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The Josephites are dedicated to work, live, give and share – in the African American community – all that God has taught through His Church and the life of his Son, Jesus Christ. We need your support to continue this important mission. Please consider donating to the Josephites today. God bless you.

Christmas Message from Superior General

Our Christmas Journey

This time of year, many of us think about a journey. We may be thinking of family and friends who are coming to visit us. Or, we may be thinking about going to visit others.

We also reflect on another journey. Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to fulfill the scriptures. The shepherds, too, journeyed to Bethlehem to see the baby lying in the manger.

That journey to Bethlehem, recorded in the Gospels, has inspired writers and poets, musicians and song writers. It pulls at our heart strings and brings us to the reality that God so loved the world that he sent his beloved son to live among us and to redeem us.

For more than 125 years, Josephite priests and brothers have been on a journey of ministry in the African American community. When Josephites gather, it doesn’t take long before stories of the past are told. We remember the Josephites who came before us, the challenges they faced and the joy of the success of building parishes, schools and leading special ministries. These stories are part of our mission history.

Along the way, you, too, have become part of the Josephite journey. Your support, encouragement, donations and prayers, make our journey possible. Your presence is a gift to us throughout the year.

As Christmas approaches and we reflect on the year gone by and the hopes for the year ahead, I wanted to express my deep thanks to you. You – and your intentions – will be remembered in my Christmas Day Mass. I will ask for blessings on your journey and thank God that you have been part of mine.


Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

Bishop John H. Ricard, Superior General

REQUIESCAT in PACE Father Edward Joseph Mullowney, SSJ

Father Edward J. Mullowney, SSJ

Oct. 24, 1927 – Dec. 8, 2019

Josephite Father Edward Joseph Mullowney died early on Sunday morning, Dec. 8, 2019, at the Josephite Senior Residence at St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, DC. He was the last of 15 Josephites ordained in 1955. He had recently suffered from cancer and was 92-years old in his 11thyear of retirement.

Father Edward Joseph Mullowney hails from Brooklyn, New York, where he was born to Edward and Ann Brady Mullowney on Oct. 24, 1927.

Educated at St. Agnes Elementary and High School in Rockville Center, he moved to the Brooklyn Diocesan Minor Seminary, Brooklyn College. He then felt called to the Josephites and entered their novitiate at Newburgh, New York, in August 1950.

Continuing the course at St. Joseph Seminary at Washington, DC, Father Mullowney was ordained a priest at The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on June 4, 1955.

His first period of ministry was at St. Richard’s parish in the Roxbury section of Boston as associate pastor for four years. After that, he was assigned to Corpus Christi Church in New Orleans for a five-year associate term. Father’s Mullowney’s next assignment was north to Washington and to St. Benedict the Moor parish, first for two years as associate and for the next five years as pastor.

In 1971 Father Mullowney was named treasurer of the Society and spent the next 28 years at the Josephite House of Administration (The Generalate) in Baltimore. At the turn of the century, he became rector of St. Joseph Manor and where, in 2008, he retired from administrative duty.

Father Mullowney had a great love for stamp collecting and participated in several Philatelic Organizations which included being Past President of the Baltimore Philatelic Society, the German Philatelic Society, the American Air Mail Society, and a member of the Expert Committee of the American Philatelic Society. Several Philatelic awards (Gold, Grand, and Vatican) had been awarded to Father Mullowney


REQUIESCAT in PACE Father Walter Anthony Cerbin, SSJ

Father Walter Anthony Cerbin, SSJ

June 13, 1929 – Nov. 9, 2019

Father Walter Anthony Cerbin died on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, of a lingering illness in Palmetto, Louisiana, in his eighth year of retirement. He was 90-years old and had been a priest for 64 years.

Father Cerbin was a native of Chicago, born on June 13, 1929, to Stanley and Rose Szanfranska Cerbin.

Baptized in St. Hyacinth Church, he attended St. Viator Elementary School and Quigley Prep Seminary before entering the Josephite College and novitiate in Newburgh, New York, and on to St. Joseph Seminary and priestly ordination in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, on June 4, 1955.

