1904 to 1920

It was decided by a vote of the parishioners, to place the proposed parish under the fostering care of good St. Joseph. The Right Rev. Bishop, to whom under church law, belongs the right of naming new institutions, kindly permitted the parishioners to select the new name. This was done by voting at ten cents a ballot. The Rt. Rev. Bishop has confirmed the choice, and henceforth the new institution will be called St. Joseph’s. The handsome cornerstone that will be placed in position Sunday, is the gift of Winslow and Crooks.
— The Augustinian (a newspaper published by St. Augustine Church) just prior to July 17, 1904.

St. Joseph Mission was established in 1904 as a mission of St. Augustine Parish. Fr. Frank A. O’Brien was pastor. Frs. Lochbihler, Kramer and Fitzpatrick came to celebrate the Masses. Records of sacramental celebrations were kept at St. Augustine Parish.

Unfortunately that cornerstone is missing now in 2015. Does anyone know where it might be?

Historical Setting 1904-1910:

Presidents:Theodore Roosevelt 1901-1909: 
William Taft 1909-1913

Construction on the Panama Canal was begun during this time. The government began regulating big business. The Wright Brothers made the first successful airplane flight. By 1905, 52 cars were registered in Kalamazoo. This led to two of the problems facing downtown Kalamazoo: traffic congestion and horses being frightened by the cars.

Pope Pius X (1903 -1914) made significant changes that affected Catholic life and worship. Some of the things he did during his reign were that he restored Gregorian Chant, reorganized seminaries, reformed Canon Law, encouraged Catholics to receive the Eucharist daily, and permitted First Communion at age seven. Prior to this time, Catholics needed to be urged to receive Holy Communion at least once a year and First Communion was received around age 12 or 13.

In what ways did the liturgical reforms of Pope Pius X affect the spirituality and prayer of the people of St. Joseph's over the years?

The development of Catholicism in Kalamazoo was rather unique in that ethnic parishes did not develop during the late 1800’s and very early 1900’s as they did in many other towns and cities. St. Joseph Mission was formed because of the increasing number of Catholics in the area from various ethnic groups.


A two story, red brick building was completed during this time. The first floor was used as a church, the second floor for four classrooms, and the basement as an auditorium. The cornerstone from St. James Chapel was incorporated in the new building. The architect for the building was Robert M. Gallup who was located in Office 201 at 202 Pratt Block, Kalamazoo. The Parker House was moved back on the property and became the convent. 

Photograph:1915  DedicationSouvenir



Fr. Theodore Lochbihler Photograph:1915 Dedication Souvenir Bell Photographer: John Shane

Fr. Theodore Lochbihler
Photograph:1915 Dedication Souvenir
Bell Photographer: John Shane

Fr. Lochbihler donated the church bell in memory of his mother whose name was Ida. It was the custom of the time to name church bells. Inscription on the bell: 


On the opposite side of the bell:


To this day Ida is still calling our community together for prayer.



St. Joseph School opened and was staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The Altar Society was established for the women and the Holy Name Society was established for the men.

The First Annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner was held at the Arbeter Unterstutzunds Verein (A.U.V.) Auditorium in the 100 block of Portage Street. 


The choir was organized under the direction of Mrs. John Cheslek, who was also the organist. 

Does anyone have any information about the organ she used or the hymnals?

First Communion Group 1906 with Lochbihler
Front row L to R: Florence Gaines, Loretta Holliday, Marie DeCrick, Ethel Hubert, Luella Fitzpatrick, Marie Hubert, Helen Colligan, Loretta Twomey
Back row L to R: Carl V. Simon, Leo White, Leo Shane, Harold Luce, Harry DePlanche, Joseph Shane, William Shane

Who are your ancestors or relatives in the above photograph?

This was before Pope Pius X permitted First Communion to be received at about age seven.

In 1910 St. Joseph Mission was established as an independent parish with Fr. William J. Fitzpatrick as pastor and Fr. W.J. Crowley as assistant pastor.


