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Memories of St. Joseph's

     Francy Goodrich's lifelong connection with St. Joseph's Church began in 1950 upon her family's return from Germany, when she was just 18 months old. Raised in a home blending Presbyterian and Catholic influences, her family's steadfast membership at St. Joseph's spanned generations alongside stalwarts like the Hoefers, Troncos, Martins, and others. Together, they formed a community dedicated to deepening their Catholic faith and fostering unity.

     Throughout over 75 years of membership, St. Joseph's Church expanded its reach within the local community, promoting inclusivity and understanding of Catholicism. Personally, figures like Father Creston Tawes and Sister Christina Murphy profoundly influenced Francy, guiding her through pivotal moments and encouraging active engagement beyond Mass attendance.

     Reflecting on cherished memories, Francy highlights the joy of witnessing her children's sacraments and her involvement in church activities like Girl Scouts and CCD teaching, which fostered friendships and personal growth. She encourages younger parishioners to participate actively in missions and ministries, emphasizing the enriching connections and spiritual growth such involvement brings.

Grateful for St. Joseph's enduring impact, Francy sees it not just as a sanctuary for her faith but as a pillar of communal strength across generations.

Francy Fenzel Goodrich

     In January 2005, I left Warren, PA, heartbroken after losing Papa and breaking off an engagement. Invited by my cousin LuAnn in Columbia, SC, I came down south. My cousin Ed drove me in my car, and at the border of South Carolina, he said that I could sing "Nothing Could be Finer Than To Be in Carolina in the Morning!", and I did. I found solace at St. Joseph's Church. There, I joined the Guitar Mass Choir and met many wonderful parishioners. I later founded the Legion of Mary with Ivy Monahan and Lois. Now, 19 years later, I call Columbia home, cherishing memories like singing "Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Be in Carolina in the Morning!"

Donna Rock

     My fondest memories of St. Joseph center around the October Fall Fiesta. There were games for the children, booths selling various items, and music. My father, Samuel Coaplen, manned the Junktique (a flea market booth) and famously sold a fancy hi-ball glass for 25 cents to Mrs. Margaret Gilmore, who later in years showed me the glass and was still miffed about paying 25 cents it! Mr. Fickling played the saw while another gentleman played the spoons, which was amazing to watch. My favorite activity was the fish pond, where for 10 cents, you could throw a fish pole over a sheet and it came back with a surprise, like a lollipop or gum. The proceeds of the Fall Fiesta went to improvements and projects for the church and also provided a sense of community and fellowship.

Ruth Lee Lam

     I have been a member of St. Joseph Church my whole life.  I was born in September  1949 and was baptized at St. Joseph in September, 1949.  I will be 75 in September.....same age as the church!  I feel so lucky to have been a member of this beautiful church and have so many memories here.  My parents, Ann and Bob Collins who were married at Saint Francis de Sales had seven children.  I was the oldest ....and Bobby, George, John, Dorothy, Alex and David.  We all attended St. Joseph School.  Msgr. Kamler was the pastor in the early days.  Some of the first families I remember from the old days were my grandparents, George and Mary Eliza Claffy Collins, my aunt Louise Dillon and her husband Bob(she was the 4th grade teacher at St. Joseph for many years and one of the first organists at the church), the McDougalls, my aunt Betty and her children, Bobby, Jimmy, Helen and David, the Kahaly's, the Bultmans, the Ryans, the Martins, the Troncos, the Jones, the Asmers, the Naccashs, the Fallers, the Bonds, the Heywards, the Fuscis, the Mullers, the Dunns, the Castrichinis, the Khourys, the Robinsons, the Marshas, the Stiers, the Johnsons, the Killoys, the Darbys, the Whitlarks, the Claffys, the Catalanos, the Wilsons and so many others.  Most of these early families still have members here.  

     We had the fall fiesta every year under a big tent in the schoolyard.  It was so much fun and they used to give away a new car.  The Parish Picnic was held every spring at Heise's pond and was a great time for all.  I feel blessed to have been a part of this wonderful church from the beginning until now.    My children Leslie and Ray and my grandchildren, Elliott and Ethan Massengale, were all baptized here and attended the school.

Elizabeth Collins Baker

     I am grateful to reflect on my years at St. Joseph Parish, where my Catholic faith was nurtured by our loving community. From sacraments to school events, our Parish has been integral in shaping my life. My marriage to John E. Rotureau was blessed here by Fr. John Coffey, and our children were baptized and educated within these walls. Even in times of sorrow, our Parish has provided unwavering support, especially during the loss of our infant son, John, Jr.

     Over the years, I've been involved in various roles—from Parish Council to ministering Holy Communion—and found deep spiritual growth through activities like OCIA. Participating in OCIA sparked a revival of my faith, inspired by encounters like preparing for Pope John Paul II's visit to Columbia.

     Throughout it all, the leadership of Monsignor Harris and predecessors like Monsignor Duffy and Monsignor Sterker has been invaluable. The influence of educators like Sister Andrea Callahan and Sister Maria Lovett has profoundly shaped our family's spiritual journey. The Women's Society has also been a joyous avenue for service and fellowship.

     To younger Parish members, I encourage active participation—it enriches life beyond measure. Our Parish, like a second family, provides steadfast support through life's joys and challenges. I thank God for the immense gifts of faith and community at St. Joseph's, a true gem in our lives.

