Father Peter Cade

Greek Orthodox priest
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St. George church in Des MoinesFather Peter Cade was the priest at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Des Moines, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2003.

St. George is on the National Register of Historic Places and features hand hewn pews and carved wooden fixtures as well as painted murals and Greek icons (saints).

The first Greeks came to Iowa in the 1880s to work in the mines and on the railroad; today, about 6000 Greek-Americans live in Iowa. Most are descendents of the early immigrant communities of Sioux City, Mason City, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Davenport, Council Bluffs, and Dubuque.

As was typical throughout the United States, most early Des Moines Greeks came from a variety of villages and islands in southern Greece; unlike the city’s Italian community, they did not settle in one neighborhood. Most of the early immigrants to Des Moines started their own shoe repair shops, restaurants, and candy stores. The present Greek-American community in Iowa's capital city is a mixture of foreign and native-born from old Des Moines families, other American-born Greek-Americans who have moved to Des Moines, and more recent immigrants from many regions of Greece.

The Greek Orthodox religion dates back to the establishment of the Church in 33 A.D. The early Church was made up of five self-governing dioceses. These cooperated as one faith until the Great Schism of 1054 A.D. when Rome separated from the four eastern dioceses, which remained united as the Eastern Orthodox Church. Unlike Roman Catholicism, the Greek Orthodox religion permits priests to be married if they do so before ordination.

Cade grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church. He is passionate about the connection between the ethnic and religious heritage of his congregation. Since 1979, the church has hosted an annual St. George Greek Food Fair, which features a traditional meal including souvlaki (Greek shish-kabob) and keftedes (Greek meatballs), among other specialties. Adding to the cultural offerings are church tours, Greek music, dancers, and food demonstrations as well as the opportunity to purchase Greek cookbooks, Greek coffee, and loukoumades as well as gyro (a spiced beef and lamb combo) sandwiches.

While the Food Fair is geared towards educating non-Greeks about the church community, St. George also offers Greek language and culture classes for its members, especially for the children.

Contact information: Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, 35th and Cottage Grove Ave., 1110 35th St., Des Moines, IA 50311, 515.277.0780, gocstgdm@raccoon.com, www.stgeorge.ia.goarch.org