Fr. William J. Fitzpatrick, pastor

Historical Setting:

William Taft continued as President. Congress passed an income tax law. 
Henry Ford used the first assembly lines to produce Model-T Fords.
St. Pius X (1903-1914) continued as pope. 

What stories have you been told about First Communion or Confirmation celebrations during the early years of our parish?

Fr. Fitzpatrick was determined to save for the parish a strip of land that was for sale. He had a high board fence built alongside the church/school and no one would buy a lot facing that fence. Today that strip of land forms part of the parking lot and playground.

Photograph: 1915 Dedication Souvenir

Photograph: 1915 Dedication Souvenir

[first rectory] The new parish owned 14 lots at the corner of Lake and Race Streets which were valued at more than $25,000. An option was secured on the George Meerdynk residence directly south of the church property on Race Street. The residence at 1128 Race Street became the Rectory.

Photograph: 1915 Dedication Souvenir

The dividing line between St. Augustine and St. Joseph Parishes was fixed at Walnut Street. St. Joseph Parish included about 250 families. Over 200 children attended the school, which was presided over by seven Sisters of St. Joseph. This information was taken from a July 28, 1910 Kalamazoo Gazette clipping.


First Baptism: Gretchen Marie Borst (September 18).

First Wedding: Nicolaus Popovits and Gratia Dauno (October 10).


First Confirmation Group (May 30).

The community continued to grow and prosper. 168 Baptisms were recorded from September 18, 1910 through June 30, 1913. The church was still on the 1st floor of the 1904 Building. 


Fr. Frank McQueen, pastor

Historical Setting:

President: Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
St. Pius X (1903-1914)
Benedict XV (1914-1922)

The Panama Canal opened. The United States entered World War I. The first movies with sound were issued. A new Model-T Ford cost $360.00 in 1917.

Who were your family members who served in World War I? In what branch of the military did they serve? Where? Who gave their lives?


Fr. McQueen was here as pastor by July of that year. Baptisms and weddings are recorded in the sacramental record books with his name. The wedding of Louis Horvath and Rosa Rorich occurred on September 6, 1913.

Both the church and the classrooms were overcrowded. Soon, at a meeting of the men of the parish, it was unanimously voted to erect a new church. Things moved very quickly. The R. M. Gallup Company was chosen to be the architectural firm and early in October, Mr. Daniel C. Gerow submitted the preliminary drawings which were accepted and orders were given to complete the work. The windows were purchased from The Munich Studio, Chicago, Illinois. According to the 1915 Dedication Souvenir, the members of the Building Committee were:

Herbert E. Congdon, Chairman; William Wilhelmi, Al. T Fitzgerald, P.J. Redmond, William Kersjes, Dr. E.D.Sage, Michael Owens, Hon. Wm. L. Fitzgerald, and Stephen White. Walter Hickey was Secretary of the Building Committee. 

Sunday, October 26, 1913 was the day of groundbreaking and laying the first stone. The story is told that the men of St. Augustine and St. Joseph Parishes formed a parade at St. Augustine Church, and accompanied by three bands,marched to St. Joseph’s.

The first stone was blessed by the Rt. Rev. Edward. D. Kelly, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit. Rt. Rev. John Foley was Bishop of Detroit at that time. The sermon was preached by the Very Rev. Dr. Morrissey, Provincial of the Fathers of the Holy Cross. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Frank O’Brien, as founder of the parish, was guest of honor.

Do you have pictures of the groundbreaking that we may scan for our archives and then return to you?

Work on the new church began in the spring following the laying of the first stone.The work progressed rapidly until an accident occurred. The writer of the 1915 Dedication Souvenir describes the event as follows:

The contractor furnishing the steel had set four trusses in place. They were only temporarily placed, being held by two guy ropes. In an effort to bring these into position one guy rope broke, allowing the trusses to topple over against the unfinished walls, and damaging the building to a considerable extent. This, besides being a keen disappointment, furnished the basis of considerable notoriety in which the accident was advertised as the most complete and total disaster since the collapse of the Tower of Babel.

