St. Joseph's Center for the Deaf and Hard of hearing was established over 100 years ago, in 1895, by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. It began when the Sisters founded St. Joseph's Home and School on the homestead of Mrs. Margaret McCourtney, at 40th and Telegraph Streets in Oakland, California. In 1896, the Sisters expanded the school and home through a grant from Father Comerford of St. Joseph's Church in Berkeley, California.
The Priests of Sacred Heart Church acted as Chaplains to the home, but special religious training was given by Father J.H. McCumminskey, a Jesuit priest whose ministry was with the Deaf. Under the direction of Monsignor Michael O'Brien, St. Joseph's Center for the Deaf initiated a variety of religious, social and educational services.
St. Joseph's Center was given a church in Union City by the Diocese of Oakland in 1992. This facility, known as Holy Family Ethnic Mission, provided a liturgical, catechetical and social setting for several communities — Polish, Indonesian and Korean — in addition to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Mass for the Deaf Community was offered each Sunday in ASL, as were religious education and sacramental preparation for children and adults. Under the direction of the former Executive Director, Ms. Ardith Lynch, St. Joseph's Center also initiated the California Center for Mental Health and Deafness. This division provided Phychological Services and Educational Programs for deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and late-deafened people.
In 2000, St. Joseph's Center was given a new home for its offices. Located in Hayward, next to California State University, East Bay, the Center's offices provided administration, counseling, education, and workshops to the Bay Area's Deaf Community over a period of over eight years until diocesan budget constraints forced an end to these services. Since January 2011, when the 'Holy Family Ethnic Mission' in Union City was closed, both our liturgical services and social events are held at the St. Joseph's Center in Hayward.