St. Joseph’s Parish began in the small chapels served in the homes of pioneer families in the New Warren and Bayard areas in the early 1900s. Two distinct groups settled in the parish area. The first from the province of Taganrog, Russia settled to the east for 20 miles around New Warren, the others from Bukovina, Austria settled to the west around Bayard.
Oblate missionaries served the area with the first chapel being a room reserved in the Jacob Jaschinsky home on SE 32-12-23, from 1906-1913. Mr. Jaschinsky drove by horse and buggy to Rouleau and brought the Oblate priests who came from St Mary’s in Regina. At first they came three or four times a year, and later once a month, to say mass and visit their parishioners.
Frs. Theodore Joerrissen served from 1904-10, Peter Habels and Joseph Reidinger in 1906, August Kim 1909, Peter Bour 1910, P. Funke 1914, B. Ueberberg 1915, August Kim 1919. Another chapel in the home of Joseph Main in the Bayard area served in the same capacity until the church was built in Claybank.
The death of an early parishioner brought realization that a cemetery close to the Jaschinsky chapel was needed as it was necessary to drive ten miles with horses to a cemetery near Bayard. Jacob Jaschinsky donated land near the chapel for the small cemetery which served the parish until 1928 when 3 acres on NE 32-12-24 were purchased from Martin Dombowsky and a new cemetery opened.
The site in the hamlet of Claybank was chosen and in 1913 under Fr. Peter Bour’s guidance a 24’x70’ wooden structured church with no foundation was built on prairie sod. Parishioners’ donations furnished the church and provided vestments.
St. Joseph’s remained a mission and a two-room residence was built in 1914 to accommodate the missionary priests. Fr. B. Ueberburg was the first resident priest in 1915. Archbishop Mathieu visited the parish in 1916 to administer Confirmation to 154 children and adults. The present rectory was built in 1917 and included waterworks and a Delco plant to provide electricity.
Diocesan clergy took charge of the parish in 1921. Fathers T.P. Vorst and Joseph Reindl 1921 and H. Theunissen 1924.
In 1927 Fr. H. Theunissen decided to put the church on a solid foundation which was destroyed by fire on March 19th, 1928. The present 110’x34’ lumber and brick church was built the same year.
Bells were ordered from Germany, one donated by the Alberta Schuett family, one by the Jacob Jaschinsky family and the other paid for with forty care packages sent in 1948. The statues were donated by Eva Schuett, Elizabeth Jaschinsky and donations from parishioners.
Fr. F. Gerrein 1930 and Fr. A. Zimmerman 1931then served.
Father Heinrich arrived in 1933, and during his tenure the missions of Spring Valley, Truax and Mayberry were served from Claybank. For 15 years (1930-1945) the Ursuline Sisters from Vibank maintained a small convent named St. Angela’s while teaching in the Claybank Public School. They withdrew when the larger school units formed and lay teachers replaced them.
The church mortgage was burned in 1944. The parish hall was built in 1954 during Father K. Harty’s tenure (1951-1954) to be used for wedding receptions, meetings, etc.
Father C.S. Godin and C. Unger served during 1955.
Father J. C. Keohan arrived in 1955 and during his stay the local council of the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League were organized. The Knights, over the years, participated in various projects mostly dealing with youth, religious and sporting activities along with looking after the Parish Hall and Graveyard. The Immaculate Heart of Mary CWL has been both a fundraising and charitable organization, contributing to numerous causes both locally and throughout the world. The church and rectory grounds were landscaped during Father Keohan’s stay and the celebration of Corpus Christi became legendary.
Following Father Keohan’s retirement Father Cornelius Lucy came to Claybank in 1970. It was at this time that the church was redecorated and a new altar purchased. A parish council was formed in accordance with Vatican II.
Father Peter Luttmer was appointed parish priest in 1981 and under his guidance the reconciliation room was built to replace the confessional. He also encouraged lay ministry study and preparation.
Father Jan Bednarz arrived from Poland during the summer of 1982 to serve our parish.
The acute shortage of priests by 1987 meant the parish would be without a resident priest for the next few years. However we were blessed when Sister Mary Spence and Sister Louise McIvor, two Sisters of Saint Louis from Alberta, came to be our parish administrators. They resided in the rectory and endeared themselves to the parishes and surrounding communities. During this time Father Gary Kuntz, Father Patrick Murphy and Father Peter Pham visited our parish as often as possible to celebrate mass. Members of the laity led the parishioners in lay services when priests were not available.
In 1991, Father Gary Kuntz moved into the rectory and was the resident priest for one year.
In 1992, the parish welcomed a newly ordained priest, Father John Moriarty. With his guidance many needed repairs and renovations to the church, rectory and church property had been initiated. He was replaced by Fr. Hector Seville in 1997 followed by Fr. J. Brophy and Fr. Joseph.
In 2003, Fr. J. R. Prince moved into the rectory as resident priest. Upon his arrival, he served at the Regina Archdiocese as Chancellor and Director of Vocations, as well as his duties as pastor at Claybank, Spring Valley and Truax.
Father J. R. Prince is our current pastor. He also serves Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in Spring Valley. St. Ann's Roman Catholic, Truax was decommissioned in June 2011.
St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church is a Municipal Heritage Property encompassing three lots in the Hamlet of Claybank. The .17 hectare property includes a one-storey brick-veneer church and a church rectory. The designation applies only to the church building. The heritage value of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church lies in its long-standing and ongoing service to the district’s Catholic community.
There is further heritage value in the church’s architecture and religious furnishings, which connect the property to past congregants and to the community-at-large. Today’s congregation takes particular pride in the church’s religious statuary and bells, which were donated by early church members. Architecturally, the brick-clad church is widely valued as a landmark and symbol of community history. The church’s locally made bricks also speak to the important role the nearby Claybank Brick Plant once played in the community’s economic life.
Canada’s Historic places: www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=11916