Waukee and Shuler Mining Camp Churches

By Dena Forret

Around 1880, the first Catholic Church, a wood frame building that seated fifty people, was erected in Waukee under the guidance of Father Burke who lived in Dallas Center.  The parish operated as a mission church from Dallas Center and Granger until 1912 when Father Francis Larkin was sent to be the first resident pastor.  The priest’s rectory was built north of the church.  In 1917, Father Daniel Sheehy was appointed pastor of St. Boniface, which then included mission churches at Adel and Dallas Center.

In 1918, parishioners of St. Boniface Catholic Church decided to form a building committee to erect a larger brick church, at a cost of $18,000, which would seat 200 people.  Fifty generous families donated $15,185 to the building fund.  An important and beautiful feature in the new church was the stained-glass windows, many donated by parishioners, and the “Our Savior on Calvary” stained-glass window that graced the wall over the altar.

Catholic Church built in 1918

In 1920, the coal mine brought an additional 20 families of Italian descent to the parish.  To accommodate the Catholic immigrants, mass was held in the mining community school with Monsignor Ligutti traveling from Granger to officiate.

Other pastors of St. Boniface are:  Father William Coughlin who served from 1921 to 1936, Father M.D. O’Neil, Father Declan Dower who served for two years, and Father Wm. J Devine who served one year.

Father John Aldera was pastor from 1945 to 1953.  In 1947, he directed the construction of the parish hall.  Father Maurice Schulte served from 1953 until 1964.  In 1957, the rectory was remodeled adding a garage and housekeeper quarters for Florence Ludwig.


Parish Hall

In 1964, Father John Clarke became pastor and would remain there until August 1979.  In 1972 the church was remodeled to reflect structural and liturgical changes made after the Second Vatican Council.  In 1973 the parish hall was remodeled adding classrooms and a new kitchen around the exterior of the original brick building.  My father, Angelo “Jake” Angaran, was contracted to complete these renovations.

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