In early 1913, a few Catholics were moving to the growing community of Hawthorne. By the year 1915, there were eleven families living in and around the area. Because there was no nearby church where they could attend Mass, the families had to travel to St. John’s in Hyde Park or St. James in Redondo Beach. Undoubtedly, there was a need for a more convenient place of worship.
Upon receiving permission from the Chancery, plans were made for Mass to be said in a small local market on the town’s main street - Hawthorne Blvd. Fr. Jeremiah /Burke, Pastor of St. Johns in Hyde Park, said the first mass on Christmas Day 1915 and then continued to hold Mass every Sunday after at 8:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. on alternating Sunday’s.
By 1916, the families believed they could support the upkeep of a church and purchased property on Hawthorne Blvd., near Raymond Avenue (Modern day 120th street). Mr. Joseph Tintle was hired as the carpenter in charge of building the church. His wages were 2 dollars 50 cents a day and with the help of many other volunteers, the Church was completed. The completed church measured 60 feet by 30 feet. Mrs. Joseph Tintle, who had a strong devotion to St. Joseph, asked that the new parish Church be named in this Saint’s honor. At this time Fr. Leo Garsse came to St. Joseph to say mass.
By 1920, St. Joseph was designated a parish and Fr. Paul de Munck was assigned as the first Pastor. In 1924, Fr. John M. Ford, from Chicago, Illinois, was assigned as the second Pastor of the parish, which is now numbered, 100 families. Later that year a meeting of the parishioners was called to discuss the possibility of building a new parish plant, which would include a school. Father Ford was concerned that children who were waiting to attend a Catholic School and had to travel to St. James in Redondo Beach. The meeting ended with all in agreement and shortly after that, the property was purchased on Acacia Street and the corner of what is now 120th Street.
The new church with a seating capacity of 500, opened in August 1928, with three Masses: 6:30 and 9:00 a.m., and High Mass at 10:30 a.m. Fr. Eugene Mac Sweeney became the first assistant. With the opening of the new church, the first building was moved adjacent to the school and was remodeled to serve as a convent. Fr. Ford, who had been taught by the St. Mary of the Woods, Indiana, asked the order to staff the new school at St. Joseph. The school opened in September 1928 with 93 students and a teaching staff of five Nuns.
In 1933, Rev. Basil Killorun, C.P. was appointed Administrator during Father Ford’s Illness. Fr. Ford passed away in 1934 and Fr. Thomas Dowling became the third Pastor. Fr. Louis A Mulvihill was appointed as the fourth Pastor in 1938. He was considered a financial genius and was sent to Hawthorne to help the troubled parish with its financial problems. Changes were made in the church and school, and a building fund was started for a new church as the parish was outgrowing the present one. Before these plans could fully materialize, Fr. Mulvihill passed away in November 1955 and Fr. Emmett Mc Carthy, Assistant Pastor was named Administrator.
In December 1955, Fr. Patrick J. Redahan became the fifth Pastor. He continued with the building fund and with making improvements to the existing Church. He also made additions to the school. It was under his directions that the construction of the third church began. Although the interior was yet unfinished, Mass was first celebrated in the new church on Christmas day in 1957. The church was dedicated by Cardinal McIntyre on February 15, 1958.
On March 19th, 1988, Fr. Eugene Buhr and Fr. Joseph Moniz became the first Team Ministers (Co-Pastors) of St. Joseph Church. Under their guidance, a Korean Church was purchased, which is now our Parish Center. In 199_, Father Perry Leiker became the pastor. Under his tenure, the Parish Center was built, and the Rainbow Carpet store was purchased what is now the Madonna Plaza. In 2011, Father Gregory King became Pastor. During the last years, the Parish has been able to clear all its debt and upgrade all its facilities.
Celebrating 100 years of Faith!