Category: General

All Souls Day Prayer

Immortal God, holy Lord,
Father and Protector of all You have created,
we raise our hearts to You today for those
who have passed out of this mortal life.

In Your loving mercy, Father of all,
be pleased to receive them in Your heavenly company,
and forgive the failings and faults
they may have done from human frailty.

Your only Son, Christ, our Saviour,
suffered so cruelly that
He might deliver them from the second death.
By his merits may they share in the glory
of His victory over sin and death.

For all the faithful who have died we pray,
but in particular for those dear to us,
parents, relatives and friends.
nor do we forget all who did good to us while on earth,
who helped us by their prayers, sacrifice and example.
We pray also for any who may have done us harm,
and stand in special need of Your forgiveness.

May the merits and prayers of our Virgin Mother,
Mary, and those of all the Angels and Saints,
speak for us and assist them now.
This we ask in Christ’s name.



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.”

2019 Christmas Appeal

Dear Friend:

As we approach the Christmas Season, we stop to reflect on our Community’s milestones in 2019 and focus on the true meaning of the Season.  “According to the Book of Matthew, a bright star led the magi from the east until it stopped “over the place where the child was” (Matthew 1:24).  The magi knelt down for the baby Jesus and “offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh”.

The Christmas story reflects many messages, it lifts the immigrant story, the story of homelessness, the story of strangers seeking comfort and compassion and the great story of the reward of listening to your heart in responding to the call for help.  It encourages us to go beyond the usual, to see and honor the worth of our neighbors and recognize their call; as the wise men and shepherds of the fields did all those centuries ago.

Without the generous support of our benefactors like yourself, our work could not continue to fight for the sanctity of family life and the enhancement of individual dignity and freedom.  We have brought Jesus into the lives and homes of so many people – people whose lives have been enriched by Him and who, in turn, have shared their blessings with the church by their faith and loyalty. You have listened to your heart and helped your neighbors; we ask you to do that again.

Your previous gifts have enabled St. Joseph’s Society to accomplish several significant milestones in 2019, such as:

  • Welcomed 3 novices to the seminary
  • Celebrated 125 years of dedicated service to our mission to serve those in most need
  • Completed Phase 1 of renovations to the St. Joseph Seminary
  • Ensured the care and comfort of senior Brothers in Christ in newly renovated lodgings
  • Rededicated the Josephite vocations ministry in Nigeria
  • Empowered local parishes to expand community stewardship to establish food banks

This list outlines only a small representation of our ministry. We work in communities as we support and council families, feed the hungry, heal the sick, teach those who are eager to learn and excel and help the unemployed find work.  Our work is great, and the laborers are few.  Today there are less than 75 Josephites and a large group are retired.  One of our greatest needs are raising resources for the Vocations Ministry.  The training, housing and education of a seminarian comes at a cost of $65,000 per year.  In addition to finding the means to secure our future priests, we are dedicated to the care for our retired priests that have dedicated their lives to God’s service at an annual average cost of $55,000 per priest.

That is why I’m asking for your financial support of our mission and the work of the Josephites.  It is only through your loyal commitment and appreciation for the labor of the Josephites that we can offer loving care and services to our communities.

I appreciate your previous support and thank you in advance for your 2020 Christmas gift to the St. Joseph Society of the Sacred Heart. Keep us in prayer as we pray for you.

God’s gift of peace in the year ahead.

Yours in Jesus, Prince of Peace

Bishop John Ricard, SSJ, Ph.D



125th Anniversary Homily

Following is the text of the homily by Father Michael Thompson, superior general of the Josephites, at the 125th Anniversary Mass on Nov. 17, 2018 at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

Your Excellency, Archbishop Lori, Presiding Bishops, Father James Boric, rector of this basilica, concelebrating Clergy, Women and Men Religious, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

What an honor to be speaking to you on this milestone in the History of the Josephite Fathers and Brothers.

This is probably my sixth edited version of this homily since October. How do you cover 125 years of history in a homily?

I’m not going to bore you with a lot of historical data, we will do that later. However, I would be remiss not to cover our early beginnings.

