Our Church History

1830... The first Catholic settlement in the area is established and serviced by visiting priests from the Redemptorist order.  The Popes are Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX (under whom the first Vatican Council is convened) Pope Leo XIII in 1878.

1890... The first St. Joseph Catholic Church is erected in Whittaker, as a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Murphy, with Fr. Frank Kennedy from St. John's in Ypsilanti coming out to Whittaker to celebrate Mass on the second Thursday and fourth Sunday of every month. Pope St. Pius X in 1903.

1904... St. Joseph Catholic Church becomes a canonical parish under the pastorate of Fr. John Needham, with mission churches in Milan and New Boston, under the Archdiocese of Detroit.

1909… Fr. Lawrence Soest becomes pastor of St. Joseph and its missions immediately after his ordination, and remains pastor for ten years! His catechism classes were a memorable activity. Pope Benedict XV.

1919… Fr. Frank Hardy assumes the pastorate of St. Joseph Parish.

1921… During the pastorate of Fr. John Zindler (1921 – 1927, Milan becomes the parochial center and St. Joseph is demoted to mission status, probably due to population shift and some ecclesiastical politicking. Pope Pius XI.

1927… Fr. Lee Laige, Pastor of Milan’s Immaculate Conception parish, is the administrator of St. Joseph mission church until 1939.

1939… Fr. A. J. Heroty is given charge of the parish in Milan, the St. Joseph mission church and the Catholics at the Ypsilanti State Hospital and the Federal Detention Farm, until 1946. Pope Pius XII.

1946… Rev. Albert J. Folta becomes pastor of Milan and Whittaker until 1953.

1953… Fr. Joseph Gierus is appointed pastor until 1958.

1958… Fr. Edward Bujak is pastor until 1959, when he resigns, due to illness. Fr. Seamus Maguire takes charge of the parish and mission until Fr. Arthur Steslicki is appointed administrator in late May of 1959. Pope John XXIII.

1959… Fr. Roman Narkun assumes the pastorate of Milan and Whittaker on June 26, 1959. The Second Vatican Council begins in October of 1962. 15 acres of land is purchased for present site of St. Joseph church. Pope Paul VI in 1963.

1965… Fr. Joseph S. Strzelewicz is appointed pastor of Milan, while Fr. Raymond Klauke is appointed administrator of St. Joseph in Whittaker.

1966… The St. Joseph parish house is built by members of the parish and other volunteers from the community; the church was begun the same year and completed in 1967, being dedicated on November 5, 1967.

1971… On July 21, 1971, St. Joseph Parish and all Washtenaw County become part of the Diocese of Lansing.

1971… Fr. Darius W. Wyszynski is appointed pastor and St. Joseph’s once again receives parochial status. A bell tower to house the 1866 bell from the old church was a special project for 1974 and was made possible through a generous gift from the Hitchingham Family. The sanctuary was completely refurbished by Fr. Wyszynski. Pope John Paul I in 1978; Pope John Paul II in 1978.

1979… In May, Fr. James W. Lee, Jr. was installed as pastor of St. Joseph Church. A beautiful activities center, housing the operation of a full-service religious education program was dedicated by Bishop Kenneth J. Povish on December 30, 1981; the building is also used for parish functions, social events and bingo.

1985… Fr. Thomas Sparks was appointed Administrator on November 1, 1985.

1986… Fr. Chester Tomaszewski assumes the pastorate of St. Joseph Church in June of 1986 and retires the assignment in December of that year due to ill health and dies ten months later.

1987… Fr. James Lee returns as the temporary administrator in January.

1987… Fr. Robert T. Kerr accepts the appointment as pastor of St. Joseph Church on June 24, 1987 and establishes a pastoral team of lay people, and an updated parish pastoral council built on the revised guidelines of the Diocese of Lansing. The Pastoral Team is made up of Myrna Angelucci, Jean Feterl, Susan and Blaine White, Gerald Lundy, Ann McComas, Judy Helzerman, Mary Carey, Dianna Hinderer, Charla Khanna and Liz Cook. A Parish Mission Statement and Goals are established and proclaimed to serve as guidelines into the twenty-first century. Fr. Bob celebrates twenty-five years in the priesthood during the centennial year, 1989.

2001… In January Fr. Bob Kerr passes.

2001… In June Fr. Nicholas Ritter is appointed pastor and begins a restoration of all parish buildings and grounds. A first mass crucifix is placed in the sanctuary. A parish assessment tool is put in place. Action plan formulated 

2009...In February Fr. Ritter retired.  July 1st Fr. Edmond Ertzbischoff became pastor.

2011 Father Nicholas Ritter passed on April 24, 2011 Former pastor of St. Joseph 2001 - 2009.