Rev. Ostdiek was appointed administer of the new St. Pius X Parish until such time as a canonical pastor would be appointed. Fr. Ostdiek was directed to proceed with the formation of the civil corporation. The area included in the new parish would be bounded by 57th Street on the east, half way to Waukee on the west, Grimes on the north, and Hickman Road on the south.
On March 6, 1955, Fr. Ostdiek convened a meeting at Holy Trinity for the members of the newly created parish. During the meeting, John E. Byrnes and James McGrane were selected to serve as lay trustees for St. Pius X Parish. They were commissioned to form the civil corporation. The trustees accepted the transfer of title of the five acres of land from Holy Trinity. The necessary books were opened as required by Canon Law for the spiritual and temporal administration of the affairs of St. Pius X Parish. The people of St. Pius were to continue attending Holy Trinity until a pastor was appointed for St. Pius. On July 12, 1955, Bishop Daly announced the appointment of Father Arthur Ring as pastor of St. Pius.
The first Masses offered at St. Pius were celebrated on July 25 in a roller rink at 3827 70th Street. The roller rink served St. Pius as a temporary church for over ten months! A portable folding wood stand served as the altar. The altar had to be assembled and removed each Sunday. The pews were rented folding chairs. Men were assigned each Sunday to set up the “pews” and remove them to a storage place until the following week. Over 400 people attended the two Masses each Sunday.
A lot was purchased at 3422 66th Street during the summer of 1955, and a two-story white frame rectory was built. Although first used as a rectory, the building was designed to be a convent for the sisters. In December, 1955, Fr. Ring changed his residence from Dowling to St. Pius, even though the building was only partially completed. At the same time, construction started on an all-purpose building, known as the Butler Building, to serve as a temporary chapel.
On Easter Sunday, 1956, the first Masses were offered in the Butler Building. St. Pius now had a permanent altar, used pews from a church in Sioux City, Iowa and a bell acquired from St. Gabriel’s Passionist Monastery, which was being torn down to make way for Merle Hay Mall. This bell was first rung when the news came of the election of a new Pope, Pope John XXIII. An additional piece of property was purchased in 1956 to the north of the original 5 acres (the southeast corner of 66th and Douglas) with the intent of building a permanent church.
In September, 1956, a one-story school with eight classrooms and a kitchen accepted students for the first time. Six classrooms were used the first year. First and second grades were not offered as these two classrooms and the kitchen served as a convent. Three sisters from the Sisters of Humility, Ottumwa, accepted the call to teach at St. Pius. Sr. Mary Camillius was our first principal. On May 1, 1962, construction began to double the capacity of the school. This two-story, eight-classroom addition was attached to the original school and soon fully occupied
The Butler Building was soon outgrown by the needs of St. Pius, so construction of a church and rectory began. The Butler Building was then used as a parish hall. On August 25, 1968, dedication rites for the church and rectory were held by Most Rev. Maurice J. Dingman. The building had been in use since March 9, 1968, but dedication awaited the appointment of the bishop to succeed Bishop Biskup, who had been appointed coadjutor Archbishop of Indianapolis.
St. Pius X Church, designed in contemporary style, has several unique features. The three bells, cast in 1903, in the bell tower in front of the church came from the old St. Mary’s Church on Second Avenue, which was torn down to make way for MacVicar Freeway. The faceted colored glass windows were designed by John L. Coleman, a teacher at St. Pius School, and installation was supervised by John Dwyer, owner of Art Glass Company. At this time in the life of our church, the window, which depicts the life of St. Pius X, occupied the space between the main entry doors. One window in the sanctuary shows Mary as “Queen of the Universe” and the other depicts St. Joseph as a carpenter.The Butler Building was remodeled and expanded in 1986 with the addition of a kitchen, meeting rooms, band room and restrooms. This now serves as our Parish Center.
