St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Ozark, MO
St. Joseph the Worker Church, Ozark, MO. (Photos by G. Eckl)
Through a request from Bishop Charles Helmsing, first bishop of the very young Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, St. Louis Archbishop, Joseph Cardinal Ritter, accepted the invitation to be the principal celebrant during the Mass of the dedication of St. Joseph the Worker Parish, an historic first!
A gift of $10,000 from the Catholic Extension Society and assistance from the Diocesan Expansion Fund enabled the establishment of this second Catholic parish in Christian County, St. Joseph in Billings being the first.
In 1972, a new education building replaced a mobile trailer used for religion classes. However, the increase in the population of the parish necessitated a larger meeting area. The new building also contained parish office space and a residential room for the priest for overnight lodging.
Until 1977 the priests had lived and worked in Springfield and traveled to Ozark for Mass and other parish meetings and events. Growth in numbers and activity enabled the parish to receive its first resident pastor in 1977. That year the parish was comprised of 107 households and 130 students. Two years later a rectory was added. A preschool, open to children 3-5, became part of the parish ministry.
In the following years the population of Christian county grew rapidly. The parish community quickly outgrew the original church. A new church was constructed and the parish community, now about 300 households, joined with Bishop John Leibrecht who dedicated the church on Dec. 9, 1991. The basement of the Church became the space for an expanded Parish School of Religion. The former worship space became a daily Mass chapel, sacristy, and parish offices.
In 2002, as the parish neared 500 households, the Parish Council recognized the community’s need for more classrooms, meetings, rooms, a parish center for meals, and other gatherings as well as a place to play and began still another building plan. That planning has begun.