Brief History of St. Joseph's Church
[The following history of St. Joseph’s Parish is from a directory dated circa 1990.]
Preliminary steps for the organization of the Catholic Parish of St. Joseph began in 1883 under Fr. Nicholas July, pastor of St. Stephen's. Ground was broken for a small wooden church, April 16, 1884. The dedication was held just seven months later on November 16, 1884.
For the first two years of its existence, St. Joseph's was served by one of the priests from St. Stephen's, but in 1886 Fr. A. Dambacher arrived as the first resident pastor. He was succeeded by six pastors whose respective tenures were relatively brief. Those were very difficult days for the struggling young parish.
With the arrival of Msgr. Henry Ehr in September, 1902, the parish found great leadership, growth and stability. He was to remain here until 1957. After his guidance for more than fifty years other pastors followed: Fr. Leroy Keegan (1957-65), Msgr. James Finucan (1965-73), Fr. James Falconer (1973-76), Fr. William Nikolai (1976-79), Fr. Lyle Schulte (1979- ) and a host of assistant pastors.
A school and cemetery were established in 1891. A fire destroyed the original church, October 26, 1915. A new church and rectory, the present structures, were erected in 1916, followed by a new school in 1940, with a second floor added in 1958. In the parish's centennial year the church building received a new side entrance and interior renovation of the worship space.
The spirit of the parish lies with its people. Begun as an Austrian-German community, the parish today is a lively, gentle and unified blend of all kinds of people, young and old, of many national origins, newcomers and long-time residents -- people who simply find their strength and joy in the Eucharist and in being together.
Over the century literally thousands of people have celebrated here the great moments of their lives in a spirit of worship, love and mutual concern. And it will continue to be so. We are People of God under the patronage of St. Joseph, worker and family man.