Pat DelGiudice is not second-guessing her decision to choose St. Joseph as her parish after moving to Yonkers from the Bronx over 40 years ago.
“I was so blessed by God with St. Joseph,” Mrs. DelGiudice told CNY. “It’s a beautiful church.”
Cardinal Dolan celebrated Mass Oct. 29 to mark the parish’s 150th anniversary.
Father Joe Francis, who has been pastor of St. Joseph for six years, said the 150-year celebration was delayed a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m so glad he came for the celebration. It was beautiful,” said Father Francis of Cardinal Dolan’s visit, which included a reception after Mass.
“He was very happy to be here celebrating 150 years of faith and worship in this parish.”
Father Francis is assisted by Deacon José Luis Velásquez, who also serves as religious education director for a program with 83 students.
“He gives an uplifting speech and encourages us to stay strong in our faith,” said Mrs. DelGiudice of Father Francis.
There are 260 parish families and weekend Mass attendance is between 350 and 400 people.
“They are humble people and very generous,” said Father Francis of his parishioners.
Masses are offered on Sundays at 9 a.m. in English and 11 a.m. in Spanish; 8:30 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays in English; 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays in Spanish; and Saturdays at 9 a.m. in English.
Ministries include altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, ushers, choir, pro vida (pro life), Knights of Columbus and Spanish charismatic prayer group. The parish also offers a soup kitchen on Sunday afternoons.
The parish dates back to 1871 when Father Albert Lings, a 27-year-old German-born priest and assistant pastor of St. Mary’s in Yonkers, was asked to start a second parish in Yonkers. Father Lings, who later became a monsignor, was named the first parish pastor and served in the role until his death in 1915. He witnessed the growth of Yonkers from 8,000 to 80,000 people and from one to 15 parishes.
The first Mass was offered at St. Joseph’s Church in 1871, and soon a new church was needed to meet the growing population in Yonkers. Archbishop Michael Corrigan dedicated the current church in 1888.
Father Lings opened a parish school in 1872, and land was purchased for a parish cemetery in 1877. Father Lings, who was appointed dean of Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties in 1896, was featured in Catholic New York’s 2021 monthly series on priests who served in the archdiocese during its illustrious history.
“He must have been an amazing guy,” Father Francis explained. “We stand on the shoulders of the great guys who went before us.”
Mrs. DelGiudice and her late husband, Nicholas, sent their 10 children to St. Joseph School, which closed in 1992. The Sisters of Charity administered the school.
“The sisters were so nice. I chose the right parish,” said Mrs. DelGiudice, who has 29 grandchildren.
John Favareau, who researched the parish history for the 150-year celebration, first became a parishioner in 1970.
“For me it’s just like home and also the history I find very interesting,” he said. “It’s interesting too that the first pastor served 44 years.”
Father Francis and Favareau share the same goal for St. Joseph’s parish.
“I like to see a growth in the numbers,” Favareau said. “One hopes if it happens, there will be more Masses and more priests assigned to the parish and more opportunities for the sacraments.”
Father Francis said parishioners are returning to Mass since the Covid pandemic has receded.
“They are slowly coming back,” he said. “They are not fully back. Generally I’m seeing more people as the months go by. I think they’ll be back.”