St. Joseph Parish has a very unique history that started in the early 1850’s when Sacraments were celebrated by pioneer priests who rode by horseback from Princeton to Freehold celebrating in homes along the way, offered some religious education for young people and stayed with families in their farm homes. The areas of Freehold, Jamesburg, Perrineville, Hightstown and Colts Neck were considered Mission territory and part of the Archdiocese of Newark.
In 1879 an acre of land was donated for the Catholic population of the area to build a church. Later in that year The Most Reverend Michael A. Corrigan, Bishop of Newark, dedicated the church and St. Joseph Church was born, still considered to be one of the missions that were covered by the priests of Princeton. A year later it became a Mission of St. James Church in Jamesburg.
In 1885, St. Joseph Church became a parish in its own right. Rev. Bartholomew Carey was named as the first pastor of St. Joseph Parish. Great hope was held for the parish community. There was now a church building, a cemetery and a Rectory. St. Anthony Church in Hightstown and St. James Church in Jamesburg became missions of St. Joseph Parish. However, the bright hope for the future of the parish dimmed as people began to leave the farmlands in search of work in the cities. The Industrial Revolution was changing the world. Economics and the decline in population did not bode well for the Parish of St. Joseph. In 1891 reality had to be faced, the parish could not longer afford to support a church and a pastor. After just six years, Fr. Bartholomew Carey would become the last resident pastor of St. Joseph Church for 113 years. St. Joseph Church became a Mission Church of St. Rose of Lima Church in Freehold.
Growth around the Perrineville area did not stop. Freehold was booming. St. Rose of Lima Church became so big that St. Joseph Church had to be transferred to St. Anthony Church in Hightstown as a Mission Parish. Our Parish would then remain the responsibility of St. Anthony Parish for forty years. In 1948 a new parish opened in Englishtown – Our Lady of Mercy – and St. Joseph Church became a Mission Church of Our Lady of Mercy. The affiliation with Our lady of Mercy Church remained until 2004.
During all this time as St. Joseph Church remained a mission church of various parishes, the parish struggled. At one point there were only fourteen families in the parish. During its history, the little church went through a number of renovations. Stucco was applied to the original brick building, the stucco was painted, the Rectory was taken away, and a bell tower was added. The inside of the church was also renovated several times.
By the 1990’s growth had come to Perrineville. The little church was busting at the seams to accommodate all the new parishioners. The original hope for the area and the parish of St. Joseph was coming to fruition and a new church was going to be needed. Frank and Theresa Scotto donated land for a new church. Ground was broken in October of 1997. The church was completed in time for Easter Mass in 1999. A new chapter in the history of the parish was about to unfold.
In June of 2004 Rev. Michael P. Lang was appointed as the first resident pastor in 113 years. St. Joseph became a parish in its own right once again.