Records indicate that the first general meeting to organize St. Joseph parish in Cleveland was held on June 9, 1912. Immigrants from the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Slovakia had journeyed to this area in search of employment and opportunity. They also desired to worship God according to their own customs, ritual and traditions. Within two months enough money had been raised to purchase property in order to build a church. The first Liturgy was held on January 7, 1913, which was the celebration of the Birth of Our Lord according to the Julian calendar.
As the congregation continued to grow, a decision was made to build a new church on Orleans Avenue. The project began in 1929. During the 1930’s and 40’s the new church was completed, a social hall was built and a special fund was initiated for the construction of a parochial school. In the fall of 1956 the doors of St. Joseph School opened for the first time.
Over the years the neighborhood experienced a change in demographics and many parishioners moved to the suburbs. Unfortunately, enrollment in the school declined and in 1971 the doors were closed. The church itself was also losing parishioners. In 1977 permission was granted to purchase 35 acres of land in Brecksville from the Diocese of Cleveland for $150,000. The purchase included the present rectory which was formerly used as a convent by the Sisters of Mercy. The final Liturgy was held on Easter Sunday in 1980. In the meantime, the entire complex in Cleveland (church, school, hall, rectory and convent) was sold to the Greater Zion Baptist Church.
In 1983 the construction of a 1.5 million dollar building was started at 8111 Brecksville Road. During the building phase, services were held in the Brecksville Junior High School auditorium. The first Divine Liturgy in the newly built church was held on January 6, 1985, the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. In honor of the former location, the social hall on the ground level was aptly named New Orleans Party Center. It soon became a popular venue for wedding receptions and other social functions.
The completion of the interior of the church took place in 1996 with the installation of an icon screen, sanctuary, new pews and carpeting. Three traditional cupola style domes were added in 1999. Membership was on the rise and it became apparent that an additional facility was needed for the religious education program. In the fall of 2001, the Education Center and Activity Center (a room suitable for small parties) was finished. With a desire to take advantage of the wooded acreage to the east of the main campus, a pavilion and restroom facility was completed by 2011. An existing chapel made it suitable for outdoor services. 2013 marked the 100th Anniversary of our church. In 2014 we had our icon screen and the apse icons renovated and restored and to enhance the restoration we upgraded to LED track lighting.
With a vibrant congregation of nearly 300 families and an excellent location, the future bodes well.