Pastor of St James Parish
February 22, 1951 to March 21, 1961.

Joseph was born February 26, 1894 of Joseph and Mary Mitsch in East End Pittsburgh. He was one of five children, along with Vincent, Genevieve, Dorothy and Cecilia. He was ordained in 1921 at St. Vincent Archabbey. Fr. Mitsch served as assistant pastor at St. Agatha church, Bridgeville and as assistant at St Joseph, New Kensington from 1925 to 1940. He was a vital force in the diocese in building the lay retreat movement. In 1940 he became pastor of St. Mary Church, Kittanning. It was the unique privilege of Father Robert Murphy, then pastor at the neighboring St. Mary, Ford City, officially to welcome him to his new charge there.

The first official act of Bishop Deardon as bishop of Pittsburgh after the death of Bishop Hugh C. Boyle was to assign Father Mitsch as pastor of St James, Wilkinsburg.

Under the supervision of Father Mitsch, the parish added a spacious third floor to the existing school building. The Holy Name Society, the Christian Mothers and other organizations were among many formed at St James during his pastorate. He took a keen interest in all parish activities and his parishioners loved him dearly. His sister Genevieve was his housekeeper for some time at St James.

In March of 1961 a fire of unknown origin broke out in the basement chapel. Fortunately, the fire was kept within the sanctuary, but the main section of the chapel suffered damage mostly from heat and water.

Shortly after the fire, Father Mitsch was transferred to St. George’s Parish in Allentown in the South Side area of Pittsburgh. The parishioners of St James endure tragic shock in hearing of his death August 30, 1961 at age 67. He is buried near the large crucifix in Mount Carmel Cemetery. Father Mitsch’s sister Dorothy married Oscar Brashear. Dorothy, still a parishioner at 91, now resides at LGAR home in Turtle Creek. Two of her sons and their families, Bill and Jack Brashear, nephews of Father Mitsch still are members of St James parish.

Many will praise his understanding; his fame can never be effaced. Unfading will be his memory, through all generations his name will live. Sirach Chapter 39, v. 9.