In his 56 years of pastoral ministry, Father Cerbin covered a lot of Josephite territory. Beginning in 1955, Father Cerbin served as an associate pastor in Port Arthur, Texas, for five years. For the next six years he served in the same position in Baltimore, Washington and in Beaumont, Texas. His first pastorate was in Baltimore at St. Francis Xavier parish.

For the next three-years he served as pastor at the only Josephite foreign mission in Clarencetown in the Bahamas. Then followed pastorates in Dallas for four years; Lawtell, LA, for four years; New Orleans, for two years; and Cecelia, LA, for eight years.

Father Cerbin’s last parochial assignment was for eight years at Lebeau, LA. He retired in June 2011, after over 50 years of active ministry.

A Vigil Service was held in Immaculate Conception Church in Lebeau, LA, on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Mass of Christian Burial was on Friday morning, Nov. 15, at 11 a.m. Burial followed in the church cemetery.

Josephites Receive Donation from SOAR

SOAR! Support Our Aging Religious Foundation, whose mission is to provide grants to assist Catholic religious congregations care for aging members, awarded a generous donation to the Josephites to renovate a common space for retired priests residing at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, D.C.  Father Paul Oberg, SSJ, accepted the $25,000 check from SOAR! board member Pamela Brancaccio.

Remember your loved ones on All Souls Day

In Autumn, the leaves change color. Flowers, once vibrant and bright, lose their luster. The Fall season makes us think of things past.

This is the time of year when we visit cemeteries and remember loved ones. We gather to pray for those who have gone before us. And in our prayers, we pray that “perpetual light will shine on them.”

Praying for the dead is a natural part of our faith. Our church teaches that “purgatory exists, and that the souls detained there are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.” We also know that those who have died in the love of God can have their souls purified “by the suffrages of the faithful in this life, that is, by Masses, prayers, and almsgiving, and by the other offices of piety usually performed by the faithful.”

angelThe Josephites annually observe the month of November as the time we pray in a special way for all of our deceased members, friends, relatives and benefactors. The Josephites conduct a “Nine Days of Prayer for the Departed” novena, Oct. 24 – Nov. 2. You are invited to join with us and remember your loved ones. The novena prayers can be found here. Donations from this Novena will support the ministry of Josephites and the education and training of future priests and brothers who will continue the ministry. Click here to make a donation now.

The most effective of all prayers is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Josephites will remember your loved ones in the Masses we offer on All Souls Day, November 2. All Josephite seminarians, novices, priests and brothers will join our prayers with yours on their behalf.

Also, the Josephites offer throughout the entire month of November prayers for all the deceased loved ones you recommend to us. Make your prayer request here.

It is comforting to know that there is something that we can do for those we love. There is a way for us to remember them. We pray for them even as they watch over us and pray on our behalf before the Lord God. Thus, it is with confidence we pray, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. May perpetual light shine upon them.”

How Long, Lord?

The following statement has been released by Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, superior general of the Josephites.

How Long, Lord?

The African American Catholic community joins others in collective grief over the most recent attacks on the lives of brothers and sisters in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. While deeply saddened, we must not allow our grief to lull us into inaction or hopeless resignation. We must not allow ourselves to become desensitized to these events. Rather, our grief must propel us to confront these heinous acts and any other acts that seek to demean, disrespect, or destroy God’s children.

While these are the most recent attacks, they are far from the only acts. They are linked to a broader effort to divide and disparage humanity. We offer brief, but not exhaustive, suggestions for moving forward, acknowledging that inaction leaves the door open for continued hatred and future acts of violence.

1. Acknowledge and confront racist hate speech, white supremacy, and white nationalism wherever it is observed. As God’s children, we must confront measures that seek to diminish the humanity of anyone. Incendiary language, especially when spoken by leaders, must be confronted and denounced. This is especially core to us as Catholics. Each of us is made in the image and likeness of God; therefore, hate speech and promotion of one race over another enact hatred upon our God. Hate speech not only encourages and inspires others to inflict violence as we have witnessed, but it also informs the way legislation is passed and important decisions are made. It impacts the way we treat one another.

