About Us

The Mission of Holy Spirit Parish

We are a community of believers
Led by the Holy Spirit
To make present the Kingdom of God
Through prayer, study and action

Our History

The three Roman Catholic churches of Holy Spirit Parish – Sacred Heart, Holy Ghost, and Holy Trinity – have common roots. They share an origin that begins in 1849, just ten years after the founding of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

During the 1840s there were a growing number of German immigrants to Dubuque due to the recruiting efforts of Bishop Matthias Loras, the first bishop of the Diocese of Dubuque. He sent many invitations to people in Germany, inviting those who wanted to begin a new life in the new world to come to Dubuque. Since the Dubuque Diocese was small and did not have many people, Catholic or otherwise, Bishop Loras recruited immigrants to a place that had the beginnings of a Catholic community.

When German immigrants began arriving in Dubuque, they came to a Catholic community that was mostly Irish, along with some French who were descendants of the first settlers in the 1790s. Due to the ethnic tensions that were present and the desire of German immigrants to have their own parish, they petitioned Bishop Loras in 1849 for the formation of a new German parish. This parish became what we now call St. Mary Parish.

During the 1870s, it became evident that St. Mary Parish was too small for the large congregation. In 1879, Bishop John Hennessy decided to form a new parish north of St. Mary, dedicating the new faith community to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1880, the Church was built and Fr. William Pape became the first pastor of Sacred Heart Parish.

From 1880 to 1896, there was even more population growth on the north end of Dubuque, and the majority of the new arrivals were German immigrants. Sacred Heart Parish became too small, and in 1896 Bishop John Hennessy divided Sacred Heart and established Holy Ghost Parish. Msgr. F.X. Fuerstein was named the first pastor of Holy Ghost.

From 1896 to 1910, there also was growth in the Eagle Point area of Dubuque, so in 1910 Fr. Arnold Boeding, pastor of Sacred Heart, petitioned Archbishop John J. Keane to divide Sacred Heart yet again and establish a new parish on the Point. Archbishop Keane agreed and in 1910, Holy Trinity Parish was formed and Fr. Joseph Dupont, the associate pastor of Sacred Heart, became the first pastor of Holy Trinity. Soon after the establishment of Holy Trinity, the Franciscan Fathers of the Sacred Heart Province took charge of the parish in 1911, and Fr. Phillip Marke, O.F.M., became the second pastor of Holy Trinity.

That was the beginning of the parishes of Sacred Heart, Holy Ghost, and Holy Trinity, and as a result of the continuing growth in the population of the area, they became vibrant communities that eventually built schools and convents. The three parishes had parish festivities, held fundraisers for the schools, and built parish centers. During the 150 years of Catholic presence in the North End and the Point, many babies were baptized, many children received their first Holy Communion, many young people were confirmed, many couples were married, some young men became priests, other men and women became religious brothers and sisters, and many faithful parishioners moved from this life to eternal life.

This brings us to the events surrounding the founding of Holy Spirit Pastorate. In the wake of a declining Catholic population and a shortage of priests, the leaders of the three parishes began to discuss the possibility of returning to their roots. The origin of all three parishes was their common faith in Christ and his Church and their initial unity in 1849 when St. Mary Parish was founded.

Beginning in the spring of 2004, there were informal discussions among the leadership of the three parishes about beginning to work more closely together. A cluster committee was formed to help move the process along. In the spring of 2007, the three parishes decided to enter into a formal cluster agreement. Holy Spirit Pastorate came into existence in July of 2007, with Father Tom Zinkula assigned as pastor.

The three parishes have retained their distinctive identities, buildings and finances, but joining together enabled them to maximize resources and assemble a qualified staff to assist the pastor in his role as shepherd of Holy Spirit Pastorate.

On July 1, 2011, Holy Spirit Pastorate was officially dissolved and the three parishes merged into one new parish, Holy Spirit Parish, with Father Dwayne Thoman assigned as pastor.

Today, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the parish continues to be faithful to the history and values it inherited and seeks the Spirit’s guidance as it moves forward. May we always keep in mind the roots of our unity, our common faith in Jesus, and our hope about what the future will bring.