Discover the Difference: St. Patrick School Celebrates Centennial

by Diocese of Des Moines | August 4, 2021

Child gets his face painted

nullSt. Patrick Catholic School in Perry celebrated 100 years in education this July and to honor this milestone, the school hosted a special Mass and semi-formal dinner for members of the Perry community.

The school is the result of one mother's dream to provide her sons with a Catholic education. Nora O'Malley campaigned diligently to bring a Catholic school to the community of Perry. Despite the challenges of starting a new school, O'Malley persisted. Shenullnullinvited priests and sisters from throughout the diocese to visit Perry and share their insights on her school project. She also met with Bishop Drumm to secure his approval and blessing.

While campaigning to build a Catholic school in Perry, O'Malley was diagnosed with cancer. Her illness did not deter her efforts and the school was ultimately approved and built. St. Patrick Catholic School was dedicated on Feb. 21, 1921, the same day O’Malley was buried. Before her passing she asked her husband, George, to ensure that their sons graduated from the school. Indeed their son George graduated in 1929, Martin in 1931, Charles in 1933, and Bernard in 1935. Through the continued dedication and generosity of the O'Malley family, St. Patrick Catholic school remains a pillar of the Perry community. 

“If Nora and George W. were alive today, they would be very proud knowing that our mother’s persistent hard work together with their prayers and religious fervor brought about this beautiful educational project,” wrote their son, Dr. George O’Malley. The O’Malley children continued to keep their mother’s legacy alive by contributing to an endowment to support St. Patrick Catholic School. 


Located in Perry, Iowa, St. Patrick Catholic School offers an academically rigorous, faith-based education for students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. Fully accredited in the state of Iowa, our school challenges students to aim higher academically, spiritually, and personally through faith-centered learning and a rigorous academic program aligned with state and diocesan standards. As a result of this commitment to academic excellence, our students consistently perform in the top ten percent of students on Iowa Assessments. To learn more, visit

Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.