HISTORY OF ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC PARISH - Golden, Colorado

St. Joseph Catholic Parish was founded in 1859 by Father Joseph Machebeuf. The first white-frame church structure was finished in 1867 on a site on the north side of 14th Avenue near Ford Street. Judge Jonas Johnson donated that site and in 1874 he donated another twenty acres (where the present church complex is located) as a cemetery and possible church site.

This tiny church was the second church built in Golden. The Baptist (1866), Calvary Espiscopal (1869), Swedish Lutheran (1870), and First Presbyterian (1870, now the Foothills Art Center) churches also served pioneer Golden, a one-time territorial capital and urban rival of Denver. Golden population peaked at 2,730 in 1880 and then its population declined when it lost the territorial capital to Denver as well as its hopes of becoming the Colorado railroad hub. Despite the dwindling population, St. Joseph's struggled to stay open. Thomas McGrath became the first resident pastor in 1871, followed by Fathers L. B. Lebouc (1872-1873), S. Duroc (1873-1881), Anthony J. Abel (1881-1886), Martin P. O'Driscoll (1886-1888), George J. Morton (1888-1890), and Daniel Lyons (1891). In 1891, Bishop Matz, with some relief, turned over the poor, struggling parish to the Franciscans in Denver.

Bernard Spiegelberg, O.F.M., began an ambitious pastorate in 1891 and in 1899 built a new $8,000 brick church on the east side of the original frame structure. The Franciscans worked to pay off the parish debt and returned a debt-free parish to the Denver diocese in 1913.

Father Robert Servant was appointed to St. Joseph Parish by Bishop Matz in 1913 and he served until his death in 1924. He was followed by Father John P. Moran (1924-1940) who built the mission of Christ the King (1936) in Evergreen. Father Barry Wogan guided St. Joseph's until 1949, adding a $19,959 hall north of the church on East Street. This hall served Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

After World War II, Golden's growth finally began to match the golden hopes of its town founders. The town grew from 3,175 in 1940 to 7,118 in 1960, and to 12,237 in 1980. St. Joseph's parishioners were overflowing the old 1899 red brick church by October 3, 1958, when Archbishop Vehr dedicated a new $135,000, 450-seat church. Located across East Street from the old church, it was designed by architect John K. Monroe as a basement church able to sustain a traditional ecclesiastical superstructure if future growth required it.

The old church, rectory, hall, and grounds were sold in 1965 for $130,749 to the Adolph Coors Company, which demolished the structures to expand its parking lot for tourists, who came in ever-increasing numbers to inspect the huge brewery and sample its products. Proceeds were used to begin construction of a $227,870 eight-classroom school on the 10th Avenue and Ulysses Street site.

Richard Mershon (1964-1970), Monsignor Thomas P. Barry (1970-1976), Monsignor Edward A. Leyden (1976-1977), Father George V. Fagan (1977-1982), and several interim pastors guided St. Joseph Parish through years of rapid growth in Jefferson County, where it had once been the only parish. St. Joan of Arc Parish (1967) in Arvada, and Our Lady of Fatima (1958), and Christ on the Mountain (1975) parishes in Lakewood were established to care for newly-suburbanized areas once within the boundaries of St. Joseph.

Even with these new parishes, St. Joseph's continued to grow. Angelo Ossino, who became pastor on July 1, 1982, began working with the Council on plans for a new parish plant on the twenty-acre expansion site on the north side of the Golden Cemetery, which Judge Johnson had donated in 1874. The result is a $1.6 million church and rectory. For the October 19, 1986 dedication, a procession of parishioners carried the crucifix from the old church to the new. The old cornerstone and church bell of the 1867 church were also brought to the new site and placed at the outside entrance.

The church is pinned to a hillside by more than 150 caissons and designed to be warm and welcoming, to have the earthy feeling of the nearby foothills. The pie-shaped structure seats over 500 with no one more than nine pews from the altar. Designed by architects Keith Ames and Associates of Longmont, the dramatic exterior of brick and raw wood rises to a central cone over the altar. The exterior features a solar wall and garden, with a baptismal font just inside the main entrance. Custom handcrafted furnishings adorn the interior, including a suspended sculptural ceiling in the Eucharistic chapel and Stations of the Cross carved in glass. Under its huge conical roof, the complex contains a record vault, a reconciliation room, a chapel, offices, a gift shop, and a kitchen.

