St. Joseph - Manchester

Starting Location of the Joseph Challenge

St. Joseph – Manchester began as a mission church in 1851. Europeans who came from Kentucky first settled the area of what is now known as Manchester, MO. Many of these pioneers were Irish Catholics. Manchester was a one-day stagecoach ride from the city of St. Louis along a trail commonly referred to as the “Overland Trail.” St. Malachy, an Irish priest, was the patron saint chosen for the church.

In its early days, the population of Manchester did not warrant a full-time pastor for the church. Occasionally, a priest from St. Peter’s in Kirkwood would visit to celebrate Mass at the small stone church. As time passed, an influx of German Catholics settled in the area, and in 1865 a resident pastor was installed and the parish was renamed in honor of St. Joseph. In 1871, a small school building was erected. The congregation continued to grow and in 1893, a red brick gothic church was built.

In 1906, the School Sisters of Notre Dame began to staff the school, yet just twenty years later the school was forced to close due to lack of funds and too few students. In 1935, the school re -opened with 29 students. The parish church and school remained as it was, serving the needs of the small town of Manchester until 1960.

In 1960, St. Joseph Parish became one of the first “mega parishes” in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. As the suburban population exploded, the parish was relocated to its present location on Sulphur Springs Road, just south of Manchester Road. A temporary church, eight classrooms serving 315 students, a convent, and a rectory were built on the site on St. Joseph Lane. In 1965, ten additional classrooms were added to keep up with the increasing parish population. St. Joseph’s parishioners numbered three times that of the average parish. For twenty years, St. Joseph remained the largest parish in Missouri.

In 1975, a new church was built with a capacity of 1000. Its contemporary architecture made it one of the most distinctive churches in the Archdiocese.

St. Joseph - Manchester served as the starting point for the first Joseph Challenge Pilgrimage in 2016. The four participating pilgrims are pictured above.

**Abridged from