When Msgr. Duffy assumed the role of pastor of St. John’s in 1875, which was founded in 1851, he established a Sunday School in a building on upper Broadway to tend to the faith formation needs of the children in that neighborhood of Rensselaer. The following year he began to offer Mass in the old Hodkins Hook and Ladder on Upper Third Street. That practice was discontinued after one year’s trial.
It was not until 1914 that the land for a new church was purchased. Separated from the mother church of St. John in 1915 Bishop Cusack appointed Rev. Charles F. Farrelly as pastor of the 161 Catholic families living in that part of the city. Father Farrelly began to offer the Eucharist every Sunday in Bailey Hall while residing in the home of Mr. William Leahy.
This beautiful photo was taken in 1920.
In the spring of 1916 the construction of
a basement church began and on September 24th Bishop Cusack blessed the
cornerstone. The basement church was in use by Christmas of that year. The
gothic-style super-structure was completed and dedicated November 25, 1925.
The bell was a gift of the people of St. John’s in memory of Msgr. Duffy.
Father Farrelly remained pastor until his death on May 7, 1938.
He was succeeded by Rev. John Collins who also served as Dean of Rensselaer
County (outside of Troy), faculty member of the College of S. Rose and editor
of “The Evangelist Question Box." The parish children received semi-weekly
instructions from the neighboring Franciscan seminarians and two Sisters
of Mercy from St. John’s.
In 1956 the parish opened the doors to St. Joseph’s School serving children
in grades K-4.
In 1986 there was a merger with St. John’s Academy continuing the tradition
of Catholic education in the City of Rensselaer as St. Joseph’ – St. John’s
Academy. Due to a decline in enrollment and escalating operating costs the
Academy was closed in June 2004---- after 140 years of service to the city’s
In 2009 after 84 years of serving the people
in the northern end of Rensselaer, St Joseph church was closed. On Friday,
October 2, 2009 the church held an Eveing of Remembrance and on Saturday,
October 3, 2009 the last mass was celebrated at the 4 PM liturgy. The Catholic
Faith Community of Rensselaer now worships at one site, the former St. John
the Evangelist Church on Herrick St which is now called The Parish of St.
John the Evangelist and St. Joseph.