The beginnings were simple with Mass being held at the home of Mr. Joe Beckman in 1879. Florence Roman Catholics established their first church here in 1898 with Gammelbert Brunner, OSB, as pastor. They earlier met in private homes attended by
visiting priests. Churches in Tuscumbia and St. Florian served the Shoals at large. The ordinal wooden church and its school were the center of the surrounding Catholic Hill neighborhood for seventy-five years. St. Joseph’s school mainly served the working class areas of east Florence. In time, it became the chief religious center for area Catholics.