Our Story

The story of St. Anthony Catholic Parish continues to be made every day in the activity of our community. These are the details of our story so far:

1840s: Several families left Ireland. Most arrived in Massachusetts, some stayed, but others moved on to the Midwest. Traveling by boat, railroad, and wagon train, horseback and on foot, they moved westward. Some settled along the way but others continued west.

1845 to 1850: Irish immigrants arrived in Marion County to homestead northwest of Knoxville, Iowa along Whitebreast Creek in areas sheltered from cold, wintry prairie winds. Here they built their homes, planted their crops and prayed to their God. The spiritual needs of these early settlers were met through early horseback riding circuit priests. Mass was celebrated in homes as no church had been built.

1875: The Catholic Community continued to grow and by 1875, Knoxville had its first Catholic church, St. Michael’s, located on West Marion & Fremont Street. St. Michael’s was a mission of What Cheer.

Late 1800s: St. Michael’s was razed and St. Anthony Catholic Church was constructed.

1908 October: St. Anthony Catholic Church is dedicated. Fr. Courtney continued to serve as regular mission priest until a rectory was built.

1914: St. Anthony rectory is built. Fr. Martin O’Connell is appointed pastor and St. Anthony Catholic Church is changed from a mission church to a parish in its own right.

1914: St. Mary’s, Pella, becomes a mission of St. Anthony.

1935: All Saints, Pershing, becomes a mission of St. Anthony Catholic Church.

1937: Rev. Frank Barry leaves St. Anthony, Knoxville and her mission churches.

1940: Rev. James Garrity arrives at St. Anthony and makes many interior improvements to the church building.

1945: Rev. Paul Albers is assigned to St. Anthony, Knoxville, where he remains for 24 years, leaving in 1969.

1947: Building committee is formed for St. Anthony Catholic School.

1948 September 2: St. Anthony Catholic School opens.

1951: All Saints, Pershing mission church closes.

1956: St. Anthony brick school is built.

1962: Auditorium hall added to St. Anthony school.

1969 March: Rev. John Martin is assigned to St. Anthony, Knoxville, where he remains until he resigned in 1973.

1971: St. Anthony School is closed.

1973 Nov: Reverend Philip Ryan is assigned as pastor at St. Anthony, Knoxville and St. Mary, Pella.

1974: St. Mary’s, Pella, removed as a mission of St. Anthony’s and is a parish in its own right.

1975: St. Anthony Parish Council forms a building committee.

1975: School and hall are sold to First Regular Baptist Church.

1976 June 27: Fund drive date for the new church and parish center is set for June 27th.

1976: St. Anthony Catholic Church building is sold to Knoxville Church of Christ.

1977 July 10: The first Mass in new church is celebrated.

1977 July 31: Dedication of the new St. Anthony Church is celebrated.

1980 April 19: A celebration of the parish mortgage burning is held.

1988: Reverend Philip A. Cardenzana is assigned as pastor of St. Anthony, Knoxville; Sacred Heart, Melcher; and St. Mary, Pella. He remained until 1996.

1996: Reverend Thomas Parlette is assigned as pastor of St. Anthony, as well as St. Mary in Pella and Sacred Heart in Melcher. He remains until July 1999.

1999: Obtained two buildings on N. Lincoln for faith formation classrooms.

1999: Rev. Mark Spring is assigned to St. Anthony as pastor. He remained with the parish until 2006.

2002 July 14: Celebrated St. Anthony’s 125th Anniversary with Bishop William Franklin.

2011: A new garage is built behind the church hall.

2012 June 13: Celebrated our 135th Anniversary on June 13th, the feast Day of Saint Anthony of Padua, the church patron.

2019: Revitalize Team formed to look at ways to improve the parish and bring in new members.

2020 March 17: Public Mass and all parish activities are cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.