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St.Francis Xavier Church

From the 1891 History of Pottawattamie County

The St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, of Council Bluffs, was one of the first societies formed in this part of the country, even so far in the past as when the Indians had full sway here; and the first priest or pastor was Father DeSmet, the great missionary. His people erected a small log church on the bluffs, where the first priest in charge was Father James Powers. Father Doxacher succeeded him. They resided at Omaha, to which diocese the congregation at the Bluffs belonged.

The first Iowa resident priest at Council Bluffs was Rev. Bernard P. McMenomy, who came in November, 1869, from Georgetown, Monroe County, Iowa, but previously from Missouri. He was a native of County Donegal, Ireland, born there in August, 1830. He was educated at St. Columb's College, at Londonderry, Ireland. He emigrated to America in 1849.

After arriving in Council Bluffs, he erected the St. Francis Xavier Church which was located on the corner of Sixth street and Fifth Avenue. It was a large and handsome edifice 60 X 120 feet in dimensions, and completed in 1888, at the cost of approximately $50,000. Rev. McMenomy also had the St. Francis Xavier Academy constructed in the rear of the church where twenty-five Sisters were in charge of about 65 resident students and 250 day pupils. Across the street from the church was the St. Joseph Academy for boys, and high on the hill facing modern day Broadway at Nicholas Street, a substantial brick building was constructed and entitled, St. Bernard's Hospital. Here, the sick and infirmed were cared for by the good sisters of Mercy.

Under Father McMenomy's administration, the membership of the parish increased from about 500 to over 2,000.

St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church and Schools were demolished in the early 1970's due to the unstable foundations. The records for this congregation may be located by contacting the secretary of St. Peters Church, 1 Bluff Street, Council Bluffs, IA 51501.

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