Parish History

Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church - Twenty-Fifth Anniversary History

October 11, 1968 - October 9, 1993

Prepared By Jean LeFrancois



 On October 11, 1968, Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church was formally dedicated by Vincent S. Waters, Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh. The reading (Ezra 4:7,10-18) chosen for the twenty fifth anniversary of the dedication of this parish was selected to acknowledge the fact that the history of Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church properly begins with the history of Saint Monica Roman Catholic Church, September 1930 through March 1968. The reading speaks of the joy mixed with sadness of the Israelites rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem.


"Many of the priests, Levites, and family heads, the old men who had seen the former house, cried out in sorrow as they watched the foundation of the present house being laid. Many others, however, lifted up their voices in shouts of joy, and no one could distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from the sound of those who were weeping; for the people raised a mighty clamor which was heard afar off." Ezra 4:7,10-18.


Chronicled in the history are the elements of both sadness and joy. Saint Monica Catholic Church and School were highly respected institutions in the Black community of Raleigh for thirty-five years. A new parish, Saint Joseph, composed of diverse groups was established and has become one of the most unique parishes in the Diocese of Raleigh. The parish is known for its social consciousness and liturgical observances.


Saint Joseph Parish History Saint Monica Parish 1930-1968


According to a report held in the Diocesan Archives and apparently written by the first pastor, Reverend Charles Hannigan, S.S. J., Saint Monica Roman Catholic Church and School were dedicated on the first Sunday of September, 1930, by Bishop William J. Hafey.


"At the dedication exercises there were present in the procession two hundred non­ Catholic Colored people, Bishop Hafey, twelve priests, and forty-three sisters. All the priests and the sisters are at work in the Diocese of Raleigh."

"Saint Monica mission embraces a church, school, convent, rectory and playground. The church-school building is of tapestry brick, with sandstone finish. It is thoroughly modem even to its built-in radio equipment. Saint Monica buildings are in the midst of as beautiful a site as all Raleigh contains and within sight of a large hospital and college." (Saint Agnes' Hospital was adjacent to Saint Augustine's College).

According to the 1930 Diocesan Census (Status Animarum) and the 1931 Official Catholic Directory (published by P.J. Kenedy, New York), Reverend Charles Hannigan, S.S.J. of the Josephite Fathers, resided at 1109 New Bern Avenue as the pastor. The school was at 1125 New Bern Avenue with 148 students. Five Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Sisters from Scranton, Pennsylvania resided at  1111 New Bern Avenue. In 1930 there were twenty-three Catholics.

The 1960 Census tells us that Catholics in Saint Monica numbered two hundred sixty-six (266) and one hundred eighty-four (184) were enrolled in the school. Although the IHM Sisters continued to staff the school, the Dominican Fathers (on a date not verified) had begun serving Saint Monica Parish. In 1968 when Saint Monica and Saint Joseph merged, the pastors were Reverend John L. Sullivan, O.P. and John A. Powers, O.P. The merging of the schools at Saint Monica and Sacred Heart Cathedral occurred in September, 1967. The author of" A Chapter in the Diary of Saint Monica (though not verified) was one of the IHM Sisters, possibly Sr. Maria Pacis, IHM."

"August 13, 1967 -- Tremendous news has been announced today at Saint Monica by Father John L. Sullivan, O.P., our pastor -- news at once heartwarming and heartbreaking! In the interest of deeper Christian living and of broader education of the youth of Raleigh, the Pastors of Sacred Heart Cathedral and Saint Monica Church have initiated action to consolidate the double-graded schools of both parishes this coming school year. The young Negro children of our school will profit from the merge spiritually, socially, and educationally. We are overjoyed for them, while we realize how empty our little four-room building will be without them."