Archbishop J. Francis Stafford anointed the altar with holy oil, sprinkled parishioners with holy water, and set off the smoke detectors with clouds of incense. Parishioners thanked the archbishop with a traditional western "Howdy!" by presenting him with a Stetson hat. Thus, St. Joseph, the second church to be built outside Denver by Bishop Machebeuf, became the first new Colorado church to be dedicated by Archbishop Stafford. Excerpted from Colorado Catholicism by Tom Noel, Copyright 1989 Archdiocese of Denver

A picture of the beautiful Saint Joseph's Church!
July, 2003

History of St. Joseph's after the Dedication of the Present Church

All the priests who have served St. Joseph Parish since its dedication in 1986 have been very dedicated to their vocation - serving with devotion and humility. They have faithfully performed many baptisms, weddings, and funerals. They have spent countless hours taking the sacraments to the sick and the dying and have established a solid religious education program for the young people of the parish. During this time several priests have served St. Joseph Parish and have seen the parish grow to more than 1,100 households. Fr. John Wind became Pastor in 1989 and served until he became ill in 1996. On May 16, 1992 St. Joseph Parish celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Church in Golden. Father John Gibbons was appointed Administrator from December 1996 to June 1997.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., named Father Joseph E. Monahan Administrator of St. Joseph Parish in June 1997. Father Monahan was appointed Pastor for a six-year term in June 1998. Father Monahan celebrated his 25th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood and the Parish was delighted to be able to prepare a special social event following his Jubilee Mass celebration. In 2004 Archbishop Chaput renewed Fr. Monahan's assignment for six more years.

Deacons who have recently served at St. Joseph Parish are Deacon Ken Dreiling, Deacon William Ward, Deacon Leonard Polak and Deacon Dennis Kelly. Presently serving St. Joseph Parish are Deacon Ed Clements, who was appointed to St. Joseph's in June of 2004 and Deacon Glenn Allison, appointed just after his ordination in June 2007.

On January 16, 2004 Fr. Monahan held the first annual Parish Benefit Dinner, and it is fast becoming a tradition as it was held again in 2005, 2006, 2007 and will be held in 2008 as well. Another milestone of 2005 was the first annual "St. Joseph Service Award" which recognized eleven exceptional volunteers within the parish community. In 2006, ten parishioners were selected and in 2007 another ten volunteers from within our parish community were recognized for the gift of their time and talents to our parish. In early 2005 we added stained-glass windows to the atrium. The stained-glass is an artistic depiction of the River Jordan, which complements both the existing Baptismal Font and the recently-addded John the Baptist statue. In May we also had a very beautiful painting of St. Joseph depicting him with a young Jesus done by parishioner Jeff Lauwers. It is placed opposite the painting of St. Cecelia, also done by Jeff Lauwers. In 2005 several members of St. Joseph parish were able to attend the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. In 2006 a decision was made to build a new Community Center as well as renovate the current Parish Center. The new Community Center will house a day chapel, staff offices, a conference room, an updated kitchen and a parish hall that will hold 250 people with a small dance floor. The renovated Parish Center (Education Center) will be modified to have 12 classrooms and a much needed update to the heating, electrical and plumbing systems.The Building Committee anticipates an early Spring 2008 ground-breaking for the first phase of the project, the new Community Center. Existing parish funds and funds pledged by parishioners should cover the costs of this first phase. Therefore many fund-raising activities are anticipated throughout the next three years in order to complete phase II, the renovation of the Education Center. These activities should not only raise the monies necessary for our building project but also bring us closer together as a community to achieve our goal. While the center of our parish life is the celebration of the Eucharist, we also believe that we must be a welcoming community and that we must provide for the Catholic education and social needs of our parish family and be committed to Christian service and outreach.

969 Ulysses Street    Golden, Colorado 80401   303.279.4464  |  303.273.9811