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Prineville St. Joseph's Catholic Church recently recognized 70 years in their current location, and the celebration included the entire congregation

 - 1951 dedication at St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Main Street, which was dedicated with Bishop O'Brian.

On Aug. 15, Prineville St. Joseph's Catholic Church celebrated the 70th anniversary of the dedication of the church at 150 NE Main St., in Prineville.

"The celebration was well attended," commented longtime parishioner Tom MacDonald. "About 200 people, including Tom, Nora and Patsy -- Bishop Liam Cary's siblings, who all traveled to Prineville for the event."

Awards were given to parishioners who have served in many capacities over the years. The parish celebrated Bishop Cary's upcoming Aug. 21 birthday with a song and a cake. 

"Almost everything from routine maintenance to replacements have been made possible by volunteers in the parish," added Macdonald. "Father Joseph recognized exceptional contributions with a short speech and an award certificate."

George Gerke was the master of ceremonies for the event. Many stories about the past were shared as everyone enjoyed a meal prepared and served by volunteers. Bishop Liam Cary celebrated both the vigil mass and the Mass of the Feast of the Assumption on the day of the celebration. On Sunday, Father Joseph Kunnelaya T. and Father Joe Reeves celebrated mass with the bishop. Many parishioners and Bishop Liam's family were in attendance.

Following the mass on Sunday, the parish hosted a celebration and party in the parish hall. Bishop Cary and other speakers shared their memories of parish life from the 1950s until today. Bishop Cary grew up in Prineville, was an altar server at St. Joseph's, and attended local schools until he entered the seminary in 1960.

Longtime parishioner Gary Thompson reviewed the events and accomplishments of the past 70 years.

The church was formerly dedicated in June 1951 by Bishop O'Brian, shortly after the building was completed at the new location. The first mass of the church was held in 1950 on Palm Sunday. The original church, established in 1915, was located on the corner of Court and Third streets, now the location of Crook County Parole and Probation. 

The first resident pastor, Father Thomas McTeigue, was appointed July 16, 1943, and served St. Joseph's until his death in December 1960. The current pastor, Father Joseph Kunnelaya T., started in October 2016. Five of the previous pastors, Father McTeigue, Gaire, Crotty, Phelan and Condon all came to the congregation from Ireland. Father Kunnelaya T. is from India.

Thompson recalls that Prineville has evolved with time, and there are fewer and fewer residents who remember the history of the church when it was new in the current location on Main Street.

Thompson's family moved to Prineville in 1952, when he was 6 years old, and the church was approximately 1 year old. He has watched the parish hall go from being in the basement of the church to the current location to the west of the church. He has also seen the structure of their mass change from being offered in only Latin to being offered in the language of the congregation (either English or Spanish).

Over time, as the congregation grew, the church offered three masses. Initially, they offered one mass. Currently, there is a vigil mass at 5 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday, there is a 9 a.m. mass and a Latino mass at 12 p.m.

Other important timelines included the forming of The Knights of Columbus in 1950. The Catechetical Center was built and dedicated in 1963, and the parish hall was built in 1965. Stained glass windows were installed and the Dreher house was purchased between 1966 and 1970. The sanctuary was renovated in 1978, as well as a new altar donated by St. Mary's Card Club, and the same year, pew kneelers were covered, and carpet was installed. Between 1980 and 1986, several improvements were made in the kitchen, classrooms, roof and sidewalks. In 1990, the Renew program was begun, and the next year, the basement was remodeled. In the next 20 years, the church directory was updated multiple times, a new roof was added, and updates were made to the parish hall.

Other groups and events that have been established in St. Joseph Catholic Church include Ladies of St. Joseph, first Sunday monthly, breakfasts, Christmas pageants and the Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December.

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