Contained in the same diary are references to the fact that all eight teachers at the newly merged school were members of either the Dominican or IHM religious orders. The Quonset hut, the building which was adapted to serve as Saint Monica Church, housed Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes for twenty-five (25) students who attended public school, and the Convent housed the CCD for high school students. In addition, reference was made to the teachers meeting with public school administrators to request ESEA federal funds for integrated schools and to the initiation of a guidance program to deal with the impact of the "national racial unrest" in the student body.

Saint Monica - Saint Joseph -- Transition Period 1967-1968

 According to The North Carolina Catholic, March 3, 1968, "City of Raleigh Divided Into Six Parishes." Bishop Waters established the new parish of Saint Joseph at the corner of Poole Road and Peartree Lane and named Reverend Cranor Graves the first pastor who served from February 7, 1968 to January 8, 1970. At the same time geographic lines for six parishes were established; Cranor Graves, recently retired family therapist at North Carolina State University Counseling Center, stated in an interview that the Sunday masses were held at Saint Monica until Saint Joseph Church was completed in the fall of 1968. Daily masses were held in the basement of the rectory on Peartree Lane. Graves and two sisters from the Better World Movement visited every family living in the geographic area assigned by Bishop Waters as members of the new parish. Saint Joseph Church was built from 1967-1968 behind a residence at 620 Peartree Lane, owned by L.A. Tyree, M.D. Two existing residences and a garage were on the property when the Diocese purchased the land from Mrs. Eunice Clark. Cranor states that he and the parishioners, with the cooperation of the architect, redrew the plans to bring forward the altar toward the body of the church, thus providing space for a community room in the rear of the building. The design of the church is similar with this exception to that of Saint Raphael in north Raleigh and Saint Michael in Cary, North Carolina. Classrooms for CCD were housed over the garage. One house became the rectory, while the other house served as parish office for the pastor, and a convent for the Daughters of Charity in 1973. One of the founding families of the parish, Joan and Phillip Ogilvie, deceased, lived in the present rectory until a new home was completed for them and their six children at 308 Peartree Lane.

As stated earlier, on October 11, 1968, Bishop Waters dedicated Saint Joseph Church. In referring to the simplicity of the new church and its furnishing, Cranor Graves stated in his homily that "you will find individual chairs to facilitate seating in the form of an arc, to impress one another with fraternal concern and welcome." He further stated, "the new church building will fulfill the double commandment of serving God and neighbor; they will unite liturgy and service of neighbor as they were united by our Lord the night He instituted the Eucharist. (The North Carolina Catholic - October 20, 1968)

Of the four buildings that comprised Saint Monica Parish, only one remains, the New Bern Avenue Day Care Center located at 15 North Tarboro Street continues to serve the community. The church and rectory were torn down and the convent was removed in 1981 by a private owner to another location. The property was sold and cleared so that a fast food restaurant could be built. Saint Joseph still houses some of the mementos of the parish from which it was formed. In 1973, Richard LeHocky and Whit Chambers remounted the brass bell from Saint Monica at the entrance of Saint Joseph. A statue of Saint Martin de Porres and a statue of the Sacred Heart are in the church and on the grounds of Saint Joseph.

On August 19, 1978, a homecoming for former parishioners of Saint Monica and former students was held at Cardinal Gibbons High School gymnasium. Reverend Thomas Hadden, who was pastor of Saint Joseph (October 1971-February 1973), was the celebrant of the mass. He was assisted by Father Keaney, Pastor from September 1976 to July 1980. According to The Carolinian, (8-24-78), Father Hadden was presented a plaque by Floyd Pope in recognition of his growth from his elementary days at Saint Monica to the priesthood.

On that occasion Deacon Chip O'Toole serving Saint Joseph parish remarked: "Throughout my stay at Saint Joseph, I have heard much about Saint Monica Parish." He noted the tremendous contribution of the parents of students at the school. Also, the IHM Sisters and Dominican Fathers insisted on excellence and achievement with the result that many adult leaders in Raleigh attribute their early academic training to their years at Saint Monica School.

