As early as 1850, Catholics in the area of Bonneauville, then known as Bonaughtown, made efforts to establish a church. Finally, in 1859, Rev. Basil A. Shorb, the founding pastor of Saint Joseph’s, began building a church on land donated by his family. On July 31, 1859 Saint John N. Neumann, then Bishop of Philadelphia, laid the original cornerstone of Saint Joseph’s Church. The first Mass took place in early 1860. A cemetery was begun in the churchyard and remained in use until 1870 when a new cemetery was begun near the church. In 1871 the remains of Rev. Basil A. Shorb were laid to rest in a vault in the center of the newly established cemetery.
Father Pope was appointed shortly thereafter as pastor. He built a brick school building in 1873 which formally established a Catholic school for the parish. Religious sisters from the Sisters of Charity of Mount Saint Vincent and subsequently the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill directed the school for a short time. Lay teachers staffed the school for many years until 1902 when the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary came to serve in it. Father Pope was also instrumental in a number of civic affairs, including changing the name of the town to its present name of Bonneauville, as well as establishing a post office in the village.
In 1907, Father Burhard completed an extensive expansion of the church. Sacristies, a vestibule, and two bell towers were added to the structure and a second cornerstone was laid. Pews, an altar rail, and new stained glass windows were installed. Many of these additions were either donated or handcrafted by parish spiritual organizations and individual families of the parish. On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in that same year, Rev. Joseph A. Little, the parish’s sole vocation to the priesthood, was ordained.
The lengthy pastorate of Rev. Leo J. Krichten was from 1935 to 1960. In 1939 the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill returned to again take charge of the school and the convent was significantly expanded. During that same year, the parish joined with several other parishes in the area to establish Delone Catholic High School for the secondary education of young men and women. Also during Father Krichten’s pastorate, a renewed sense of sacred music was instilled in the parish; the new pipe organ was a blessing to the parish.
Rev. Louis W. Forgeng was appointed pastor on June 24, 1960. He is remembered for his work in overseeing the completion of a new Catholic school for the parish in 1960. In 1973, Rev. Paul T. Rindos began his pastorate of nearly twenty-four years at Saint Joseph’s. During that time, the financial position of the parish was strengthened. Yet in 1981, because of decreased vocations to religious life, the parish suffered the loss of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and the parish school was closed.
In 2009, under the guidance of Rev Caesar Belchez, the parish celebrated its 150th Anniversary. In the same year a brick wall and memorial walkway was built for our cemetery and a statue of St. Joseph was included in preparation for the anniversary. A new organ was added to the church also. The organ and cemetery was blessed by Bishop Rhoades on July 19, 2009. A new peaked roof was added to the new school social hall.
Today, under the pastorate of Rev. Benny, the parish continues to have a strong commitment to the Faith. Particularly strong are its love of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist and devotion to His Blessed Mother. Catholic education remains strong. Many parish children undertake their formal education at Saint Joseph’s Academy Preschool, St. Teresa of Calcutta Elementary School, and Delone Catholic High School; the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill still serve at all these institutions.
View List of priests that have served St. Joseph The Worker Parish.
Anyone interested in St. Joseph the Worker history may want to view a website created by Karl Orndorff. Visit the website: Bonneauvillemuseum.com and click on “The Collection.” You will find a list of over 700 cataloged Bonneauville items. Many of the items are related to our church, school, convent and rectory.