St. Joseph Parish and School, established in 1859 and 1860, are an integral part of the rich history of Waconia since the town site was platted in 1857. The church and school remain a focal point of downtown Waconia today.
The St. Joseph Society built a one room log school in 1860. A new two room school replaced the original building in 1880. This was a two-story building with living quarters on the upper level for the Sisters of St. Francis of New Castle, WI, who were assigned educational responsibility for the parish.
On September 13, 1888, the Sisters of Christian Charity replaced the Sisters of St. Francis as the teaching staff of the parish. Four days later, St. Joseph Catholic School opened with an enrollment of 105 students.
Continued growth of the parish resulted in the construction of the third school building in 1908. Additional classroom space and a gymnasium were added to the 1908 structure in 1956. The school’s first lay teachers joined the educational mission of the parish in 1955. Sisters continued to teach at St. Joseph Parish through 1982.
In recognition of the 1965 Encyclical by Pope Paul VI which states, “Since it is the parents who have given life to their children, on them lies the gravest obligation of educating their family. They must therefore be accepted as primarily and principally responsible for their education. . .”
During the 1990’s the school expanded its educational program through the addition of a Kindergarten program, the introduction of Spanish, a Technology Center with internet access and the development of a Middle School concept. Other innovations included Scripture-based Christian Behavior Expectations and a well-articulated, written curriculum. Along with a growing community, all of these factors resulted in a 50% enrollment increase in Kindergarten – Grade 8 since 1990.
Enrollment increases in both school and faith formation programs, required expansion of the parish campus. This enrollment increase, along with the advanced age of the 1908 school building, resulted in the development of a parish plan to build a parish Education Center.
In order to maintain our commitment to a location for church and school in downtown Waconia, land was acquired enabling the construction of a 55,000 square foot Education Center that opened for the 2002-2003 school year. This Education Center gives testimony to the rich history of commitment to Catholic education at St. Joseph Parish.