St. Peter, Temple Hill, is the first Catholic community in Jones County. Catholics in the Northeastern tip of the county are recorded as early as 1839. During the 1840s they were cared for by pastors residing at St. Patrick's, Garryowen.
Father Patrick Maginnis came from Garyowen in 1852, to be the first resident pastor in the county. That year he saw to the building of the first church, a small frame structure, planned to work as both church and school, but there are no school records until 1892. To this location Fr. Maginnis gave the name Temple Hill because, "the temple of god was built on a low hill overlooking the countryside."
When the church was destroyed by fire in the 1860s, consuming all records, the present limestone structure was planned and later completed in 1866 at the close of the Civil War. With the coming of the newly ordained father Lawrence Roche in 1872, a rectory was built. In 1874 he organized a parish in Onslow, ten miles distant for the Catholics at Onslow, Scotch Grove and Clay areas. Because of the diminished membership, the Onslow parish was abandoned 25 years later. That building was moved and used to provide a church in Baldwin.
Two Franciscan Sisters came from Dubuque in 1892, to open a school for 45 students in a newly completed building. The county superintendent approved the beginning of high school classes in 1899 and they continued till 1950. In 1938, the school building burned to the ground. While the Sisters taught the children in the convent, a block structure was built and completed in 1939 under the direction of Father Eugene Lorenz. Although the building was owned by the parish, the school was maintained by District 3 of Washington township until 1960.
During the 1960s grade school numbers decreased and the school closed in 1967. In the Sisters archives at Mount St. Francis in Dubuque, the last entry in the annals of St. Peters School stated, "And so on Friday June 2, 1967, the Sisters left for Mount St. Francis, praying to God to bless the good people of Temple Hill." Franciscan sisters had given 75 years of service to the parish. The former convent was demolished in October 1986.
Today, St. Peters is part of the Aquin system, Cascade. Students may attend Aquin Catholic Elementary (K-8) or the released time religious classes in Cascade. Children not controlled in the Aquin System attend classes in the parish based religious education program that is part of the Aquin System. Parents are prepared for their children"s baptism and the reception of other sacraments within the system.
The church was redecorated in May, 1987. The church furnishings are made of native oak. Many parishioners joined in the construction of the furnishings. The project was directed by Larry and Lois Manternach. Since that time other changes have included the air-conditioning of the church and rectory, restoration of the church windows, and modification for handicapped accessability. The vibrance of the faith can be seen in activities which have included the establishment of an educational development fund, sacrificial giving , RENEW, youth programs, and family activities.
There are nearly 450 persons in the 134 families of the parish. The parish has given the church more than ten sisters, one brother and three priests.
Reverend Thomas Toale is current resident pastor in addition to his work as Superintendent of Schools and moderator of the Curia for the archdiocese of Dubuque.