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Parish History

A Brief History of St. Joseph Catholic Church

St. Joseph Parish was founded in 1951 by Archbishop Francis P. Keough. The present site on Virginia Avenue in the Halfway area of Washington County was purchased by Monsignor Francis Leary, the Dean of Washington County, from the Ludwig estate. The previous owner, Homewood Nursing Home, had recently moved to a new location in Williamsport, thus making the site available.

In 1954, Father Nicholas W. Dohony was appointed the first Pastor of St. Joseph Parish. This action relieved St. Mary Parish in Hagerstown of their new mission.

Father Martin J. Schmitt succeeded Father Dohony in 1955. During these years, the old Mansion House was used as the Rectory Chapel and sexton's house.

In 1959, Father Charles W. Dausch became the third Pastor and plans were made to build a church. In the meantime, the new rectory was purchased and used as a weekly chapel. Sunday Mass was held in the hall of the Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway. Christmas of 1961-Father Dausch was succeeded by Father Joseph A. Davies as Pas¬tor of St. Joseph parish. Also, in 1963, the acquisition of the School of Religion building, the second rectory, and the parish office took place.

In 1972 Father Kloman F. Riggie arrived to serve as Associate Pastor, starting a 24 year stay at St. Joseph Catholic Church.

The clergy of St. Joseph also served as full-time chaplains at the Hagerstown Correctional Complex; from the first Pastor, Monsignor Dohony, to Father Riggie.

Monsignor Davies Retired in 1990, and Father Riggie was appointed administrator in February, 1990. On October 7, 1990, Father Riggie was installed and became the fifth pastor of St. Joseph Parish. Bishop Francis Murphy, Western Vicar, presided.

On December 2, 1996, Father Kloman Riggie suddenly passed away. It was under Father Riggie's supervision that the planning, financing, and construction of the new Parish Activities Center and Education Wing began.

Father Keith Boisvert arrived in 1997, serving as our temporary administrator, and he brought Father Riggie's project to a successful completion.

In 1998, Father Michael Buttner was named our sixth Pastor, but had to retire due to health problems in May. In July of 1998, Father Christopher P. Moore was installed by the late Bishop Francis Murphy on September 27, 1998 and served for over fifteen years.

In June of 2014 Fr. Chris accepted a transfer to St. Isaac Jogues Church in Carney, MD and Monsignor Richard Hilgartner was named temporary administrator for the remainder of 2014.  In January of 2015 Father John Jicha was named the eighth Pastor of St. Joseph Church and continues that service today in support of our Parish Cluster with St. Augustine Catholic Church in Williamsport and St. James Catholic Church in Boonsboro.  The Parish also welcomed Fr. Juan Rubio Vazquez as Associate Pastor in 2015 as well as Permanent Deacon Paul Nicolas. 

It should be noted that Archbishop Keogh, Monsignor Leary, Monsignor Dohony, Father Schmitt, Father Dausch, Monsignor Davies, Father Riggie, and Bishop Murphy have all since passed away, and we commend them to the mercy of God that they may rest in peace.

17630 Virginia Avenue, Hagerstown, MD 21740                              Email:                                                        Phone: (301) 797-9445