On that same occasion, Bishop Joseph Gossman, who was unable to attend, sent a letter expressing his viewpoint about the contribution of Saint Monica to the community. "It is regrettable that such a significant instrument for good has been lost, or gone out of existence. Perhaps, together you can help us to find ways to revive the spirit, the identity, and the presence that once was associated with this religious institution, so that its existence may once again be a spark to the black community of the present as it was in the past."

Saint Joseph Parish - 1968 To 1993

 Minutes from the first Parish Council, formed March 24, 1968, demonstrate that from the very beginning Saint Joseph pastor and parishioners worked closely together. The Council was inclusive of all the parishioners -- married, single, youth, and members of religious orders of women who served in the diocese and were members of the parish. The result of projects like clearing the land surrounding the site of the new church, parish picnics and suppers, and planning where to teach religious education classes created an emerging sense of unity. According to Jean LeFrancois, one of the early and continuing members of Saint Joseph, "part of the church belonged to them." In the beginning, Saint Joseph tithed 10% of its weekly collection. On one occasion, Cranor Graves recalls that Saint Joseph contributed its tithe to a neighboring church, Saint Phillip Lutheran Church, due to fire damage.

The parishioners of Saint Joseph exhibited openness and interest in the East Raleigh and South Raleigh communities. Established by the founders, ecumenism, the awareness of the ill, hungry, and the homeless refugee remains a major focus in parish life. Ecumenical services have been traditional at Saint Joseph since the first one occurred in October, 1968 at Milner Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Early in its history, the Parish Council set up the following committees: Liturgy, Education (CCD and Adult Education), Ecumenism, Public Relations, Social Activities, Finance, Grounds and Maintenance. By 1972, a Social Awareness Committee and Youth Ministry were established. The Social Awareness Committee addressed the following areas of concern: newcomer visitation,   the sick and the homebound, illness crisis intervention due to parishioner death or job loss and civic issues. During the same year, the Saint Joseph choir was established with Ruby Boyd as organist and director. The choir performs it's repertoire of traditional, contemporary, and gospel music at Sunday liturgies, diocesan functions, and area churches.

In 1973, Ray Kelling, Liturgy Committee Chair, started the "Needy Family of The Month" project. Each month, a particular family, or in some cases a needy segment of the population such as inmates in Women's Prison, would receive the Saint Joseph special collection. In 1975, Evelyn Bowling introduced monthly days of prayer and fasting to be done in conjunction with the needy family collection. Also, in 1975, while Father Moeslein was pastor (February 1973-September 1976) the parish sponsored its first Vietnamese refugee, Hguyen Van Hong and with the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church co-sponsored a picnic for Vietnamese refugees on the spacious grounds of Saint Joseph Church. During one summer, Father Moeslein encouraged parishioners to raise their own garden in plots behind the church as he did.

Parish suppers and picnics, which were sometimes given in conjunction with liturgical celebrations, have always been a Saint Joseph tradition. In the early days the Memorial Auditorium or downtown Raleigh hotels were the sites of dining and dancing. More recently the dinners have been potluck affairs held in the community room. The Men's Club, Saint Monica and the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) have sponsored Halloween, Christmas, and other parties throughout the years. Each pastor, deacon, and member of the religious community was greeted and bade farewell with a reception.

To the sadness of parishioners and parents of Cathedral School children, the IHM Sisters, with Sister Angela Mary Parker as their superior, were called back to Scranton, Pennsylvania in June of 1972. The Daughters of Charity came to the Diocese of Raleigh on July 15, 1973 to establish Catholic Social Services for the new Diocese of Raleigh. North Carolina was divided into two dioceses in 1972. Sisters Angela Mary, Nancy, Ann Joseph, and Anina resided in the convent at 624 Peartree Lane. After several years of service in the diocese, The Daughters, were eventually called back to their motherhouse. Priests who served as seminarians at Saint Joseph included John Forbes, Matt Hendrick, Jeffrey Ingham, James Labosky, Chip O'Toole, Robert Staley, and Joseph Vetter.

