Our Past | 1966: St. Joseph’s Church celebrates Golden Jubilee

Selected by Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Here are some of the highlights of a page in the June 16, 1966 edition of the Waterville Empire-Press commemorating the Golden Jubilee of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church (1916-1966).

The Origin of St. Joseph’s Church

In the spring of 1890, Father DeRouge from St. Mary’s Mission in Omak came to Waterville to say Mass monthly in the home of Joseph Brockman or the John Kelly Bakery. Then in the spring of 1892, several lots in the western part of town were purchased by Fr. DeRouge and construction of St. Joseph’s Church was begun at once. The building was unfinished when winter approached, so the congregation made heroic efforts to complete it. Even the women mixed and carried mortar and applied plaster to the lath. Thus our first church building was finally completed and occupied. This original church building still stands on the property of Henry Planetz in the northwest part of town.

The First Resident Pastor — Rev. Joseph Luyten

In the year 1905, Father Joseph Luyten came down from Canada to Waterville and was appointed the first resident pastor where he remained until 1914.

Throughout his time in Waterville, he covered a wide mission area and built a number of mission churches a few of which are St. Hubert’s, Farmer and St. Mary’s, Mansfield. Father Luyten was known to have traveled throughout Washington State in a wagon which included a small 12 X 15 foot space for all of his missionary packages, clothes, provisions and a portable altar.

Father Seamus Kerr — A Pastor With Personality, Energy

Many improvements to our church and rectory have been accomplished by Father Kerr, notably re-establishing side altars in the church and installation of a cement floor in the basement. The exterior and interior of both church and rectory were repaired and repainted.

For the first time in the history of our church, separate classrooms for our C.C.D. classes were arranged for by Father Kerr by the purchase of the motel adjoining the church.