Our Early Years
St. Joseph the Worker Parish was established by the Most Reverend Henry P. Rohlman on November 1, 1949 in order to serve the west side of Dubuque which was rapidly expanding after World War II. The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Martin, former president of Loras College, was appointed the first pastor. Parishioners came from Cathedral, Nativity, St. Anthony and St. Columbkille to form the new parish of St. Joseph. The first Mass at St. Joseph Church was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1950.
Construction of the first building, a combination church/school building on St. Joseph Street, began in 1950. The Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, Wisconsin were engaged to teach in the school and, in the fall of 1950, 165 children were enrolled. As the parish grew an addition was made to the school, the rectory was renovated and a convent was built.
A New Building and a New Name
It was not until 1967 that the church was built. The church, designed by architect Wayne Smith of Winona, is round and features hand carved Stations of the Cross, thirty stained glass windows designed by Robert Leader and an exterior carving of St. Joseph the Worker. The dedication of the church took place on December 8, 1968.
The parish had always claimed St. Joseph the Worker as patron, and was officially named St. Joseph the Worker in 1994. For a complete history of the first fifty years of St. Joseph the Worker, see Without A Wash Cloth written by George A. Freund and available at the Parish Office.
The Mission Continues
Recently, we have begun an exciting new chapter for St. Joseph the Worker as we renew our focus on making disciples of all nations. In an effort to enhance the Sunday experience and make mass accessible to more people, we have installed new screens to project the words to songs and prayers.
We also introduced a new contemporary music style to our 11:00 Sunday mass and have started connecting the Gospel to our lives in new ways through special message series.
Today the community of St. Joseph the Worker is over 1300 households strong and strives to reach out to people of all ages and backgrounds through education, service, prayer and liturgy, health ministry, ministry to youth and outreach beyond our parish. We work hard every day to bring others to Christ and to be a truly amazing parish.