Saint Joseph’s Parish’s uniqueness is reflected in the fact that is comprised of the mother Church; Saint Joseph in Shelburne Falls, and its two mission Churches of Saint John the Baptist in Colrain and Saint Christopher in Charlemont.
The parish has an interesting history in that the opening of the mission Church of Saint John the Baptist predated the construction of Saint Joseph Church.
In the late 1800’s, the Roman Catholic population of Griswoldville had grown to such significant numbers that the French Canadian mill workers living there petitioned the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield to establish their own parish. The first parish priest, Reverend John F. Lee, was stationed in Shelburne Falls in 1883 and that year, under his direction, constructed the first Roman Catholic Church in the area, Saint John the Baptist. That frame chapel was completed with the monetary assistance of the Griswoldville Manufacturing Company, which also donated the land the Church was constructed on.
The following year, Saint Joseph Parish was officially recognized and Mass was offered at the Odd Fellows Hall, the Whitney Hall and Union Hall in the Shelburne area. Previously, in the 1850’s, Roman Catholics residing in the Buckland and Shelburne area were ministered by a priest from Holyoke who would conduct weekly Mass in parishioner’s homes, usually at John Meehan’s on School Street. Reverend B.V. Moyde, a parish priest from Northampton ministered to the Shelburne Falls area in 1860.
In 1888, under the guidance of Reverend C. H. Jeannotte, the construction of Saint Joseph Church was completed with the first Mass being celebrated on December 2, 1888. Seven years later the rectory was built.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield purchased the mission Church of Saint Christopher in Charlemont in 1956. Moved from its original location in 1819, the 1803 structure was originally a Baptist church.
The 500-square mile parish serving nine hill towns is currently active spiritually reaching out to the local community in providing monthly community meals, donations to local food pantries, cash, clothing and other donations to those community members victimized by fire, accidents and other devastations, and visits to nursing and rest homes.