Immaculate Conception & Saint Joseph's
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History


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 Coxsackie.

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 property.

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 Church.

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.