The Catholic Community of St. Joseph’s can trace its origins back to the 1870s when a few people gathered for Mass in private homes celebrated by priests from other areas. The number of Catholics increased over the years and the parish was formally incorporated on October 30, 1883. The first Catholic Church in Toms River, a small wooden frame building, eighteen by twenty-four feet with four leaded glass windows, served the people from 1882 until 1904. It was then that a larger church was built and, in 1909, a rectory was added to the site on Hooper Avenue, south of Washington Street.
St. Joseph’s Parish continued to grow and flourish, and in 1932 a social hall was erected behind the church. This was later renovated to house the first school, which graduated its first class of seven students in 1934.
Father George A. Welsh, pastor from 1926 to 1949, not only founded the school, but also had the foresight to see the need for expansion. Father Welsh purchased the tract of land that now houses our present campus.
With the arrival of Father Lawrence W. Donovan in 1949, another era began. The school-church building was completed in 1952. Continued growth resulted in another classroom building and Holy Family Hall, both of which opened in 1959. History was made again when in 1963 St. Joseph’s parish dedicated the first and only Catholic High School in Ocean County.
Under the direction and guidance of Monsignor Casimir H. Ladzinski, our pastor from 1987 to 1996, our present 1,200 seat church, was planned and built, culminating with John C. Reiss, Bishop of Trenton, dedicating and blessing it on January 9, 1993.
Monsignor Sean P. Flynn served the parish as pastor from 1996 to 2008. Father John P. Bambrick was pastor from 2008 to 2012. Father G. Scott Shaffer arrived July 2012 and currently serves as our pastor.
St Joseph’s Parish once encompassed a very large geographical area including all of Toms River, parts of Manchester Twp., Beachwood and Bayville. Over the years, several new parishes were carved from St. Joseph’s: St. Barnabas, Bayville (1966); St. John, Lakehurst (1969); St. Justin, Toms River (1972); St. Luke, Toms River (1982); St. Maximilian Kolbe (1985).
The northern boundary of St. Joseph’s Parish is Route 571. It then runs south along Vaughn Avenue and turns east on Route 37 and ends at Barnegat Bay. The western boundary is along the Manchester Township border. The southern boundary is the Toms River and the Toms River Township border.