Our Parish History: Church and School

This is the eighth article in a series.  Here are the links for the first seven parts:

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

Fr Garrity

Father Anthony Garrity

As the raising of Saint Joseph’s church-school combination building progressed, the parish began to grow in numbers and soon the Founding Pastor, Rev. Francis J. Hennegan, needed the help of an assistant priest.  The first assistant of Saint Joseph Parish was Rev. Anthony M. Garrity who was appointed on January 20, 1955.  However. Father Garrity’s stay among the people of Saint Joseph’s was short-lived because on March 11, 1955, Father Garrity was called to the Father to live with the Eternal High Priest forever.

Fr Collins

Father Joseph Collins

June 1, 1955 was the day another priest arrived to help Father Hennegan build Saint Joseph Parish.  Rev. Joseph Collins soon endeared himself to all at Saint Joseph’s and became a very familiar figure along Father Hennegan, with both working tirelessly for the people of Saint Joseph and the Kingdom of God.

Preparations were moving along very well in the building of the church and school.  Anxious parishioners would pass by and watch the church and school take shape and feel pride in their parish growth as they eagerly awaited the day they would have their own parish church and school.  That day arrived finally – on Sunday, October 16, 1955, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, John F. O’Hara, blessed the new building.  The grade school already had an enrollment of 202 pupils and it was a group of happy and proud parishioners who prayer with their pastor and Archbishop that God would bless this new building and prosper the people of Saint Joseph Parish.

CornerstoneWith the classes moved from the convent to across the street into the new church-school building, the Sisters of Saint Joseph’s chapel was moved from the second floor to the first floor of the convent.  With the growth of the school, more Sisters were assigned to the parish so that by September 1959, there were six Sisters and two lay teachers on the faculty.  This growth of the school population and the number of Sisters, soon indicated that the private house at 7628 Waters Road was now too small.  It was necessary to build a convent for the Sisters.

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

Next week: The New Convent