In the early 1970's, Sister Elizabeth Bullen, IHM, pronounced her final vows at Saint Joseph. In 1979, Reverend Chip O'Toole was ordained at Saint Joseph by Bishop Joseph Gossman.

During the last thirty years (from 1968 to 1998), a total of ten pastors have served Saint Joseph. Reverend Cranor Graves, March 1968 - December 1970; Reverend Kenneth Parker, deceased, January 1970 - October 1971; Reverend Thomas Hadden, October 1971 -February 1973; Reverend Francis Moeslein, February 1973 - September 1976; Reverend James Keaney, September 1976-July 1980; Reverend Michael Shugrue, July 1980 - January 1983; Reverend James Keenan, deceased, January 1983 - July 1986; Reverend James Labosky, July 1986-July 1989; Reverend JaVan Saxon, July 1989 - June 1997; and Reverend Thanh N. Nguyen, July 1997 - until...

Although the parish has experienced a frequent turnover of leadership, a stable nucleus of individuals and families, some of whom have attended since the beginning of Saint Joseph and Saint Monica, remain involved and active in the parish.

Saint Joseph parish has struggled over the years to become financially independent. In 1981 Parish Council co-chairmen, Eileen and Dick Coughlin, aided Father Shurgrue in a ritual burning of one of the bank notes. Saint Joseph had successfully paid off on its parish debt. Throughout these challenges for financial stability, encouraging words from pastors, such as those of Father Keaney, helped to stabilize the parish. On June 13, 1978, Father Keaney reminded the Parish Council that although financial and physical needs of the parish are a real challenge, "Parishioners must concentrate on our growth as people of God and how we give witness to His Presence in our midst." On the same occasion, Deacon O'Toole suggested that liturgy and religious education be the main focus of the parish.

In the mid 1970's, the gathering of the Polish Community began. The first Easter basket blessing was held in 1979 at Saint Raphael Catholic Church. Polish masses were initiated at Christmas and Easter. Polish priests from various parts of the country including Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan, were brought in to say the masses which were held at various local Catholic churches. In 1986, the Corpus Christi celebration was started at Saint Joseph. In 1987 it was held at Our Lady of Lourdes, in 1988 at Saint Michael in Cary, in 1989 at Saint Francis of Assisi, and from 1990 until present at Saint Joseph. In 1986, the Polish-American Club funded the transfer of the Icon of the Black Madonna from Poland. It was brought over by Mr. Jan Adam and eventually found a home at Saint Joseph in 1988. Since the Black Madonna was placed at Saint Joseph, all the Polish masses and other religious events have been held at Saint Joseph. A Polish Novena is celebrated in Polish on the last Sunday of each month at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa .

During the late 1960s, an invitation was extended to Madonna House by Bishop Waters to come to the Diocese of Raleigh. However, Madonna House did not come until a second invitation was extended by Bishop Gossman in 1978. Shortly thereafter, the Foundress, Catherine Doherty, responded positively. Mary Kay Rowland and Carol Gordon opened the first Madonna House on Haywood and Cabarrus Streets where they lived out the mandate given to them by the Bishop to be a presence of the Gospel among the people. After five years, Madonna House, now with Theresa Davis, Elsie Whitty, and many others, moved to Rose Lane within the geographic boundaries of Saint Joseph Parish.

The purpose of Madonna House is to restore the world and its institutions to Christ. This entails living the Gospel without compromise in the ordinariness of daily living-to do the duty of the moment and to do little things well out of love. Here in Raleigh, the mandate more specifically is a prayer/listening house. "Poustinia" rooms are provided for anyone who would like a space of silence for prayer, fasting, and solitude. This allows the person to encounter God who already abides within him in the depth of his heart by baptism.

