Skip to main content
St. Patrick Catholic Church
Parish History

In the spring of 1886, Bishop John Hennessy surveyed the spiritual needs of the people in Cedar Rapids and commissioned the Rev. Thomas Richardson, then pastor of Fairfax, to care for the families residing on the west side of the Cedar River. Fr. Richardson arranged for the purchase of a small piece of ground on the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street west. A small church was erected. The west side people, many of whom had driven by horse and buggy to Fairfax for Sunday Mass, now had a parish of their own and a small frame church which was destined to become a beautiful and permanent structure. The official registries of baptisms and marriages for St. Patrick Church were started April 14, 1886. 

In 1891 construction of our present stone church, at First Avenue and Fifth Street north west, was started and was completed in 1892. Stone from the church came from Stone City and as of today, most of the church remains original stone.

Upon completion of the new stone church, the frame church from Second Avenue was moved to the site behind the new church building. The former church structure was officially opened as a school in September of 1892 with the Sisters of Charity, B.V.M., who came from Dubuque and had living quarters within the school building. Approximately 100 pupils attended at that time. Due to overcrowding, the building was remodeled and the auditorium converted into classrooms. In 1915, the Sisters moved out of the school making more room for students and moved into the convent which was later used as parish offices.

The rectory was built in 1924 to house our resident priests.

On March 13, 1929, ground was broken for a new school building that was completed in fall of the same year. The school was closed in 2001 following the consolidation of the west side Catholic schools (Holy Family Schools) and demolished in 2003 in order to make way for a new parish center.

In 1932, it was realized the church structure had areas of weakness and extensive alterations or reconstruction would be needed. The church was remodeled and rededicated on November 27, 1951. Mass was held in the school auditorium during the remodeling. The interior of the church was decorated to depict the Divine and Human Natures of Our Lord. The sanctuary portrays the Divine Nature and the nave (main body of the church) portrays the Human Nature. For more information on the art contained in the church building, please visit our Heritage page.

The new parish center was completed in the spring of 2005 and the former convent/parish center building was demolished. The new parish center houses parish offices, Metro Education offices, a wing for religious education classrooms, a library, and two parish halls.

Flood of 2008

The flood of 2008 caused extensive damage in both the church and new parish center. Through the determination and loyalty of the parishioners, a new capital campaign realized over 1.1M in donations and the building restoration began. Enhancements to the parish center include the Divine Mercy Chapel for daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. The rectory is now connected to the church and has been transformed into a multi-use building with Priest's quarters; choir room; bridal room; book and gift shop; and meeting space.  Most of the labor was performed by parishioners and was truly a labor of love.

Today, despite the devastating flood, we are a thriving, growing parish serving the community of Cedar Rapids as the hands and feet of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Roof Work

Just weeks after completing construction on a new roof in 2020, the church sustained moderate damage from the Derecho that occured on August 10, 2020. During the summer of 2021, work was done to repair the roof and steeple. On July 21, 2021, a new copper cross was placed on the steeple as the project neared completion. It was blessed by Fr. Greg Bahl, pastor at the time.

120 Fifth Street NW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52405