The saying goes; “you don’t know where you are going if you don’t know from where you came.”



After the Civil War, the Catholic Church struggled with the challenge of ministering to the needs of some 7 million persons of African descent who were faithful to their God, yet poor, uneducated and suppressed by evil and cruel treatment, in much need of spiritual support.

In 1871, at the request of U.S. Bishops, Pope Pius IX urged Father Herbert Vaughn (later to become Cardinal), to come to the United States of America from England, instead of his original plan of evangelizing Asia, because of their racial disparity among God’s people of that time.

The newly emancipated slaves, many who have been baptized associated within the Catholic faith, were in need of evangelization and ministry. Archbishop Spalding in his vision did not want to lose, “a golden opportunity for reaping a harvest of souls, which neglected may not return.”

Father Vaughn in November 1871 and his missionaries, taking the Negro Oath, set out for Baltimore to minister to the Negro People of Baltimore. This task by Father Vaughn and his new companion priest arrived in a very difficult times a new America, a new Church and a new kind of people, people of color.

Many oppositions were faced but they remained steadfast in their effort to evangelize communities of Black Catholics. Father Vaughn returned to England in 1872 and was named Bishop of Stafford, England.

In 1891, some 20 years later, Black Catholics would witness the First Black Priest to be ordained on American soil that had been educated in the Americas. It was a dream come true right here in this historic Cathedral, it is been a chronicled as a great day Baltimore and many came to see the lack of a Negro becoming priest as the New York Times reported.

Today we come to celebrate the resilient faith and continue to honor the evangelization of the new American Missionary Society dedicating their life in 1893 to the evangelization vocational ministry it to the Negros, Colored people, Afro- Americans, African-Americans or Black Catholics as we have come to be called in these times.

We come to celebrate and reminisce the disappointments, joys and contributions that St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart, (the Josephite, have made to this our Catholic Church.

Over 125 years, there have been many obstacles on this journey of history of the Josephites.

The Lord is on Our Side

Our theme is: “If it had not been for the Lord on our side, Where would we be?”

Through the grace of God almighty, we have joyfully moved through the Josephite mission to evangelize and spread the gospel message to a disenchanted and marginalized people, by the church and societies in which they lived.

I personally become amazed by the resiliency we have shown to the many obstacles of Racism, Jim Crowe, Civil Rights and the new Systemic Racism which we face today.

Last evening, I was talking to a priest friend, who was telling me about when he went to anoint a person of the Caucasian persuasion. The person refused and did not want to be touched by the Black priest. I laughed and told him of a similar racial encounter that I had not shared because I did not think that sort of thing still happened. I went to visit a person who refused me and threw his cup of water at me. He too did not want a black priest to minister to him. Although if the water or the cup and reached me, I would have performed the Sacrament of Extreme Unction on them. ( laugh).

I urge you to read the pastoral letter, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” penned this week by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Over the past one and a quarter century, Josephites have ministered to people who have desired to be seen and heard.

It has not been easy. In the past, many dioceses refused to even recognize or accept White Josephites as well as Black priests. But we were determined to carry on the vision of the Society evangelizing, empowering, preaching, and teaching exclusively the Black Faithful of the United States. With the help of the likes of Saint Katharine Drexel and the Blessed Sacrament Sisters, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, Sisters of the Holy Family, Holy Spirit Sisters of Mary Immaculate, Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart and the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia, I could go on and on, but you get the picture. We so too recognize the many Religious Women who were not afraid to step out in faith and continue the mission of Jesus Christ.

The early Josephites, even through hardship and disappointment, continued to reap the harvest, and acknowledge the Love of God to a people already strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

What Gave Us Strength

Throughout these 125 years, it is my belief that it was a particular motivation, that strengthened Josephites to be resilient in their chosen mission.

As I observed during the few short years that I have been a Josephite, and reinforced at the meet and greet last night, among many parishioners and supporters, I realized that the particular motivation was right before my eyes. It was not what I have read in the “History of Black Catholics” by Father Cyprian Davis, “Desegregating the Altar” by Stephen Ochs, many publications and documentaries that chronicles of movement of Black Catholics in the Church.

