Our History

St. Joseph Church

Saint Joseph Church

The roots of Saint Joseph Parish began when Fathers Joseph ProjectusMachebeuf and James Conlan visited the few Catholic settlers, predominately fisherman and farmers, before 1842.

 Saint Joseph attained mission status in 1866 and grew as families of German, Irish, and French backgrounds moved to the peninsula.

The first church was built in 1867 but was outgrown and replaced by a combination church-and-school in 1889. Father Francis Hrock became pastor in 1892, when Saint Joseph became a parish. The second school, constructed in 1893, was staffed by two Dominicans. It was enlarged in 1900.

Bishop Joseph Schrembs, instructed Father John Sassen, “If you can do nothing else, you will build a new church, for the present building is absolutely unworthy of its sacred purpose.” The cornerstone was laid on October 22, 1916. The architectural gem, an impressive stone edifice of mixed Gothic and Romanesque design, seats 360 people. Its bell was blessed, bearing the inscription “Dedicated to Saint Joseph as a Messenger of Peace in the year the USA entered the Great War, 1917”.

Tourism on the Peninsula has changed Saint Joseph. “Standing room only” crowds at Mass are not unusual.

Liturgy has always had the highest priority, with music and singing playing an important role in every Mass. Parish devotional life includes Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, May Crowning, weekly Benediction, Holy Hour, recitation of the rosary, First Friday devotions and others.

Parishioners have improved and expanded parish facilities, formed a religious education program, Bible study, adult and children’s choirs, Knights of Columbus and participated in outreach ministries that foster spiritual development and community fellowship.

This parish of faith has much for which to be thankful, remembering all those who have given their time, talent, treasure and labor. From that first simple stone church in 1867 to the magnificent stone church of today; every pastor, every parishioner, every visitor, every smile, every tear, every prayer, has become a thread in the fabric of today’s Saint Joseph Church.