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Gilmore City - St. John the Evangelist

GILMORE CITY - St. John's Parish was established in the spring of 1889, when the first Catholic church was built in Gilmore City. Prior to that, Mass was celebrated in the homes of Catholic pioneers and in a hall above one of the stores.

Father Timothy D. Sullivan was the first resident pastor at St. John's. Before his appointment, the spiritual needs of the faithful at Gilmore City were provided by Father Matthew Norton, who was resident pastor at St. Patrick's Church in Lizard Township.

As the oldest church in Pocahontas County, St. Patrick's on the Lizard observed its centennial on Sept. 17, 1972. It had become a mission of St. John's Parish in 1895. The Lizard Parish was officially closed on Aug. 15, 1983. St. John's is still in charge of the upkeep of the cemetery there. Soon after the closing of Lizard Parish, St. Margaret's Parish in Rolfe became a mission of St. John's and remained so until July of 2000.

Since its establishment, St. John's Parish has been served by 21 priests, including Father Stephen Butler (1901-1920). It was during his pastorate that St. John's purchased the old two-story, four-room public school building and opened St. John's Grade School. It served grades 1-8 and opened on Sept. 11, 1911. It was staffed by sisters from the Community of Servants of Mary, Cherokee. Forty-seven students were enrolled there the first year.

St. John's High School opened the following year with a freshman class. Additional grades were added each year until a full four-year course was completed in 1915. In 1938, the four grades of high school were closed due to declining enrollment.

The tenth priest to come to St. John's was Father Edmond Adams (1960-1963). At that time he answered the bishop's call and journeyed to South America as a missionary, surviving a devastating earthquake in Peru. In due time he returned home and has since retired. Father Adam resides in Fort Dodge and serves as a substitute when necessary.

Father John F. Cain (1963-1969) initiated a fund-raiser to get money for a new school. The drive closed in October of 1964, with pledges totaling $100,000. Father Cain broke ground on Oct. 12, 1965. St. John's School and parish center was dedicated and blessed on Oct. 16, 1966, by Bishop Mueller.

All too soon it became apparent that, due to declining enrollment and lack of teaching nuns, it was no longer possible to keep the school operative. The Catholic school in Gilmore City was closed on May 21, 1971.

Nine women from the parish entered the religious order as sisters. Two men were ordained as priests.

Former pastors are: Father Murtagh, Father Finnegan, Father O'Brien, Father Hermsen, Father Joynt, Father Flannery, Father Schumacher, Father Yetmar, Father Zeman, Father Degen, Father Pick, Father Reiff, Father Ball, Father LeFebvre and Father Fitzgerald.

In July 2000, Gilmore City was clustered with St. Mary's of Humboldt and they are presently served by Father Gene Ulses, who resides at St. Mary's.