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First News Summer 2008

St Patrick's - St, Joseph's Parish Celebrates Milestones

   This year St. Patrick’s-St. Joseph's Catholic Church is celebrating more than 100 years as a congregation and fifty years in its building. The church's origins trace back to September 1893 with the arrival of Father John V. Cooney in Raton to take over as pastor of St. Patrick's Parish. Father Cooney soon earned the reputation of being an enthusiastic pastor and builder. He was responsible for having San Jose Chapel built in 1905. The small adobe structure, located on Martinez Street, was considered a mission of St. Patrick's Parish, and was established for the Hispanic populace of Raton. Father Cooney went on to build the present St. Patrick's Church, which was dedicated on May 19, 1907. In May 1920 Father Cooney resigned his pastorate after serving the Catholic churches in Raton for 28 years. He stayed on until his successors, Father Roger Aull and Father Antonio Perez, arrived in September 1920. Father Aull took charge of St. Patrick's Church, and the San Jose Chapel forfeited its mission status and was made a separate parish, St. Joseph's, under the administration of Father Perez. Father Perez had the ability to "look ahead" and realize that someday a larger church would be needed in order to accommodate the increasing population of the east side's Catholic community, so he began purchasing property on nearby Buena Vista Street.

Monsignor Sipio Salas

Historical photographs courtesy of St Patrick's - St. Josephs Catholic Church

The idea of building a new church began to be seriously considered in 1950 when Father Tito Melendez and his parishioners, with the approval of Archbishop Edwin Byrne, began earmarking funds specifically for the purpose of building a new church. During the pastorate of Monsignor Sipio Salas, the building of a new church and rectory on Buena Vista Street was finally achieved. The new St. Joseph's Church was dedicated on April 27, 1958 by Archbishop Byrne.

In 1988, due to a shortage of priests in the archdiocese, Archbishop Robert Sanchez made the decision to consolidate the two parishes of St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's. Father John Brasher, pastor of St. Patrick's Church, was appointed interim pastor of the merged parishes effective July 1, 1988. On October 1, 1988 Father James Vance became the first pastor of St. Patrick's - St. Joseph's Church. The St. Patrick's Church building was closed and masses began to be held in the more spacious St. Joseph's Church. 2008 will be a landmark year for St. Patrick's - St. Joseph's Parish. The parish will joyfully celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the construction of its church - a beautiful edifice in the city of Raton and a tribute to the Catholic faith. The celebration will also serve as a silent reminder of twenty years as a merged parish, acknowledging the formation of a united fellowship of Raton's Catholic citizens.

Festivities to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary will take place July 31st through August 3rd, 2008 with barbeque and Karaoke night on Thursday, a special procession on Friday from St. Patrick's Church on South Second Street to St. Patrick's - St. Joseph's Church at 105 Buena Vista with Archbishop Michael Sheehan, Monsignor Sipio Salas and other clergy past, present, and visiting. A special mass will then be celebrated at 5:00 p.m. with a catered dinner following the mass and dance with Mariachi Music at 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Regular festivities of the annual fiesta will continue Saturday and Sunday with 5K run, food, games, entertainment and more. Call the church office for more information at (575) 445-9763.


Newsletter photography by Michael Babnick Photography

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