Together in Faith
St. Joe's
History - 1946-1984

The next few decades saw significant changes at St. Joseph's, beginning with the October 1957 retirement of Msgr. Ehr after more than 55 years as pastor. He was succeeded by Fr. LeRoy Keegan who served the parish as pastor from 1957 to 1965.

Change came in a big way in 1965 with the arrival of Msgr. James P. Finucan and Vatican II. The dynamic Monsignor kept parishioners on their toes with a different style of thinking, starting with the introduction of guitar music at Sunday Masses.

Change continued in the 1970s as, for the first time since the 1890s, the parish had at least four different pastors in the decade: Finucan (until 1973), Fr. James Falconer (1973-76), Fr. William Nikolai (1976-79) and Fr. Lyle Schulte (1979), who served as pastor until 1996.

The decade of the 1970s saw the resumption of the parish picnic, the beginning of fundraisers such as Pardi-Gras (now Winterfest) and the Chili Bowl. It was also the start of lay ministers for the distribution of communion. A reduction in weekend Masses also occurred with two on Saturday and four on Sunday at the beginning of the decade. This was changed near the end of the decade to one on Saturday and two on Sunday.

The first half of the 1980s was a time of consolidation and stabilization for the church everywhere. Reduced numbers of clergy, the high incidence of marital and familial breakdowns, the dilution of Catholic culture and practice also occurred after the easing of rules and the alleged blurring of doctrine in the decade following the Vatican Council, all of this set a new agenda for the 1980s.

The parish also emphasized lay involvement more than ever. The Parish Board was reorganized with governing power and several new committees. Many more ministers were on the scene for liturgy and under the leadership of Sister Alexine, communion was taken regularly by lay persons to the sick and shutins.

Fr. Schulte's contribution in the early 1980s was mostly in the area of ideas and his encouragement toward a deep sense of community and a deeper spiritual life among our members.

To this end he conducted a Listening Day; he preached exclusively on the Gospel, day by day; he encouraged warm and touching liturgies where handholding and hugs were commonplace, both at the Sunday liturgies and at well attended Penance Services and Anointings of the Sick.

The spiritual life of the parish was alive and inviting. The parish was growing by perhaps five percent annually; its finances were sufficient, even after a tithe taken for charity for all non-enveloped collections. The people rallied well around their pastor in hope in the 1980s. Parties, Seders, outings, picnics, banners and all the rest continued.

The final episode in this chapter was the 1984 centennial year of celebration.

The centennial book, the extensive church renovations, a picnic, several social and spiritual affairs and a major gift of money to a local charity, Birthright, plus a gala Mass and banquet on the Feast of Christ the King were all a part of the yearlong Centennial Celebration.

The year 1984 was truly a year of thanks to the Lord for all that was and for all that is at St. Joseph Parish after the first 100 years!

History — The Beginning  |  History — 1884-1916  |  History — 1916-1946  |  History — 1946-1984