Catholic Community of Waukesha

Parish History


1840’s – Catholics in the Village of Waukesha, then called Prairieville, first worshipped at what has become St. Joseph Church, making our parish the fourth oldest active parish in the county.

1880’s – The landmark stone church that stands on East Avenue was built.

1920’s – A one-room school and chapel are added to the church property, the Hispanic presence begins in Waukesha and at St. Joe’s, and the St. Vincent de Paul Conference is formed.

1930’s – Pastor Fr. Joseph Lederer makes significant changes to the campus to accommodate a growing congregation. St. Joe’s has five choirs under the direction of Prof. Fred Gramann.

1940’s – Fr. Lederer secures land on which Catholic Memorial High School will be built. The parish campus expands onto Martin Street.

1950’s – A permanent school is built on Martin Street and the church building, now 70 years old, is renovated.

1960’s – Vatican II brings changes to the Catholic Church, including the first Parish Council in 1969. Mass is celebrated in Spanish for the first time.

1970’s – Pastor Fr. Don Surges institutes a major expansion of religious education programs, including CCD and Adult Ed.

1980’s – The Church is named an historic landmark and we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the building.

1990’s – We celebrate 150 years as a parish and the School Sisters of St. Francis leave. St. Joe’s joins with other churches in the area to provide worship, education, food, fun, shelter, welcome and outreach.

2000’s – We keep growing and changing to accommodate the priest shortage and a diverse bilingual, multicultural community.