Members of the Madonna House, men, women, and priests, take promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The Apostolate of Madonna House and its members are pilgrims in this world proclaiming the Second Coming of Christ, when all things will be restored in Him. Like all pilgrims, the members travel in poverty, find security only in Christ, journey in chastity to serve, love Christ in men,   and live in obedience only with the will of God. The rule of life which follows encapsulates the spirit and goals. ARISE - go! Sell all you possess ... give it directly, personally to the poor. Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me - going to the poor - being poor- being one with them - one with Me. LITTLE - be always little ... simple - poor - childlike. Preach the Gospel WITH YOUR LIFE-WITHOUT COMPROMISE - listen to the Spirit - He will lead you. Do little things exceedingly well for love of Me. Love - Love - Love - never counting the cost. Go into the market place and stay with Me - pray - fast - pray always - fast. Be hidden - be a light to your neighbor's feet. Go without fears into the depth of men's hearts ... I shall be with you. PRAY ALWAYS - I WILL BE YOUR REST.

From July 1980 through July 1981, Saint Joseph shared a pastor, Father Michael Shugrue with Saint Eugene in Wendell. The two parish councils met to discuss such basic arrangements as when Sunday masses said by one pastor could be held. Father Shugrue explained to both parishes the necessity of our working through the challenge of having a pastor in residence at each place for only half a week. Fortunately, parishioners adequately assumed responsibility for parish building and grounds, liturgy, education, and social awareness projects, so that this period was reasonably stable. As a result of this experience and the ability of the pastor to delegate, parishioners saw how capable they were to carry out needed tasks successfully. Projects which had begun under the leadership of Father James Keaney's pastoring continued and thrived. Health Care Ministry, under the direction of Ceil Chodnicki with Father Keaney as spiritual director, began in the early summer of 1980. Lay volunteers were trained in the special ministry and in September, the group was commissioned Ministers of the Eucharist. Daily visits to Catholic patients at Wake Medical Center, Nursing Homes in the parish areas, and homebound parishioners began in October, 1980 and are still continuing today under the leadership of Lorraine Ives and others.

Catholic Parish Outreach originated some time in 1973 by a group of Catholic parishioners in the Raleigh area to provide food and clothing for some of the truly needy. Throughout the years, this mission has remained basically the same although the clothing is now limited to baby and maternity clothes. To accomplish this ministry, Outreach is dependent upon the donations of the local Catholic Churches through their SHARE SUNDAYS and by a number of individual contributions. It is staffed by one part-time administrator and approximately  100 volunteers. These volunteers, from all the local churches, donate three hours or more each month to helping those who are less fortunate. From a humble beginning, serving about twenty persons per month, Outreach has continually grown until it now serves an average of 1600 persons per month. The recipients are referred to Catholic Parish Outreach by various churches and social agencies. This ministry to the needy would not be possible but for the generous donations from the churches, and from the many caring individuals, and the dedicated people who volunteer so much of their time.

Senior Citizens luncheons and get-togethers, as well as youth outings, have continued throughout the years. A parish awareness program was initiated by John Nader. Neighborhood meetings bringing together parishioners to discuss their needs and concerns for themselves and the parish resulted in two parish assemblies. At this time, the parish set goals and made decisions regarding parish needs and projects. In 1983, the plan selected by the framework of a Parish Assembly was used to the great benefit of the church. At the time a subcommittee of the Parish Council had proposed demolition of the Education Building (the former garage) and the construction of a modular building at a high cost to the parish. A response to this proposal spearheaded by Ray Kelling was adopted by the Parish Assembly with the result that the members agreed to volunteer to renovate the older education building so that it could be safe, adequate, and energy conservative. Another result of this experience was the appointing of a Long Range Planning Committee to project the needs and financial resources necessary for the health and growth of the parish.

