Founded 1912

1912... to 2012... and Beyond...

A 100 Year Celebration was held in 2012.  See the commemorative slideshow below marking some of the special events of the year.  Read the interesting article "Founded 1912" that follows telling the history of St. Mary's School founding. 

100 yr photochoirAltarFluteServersBishop handshakeexiting massfood lineServing lineLavenDiningMealFaculty and staffHomecoming Courtscrabble

Celebrating 100 Years!

Glorious sounds from the choir

Mass with Bishop Nickless

Musicians gave of their talents

Our beautiful church

Greeting Bishop Nickless

Parishoners came to celebrate

A special meal was organized

Folks have gathered here for a hundred years

Laven serves up some sweet toppings!

Fun memories were made

Good food and fellowship

St. Mary's supporting faculty and staff

2012 Homecoming Court

Clever way to describe St. Mary's by Karen Pickhinke



Historical EventFounded 1912

Right Revered Monsignor William Cooke was born May 24, 1866 in County Longford in Ireland.

He was ordained in Dublin, Ireland, at All Hallows College June 24, 1893. His first assignment was far from home - Delmar, Iowa. The then ”Father” Cooke was assigned as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Storm Lake in June of 1909 where he would serve for a quarter century. 

He immediately began preparations to open a Catholic school in Buena Vista County. The promise of such a school for the area brought a greater influx of new members to St. Mary’s Church and Fr. Cooke needed to increase the church’s capacity in 1910.

In the summer of 1911, he was absent from the parish for three months, traveling out east to make arrangements for a teaching staff to fulfill his dream of opening a Catholic school.

Msgr. Cooke

In 1912, Fr. Cooke purchased the old Congregational church at the corner of Third and Cayuga for $3,500 and soon began renovations. The Clinton School Teachers of St. Francis “accepted the charge of the infant school” and in September of 1912, St. Mary’s opened with a full elementary and ninth grade. (See picture to the right of Msgr. Cooke with the Clinton Franciscan Sisters.) Some of the rural students boarded with the sisters during the week. Our first graduating class was in 1916 after high school grades were added one by one. We’ve educated thousands of students over the years to prepare them to be faith-filled adults contributing to society, their workplaces, and their churches.

The old school building served the Catholic community for 15 years until Fr. Cooke built the current elementary building in 1926 for approximately $60,000. It was touted as a “modern fire-proof edifice.” He is credited with the construction of two Catholic school buildings in Storm Lake.

In addition to his vision and years of work to open a Catholic School in Storm Lake, Msgr. Cooke donated the marble altar and crucifixion group found today in the St. Mary’s Cemetery. He was laid to rest in our cemetery in 1934. Always serving his flock, after his death it was found that Msgr. Cooke personally paid some debts of his parishioners who suffered financially during the depression. 

Mgsr. Cleo J. Ivis was responsible for the building of the new high school addition in 1964. The St. Anne Convent opened in August 1967 for the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Dubuque who helped run the school. (The sisters "traded" with the Clinton Franciscans around 1950-51.) Our last Sisters of the Presentation retired in 2009. The Franciscans served St. Mary’s for 38 years, while the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary served for 60 years.

May the Catholics of St. Mary’s Parish and School remember and honor Msgr. Cooke, Msgr. Ivis, the Franciscan Sisters and the Presentation Sisters for their dedication to Catholic education, their generosity, and their service. To honor the legacy they have left, we must never forget the significant role they played in making St. Mary’s School what it is today.

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