St. Joseph Church in Canton, MO is now part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City. The mailing address for the Parish Office is: 812 Lewis Street, Canton, MO 63435. Our Office is located next to St. Joseph Church (just down the hill fromCulver-Stockton College).
HISTORY OF ST. JOSEPH CHURCH CANTON, MISSOURI
The origins of Catholicism in Lewis County, Missouri go back to early explorers of the Mississippi River, Fr. Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet and five companions, who traveled the river in June, 1673. Fr. Marquette, a French Jesuit priest was sent by his superior from Canada. Louis Joliet was the agent of the government of Canada. They were in search of the great "River of the West," they called Michisipi or Missipi. Fr. Marquette named the river the River de la Conception, that is, the River of the (Immaculate) Conception in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
According to The Missouri Plebian the cornerstone of a Catholic church was to be laid at Tully on Sunday, September 3, 1841. Tully was an early settlement, at that time larger than Canton, located near the present site of Lock and Dam 20 on the Mississippi River. The parish had a small membership and struggled along with no resident pastor. It was attended by priests from Marysville (now called St. Patrick) and Palmyra. Tully was abandoned during the several years’ period following the severe flood of 1851.
The first priest to celebrate Mass in Canton rode horseback from Edina. He celebrated Mass in an upstairs room of the L.C. Bevans home at 604 Lewis St., in the past known as the Wellman home. The foundation of the first St. Joseph Church in Canton was laid in 1866 and completed in 1867 on the northeast corner of 9th and Lewis Streets. Bricks for this building were brought from the old buildings in Tully. That old church was razed in 1954 and the present church building was constructed on the same site at a cost of $60,000 with much volunteer labor in the incredibly brief period of six months. It was dedicated on October 31, 1954 by Bishop John Cody, auxiliary bishop of St. Louis. This was during the pastorate of Fr. Michael J. O’Rourke. There were 65 families in the parish at that time.
St. Joseph Parish was in the St. Louis Archdiocese until 1911 when it became part of the St. Joseph Diocese. In 1956 it became part of the new Diocese of Jefferson City. For most of the history of the parish, there have been mission parishes attached to it. During most of the history of Immaculate Conception/Notre Dame at La Grange since 1865, the pastor of St. Joseph-Canton had responsibility for that parish. For some years in the past there were also mission parishes at Williamstown and Deer Ridge in Lewis County. St. Patrick Parish at St. Patrick, Mo was served from St. Joseph from 1977 until 2004. Presently Fr. Richard Frank has responsibility for Notre Dame at La Grange and also Queen of Peace at Ewing since July, 2004.
In 1890 St. Joseph began its own parochial school in a frame building at the rear of the church, which was also used as the rectory and convent. The school was conducted by the Ursuline Sisters of San Antonio, Texas, who lived in rooms above the rectory. A new rectory, a white frame building east of the church, was erected and dedicated in 1907. Under the pastorate of Fr. John Girse, who had come to Canton in 1904, a new brick school building was built in 1907 on the southwest corner of Ninth and Lewis Streets diagonally across the intersection from the church. A festive dedication took place at the laying of the cornerstone on July 28, 1907, with Fr. Foley of Quincy delivering forceful and eloquent address. The Very Reverend Anselm Mueller, president of St. Francis College of Quincy officiated, assisted by Fr. Zurbonsen of St. Mary Church of Quincy. People from the country from miles around Canton came, while the excursion boat "Uncle Sam" brought up a crowd of over 500 from Quincy. St. Patrick also sent a delegation. The Canton band led the procession from the wharf to the site of the school with hundreds of people thronging the sidewalks along Lewis Street to view the procession. When the school was ready to open in September, it was expected that 200 students would enroll. The school was discontinued in 1914, the building was sold for an apartment house and was destroyed by fire in 1946.
While Fr. Stephen Sandknop was pastor from 1970-76, he put his creative talent to work in the redecoration of the church in 1971. The need for a new rectory became obvious. In 1975 he planned the building and decorating of a combination rectory and parish hall. It was completed just before his untimely death at age 38 on June 29, 1976. It was during his time that St. Joseph Parish began to take an active part in the Canton Council of Churches engaging in various prayer events and fundraising activities to aid the needy and travelers. During Fr. Kaimann’s pastorate in 1981 there was addition to Marquette Parish Hall together with a storage room and garage.
From the time of Fr. Patrick Hoffmann’s death in October, 1990, the parish did not have a resident pastor for 14 years. During this time pastoral administrators were assigned, including Sr. Mary Ellen Knoll, Sr. Mildred Loddeke, Bro. John Francis Tyrell, and Deacon Robert DePyper. The sacramental needs of the parish were provided by priests coming from St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Hannibal (Fr. David Maher, Fr. David Cox), Holy Rosary Parish in Monroe City (Fr. Thomas Alber), and Queen of Peace Parish in Ewing (Fr. David Cox, Fr. Donald Siciliano). When Fr. Richard Frank was assigned in July, 2004, he was the first resident pastor since 1990. He was also pastor of the mission parish of Notre Dame at La Grange and Queen of Peace Parish at Ewing.
During Fr. Richard Frank’s pastorate in 2004 a new carport was erected to replace the car garage, which had been transformed during Deacon Robert DePyper’s administration into a CCD classroom. In 2005 new vinyl siding was put on the exterior of the deteriorating wooden siding of the rectory and Marquette Hall. In 2006 an outdoor statue of the Immaculate Conception was installed in front of church. In 2007 the addition of a new fiberglass steeple added to the exterior décor of the church building. List of who have served here at St. Joseph Catholic Church
The parish has an active Parish Council, St. Ann’s Altar Sodality, CCD program for grade and high school students, youth group, and weekly Sunday Scripture discussion group.