History of the Diocese Of Sioux City
The Diocese of Sioux City was established by a decree of His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII, on Jan. 15, 1902, by the separation of 24 counties in northwest Iowa from the territory of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. At the time of its establishment, the Diocese of Sioux City had a Catholic population of 50,000. There were at that time 95 priests in 84 parishes and 32 missions.
The Diocese of Sioux City belongs to the ecclesiastical Province of Iowa with Dubuque as the See City of the Archdiocese and with sister dioceses in Davenport and Des Moines. Each of these jurisdictions is a ‘particular’ or ‘local’ Church which, through its Ordinary, or bishop, who is appointed by the Holy Father, is united to the universal Catholic Church of which Pope Benedict XVI is the head.
Pope Leo XIII named as first Bishop of Sioux City the Rt. Rev. Philip J. Garrigan, a native of Ireland and a priest of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts. At the time of his appointment Bishop Garrigan was serving as Vice-rector of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Following his installation in Sioux City on June 18, 1902, Bishop Garrigan named the former St. Mary’s Church in Sioux City as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese. With permission from the Holy See he renamed this church the Cathedral of the Epiphany. Although he was almost 62 years of age when he came to Sioux City, Bishop Garrigan carried on an extensive visitation of all the parishes of the Diocese, and this despite the lack of modern transportation facilities or good roads. When his health declined toward the end of 1918 he asked the Holy Father, then Pope Benedict XV, for an Auxiliary or a Coadjutor Bishop. The Holy Father appointed as Auxiliary Bishop, Rev. Edmond Heelan, also a native of Ireland, ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, and then serving as pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Fort Dodge. Following his consecration Bishop Heelan was named pastor of the Cathedral of the Epiphany and after the death of Bishop Garrigan Oct. 14, 1919, Bishop Heelan was appointed as the second Bishop of Sioux City.
During most of Bishop Heelan’s nearly 30 years as Ordinary of the Diocese, the Church, as well as our nation experienced very difficult times. Not only was this a period of economic depression, beginning with the breakdown of the farm economy in the 1920s, and continuing through the worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s, but his years also encompassed the period of World War II.
Nevertheless, the Church of the Diocese of Sioux City under Bishop Heelan made great progress, especially in the area of Catholic education and in the orderly legislation enacted by three Diocesan Synods for the spiritual care of the Catholic people in their parishes.
In 1946 Bishop Heelan reported to Pope Pius XII that his health was failing. The Holy Father then sent Bishop Thomas L. Noa of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to be Coadjutor Bishop of Sioux City with the right of succession. One year later when the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, became vacant, Bishop Noa was transferred to that Diocese and the Holy Father appointed Bishop Joseph M. Mueller of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, to be Coadjutor with the right of succession. From the time of Bishop Heelan’s death, September 20, 1948, until Bishop Mueller’s retirement Dec. 8, 1970, Bishop Mueller carried out a program of expansion in every area of diocesan activities. His years were characterized by a building program of new schools, new churches and other parish facilities. Perhaps his greatest contribution was the consolidation of existing schools so that not only the quality of Catholic education could be improved but also the number of young people in these schools could be increased. Bishop Mueller died Aug. 9, 1981
Upon the resignation of Bishop Mueller from active duty in December of 1970, Pope Paul VI appointed as his successor Most Rev. Frank H. Greteman, who had served for more than five years as Auxiliary Bishop. Bishop Greteman was the first native priest of the Diocese of Sioux City to be named a Bishop. He died March 21, 1987.
As in the episcopate of Bishop Mueller, Bishop Greteman’s highest priority was the maintenance, quality and increased enrollment of the Catholic schools in the diocese.
On Jan. 25, 1983, Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation of Bishop Greteman as ordinary and named him apostolic administrator. On June 15, 1983, Pope John Paul II appointed Msgr. Lawrence D. Soens, pastor of St. Mary Church, Clinton, Iowa, as the fifth ordinary of the Diocese of Sioux City. His ordination and installation were held Aug. 17, 1983, at the Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City. Under his leadership many programs have been established or expanded upon. These include Ministry 2000; Priests Retirement Fund; expansion of Youth Ministry Programs; Bishop Soens Youth Ministry Awards and mandated Pastoral and Finance Commissions.
On Aug. 19, 1997, it was announced that Pope John Paul II had appointed Msgr. Daniel N. DiNardo, pastor of Sts. John and Paul Church, Franklin Park, PA, to be Coadjutor Bishop with right of succession. His ordination was held Oct. 7, 1997 at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Church, Sioux City. Bishop Soens’ retirement was effective Nov. 28, 1998 and Bishop DiNardo succeeded as Bishop of Sioux City on the same date.
On Jan. 16, 2004 it was announced that Bishop DiNardo was to become the co-adjutor bishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas. His welcome Mass in Texas was held on March 26, 2004. At that time, the Diocese of Sioux City became a vacant see. Msgr. Roger Augustine was named the diocesan administrator.
On Nov. 10, 2005, it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had appointed Msgr. R. Walker Nickless of Denver as the seventh bishop of the diocese. His episcopal ordination was held on Jan. 20, 2006 at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Church in Sioux City.
Diocesan Coat of Arms
The Church, or Diocese, is Sioux City. The word Sioux means “little snakes.” On the gold background are painted three little snakes with their tails in their mouths forming a ring – the symbols of eternity. They encircle “cross pattees.”
On the “chief” or the upper part of the shield, the “gules” or red background with three gold crowns on it, signify the Three Wise Men.
The three kings symbolize the Epiphany which is the dedication of the Cathedral Church of Sioux City.
Most Reverend Phillip Garrigan
Most Reverend Edmond Heelan
Most Reverend Thomas Noa
Most Reverend Joseph Mueller
Most Reverend Frank Greteman
Most Reverend Lawrence Soens
Most Reverend Daniel DiNardo
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless