1962 to 1969

1962-1966 Fr. George Higgins, pastor

Historical Setting:

John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
Lyndon B. Johnson 1963 1969

John XXIII 1958 - 1963
Paul VI 1963 - 1978

The early 1960s were troubled times. In 1962 the country faced the Cuban Missile Crisis. Then the next year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Then the Viet Nam War began in 1964. In that same year the Civil Rights Act became law in the United States.

Fr. Higgins and Godparents talk after a baptism

Fr. Higgins and Godparents talk after a baptism

In the midst of this, Fr. George Higgins became pastor in 1962.  He had a military background and some felt he wanted the parish school run like the military.  He has been described as a man’s man.  He had a big dog named Sergeant who gained the reputation of being destructive.  His many pranks included such things as tearing up the courtyard and chewing a hole in a table.

Vatican Council II began the year Fr. Higgins arrived and ended in 1965.  Cardinal Montini became Pope Paul VI in 1963.

The Msgr. John R. Hackett Catholic Central High School, located on Kilgore Road near St. Monica Parish, was dedicated in 1964. St. Joseph Parish was one of the supporting parishes of the new high school.

The bridge marathon began in the mid 60s and added social life among the parishioners.

Father Higgins is remembered as a devout priest who often reminded his parishioners “To keep the faith”.  He has special devotion to St. Joseph.  He recited a prayer to St. Joseph after every Mass. He was a frugal man and people have said that the lights and heat came back on when Father Hayes came in 1966.

Fr. George Higgins died January 20, 1983.

What are your memories of the years when Fr. Higgins was pastor?


1966-1969 Fr. John Hayes, pastor

Historical Setting:

                        Lyndon B. Johnson 1963-1969
                        Richard M. Nixon 1969-1974

Pope: Paul VI 1963 - 1978

The space program continued to grow. In 1969 American astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon. However, there was social unrest on planet earth. In 1968 civil rights leader Martin Luther King was assassinated. Later that same year presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was assassinated.

On January 7, 1969, the Edison Neighborhood Committee was formed. Our church is in the Edison Neighborhood. At that time 70% of the homes were built before 1920. In the late 60s people began to move out of the area and new people moved in.  The parish had been a neighborhood church and many families lived close enough to walk to Mass. Parishioners knew each other and established bonds with each other beyond parish life and had common interests beyond the parish.  Relationships began to change. While changes were taking place in the neighborhood, even more significant changes were taking place within the Church as a whole. 

The Second Vatican Council had completed its work in 1965. By the time Fr. Hayes became pastor in 1966, the documents of the Council were getting translated and making their way across the ocean. A renewed spirit of involvement swept through the parish. An administration committee was formed for advisory assistance for the pastor. Liturgical renewal began to take place with significant changes and rumors of even greater changes to come.

First Communion 1967

First Communion 1967

Parishioners became involved with various forms of ministry. Some helped in an ecumenical service group FISH.  Others volunteered at the State Hospital. The nursing home visitation ministry grew.  The first lay catechists began to serve the children who attended public schools. Before this only the sisters taught religion classes.

Sisters with a student

Sisters with a student

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth have been a vital part of our life since the founding of St. Joseph Mission in 1904. Under their loving guidance, disciples of Jesus were formed and our parish life was greatly enriched.



What are your memories of the Sisters of St. Joseph?

A group of women and their husbands began catering wedding receptions and other events. Besides the benefits that come from people working together on a project, there was additional financial support which came to be thousands of dollars for the parish.


Various groups were active in the parish.  The Legion of Mary became well established.  The Christian Family Movement was active in the parish. Other groups were the Couples’ Club, the Women’s Club and the Men’s Club. There were five active Scout Groups. 

Many social events are remembered from this period. There were Mother-Daughter breakfasts; Father-Son breakfasts; the beginning of Sunday morning donuts; pot lucks; Strawberry Festivals; car raffles; youth movies and dances; fish fries; and Summer Bible School with Stockbridge Methodist Church.


Plans were made for a new building which would provide new classroom space, a library, and office for the school. A kitchen and gym were added for both parish and school use. The cornerstone was laid in 1967. Some people, who were students at the time, remember that when the building was completed they carried their books and classroom supplies from the old building to the new one. The 1904 building which held many memories was demolished upon completion of the new building.


Does anyone know where the 1904 cornerstone is now in 2015?
We would like to have it find a home in the courtyard between the church and the rectory.

Fr. Hayes was a kind man and served our parish well. He encouraged parishioner involvement in various aspects of parish life.

Fr. John O. Hayes died February 12, 1989.

What are your memories of the years Fr. Hayes was pastor?