It was at this time that the Franciscan nuns came to Boniface. The Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) nuns served St. Irenaeus. Some of the Germans stayed at Irenaeus, but the rural German farmers from such places as the Determan Settlement (west of town) were the mainstays of Boniface. It wasn’t uncommon to sometimes have ethnic churches; but, eventually, all would become Americans.
Today, many work at the museums and mingle at Prince of Peace, with little concern for historical origins.
Father Jean had been sent to Lyons, by Bishop Loras, of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, in 1851. He was pastor there until 1872. There was some type of falling-out then, and Father Jean wasn’t even buried in St. Irenaeus cemetery. He has a prominent stone in St. Boniface cemetery. Gossips say he was even buried going in a different direction, due to his alleged “papist” tendencies. Such mysterious problems or concerns were common in pioneer America, but have largely been resolved or forgotten, though one occasionally hears of some far-out bias.
Father Jean once took a trip back to his native France and brought back a replica of the crown of the King of France, presented to him by the Bonaparte family. It hung for years at St. Irenaeus as the sanctuary lamp. When Prince of Peace was built, it was transferred there, as were the original Stations of the Cross.
St. Irenaeus, the first permanent Catholic Church in Clinton, was begun in 1864 and completed in 1871. In later days, the Rev. Edward Jackson came to Lyons in 1933 and modernized the buildings in 1947. He became the head of the Clinton Deanery in the 1950s, after St. Mary’s Msgr. Galigan died. When St. Irenaeus was to be remodeled, it was found that the stone interior was in very bad shape.