1947 to 1962

1947-1962 Fr. Joseph Rochford, pastor

Historical Setting:

Harry S. Truman 1945-1953
Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953-1961
John F. Kennedy 1961-1963

Pius XII 1939 - 1958
John XXIII 1958 - 1963

World War II ended and was followed by a period of post war prosperity in contrast to the rationing and shortage of many items during the war years.  On the down side, there were problems with wage and price controls and inflation. Then war again. The United States was involved with the Korean War from 1950-53. In 1958 Pope John XXIII was elected Pope. Both Hawaii and Alaska became states in 1959. The polio vaccine was developed.  The Cuban Missile Crisis was faced in 1962. In the 1960s the space program was developed.  Television sets became common in homes.

With the arrival of Fr. Joseph Rochford in 1947, changes began to take place both in parish life and in the external appearance of the parish grounds.

Women from the parish began visiting patients in the State Psychiatric Hospital on Oakland Drive. This ministry continued for many years.  Other groups and activities had their beginning in the late 1940s and early 50s. The Ushers Club was organized.  Bingo became part of parish activity. There was a Tuesday evening bingo as well as a Thursday afternoon ladies bingo.  The Ladies’ Happy Hour Club and the Altar Society merged and sponsored style shows, dinners and other events.  Girl Scout and Brownie troops were organized. In 1961 The Legion of Mary was formed in the parish at the request of some parishioners who had been part of the Legion at St. Augustine’s. Fr. Rochford said, “Ok, but don’t move too fast”.  So a “slow moving group”, which still meets today, was formed to visit the sick. They picked up speed over the years and the parish has an active nursing home visitation ministry under the capable leadership of the Legion of Mary at the Upjohn Community Care Center.

Baptisms took place near the window of the Baptism of Jesus which is located near the front entrance of the church. The window was donated by the St. Agnes Society.

Baptisms took place near the window of the Baptism of Jesus which is located near the front entrance of the church. The window was donated by the St. Agnes Society.

A wedding in 1948

A wedding in 1948

Some things remembered by the parishioners include such items as:

  • Seat collection in place of pew rent. There were brass plaques at the end of the pews for the families who paid pew rent and that was their place. Seat collection permitted more choice of seating.
  • Publication of financial contributions. There seemed to be a sense of relief when this practice was eventually discontinued.
  • Neighborhood groups that got together to pray the rosary in homes.
  • Christmas programs held at Edison School.  Fr. Rochford would sit the red chair from the rectory dining room in the front row of the auditorium for school programs.
  • Adults put on Minstrel shows at Lincoln School.
  • There were four Masses on Sundays mornings: 7:00; 8:30; 10:30; and 12 noon.
  • May crowning and decorating Mary’s Altar, novenas, and sodality groups sitting together at Mass one Sunday a month.
  • There were a lot of fun parties and group work projects which included Strawberry Festivals and car raffles.
  • The Holy Name Society was active.
  • Jim Freebury and Bob Hook were janitors and parish school bus drivers.
1954 Second Grade Picture Compliments of Life Touch N.S.S. Studio

1954 Second Grade
Picture Compliments of Life Touch N.S.S. Studio

Are you in this picture? Are any of your relatives here? 

The cornerstone for the rectory at 936 Lake Street was laid in 1948. A drive was made in front of the church to make easier access for funerals. This also made it easier to get into the church for everyone else, too.  In 1954 a campaign for funds to build a new school and convent with a chapel was begun. Both buildings face Race Street. The convent address was 1128 Race Street and is located where the first rectory had been. The church interior was painted. Automatic kneelers were installed but it seems these did not last a long time.  No one is sure how many toes got under them or what kind of disturbance was caused during Mass when the kneelers went down on someone’s toes.

Changes were taking place in the parish school. Both 9th and 10th grades were discontinued after the 1954-55 school year. Three lay women joined the sisters as teachers for the 1955-56 school year.

Fr. Rochford has been described as a kind, gentle, and generous man.  He was a builder and used money where people could see it.  He retired just months before the beginning of Vatican Council II. 

Fr. Joseph M. Rochford died on January 16, 1968.

What are your memories of the years when Ft. Rochford was pastor?