St. Joseph’s Yorkville still offers German language mass on the first Sunday of the month, preserving ties to the ancestors that began this congregation almost 150 years ago.
St. Joseph’s Yorkville had its start in the small chapel of an orphanage built by Kleindeutschland’s Church of the Most Holy Redeemer. As more German families moved into the Yorkville area, the chapel proved too small and the congregation began thinking about building a new church attached to the orphanage.
By 1873, the Jesuit Catholic Church gave the go ahead for the formation of a German national parish, and the congregation sent a request to St. Lawrence Church, the only other German parish in the area at the time, for a German-speaking priest. On April 26th, 1874, Archbishop McCloskey, the 1st American ever to become a cardinal, dedicated St. Joseph’s Church.
Around the same time, St. Joseph’s observed the need for a school that could cater to the specific needs of the surrounding German community and their children. Thus, St. Joseph’s School opened in 1880. Education of German children in the Catholic faith has always been a main focus of the parish, and the school remains a thriving center of the community to this day, over 130 years later.
By the late 1880’s the church had yet again outgrown its premises. A new church designed by German-born architect William Schickel was completed in 1895 at the present location. It included an organ built by two German immigrants, Oscar Müller and George Abel, who had their own organ factory in New York from 1893 to 1902.
Today, St. Joseph’s Yorkville remains a center of its community, often hosting both religious and social events to congregants and a community of different nationalities and cultures.