The Diocese of Des Moines

Bishops of the Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines has been blessed with nine bishops.


Bishop Dowling

1911-1919     Bishop Austin Dowling, D.D.  

He came from Providence, R.I. to be the first bishop.










Bishop Drumm

1919-1933     Bishop Thomas W. Drumm

Originally from Ireland, he came after serving the Archdiocese of Dubuque. In 1924 he became the first Catholic bishop to preach regularly on the radio, offering monthly broadcasts on WHO.







Bishop Bergan

1934-1948     Bishop Gerald T. Bergan

He came from Peoria, Ill., established a diocesan newspaper called “The Messenger”, and went on to be the bishop of the Archdiocese of Omaha.








Bishop Daly

1948-1964     Bishop Edward C. Daly, O.P. 

He was a Dominican priest who came from Washington, D.C., where he served as secretary for the apostolic delegation. He attended the first three sessions of Vatican Council II and died in a plane crash when his plane had an aborted takeoff in Rome.







Bishop Biskup

1965-1967     Bishop George J. Biskup

He was an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Dubuque and originally from Cedar Rapids. He purchased the north 55 acres of the Des Moines Golf and Country Club property in West Des Moines, which had been cut in two by the construction of the freeway. The land was used for Dowling Catholic High School. He became the archbishop of Indianapolis.





Bishop Dingman

1968-1986     Bishop Maurice J. Dingman

Originally from St. Paul, Iowa, he served as chancellor of the Diocese of Davenport. He was known for promoting a peaceful world and a just society, a champion of rural issues and ecumenism.








Bishop Bullock

1987-1993    Bishop William H. Bullock

He was an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis before coming to Des Moines. He stressed importance of prayer, maintaining a pro-active stance on pro-life issues and keeping a strong Catholic identity. He became the bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wis. in 1993 and retired in 2003. He passed away on April 3, 2011 just 10 days shy of his 84th birthday.






Bishop Charron

1994-2007    Bishop Joseph L. Charron, C.PP.S.

Originally from South Dakota, he was auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis before coming to Iowa. A moral theologian and member of a large family, he enjoyed being with the people, particularly for the sacrament of Confirmation when families gather together. He focused on vocations, education, adult faith formation, meeting the needs of a growing Hispanic population, and Catholic Charities. In recent years, he brought back a golf outing benefiting Catholic Charities and threw out the first pitch at the first Iowa Cubs event benefiting Catholic Charities.







Bishop Pates

2008 – now    Bishop Richard Pates

Originally from St. Paul, Minn., he was auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the third consecutive auxiliary bishop from the Twin Cities to serve the Des Moines diocese. He has served as a priest in a number of capacities including as vocations director, vice chancellor, the Apostolic Delegation in Washington, D.C., rector of a seminary and as pastor. As an auxiliary bishop, he assisted Archbishop Harry Flynn with issues related to clergy, youth and young adults and evangelization. His priorities in the Des Moines diocese focus on Vocations, Evangelization, Youth and Young Adults, and meeting the needs of newcomers, particularly Spanish-speaking people.