Saint Joseph Parish in Mountain View, California is a parish of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church. The parish and its church are located in Mountain View in the state of California, the parish falls under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose in California and its bishop. It is named after Saint Joseph, husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus; for whom the diocese and the nearby city of San Jose is also named.
The parish church is located on Hope Street, having been in continuous service since its initial building in 1905.
The parish school, St. Joseph Catholic School is located on Miramonte Avenue, and is an elementary school for children from kindergarten through eighth grade.
The first Catholic church in the City of Mountain View was built in 1867 with funds gathered by Rev. Joseph Bixio, S.J. of Santa Clara. The original structure was a little white wooden building, topped by a cross, nestled among tall shade trees and enclosed by a white picket fence at the corner of El Camino Real and Alviso Road. The land was donated by John Sullivan whose teams hauled the lumber from Watsonville. It was a small church accommodating 150 people until 1884 when its capacity was increased to 250. Rev. John J. Cullen was appointed the first pastor in 1901.
The present church property, located on Castro, Church and Hope streets, was donated by the Castro family. In 1905 concrete was poured for the foundations and a wooden church was established. St. Joseph's Parish then included the towns of Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, and Mayfield (south of Palo Alto), ranging from San Francisco Bay to Skyline Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains at that time.
The population growth, spurred by the railroad, put great pressure on the parish and its church within a few years after its completion. Therefore, in 1916 St. Martin's Parish was established in Sunnyvale, followed by St. Aloysius in Mayfield in 1919, St. Athanasius in Mountain View in 1947, St. William's in Los Altos, and St. Cyprian in Sunnyvale in 1962.
In 1928, St. Joseph's Church burned down as a result of a fire set by a pyromaniac. In 1929 the present church was built with a seating capacity of 650. Starting in 1948, under the direction of Father James Doyle, the church acquired 15 acres (6.1 ha) off Miramonte Avenue near El Camino Real and established St. Joseph's Elementary School and Holy Cross High School for girls.
St. Joseph Parish Church is designed along the cruciform lines of the Gothic period. As such, the main floor of the church contains the narthex, nave, transept, sanctuary, and sacristy. The bottom floor contains Father Doyle Hall, a meeting hall, as well as the church's restrooms.
Because the parish church was founded prior to the Second Vatican Council, the church contains a high altar, behind which the large portrait of St. Joseph served as a reredos. These two features were common though by no means universal at that time (see ad orientem). The altar rails have since been removed, allowing easier access to the laity who now participate in the service of the Mass.
At either side of the church, on the altar side of the transept are two grottoes. Upon the left is the tabernacle, containing the reserve of the consecrated hosts. Upon the right is the almery which contains the vessels of the Oil of the Catechumens, Oil of the Sick, and Sacred Chrism. These vessels are replenished annually, when a new supply is blessed at the chrism mass by the bishop. The oils are then received at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper, in accordance with local ritual.
The main floor of the church is decorated with several stained glass windows, reflecting the Roman arched architecture. These may be found at the ends of the transept, along the nave, and above the high altar. There is an additional stained glass window not easily seen at the rear of the church, above the choir loft and organ pipes.
The church's pipe organ, originally built in 1906 for St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco, saved from fire resulting from the 1906 earthquake, was acquired by St. Joseph parish and installed in 1926. After being at risk because of another fire, this time in the original church, built in 1905, it was re-installed in the new church in 1928. The instrument went through many modifications from 1965 to 2005, and now has a new console (1981) and pipe ranks. The organ pipes occupy a great deal of the choir loft, with the Great pipes centrally located at the rear framing the rose window. The Swell and Choir pipes are contained in chambers on either side of the rose window.
The organ is in frequent use at weekly services, and during services scheduled during the week. This point is of significant mention, as many churches no longer use the organ on a regular basis for service music.
The church bell, cast by the Verdin Company of Cincinnati Ohio in 1905, is rung weekdays at noon Angelus, but otherwise is not normally rung, due in part to the close proximity of residential neighbors, and due also in part to the adverse effects the tolling of the bell may have upon the organ pipes, which share the common rear wall of the building.
The school was founded in 1952 by Rev. Fr. James B. Doyle. Originally the school was housed in temporarary quarters on what is now part of St. Francis High School. The current school location was constructed in 1954. As with St. Francis High School, the school was originally staffed by the Sisters of the Holy Cross Order. The order ceased to staff the school in 1982, thereby opening up staff positions to the laity. The former principal, Mrs. Stephanie Mirenda Knight, was a student of the school.
Although it is a Catholic School, a non-discriminatory policy is in effect, whereby students of any race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin may be admitted. Students who are not Roman Catholic are exempted from parts of the curriculum which are specific to religious education or ministration of sacraments. Grade placement is determined by a test battery to verify basic skills.
The school maintains one classroom per grade, with a school network connecting at least two computers in each classroom. In addition, the school maintains a science room, library, auditorium, and computer lab.
The school serves approximately 200 families, and has an enrollment of over 200 students.