I realize that what motivated our Priests and Brothers to dedicate their lives to the Josephite Mission was is sitting right here before you this evening. YOU, the Faithful People of God.

I am sure the Archbishop would concur and those clergy present, if we truly reflect on why we endure in our vocation, it would be the same. Because Christ Jesus has charged us, his unworthy servants, to the care and love of his brothers and sisters.

A people who continue to hunger for God’s love, moved by His Spirit and desire the promise of Eternal Life. No matter what obstacles, problems, abuses, evils that flows through the Church, the Faithful People of God remain steadfast and resilient. They understand that the Sacramental life of Christ’s church is stronger than human weakness.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is not prophesying about the end of the world. Rather he is telling us that a new world will come though his passion, death and resurrection. There will be an “unveiling” or revelation brought about by his life and coming. Through the Paschal mystery, the old way of living ends and a new way of living begins.

Jesus unveiled a new way of loving God with all our heart, mind and strength by loving our neighbor like ourselves, a kind of loving which desires only the good of the other and is willing to give and even suffer for the other. This is Jesus’ great Commandment: this is his apocalypse, his unveiling, his revelation.

Therefore, I urge my Josephite brothers, seminarians and those preparing to live the charism of the St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart to remain resilient and be faithful to the responsibility given by your vocation call. Allow the people of God to motivate you to be great priest and brother. Don’t worry about titles: cardinals, archbishops, bishops, superiors, provincials, as you see all that can pass away. But the Love of God is sustaining. Be Christ to those that need us.

Heartfelt Congratulations

It is not going to be easy. It wasn’t 125 years ago. It is not now, and won’t be for another 125 years to come. Our work is to continue to make a difference, continue to be vigilant and continue to be Resilient in our Faith.

My heartfelt congratulations, as your Superior, to my brothers on this your 125th Anniversary of ministry to the African- American people.

My congratulations to you my brothers and sisters, who without you we would not be celebrating. You have carried us along on your journey of faith and it is my prayer that we all arrive at our eternal destination.

May almighty God shine His grace on the St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart and through the intercession of St. Joseph our patron, I simply say,

Thank you, Brothers.


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.

Requiescat in Pace Father John Edward O’Hallaran, S.S.J.

Father John E. O’Hallaran, 80, of Long Branch, New Jersey, passed away Sept. 2nd.


He was born Nov. 24, 1937 in Jersey City to the late John and Harriet (nee: Fitzgerald) O’Hallaran.


Father John was a 1956 graduate of Red Bank Catholic High School and started his evangelical ministry as a teenager where he lived and was raised in Asbury Park, NJ. In 1961 he entered the brotherhood of the St. Joseph Society of the Sacred Heart. In May of 1985, he entered the priesthood in the St. Joseph Society.


He served as pastor of multiple parishes throughout Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi


Father John retired in 2016 and lived at St. Joseph’s Manor in Maryland before returning home to New Jersey in 2018.


He is predeceased by his “embraced” family members, Mildred and Jose Rodriguez. He is survived by many cousins and his “embraced” family: Dominga, Evelyn-Sophia, Iris, Maribel, and Edwin Rodriquez.


A life celebration will be held Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 from 9-10 a.m. at the John E. Day Funeral Home, 85 Riverside Avenue, Red Bank, New Jersey, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m. at St. James Church, 94 Broad Street, Red Bank, New Jersey. Interment will follow at St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Clayton, Delaware.


In lieu of flowers, donations in Father O’Hallaran’s name can be made to the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, 1097c West Lake Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210.

Requiescat in Pace Father Charles Patrick Moffatt, S.S.J.

Father Charles Patrick Moffatt, S.S.J.

Josephite Father Charles Patrick Moffatt died at Stella Maris Nursing Home in Baltimore, MD on August 7. He had been a patient there for the last three months. He was 92 years old and a priest for 61 years.

