#NC-08240-WP - Notecards
Joseph's Catholic Church opened in 1916, Black Catholics of Northern
Virginia worshipped from the alcove in the back of St. Mary's
Church in Alexandria. They also met separately in St. Mary's Lyceum
with Father Charles F. Hannigan, a Josephite priest who made the
trip weekly from St. Joseph's Mission House in Richmond.
guidance of Father Hannigan and the Josephites, the Black Catholics
set out to build their own church. Although they were among the
poorest residents of Alexandria, they had a wealth of determination.
While they worked hard to raise funds, Father Hannigan raised
the interest of Mother Katherine Drexel, founder of the Sisters
of the Blessed Sacrament and a member of a wealthy Philadelphia
family. The names of Mother Katherine (who donated $8,000) and
other early benefactors appear on a brass plaque in the church
purchased the land for the church in 1914 and laid the cornerstone
in late 1915. The official dedication came on May 14, 1916. Father
Joseph J. Kelly served as the first pastor of the red-brick, English
Gothic-style church. Until the completion of the rectory in 1921,
he lived in the altar boys' sacristy.
In 1967, the
Bishop of Richmond redesignated St. Joseph's from a mission church
for Black Catholics to a parish church with territorial boundaries.
© 1997 Terry White, Drawing © 1997 Bill Harrah