Basilica of St. Joseph, Alameda

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Coordinates: 37°45′57.86″N 122°15′16.39″W / 37.7660722°N 122.2545528°W / 37.7660722; -122.2545528


The Basilica of St. Joseph is a Catholic church located in Alameda, California at 1109 Chestnut Street. Its history dates back to early settlement of the City of Alameda, California. The foundation of St. Joepsh's can be traced to a Catholic mission in Alameda, created in 1873 by San Francisco Archbishop Jose Sadoc Alemany to serve the growing Roman Catholic population of Alameda. The mission was served by Father William Gleeson and the priests of St. Anthony's Church in Oakland. While still under "mission status," on March 27, 1881, Sister Marie de Sacre Coeur and four Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur started in Alameda, the Notre Dame Academy for Young Ladies.


Father Michael McNaboe served ten years as pastor of St. Alphonsus in Suisun, when in 1882, Archbishop Alemany recalled McNaboe from rural Solano County to San Francisco. Father McNaboe in 1885 was instructed by the new Archbishop Patrick William Riordan to erect in Alameda, the St. Joseph's Parish. The mission church built in 1873, was used as a place of worship for over twenty years. The original parish boundaries, the City of Alameda. In 1887 McNaboe requested the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to staff a boys elementary school. McNaboe died on March 1, 1892. Archbishop Riordan appointed Father John J. Sullivan, the pastor of the Old Saint Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in San Francisco, to be the second pastor of St. Joseph's. Sullivan at once saw the need for a larger church. The laying of the cornerstone was August 12, 1894; Archbishop Riordan dedicated the gothic wooden church, January 20, 1895. Sullivan became ill and resigned as pastor of St. Joseph's in January 1898; Riordan appointed Father Patrick A. Foley, the pastor of All Hallows in San Francisco, in his place. After fifteen years in Alameda, Foley was appointed pastor of St. Raphael's Church in San Rafael, California.

Riordan appointed Father James Bernard Praught as pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Rio Vista in 1906, followed in 1913 by appointment as pastor of St. Joseph's Parish in Alameda.

Praught founded the St. Joseph Elementary School for boys and girls in 1916; the grammar school was completed in 1922.

The old wooden St. Joseph Church burned to the ground on the night of September 29, 1919. A new Church in the California Mission design, a copy of the old mission in Monterey, was built. The cornerstone was set on August 22, 1920 by San Francisco Archbishop Edward Joseph Hanna. Hanna divided the Island City with the creation in 1925 of two parishes, St. Phillip Neri, (East End) Father Maurice O'Keefe, pastor and St. Barnabas (West End) Father Patrick McGrattan, pastor. St. Phillip Neri, identified with the affluent and stable Fernside District. St. Barnabas, the transient military families stationed at NAS (Naval Air Station Alameda). St. Joseph continued to serve central Alameda. Children from the Alameda Catholic elementary schools of St. Joseph, St. Phillip Neri and St. Barnabas would attend St. Joseph Boys High School and Notre Dame Girls High School. A fourth parish in Alameda, on Bay Farm Island. In 1976 Bishop Begin erected St. Albert The Great Parish, built on former asparagus farm land, near the new "Harbor Bay Isle" subdivisions. Father William J. Marshall, (a former Marianist priest and former teacher at St. Joseph Boys High School), was appointed first pastor.

Father Praught placed a Plaque on the Saint Joseph Tower, TIME GOD's sublime GIFT! LIFE of the SOUL! Ours in trust to enoble WORK: glorify TRUTH: constantly Pray: LIGHT! O GOD! MORE LIGHT! in memory Anna Marie Broderick A.D. 1928

Few Roman Catholic churches are consecrated. Pope Pius XI wrote to San Francisco Archbishop John J. Mitty, suggesting that St. Joseph Church in Alameda be consecrated; this was done on August 17, 1935.

