St. Philip Catholic
  Central High School

St. Joseph Catholic
  Middle School

St. Joseph Catholic
  Elementary School

St. Joseph Catholic
  Pre-School

 

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History


In March of 1941 a large barn located at the rear of the Wentworth home on Territorial Road was purchased and moved to the present 23rd street location. The original tract of land covered 20 acres and was purchased for $18,000. In the process of moving the barn, it was discovered that the structure was actually two barns, placed end to end, with an overall length of 83 feet. Once the new church was secured, a full basement was constructed. The addition of a sacristy and an entrance made St. Joseph’s complete.

Many of the original church furnishings were donated by the Sisters of Mercy of Leila Hospital who at that time, were equipping the hospital chapel with a new altar and other fixtures. Crucifixes and candle sticks from the old St. Philip altar and miscellaneous furniture were given to the parish by Fr. Walsh.

This was the beginning of St. Joseph Catholic Church, named for the patron saint of the presiding bishop, the Most Reverend Joseph Albers. The location on 23rd Street was influenced by a government housing project called Prairieview homes. As early as August of 1941 approximately 50 Catholic service men and their families were living in the project – only a stone’s throw away. It was also in August of 1941 that the Rev. Fr. Patrick Kenny, who was serving as administrator at Paw Paw, was named as pastor of the new church. When the parish was established, it served about 320 families on the south side of the city. Father Kenny celebrated the parish’s first mass on New Year’s Day, 1942. Fr. Kenny served the families of St. Joseph from 1941 to 1947.

The advent of World War II put a damper on plans for establishing a St. Joseph Catholic School for residents of the Lakeview area. Finally, in December 12, 1948, plans were announced for the construction of a new $125,000 elementary school for St. Joseph Parish. The school opened its doors on September 6, 1949, at a cost of $140,000.

On March 28, 1954, plans were revealed for the building of a new church. The approximate cost was $335,000 exclusive of the cost of the furnishings. Fr. Adolph Oser, Pastor from 1947 to 1962, decided that instead of having a pledge drive, he would ask his parishioners to double their weekly contributions in their Sunday envelopes. The plan was well received and the ground-breaking for the new church took place on August 9, 1954. That same year, the cornerstone was laid at 61 No. 23rd Street.

Dedication of the new church building took place on September 18, 1955 with the Most Reverend Joseph H. Albers officiating. Fr. Adolph Oser was the presiding priest. By this time, there were well over 500 families that called St. Joseph their home.

In 1959, with the growth of its congregation, St. Joseph built a new addition to the school—eight new classrooms. In 1962 a rectory and convent were built and in 1967 the Parish Center, which housed the library, cafeteria, and gymnasium, was constructed. Today this building is part of the school and the former convent is now our Parish Center. In 2003, the “Restore and Renew” campaign helped reinvigorate the interior of the church and the rectory for the next chapter of our parish life.

As times, changed, so did the services offered at St. Joseph. Folk masses were instituted at 7pm on Saturday evenings and the church was usually filled for this more contemporary service. Today, we have a variety of music for mass including the Saturday choir, Sunday choir, Spanish choir, Teen Ensemble and Cantors. St. Joseph Church continues to be an active, young, modern church, keeping up with the changing times and growing with the needs of the parish.

Since 1941, eight dedicated men of God have served St. Joseph Catholic Church. They are as follows:

1941 to 1947   Msgr. Patrick Kenny
1947 to 1962   Rev. Adolph Oser
1962 to 1975   Rev. Norbert F. Wheeler
1975 to 1983   Rev. John M. Steffey
1983 to 1984 
  Rev. Howard Murray 
1984 to 1993   Rev. Donn F. Taylor
1993 to 2004   Rev. James S. O'Leary
2004 to 2009   Rev. John D. Fleckenstein
2009 to 2011   Rev. Robert F. Creagan
2011 to Present   Rev. Mark Vyverman

In 1987 the first Superfest started, as a fundraiser to benefit St Joseph Church. This event included: carnival rides, games, casino tent, raffle, food and beverages. In 1995 it became known as All Saints Superfest to include all three Catholic parishes in Battle Creek. Throughout the years, this three-day event has raised over 1 million dollars to benefit the parishes.

St. Joseph Church ministers to many families in the city of Battle Creek through Mass, Liturgy and Music Ministry, Religious Education, RCIA, Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools, Hispanic Ministry, Pastoral Ministry, St. Vincent DePaul, Youth Ministry, and Stephen Ministry. Groups such as the Knights of Columbus, Men’s Fellowship, Council of Catholic Women, Legion of Mary, Small Christian Communities, Youth Group, and Mom’s Club are an integral part of the church.


St. Philip Catholic Church & School History

In the Beginning

In 1863, the St. Philip Parish Committee purchased a one room red frame building, formerly used as the first Quaker Meeting House, at a public auction for $1,200. This building was located between where the current church and rectory lie…and it is with this purchase that, for St. Philip School and Church, the story begins.

St. Philip School

This original one room frame building was eventually moved to the back of the purchased property and converted to a school, wherein the first Catholic education classes held in Battle Creek were taught—originally in 1880 by a lay teacher—later by Dominican Sisters. This building was replaced by a modest five room brick structure, and then in 1909 an elementary school was built behind the church. Necessary demolition of this structure took place in the fall of 2005.

Construction of St. Philip High School was begun in 1917, its first graduating class being the class of 5 students in 1922. In l956, a $500,000 addition to the high school created twenty classrooms, a regulation gym with a seating capacity for 1350 people, and a locker room for both boys and girls—allowing girls, for the first time, to have physical education classes.

Except for improvements that have been made to keep the facility as safe and efficient as its structure allows, the 1956 facility remains. 

The high school’s athletic field was acquired in 1939 and named Walsh Field in honor of Monsignor Walsh, under whose pastorate the property was acquired; and in 1948 the graduating class of 1951 sponsored the building of the outdoor Grotto which was dedicated to Our Lady of the Lourdes. Both Walsh Field and the Grotto remain integral inclusions of St Philip hub.

The large number of alumni in the areas of professional business and labor force witness St. Philip's contribution to the Battle Creek community. During its history and which still rings true today, the educational experience at St. Philip Catholic Central High School is synonymous with academic excellence and tradition. The alumni walk with great pride in themselves, their history and their school community.

St. Philip Church

Dedication of the cornerstone of the first St. Philip Church took place Thanksgiving Day, 1879. Twenty years later renovation to that structure created a church with two towers and increased the church capacity from 550 to 850. This church was destroyed by fire March 28, 1928. Only the Stations of the Cross, the altars and a few windows were salvaged.

That same year, construction of a new church began. Built in late Romanesque architectural design and executed in Bedford stone, this new structure, which cost $200,000, was dedicated in 1930. A new marble altar was installed in the church under the pastorate of Father Maurice Walsh, and additional land and property was purchased—including a public museum next to the school which was converted to a Social Hall. Further extensive remodeling and repair work to the church took place under the direction of Father Gerald A. Owens.

The former rectory, which was originally purchased in 1892, was remodeled in 1905. The rectory was demolished in February of 2008, in order to make room for a new Parish Center. A new rectory was built in 2007 adjacent to the Seton Center, which houses the Parish Office. The Seton Center was originally constructed as a convent to house Sisters who taught at the St. Philip School. It was dedicated in 1952, replacing the first convent which was built in 1897.
   
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