History of St. Joseph in Aurora
April 1, 2021
The mother parish of St. Joseph in Aurora was St. Nicholas, which was a considerable distance to walk for some German families living in northeast Aurora. 
A meeting on July 17, 1898, in consultation with St. Nicholas’ pastor, Father Charles Schnueckel, that discussed pros and cons on establishing a new parish resulted in a unanimous vote to begin a new parish.
With permission from Archbishop Patrick A. Feehan, property was purchased and on Sept. 28, 1898, ground was broken for a combination church and school. Father John F. Schmitt, who had led the committee, was made pastor of St. Joseph on Feb. 1, 1899. The cornerstone was laid by the Chicago Archdiocesan chancellor on Aug. 30, and on Oct. 1, 1899, the first Mass was offered in the new church. The school opened the following September, staffed by the School Sisters of St. Francis. Bishop Peter J. Muldoon, then auxiliary bishop of Chicago, dedicated the church and school on Sept. 28, 1902.
A convent was built in 1902, land was purchased for a cemetery in 1903, and a rectory was built in 1908. A 1925 addition was added to the church and school and three years later, the convent was enlarged.
In 1930, Father Schmitt was raised to the rank of domestic prelate, titled Right Reverend Monsignor. Msgr. Schmitt died in 1940 after 40 years of service to St. Joseph Parish.
At its 50-year celebration on Nov. 6, 1949, the parish had more than 500 families.
A cornerstone for a contemporary-style church was laid by parish pastor Father Joseph J. Weitekamp on Oct. 21, 1955, and the first Mass in the new church was celebrated on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 1956. Bishop Loras T. Lane dedicated the church on May 1, 1957, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
A fire destroyed the rectory in January, 1962, and killed the parish’s assistant, Father William P. Staff. Work to build a new rectory and school began in June 1962. The work was half completed when Father Weitekamp died. Father Paul A. Tuchlinsky was appointed pastor, serving until 1976. By August 1963, the buildings were completed. 
The parish celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill concelebrating the Jubilee Mass on April 7, 1974.
In 1995, the original church was razed to make room for a new parish center. The St. Joseph Activity Center was dedicated on Dec. 1, 1995 by Bishop Thomas G. Doran and Bishop O’Neill. Father (now Msgr.) Eric Barr was pastor at that time, serving from 1991-1997. The bell from the original St. Joseph Church was placed outside the existing church in 2003.
Recent parish pastors have included: Father Lawrence London (1976-1991); Father Jerome Leake (1997-2019); and Father Matthew McMorrow (2019-present). The parish now has just over 650 households registered. 
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