St. Joseph Catholic Church History

The beginning of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Shelbyville, Indiana, is linked with the history and traditions of St. Vincent Church near Prescott (in Shelby County) and the early Catholics of Indianapolis. Here is a time line with major events in the history of our parish:

    • 1865
      Rev. John Gillig, pastor of St. Vincent’s Church purchased a lot on East Broadway.

    • 1866
      (Aug. 6th) Ground was broken for the first church building to be name St. Joseph Catholic Church (currently, the rectory)


    • 1868
      (June) First Mass was celebrated (before the completion of the church).

    • 1870
      Rev. Francis J. Rudolph is appointed first pastor.
St. Joseph Catholic Church First Priest

    • 1874
      Fr. Rudolph acquires ground and a large frame house (with his own money) to start educating children.

    • 1876
      School opens with 60 children, under the direction of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis.

    • 1880
      School grows to host 125 children.

    • 1886
      Fr. Adelrich Kaelin, first resident pastor, builds the first rectory.

    • 1898
      A new plan was put into action for a new church.
St. Joseph Catholic Church First Church

    • 1902
      (Sept 8th) Groundbreaking for new church (current building).

  • 1908
    (Aug. 2) Dedication of new church.