Campbell, New York, is a small rural community with a population of approximately 3800 and located near Interstate 86. The majority of the residents commute to work in nearby Bath or Corning.
The Early Years
Early mention of Campbell’s Roman Catholic community begins in the 1850s when Rev. Thomas Cunningham, and later Rev. Peter Coogan from Corning, which then was a part of the Buffalo diocese, celebrated Mass in private homes. At the time, most Catholics were Irish immigrants, working primarily in the nearby tanneries. They were often observed walking along the river to attend Mass in Corning.
Father Darcy and a New Church
In 1871, Campbell was assigned to Rev. Matthew Darcy of Bath. Father Darcy oversaw the construction of the present church, St. Joseph’s, built by Sam Payne of Bath at a cost of $4,000 on a plot owned by John Clawson. A few years later, a metal ceiling was added.
In 1897, the Campbell parish became a part of the Rochester Diocese.
1926 – 1991 MISSION PARISH AND ABC
Later St. Joseph, always a mission parish, was transferred to St. Patrick’s Church in Corning, and then to St. Mary’s Church in Bath. In 1926 it began to share a common pastor with St. Stanislaus Church in Bradford. St. Catherine’s Church in Addison was added to the group in 1991 forming what is affectionately called the ABC parishes. St. Joseph’s is now one of the five parishes comprising the Central Steuben Catholic Parishes which are working on a plan for religious services in the future.
Throughout all the changes in pastoral responsibilities over the years without a resident priest, St. Joseph’s has grown in attendance, now with approximately 250 families. Parishioners, who come from an average ten mile radius, have assumed an active leadership role and demonstrate great pride in their church.
1971 AND 1978 BISHOP JOSEPH HOGAN VISITS
In 1971, Bishop Joseph Hogan celebrated Mass at St. Joseph’s in recognition of the church’s centennial year. It was noted that this was the first time a bishop had visited St. Joseph’s Church in the one hundred years of existence. A dinner and reception were held at St. Mary’s Hall in Bath after the Mass.
During recent years, some major changes and improvements have been made to the church structure. In the 1960s, a new front entrance was installed which allowed a more direct access into the church. In 1977, a 2000 square foot hall addition was made possibly by a gift of the Pollio family in memory of their parents, Albert and Anne Pollio, the founders of the Pollio Dairy in Campbell. The new hall allowed for church function such as dinners and increased space for religious instruction. Bishop Hogan again presided at Mass in May 1978, when the church hall was dedicated.
The church steeple, which was damaged by a major lightning struck during an afternoon thunderstorm in 1993 and later repaired and resurfaced. Thankfully, the remainder of the church building was spared. A new parking lot adjacent to the church helped relieve the emphasis on street parking. New siding was added to the church and hall, and air conditioning was installed providing comfort during warm summer days.
A fall bazaar is held each year aided by the ladies’ weekly craft classes. There is a very active CCD program and youth group.
1982 – 2007 FATHER GERALD O’CONNOR AND FATHER ANDREW KALAFSKY (FATHER “K”)
Rev. Gerald O’Connor served as pastor at St. Joseph’s from 1982 until 2007. Rev. Andrew Kalafsky (Father “K”) assisted in his retirement from 1991 until his death in April of 2007. Both priests promoted a sense of community among the parishioners of St. Joseph’s Campbell, St. Catherine’s in Addison and St. Stan’s in Bradford. Rev Gerald O’Connor died November 20, 2009 at his home in Himrod, New York at the age of 69.
2007 FATHER PATRICK CONNOR
Rev. Patrick Connor has served as pastor at St. Joseph’s since March 2007 when Father O’Connor retired. Father Connor grew up in Our Lady of Victory parish in Lackawanna and graduated from St. John Fisher College, Rochester, with degrees in Communicatios/Journalism and Religious Studies. He attended St. Bernards Seminary and Theological College in Washington DC and was ordained April 8, 1983 by Bishop Matthew Clark. He has served as Pariochal Vicar and Pastor in several Southern Tier parishes before his assignment to Sts Isidore & Maria Torribia Parish.