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Archbishop To Celebrate Bogota Church's 100th Anniversary

Rev. Timothy Graff near the alter at St. Joseph's Church
Rev. Timothy Graff near the alter at St. Joseph's Church Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
St. Joseph's Church
St. Joseph's Church Photo Credit: Melissa Heule

BOGOTA, NJ -- St. Joseph Church is celebrating a century of serving parishioners from Bogota and Teaneck with a year of festivities beginning next month.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of Newark will offer an opening Mass on Oct. 4, with music from a 15-member choir that will draw on a century of songs since the church's dedication in 1915.

"We expect that the Archbishop will show his gratitude for the Carmelites for founding the church, and his appreciation for the congregation," said Rev. Timothy Graff, who has been with the parish for the past two years.The anniversary coincides with Pope Francis's visit to the United States. A small group from the parish planned to see him in Philadelphia.

“Certainly you can follow him on the Internet, but when he’s in your backyard, you can’t ignore it,” Music Director Michael Chlatil said. "That’s where the enthusiasm for the faith comes from.:When you see the wider number of brothers and sisters and the wider human family, that’s encouraging," Chlatil said.

In the early days, a small group of Catholics convened in a firehouse, the nearest and most convenient venue outside of Hackensack. Today, St. Joseph includes an accredited parochial academy for 300 students, an expanded media center, a food pantry, faith formation programs and services for children with disabilities or those who have faced separation, divorce or death.The largely Philipino and Hispanic population not only has ESL classes but also regular services in Tagalog and Spanish. Many have volunteered with the church for decades.

"We put out a call for photos to get parishioners involved in submitting to our archives," Chlatil said. "One woman was amazed to find her father in a photo from the groundbreaking. He was about 16."

"Many of the past generations who brought in photos of their baptisms and weddings through the years have their children bring in baptism and wedding photos," Graff said.

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