Welcome, visitors to the Saint Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village!
On first visit, many folks remark about the interior: “It doesn’t look very Catholic…was it always a Catholic church? Indeed it has! This edifice, our first and only church, opened in March of 1833. With post-Vatican Two renovation it actually resembles the simplicity of that period. The mural, a copy of the upper portion of Raphael’s “Transfiguration of Christ with Moses and Elijah” by an unknown traveling artist, was discovered painted on the wall at the time of the renovation. Our first Mass featured music by an orchestra and it was estimated that a third of the congregation were of Protestant traditions who came to see and hear the novelty of an orchestra in church! With excellent acoustics, the church has continued high quality music programs, our own choirs and various choruses and chorales which visit us frequently. Our adult vested choir sings the classic Catholic repertoire each Sunday at the 11:30 A.M. Mass , and our contemporary choir, composed of university students performs at the 6:00 P.M.
Another original element besides the mural is the balcony railing, still protecting our worshippers especially at the student Mass on Sunday evening. Parish lore has it that our balcony was used as a hiding place before the Civil War for slaves trying to escape the South and avoid the bounty hunters of our fair city. The life of this Parish has been traced in frank detail by Thomas Shelley in his “Greenwich Village Catholics: the Evolution of an Urban Faith Community, 1829-2002”. He writes in the Preface:
“The history of this Parish is worth telling for its own sake as a collective journey of one faith community from immigrant mission to pillar of society and then to spiritual outpost in the
. However, it has significance far beyond the boundaries of Secular City Greenwich Villagebecause it documents at the most basic and vital level of Catholic communal organization the interaction between change and continuity that has been one of the most prominent features of urban Catholicism over the past two centuries.”
Today we are experiencing yet another transformation of our neighborhood. The fabled Village bohemian culture has faded into Chelsea art galleries, into
When the Parish and University ministries merged in 2003, the Archdiocese invited the Order of Preachers (the “Dominicans”) to care for the new composite. Presently, four friars serve Saint Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village. Our website links to a wide variety of information about the origins, spirituality, and contemporary apostolates of this medieval Order.
Our parish school closed in June of 2005. The Archdiocese of New York opened a new entity in the former school building after a complete reconstruction which is known as