Photograph: 1915 Dedication Souvenir

Photograph: 1915 Dedication Souvenir


While the church was being built, four new sleeping rooms were added to the convent and the electric wiring of the school was placed in conduits. Church societies were active in fundraising.

August 15, 1915 – Dedication of the new St. Joseph Church on Lake Street.

Do you have a program from this celebration that we may scan and then return to you? 

The 1915 Dedication Souvenir lists the following trustees:

William Kersjes Louis P. Simon
Albert Allgaier Morris Cagney
Michael Owens Al. T. Fitzgerald
Stephen White Francis B. Drolet
Herman Simmerer Frank J. Pickett

The same document gives us a picture of parish life.

Sunday Masses:
September 1st to June 1st, 7:30 AM and 10:00 AM 
June 1st to September 1st, 7:30 AM and 9:00 AM

September 1st to June 1st, 7:30 PM

Holy Hour,
Thursday evening, from 7:00 to 8:00 PM

Confessions Saturdays, before First Fridays and Feast Days at the usual hours.
Baptisms, Sundays 9:30 AM

The Societies receive Holy Communion in a body as follows:
First Sunday, Altar Society.
Second Sunday, Holy Name Society and Young Ladies Sodality.
Third Sunday, St. Aloysius, Children of Mary and Holy Angels Societies.

Choir members as pictured in the 1915 Dedication Souvenir and identified following the picture.

Mrs. John A. Cheslek – Organist and Directress; George Tyson – Baritone; Edwin Linihan – Tenor; Teresa Connell – Soprano; Bernardette White – Contralto; Marguerite Weadley - Contralto; George Keller – Basso; Alice Robischung – Contralto; Lillian Loobey – Soprano; P.J. Redmond – Tenor; Luella Fitzpatrick – Soprano; John A. Cheslek – Tenor; Dorothy Cavanaugh – Contralto; Alfred Pickett – Basso; Lucile A. Ryan – Contralto; Elizabeth Connell - Contralto.  Photograph: 1915 Dedication Souvenir

Mrs. John A. Cheslek – Organist and Directress; George Tyson – Baritone; Edwin Linihan – Tenor; Teresa Connell – Soprano; Bernardette White – Contralto; Marguerite Weadley - Contralto; George Keller – Basso; Alice Robischung – Contralto; Lillian Loobey – Soprano; P.J. Redmond – Tenor; Luella Fitzpatrick – Soprano; John A. Cheslek – Tenor; Dorothy Cavanaugh – Contralto; Alfred Pickett – Basso; Lucile A. Ryan – Contralto; Elizabeth Connell - Contralto.

Photograph: 1915 Dedication Souvenir

Are you related to any of the above choir members?

The stained glass windows were purchased from the Munich Studio in Chicago 1n 1915. They are of the "Munich Style". The St. Cecilia Window is located in the balcony, and so it was near to the choir and the organ. Elements of the cultural diversity and spirituality of the people are reflected in the windows. The style is one which would be familiar to those from Eastern Europe and Germany. Note the Irish influence in the musical instrument above St. Cecilia. St. Patrick is prominent in the large window in the west wall of the church. The five windows in the east wall depict the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary and the five on the west wall, the Glorious Mysteries. Two windows feature St. Joseph. One is near the marble altar and the other, near the stairway to the balcony. Click here for more information.


In Memory of William and Jane Gillick

1918 - 1937

Bishop Michael Gallagher became our bishop because of his role as Bishop of Detroit.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth and St. Joseph School have had a very significant role in the development of parish life from the beginning in 1904 and continuing through the years.

What memories have been shared in your family? What has been your experience?

Fr. McQueen has been described as a very personable priest with a good sense of humor. His personality attracted many people to the new parish. The bishop praised him by saying:

He is the best, most zealous, most active pastor in the Diocese of Detroit. You should consider yourselves fortunate to have him as your pastor.

Fr. Francis Wm. McQueen died on November 2, 1934.


What can you tell us about the people mentioned in this account of the years 1913-1920?

Parish Office