The Church of St Joseph the Worker, at 38 Ridge Road Lobethal, was blessed and officially opened by Vicar General Monsignor William Russell on 7th November 1965. For many years prior to this the local Catholics, together with parishioners from Lenswood and Woodside, had attended Masses in the Old Institute, but when the Catholic population was boosted by an influx of European migrants in the late 1950s, it was decided that a church should be built in the town. A planned giving program was introduced and church property in Jeffrey Street was sold to enable the site in Ridge Road to be purchased. The church, built of red brick and undressed Canadian cedar timber, was designed by architects Stephenson & Turner of Adelaide and constructed by Retzki Brothers of Woodside. It has been said that the nine-meter high steel cross that stands prominently in front of St Joseph’s can be seen from Mount Lofty, about 32km away.
Historical records make special mention of the fact that the church’s altar was positioned to face the congregation – one of many changes introduced as a result of the Second Vatican Council which was drawing to an end at the time. Priests had until then celebrated Mass with their backs to the congregation. The Parish Priest at the time of the opening, Father Michael Dunne, named the church and presented the congregation with a wooden statue of the church’s patron saint, St Joseph the Worker. This had been carved in Italy. There were other gifts - a sacristy lamp from Ada Schultz and her family in memory of her late first husband Alan Smee, a statue of Our Lady and Child and a pair of silver candle sticks from Stefan and Stella Dacko in memory of their daughter and son-in-law Sophie and Noel Weckert, a church bell from Franz and Ingeborg Pichl and a monstrance from the Parish of Altenberg in Upper Austria.The church bell, weighing 50kg, had been brought to Australia from St Anton in the Austrian Tyrol and transported on the vessel the “Tonsberg”. Its tones still drift through the Lobethal Valley once a fortnight to herald Sunday Mass. John Marshall, a life-long local, has been its ringer for the past thirty years. The Lobethal community continues to be enriched by the presence of other cultures in its midst. Filipino and Vietnamese migrants are the most recent. They have settled in the area to work locally and have shared the richness of their own traditions at special times.Lobethal was part of the Birdwood Catholic Parish until an amalgamation resulted in the Adelaide Hills Catholic Parish being formed in November 1996. Sunday congregations now also include more people from both the Birdwood and Bridgewater Mass centres. The church has also undergone numerous renovations and repairs in the months leading up to its 50th Anniversary. These are all factors leading to a true sense of solidarity and growth.