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The first Catholic Church in the Shenango Valley was St. Rose of Lima. This congregation was the predecessor of the present day St. Joseph Church. On May 16, 1860, Clemens Dach donated one-half acre of land for the new church on the west side of what is now known as Dutch Lane in Hickory Township (Hermitage). The Catholic founders around Hickory Corners were of German descent and worked in the coalmines. Many of them came from the Diocese of Treves, a mining community in West Germany. The First Mass in the area was celebrated in the home of Martin Scholl, a log house near Keel Ridge, sometime prior to 1860. Construction of the frame church with a small rectory and a schoolroom connected to the rear of the building was completed in 1861. The church was named St. Rose of Lima in honor of the first native of the New World to be canonized.

In 1889, the parishioners decided to build a new church in Sharon because the coalmines in Hickory were almost exhausted and employment shifted to the steelmills in Sharon. The Trustees of the German Roman Catholic Congregation of Sharon purchased two acres of land on State Street for $1,350.

On June 13, 1893, the first spadeful of dirt was turned to begin new church. The cornerstone was laid on August 13. A history of the times states, "St. Joseph's German Catholic Church on East State Street, next to Buhl Hospital, is one of the largest church edifices of the county." This new church accommodated fourhundred people, and was an ambitious undertaking for a small congregation. It was so ambitious that only the brick shell of the building was constructed. This large brick church was built at a cost of over $20,000. Many of the parishioners mortgaged their homes to help finance the construction cost.

The church was completed and formally dedicated on May 22, 1898. The congregation grew from sixty to one hundred and twenty-five families during the next eight years and, in 1906, a brick parochial school was erected to replace the original two-story frame building that had served as a combination church and school. A local contractor built the school but cleverly, and probably illegally, had school children unload and haulbricks to save construction costs. The parish continued to flourish and numbered two hundred and fifty families by March of 1924.

In July 1924, eight acres of land were purchased for a parish cemetery. It was called St. Rose Cemetery because the property was near where the Mother Church had been erected sixty-three years earlier. A brick rectory was begun in the fall of 1924 and was finished April 7, 1925. A new convent for the Benedictine Sisters, who taught in the parochial school, was built in 1926.

The church's financial affairs were in good order in 1931, enabling the construction of the Josephinum -- a recreational center that included a gymnasium, showers, dressing rooms, bowling alleys, a stage, kitchen andmeeting rooms. Bishop John Mark Gannon dedicated it on January 28, 1932. After the completion of the building program that included the rectory, convent and Josephinum, the parish acquired property on Woodrow Court, anticipating the day when the church that was once thought too big for the parish would be too small. Over the next few years, property was purchased south of State Street and west of Woodrow Court and funds were saved for a new church. But there were needs more pressing than a new church. The large brick school that had been built to accommodate ten grades and a student body of three hundred and fifty was totally inadequate.

While the number of grades had been reduced to eight, the enrollment was nearly six hundred students, with some classes located in the basement of the Josephinum. In June 1954, the school was completely remodeled and a new addition was added to the front of the school. It gave the building a completely new look, blending stone sculptured religious scenes with wide expanses of glass and metal panels. The school was joined to the Josephinum. The modernization program, which provided sixteen classrooms, was completed in September 1955, at a cost of $260,000. As a part of this modernization program, the convent was enlarged and remodeled to accommodate the faculty of eighteen Benedictine Sisters. Office space and additional rooms were provided for the rectory. The overall cost of the three-phase building program was almost $500,000.

Even with property acquisitions, it was impossible to find sufficient space anywhere near the rectory, convent or school to build a new church to accommodate a thousand people. After formation of Notre Dame Church from St. Joseph's, the parish still included approximately thirteen hundred and fifty families. It was recommended that the churchpurchase three properties bounded by State Street, Case Avenue and Linden Street as the site for the new church. Later adjoining Linden Street frontage was purchased to give the church additional space. The new church and rectory were built on this property at a total cost of approximately $1,000,000 and completed in 1965. The new church was a combination of modern and traditional design.

In October 1995, a renovation of the worship space of St. Joseph Church was begun according to the directives liturgical reform initiated by Vatican Council II. for That renovation was completed in August 1996, at a cost of more than $750,000.

Any history, no matter how brief, must centrally note that St. Joseph's has been a fountain of sacramental and liturgical life for people of the Shenango Valley. While there are substantial gaps in the sacramental records from 1860 - 1945, those extant list 12,827 Baptisms, 7,926 First Communions, 6,451 Confirmations and 3,975 Marriages.

In reality, those nourished by the sacramental life of the community is much higher, known only to those who have been touched by the grace of the Risen Christ. Additionally, St. Joseph's has fostered thirty-two vocations to communities of religious women, three to communities of religious men and twenty-three vocations to priesthood.

God's can Holy be long People justifiably history Gospel of imperatives of St. proud worship, of Joseph's of their prayer Jesus and within living its the walls, in the community that is "The Valley" and in the larger world. It is greatly to be hoped the spirit of faith that animated the past 150 years will continue undiminished and with ever-new vision as "A People • A Promise" far into the future.



   

Mass Schedule

Weekday and Holy Day schedules can be found in the bulletin.

Saturday: 5:15 pm (Vigil)

Sunday: 8:30 am and 11:00 am

Sacraments

Baptism: Baptisms are scheduled by appointment. Pre-Baptism class is required. No baptisms during Lent and Advent.

Reconciliation: Saturday afternoons, 4:00-4:30 pm. Confessions at other times by appointment.

Matrimony: By appointment six months in advance.

Sacrament of Holy Orders: Some men fulfill God's call to holiness by serving as priests or permanent deacons. Men, high school age or older, who feel God may be calling them to pursue the Sacrament of Holy Orders should contact our parish priest.

Programs

Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA): Please call the rectory office.

Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help: Every Wednesday after the 12:10 pm Mass in the Mother's Chapel.

Prayer Line: For intentions, please call 724-962-5996.

Religious Education Program: CCD Grades K-11, at Case Avenue Elementary, Sundays 9:30 am -10:45 am (during the school year).

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