Fourteen families made up the first congregation of St. Athanasius Catholic Church in Jesup. It was named after Saint Athanasius, the man chosen by God to uphold the true faith and to pass on the Catholic teaching that Christ is truly God. The first church was built in 1880 on the east end of Hawley Street. Fr. John Horsfield became the first resident pastor in 1894. Soon the first church was moved allowing for a second church to to be built on the same site in 1898, due to the growth of the parish. In 1902 the St. Athanasius Cemetery was established.
In May of 1946, Fr. Clarence Ferring started the plans to build a school on property purchased on Stevens Street in the downtown section of Jesup. The school was completed in 1949. Serving over the years were Sisters of Charity of Blessed Virgin Mary, the Dubuque Sisters of St. Francis, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame. In later years, lay teachers were added to the staff. Mass was also held in the new school. With two Masses on Sunday, the area soon became too small for Masses to be held. In 1955 the present stone church was completed. Fr. Donald Ehr celebrated his Mass of Ordination as the first Mass held in the new church. Other sons of the parish to celebrate their ordination were Fr. Irvin Weber in 1949 and Fr. Tom Frost in 1960. Many from the parish have entered the religious life.
In September of 1956, Don Bosco High School was established in Gilbertville, a central location for the school to be built. The Catholic Daughters of the Americas was established in January of 1956. The Knights of Columbus was established in 1975. Both organizations help in charity work for the church and school.
In 1980 a bell tower was erected for the centennial year. In July of 1983, an explosion happened and extensive damage was done to the gym, which was rebuilt and the damage to the school and church was repaired. A parish center and four new classrooms were added to the church and school in 1998. Archbishop Jerome Hanus, OSB, dedicated the new addition in 1999. As time went on the parish grew: 375 families in 1980, 450 in 1990, 475 in 1999 and presently there are 530 (2015).
In 1999, the school celebrated 50 years of quality education. The last renovation to the church was started in December of 2008. It was completed in April 2009. A Mass of Dedication was held and celebrated by Archbishop Jerome Hanus. Dedicated volunteers have given many hours in the building and renovating of the church and school. Sacrifices have been made by families to pay the cost of each and every endeavor. We are very proud of our church and it will continue to grow and change as time moves on.