Copied from Our Story: The People of the Diocese of Jefferson City 1956-1984
Canton - St. Joseph Church
Mission: LaGrange - Notre Dame
The first priest to celebrate Mass in Canton rode horseback from Edina. He celebrated the Mass in an upstairs room of the L. C. Bevans home at 604 Lewis St., now known as the Wellman home.
St. Joseph's Church was erected in 1869 from bricks that were brought from the old building at Tully. Apparently there was a Catholic Church there. According to "The Missouri Plebian," the cornerstone of that church was to be laid Sunday, September 3, 1841. After the service, a collection was taken to defray the expenses of the building. Tully was a town founded one mile north of the present Canton location near the site of today's Lock and Dam No. 20 on the Mississippi River. Because of the many floods, Tully was evacuated in 1851 and the residents moved to the higher ground of Canton.
The old school was a frame building at the rear of the church. Fr. John Girse, who had come to Canton in 1904, built a new school in 1907 on the southwest corner from the church. The old school building was moved to 611 Lewis St., where it served as the front part of the residence of Miss Nettie Mae Henderson until it was razed last year. The school was conducted by the Ursuline Sisters of San Antonio, Texas. It was closed in 1915 or 1916 and the building was sold.
The present church was constructed with volunteer help in 1954 by the late Bishop John P. Cody October 30. Fr. Michael O'Rourke was the pastor.
Fr. Stephen Sandknop was appointed pastor in 1970. It was during his time as pastor that St. Joseph's took on most of its present look. He was a man of many interests, talents and boundless energy. He put his creative talent to work in the redecorating of the church in 1971. In 1975, he planned the building an decorating of the new rectory. It was completed just before his untimely death in June 1976.
It was during his pastorate that St. Joseph Church began to take an active part in Canton Council of Churches. Activities held in conjunction with the other churches included the World Wide Communion Sunday services held in Campbell auditorium of Culver Stockton College the first Sunday in October; joint Christmas caroling; Good Friday Services; Palm Sunday Services held in city park; combined Vacation church school in June and a Thanksgiving service. The collection for the Thanksgiving service is canned and packaged goods to be given to those in need.
Following the death of Fr. Sandknop, Fr. Melvin Lahr, assistant pastor of Hannibal Church was appointed administrator until Fr. Gerald Kaimann was named pastor in June, 1977. He has continued the ecumenical activities that Fr. Sandknop initiated. One activity that he has added, and which the prestent pastors find helpful is their meeting each week to share prayer and scripture.
Fr. Kaimann planned and directed the building of an adition to the hall, with storage and garage in 1981.
The parish has an active Parish Council, Ladies Altar Society, Youth Ministry group, weekly prayer group, and a small Legion of Mary group. Cursillo, Marriage Encounter, TEC, and QUEST have drawn adults and young people to Our Lady of the Angels Seminary in Quincy, Illinois. A Senior Day is held monthly with members from Canton, LaGrange and St. Patrick participating. Fr. Kaimann is also pastor of Notre Dame Church in LaGrange, and St. Patrick Church in St. Patrick. When he became pastor of St. Patrick Church, Sr. Roberta Westrick, SC, was appointed pastoral minister, working in the three parishes. [end of article]
Additional History 1984 to Present