In 1935 Praught asked Father Joseph Tetzlaff of the (Marianists), Brothers of Mary to set up a Boys High School in Alameda. St Joseph Boys High School opened August 26, 1935, with Brother Matthew Betz, S.M. as principal. The school merged with Notre Dame Girls High School in 1983.

In 1943, after thirty years at St. Joseph's Parish. Praught retired and was replaced by Father Robert J. O'Connor (pastor of St. Phillip Neri, in Alameda - since 1928) as pastor of St. Joseph's. Praught became Pastor Emeritus until his death in 1949. O'Connor died in 1957. Father Alvin P. Wagner was appointed pastor. The parish had an antiquated Girls High School and Convent, the Boys High School (1935) and Elementary School (1922). The old girls high school was razed in 1960, and Notre Dame Girls High School and Notre Dame Sisters Convent were built.

January 13, 1962, Pope John XXIII divided the Archdiocese of San Francisco and created the Diocese of Oakland; the auxiliary bishop of Cleveland, Ohio Floyd Lawrence Begin, became the first Bishop of Oakland.

September 8, 1962, John XXIII honored Father Wagner as a Monsignor ; he was formally installed as a Domestic Prelate by Bishop Begin.

Wagner in 1964 built the gymnasium-auditorium. At the conclusion of the 1970 academic year the Brothers of Mary departed St. Joseph Boys High School.

St. Joseph Basilica[edit]

Saint Patrick Seminary, Menlo Park, California - Class of 1932 member Monsignor Alvin P. Wagner had classmates who became bishops, Robert Joseph Dwyer and James Thomas O'Dowd.

Wagner had attended sessions of Vatican II and sought a teaching order to replace the departing Brothers of Mary.

Pope Paul VI conferred in a papal brief - St. Joseph Church status as a minor basilica, St. Joseph's Basilica, in Alameda, California. The Pope gave the basilica the right of the conopaeum (a baldachin resembling an umbrella, called an umbraculum, in yellow and red silk, the colors associated with the Papal See) and the bell (tintinnabulum) carried side by side in procession at the head of the clergy. The basilica was added to the National Register in 1978. Wagner retired in 1983 and died in 1989

Oakland Bishop John Stephen Cummins replaced the diocesan priests with The Fathers of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart. Father Patrick A. Goodwin, SSCC merged the two single-sex high schools into the coeducational St. Joseph Notre Dame High School.

The diocesan priests in 2007 were returned by Oakland Bishop Allen Henry Vigneron with temporary parochial administrators, Fathers Anthony Herrera and Ray Zielezienski. Father Fred Riccio served as pastor from August 2008 to May 2013.

Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Oakland named Rev. George Alengadan pastor of St. Joseph Basilica, Alameda, effective June 1, 2013.

Pastors of Saint Joseph Church/Basilica[edit]

  • Father William Gleeson, (1829-1903)
    Mission of St. Anthony, Oakland
  • Father Michael McNaboe, (1843-1892)
    Parish erected May 1885
  • Father John J. Sullivan, (1857-1920)
  • Father Patrick A. Foley, (1853-1923)
  • Father J. Bernard Praught,(1866-1949)
  • Father Robert J. O'Connor,(1887-1957)
  • Monsignor Alvin P. Wagner,(1907-1989)
  • Father Patrick A. Goodwin, SSCC
  • Father Jeremiah Holland, SSCC
  • Father Richard Danyluk, SSCC
  • Father Anthony Herrera
  • Father Ray Zielezienski
  • Father Fred Riccio
  • Father George Alengadan

See also[edit]


  • Wagner, Alvin P. Saint Joseph of Alameda Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Book, 1960.
  • Diocese of Oakland, 2009 Catholic Directory, Published by the Catholic Voice, Oakland, California.
  • 1970 Catholic Directory, Archdiocese of San Francisco, Published by The Monitor, San Francisco, California.
  • Burns, Jeffrey M. and Batiza, Mary C. We Are The Church: The History Of The Diocese Of Oakland 2001, Published by the Diocese of Oakland, Oakland, California.

External links[edit]