Under the spiritual direction of Father Saxon, the parish has continued to receive abundant blessings from Almighty God. Because our financial situation here at Saint Joseph was so critical, Father Saxon, with members of the finance and pastoral councils, negotiated with the Diocese to cancel the huge debt of the parish and grant a five year subsidy to help us get on our feet. Father Saxon also made several mission appeals throughout the Diocese, and beyond, to further help Saint Joseph. Long standing debts have been paid, needed maintenance and repairs to our buildings have been made and we have expanded our programs in religious education, liturgy, and out reach to the poor. The Saint Joseph House, a project to provide housing and assistance to persons with AIDS or who are HIV positive, was started in the apartment above the parish office. Currently, two young men are being assisted through this project with the help of Father Saxon and advisors. We are eternally grateful to our benefactors for their prayers and steadfast support to our parish.

In 1989, Father Saxon began a campaign in the parish to paint and re-carpet the church. It was enthusiastically received by the parish, and in just three years, the church received a fresh paint job and new carpeting. Our parish is currently working to provide new seating (pews or chairs) for the church. This project, too, has been owned by our parishioners, and we are well under way to accomplishing this goal in a few years.

The Father James Keenan memorial was erected in 1990. Father Saxon, working very closely with Mrs. Mary Ann Schmitt and several benefactors, erected a beautiful shrine to Our Lady of Fatima and a new church sign on our property facing Poole Road. This Marian Shrine serves as a focal point of prayer with devotions held there May through October. It is also a beautiful landmark for our parish.

Our shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa, located in the church itself, has become a focal point of devotion to the Mother of God for the parish. Father Saxon was accompanied by fourteen members of the parish family to Rome to present the Icon of Our Lady to Pope John Paul II. They were received in a private audience on December 12, 1990. It was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our Holy Father, blessed the image of Our Lady and extended his Apostolic Blessing to the entire parish. Every Wednesday evening following the sacrament of reconciliation and the rosary, Father Saxon leads all who gather in a special novena, which is followed by the celebration of the eucharist. Our Blessed Lady has poured abundant blessings upon our parish and we hold a special place of love and affection for her in our hearts.

Saint Monica Evangelization was a joint organization of Saint Joseph and Sacred Heart Cathedral. It was initiated by Reverend James Labosky during his pastorate at Saint Joseph. In 1991 it was renamed Saint Martin de Porres Guild for Evangelization and found its home at Saint Joseph. The Guild is recognized as a "local chapter" of the Community of African-American Ministry and Evangelization of the Diocese of Raleigh with Reverend JaVan Saxon as its spiritual director.

The purpose of the Guild is the following: to recognize and celebrate the gifts, talents, tradition, and culture of African-American members of the Church; to share the rich Catholic heritage enjoyed by African-Americans in the Church to our children; to reach out in an authentic ecumenical spirit to our brothers and sisters of other faiths; to bring the good news of the Gospel and our Catholic faith to unchurched members of the larger community of East Raleigh; and to enhance the unity of the Church.

In January, 1992, the first Medal of Saint Monica was bestowed upon one of our parishioners, Mrs. Bertha Coleman, by Bishop F. Joseph Gossman. The medal was given as testimony to her constant faith, persistence in prayer, warm charity, and witness to the Gospel, both as a member of Saint Monica Catholic Church and member of Saint Joseph Catholic Church.

Little Rock Scripture Study (LRSS) was initiated at Saint Joseph in September, 1992 under the leadership of Jean LeFrancois and with the blessings and support of Father Saxon. A total of ten parishioners and non-parishioners were enrolled in the class. The first year of study consisted of Introduction to the Bible, Acts of the Apostles, and Matthew. The group, although small, enjoyed fellowship, learned more about the formation of the Church and the early life of Jesus, and grew in a deeper and richer understanding of their faith.

Father Saxon celebrated his Tenth Anniversary to the priesthood in June 1993. The Saint Joseph community was delighted he was here at Saint Joseph for this important celebration in his life and in ours. Although Father Saxon has been our pastor for only four years, his stay with us has been longer than any other pastor. Parishioners hoped he will remain with us for years to come.

