St. Joseph Parish History
The origin of St. Joseph’s Colony dates back to May 1886, with the first four families of German Russian Catholic immigrants arriving in the Balgonie area. These four families settled on a section of land one mile south of the present St. Joseph’s Colony sight. As more families came to the area crude homes and buildings were erected out of stone, mud and poles and it was quickly recognized that a place of worship was badly need. The residents pooled what little resources they had and built a small mud and stone church at the sight of the present St. Joseph’s cemetery. As funds permitted, rooms were added for a teacherage and a priest’s residence. From 1886-1892 church services were far and few between as traveling missionary priests were the only ones available in those early years under the direction of the Bishop from the Winnipeg Diocese.
In 1897 the original stone and wooden structure was built, still in existence today in St. Joseph’s Colony. At the time this was the only Catholic Church in the area, and parishioners travelled many miles to attend services.
In 1967, the Church parish decided to relocate to the thriving community of Balgonie and under Fr. Isidore Gorski’s guidance a new church and rectory was constructed on a lot donated by a long time parishioner, Mr. Jan Okjoj. The congregation grew larger over the years as it included parishioners from White City-Emerald Park, Copper Sands, Edenwold (after the closure of their church) and east of the town. An old European custom of men sitting on one side of the church and women on the other with the children at the front was abandoned when we moved into the new church. The families sat together as is the custom now. As well, the choir no longer sings from the choir loft, but at the front of the church next to the Sanctuary. Children’s religion classes from Grade 1-9 are accommodated within the space the new church provided.
St. Joseph’s celebrated 100 yrs as a parish in July1986. A three day celebration hosted in St. Joseph’s Colony consisted of two evenings of dancing, a parade, pancake breakfast, visits to the cemetery, ball games, children’s games and horseshoes. An outdoor Mass and benediction was celebrated by Archbishop Halpin with Fr. B. Leboldus as the homilist and the parish priest at the time. This reunion gave many former parishioners the opportunity to renew acquaintances and to relive and recall a bit of their history.
On February 20, 2002 most of the church burnt and had to be replaced. In the interim, an arrangement with the Town of Balgonie to use the Balgonie Multiplex for Sunday morning church services was negotiated. A volunteer group of parishioners attended to setting up the hall each Sunday morning so that Mass services continued as did all catechism classes. In October 2002 Fr. Daniel Rafael became our new parish priest and in March 2003 we returned to our new church.
Many organizations CWL (formed 1984) and Knights of Columbus (1956) to mention a few are very active within our church community enriching the lives of many.
In 2019, the steps in front of the church repaired.