CHESTER — St. Joseph Church is not only celebrating its 150th anniversary as a parish this year, but parishioners are doing so in the same place that six generations before them used for worshipping God.
“We’re still in the original church. The building was dedicated in 1854,” said Deacon James P. Hyland, parish life facilitator. “We’re doing something each month to remind people that this is our jubilee year.”
According to Deacon Hyland, the parish council decided to celebrate the jubilee year by “jazzing up” the usual parish picnics, suppers and other festivities, and they wanted to add a spiritual dimension to the celebration. That spiritual dimension is a Holy Hour on the first Friday of each month. Jesuit Father John O’Holohan, the circuit-riding sacramental priest for St. Joseph, comes from his home in Lancaster for the Holy Hour devotions and to hear confessions.
Since St. Joseph is the spiritual home to a mere 68 families, Deacon Hyland was impressed when more than 100 parishioners showed up for St. Joseph’s Night at a Charlotte Knights professional baseball game. High percentages have attended many parish events in this jubilee year.
“Some things I didn’t think many would show up for, but they have come,” he said.
Parishioners are also coming regularly as part of their duties on the Jubilee Maintenance Committee. These members paint and scrape and repair and clean because, as the deacon said, “We don’t want to wait until the last minute.”
That last minute will be in June 2004, when the Bishop of Charleston is scheduled to join the people of St. Joseph for a Mass and dinner to formally celebrate the 150th anniversary of this close-knit parish in its historic church.