1993 is the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Saint Joseph Parish. Every parishioner has served on a committee to organize and prepare for the year long celebrations. Each month, from January through December, we hosted a special celebration. We began with an ecumenical service in January which was attended by area churches of the East Raleigh Ministerial Association, as well as representatives from the Greek Orthodox Church. Our celebrations zenithed in October when our Bishop, F. Joseph Gossman, celebrated an anniversary mass with our parish family.

In 1978, the following "Mission Statement" was adopted by the Parish Council as part of the parish plan:

"Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church is a Christian community formed to reconcile and serve the spiritual needs of its particular members as well as the needs of the larger community of Raleigh, through the proclamation of and living the Good News. This community by learning, living, and proclaiming the Gospel message, and animated faith, grace, and Christ's command to love one another, takes as its mission serving the needs of not only the members of this specific community, but also to reach out to serve those in our spiritual and geographic communities."

On the occasion of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Saint Joseph (or more properly the Fifty-Third Anniversary of Saint Monica/Saint Joseph), the words and message of this statement point to the possibility of continued growth and realization of the laudable goals parishioners have set for themselves as members of this unique parish community in East Raleigh.

St. Joseph Parish 1994-1998

 The thirtieth anniversary of St. Joseph Parish was celebrated in October 1998 with a dinner and dance at the Knights of Columbus Hall. There was good cause to celebrate since St. Joseph had continuously grown in numbers during the past five years. Individual/family members registration went from 344 in 1994 to 565 in 1998. Existing programs were expanded and new programs were added.

The Altar Guild continues to effectively function in the parish. The Guild consists of a small, yet vital, group. Its members do the "behind the scene" work in the church.   Their main duty is to prepare the sanctuary and chapel for week-end services by cleaning the linens, cleaning and replenishing the votive candles and performing other tasks as requested by the pastor.

Catholic Parish Outreach has a strong present at St. Joseph. With funds received from various parishes and thru Share Sunday, food has been given to 84,108 persons during the five year period from 1994 to 1998. This averages to 17,000 people per year or approximately 1,400 persons per month. Madonna House continues to be an active resource in our parish. They have been involved with the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) program for a number of years, the Health Care Ministry, Eucharistic Ministry and cantering. They present a truly prayer presence in our parish community.

For the past twelve years (1986-1998), Mary Jo Clark served as the Director of Religious Education. This position is now presently held by Mr. Ken Killinger. With the continued growth of our parish family, there was a substantial increase of the number of children in the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) program. At the present time we have 102 children registered with the largest number in the second grade (17) and the next largest number in the fourth, seventh/eighth grades (14), high school (12) and kindergarten (10).

St. Joseph's House continues to be a part of our parish ministry. Whereas the parish was previously assisting two young men through this ministry, we are now serving a family of four.

The Senior Adult group was established in 1985 under the leadership of Rev. James Keenan. They continue to be active in raising money for various needs of the church ranging from giving contributions towards a new nativity set to items needed to operate the kitchen, to name but a few. They are active in sending "cheer" cards to shut-ins, sponsoring bake sales, assisting with the Christmas bazaar and providing scholarship money for our pre-school program.

Our Social Committee, under the direction of Nicole Hudson, has been extremely active during the past several years. She, along with committee members, has been involved in hosting receptions after vigil masses, for children and young adults receiving first communion/confirmation and our graduates, for the ordination of Rev. Robert Staley and the installation of our new pastor, Rev. Thanh Nguyen. They have also hosted international pot luck dinners, Mardi Gras dances, Halloween parties for our children, wakes and funerals of our parishioners, pancake breakfasts before our church yard work days and numerous other activities.

