Saint Joseph Cathedral's 150th Anniversary
On Saturday, October 26, the faithful of the Diocese of Manchester gathered at Saint Joseph Cathedral in Manchester to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Cathedral with a Mass and dinner. Continue below to read a letter from Very Rev. Jason Jalbert, Rector and Pastor of Saint Joseph Cathedral, in regards to the history of the Cathedral and the importance of this occasion, shared prior to the weekend's Mass and dinner.
History of the Cathedral
"Happy 150th Anniversary to St. Joseph Cathedral Church!
On April 18, 1869, St. Joseph Church was dedicated as a new Catholic Church here in the City of Manchester. I hope and pray that during this Anniversary Year we will be able to continue the restoration work to our church. I would like to share a bit about the beginnings of St. Joseph Church taken from the archives.
After the Civil War, the population of Manchester had grown and the city was in need of another Catholic Church. Fr. McDonald chose Patrick J. Keeley, an architect from Brooklyn, to design “a house in which his people could worship their God in dignity, in comfort and with a sense of pride.” The finished product was a church which fit in with the many brick buildings of the Amoskeag Mills where the parishioners worked many hours. The church was built with a 170 foot high bell tower and steeple, which would raise hearts from the drudgery of daily work to thoughts of Heaven. The style of the church was Victorian Gothic, a style so common in Europe at the time. It was built to be a large church, wide for its length, and where the faithful could feel close to the source of their spiritual life, the Bread of Life and the preaching of the Word. The work of building St. Joseph’s was done by local laborers and artisans under the direction of local contractors. In its construction the parishioners were able to express their pride, very often coming to work on the construction after spending a full day in the mills.
This church that we enjoy today was solemnly dedicated on April 18, 1869 with much pomp and ceremony, presided over by Archbishop Williams, the Archbishop of Boston. The local newspaper spoke of the church as the largest and most beautiful church in the State of New Hampshire, built at a cost of $70,000, and could accommodate 3,000 people! These numbers can certainly make us chuckle as we think about the cost of building a church like this today and to imagine that many people packed in the Cathedral!
Let us be grateful to and pray for our ancestors who gave their all to build this church, to those who supported it for these 150 years and for all of us who are responsible for it today!
As you look around you will also see the effects of time, especially the cracks and stains on the ceiling and walls. In this 150th year please consider a gift to the Restoration Fund. It is our hope to continue the restoration of St. Joseph’s that was begun and to restore this temple for ages to come."
See a selection of photos from the day, courtesy of Michael Richards. Click on the images to see them enlarged, or visit Michael's website to view additional photos.