On Oct. 13, 1913, St. Joseph Parish was dedicated in Shelton.
So this Sunday, 100 years to the day, the parish will celebrate with newly-installed Rev. Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Immediately following the mass, the bishop will bless the new elevator and newly-renovated Herman Pastore Church Hall.
Also celebrating the dedication Mass will be celebrated by the Rev. Archbishop Peter Gerety, retired Archbishop of Newark, N.J. Gerety, who at 101 years-old is the oldest archbishop in the Catholic Church, grew up on Oak Avenue, just two blocks from St. Joseph Church where he was baptized in 1912, according to a press release.
“Very likely his mother brought him as an infant to Mass that October 13, 1913, when the Bishop of Hartford consecrated the new, beautiful church,” said Msgr. Chris Walsh, pastor. “Now he will be present for its centenary! That symbolizes the incredible continuity of families and tradition that makes St. Joseph’s such a unique parish.”
According to Walsh, the $1.2 million renovation project to the historic church began with a capital campaign in the fall of 2011 and ground was broken for the project in the spring of 2012.
The renovation, under project manager Deacon Brad Smythe, included the installation of an elevator, a modern heating and air conditioning system, handicapped-accessible restrooms, a state-of-the art kitchen, and complete renovation of the church hall. The general contractor for the project was A. Secondino & Son, Branford; Silver/Petrucelli & Associates of Hamden was the architect.
St. Joseph’s was founded in 1906 as the first Catholic parish in Shelton. Construction of the present church, a modified Gothic design, began the following year.
The present convent (completed in 1918) and school (completed in 1928) quickly followed. During the 1990s, working from old photographs, the parish restored the interior of the church as closely as possible to its original design, according to the release
The current church renovation, the first in the parish’s history to exceed $1 million, was made possible by generous gifts from approximately 400 parish families and friends, as well as a major gift from the estate of Herman Pastore, a lifelong parishioner and long-time public school educator in Woodbridge.
The earliest parishioners were Irish, Italian, Polish and other Eastern European immigrants who labored in Shelton and Derby factories.
In recent years, the parish has seen an increase in families from Latin America, Portugal, the Philippines, Albania, Vietnam, and French Africa. St. Joseph’s offers a Mass in Spanish at noon on Sunday as well as seven weekend Masses in English.
The parish is served by three full-time priests and two deacons. Four religious sisters of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, headquartered in Hamden, are in residence in the convent.