This community, like many others of one hundred years ago, had few Catholics. The railroad crew, who were mainly Irishmen, must have been Waukee’s first Catholics. Before the coming of the railroad, it is reported in other histories that the Catholic people would take their wagons or ride the stage into Des Moines once a year to make their Easter Duty. The first Catholic Church was erected in Waukee about 1880. A frame building seating about fifty people, it was built under the guidance of Father Burke, who then lived in Dallas Center. In 1912, Bishop Davis of Davenport sent Father Francis Larkin to be the first resident pastor in Waukee. Father Larkin built the rectory on a lot north of the church. In 1917, Father Daniel Sheehy was appointed pastor of St. Boniface, which included mission churches at Adel and Dallas Center. In 1918, the present church, with a seating capacity of over 200, was built at a cost of $18,000.00. Among the beautiful stained glass windows is a very ornate work of art representing “Our Savior on Calvary,” which dominates the north wall over the main alter. The opening of a coal mine near Waukee two years later in 1920 brought an additional twenty families of Italian descent into the parish. Father William Coughlin served as pastor from 1921 to 1936. He was succeeded by Father M.D. O’Neil. Father Declan Dower served as pastor for two years and Father William J. Devine for one year. Father John Aldera was pastor from 1945 to 1953. In 1947, during his pastorate, the parish hall was constructed on a lot west of the church. Father Maurice Schulte served as pastor from 1953 until 1964. In 1957 the rectory was remodeled and a garage and rear room were added. In 1964 Father John Clarke was appointed pastor. The parish hall was completed renovated in 1973 and enlarged to fulfill the needs of the parish. In the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, the church remodeled in 1972. In 1976, the St. Boniface Ladies’ Guild was organized by several ladies of the parish. This organization is vital in bringing together women of the parish for personal spiritual growth and social activities for the parish. Father Thomas Pfeffer succeeded Father Clarke in August, 1979. During his time as pastor, programs and improvements were undertaken to involve and serve the increasing number of parishioners. In September of 1979, the rectory was redecorated. During the following year, a Reconciliation Room was added in the church in a space beside the main alter area. The outside sign on the church grounds was donated in memory of Janet Eldredge Edgington. To help with the growing needs of St. Boniface and St. John’s, Sr. Barbara Marshall, a Sister of Christian Community, was hired as Pastoral Minister in August 1981. As the parishes grew, St. Boniface hired its own Pastoral Minister, Sr. Bernadette Engelhaupt of the School Sisters of St. Francis in August 1983. Father Anthony N. Aiello was appointed pastor in July 1985. Since he arrived, a new heating/air conditioning system was installed in the church, in the Fall of 1986. In the Winter of 1987 complete restoration of the original stained glass windows was begun, with completion in March, 1988. St. Boniface Parish began with just a handful of devout people in 1880 and has grown to over 240 households today.
St. Boniface wood-frame church built in 1880; rectory in 1912
St. John’s Catholic CHurch in Adel
Stain glass window from original church, now part of present church
St. Boniface receipts and Expenditures
Ordination of St. Boniface parishioner; ordination announcement