About Our Parish

St. Joseph Church had its beginnings as a Presblterian house of worship. In 1837, there was no Presbyterian Church in the town of Chester and people of that faith traveled over two miles on foot, carriage or wagon to worship in Old Purity Church on Great Falls Road. Reverend John Douglas, Pastor of Old Purity, in his concem for his congregation, bought the land from his own funds and in 1839 constructed the building that is now St. Joseph Church. Cost of the builrling, which was called the Presbyterian l,ecture Room, was $1500. Rev. Douglas continued as pastor of both churches until Purity Presbyterian Church was built in 1855.

The Lecture room was sold to the Catholic Diocese of Charleston on March 28, 1854. A prominent watchmaker in Chester, George Bowers, and a few other Catholics under the gurdance of Father Jeremiah J. O'Connell, sought funds to buy the property. Their non-Catholic friends, including members of the Presbyterian congregation, contributed generously. Bishop Ignatius A. Reynolds, thl second Bishop of the Diocese, provided the balance of funds. "The Church at Chester was dedicated on the Feast of Pentecost, June 4, 1854, under the innovation of St. Joseph, spouse of the Mother of God. The ceremony was performed by permissiorL by Rev. Jeremiah J. O'Connell, in the presence of a crowded audience. After a due explanation of the ceremonial, he preached on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and was listened to with the utmost atiention. Many of the Catholics of Charlotte were present on the occasion." (At this time the Diocese of Charleston was mmprised of the States of South and North Carolina.) "The church is a neat edifice, forty-two feet long and wide in proportion. The materials are brick. It was purchased from the Presbyterians. Great merit is due to the Catholics at Chester, for their zeal and industry, and to the community at large, for their tiberality. Messrs. Bowers, Murray and Carrol were collectors. The beautiftl altar and Tabernacle furnished by Mr. Bowers are an ornament, and elicited universal admkation." (Quoted from UNITED STATES CATHOLIC MISCELLAI{"Y, July l, 1845) Within weeks of the dedication, there appeared in the local newspaper a lefter from a subscriber decrying the fact that "popery" had come to Chester.

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