(During the Year of St. Joseph, The Catholic Messenger is featuring parishes whose patron saint is St. Joseph.)
The parish: St. Joseph Church in West Liberty has 226 families. The pastor is Father Joseph Sia and parochial vicar is Father Guillermo Trevino, Jr. The parish offers English and Spanish Masses and faith formation instruction. Father Trevino will become the parish’s pastor July 1.
History: Information about the naming of the parish is unknown at this time. Catholics celebrated the first Masses in family homes in the mid-1800s, according to a parish directory, Father Trevino says. Spanish-speaking families would travel to Silvis, Illinois, to attend Mass in Spanish. “With the advent of the railroad in West Liberty, many more families moved into the area. Soon there were enough Catholic families to support a church,” the directory notes. “A sturdy frame building of handsome classic style was erected through the labor of parishioners and a commitment to a mortgage.”
Fire consumed the original church structure and its contents just a month after the parish made its last mortgage payment. “Again the faith community responded to the need, giving of their time and talents and committing to another mortgage. Through their efforts, we have our present structure to serve us, home to a multi-cultural faith community,” the parish directory states.
The present structure was dedicated in 1950 and a new parish life center was dedicated in 2006.
St. Joseph was first a mission parish of St. Mary Parish in Wilton and then of St. Mary Parish in Nichols until a full-time pastor was available. Before a rectory was constructed, the various pastors resided in rental houses.
Year of St. Joseph: Traditionally, each year the parish celebrates the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19 with two Masses and a potluck dinner. The parish celebrates another special Mass on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1. This year, the feast day lands on a Saturday, so Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. May 1, Father Trevino said.
Thoughts about St. Joseph: Parishioner Mayra Reyes said, “For me, the parish is the house of God, with St. Joseph as our patron who guides us to follow his example, and my house of prayer. St. Joseph himself is a role model and an advocate for when I die because he was a humble man who did the will of God.”