The present church, pictured above, was dedicated on Sunday, December 18, 1892 and officially opened for parochial services on January 1, 1893. The interior measures 100' x 200' and 95' from floor to ceiling, with a seating capacity of 1800 to 2000 people. The main aisle is 12' x 150' long. The exterior of the building measures 100' x 225', and is 150' from ground to roof.
Medallions over the front exterior entrance represent Pope Pius IX and Archbishop Napoleon Perche (1805-1883).
St. Joseph parish was established in February, 1844 to serve a growing population in the area. The original St. Joseph church was located on Tulane Avenue, opposite Charity Hospital. It was of medium size Gothic architecture, with a tall front steeple. The first pastors were diocesan priests, Edward D’Hauw and B. M. Poyet. (This original St. Joseph church, later called St. Katherine church, was demolished in 1964.
In 1858 the Archdiocese of New Orleans entrusted the parish to priests of the “Congregation of the Mission” (initials “C.M.), also known as “Vincentians” or “Lazarists.” Reverend John Hayden, C.M. was the first of many pastors. In 1859, Father Hayden built a school for boys, taught by Christian Brothers, and in 1864 a school for girls, taught by Daughters of Charity. In 1866, with future plans in mind, Father Hayden purchased the square of ground on which the present building stands.
Archbishop Francis Janssens (1888-1897) renovated the “old” church. In 1895 it was placed under the patronage of St. Katherine and officially became a center of worship for many Negro Catholics, with the Vincentian Fathers serving in the apostolate to the Negro population.