Fr Joseph Maccabe was appointed as the second Parish Priest in September 1956. He had a background in the Cathedral, where his father had been choirmaster, so he always thought big and wanted the best. This had a great effect on the confidence of the people, encouraging them to use their talents and helping them realise their self-worth.
He wanted the church to be more furnished. He transformed the sanctuary with a baldacchino (canopy) over the altar, a new red carpet and linoleum up the aisles and proper seats to replace the old wooden benches. He bought a new statue of St Joseph the Worker, who had been established as patron of the Parish and had Stations of the Cross specially commissioned by French artist Gabriel Loire, who also designed the Stations in St Mary's Cathedral Aberdeen.
Liturgy was very important to him. He introduced a St Joseph's hymnbook to the Parish, via the school, which led to the children appearing on Songs of Praise from Lauriston. This established a great link between parents, Parish and school. He was proud of the children and spent a lot of time in the school.
Fr Maccabe served at St Joseph's during a momentus time in church history; pre and post -Vatican II, and so it's important to appreciate how the Parish was affected.
The church building was only ever meant to be temporary (designed originally as a hall), and it was a great disappointment to Fr Maccabe that a "proper" church never materialised in Broomhouse. With all the churches being built in the 50's and 60's, St Joseph's was sadly overlooked.
Although the original plan of a new church construction lining up with house and hall (the latter functioning as the church temporarily) never materialised, building did take place. Most memorable was the wall around the church property. It was all done voluntarily by men of the parish, supervised by some who were builders. This was an attempt to stop increasing vandalism of the church and the house. A plaque commemorating the building of the wall was recovered from the Priory:
EX ANIMO OPERAMINI: THIS WALL WAS BUILT BY THE VOLUNTARY LABOUR AND SKILL OF THE MEN OF ST JOSEPH'S SUMMER 1959 "WORK AT YOUR TASKS WITH A WILL, REMINDING YOURSELVES THAT YOU ARE DOING IT FOR THE LORD, NOT FOR MEN" (Col III:23)
An extension to the house was undertaken as soon as the wall was complete, originally designed to accommodate 2 new curates to serve Wester Hailes. These plans were ultimately shelved, but the extension went ahead and thus Fr Maccabe was able to offer hospitality to visiting priests. A single storey, three sided extension was built onto the two storey house. A patio was built in the priory courtyard.