have an active Altar Society which serves many functions within the parish and local community. We look forward to, hopefully, many more years as a faith community.
Priests Who Have Served At St. Patrick Church
Father Patrick Lynch
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