St. Joseph House of Hospitality is a program of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Please visit the Catholic Charities website at

St. Joseph House of Hospitality

1635 Bedford Avenue

Pittsburgh PA 15219

Phone 412-471-0666

To learn more about "Friends" please contact Jim Hanna at

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Hills Are Alive...

Left to Right – Olivia (soprano & violin), David (vocals), Isabelle (violin, mandolin, & vocals),  Emmaline (bass & vocals), Emily (soprano & fiddler), Annamae (vocals), and Elizabeth (alto & guitar).


…with the sound of music from the valley – Echo Valley, that is!  Another group of family musicians has emerged to delight our ears and touch our hearts.  But this one hails from northwest Beaver County, not the Alps of Austria.  And they prefer Bluegrass over Edelweiss.

Ranging from age 21 to 7, these seven siblings of the Anderson family began playing together five years ago at a few local churches.  But as their skill and their sound progressed, so did their gigs – fifteen public events for 2016 and counting.  Plying their trade on guitar, violin, mandolin, and bass, Echo Valley plays a variety of bluegrass and gospel styles to glorify the Lord and encourage their listeners. 

The Andersons themselves have been attending the Annual Bluegrass Benefit Concert for St. Joseph House of Hospitality for the last several years.  And now, for the first time, they will be one of the bands on stage!  Second oldest daughter, Emily, says, "It has been my dream to play at the St. Joseph Benefit Concert since the first time I came here 4 years ago.”

Echo Valley is currently putting the final touches on their first recording, and the CD self-titled, Echo Valley , is scheduled to be available at the upcoming Bluegrass Benefit Concert on April 29th at Synod Hall in Oakland.  So even if you’ve heard some of the terrific bluegrass bands at a previous concert that benefits St. Joe’s, you haven’t heard Echo Valley yet!

This year’s concert starts a little earlier at 7:00 p.m., so you might consider bringing your children to enjoy hearing their peers and have some family fun.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Photos from the Bluegrass Benefit Concert

Thank you for your support!

See photos from the 17th Annual Bluegrass Benefit Concert



Allegheny Drifters

Border Ride

Brush Creek

Fern Hollow

Mac Martin &The Dixie Travelers


Monday, December 1, 2014

"Homeless No More" music CD available now

Homeless No More CD Cover
 "Homeless No More" is a collection of spiritually uplifting songs performed by local musicians dedicated to the men of St. Joseph House of Hospitality, our residence for formerly homeless men. Some of the residents provided the vocals on the spiritual, "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow" on the bonus track. Artwork for the CD cover was also designed by Ken Miller, a newcomer to the house, making this a true team effort. 

This CD can be yours for a suggested donation of $15.00 and benefits the outreach of St. Joseph House of Hospitality that provides a private room, meals and supportive services to formerly homeless men over the age of 50.

Thank you for your support!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dororthy Day, Pittsburgh and St. Joseph House of Hospitality

Paul Dvorchak has written the history of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), co-founder of the Catholic Worker and her connection to Pittsburgh's St. Joseph House of Hospitality. The article was recently published in Gathered Fragments, the annual publication of the Catholic Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. The article may read in its entirety here:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

News and Views

Some of the men of St. Joe's enjoy a game of Bocci Ball with Boy Scouts of

 Troop 195 during their annual picnic

Frank B. and Chuck D. harvest some of the veggies from St. Joe's garden for the kitchen

Members of the St. Joe"s Bike Club pause over the Youghiogheny River

during an outing at Ohiopyle


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Eagle Scout Project at St. Joseph

Will Maguire (far right) enlisted the help of Troop 195 from St.
Catherine of Sweden parish for his Eagle Scout Project of designing
and constructing a vegetable garden on the grounds of St. Joseph House
of Hospitality.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Clarification of Thought

Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin were proponents of a way of dialogue called "Clarification of Thought". The context of this process is found in writings of Day courtesy of the archives of the Catholic Worker as published by Ryan Meyers at "Scribd":

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sculptor's 'Jesus the Homeless' Challenges Christians to Follow Gospel of Matthew

Men go on ISP retreat

A few men from St. Joseph's recently attended an overnight spiritual retreat November 8-9 at Gilmary Retreat Center. It was the third ISP (Ignatian Spirituality Project - Retreats Ending Homelessness - see - retreat held in Pittsburgh and men from the House have attended each one. The feedback has been wonderful; if you received the recent issue of "From the Porch", St. Joseph's print newsletter, you'll read a testimonial from one of the men included in director Tom Kneier's cover letter. We are grateful for your continued support as St. Joseph's continues to minister to our resident's needs - spiritual as well as physical.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Two September Events for Residents

Thanks to Sharing and Caring Inc. for the

Boat Cruise for Veterans

Tuesday 9/3    11::00-2:00
Here is link to last years event as reported by KDKA:

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. San Diego Padres

Thursday 9/19
Tickets Courtesy of the Pirates - Thank you! and Let's Go Bucs!

Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 fishing trip

Last Wednesday 10 residents enjoyed the annual fishing excursion to Somerset County at Rockwood Nursery, courtesy of proprietor Steve Dvorchak,  brother of Paul Dvorchak. Thank you. Not only was there fishing, but also plenty of "catching"! Thanks to those who helped with the driving and the cookout ... great burgers, "dawgs", all the fixin's - plus canoeing, fellowship, and beautiful weather. A good day by any measure..

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spiritual retreats to end homelessness

The Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP) provides spiritual retreats to women and men who are homeless and in recovery. By making an Ignatian retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises, our participants and our volunteers are helping to end the injustice of homelessness.


On two occasions recently several men from St. Joseph have had the opportunity to participate in an overnight retreat with the Ignatian Spirituality Project. To learn more visit  Video introduction can be found here:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Lives and Times of St. Joseph House of Hospitality: Part 2, 1940’s and 1950's

by Bryan Fuller, Volunteer Archivist 

Recent progress in the archives has uncovered some more photographs from the earliest days of St. Joe’s back in the 30’s and 40’s.  They have been added to this next part of the online exhibit together with items from the 1950’s.


            The Catholic Radical Alliance was founded in April 1937, as a branch of the Catholic Worker Movement, which was founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.  A group of Catholic religious and lay had been meeting at the Pittsburgh Lyceum to discuss the contemporary economic and social problems.  On the 19th of April that year, Father Rice gave a lecture titled “A Detailed Plan of Immediate, Practical Action.”  According to the Pittsburgh Catholic (22 April 1937) “an animated discussion followed the presentation of the program. … Blanks were distributed for the signatures of those willing to enlist in the work outlined in the program and a large number signified their intention of taking part in the plan.”  Rice said that “The plan is one suited for immediate action.  It is above all a positive thing.”  The outline of the plan included “the starting of a House of Hospitality where the poor may be fed, clothed and instructed – not along the lines of organized charity, but in accordance with the Charity of Christ.”

     The immediate and practical action couldn’t come too soon.  Contemporary accounts of men and families losing their homes show a very desperate situation.  An editorial published in the Pittsburgh Catholic recounted how a physician had his automobile seized by his landlord as collateral after running late on his rent. His patients couldn’t pay him and he was two months late on his rent.  Distressed at losing his automobile he fought the three constables and was struck over the head.  He then retrieved a pistol and shot them and then himself.

      “Minor these things may be in the mind of the law, but they may be catastrophes in the lives of those affected,      usually the victims of misfortune, the poor, the friendless, the defenseless.  Unpleasant and distasteful are the many acts the “Minor judiciary" are ordered to do; tasks that the individuals and the officials of the corporations     that invoke their services would be ashamed to perform.” (Jan 19, 1939)


     On May 6, 1937 the Pittsburgh Catholic reported that the CRA was looking for a location “in a central part of the city.”  This led the CRA to a failed butcher shop at 901 Wylie Avenue in Pittsburgh Hill District.  According to Msgr. Rice, the property was owned by Epiphany Parish just down the street.  Father Thomas Lappan pastor at Epiphany and spiritual director of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society arranged the lease to the CRA.  The Society even donated $300 to cover the rent.  The first men to pass through St. Joseph’s enjoyed hospitality with rats whose exact size is lost in Irish hyperbole. 

     The butcher shop was very small, however, and the supply of physical space in the shop was inadequate to meet the demands made of it and attention was turned to a large abandoned orphanage on Tannehill Street, which was described in the last exhibit.  There are no photographs known to exist of or in 901 Wylie.

Lives and Times of St. Joseph House of Hospitality: 1940’s, continued.

 Ferguson Caulfield, above, appears in several photographs preparing and serving food.  Here he is slicing up loaves of St. Louis Rye in 1948.
Ferguson ladles out some soup, while a guest casts an eye at the camera

 What’s on the menu?  Coffee, bread and St. Joe’s Mystery Soup.  It fills the stomach and warms the soul.

