Our origin was a humble one, organized in 1879 by Fr. Anton Pauck as a mission from St. Mary's parish in Glasgow, Mo. The first church building was blessed and placed under the patronage of St. Joseph on November 5, 1890. We became a parish in 1900 with Fr. Joseph Kroeger, our first pastor. Sacred Heart Parish of New Franklin, Mo constructed a new church, which was bless October 15, 1908, and St. Joseph parish lost the opportunity for a pastor. We returned to mission status, this time under Sacred Heart parish of New Franklin, Mo., under the direction of Fr. Con Kane. Because of a very small congregation, the mission was closed sometime after 1920.
Sacred Heart parish in New Franklin continued to grow and bough the former public school building there. The school gym was converted into a church and the classrooms into a parochial school, with classes beginning in 1936. The ensuing years were years of great sacrifice by both the religious and the parishioners of Sacred Heart, in order to keep the church and school in operation, but to no avail. In 1952, Sacred Heart School closed its doors. From that time until 1979, the teach of the Catholic Catechism was directed by the Sisters from St. Joseph's Hospital in Boonville, Mo., and then from Sts. Peter and Paul School in Boonville, Mo, along with St. Mary's School in Glasgow, Mo.
In 1954, the Archbishop of St. Louis, Cardinal Joseph Ritter, expressed his wish for a new church in Howard County, and Fr. Thomas D. Sullivan was appointed pastor. The few dozen Catholics in the Fayette mission rose to the occasion, and with pledges of $10,000, added to a bequeath from Fr. Bernard S. Stolte, a ground breaking ceremony took place in Fayette two weeks after Easter, 1956. The corner stone for the L-shaped structure, a combination church, hall, and living quarters, was laid on Decoration Day, May 30, 1956. The first mass was at midnight on the Eve of Christmas, 1956.
Under the guidance of Fr. Sullivan, the ensuing years were ones of growth. At last with a resident priest, St. Joseph's soon found it needed more living space, and so a new wing was added to the rectory. On March 17, 1963, and open house and rededication ceremony celebrated the opening of the Catholic parish in the Fayette community.
From that time until 1979, St. Joseph parish was blessed with continuity and strength. When Fr. McDonnell retired in August of 1978, the severe lack of priests for the area once again placed St. Joseph's parish to a mission level. Frs. William Flanagan and Thomas McGrath from Sts. Peter and Paul parish in Boonville, Mo, very ably filled the gap. Bishop Michael McAuliffe, Bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City, desired a more pronounced witness of the Church's presence in the Fayette area, and so a Team Ministry of Sisters was established at St. Joseph's under the guidance and auspices of Fr. Richard Hunkins of St. Mary's parish in Glasgow, Mo. The Team Ministry was established Ascension Thursday, May 24, 1979. Fr. Hunkins was installed as pastor September 3, 1979, and Sr. Lucille Meissen, C.PP.S. and Sr. Eula Linnebur C.S.J. were installed as pastoral associates at the same time.
It was at this time that St. Joseph's found itself growing and prospering in 1981. Organizational groups were forming, including the Knights of Columbus and the Parish Council. In 1981, the parish boasted 120 families along with many local college students that supported the church.
The dream of an expanded all had been a focus for many years, but began to become more that a vision with the purchase of adjacent and nearby grounds in the early 1980's. With the advent of Sr. Dorothy Miller, OSB, as a resident pastoral administrator, the Parish Council was guided into pursuing the needs of the growing parish. Several surveys of all parishioners in the fall of 1988 pointed out the number one long-term desire and need was an education/activities building.
In January 1989, after-Mass parish meetings were held to check on support and to air concerns of such a project. These meetings were well attended and fruitful. By March 1989, a parish committee and been appointed and talks with Bishop McAuliffe provided the enthusiastic and financial support of the Diocese of Jefferson City. In May 1989, parishioner Gus Vandecnocke was asked to draw some building plans using the ideas gathered at the parish meetings. These were presented to the Parish Council in January 1990. The Council recommended that the plans be distributed and bids collected. In May of the same year, Bishop McAuliffe came to St. Joseph's for Confirmation, giving parishioners the opportunity to speak with him personally about the needs of the parish.
Bishop McAuliffe was presented with copies of the building plans in September 1990. At the same time, the parish petitioned his help in obtaining a grant from the Catholic Church Extension Society. The response was slow, and an interim pledge drive was less that enthusiastic, but on October 15, 1991, the grant was approved. A pledge drive was again pursued, and many more positive responses were received. It was clear that the new parish building would become a reality.
Delays drew things down, and it was June 1992 before the contract was drawn up and the final diocesan approvals were attained. Under the requirements of the Extension Grant, the building would have to be under roof by October 15, 1993. Work began on July 28, 1992, a brick building measuring 60' by 100' with eight divided classrooms, a kitchen, restrooms, and storage areas was finally on its was. In March 1993, the annual pancake/sausage breakfast was held in the newly constructed parish hall.
In July 1996, St. Joseph's once again had a resident priest, Fr. Richard Colbert, C.PP.S. Through the residencies of Fr. Colbert, Fr. Mark Smith and Fr. Don Wallace, St. Joseph continued to thrive and grow as a parish. In the Fall of 2002, Fr. Wallace and the Parish Council decided to improve the worship area of the main church with new windows. With the dual purpose of replacing the current inefficient windows and beautifying the church structure, a committee was formed to pursue a stained glass window project.
~Prayer to St. Joseph~
O blessed Joseph, faithful guardian of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ, protector of thy chaste spouse, the virgin Mother of God, I choose thee this day to be my special patron and advocate and I firmly resolve to honor thee all the days of my life. Therefore I humbly beseech thee to receive me as thy client, to instruct me in every doubt, to comfort me in every affliction, to obtain for me and for all the knowledge and love of the Heart of Jesus, and finally to defend and protect me at the hour of my death. Amen
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