Welcome to St. Joseph, Zell

For 175 years, we’ve been serving the people in Zell, MO. Our mission is to give glory to God and to save souls.

Parish History

During 1839, the early days of the Spanish regime, the parish of Ste. Genevieve exerted it’s missionary efforts that included French Village, River Aux Vases and Zell. Father F.X. Dannebrog along with his colleagues Father A.H. Gandolfo visited the outlying Catholic communities on a monthly basis.

On May 1 (the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker), 1845, the first deed was signed for the Zell Church, dedicated it to St. Joseph, and by 1847 the Parish was built and organized. Father Francis X. Weiss, the Parish’s first pastor, arrived in the spring 1848 and was blessed with 632 parishioners.

In 1909, Father Henry Pigge erected the beautiful steeple and entrance to the church. He was pastor for 37 years until his death on April 21, 1912, and is the first priest to be buried in the cemetery.

By 1918, Father Engelbert Heimersheid set out to enlarge and repair the church with transepts and an apse giving it the cruciform appearance. The main altar and sanctuary were an exact replication of the Lady Chapel of the Jesuitenkirkche in Cologne where he was ordained. The three altars and the communion rail were rare Caen stone. The Stations of the Cross were brought here from Germany by Fr. Heimerschield.

The beautiful rock altar that adorns the cemetery is thought to have been build between 1919-1938 when Fr. Francis Weinig was pastor. This altar was used to celebrate the Memorial Day Mass.

In 1960, Father Leibinger had the new and present convent built. In 1962, the interior of the church was renovated. Two sacristy windows were removed and large murals were painted. Three altars, communion rails window sills, and the backing for the altar, all made of marble were added. In 1964, the new present rectory was built.

On May 14, 1995, Mother’s Day, Father James Hanson dedicated the Fatima Shrine to commemorate our 150th Anniversary.

Today, St. Joseph Parish has 250 families and has been blessed with a total of 31 vocations. Nine sons became priests, and twenty-one young ladies became sisters.

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