Father Rice checks in to see how everything is going, but no one seems to notice…

Men study their soup.  Father Rice said that in those days men like those shown here depended on the food they received at the House to stay alive.

Some of the men in the last photo above can be seen standing outside the north entrance of the House on a dreary day.
 A candid photograph of men standing in the basement of 61 Tannehill St.

     In 1940 the 15th Decennial Census was taken.  According to the enumeration data for St. Joseph’s “Flophouse” of Hospitality the average man was just over 44 years old, had a sixth grade education, and was unemployed for three and a half years, with one man being unemployed for fourteen years.  Three eighteen year olds are the youngest men, and the two oldest were born three years after the Civil War ended.  114 are African American and 159 are White.  Sixteen are divorced, 49 married, 195 single and thirteen widowed.  252 are unemployed.  Of these 94 had been employed in the steel mills and many more in related industries.
Improvised tables work very nicely.

     Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker Movement visited the House on 12 June 1941.  She wrote that all they had to eat was “parsnip soup and sassafras tea for a week, than which there can be no more mortifying diet.” One of the volunteers, William Lenz, took exception to her characterization, saying she exaggerated the situation. “But it was pretty bad” she concluded.

Father Rice poses with two staff members in front of an impressive range.

Guests and House staff were never too far apart.  It takes a lot of teamwork to prepare 1,000 meals a day.

Everyone and their skills were welcome at the House of Hospitality


Lives and Times of St. Joseph House of Hospitality: 1950’s

     As America prospered during the post-war years, the population at the House changed.  Unemployed, homeless and hungry, gave way to disabled, homeless and hungry.  A major shakeup occurred in 1952.  In New York City the grave diggers union went on strike.  Cardinal Spellman, once anticipated to be the first American Pope, put seminarians to work digging the graves, which prompted Rice to call Spellman a scab.  Rice had bit off more than he could chew, and was sent “up river” to an ecclesiastical backwater by Bishop “Iron John” Dearden.  In that year Monsignor Paul Bassompierre, or Bassom, was put in charge.  Bassom was the Spiritual Director of the St. Vincent De Paul Society, and a very shrewd accountant.  Monsignor Bassompierre remained as director until 1984.

Monsignor Bassompierre says Grace before the men break open that gigantic watermelon.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society had worked closely with St. Joe’s from it’s earliest days.  This photo shows the Society building, and some of its employees, in the late 1950s.

A grand old photo of Harry Allen.  Cooking at St. Joe’s required the genius of improvisation.

Sometimes items are found in the archives that don’t have much to do with St. Joe’s.  Here is a photo of Bishop Sheen when he visited Pittsburgh in 1959.  Standing to his left is Byzantine Bishop Elko, whose installation Sheen was attending.  One time Rice criticized Sheen for something he said, but there’s no record that Sheen noticed…

This must have been a personal photo belonging to Msgr. Bassompierre

Two old fellows talk.

More soup.

A guest of the house looks into the outside world, and perhaps thinks about something that happened a long time ago

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 1, St. Joseph the Worker

The following is from

Apparently in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955. But the relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers has a much longer history. In a constantly necessary effort to keep Jesus from being removed from ordinary human life, the Church has from the beginning proudly emphasized that Jesus was a carpenter, obviously trained by Joseph in both the satisfactions and the drudgery of that vocation. Humanity is like God not only in thinking and loving, but also in creating. Whether we make a table or a cathedral, we are called to bear fruit with our hands and mind, ultimately for the building up of the Body of Christ.


“The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2:15). The Father created all and asked humanity to continue the work of creation. We find our dignity in our work, in raising a family, in participating in the life of the Father’s creation. Joseph the Worker was able to help participate in the deepest mystery of creation. Pius XII emphasized this when he said, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world, but certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work. Thus, if you wish to be close to Christ, we again today repeat, ‘Go to Joseph’” (see Genesis 41:44).


In Brothers of Men, RenĂ© Voillaume of the Little Brothers of Jesus speaks about ordinary work and holiness: “Now this holiness (of Jesus) became a reality in the most ordinary circumstances of life, those of work, of the family and the social life of a village, and this is an emphatic affirmation of the fact that the most obscure and humdrum human activities are entirely compatible with the perfection of the Son of God....this mystery involves the conviction that the evangelical holiness proper to a child of God is possible in the ordinary circumstances of someone who is poor and obliged to work for his living.”


