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A new beginning in Medford

By Father Robert M. O'Grady
Posted: 10/10/2003

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This particular Sunday in Ordinary Time was anything but ordinary for the people of St. Joseph Parish in Medford. The sprawling parish plant, facing High Street on the edge of Medford Square, is also a familiar sight to travelers along Route 16.

Sunday, Oct. 5, saw a reunion of many faces at the venerable gothic church: Long-time parishioners, the parish schoolchildren and their parents, priests and women religious — those who are natives of the parishes and those who had served there. Two native sons of St. Joseph’s, Bishops Francis Irwin and Walter Edyvean, now auxiliary bishops of Boston, returned home to Medford for the rededication of the upper church and to participate in the celebration.

Construction of the St. Joseph Church began in 1893 and continued in phases over the next two decades. On June 2, 1912 the church was dedicated by one of its former associates, William Cardinal O’Connell. Boston’s archbishop had served the Medford parish during the 1880s.

Between the time of its dedication and its rededication, the parish has grown and changed. In addition to the parish church, there is a rectory, a school and large convent, now closed, which was previously the home of many Sisters of St. Joseph who staffed both the parish grammar and high schools.

The rededication day was the culmination of a proposal made to the Parish Council in Oct. 1998, namely, that a renovation of the upper church be undertaken. The Team Ministry of priests agreed to the idea and soon parishioners were involved in a Renovation Finance Committee, a Publicity Committee and a Design Committee. A professional fundraiser was added to the project.

With an estimated cost of the $1 million, fundraising began in March 2000. The tradition and family spirit of the parish was demonstrated again, as the goal was exceeded.

The renovation project was extensive and among the tasks were:

Air conditioning of the upper church Installation of new ambo Installation of new sound system New lighting system Painting the interior Refurbishing and padding of pews and kneelers Repair and cleaning of 20 stained glass windows Repair of the organ Repair of the roof Restoration of the original hardwood floorsFather Pat McLaughlin, who with Father Bob Fountain form the Team Ministry of the parish, noted, “We were able to do all this because of the generosity of our parishioners, past and present, and the hard work of many people and several committees.”