St. Elias Church History

In 1956, a small number of Greek immigrants formed what is now one of the most beautiful Greek Orthodox communities in the United States. The vision, foresight, and dedication of those few faithful immigrants laid the groundwork for what exists today.

The history of St. Elias the Prophet Greek Orthodox Church had its beginnings in the early 1900s. These first members were male, and, true to Greek tradition, were entrepreneurs of one sort or another. By 1930, the total population of Greek Americans and their families in Dubuque was estimated at 75.  Those wishing to attend an Orthodox Church were required to travel to Rockford, the Quad Cities, or Waterloo for services.

In the late 1930s, the need for a locally situated place of worship could no longer be ignored. A large room was rented on the second floor of a brick building on the northeast corner of 7th and Main Streets. Once a month, the Divine Liturgy was performed in this hall by priests from Waterloo. The hall also served as the location for organizational meetings such as AHEPA, the Daughters of Penelope, and Greek School.

By the early 1950s, the Greek Americans of Dubuque realized the importance of preserving their religion, language, and customs. In 1954, the first general assembly of the Greek Orthodox Church of Dubuque was held to elect officers and council members. The AHEPA purchased the lot where our church now stands for $2,500 and donated it to the church [community].  Soon, pledges totaling $16,000 were received for the building of the church [building]. A building bid of $51,900 was proudly accepted. Charles and Mary Petrakis had the honor of naming the church as part of their generous donation of $10,000. The dream became reality in July 1957.

We remain dedicated, and optimistically look towards the next 50 years with much hope, promise, and determination to serve our children and the entire St. Elias Community.

Source: St. Elias 50th Anniversary DVD