History of St. Joseph Church and Diocese of Jefferson City

St. Joseph Catholic Church, Palmyra, MO

See our History of the church posted in the following documents.

History of St. Joseph Church & Jefferson City Diocese

Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City, Missouri, was established in 1959.

The Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Jefferson City, Missouri is the "Mother Church" for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City. Our Cathedral serves as the parish church for Most Reverend W. Shawn McKnight, the fourth Bishop of Jefferson City.

The Cathedral resides on a 25-acre site, which also includes a Carmelite monastery and the Alphonse J. Schwartze Memorial Catholic Center (Chancery Offices), as well as St. Joseph Cathedral School. Our Parish offices, located to the right of the school building formerly served as a convent that housed the Sisters of Mercy.

Our pastor and rector is Reverend Louis M. Nelen, who was ordained in 2012 and also serves our diocese as the Diocesan Director of Seminarians.

Diocesan Shepherds

Pastoral Care

  • 1959: Fr. Kenneth J, McDonnel, First Pastor
  • 1960: Monsignor Francis O'Duignan, Second Pastor
  • 1964: Monsignor Gerard L. Poelker, Third Pastor and First Rector
  • 1970: Reverend Richard Cronin, Administrator
  • 1973: Fr. Francis G. Gillgannon, Administrator
  • 1980: Reverend Patrick J. Shortt, Rector
  • 1989: Fr. Michael J. Wilbers, Rector
  • 1999: Fr. Fred Elskamp, Rector
  • 2004: Monsignor Robert Kurwicki, Pastor
  • 2018: Reverend Fr. Louis M. Nelen, Pastor and Rector