Commissioned by the diocese to commemorate its centenary, this is the first book-length study of the history of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa. Formally established in 1911, the Diocese of Des Moines built on the foundations laid by earlier generations of missionaries, religious women, priests, and bishops to provide a gathering point for the scattered Catholic population of southwest Iowa. This book weaves together the various stories of religious and lay members in the forging of a visible religious presence in the region. Influential priests of the diocese included Monsignor Luigi Ligutti, who became a renowned advocate of rural life, and Bishop Maurice Dingman, who took on sometimes controversial social and political issues. In October 1979, the diocese hosted Pope John Paul II for a short but memorable visit, which was the largest religious gathering in Iowa's history.
Steven M. Avella is a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and a professor of history at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Avella has authored numerous books and articles on Catholicism in the United States, including histories of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the Catholic Church in the city of Sacramento, California. He has done several popular studies of dioceses, including Phoenix, Colorado Springs, and Reno. Avella has taught US Catholic history in seminaries, and at Marquette he offers courses in twentieth-century US history.