Bishop dedicates Saint Joseph Catholic Church
Dedication of the new St Joseph Catholic Church and Parish Hall took place on September 27 in Monticello under the direction of the Most Reverend Oscar A. Solis, Bishop of Salt Lake City.
More than 150 people crowded the new church to participate in the dedication. In addition to local members of the Catholic community, visitors from the Salt Lake City Diocese were in attendance, along with priests and friends from adjacent Catholic communities.
The liturgy for the dedication of a new church includes a number of events, including the liturgy of the Word, the rite of Dedication, the liturgy of the Eucharist, and a Concluding rite.
During the event, the beautiful new building was filled with the sweet smells of oil and incense, and the sounds of inspirational music from the congregation and a small choir. They were accompanied by guitar.
There was a strong multi-cultural feel to the liturgy, with portions in English and Spanish. Bishop Oscar A. Solis, who is originally from the Philippines, presented the keys to the church to Father Rowland Nwokocha, who is originally from Nigeria.
The new facility was completed in early 2016, with an open house held at that time. The dedication was delayed because the prior bishop, John Charles Wester, left Salt Lake City to become the Archbishop in Santa Fe in 2015.
Bishop Soltis was installed as the tenth bishop of the diocese of Salt Lake City in March, 2017.
In addition to the formal liturgy and homily by Bishop Soltis, there were several speeches and a reception.
Allen and Kathie Lund, who provided much of the funding for the new building, recognized many of the local craftsmen and contractors who worked on the project.
Members of the Catholic faith have had an important presence in southeast Utah for more than 200 years.
The first Europeans to visit the area were Catholic Fathers Escalante and Dominguez. After the Catholic Fathers passed through in 1776, the Spanish Trail was established and became an important route between Santa Fe, NM and Monterrey, CA for many years.
Many of the earliest settlers in Monticello included sheepherders from New Mexico.
The Catholic Church has had an official presence in Monticello for more than 100 years.
The first mass was celebrated in Monticello in 1915, with Father Rafael Ramos officiating at the home of Eugenio Martinez.
The small Catholic community began a building fund at that time. It was 18 years later, in 1933, before land was purchased for a new building on Main Street in Monticello.
On October 9, 1935, Bishop James Kearney blessed and dedicated the newly finished church.
Father James C. Coyne, assistant at the Notre Dame Parish in Price, was appointed to serve the parish.
The original church was refurbished in 1953 and again in 1988, before being demolished in 2015 to make room for the new church.