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St. Andrew's Church Building History Early

The First St. Andrew's Church - 1894The first St. Andrew’s Church, a wooden structure, was built in 1894. It was the house of worship until the present brick structure was erected in 1949-50.


The first St. Andrew’s was a mission church built under the guidance of Father Dullard, pastor at Rock Rapids. St. Andrew’s Parish as such was established in 1897 with Father Edward O’Reilly as pastor. He built the old rectory in 1899 at a cost of $1,800.


Father Bernard O’Reilly (1919-1921) renovated the church and rectory with installation of furnaces and other extensive improvements.


On the arrival of Father Berger (1939-1973) the buildings were again renovated and automatic heating systems installed. The basement of the rectory was outfitted to serve as a parish hall; this became a much used room during the ensuing twelve years.


Father Leo J. Berger, whose term as pastor lasted thirty-four years until his retirement in 1973, will long be remembered as the guiding force behind the growth of our present parish. Under his guidance, the new church, St. Andrew’s School, the present rectory as well as the spiritual growth of the parish remains unchallenged. He was a quiet man, almost solemn, and was described by his friend the late Monsignor Neuman Flanagan, somewhat in jest as “noble”. Through his efforts the era of Catholic education flourished. He instituted a release time program with the public schools having previously obtained the volunteer services of the teaching sisters from our neighbor, Ashton. Under his pastorship, St. Andrew’s School was built and serviced by the nuns for the teaching order of St. Francis, Dubuque. Sadly, after eight years, the loss of the teaching sisters coupled with the increased costs forced the closure of the school. The C.C.D. program became paramount as the only Catholic education program in the parish. Father Berger recruited a corps of lay teachers from parishioners to instruct students. The C.C.D. program continues to use St. Andrew’s School for instructional purposes with a competent Director of Religious Education and the staff of volunteer parishioner teachers.


Father Berger was the last pastor to celebrate mass in the old structure erected in 1894 and the first to say Mass in the present church in 1949, when the basement was used during completion of the upper church.


--From St. Andrew's Church Centennial book

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