Our Parish History: Ground Breaking!

This is the sixth article in a series.  Here are the links for the first five parts:

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

Saint Joseph Parish was progressing beautifully and so its Founding Pastor, Rev. Francis J. Hennegan, made plans for the building of the church and school building on the corner of Waters and Boncouer Roads.  Already in August 1953, Father Hennegan had sought permission to purchase a house to be used as a convent and to submit plans for the church and school.  Now on a sunny Sunday, June 20, 1954 at 3pm, the parishioners witnessed the very simple yet profoundly moving ceremony of the breaking of the ground.  The ground was blessed by Father Hennegan and the first spade of dirt was turned by Father Harron, then pastor of Saint Helena Church who was often referred to as the “Godfather” of Saint Joseph Parish.  The second spade was turned by Father Hennegan and the third spade by Mr. James J. Clearkin, Jr.Groundbreaking 1

Marian Year Celebration 2In conjunction with the ground breaking ceremony, the parish was also celebrating the Marian Year with its first outdoor procession in honor of the Mother of God.  Over 300 parishioners, men, women and children, took part in this Marian devotion.  Rev. Martin J. McDonough, then Diocesan Director of the Propagation of the Faith, preached the homily and Rev. Msgr. John J. McKenna, Diocesan Director of the Holy Name Society gave Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament from an altar set up on the porch of the first rectory at 101 Hilldale Road.  The Deacon and Sub-deacon at Benediction were Rev. Charles Diegel and Rev. Martin O’Hara, respectively.  The Master of Ceremonies was seminarian Joseph Gallagher.

Marian Year Celebration 1Marian Year Celebration 3Mrs. O’Neill played the organ and Mr. Francis Coffey sang a solo.  Miss Patricia Roux portrayed the Blessed Mother in a tableaux and high school girls from the parish sang.  Also, Miss Loretta Hildebrand, a recent graduate of Hallahan High School, gave a short literary piece dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel.

Tableau 1954Excerpts from the Saint Joseph Church, Cheltenham, Silver Jubilee Memorial Book
(written in 1978 by Rev. John B. DeMayo)

Next week: The First Convent