Although the church itself was not constructed until 1896, Catholic services were held regularly in the area starting in 1884. The first St. Joseph's church stood on today's Sunset Way (originally Mill Street). At that time, Issaquah was a mission of the Renton parish. Issaquah's Irish residents played a significant role in establishing the church; Pete McCloskey, Michael Donlan, and Pete Maloney (all Irish-born) pooled their resources to provide land and materials for the church's construction.
It was not until the 1962 that Issaquah became its own parish. By that time, Issaquah and grown and so had St. Joseph's congregation. A new church facility -- which still serves the parish today -- was constructed on Mountainside Drive.
According to the Issaquah Press article that serves as a public euology, Father Anthony McGirl was "a man who wanted nothing more out of life than to work with and care for the people of his parish." One of McGirl's colleagues, Father Stephan Rowan, recalled McGirl's "great personal warmth" and his tireless efforts to serve parishioners who were "sick, depressed, or losing faith in the church." Rowan also noted that, in addition to pictures of Christ, McGirl's bedroom was decorated with another banner that said, "God made the Irish number one!"
Rowan's eulogy also hinted at McGirl's sly sense of humor. He recalled telling McGirl once, "You know, Tony, I sometimes feel as if I've landed into the middle of a scene from 'Going My Way.' Here you are, the wise, old Irish pastor who taked in the collection and gives out so much practical advice."
"Yes, Steve," he replied, "and you sing and play the piano."
More than 600 people attended McGirl's funeral mass, including 120 priests and three bishops.
Go here to read the original Issaquah Press article from June 9, 1982.
Did you know Father Anthony McGirl? If you did, or if you have any photographs of him, please let us know!