Friday, March 29, 2013

Lives and Times of St Joseph House of Hospitality: 1940's

Courtesy of Bryan Fuller, Volunteer Archivist      

     Last year, St Joseph House of Hospitality celebrated its 75th anniversary.  Concurrent with this celebration is an ongoing archive organization project.  The St. Joseph House of Hospitality Archive is located in an old operating room in the basement of 1635 Bedford Ave; and contains many items documenting the administrative tedium; and the little world and many lives of St. Joe's throughout its history.

             The archive project consists of organizing materials by type and subject,  filing them in a logical sequence and then creating an index to the whole thing.  The total number of items in the archive is unknown at this point, but the best estimate is 15,000 documents, and 2,500 photographs.  Documents include newspaper clippings, letters, newsletters, posters, pamphlets, books, Mass cards, visitor logs, food inventories, resident and personnel files, board meeting minutes etc., etc., etc.  Photographs are more difficult to arrange.  Anyone who has looked through collections of old family pictures will know the frustration of having no idea who is in the photo or when and where it was taken.  There are a lot more photographs from the 1970s - present and some of them have annotations on the back or were grouped by subject or year.  The more transient nature of life at St Joe's in the early days, and "no questions asked" policy meant that few names were known.

            Over the next few months photographs and historic documents from the archives will be posted here for the interest of friends and donors.


            The original house was a butcher shop on Wylie Avenue, near where the Mellon Arena stood.  In March 1938, the house moved to an abandoned orphanage at 61 Tannehill Street.  Construction on this building was begun on 10 June 1866, and the wards of St Paul Orphans' Asylum moved in December of 1867.  In August 1901, St Paul’s Orphanage moved to a new facility in Idlewood in Crafton, which is about three miles west of the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers.   According to census records the orphanage was home to 110 orphans when it first opened and 543 orphans by the time it moved.



            In 1916, the Ladies Catholic Benevolent Association St Rita's Home for Infants came to 61 Tannehill Street and the building was extensively renovated and modernized.  The mansard roof shown in the engraving above was taken down leaving three floors.  St Rita's was closed in 1935, and the building was idle until 1938, when St Joseph's House moved in.  St. Joseph's remained at 61 Tannehill Street until September of 1974, when it moved to its present location on Bedford Ave.  The building was then demolished.

            In the "Pittsburgh Catholic" (17 July 1987, p. 4) Fr. Rice wrote that "On one night in 1938 we accommodated 837 men who slept everywhere in the rooms, on the stairwells, in the cellar and who were afflicted by bedbugs, but were warm."  A fact sheet from 1950 says that in 1949 the house provided 184, 971 meals and 36,139 "nights of shelter."

Despite having stood for over 100 years this is the only known portrait image of 61 Tannehill St. 


This photo shows a bread line about 1940.  Msgr. Rice said that he was intimidated by the large structure, but many others were optimistic of its potential to serve the homeless and hungry.


Another image of a breadline from the 1940s.



This could be a volunteer helping to distribute bread to the line.


There was no fixed menu at the House of Hospitality.  Men line up for whatever is being served.


Father Rice carves a bird.  In 1941 the Pittsburgh post-Gazette reported that about 500 men celebrated Thanksgiving at the House of Hospitality.




St Joe’s has many old traditions.  Here is the earliest Easter appeal letter found in the archives.


Here is a look inside the House, in one of the rooms that kept men for the night.


Some of the photos posted above look similar to ones published in newspapers, and could have been taken by the paper photographers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

St. Joe's resident in the news

Thanks to St. Joe's Director Tom Kneier for passing along this news the link below to read Gamma Knife surgical teams mark 25 years since first test

Welcome Tom Kneier

Welcome Tom Kneier (pronounced Ka-ni'-yer) as the new Director of St. Joseph House of Hospitality! Tom took over the helm of St. Joe's in August and by way of introduction shares a little bit of his story with us today:
  • Tom has been married for 36 years and he and his wife have raised 6 sons and 1 daughter. Five are now married and Tom and his wife have 2 granddaughters and 3  grandsons (so far). 
  • He and his family moved to Pittsburgh 10 years ago and he has worked at Catholic Charities for the past 6 years.
  • He is a licensed therapist and provides volunteer counseling services at Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center.
  • Tom is a cancer survivor after being diagnosed in February 2007 and is grateful to God for his current health.
  • He and his music group lead worship at his church on Sundays...he is the lead vocalist and plays guitar.
Welcome Tom!