Saint Joseph Catholic Church (Herndon)


Founding Pastor: Rev. Edward J. Mularkey
Parish Founded: 1925: Mission of Saint James Catholic Church. 1944: Parish founded.
Church Dedication: 1926: Stone church located in downtown Herndon. 1965: Church dedicated by Bishop Russell on the Peachtree Street property. 2021: School blessed.
Additional Dates of Importance:  1926: Stone church located in downtown Herndon. 1965: Church dedicated by Bishop Russell on the Peachtree Street property. 2021: School blessed. 1965: Building for a future school and religious education classes was completed.  1967: Additional classrooms, offices and rectory were completed. 1978: Saint Joseph Catholic School was founded. 1987: New church on Peachtree Street dedicated by Bishop John R. Keating. 1991: Priest residence completed. 1995: Gym completed. 2004: Parish Hall, offices, school library and primary grade wing completed.

What Makes This Parish Unique?

The parish has had the opportunity to be ministered to by two religious orders since 1950: the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost Fathers) and the Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regular (TOR). In 1981, the Franciscan Friars begain their ministry at the parish. They brought with them, and the current Friars continue to share, their Franciscan spirituality-crib, cross and the Holy Eucharist-with the faith community. The Friars' missionary spirit provides them with the opportunity to minister to and with the diverse ethnic communities in Northern Virginia. The continued growth in ministry opportunities and building for the future due to the growth in population and needs of the people. Franciscan hospitality and openness serve a diverse community of the faithful: Asian, Spanish, Caucasian and African.

Parish History:

Mission Statement: Saint Joseph Catholic Church preaches the Gospel through word, sacrament and service to others in order to build God's Kingdom. Prior to 1923, the relatively few Catholics in the northwestern section of Fairfax County and the eastern part of Loudoun County had to travel to Saint James in Falls Church or to Saint John the Apostle in Leesburg to attend Mass and receive the Sacraments. In 1923, approximately 80 Catholics living in or near Herndon petitioned Most Rev. Andrew J. Brennan, Bishop of Richmond (which at that time included Northern Virginia), to authorize establishment of a mission church in Herndon. That petition was approved. In 1925, the cornerstone of the new church was laid, and Saint Joseph Catholic Church came into being. The new mission church, constructed of stone native to the area, was dedicated by Bishop Brennan on July 20, 1926. From 1925 until 1944, Saint Joseph was a mission of Saint James in Falls Church. In 1944, Saint Joseph became a separate parish, with Rev. Edward J. Mularkey assigned as the first pastor.


In 1949, Most Rev. Peter L. Ireton, Bishop of Richmond, established the boundaries of the parishes in Northern Virginia. Saint Joseph Catholic Church initially was assigned jurisdiction over a geographical area of approximately 144 square miles. In 1950, in response to a request from Bishop Ireton, the Holy Ghost Fathers agreed to provide the priests to serve at Saint Joseph to minister to the spiritual needs of the parish. That year marked the first time that the parish had a pastor in residence. Rev. Joseph Hackett, the first of the Holy Ghost priests assigned to the parish, was also the first pastor to reside in Herndon. In 1963, Most Rev. John J. Russell, Bishop of Richmond, authorized the parish to build a new church and a parochial school. Construction began on a tract of land on Peachtree Street. In 1965, Bishop Russell formally dedicated the new church and the school. In 1975, Saint Joseph celebrated its 50th anniversary. Most Rev. Thomas J. Welsh, Bishop of Arlington, participated in the celebration of the parish's golden anniversary.

In 1981, the parish witnessed the end of one era and the beginning of another: The Holy Ghost Order, whose priests had served the parish during its formative years, discerned that they needed return the parish to the Diocese to continue the sacramental care of the faithful. The parish bade farewell to the dedicated Holy Ghost Fathers, who had served the parishs' spiritual needs for over 30 years. On July 1, 1981, Rev. Louis McIntyre, TOR, was assigned as pastor, and Rev. James T. Angert, TOR, was assigned as associate pastor. Rev. Ivan Lebar, TOR, was added to the staff as an associate pastor. From 1981 to 1984, the friars, in conjunction with parish committees moved ahead with planning for the urgently needed new church. The plans submitted to the Diocese were approved and included seating for 900-1000. On November 18, 1984, groundbreaking ceremonies were held, and construction of the new church was underway. At last, despite a multitude of problems and delays occasioned by various factors, the beautiful new home of Saint Joseph Catholic Church was completed.

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