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Diocese of St. Joseph

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The City of St. Joseph, Missouri, was founded by Joseph Robidoux, a Catholic, who in 1830 became sole proprietor of the trading post at the mouth of what is now called Roy's Branch, just above the Blacksnake Hills. In 1838 an itinerant Jesuit visited the obscure trading post at this place and said Mass in the rude log house of Robidoux. In 1840 Rev. Father Vogel administered to the spiritual wants of the faithful. Robidoux, alive to the importance of his trading post, began preparations to form a town. The population was about two hundred at that time. He had surveys and plats made by Fred W. Smith, a Catholic. Smith named his plat St. Joseph; it was taken to St. Louis and recorded on 26 July, 1843. The first permanent pastor was the Rev. Thomas Scanlon, who began his labours in 1847. On 17 June, 1847, a brick church was begun and in September of the same year was dedicated by Archbishop P.R. Kenrick of St. Louis. The "Overland Period" was the most important one in the infancy of St. Joseph. Early in the spring of 1849 began the rush to California. As a starting point St. Joseph offered advantages which no other place possessed. There was at that time a population of 1900 souls.

At the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866, St. Joseph was among the new episcopal sees proposed. Rev. John J. Hogan was chosen its first Bishop, 3 March, 1868. The area assigned to the new diocese was that part of the State of Missouri lying between the Missouri and Chariton Rivers. On Investigation the bishop-elect found that there were in the Diocese of St. Joseph 600 families, about 3000 souls, attended by five secular priests. The church edifices were of the poorest kind; the largest (pro- cathedral ) was a low, narrow, brick building, built at three different times. Bishop Hogan was consecrated by Archbishop P.R. Kenrick, 13 September, 1868, and at once took charge of his new field of labour. In 1869 ground was broken for a new cathedral which, three years later, was opened for Divine service. The number of priests increased gradually, religious consciousness and enthusiasm were awakened, churches were built, parish schools erected, and charitable institutions founded. On 10 September, 1880 Bishop Hogan was transferred to the newly-erected Diocese of Kansas City, Mo., and appointed Administrator of St. Joseph. When he resigned his administration of the Diocese of St. Joseph, in 1893, the Rt. Rev. M. F. Burke, D.D., was transferred from the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming , to St. Joseph. His reception by clergy and laity was most enthusiastic. Under his able administration great progress has been made in the material to well as in the spiritual upbuilding of the diocese. A heavy debt on the cathedral has been liquidated, an episcopal residence built, a school of the cathedral parish erected at a cost of $60,000, new missions opened and new parishes organized.

The City of St. Joseph has at present 8 parishes with 12 resident pastors, 6 parish schools attended by 1340 pupils, 1 commercial-college conducted by the Christian Brothers, 1 academy for the education of young ladies conducted by the Ladies of the Sacred Heart conducted by the Sisters of Charity. Catholic population: 10,000. Outside of the City of St. Joseph may be mentioned the Benedictine Abbey at Conception, established in 1874; the Conceptión Classical College conducted by the Fathers of the Abbey ; the Franciscan Fathers at Chillicoth and Wien; two charitable hospitals, one at Chillicoth conducted by the Sisters of St. Mary, the other at Maryville conducted by the Sisters of St. Francis; an academy for the education of young ladies at Chillicothe conducted by the Sisters of St. Joseph ; the mother-house and academy of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at Clyde; an orphan asylum at Conception; twenty churches with resident priests ; thirty-two mission stations; and seven parochial schools. By a decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Consistory, dated Rome, 16 June, 1911, the territory containing the Counties of Adair, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Mâcon, Marion, Monroe, Ralls, Radolph, Shelby, Schuyler, Scotland, and that part of Chariton County east of the Chariton River was detached from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and attached to the Diocese of St. Joseph. By reason of this extension the Diocese of St. Joseph now comprises the whole northern part of the State of Missouri, extending from the Missouri to the Mississippi River, and is bounded on the south by the Counties of Howard, Boone, Audrain, and Pike. By the increase of territory 16 parishes have been added, and 20 more priests have been affiliated with the diocese. The Catholic population is (1911) about 34,000.

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