In the middle 1840s several families left Ireland. Most arrived in Massachusetts, some stayed, but others moved on. Traveling by boat, railroad, and wagon train, horseback and on foot, they moved westward. Several settled along the way but others continued west.
Between 1845 and 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.
The Catholic Community continued to grow and by 1875 Knoxville had its first church, St. Michael's, located on West Marion & Fremont Street. St. Michael's was a mission of What Cheer.
By the late 1800s, St. Michael's was razed and St. Anthony Catholic Church was constructed and dedicated in October of 1908. Fr. Courtney continued to serve as regular mission priest until a rectory was built in 1914. At this time, Fr. Martin O’Connell was appointed pastor thus St. Anthony Catholic Church changed from a mission church to a parish in its own right.
The days and years passed and other significant dates became part of the history of our parish.
1914-St. Mary's Pella, becomes a mission of St. Anthony Catholic Church 1935-All Saints, Pershing, becomes a mission of St. Anthony Catholic Church 1947-Building committee formed for Catholic school 1948-Catholic School opens on September 2nd 1951-Closing of All Saints, Pershing 1956-St. Anthony brick school built 1962-Auditorium-hall added to school 1971-St. Anthony School is closed 1974-St. Mary's, Pella, removed as a mission 1975-Parish Council forms a building committee 1975-School and hall sold to First Regular Baptist Church 1976-Fund drive date for new church & parish center is June 27th 1976-St. Anthony Catholic Church building sold to Knoxville Church of Christ 1977-First Mass in new church is July 10th 1977-Dedication of new church is July 31st 1980-Celebration of parish mortgage burning is April 19th 1999-Obtained two buildings on N. Lincoln for faith formation classrooms 2002-Celebrate our 125th Anniversary with Bishop William Franklin on July 14th 2011-Built a new garage behind church 2012-Celebrated our 135th Anniversary on June 13th (St. Anthony Feast Day)
St. Anthony Catholic Church 1202 Woodland | Knoxville, IA 50138 (641) 828-7050