Julie Castrichini Rotureau

     I've been a part of St. Joseph Church my entire life, receiving all my sacraments there and attending St. Joseph School. My ancestors helped found the church. For me, it's always been about family—the love I've received from everyone there is something I cherish deeply. Msgr. Kamler stands out in my memories; he was a friend to my grandparents, and I remember him leading St. Patrick’s Day parades at school with his shillelagh. My single mom ensured my sister and I attended St. Joseph School and Cardinal Newman High School with Msgr. Kamler's support.

     Returning from college, I knew St. Joseph was where I belonged. I reconnected with old friends like Gina Mallios, and we taught CCD classes together. Serving on the Parish Council introduced me to wonderful people like Msgr. Duffy and Sophie Salley Sagrera. Organizing the Fall Festival was a highlight. As my family grew, we remained deeply involved, coaching teams and serving on school boards.

     To younger members, I'd say: get involved! St. Joseph offers something for everyone, from young adults to families and seniors. As I look forward to retirement, I plan to join the Altar Society and continue serving this community that has meant so much to me.

     Throughout the years, I've seen St. Joseph flourish, guided by leaders like Msgr. Harris, whose wisdom and spirit enrich our parish. His sermons resonate deeply, reminding us why St. Joseph is such a special place.

Terry Castrichini Hodaly

     My parents moved us to Columbia, SC and enrolled us in St. Joseph School, and joined St. Joseph Parish in 1968…56 YEARS AGO! I have loved our Parish and remained a parishioner for 56 of the 75 we are celebrating! I have driven over an hour one way from Camden, SC to Mass for the last 12 years because I love our Parish, Church, School, and parishioners so much! I have watched and contributed to the Parish's growth and I am very proud of our Church, School, Priests, and parishioners. 


Ronald Hollier


     I attended St. Peter’s Catholic School for Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. I started at St. Joseph’s on the day it opened in September 1954. I was present for the first Mass in 1949 when the church opened, and I was baptized at St. Francis de Sales, which was known as the "cardboard cathedral" because it was housed in an Army barracks from Ft. Jackson.

     I graduated from 8th grade in June 1960 and then attended Catholic High School on Assembly Street before transferring to Cardinal Newman. Father Murphy, the assistant priest, initiated "The Knights of the Altar" for the Altar Boys, teaching us about vestments, colors, and their significance. I still have the study book he gave us. Phil Catalano served as president and I was VP; together, we often served at funerals and weddings, with weddings usually paying more.

     In 1954, when St. Joseph’s opened, there was no third wing. We used that space for activities like dodgeball and marbles. I remember participating in a marbles tournament in 5th grade, where Tommy Byrd took first place, Bobby Zerbst second, and I placed third.

     One of my fondest memories was the Fall Festival held each October in the large playground. They set up a massive carnival tent with sawdust on the ground. To ensure enough tickets were sold for the car raffle in January, they started sales early. There were also games like penny pitch and a "$1 select a color" spin-the-wheel game to win a ham.

     Every year, the 8th-grade boys played back-to-back football games against St. Peter’s, home and away. I recall they beat us in both games.

Attended SJ from opening date (Sept 54) 3rd grade to 8th grade (1960).
3rd grade (Sister Margaret Mary), 4th grade (Mrs. Louise Dillon),  5th grade (Sister Conrad - hardest nun I had but loved her the most), 6th grade (Mrs. Coaplon), 7th grade (Sister Benedict), 8th grade was supposed to have the principal Sister Phillip but she was transferred and we got Sister Benedict “again”.

Of those who started 3rd grade with me in 1954, 14 have passed away. I still keep in touch with 23 others.

Daniel Davis

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1949 Commemorative Plate for Dedication of Church

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1st Grade with Sister Ignatius

First Grade

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5th Grade with Sister Conrad

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Doris Jovanelly

     A collection of stories about parish life at St. Joseph Catholic Church over the last 75 years would be incomplete without one about Monsignor Charles Rowland, Pastor from 1991 to 2006. The Rowland Education Building at St. Joseph’s was named in his honor due to his profound impact. Monsignor Rowland, known for his gentle demeanor and inspiring homilies, deepened parishioners' understanding of Jesus Christ's teachings. Yet, despite his serene presence, few knew of his surprising physical prowess.

One Holy Thursday in the late 1990s, I witnessed Monsignor's remarkable climbing ability. While rehearsing with the choir in the gallery, I observed Monsignor entering the church alone, dressed in his clerical attire and carrying a tall ladder. Without assistance, he set it up before the large crucifix in the sanctuary, astonishing us with his agility. Standing on the ladder's top step, he carefully draped a purple cloth over the crucifix, a task requiring precarious balance and determination. Despite our disbelief and concern, Monsignor completed the task flawlessly, his calm resolve leaving us in awe. His unwavering focus and the ladder's stability seemed almost miraculous, prompting me to think he possessed the agility of a mountain goat.

This unforgettable sight during Holy Week has stayed with me ever since.

Robert Marino

I remember when we were preparing for First Communion in the 2nd grade (1967) the CCD students spent two days with the St. Joseph students.  They were very particular about the procession and having everyone in height order.  We spent a lot of time combining the St. Jo's kids with the CCD kids and then practicing so everything was perfect.  We passed off our prayers on those days, and we went to recess and lunch with the St. Jo's students. I became friends with the girl I walked with and played with her at recess.  It was so much fun!  It made the CCD students feel very connected to the school and church.

I remember Sister Mary Sarto.  She was one of my favorite teachers ever.  I think about her often.  Back then the nuns wore the full regalia.  Sister Mary Sarto showed us all the parts and talked about how much she loved being a nun.  In my memory she was very beautiful!  I had her for first and second grade CCD.

Jeanmarie Lifchez

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