The Worship Committee is primarily responsible for the planning of the music and the prayers of the faithful for the liturgies.   Members of the Worship Committee attended several diocesan workshops in order to enhance congregational singing. The vocal musical group is involved in singing at the Easter Vigil, Palm Sunday and Pentecost Sunday. They also perform for other special events such as First Communion and Confirmation. The Children's Choir, under the leadership of Liz Chance, usually performs during the Christmas Vigil, on Sundays when our graduates are honored, Mother's Day and other special occasions throughout the year. Instrumentalists, which was initiated by Jan Adam, has added tremendously to the beauty and reverence of our liturgies.

St. Joseph's Youth Choir, although small in number, is an integral part of the parish. Youths are involved in peer ministry, confirmation classes, field trips to various shrines and other churches in the Baltimore/Washington DC area, assist with the cleaning of the grounds on Saturdays, with yard sales and craft bazaars. They are also involved in visiting shut-ins in nursing homes and the Alzheimer's Center, baby sitting, blessing of the pets and collecting food during the Advent season.

Our youth have participated in Diocesan Youth Conventions for a number of years. They provide food for the Senior's Annual Luncheon which is sponsored by the church; they are active both during the Advent and Lenten season by attending the stations of the cross and meeting to say the rosary. They continually seek ways to actively profess their faith and become more visible in the church community.

The Raleigh Chapter of the Catholic Golden Age meets monthly at St. Joseph Parish. The group is affiliated with the Senior Citizens Program with the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department. Disciples in Mission, a three year program, was initiated in the Fall of 1998 and continued through the Lenten season of 1999. Participation was excellent for a parish of our size.

The Legion of Mary was formed in 1994 under the leadership of Sylvia Cottle. Members are extremely active with the Prison Ministry by taking men out on passes, to Mass, lunch and social activities and placing released prisoners in lodgings . They also visit the sick at the Brian Center, Britthaven of Raleigh and the Alzheimer's Center on Sunnybrook road and bring the Holy Eucharist to Catholic nursing home residents. A new focus has been on evangeliztion, primarily in the new developments, spreading the "good news" and trying to bring the unchurched back to the sacraments.

The parish newsletter "Voice of St. Joseph" was initiated in March 1998. It is published quarterly by members of the parish. Our parish mass schedule was featured in the Friday Faith Section of the Raleigh News & Observer during the month of April 1999.

Our Pre-School Program, under the direction of Marjorie Shaghnessy, continues to grow. The group started in 1996 with three students. We presently have twelve students of diverse backgrounds.

The Tutorial Program was started in the Fall of 1994 under the guidance and direction of both Reverend JaVan Saxon and Madonna House. The children live in the Worthdale area and are assigned to North Raleigh Elementary School. They are assisted with homework, reading and writing skills, as well as mathematics. At the present time there are fourteen students in the Tutorial Program which is under the direction of Marjorie Shaghnessy.

With the continued development of new homes and townhouses in southeast Raleigh, St. Joseph Parish is optimistic about its future growth and expansion of programs.


The Thirtieth and Twenty-Fifth Anniversary History of St. Joseph Roman Catholic church was prepared by Jean LeFrancois, September 1993. Grateful thanks is given to Sheila Nader for the inclusion of the 1983 fifteen year history. Contributions were also made by the following parishioners: Bob McBride, Catholic Parish Outreach; Theresa Davis and Carolyn Desch, Madonna House; Lorraine Ives, Health Care Ministry; Jan Adam, Polish Community; Ruth Chalifour,Altar Guild; Ken Buettner, Catholic Golden Age; Tim Cahalan, Legion of Mary; Joyce Bass, Publicity; Ken Killinger, Religious Education; Alice Solomon, Senior Adults; Nicole Hudson, Social Committee; Liz Chance, Worship Committee; and Linda Grady, Youth Group. Our special thanks is also extended to Reverend JaVan Saxon for general parish information and to Tim Clark and Nicole Hudson, committee members, for assisting in summarizing the minutes from 1983 to 1993 for the twenty-five year history.

1994-1998 History prepared by Jean LeFrancois, July 6, 1999