Saint Ambrose Cathedral





Reverend Bishop William M. Joensen

Father Nivin Thakidipurathu Scaria

Phone Number:

(515) 288-7411





Mon-Fri- 12:10 PM, Sat- 11:45 PM

Sun- 8:30 AM & 11:00 AM

Confession Times:

Wed- 11:00-12:00 PM

Sat- 2:30-3:30 PM





-Dress modestly by avoiding short, tight, or revealing clothing 

– Only those baptized into the Catholic Church may receive the Eucharist/Communion 

– When “crossing themselves” after hearing the names of the persons in the Trinity, Catholic Christians do so from head to belly, then from left shoulder to right shoulder





Student Testimonial

By: Gigi Simpson

The Saint Ambrose Cathedral was built by immigrants at 6th and High Streets in 1890 and for the past 150 years, it has grown into a diverse community and become a second home to many refugees. In the 1830s and 1840s, the Diocese of Dubuque started to arrive. The Dubuque Diocese split up and then southern Iowa became the Diocese of Davenport, which included the Des Moines area and St. Ambrose parish. The Diocese of Des Moines was formed twenty years later, on August 12, 1911, St. Ambrose became the cathedral parish for the diocese. The first bishop was Bsp. August Dowling. The parish has welcomed various refugees which further diversified their community. In the 1970s, the cathedral opened its doors to Vietnamese, Lao, Hmong, and Cambodian refugees. During the 1990s, Eritrean and Sudanese refugees would become a part of the community. Since 2008, Burmese refugees have been settling in Des Moines and now have become the largest ethnic community at St. Ambrose. 

The rectory and chapel were built in the 1920s and then added the stained glass windows in the 1940s which depicted symbolic importance. The six historical windows in the nave represent the establishment of the Catholic Church in the Americas, to Iowa, and then to Des Moines. The ten windows in the “ASP” are of ten events from the Gospels, each paired with an event from the Old Testament. The Cathedral and rectory were added to the National Register of Historic Places in March 1979

The parish provides many opportunities and services to their community that accommodations and unties their diversity. Volunteers work together to help refugees build a new life and adjust to Iowa. Saint Ambrose is one of four downtown churches that work together to provide a free lunch program through Connection Café. This meal ministry serves homeless and low-income individuals and families in downtown Des Moines. Lunch is served at noon, every Monday-Friday. 

The Family Faith Formation is another program offered that brings families closer to God and one another. Through lessons and activities, the program brings parishes and families together to learn their faith and have a learning experience that relates to families’ everyday lives. The Family Formation offers a curriculum to prepare the children in the parish to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion for the first time. St. Ambrose is dedicated to unite their diverse community by spreading the love of God through prayer and worship, activities, and service. The mission faithfully follows the example of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the hospitality of the ministry.


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