The Early Church
In 1871, just two years after the city of Perry was incorporated, a mission priest, Father James Brazil offered the first Mass here. He was followed by a succession of priests from Des Moines who celebrated Mass in the homes of the faithful.
In 1874 as the number of Catholics in the area increased, property was purchased at Third and Lucinda and a small frame church was built by the congregation. Father Brazil celebrated the first mass in the building, but Father Charles Toner became the first pastor that year.
This church soon became too small and plans were drawn for a red brick church, same angles as the present structure with a very high white steeple. It was completed in 1883.
When Father James Cleary came to Perry in 1898 this church, too, was becoming crowded. In 1900 Father Cleary submitted three proposals to his parish: 1) Build a new church at the cost of $20,000; 2) Remodel the old church, or 3) Leave the old church as it was. In a vote of 61 to 9 it was decided to build a new church—our current home.
This church was designed by architect, George Stauduhar, from Rock Island, Illinois in his signature Late Gothic Revival style. The cornerstone was laid in 1901 and the building was finished in 1902. At its dedication, the church was described in The Perry Advertiser as “perhaps the most magnificent church in the state outside of the larger cities.”
In its more than 100 years of existence, it has been renovated several times. The most recent renovations were from 1993 to 1999 which resulted in the interior as seen today.
This magnificent church with its walls of limestone and beautiful stained glass windows has created an atmosphere befitting its heritage in the community. The steeple rises high in downtown Perry as a religious landmark and as a lasting reminder of a glorious past and a continuing promise of a blessed future.