A missionary priest first offered Mass in a Charles City home in 1854. Almost ten years later the first resident priest came to establish Immaculate Conception Parish. From 1870-1885, Mass was celebrated in the basement of the church until the church was completed.
By 1896, Immaculate Conception Academy was built for grades 1-12, boarding and day students, and staffed by Cedar Rapids Sisters of Mercy until 1951, when Dubuque Presentation Sisters began to serve the school. In the past 20 years Immaculate Conception School underwent renovations after two major floods. In 2005, the early childhood addition created space for 200 students in pre-school through sixth grade. Another 150 students participate in religious education and youth ministry activities; older youth share in liturgical ministries and parish outreach.
Immaculate Conception Parish priests have ministered to the neighboring parishes of: Holy Name, Rockford; St. Mary, Roseville; and presently, St. Michael, Nashua. Parish vocations include four priests, two brothers, and over twenty five women religious.
French, German, and Irish settlers were the first parishioners, and in recent years the parish has welcomed members of the Filipino and Hispanic communities. Presently 1,000 households number over 2,300 members.
Parishioners are active in ecumenical efforts, including Meals on Wheels, the Messiah Food Pantry and Cedar River Community Kitchen. many lay ministers reach out to the homebound, hospital and area care facilities.
Over the years fires have damaged both the church and school, resulting in new structures. In 1968, a tornado destroyed the church; the present church, built in 1972, overlooks the Cedar River. A new roof and the installation of a new heating and cooling system demonstrate the ongoing generosity in living up to past traditions and planning for future generations.
Immaculate Conception Parish sees itself as a Catholic Eucharistic community called by God to be faithful, welcoming and serving all with love and compassion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.