A proud native of Detroit, Michigan, he was born June 14, 1926, baptized in Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church and educated in its parish school. Charles attended St. Anthony High School and University of Detroit, in the Motor City. He served seven months in Germany with the U.S. Army Infantry during World War II, as a Corporal and received an ETO, Rhineland Campaign medal. Upon completing college, Charles worked as an Investigator with the Detroit Welfare Dept. He entered St. Joseph’s Seminary in 1951 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1957.

Fr. Moffatt’s first assigned as an assistant at St. Francis Xavier parish in Baltimore and two years later was sent as an assistant at Our Mother of Mercy Church in Beaumont, Texas where he served for five years. He was assigned to Epiphany Church in New Orleans for another two years when he was appointed to his first pastorate at St. Philip Church, also in the Crescent City.

After overseeing the building of a new church at St. Philip’s following the destruction of Hurricane Betsy, Fr. Moffatt was assigned in 1968 as pastor of the only Josephite parish in his native Detroit at St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church. In 1973 he was assigned back in New Orleans to St. Raymond Church where he administered the building of a new church, he left in 1981 for further studies at the University of Notre Dame.

In 1982 he served one year at St. Joseph’s in Welch, LA, and then was assigned to an eight-year term as pastor at Our Mother of Mercy parish in Houston, TX. He was then assigned an eight-year term as pastor in 1991 to Most Pure Heart of Mary parish in Mobile, Alabama.

Fr. Charles served in the vocation department, then in 2005 another four-year ministry as pastor of St. Luke Catholic Church in Washington, DC.

Fr. Moffatt’s final active five years served as clergy fill-in, while residing at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Failing health brought him to St. Joseph Manor in 2014.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 1501 Oliver Street, Baltimore, MD 21213, on Tuesday, August 14 at 11 a.m. with viewing beginning at 9 a.m. until Mass time. Burial will follow at New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore.

Preceded in death were Fr. Moffatt’s parents Patrick and Christina, his sister Maureen (Bill) Mott and his brother Gerald Moffatt.

Surviving are his sister Gertrude White, nephews Mark (Teri) White and Brian White, Peter (Carol) Mott, Kevin (Kathy) Mott, Bill (Nadine) Mott Jr., Tom (Pam) Mott, Michael (Jill) Mott and David (Heather) Mott. Also survived by his niece Kathleen (Ken) Mott-Crossman, 29 great nephews and nieces and several great -great nephews and nieces.

Archbishop Gregory: Catholics must stand against race and gender injustices

Fifty years since the U.S. civil rights movement, racism, sexism, discrimination based on sexual orientation and a host of other societal challenges “continue to hold us captive,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory told a group of U.S. priests gathered in Chicago on April 26.

The Atlanta archbishop, who is a former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that “many collective social injustices have not greatly improved over the past half-century and in some situations, a few may have even grown worse.”

Among the persistent ills that must be addressed, he said, is racism, which he described as “more subtle perhaps” today than in generations past but “no less degrading,” as well as “unabashed economic injustice from which certain classes can never fully escape.” He said criminal justice challenges remain, noting that U.S. prisons are “overflowing with inmates disproportionately representing people of color” and said body cameras worn by some police officers reveal occasional “violence against unarmed people much like that which others suffered in 1968.”


Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

You can help parishioners who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey when it devastated Houston and southeast Texas.

Four Josephites honored for 220 years of ministry

A jubilant congregation of Josephites and friends gathered in the chapel at St. Joseph Seminary on May 2 to celebrate the lifetime of ministry provided by four Josephite priests.
Father John Filippelli, Father Frank Hull and Father Charles Moffatt were honored by 60 years of priestly service. Father Robert Zawacki was recognized for 40 years of ministry.

Superior General Father Michael Thompson, SSJ, principal celebrant at the jubilee Mass, noted that the four had collectively offered 220 years of ministry in the African American community. “We offer you are warmest love for your service and dedication,” he said at the conclusion of the Mass. “God gave you the grace to do saintly and extraordinary things throughout your years of priestly service.”

A celebratory luncheon was held at the seminary at the conclusion of Mass.

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