Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City (Latin: Dioecesis Siopolitanensis) is the Roman Catholic diocese for the northwestern quarter of the US state of Iowa. The diocese comprises 24 counties in northwestern Iowa, and it covers an area of 14,518 square miles (37,600 km2). The See city for the diocese is Sioux City. It is a suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The cathedral parish for this diocese is the Epiphany. R. Walker Nickless was ordained as bishop of Sioux City on 20 January 2006.

Diocese of Sioux City

Dioecesis Siopolitanensis
Cathedral of the Epiphany
Coat of arms
CountryUnited States
Territory24 Counties in the Northwest quadrant of Iowa
Ecclesiastical provinceDubuque
MetropolitanMichael Owen Jackels
Coordinates42°30′02″N 96°24′23″W
Area14,518 sq mi (37,600 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2014)
100,300 (19.9%)
DenominationCatholic Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedJanuary 15, 1902 (117 years ago)
CathedralCathedral of the Epiphany
Patron saintOur Lady of Guadalupe
Current leadership
BishopR. Walker Nickless
Bishops emeritusLawrence Donald Soens


On 24 July, 1900, Pope Leo XIII issued a papal bull appointing John J. Keane, former Bishop of Richmond and the first rector of the Catholic University of the Catholic University of America, as Archbishop of Dubuque. This same document provided for the creation of a new diocese by the separation of twenty-four counties in northwestern Iowa from the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The Catholic population of the diocese was about 50,000 people who spoke English and/or German.[1]

The first bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City was Irish-born Philip Joseph Garrigan. Garrigan grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts and was ordained 11 June, 1870 the Provincial Seminary of New York at Troy. After a short term as curate of St. John's Church, Worcester, Massachusetts, he was appointed director of the Troy seminary for three years, and later pastor of St. Bernard's Church, Fitchburg, Massachusetts. In the fall of 1888 he was appointed the first vice-rector of the Catholic University at Washington, D. C., during the tenure of Keane as rector. Garrigan held the position of vice-rector for fourteen years. He was serving as vice-rector when he was named Bishop of Sioux City on 21 March, 1902, and consecrated at the see of his home diocese, Springfield, Massachusetts, on 25 May of the same year, by the Right Rev. T.D. Beaven, and on 18 June took possession of his see.[1]

Bishop Garrigan designated the not yet completed St. Mary’s Church, in the center of the city, as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese. With permission from the Holy See he renamed the church the Cathedral of the Epiphany. Bishop Garrigan carried on an extensive visitation of all the parishes of the diocese. Garrigan died 14 October 1919, and his auxiliary bishop, Edmond Heelan, was appointed his successor.[2]

Heelan was born in County Limerick, Ireland[3] and ordained to the priesthood on June 24, 1890. He was rector (1893–1897) of St. Raphael's Cathedral in Dubuque from 1893 to 1897. He was pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa when named Auxiliary Bishop of Sioux City. He received his episcopal consecration on April 8, 1919 from Archbishop James Keane. As an auxiliary, he served as rector of the Cathedral of the Epiphany. Heelan was named the second Bishop of Sioux City on March 8, 1920. During his nearly thirty-year tenure, he guided the diocese through the Great Depression and World War II, and greatly expanded Catholic education. He died 20 September 1948 at age 80.

Heelan was succeeded by his coadjutor, Joseph Maximilian Mueller. Born in St. Louis, Missouri,[3] Mueller studied at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio and was ordained on June 14, 1919. He then served as rector of St. Peter's Cathedral in Belleville, Illinois. He was named a Domestic Prelate in 1939. On August 20, 1947, Mueller was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa. Upon the death of Bishop Edmond Heelan, Mueller became succeeded the third Bishop of Sioux City. During his 22-year-long tenure, he presided over a period of great expansion in the diocese. He built several new schools, churches, and other parish facilities. He also attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965. After reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, Mueller retired as Bishop.

Upon the resignation of Bishop Mueller, Pope Paul VI appointed native Iowan, auxiliary bishop Frank Henry Greteman, the fourth Bishop of Sioux City. Greteman held a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical North American College in Rome, and a Licentiate of Canon Law from the Catholic University of America. He was named a Domestic Prelate in 1953, and vicar general of the Sioux City Diocese in 1965.[3] On April 14, 1965, Greteman was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Sioux City. The primary focus of his episcopate was Catholic education. Upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, Greteman submitted his letter of resignation to Pope John Paul II in December 1982. The Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Greteman's resignation as ordinary and named him apostolic administrator.

On June 15, 1983, John Paul 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. During his period of tenure, a number of programs were established or expanded.[2] In 1997 Soens requested a coadjutor bishop be named and on August 19, 1997, Pope John Paul II named Msgr. Daniel DiNardo from the Diocese of Piitsburgh. Soens' resignation as Bishop of Sioux City was accepted by the Holy See on November 28, 1998, and he was succeeded by his coadjutor, Bishop Daniel DiNardo.

Bishop DiNardo succeeded as Bishop of Sioux City on Nov. 28, 1998. In 2004 Bishop DiNardo left to become the coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas. Msgr. Roger Augustine was named the administrator of the Diocese of Sioux City.[2]

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. On Nov. 23, 2015, Bishop R. Walker Nickless granted permission to the Ministry Institute of Christ the Servant to identify as a Catholic institute.[4] The Ministry Institute is affiliated with Briar Cliff University.

