Thursday, September 27, 2012

Those Places Thursday: St. Joseph Catholic Church, Houston, Texas

Front doors of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, December 5, 2009
Credit: St Josephs Catholic Church / R W / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 
St. Joseph Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, December 5, 2009
by soonerpa (Own work) [CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0], via Flickr
Stained glass windows, side of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, December 5, 2009
Credit: St Josephs Catholic Church / R W / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 
Charles Guokas Jr.'s First Communion class, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, May 18, 1913.
Charles Guokas Jr., May 18, 1913
Geraldine Guokas, First Communion,
probably 1935 or 1936
St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Houston, Texas, was the parish church for the Guokas family for about 50 years, in the first half of the twentieth century.  The photo above was taken on May 18, 1913, of the First Communion class of my maternal grandfather, Charles Peter Guokas Jr (1903-1967).  He would be among the boys in white at the right of that photo, as he is also pictured on his First Communion day at left.

Charles was also baptized at St. Joseph's, as were his younger siblings Agnes, Eva, and Roy.  All of them, as well as older sister Lizzie and older half-sisters Annie and Mamie, had their First Communions and Confirmations at St. Joseph's.  My grandfather and grandmother, Sara Melzina Wolfe (1908-1997), were married here.  Furthermore, his parents, Charles Sr. and Elizabeth, were buried from here.

This was also the childhood parish for my mother, Geraldine Guokas, and her siblings Charles III and Jo Ann.  They were all baptized, confirmed, and had First Communion here.  Mom went to the parish school from spring 1935 through spring 1941 (except for the 1936-1937 school year).  This was listed as my mother's home parish when she married my father in September 1954 at nearby Annunciation (so Jo Ann, by then Sister Jean Marie, could attend).

According to a Texas historical marker outside the church, 
A school founded by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament to serve Houston's Sixth Ward opened near this site in 1879. St. Joseph's parish, the third Catholic church organization in Houston was founded in 1880 to serve the school and the community. This Romanesque Revival structure, designed by Patrick S. Rabbit and built in 1901, replaced an earlier sanctuary destroyed in the 1900 storm. It features a basilica plan, extensive corbelled detailing and decorative brickwork.

The photo below of the interior of the church was taken sometime before June 1911, so this is how the church likely looked when my grandfather was growing up.
Interior, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, postmarked June 5, 1911
Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries [Public domain] via University of Houston Digital Library
This post is for a series on "Doors of Faith" at the Catholic Gene blog.

© Amanda Pape - 2012 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. Oh it is fun how many times our paths cross. You have such an interesting site. St Joseph's Church in Wilmette, Il. is Chicago's third ? (pretty sure)catholic church. My ancestors in 1848 had to ride up 10 miles to go to monthly mass. Some were baptized there before St. Henry's was built in 1853. Go to stjosephwilmette . ORG (.com is school)and find About US...drop to History and look at the picture of Old St. Joseph's church interior. How similar. I thought you might enjoy that.

    1. Amy, St. Joseph's in Wilmette is beautiful! You probably already know this, but there are records from this church online at, from 1845 to 1915. You can't search directly for a person but you can browse images - I've had good luck finding records for family members at other area churches in the "Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925" collection.