Expansion of the parish staff to serve the needs of a growing parish necessitated the purchase of a duplex at 3105-3107 67th Street in 1989 to serve as housing for the priests. The former rectory attached to the church now serves as the parish office. In 1990, with new housing continuing at a rapid rate bringing many new parishioners, the parish began to develop a long range plan to expand the parish facilities to meet the continued demand for space. This culminated in 1993 with the purchase of the John McKinney house immediately east of the church, providing the parish with an additional one and one-quarter acres of land. The parish commenced this major facility improvement in the summer of 1994 with the removal of the house and construction of a much needed parking lot east of the church. Improvements completed in 1995 also included a 13,000 square foot addition to the educational building to house an expanded media center and computer lab, an enlarged administrative and staff area and additional classroom and parish meeting space. This included removal of a temporary classroom and allowed the parish to move school and religious education classes, which had expanded into the Parish Center and Parish Office, back into the educational building. The carerra marble statue of St. Pius X was refurbished and moved inside as a focal point of the main entry. The statue, which had stood outside since the school was first built 1956, had experienced the ravages of time and vandalism.
One of the highlights of the history of St. Pius was the visit of Pope John Paul II to Living History Farms in Urbandale on October 4, 1979, with 350,000 people in attendance. By virtue of Living History Farms located within our parish boundaries, we are proud to say the Pope visited our Parish Community!
In the fall of 2000, additional storage at the east end of the Parish Center was completed, as well as the kitchen renovation. The current house and property at 3523 66th Street, immediately adjacent to the school grounds was purchased in 2001 to be used as the Pastor’s residence. In 2003, a much needed playground addition came to fruition with the purchase of .62 acres of grassy area just to the south and adjacent to the Parish Center. And the vision of additional meeting space became a reality with the renovation of the garages in the Parish Office into one large meeting room in December 2003.
Our parish celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005. In conjunction with the anniversary, a parish study was conducted regarding possible church renovation and additional construction. After careful consideration, the decision was made to completely renovate the inside of the church worship space and add a narthex (gathering space), fellowship hall, adoration chapel, and additional meeting space. After a successful capital campaign, we moved out of the church and into the Parish Center for daily and weekend Masses in the summer of 2007.
The inside of the church was emptied completely and construction began to remodel and add on to the existing building. The altar was moved to the north end of the building, with the stained glass window of St. Pius X as the backdrop. An immersion baptism font was added and new statues of Mary and Joseph, as well as new Stations of the Cross were commissioned. The addition of the narthex, Martha and Mary Fellowship Hall, Queen of Peace Adoration Chapel, Good Shepherd Atrium, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael Archangel meeting rooms, as well as the St. Cecilia meeting room were a welcome blessing to the parish as well. A rededication Mass took place on June 7, 2008 at which Bishop Richard Pates presided.
St. Pius has been blessed with outstanding clergy. Fr. Ring was succeeded by Fr. Maurice Schulte in 1974, Fr. Arthur McCann in 1982, Fr. Frank Bognanno in 1987, Msgr. Edward Hurley in 1988, Msgr. Joseph McDonnell in 1997 and Fr. David Fleming in 2012.
St. Pius X Parish History
In 1950, Father F.B. Ostdiek, pastor of Holy Trinity, envisioned the need was approaching for the spiritual care of the families within Urbandale who were attending Holy Trinity. Urbandale was expanding and with the increasing number of Catholic families in the district, it was becoming apparent they would soon need their own parish. With this in mind, Father Ostdiek purchased about five acres of land from Mrs. Mary Lewis in Cornbelt Acres in Urbandale for a possible future site of a church and school.
From 1950 to 1955, the Catholic community in Urbandale grew from about 50 families to more than 250 families. On January 6, 1955, Father Ostdiek sent a letter to the Most Rev. Edward C. Daly, O.P., Bishop of Des Moines, requesting a new parish be incorporated in the Northwest Des Moines/Urbandale district. Acting on that request, Bishop Daly issued a decree to be read at all Masses on February 27, 1955 in Holy Trinity Church. The decree stated: On March 1, 1955, a parish shall be incorporated under the patronage of St. Pius X. A new church and school shall be constructed on the five-acre site at 66th Street and Oliver Smith Drive.