Our Parish History: The First Rectory, Part II

This is the fifth article in a series.  Here are the links for the first four parts:

Our Founding: June 12, 1953
The First Parish Meeting
Our First Christmas
The First Rectory, Part I

In a “Day Book” kept by the Founding Pastor of Saint Joseph Church, Rev. Francis J. Hennegan, we read that on Wednesday, March 3, 1954, the first Ash Wednesday in the parish was observed.  The Blessing of the Ashes and Mass took place with 68 parishioners in attendance and two altar boys, Robert and Eugene Corbett of Ninth Street.  Ashes were also distributed at 4pm and the Rosary, short talk and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was held at 8pm.

Even while the temporary chapel was being set up, Father Hennegan had approached some of the men in the parish with the idea of converting the rectory basement into a more permanent chapel.  The men responded and, under the supervision and direction of Mr. James J. Clearkin, Jr., a new and beautiful chapel was set up in the rectory basement within three weeks.  The first Baptisms in the rectory chapel took place on March 28, 1954,  The children baptized were Michael Coffey, son of Francis and Joan Coffey; Wayne A Goldman, son of Ronald and Judith Goldman; and Patricia A. Py, daughter of Robert and Patricia Py.

The first wedding in the new chapel took place on September 18, 1954 between Clarence G. Hunt and Dolores Davidson.

Again in Father Hennegan’s “Day Book” we find an entry for Ascension Thursday, May 27, 1954.  It says: “Had four Masses in Chapel.  It was very gratifying to see our people in their own place.  Was first time they had Mass in our parish on a day of obligation.  Father William Raftery, a Maris, said the last two Masses.”

Also, on June 12, 1954, was a “first” for the parish because on that Saturday morning, three children of Saint Joseph Parish made their First Holy Communion.  They were Carol Divdato, Carolyn Sutton and Patricia Sweeney.

Excerpts from the Saint Joseph Church, Cheltenham, Silver Jubilee Memorial Book
(written in 1978 by Rev. John B. DeMayo)

Next week: Ground Breaking!