Divine Word College will join three others in the Archdiocese of Dubuque to celebrate Catholic Higher
Education, on Sunday, September 23. On that day, a Mass will be celebrated at each college or university. DWC will welcome Msgr. Lyle Wilgenbusch, vicar of the Waterloo Region of the Archdiocese to say Mass in the Main Chapel.
It’s all part of the year-long archdiocesan observance of its 175 anniversary, which began with an opening Mass at its oldest parish, St. Raphael Cathedral, last November and will conclude with a closing Mass at its newest parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Hiawatha, on Nov. 25. Msgr. Tom Toale, vicar general of the archdiocese, has chaired the special committee that guided the events over the last year.
"The colleges have been around for quite a while and they highlight the fact that if we are truly going to engage ourselves in the world, that we have to have life-long learning," he said. "Divine Word College allows us to say to everybody that the church is a world-wide, universal church and the fact that we have a missionary college in our presence is an opportunity to highlight that."
DWC traces its roots in the archdiocese to the early 1930s, when then-Archbishop Francis Beckman invited the SVD to establish a minor seminary—St. Paul Mission House—on the current grounds in Epworth, the site of a former Methodist seminary. Over the course of time, its mission changed. The old buildings were razed and replaced with the current one and renamed Divine Word College, in 1964.
The oldest institution of higher learning in the archdiocese is Loras College. It goes back to 1839, when Bishop Mathias Loras founded a seminary behind St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque. Approximately six name changes and three major moves later, Loras College has remained true its motto, "For God and Country."
Clarke University was established as St. Mary’s Academy in 1843 by Mary Frances Clarke, foundress of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Clarke has also occupied several locations and had several name changes before settling at its present name and location in Dubuque.
The Sisters of Mercy established Mount Mercy Junior College, in Cedar Rapids, in 1928 with the purpose of fulfilling a need to unite people with opportunity through high-quality, values-based education. The institution has served as a girls’ academy for training young teachers and nurses, a two-year college for women, a four-year co-educational liberal arts college, and now a full university.