The parish was begun
in 1852 with the erection of St. Joseph’s Church on the hill
in Lebanon Springs near the current site of the Catholic Cemetery.
It was the first Catholic church in the Taconic-Lebanon Valley.
This was begun as a mission church with priests coming from Coxsackie
NY, some 60 miles away, to provide mass. The first pastor to oversee
the parish was Fr. Francis Hurley, Pastor of St. Mary’s in
In 1868 St. Joseph’s
Church was placed under the Catholic Church in Chatham NY with Fr.
J. J. Moriarty as Pastor of that church. In 1869 the Catholic population
had grown enough to support a larger church and the need for a church
in Stephentown was becoming evident. The corner stone for Immaculate
Conception Church was laid by Bishop Conroy in 1869 and in the Fall
of 1871 St. Joseph’s Church was moved to Stephentown. Both
churches were still tended by priests from Chatham. In 1874 Fr.
John J. Brennan was appointed the first resident Pastor of the Church
of the Immaculate Conception in New Lebanon and St. Joseph’s
became it’s mission. St. Joseph’s was re-erected
at the corner of West Road and Main Street. In 1888 the church was
relocated to it’s current location, on the corner of Grange
Hall Road and Main Street, due to the lack of a deed for the other
In 1928 Fr. John B.
LeFebvre arrived at Immaculate Conception and seeing the marked
resemblance of the countryside to that of Lourdes in France decided
to build a grotto like the one in Lourdes. In little more
than a year the vision became a reality. In July of 1929 the
Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes was dedicated in New Lebanon with
better then 9,000 people in attendance.
In 1928 St. Joseph’s
was transferred as a mission to Sacred Heart Church in Berlin NY
under the pastorate of Fr. Thomas F. McBride. In 1935 Fr. McBride
was transferred to New Lebanon and officiated over all three churches
until 1938. In that year Fr. Francis Schatzlein was made Pastor
of New Lebanon assisted by the Priests of the Franciscan Order in
Rensselaer in order to better preside over Stephentown and Berlin.
In 1956 Fr. Leo P. Brady was appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart in
Berlin and St. Joseph’s was once again made a mission of that
In October of 1983,
during the pastorate of Fr. Joseph Halloran, the Church of the Immaculate
Conception experience a devastating fire set by a disturbed teenager.
The fire completely gutted the church and for a time it was thought
that it would have to be torn down and a new church built.
The parishioners had other ideas and through their support, two
years after the fire they had raised the necessary funds to begin
the restoration of their church. In October of 1986 the church
was rededicated by Bishop Hubbard.
In 1997, under the
pastorate of Fr. Halloran, St. Joseph’s was once again joined
as a mission to Immaculate Conception in New Lebanon. In September
of 2000 Fr. Halloran retired after 29 years of service to the parish
and Fr. John Close was appointed as pastor of the two Churches.