There was a Catholic church in the village of St. Joseph as early as 1740. It consisted of walls “plastered with mud ”, a roof “thatched with straw” and flooring “with boards”.
Fr. DeLort built a new church at St. Joseph, a cruciform building in stone, which was blessed, together with a church bell, on July 9th, 1846.
Father Lorgeau enlarged the small St. Joseph church, which have become altogether insufficient to accommodate the ever-increasing population in 1874.
The façade, built in 1846 by Fr. De Lort, was pulled down; pillars and arches were built inside the old church and the two side-chapels extended. In March 1875 Bishop R.C.M. Poirier, 3rd Bishop of Roseau (1858 – 1878) went to St. Joseph in order to close the ceremonies held in honour of St. Joseph, and to bless a new statue of the Patron Saint of the parish.
Fr. Louis N. Martineau tried to complete the church by building a new façade and finishing the two wings. The first stone of the façade was solemnly blessed on November 20, 1884 by Bishop Michael Naughten, 4th Bishop of Roseau (1880- 1900).
In June 1891 Fr. Theodore Gerbier FMI finished the front of the church and the side aisles. He also put new galvanized roof sheets on the whole church and imported a “fine high altar made of steel”.
Redemptorist Fr. Alfred Stainforth was appointed parish priest in 1916. He installed a stone floor in the church, built a new set of pews and put up a communion rail. A few years later, he built a side chapel with a large baptistery underneath, and erected the beautiful tower, “which will remain for generations the pride of the parishioners of St Joseph”.
Fr. Felix Boghaert, another Belgian Redemptorist, started, after the destruction caused by a hurricane in 1930, to enlargen the parish church as the church attendance and population of St. Joseph was growing
Fr. Vanty Auguiste C.Ss.R, parish priest from the August of 1999 to July of 2005, renovated the entire church : floor and tiling, columns, sanctuary and sacristy, new altar . The old timber roof and ceiling was replaced by a new steel roof and ceiling. The electrical installation was updated . New doors and windows were installed and the church got a complete face lift by painting and decorating.
Fr. Michael Houston C.SsR installed the St. Gerard’s window and obtained the authentic icon.
WHEN VISITING this church pay attention to :
the authentic ICON of OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP
the image of St. Joseph with infant Jesus.
The stained glass windows of St.Gerard Majella C,Ss.R.
The murals depicting the 12 apostles
The shrine to DIVINE MERCY
Coulibistrie had a wooden chapel covered with trash before 1892.
This chapel was blessed and dedicated to St. Ann on July 27,1862 by Bishop R.C.M. Poirier, 3rd Bishop of Roseau (1858 – 1878) . St. Ann , the mother of Mary and the powerful patroness of French Brittany was introduced by the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (the Eudist Order), who came to Dominica on the invitation of Bishop Poirier, an Eudist himself.
Fr. Jules François Michel, a French priest, was appointed parish priest on Nov. 12 1876. It was during his long ministry that the present stone church in Coulibistrie was built.
This church was built of natural stone, which can be found in the nearby river . The parishioners spent many days carrying these stones to the site of the church The church has a rectangular shape with a length of 59 feet and is 32 feet wide. The apse is half -circular. Four stone buttresses were placed at the corners.
This church was solemnly blessed by Bishop Michael Naughten , 4th Bishop of Roseau (1880- 1900) on August 24, 1892.
When Fr. Jules Michel died on March 14, 1901 he was buried in the church in Coulibistrie. A memorial plaque in the church commemorate him
Note that the river stone were not shaped, cut or faced as in other churches but placed by the local masons, round as they were found in nature, to construct the church walls.
Pay especially attention to the small but beautiful stained glass panels in the windows.