Richmond Parish Celebrates the Year of St. Joseph
Richmond St. Joseph
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
November 4, 2021
RICHMOND—St. Joseph Parish, here, was already at work to increase its visibility to the public during the pandemic and not to become “insular,” says Edward Varga, PE, parish communications director.
 
“Our hope was that not only our regular parishioners would benefit from the reminder to trust in the Lord, but that the fallen away would be reminded of the inspiration to be gained through the Church and perhaps reconsider their spiritual aspirations,” he says.
 
That work, Varga adds, “seemed to grow in intensity when the Holy Father declared 2021 for our namesake, St. Joseph … Certainly if there was any saint to see us through hard times, it would be St. Joseph.”
 
Changes beyond church walls included a logo that incorporated a carpenter’s square, new signage on the property, live-streaming of the Saturday Vigil Mass via Facebook and installation of an FM transmitter which broadcasts audio from the church “so those who were concerned about coming inside could still attend (Mass) in our parking lot,” Varga says, noting also that “exterior banners were installed with a message about St. Joseph.”
 
St. Joseph feast days brought outdoor events around the 120-year old bell on church grounds, which gained a plaque this year in honor of the donors, the 
 
Orsolini family in 1983.
 
Inside, Varga says, the litany and memorare to St. Joseph have been prayed at the end of Masses this year. “During Easter we began the Chalkboard Project,” he says, “which collected prayer requests and posted them next to our monstrance which is visible from the outside of our church. 
 
“We’ve opened our doors to those completing individual consecrations to St. Joseph and began to keep the church open during the day for those seeking time in prayer before the Lord.”
 
Three people who have been parishioners for various lengths of time share their experiences of St. Joseph Parish.
 
Frank Brannon and his family moved to the Richmond area and joined St. Joseph Parish about three years ago.
 
“It’s been great,” he says, “our favorite parish that we’ve been a part of so far.” 
 
The fact that it is a smaller-sized parish is a plus, he says, noting, “We feel more in touch with the community because of that and because of what’s going on there.”
 
Brannon is also happy with current pastor, Msgr. Martin Heinz, and “his leadership and fatherhood of the parish,” calling him a good homilist including about “how we can become better Christians and take better care of our families.”
 
The theme of this Year of St. Joseph, Brannon says, has been “how to be the spiritual heads of our households … really practical on how we can help our faith. We are reminded every week how much we need strong men in our faith … It’s been really good. I’m happy for the spiritual fatherhood I’ve been introduced to.”
 
Brannon is active with a Tuesday night men’s group, the Exodus 90 program, and recently he has joined the Knights of Columbus.
 
“I got to know these guys, and they kept nudging me,” he says. “And now it’s time. It’s all about charity and unity and fraternity, all really great stuff.”
 
Parishioner Mary Schulz says she’s been a member of St. Joseph Parish since 1953 and expresses her appreciation of the ties she has had with other parishioners over the years.
 
“I feel like I’m at home there,” she says. “I worked there as a sacristan for 38 years (and) enjoyed the choir and the Altar and Rosary Society, rummage sales and funeral lunches.
 
“I got to know so many people (including priests and nuns). I was involved in several things.
 
“Now I can’t spend too much time there; I am 98 years old. But whenever I can, I go to Mass and see the people I’ve always known.”
 
Deacon Dennis Holian has been a part of St. Joseph Parish in Richmond since he was one year old. He attended the now-closed St. Joseph Elementary School, was an altar server, reader and eucharistic minister. 
 
He also taught religious education and was a member of the parish council and evangelization team, also serving as a retreat leader. He met his wife, Christine, there, and they’ve been married for 41 years. 
 
He and Christine, who live on a farm, also have twice been parishioners at St. Patrick Parish in McHenry, about 10 miles from Richmond. It was their parish for three years when they were newlyweds, then again after his ordination to the permanent diaconate 10 years ago when he was assigned to St. Patrick’s. 
 
“It was a good assignment and where I needed to be at the time,” he says. But being reassigned to St. Joseph Parish about six months ago, Deacon Holian says, “was like coming home.”
 
St. Joseph’s “is like every parish — the connections and families, and connections you have with people. It’s a small parish with tight knit community.”
 
He notes that several priests, after serving at the parish, felt that connection and some even arranged to be buried there. 
 
“For me it is home. But for other people, they come, and it feels like home,” Deacon Holian says. 
 
The parish patron and foster father of Jesus has been an inspiration to the Holians over the years. “We always sat on the St. Joseph (statue) side” of the church, he explains, “and that inspired us to foster and adopt children. We fostered about 20 and adopted three. We have seven kids total.”
 
St. Joseph Parish, he says, “is a simple little church, but beautiful. It’s been an important part of my life.”
 
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