2. Advocate for legislation that will significantly reduce not only the number of semi-automatic weapons on our streets but also the number of handguns. This could include background checks, waiting periods, bans, support of gun buy-back programs, and the like. Semi-automatic weapons and weapons in the hands of young people in urban areas have deadly consequences.

3. Advocate for more resources to be spent in areas of economic development, urban community revitalization, mental health treatment, domestic violence prevention, and education.

4. Increase efforts to promote and lobby for comprehensive immigration reform. Seek out and join coalitions and organizations working to pass this legislation. We must end separation of families and the inhumane treatment of children on the border. We acknowledge that people have a right to make asylum claims and remain in the United States while these claims are being processed.

5. Invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit. We encourage prayer for the victims of violence and their families, as well as those persons who inflict violence. Pray for a conversion of hearts and for the energy and faith to confront racism and violence whenever it emerges.

We are not satisfied in believing that these cruel acts are caused by a single issue. The connection and relationship between all these issues must be addressed in unison.

We share these reflections as pastors, religious, clergy, and laity in urban, suburban, and rural communities from parishes from all over the United States. We offer these reflections based on that which we have seen and heard, based on shared solutions, shared realities, and a shared love for all of God’s children.

The new Leadership Team for the Josephite Priests & Brothers


Dear Friends of the Josephites:
At the quadrennial meeting of Josephites in June, leadership was elected for the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

I am honored to have been selected as Superior General at the June meeting in Louisiana. The Josephites have been a steady presence throughout my life, which started in Louisiana. At this moment in our history, which traces back to 1871, I ask for your prayers as I begin this new responsibility and mission.

Soon I will be moving from Washington, where I had been serving as rector of St. Joseph Seminary, to the Josephite headquarters in Baltimore.

I am blessed to have an excellent group of collaborators in Josephite leadership. Father Thomas Frank, SSJ, was selected vicar general. He previously served four years as consultor general. Father Ray Bomberger, an experienced Josephite pastor who will continue to serve the St. Peter Claver parish in West Baltimore, was selected to serve as the new consultor general.

Area Directors were also elected. These four Josephites will be the primary point of contact with our parishes and ministries in their regions of the country. Those selected are: Father Cornelius, Ejiogu, Father Godwin Ani, Father Joseph Benjamin and Father Kenneth Keke.

I commend Father Michael Thompson for his leadership. In his four years as superior general, he took on significant issues that laid the groundwork for future mission opportunities in the African-American community. His energy and enthusiasm were a catalyst for change and set a course for growth.

Also, Father Roderick Coates commendably served four years as vicar general. He led the successful 125th anniversary celebration and provided support to our priests and parishes in many ways.

The new leadership team, with God’s help and your support, will continue to provide the men and means for the Josephite mission.

Bishop John H. Ricard, Superior General


Read more about the General Council member’s here.

2020 Josephite African American History and Educational Calendar

The 2020 Josephite African American History and Educational Calendar is now available! Order for yourself, a friend, or your parish! The calendar gives homage to the Seven Sacraments and to the six Black American Catholic candidates for Sainthood who lived sacramental, spirit filled lives.

Order today!

Josephites celebrate 125 years of ministry with Mass at Baltimore Basilica

Over the weekend of November 16th, hundreds of people came to Baltimore to celebrate The Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, The Josephites, 125 years of ministry in the African American Community.

The Mass and Banquet were joyous events with Josephite priests and brothers, religious sisters, and dedicated men and women who serve in this important ministry.

With the help of our generous donors, we have built churches and schools, provided formation for priests and brothers and collaborated with other religious communities and lay leaders to share the Good News.

Read the homily that was given by Father Michael Thompson, SSJ. And, see all the photos from the Mass and the Banquet.

If you would like to donate to support the Josephites’ mission, please do so here.