Paintings of St. Joseph’s life decorate the ceiling of St. Joseph Church, Ost

Fr. Dan Duling and parishioners of St. Joseph Church in Ost have hosted many groups visiting the pilgrimage site during this Year of St. Joseph. (Advance photo)

The story about St. Joseph is in the background of the Gospels – much like the murals about the life of St. Joseph that encircle the ceiling of St. Joseph Church in Ost.

The beautiful stained glass windows dominate the interior of the nearly 110-year-old church located two miles east of Lake Cheney. But like everything else in this Year of St. Joseph, the murals are now in the foreground.

“This church was built around 1914 but these murals didn’t come until much later, around 1948,” said Fr. Dan Duling, pastor of St. Joseph, St. Rose in Mt. Vernon, and St. Louis in Waterloo.

“They tell the story of St. Joseph,” he said last week speaking near an altar dedicated to St. Joseph. “So, especially during this year of St. Joseph, I tell people they can walk them kind of like the Stations of the Cross.”

Fire has damaged the church twice, Fr. Duling said. The most recent fire – on Feb. 3, 2010 – destroyed the St. Joseph Altar, and caused widespread smoke damage.

“There was a lot of controversy about whether the murals should stay or go amongst the parishioners,” he said. “The people here finally decided that they should stay and we brought them all back to life – added more color to them.”

The murals allow viewers to see what St. Joseph accomplished in his life, Fr. Duling said.

“That humility comes out in these ‘stations’ of St. Joseph the Worker and St. Joseph the foster-father of Jesus,” he said.

The parish is excited about the year and about being a pilgrimage site, Fr. Duling said.

“I’ve been here four years and very privileged to be the pastor here, but I’ve seen more people here this year than ever – especially on the feast days of St. Joseph,” he said on May 11, when another group was scheduled to visit that evening.

Fr. Duling praised his parishioners who have combined efforts to host visits, to practice hospitality, and to share the life of St. Joseph.
The parish has also embraced the Year of St. Joseph in other ways, he said.

“I’ve had two groups of men – grassroots efforts – who have consecrated themselves to St. Joseph. They felt like if we’re going to be in the Year of St. Joseph, they really wanted to be a part of this,” Fr. Duling said. “It’s been great for our parish and great for our families.”