In 1868, St Joseph’s Church was established by Rev. Timoleon Raimondi, the last prefect, and the First Vicar Apostolic.
Bishop Giovanni Timoleone Raimondi (consecrated titular Bishop of Acantho in 1874) established St. Joseph’s Church in 1868
The construction of the church was attributed to the dedication and efforts of many parties including the Hong Kong Government, local Christian communities, and Jewish agencies.
At that time, many British troops stationed in Admiralty, Central came from Ireland and Scotland and were mostly Catholics. In addition, there were also groups of Portuguese Catholic families living nearby. In this regard, Rev. Raimondi proposed: “For the Irish soldiers of the government and these Portuguese Catholics, let’s build a church not far from the barracks.” This church which was built in Gothic style was officiated and blessed on November 30, 1872.
The first St. Joseph’s Church
The first St. Joseph’s Church – blessed by Bishop Colomber of Sai Kung on 1872 11 30
It represented one of the only three Catholic churches at that time, the other two being the Immaculate Conception Church at Wellington Street and the St Francis Church in Wanchai.
However, this Church was completely swiped off by a severe typhoon in September 1874.
The first St. Joseph’s Church – destroyed by typhoon on 1874 09 22
A second church was redeveloped immediately and opened on June 3, 1877.
The second St. Joseph Church – drawn by Marciano Baptista ca 1880
The second St. Joseph’s Church – blessed on 1877 06 03
Yet it was not until January 25, 1949, that it was elevated to the St. Joseph Parish.
During World War II, the Parish continued to serve the faithful even though the church was partially bombed. However, as the roof had been weakened and inundated by termites, it eventually had to be demolished. A new church was then rebuilt in 1966 and opened on June 1, 1968, which has been in use until today.
The third St. Joseph’s Church – plaque unveiled by Bishop Hsu on 1968 06 01
Over the next few decades, the number of local expatriates increased and Hong Kong’s economy grew rapidly. At this time, the government, police, banks, and educational and cultural sectors were all dominated by British leaders and administrators who live on the Peak or in the Mid-levels which is near St. Joseph’s Church.
The Church, with its mission of serving the immediate needs of all nations, welcomed these foreigners into its family. These British Officials and business communities gradually found St. Joseph’s Church as their Home-Away-From-Home.
Many of the Westerners left Hong Kong around 1997. At the same time, due to the rapid economic development of Hong Kong, many local families started to employ overseas domestic helpers. Thousands of Filipinos who left their hometowns came to Hong Kong to work as domestic helpers. Thanks to the 500-year history of Catholicism being introduced to the Philippines, most of these Filipino foreign domestic helpers are Catholics. On their day off, Central becomes their place of hang-out. As St. Joseph’s Church is located near Central, and with its mission of continually serving in an open and loving spirit, it welcomes these young women and provides pastoral services and spiritual guidance in the direction of life and work.
St. Joseph’s Church today
St. Joseph the Worker – sculpture by Francis Borboa
Setting up different societies and communities for their participation allows them in turn to contribute and interact with the local communities at the same time. Here, they found a comfortable Home-Away-From-Home at St. Joseph’s Church.