St. Joseph Parish, Maysville
Providing a Beacon of Hope in the Maysville Community since 1930
began in 1930 when Father John Albert, SSJ, initially proposed a site for a church to serve Catholic people of color in the Maysville area, a young community south of Government St. near Weinacker Avenue. After several proposals initiated by Fr. Albert and Bishop Thomas J. Toolen, the Diocese chose a site proposed by Fr. Joseph Schmutz, SSJ, a priest at St. James Major Church.
John Sullivan, an attorney from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, donated money to purchase land for the new Mission. The site, comprising of a city block, was bound on the north by Dublin St.; the south by Belfast St.; the west by Rotter-dam St.; and the east by Brussels St. Bishop Toolen donated a frame church, and had it moved from the St. Elmo, Alabama Mission of the Bayou la Batre group. It was named Our Mother of Mercy Mission by request of Attorney Sullivan. Between 1932 and 1940, priests from Most Pure Heart of Mary Church attended the Mission; and from 1940 to 1949, St. Peter Claver tended the Church. Fr. Vincent Warren, SSJ, served as associate pas-tor from 1944 to 1948, with temporary residency at a house located at 459 Booker Street near Weinacker Avenue. He became the first priest to live in the Maysville community.
Twenty years later, the Mission church was condemned as unsafe and the Diocese decided that a new one was necessary. Through the generosity of Mrs. Charles Donnelly, who donated funds in memory of her husband, a new church, designed and built by Fr. Schmutz, was built. Also, at the request of the donor, the second church was dedicated under the patronage of St. Joseph. The first Mass was celebrated September 11, 1950. Additionally, in December 1949, a new rectory, also designed and built by Fr. Schmutz, was completed. In 1973, under the leadership of Fr. Thomas Collins, SSJ a third church (the current structure) was built.
Bivens, Shawn A. Mobile, Alabama’s People of Color: A Tricentennial History, 1702-2002 (Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishers, 2004)
is the saint of workers. He was declared to be the patron saint and protector of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870. St. Joseph is also the patron of fathers and social justice. We celebrate two feast days for Joseph: March 19th for Joseph the Husband of Mary and May 1st for Joseph the Worker.
We know from scripture that Joseph was a carpenter. He was also a God-fearing man. When the angel appeared to him about the birth of Jesus, he respected God’s commands. In Matthew 1:18, we are told he was a "righteous man."
The St. Joseph Mission School, formally Our Mother of Mercy Mission School, initially opened on a part time basis beginning in 1931. Bishop Toolen offered the Maysville community a frame building that was moved to the campus by the Mobile Diocese, and by non-Catholic contractors who lived in the Maysville community. The Sisters from the Most Pure Heart of Mary Convent, and a lay teacher con-ducted part time classes when possible.
In 1950 Fr. Joseph Schmutz, SSJ, along with two lay teachers, Mrs. Cleo Dais Washington and Miss Paula Chachere, opened St. Joseph School full time with 48 pupils. Students came from communities ranging from Maysville, Mon Luis Island, Hannon Road, Cedar Point Road, the "Down the Bay" area, Springhill, Crichton, and Toulminville. A number of students lived within walking distance; or were driven to school by parents. Others rode on the school bus driven by Mrs. Cleo Dais Washington.
On August 18, 1951, three Oblate Sisters of Providence arrived to teach at St Joseph School. They were: Mother Anselm, Sister Augustine, and Sister Marcella. Additionally, several lay teachers were hired to assist the Oblate Sisters. The school opened that year with 78 pupils.
In 1953, Bishop Toolen authorized contractors, Mr. Nathaniel Heningberg, and his brothers, Andrew Heningberg and Joseph Heningberg to build a new school. The old school would serve as the parish hall. The new St. Joseph School, with a complete library, opened with four Oblate Sisters and one lay teacher, along with 150 pupils. The Sisters were: Mother Marcella, Sister Sebastian, Sister Jose’ and Sister Magdala. Oblate Sisters transferred to and from St. Joseph School as years passed. The school building, which was renovated in 1997, is now used as the Parish Fellowship Hall.