© 2010 | St. Joe | 309 Perry St. | Wapakoneta, OH | 419-738-2115
After the forced removal of the Shawnee from the lands at Wapakoneta (1832), a new village was platted here in January 1833. In the same year a German-Catholic immigrant named John Ruppert purchased a half section of land in Pusheta Township. In 1836 a log church and parsonage were built on this land, at the corner of Cemetery and Santa Fe-New Knoxville roads. The church was dedicated in honor of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and served the German-Catholic settlers to the area, including those to the north, in and near the newly-established village of Wapakoneta. By 1839, however, Wapakoneta residents had established their own parish and built the first church, located at the corner of Pearl and Blackhoof Streets. The parish was called St. Joseph (although its original name was Holy Family).
History of Saint Joseph Church
Saint Joseph Catholic Church
The Catholics at Petersburg were first served by Father Johann Wilhelm Horstmann, who was himself an immigrant from Germany. When St. Joseph was established as a separate parish, Father Horstman continued to minister here. Although the congregations at Wapakoneta, Petersburg, and throughout much of west-central Ohio would meet weekly, an itinerant priest might be present to celebrate Mass just once a month, since they served such a wide geographical area.
In C.W. Williamson's History of Auglaize County (1905), he writes about these Catholic pioneers:
Those years were comparatively ignorant times, when prejudice was strong and it required an effort that the present generation can hardly appreciate to keep the light of faith burning in the hearts of the people.
Nothing but the most indomitable courage, perseverance, and love of God and their church could have brought them out triumphant over the obstacles that rose in the way of every step.”
The parish was placed under the auspices of the Society of the Precious Blood in 1850. The first Precious Blood pastor to serve St. Joseph was Father Andrew Kunkler.
Other milestones in the life of St. Joseph Parish:
St. Joseph School is established.
The original church is razed, but conflict between the parish and the contractor prevents the completion of a replacement building for some years.
A brick church is constructed on the southwest corner of Pearl and Perry streets.
A two-story brick school is constructed on the corner of Pearl and Blackhoof streets.
A pipe organ is installed in the church.
A new, large school is constructed on the same site.
The 1858 church is demolished to make room for a new building, with almost double the seating capacity. A new convent is built on Benton Street, as the previous one was actually attached to the 1858 church. While the new building is under construction, parishioners worship in the school basement.
St. Joseph Church is dedicated on October 8. This wonderful example of Romanesque Revival architecture is notable for the absence of supporting pillars in the interior.
High school classes begin to be offered at St. Joseph.
The high school becomes accredited as a four-year institution.
The school gym is remodeled into an auditorium.
A new convent on Perry Street is constructed (which now houses the parish offices).
The cornerstone is laid for St. Joseph High School, located at the intersection of State Routes 198 and 501.
The high school is dedicated on May 1.
A parish council is established.
The interior of the church is remodeled.
A parish finance committee is established.
St. Joseph High School is closed, and the elementary grades move into the building.
June 28, 2003
With the departure of Father Bill O'Donnell, CPPS, the Society of the Precious Blood returns the parish to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Father William Eilerman was named the Parochial Administrator until Father Hank Albeitz is assigned as Pastor.
St. Joseph becomes one of the Petersburg Parishes, in conjunction with Immaculate Conception (Botkins) and St. Lawrence (Rhine). The name is a tribute to the historical origins of the three parishes. Father Patrick Sloneker is named the Pastor and Father Matthew Lee the Associate Pastor to the Petersburg Parishes.
After 160 years of service to the community, St. Joseph School closes in June.
The parish celebrates the 100th anniversary of its church building.