The Church of St. Joseph was organized in 1879 with 75 families, making our parish the first Catholic church in Mandan. The first Mass was celebrated in the Linnehan's house in 1879 and the first resident priest, Fr. Cassidy, arrived in late 1880, offering his first Mass on November 1, 1880. At that time the parish had no boundaries and the priest took care of the faithful for miles around, to parishes as far as Glendive, MT.
The first church structure, a small wood frame church of 70' x 80', was completed at a cost of $5,000 in September, 1881 and served the parish until the arrival of Fr. Daniel Collins in July 1894. After his arrival, Fr. Collins moved the old wood frame church across the street and built a new brick structure in 1904; the church we still use and cherish today. The church was build at a cost of $40,000, of which, Fr. Collins paid $13,500 personally. On July 3, 1904, the cornerstone was laid; a tin box beneath the cornerstone contains relics from Lourdes in France, Rome, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, and The River Jordan. This church was dedicated on November 30, 1904. Father Collins was buried in the basement of the church he loved and built.
Throughout the years, the interior of our church has been renovated various times. Under the guidance and leadership of former pastor, Fr. Patrick A. Schumacher, the latest renovation began kicked off with a Capital Campaign in 2006. Complete exterior brick tuckpointing was accomplished in 2007 followed up by a beautiful interior renovation in 2009-2010. The current interior was designed to inspire and guide us to more fully experience our faith and deepen our relationship with God who loves us, Jesus Christ who redeemed us, and the Holy Spirit whom moves within us. The proscenium arch inscription proclaims:" Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, which translates into For the Greater Glory of God."
The first Mass upon the completion of the interior renovation was celebrated Saturday, April 24, 2010 and the Dedication Mass of the newly renovated interior was Saturday. May 22, 2010 with Bishop Paul Zipfel as celebrant.
During this historic renovation Fr. Collins’ vault was unearthed and marked with black granite and gold leafed Celtic cross. His burial site was blessed by the Most Reverend Paul A. Zipfel during the Dedication Mas. Fr. Collins burial site can be viewed by entering the east church door and turning to the right. Fr. Collins, like many of his parishioners, was in immigrant to this country. He was born in Ireland in 1841. His father passed away when he was three, compelling his mother to sell their small farm and immigrate to Cleveland, Ohio a few years later. In Cleveland, Father Collins attended the first Catholic school in the city. Father Collins was one of the first seminarians to come from the Cleveland Diocese.
Fr. Collins' work for the church took him many places in many roles. He was a missionary in West Virginia, chaplain of the Home Guards of Cleveland at the onset of the Civil War, and chaplain (with the rank of Captain) of the Second Regiment, Dakota Territorial National Guard in Elk Point, South Dakota. He spent six years in Fargo before arriving in Mandan in 1894.
In Mandan, Fr. Collins had a great impact on his parish and the community. It was said that he was universally loved and respected by all who came in contact with him regardless of religion and was a power for good in Morton County. He was energetic, outspoken, and a man of exemplary life. His mission through life was "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men."
Father Collins died unexpectedly at the age of 68 on September 13, 1909 from pneumonia aggravated by heart trouble. He had recently celebrated his fortieth anniversary of priesthood on September 8, 1909. His funeral was the largest ever held in Mandan. Rev. Thomas Egan of Fargo admonished the people of Mandan to always remember the loyal and heroic services of Fr. Collins. The Reverend E. Garaghty of Jamestown remarked that rhe beautiful church would stand as a lasting memento to Fr. Collins' untiring zeal and generous nature.
As a parish, we continue to express our gratitude and thanks for such a wonderful gift, through such an extraordinary leader and for all of our priests who have served the parishioners of the Church of Saint Joseph.
† Builder: Father Daniel V. Collins, Pastor; 1894-1909 / Now buried in a vault in the basement of the Church. St. Joseph’s Church was the ninth church built by Father Collins
† Architect: Anton Dohmen of Milwaukee. Dohmen is credited with designing nineteen churches in the Midwest from 1900 to1922, including the following in North & South Dakota: St. Joseph, Devils Lake; St. Mary Church and Abbey, Richardton; Ss. Peter and Paul, Strasburg; and St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Hoven, SD.
† Contractor: F.D. Sharle, Dubuque, Iowa
† Style: Roman Gothic. The new entrance and gathering room added in 1974 altered the Romanesque design.
† Stained Glass Windows: Twelve in the Munich Style, designed by Karl Riemann
† Original Materials: Native rock, Kosota stonefacings, and Menominee brick from Wisconsin
† Tower and Steeple height: 114 feet
† Seating capacity: 725
† Original building cost: $40,000. Father Collins held a personal note of $13,500 against the church.
† Cornerstone laid: July 3, 1904. A tin box beneath the cornerstone contains relics from Lourdes in France, Rome, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives and the River Jordon. It will also contain an inscription in Latin, bearing the names of the Pope, the Cardinal of Baltimore, the Archbishop of St. Paul, the Bishop of Fargo, the President of the United States and the Governor of North Dakota.
† Dedicated: November 30, 1904
† Consecrated: June 4, 1924