Parish History: 25th Anniversary Celebration (1978)

This is the thirteenth article in a series.  Here are the links for the first twelve 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
Church and School
The New Convent
The New Rectory
A New Pastor
Convent Explosion

Our parish’s second pastor, Father Richard B. Ward’s priorities centered principally around the church building and the sanctuary.  During the summer of 1976, the church was completely redecorate with the altars and statues refurbished, the walls painted a light gold and a matching gold carpet in the sanctuary and aisles.  At the same time, the hall in the rear was re-floored with an appropriate color tile.  In the summer of 1977, the usher’s room and the crying room were re-tiled, together with both sacristies and the passage behind the main altar.  The tiles under the pews were renewed and the pews cleaned and revarnished.  This work naturally took money, but due to the constant generosity of our parishioners, this work was squeezed into the annual budget.


25th Anniversary Mass – Sunday, October 8, 1978. Priest kneeling in front of pulpit: Father Gerald Canavan. Concelebrants at the Altar (left to right): Father Richard Ward, Bishop John Graham and Father Joseph McCafferty. Deacon Gerald Ragan is standing behind Father Ward. Gentlemen kneeling on the right side of the Sanctuary (left to right): Ed McGee, Larry Flynn and Chic Pfizenmaier

Saint Joseph Parish celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 1978.  Beginning in January 1978, the Jubilee Rosary Crusade was started in which every family of the parish was asked to offer a family recitation of the Rosary in night each week for a specified intention each month until December.  On Sunday, September 17, 1978, the 11:15am Mass was offered for the Priests and Sisters who had served the Parish.  The 11:15am Mass on Sunday, September 28, 1978 was offered for the Deceased Members of the Parish and the 11:15 Mass on Sunday, October 1, 1978 was offered for all the Living Members of the Parish.

On Sunday, October 8, 1978 at 5pm, a Solemn Mass was celebrated by His Excellency, Most Reverend John J. Graham, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, in Thanksgiving for all the Graces bestowed on Saint Joseph Parish and its People during the past quarter century.  Concelebrants were Father Ward, Pastor, and Father Joseph F.. McCafferty, Resident.  The Deacon of the Mass was Rev. Mr. (now Father) Gerald P. Ragan, Saint Joseph School Class of 1967.  The Master of Ceremonies was Father Ignatius L. Murray, Assistant at Saint Joseph.  The Homilist was Father Gerald D. Canavan whose parents, Jim and Louise, were founding members of the parish.  The Lectors at the Mass were Edward J. McGee and Lawrence A. Flynn.  Charles Pfizenmaier was the Cantor and Arthur Lynch was the Chief Usher.


Saint Joseph School Class of 1978

A Silver Jubilee Book was published (this is the source of the history and pictures for this web series).  The conclusion of the Jubilee Book still rings true today:

These few pages attempt to tell a story – a story filled with flesh and blood people who perhaps in the eyes of the world are insignificant, but in the eyes of God are great heroes and pioneers.  A parish can exist only as long as its parishioners support it and maintain a true sense of belonging.  In the great history of the Church, Saint Joseph Parish is a small insignificant episode but in the hearts of the People of God of Saint Joseph, it is a great moment in history.  For in their midst, the great events of our Faith and the history of mankind is remembered and re-lived.  Here within a specific geographic boundary, the Paschal Mystery becomes alive and the re-telling of the insignificant events of building up one small portion of the Lord’s Vineyard takes on the meaning of grandeur because as each parishioner can very rightly say: “This is my parish; my home.”  It is to all of you, parishioners of the past and of the present, that Christ’s words can be said” “Well done, good and faithful servants.”  To those of you in the present and to those yet to come, it can also be pointed out that 25 years have gone by but these were the most important years because therein lay the roots that make Saint Joseph Parish what it is today and point to what it will be tomorrow.

Indeed, this time of Jubilee is a time of great rejoicing.  It is also a time of quiet reflection on the words of the Psalmist: “What shall I render to the Lord for all the good things He has done for me?”  Congratulations to all and Ad multos annos – Saint Joseph Parish.

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

We hope that you have enjoyed this summer series on the first 25 years of our parish.  We’ll be back with more history next summer.  But in the meantime, we hope to post pictures of “the old days” on a regular basis in the weeks to come.