Parish History

Built on land donated to the parish by Judge Jonas Johnson in 1874, our current church building was designed to be welcoming and to have the earthy feeling of the nearby Rocky Mountain foothills. The pie-shaped structure seats over 500 with no one more than ten 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 Reconciliation room and Stations of the Cross carved in glass. Construction on the church was finished in 1986 and while we have renovated the interior since then, the church retains its warm and open design. The church is the fourth structure used by our parish which was founded in 1859 by Father Joseph Machebeuf. True to our pioneer history, the dedication was full of Western charm.

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, © 1989 Archdiocese of Denver

Pioneer Roots

Golden started off as a mining camp, but by 1859 the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush had drawn enough people here to found a city. Situated on Clear Creek, at the base of the foothills, Golden was ideally situated to serve Colorado’s gold seekers. Some of the first residents of Golden were Catholics and they came together with Father Machebeuf to found our parish although the first church building wasn’t built until 1867. The small white-frame church was built on land donated by Judge Jonas Johnson and was the second church built in Golden.

Golden first served as the capital of the Territory of Jefferson from 1860 to 1861, and then as the capital for Colorado Territory from 1861 to 1867. When Colorado became a state in 1867, Denver was named the capital and Golden’s population dwindled. In 1891, Bishop Matz, with some relief, turned over our struggling parish to the Franciscans in Denver.


The Red Brick Church

Father 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.


The Basement Church

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.

Unfortunately, the beautiful red bricks from the old church were crumbling and so it, along with the 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.

Father 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.


Our Current Church

Even with these new parishes, St. Joseph’s continued to grow. Father 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. 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.

Our parish now includes a Community Center with staff offices, Reception Hall, and the Holy Family Chapel which were built in 2009. The old school building is now our Education Center and was recently renovated to have 12 classrooms, as well as updated heating, cooling, and plumbing. Annual events include our Parish Benefit Dinner in January, Lenten Fish Frys, Church Picnic in August, and Helping Hands Hustle in October. We celebrated our 150th Anniversary in 2009.

If you would like to learn more about the history of our parish, please pick up a copy of St. Joseph’s Red Brick Church by Lorraine Wagenbach.


Pastors Who Have Served Our Parish

All the priests who have served St. Joseph Parish since its founding in 1859 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. This list, unfortunately, does not include many of the interim and visiting priests who have served our parish.

1964-1970 Fr. Richard Gershon

1970-1976 Monsignor Thomas P. Barry

1976-1977 Monsignor Edward A. Leyden

1977-1982 Fr. George V. Fagan

1982-1989 Fr. Angelo Ossino

1989-1996 Fr. John Wind

1996-1997 Fr. John Gibbons

1997-2014 Fr. Joseph E. Monahan

2014-2017 Fr. Matthew Book

2016-2017 Fr. Dennis Garrou (Parish Administrator)

1871 Fr. Thomas McGrath

1872-1873 Fr. L.B. Lebouc

1973-1881 Fr. S. Duroc

1881-1886 Fr. Anthony J. Abel

1886-1888 Fr. Martin P. O’Driscoll

1888-1890 Fr. George J. Morton

1891 Fr. Daniel Lyons

1891-1913 Fr. Bernard Spiegelberg, O.F.M.

1913-1924 Fr. Robert Servant

1924-1940 Fr. John P. Moran

1940-1949 Fr. Barry Wogan

1951-1964 Fr. Andrew E. Warwick