In 2016, the Diocese announced plans to consolidate forty-one parishes due a shortage of priests and decreased attendance at Mass. Parishes being consolidated would become oratories for prayer services, funerals, and weddings but weekly Masses would not be held. Most of the parishes affected are in rural areas. With more priests reaching retirement age, the proposal is intended in part to reduce the workload of those left, that they remain healthy and not overworked.[5]

The Diocese of Sioux City is a suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

On October 31, 2018, it became known that the Diocese of Sioux City had for decades concealed sexual abuse committed by one of its priests, the Rev. Jerome Coyle. Coyle abused at least 50 boys during his time in the priesthood, and reported his history of abuse to the diocese's bishop in 1986, who placed him on 6-month medical leave but did not report the admission to police or defrock him. Coyle was eventually forbidden to publicly function as a priest, although he remained formally a member of the priesthood and continued to collect financial assistance from the diocese while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The diocese did not notify anyone of his admission nor of allegations against him, and it did not take any further action against him.[6]


Bishops of Sioux City

  1. Philip Joseph Garrigan (1902–1919)
  2. Edmond Heelan (1920–1948)
  3. Joseph Maximilian Mueller (1948–1970)
  4. Frank Henry Greteman (1970–1983)
  5. Lawrence Donald Soens (1983–1998)
  6. Daniel N. DiNardo (1998–2004), appointed Coadjutor Bishop and later Coadjutor Archbishop and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston (elevated to Cardinal in 2007)
  7. R. Walker Nickless (2005–present)

Coadjutor bishops

Auxiliary bishops

  • Edmond Heelan (1918–1920), appointed Bishop of Sioux City
  • Frank Henry Greteman (1965–1970), appointed Bishop of Sioux City

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops

High schools

School Location Mascot
Bishop Garrigan High School Algona Golden Bears
Bishop Heelan Catholic High School Sioux City Crusaders
Gehlen Catholic High School Le Mars Jays
Kuemper Catholic High School Carroll Knights
St. Edmond High School Fort Dodge Gaels
St. Mary's High School Remsen Hawks
St. Mary's High School Storm Lake Panthers

Closed schools

School Location Mascot Fate
Corpus Christi Fort Dodge Celts Consolidated with Sacred Heart High School, Fort Dodge to form St. Edmond's, Fort Dodge in 1955
Holy Family Lidderdale Unknown Absorbed by Kuemper Catholic, Carroll in 1955
Holy Name Marcus Wildcats Closed in 1964
Immaculate Conception Cherokee Irish Closed in 1969
Messenger Ryan Boone Raiders Closed in 1970, succeeded Sacred Heart, Boone
Our Lady of Good Counsel Fonda Irish Closed in 1975
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Mount Carmel Cougars Absorbed by Kuemper Catholic, Carroll in 1958
Presentation Academy Whittemore Crusaders Consolidated with St. Cecilia, Algona to form Bishop Garrigan, Algona in 1959
Sacred Heart Boone Spartans Closed in 1967, succeeded by Messenger Ryan, Boone
Sacred Heart Pocahontas Eagles Closed in 1970
Sacred Heart Early Sabers Absorbed by St. Mary's, Storm Lake in 1967
Sacred Heart Fort Dodge Irish Consolidated with Corpus Christi Catholic, Fort Dodge to form St. Edmond's, Fort Dodge in 1955
Sacred Heart Templeton Aces Absorbed by Kuemper Catholic, Carroll in 1959
Spalding Catholic Granville Spartans Absorbed by Gehlen Catholic, Le Mars in 2013
St. Ann's Vail Eagles Absorbed by Kuemper Catholic, Carroll in 1960
St. Bernard's Breda Bobcats Absorbed by Kuemper Catholic, Carroll in 1979
St. Cecilia's Algona Blue Knights Consolidated with St. Cecilia, Algona to form Bishop Garrigan, Algona in 1959
St. Columbkille's Varina Black Hawks Closed in 1961
St. John's Arcadia Bears Absorbed by Kuemper Catholic, Carroll in 1995
St. John's Bancroft Johnnies Absorbed by Bishop Garrigan, Algona in 1989
St. Joseph's Ashton Ramblers Closed in 1967
St. Joseph's Bode Trojans Absorbed by Bishop Garrigan, Algona in 1970
St. Joseph's Granville Cardinals Consolidated with St. Mary's, Alton to form Spalding Catholic, Granville in 1962
St. Joseph's Le Mars Joe Hawks Merged with St. James School, Le Mars (no high school) to form Gehlen Catholic, Le Mars in 1952
St. Joseph's Salix Wildcats Absorbed by Bishop Heelan, Sioux City in 1960
St. Mary's Alton Blue Jax Consolidated with St. Joseph's, Granville to form Spalding Catholic, Granville in 1962
St. Mary's Emmetsburg Irish Closed in 1968
St. Mary's Larchwood Traveliers Closed in 1968
St. Matthew's Clare Irish Absorbed by St. Edmond's, Fort Dodge in 1961
St. Patrick's Danbury Bluejays Closed in 1968
Trinity Catholic Sioux City Crusaders Became Bishop Heelan, Sioux City in 1949


  1. Garrigan, Philip. "Sioux City". The Catholic Encyclopedia] Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. retrieved 18 November 2017.
  2. "History", Diocese Of Sioux City
  3. Curtis, Georgina Pell. The American Catholic Who's Who, vol. VII, 1947, Walter Romig, Grosse Pointe, Michigan
  4. Letter of Bishop Nickless to Brandon Harvey, November 23, 2015
  5. Gstalter, Morgan. "Catholic Diocese of Sioux City to Close 41 Parishes", The Des Moines Register, February 28, 2016.
  6. Foley, Ryan J. (October 31, 2018). "Catholic diocese in Iowa covered up priest's abuse of 50 boys". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved October 31, 2018.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Sioux City". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.