Warren County Iowa Genealogical Society




    Indianola St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church

    Indianola Saint Thomas Aquinas, 210 R63 Highway (previously 1202 W. Iowa Ave), Indianola, IA, (515) 961-3026. [Original church built in 1958]


    History of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, Indianola, IA (written August 9, 1973 from excerpts taken from newspaper clippings January 1957 through 1961 on St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church), was copied from “Data on Warren County Churches” at the State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, IA, film # War-56 (LDS film # 1034022).

    The first Roman Catholic church service in the history of Indianola, will be held at 9 am Sunday at the American Legion Hall. The Rev. H. W. GAUL, pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church at St. Marys, will say the Mass, which will be held every Sunday morning thereafter, at the Legion Hall. Rev. GAUL reported that to his knowledge, this will be the first Catholic Service ever held in Indianola. He added that the services will be held to accommodate Indianola Catholics, who now attend services at St Marys, Churchville, Milo, and Des Moines. He said that he did not know how many Catholics there were in the Indianola area. This is what the services are designed to find out. There have been recurrent rumors of the erection of a Catholic church in Indianola, however; high officials of the Des Moines diocese of the church, said several months ago, that they probably would not build until there were more Catholic families in the area.

    Create the first Catholic Church in Indianola

    Bishop Edward CELESTIN of the Des Moines diocese of the Catholic church issued a decree Thursday, establishing the first Roman Catholic church in the history of Indianola. The decree which will be read in a feast of Marymas Service this Sunday at temporary quarters in the American Legion Building, establishes the Indianola Catholic church as a parish of St. Thomas Aquinas, a famed Middle Ages Scholar. He is a saint of the church, who was born about 1225, near the town of Aquino in Italy. He studied art and science at the University of Naples, for five years, beginning in 1239, then became a member of the Dominican Order at the age of 19. He went to Paris in 1252, taught in the University, returned to Italy where he was made a preacher and taught in the Papal court. There are now 66 families in the area. Masses are held each Sunday by Father GAUL. Two nuns from Des Moines are holding catechism classes each Saturday. Sixty children attended last Saturday.

    Catholics Buy Site for Church, School and Residence

    The Roman Catholic Diocese of Iowa, has purchased 9.2 acres of land from Ron MAHLSTADT for the location of a Catholic church, Parochial school, and residence. According to a contract filed with the County Recorder, the contract states the property be used for church purposes only. The land was purchased for $9,000.00, is listed as lot 1, of Mahlstadt’s Park addition located on West Iowa Avenue near North J Street.

    The new building designed by NEMMERS and MEEHAN of Des Moines, will be situated on a heavily wooded hillside, to provide ground floor level entrance to both basement and first floor. The first floor is approximately 50 feet by 100 feet and will have a seating capacity of from 350 – 400 people, and space for the organ and choir on the balcony. The ground floor will have a large parish hall, kitchen, rest rooms, and equipment rooms. The first floor will contain the sanctuary, nave, sacristies, baptistery, confessionals, children’s room, and janitor, and storage space.

    The walls will be basically brick and waylite block, Colorado pink sand stone will be used for the entrance area. Total cost including furnishings will be approximately $106,000.00. Two hundred attended the laying of the cornerstone, for the new St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, July 6th, 1958. It now has 75 families.

    The St. Thomas Aquinas church was dedicated December 21st, 1958. The Most Reverend E.C. DALY, O. P. BISHOP, of the Des Moines diocese of the Catholic church will bless and dedicate the church during the service.

    The Rectory was built in 1961. It was built largely by the parishioners and Father GAUL and one experienced carpenter. Father GAUL, an experienced wood-worker, did much of the finishing. He also made the altar.The first meeting of the Altar Society met the following February. Father GAUL was the first pastor. He was later transferred to Sacred Heart Parish in West Des Moines.  Father Lawrence BURNS became pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish.

    The first baptism was Craig Douglas HELLER, in December 1958. Total cost of Rectory was $17,000.00. Tis a beautiful church in a beautiful setting and active in all phases of church activities, and steadily growing.