Unique St. Joseph Church in Roseburg, built in 1968, rises mountainlike from its neighborhood. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Unique St. Joseph Church in Roseburg, built in 1968, rises mountainlike from its neighborhood. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)

There are five churches named for St. Joseph in western Oregon and two that no longer exist. Here is a look at them and their plans for the Year of St. Joseph. 

CLOVERDALE

Once upon a time, Catholics in the small coastal town of Cloverdale had no church. Mass was celebrated in homes. But a two men from nearby Tillamook, including Benedictine Father Hildebrand Melchoir, urged Cloverdalians to build a proper church. By 1921, the Catholics of Cloverdale had done it and even celebrated Easter in St. Joseph Church that year. The lovely white house of worship with its steeple stands just a block from Highway 101 and just a 10-minute drive from Pacific City.

Through the years, some traditions like the annual Old Fashioned Christmas Bazaar have cemented themselves into the community there. The bazaar, for which the community historically spends a great deal of time preparing, offers handmade gifts and decorations, as well as homemade cinnamon rolls, cakes, breads, candies, cookies, sauerkraut and Polish sausages. The event is the parish’s biggest fundraiser of the year, bringing in thousands of dollars in just one event. “It’s a great tradition,” said Karen Petersen, a member at the parish.

The Catholic community in Cloverdale is “deeply rooted in a group of families who built the church about a hundred years ago,” said Petersen.

“It’s a beautiful little church. We get visitors from all over. People are longing for that traditional small church experience.”

— Sarah Wolf

JACKSONVILLE

St. Joseph Mission in Jacksonville, tiny and trim, is like a Catholic time machine. Built in 1858, it’s one of the oldest churches in Oregon, sitting amid a town time forgot. Jacksonville stopped growing more than a century ago when the railway was routed through nearby Medford instead.

The earthly father of Jesus enjoyed wide popularity in the 19th century. Many churches built then bore his name, and in 1870 he was named Universal Patron of the Church.

It’s possible to tour the church and the rectory next door. At first a school, the little house was home of Father Francis Xavier Blanchet, nephew of the founding archbishop of Oregon. In 1869, the parish was a headquarters of mercy as Father Blanchet and a team of Holy Names Sisters cared for victims of smallpox and won the admiration of generations.

Because of its size, the Jacksonville church is not a good candidate for social distancing and so has not had Masses for a year. There likely will not be Masses in the near future, certainly not for the March 19 feast of St. Joseph, said Ann Brophy, pastoral associate of Sacred Heart Parish in Medford, which oversees the historic mission.

But Sacred Heart plans three Masses for March 19, two in English and one in Spanish.

— Ed Langlois

SOUTHEAST PORTLAND

“We see how St. Joseph, our patron, was welcoming and open to Mary, and also protected her,” said Terri Boris, administrative assistant and care ministry coordinator at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in outer Southeast Portland. “We try to do what we can to welcome and to trust.”

The parish, 895 families strong, has for decades, following St. Joseph’s example, put love into action in caring for the vulnerable.

Deacon Mike Caldwell was instrumental in starting a program that collects furniture and gives it to families in need. There is a breakfast program, a community garden, a clothing shed, a healing program for those who have lost a child and, of course, a St. Vincent de Paul conference.

The parish offers Masses in Spanish and Zomi, a language from Myanmar.

There will be a retreat” 8 a.m.-noon Saturday, May 1 (the feast of St. Joseph the Worker) including adoration, St. Joseph rosary and confession in English and Spanish. There will be a Latin Mass at 9 a.m., with the St. Joseph Consecration Prayer and Litany of St. Joseph, followed by a continental breakfast. Talks on St. Joseph and fatherhood are at 11 a.m.  

— Kristen Hannum

 ROSEBURG

St. Joseph Church in Roseburg stands like a mountain in this southern Oregon town of 23,000. Maybe it’s more like a volcano, with plenty of fire inside. 

Young families have filled the pews as the pastor, Father José Manuel Campos, has engaged workaday people. This priest, himself named after the earthly father of Jesus, is known to stick his head into restaurant kitchens and urge employees to attend Mass or join the RCIA. Meanwhile, the parish feeds the poor and enthusiastically educates children in the faith.

Begun in 1867, the parish stood strong for migrants even when the Ku Klux Klan was calling the shots in the 1920s. Immigrants still see the place as a refuge.

To mark the Year of St. Joseph, the parish consecrated itself to the saint. A novena ends March 19 with a 12:10 p.m. Mass in English and a 7 p.m. Spanish-English Mass that will include a procession around the property. There also will be a special Mass on May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. The Hispanic and Filipino communities provide food for the festivities.

In the large yard outside the church stands a statue of St. Joseph holding the baby Jesus. Parishioners stroll past it every weekend. St. Joseph, as he was in life, watches quietly and strongly.

— Ed Langlois 

SALEM

As arguably the largest and most diverse parish in the archdiocese, St. Joseph in Salem honors well the hardworking carpenter with the title “Patron of the Universal Church.”

Most of Joseph’s days likely were spent unglamorously forming wood into tables, chairs and other everyday but necessary items. At St. Joseph Parish in the state’s capital city, there’s similarly a hum of seemingly ordinary activities that are indispensable to a well-formed Catholic life.

On a given weekend pre-pandemic, there are nearly 20 liturgies — a mix of baptisms, funerals, weddings and multiple Sunday Masses that draw some 4,000 worshippers. There’s also the bustling school, religious education classes and marriage prep. “We keep pretty busy with just all of that,” acknowledges Msgr. Richard Huneger, pastor. Members of St. Joseph — founded in 1863 as the city’s first Catholic parish — will honor their patron this year by participating in a consecration to the carpenter-saint and hosting the annual men’s conference, which likely will focus on Jesus’ foster father.

The diverse beauty of the universal church is visible every weekend here, with Masses in Spanish, English, Vietnamese and Latin.

“St. Joseph Parish is a remarkably prayerful community, evidenced by 22 years of perpetual adoration,” writes Msgr. Huneger in a 2017 essay about the parish. Adoration, he adds “transcends all language-group boundaries.”

 — Katie Scott